Sunday, October 27, 2013

Coffeeneuring #7: Seeing Lynne off at Amtrak

Lynne and I have spent a lot of time together on bicycles.  I met her a few years back, on a 200k in territory familiar to her and unknown to me.  I was having trouble finding the cues, and asked if I could tag along with Lynne and her friend Cecil, and they graciously said yes.  The next time I rode in the Portland area, Lynne was looking for someone to ride with, and I was happy to ride with her.  We're approximately compatible in riding speed, around the same age, and find plenty to talk about.  And on long distance rides, there is a lot of time to talk, and then to not talk, and then to talk again.

Now, when I travel north to ride, often I stay at Lynne's home, and Lynne sometimes visits us in Eugene to ride here.  Friday she took Amtrak to Eugene.  Saturday along with our friend Lesli we rode my Alsea Loop 400km permanent.  Her train home was Sunday morning, and (of course, this being Eugene) there is cafe just across the parking lot from the station.  So:  Coffeeneuring.

Again I made coffee at home with breakfast.  I can't quite grasp the idea of skipping my morning coffee so that I can have more coffee at a bar.  But no problem, other hot drinks count for coffeeneuring.  I took my commuting bike, and of course Lynne took her randonneuse, and we worked our way down the hill into Eugene.  I chose the route poorly, but it's just not that hard or far from anywhere to anywhere in Eugene, so soon enough we were at the station and at the Morning Glory Cafe next door.

Lynne at Morning Glory Cafe

Cyndi had an errand to run, so she drove down and joined us.


Lynne had chai, I had hot chocolate, Cyndi had caffe latte, and we had enough time to enjoy our drinks and chat a little before it was time to walk Lynne's bike over to the luggage car for loading. Then Lynne found her train car and we said our goodbyes. Cyndi went off to her errands and I rode in to school for a recruiting event.

Coffeeneuring data: Sunday, October 27; about 10 miles round trip; hot chocolate.

Coffeeneuring #6: PC at dawn

The planned event for Saturday was a 200km group permanent with my PDX-area rando friend Lynne, who took Amtrak down Friday night and stayed with us, and my Eugene-area rando friend Lesli.   The starting point was a supermarket known variously as "PC" or "Market of Choice."  Originally it was "Price Chopper," but gradually it moved into a higher-end, more organic/local/enthusiast market niche, for which the old name was unsuitable.  So for a while it was "PC Market of Choice", on its way to being "Market of Choice".  It's still "PC" to many long-term Eugeneans, but signage and bags all say "Market of Choice", and increasingly that is what everyone calls it.

Market of Choice has a coffee bar.  Not an embedded Starbucks, but its own coffee bar.  And when we reached the start point, Lynne noted that we had ridden (just barely) more than two miles from my home.   While stopping for coffee on a brevet does not count as coffeeneuring, one may coffeeneur on the same day as a brevet.  The randos of my acquaintance have universally interpreted the rules as counting the ride to the ride as a separate event, on which one may coffeeneur.  So we declared a coffeeneuring opportunity, and went in.

Coffeeneuring at PC
I had drunk two double caffe lattes at home before we set out, so I ordered hot chocolate. Lynne had single caffe lattes with breakfast, which may have left her capacity for one more, and I think Lesli also ordered coffee. It was dark when we entered PC, and daylight when we emerged.
Lesli and Lynne at PC
Coffeeneuring data: 26 October 2013, 2.somesmallnumber miles, hot chocolate

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Coffeeneuring #5: Wolf Creek to Linda's Deli

It was a beautiful day, foggy and chilly to begin but predicted to reach 65.  I decided to take my fast bike on the Wolf Creek loop counter-clockwise, possibly for the last time this fall.  The main challenge that poses is clothing: Since my fast bike has no bags or racks, whatever I need for the weather conditions needs to be on my body.  I chose leg warmers to go with my regular bib shorts, a synthetic base layer under a medium-weight long sleeve wool jersey, short-finger gloves with long-finger wool glove liners, a sleeveless wind vest, and a think wool cap under my summer bike helmet. Also I chose an unusual route outbound: Out to the end of the bike path at Greenhill and then south on Crow Road to Crow, rather than popping over Lorane hill and down to four corners.  This is because the descent on Lorane is really cold, always much colder than on the Eugene side of the ridge.   I am usually too paranoid about getting cold, and make choices that are too hot as the day warms up, but this time I got it about right:  Chilly but not painfully cold for the first couple hours, then just "brisk" for a while, then warm but not too hot when I finished around 3.

Coffeeneuring #5: Wolf Creek

The climb on Wolf Creek was pretty as ever.

At the top, I thought I found a chanterelle, but on review I think it's something else, because the gills don't continue down the stem. Past it's sell-by date in any case.

Coffeeneuring #5:  Chanterelle?

There was a lot of new clear-cut on on Wolf Creek and Siuslaw Highway, including this spot at their intersection. I used to stop here sometimes for shade. It won't be shady again in my lifetime.

Clear-cut at Siuslaw Hwy and Wolf Creek

In five years, if they replant promptly, it should look something like this patch on the right (further along Siuslaw Hwy). In 15 years, it should look like the patch on the left.


There are still a lot of very nice stretches along Siuslaw Highway, which brings me to the little town of Lorane, where Lorane General Store has become Linda's Deli.

Approaching Lorane

Linda's Deli, Lorane

The coffee at Linda's Deli is ok. The people are fantastic. It's probably been a few months since I was there last, but I was recognized and greeted, and the older lady (probably Linda herself?) asked me how long I had ridden and how much further I would ride today. I used to always have pie there, but lately I've been choosing hard-boiled eggs.

Coffeeneuring in Lorane

On the way back I noticed cattle with more impressive horns than I usually see around here. That didn't seem to much for their self-confidence, though ... they began retreating from the fence as soon as I stopped to take their picture.

Coffeeneuring #5 - cattle with horns

There is quite a bit of grazing land on the way back along Territorial Road and Lorane Highway. I can attest that the grass-fed cattle at Knee Deep are tasty.

 Knee Deep Cattle Company

Fall colors in Oregon are generally pretty subdued, partly because of the particular varieties of trees common here (oak in this view), and partly because we have wet autumns.
  Fall colors

But this has been a pretty dry fall, apart from one week of torrents, and here and there are some bright patches.

Fall colors

Coffeeneuring data:  October 20. About 65 miles round trip to Linda's Deli in Lorane, Oregon, where I had coffee and hard-boiled eggs.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Coffeeneuring #4: Caffe Vero

Smith Family BookstoreMy original plan was to stop at Eugene Public Library (which has a coffee shop) to pick up one of their two copies of How Buildings Learn, by Stewart Brand (better known to me as the editor of the Whole Earth Catalog).  On my way, though, I decided that I should check for a used copy at Smith Family Bookstore first.  Software engineers are fond of (building) architecture as an analogy to software architecture, and How Buildings Learn was recommended by a colleague because of the relation between (mostly unplanned) evolution of buildings and (planned or unplanned) evolution of software systems.  I thought it would be handy to have a copy of my own to peruse without a deadline, and to draw from for my spring class in globally distributed software development.

UntitledCyndi called and suggested meeting at Vero Espresso, a few blocks away and not far from where she was shopping.  OK then.

Caffe Vero exterior

But what's this? Paper cups? The barista apologized. Apparently they ran out of real cups. At least it wasn't styrofoam, but still there is a difference in flavor and in the feel of the cup on the lips. A little disappointing.
Coffees at Caffe Vero

The coffee at Vero is quite good. Both the steamed milk and the coffee is a bit sweeter than most local places, but perhaps a little less complex than the best. If you think of coffee in voices (I do), it's like a nice consonant blend of tenor and alto, maybe just a bit of baritone, all in a sweet major key. Pleasant, but not something you listen very closely to.  Vero is a good place to go for a pleasant cup and conversation if it's the conversation you really want to focus on. If you want to focus on the cup itself, Wandering Goat is probably a better choice ... you get a wider range of voices there, with some interesting and slightly more challenging harmonies.

On the way home I stopped to look at wool and light systems at Arriving by Bike.  I'm looking for a mid-layer that's a bit lighter than my Ibex Shak, and planning a generator light system for my daughter Iris's bike.

Randonneuring data:  October 19, 2013. Vero Espresso House, 205 E 14th Avenue, Eugene, Oregon 97401-4101 (14th and Pearl).  Ordered Caffe Latte.  Approximately 9 miles round trip, including stops at Smith Family Bookstore and Arriving by Bike.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Coffeeneuring Q&A

In response to Chasing Mailboxes, 14 Oct
Guest Coffeeneuring Blog Post Questions
1) Where do you live?
I live in Eugene, Oregon.  That's 100 miles south of Portland, about 60 miles east of the Pacific Ocean, at the southern end of the Willamette Valley.  Eugene is a town of approximately 150,000 people, and with Springfield just across the river the urban area is about 200,000 people.  Eugene is a University town, but large enough that the University is not the only thing going on.  In this way it is more like Boulder, Colorado and Madison, Wisconsin than Ann Arbor, Michigan or Ames, Iowa.  Years ago the Wall Street Journal referred to Eugene as "the last refuge of the terminally hip."  We didn't take that as an insult.  
Eugene is the home of Co-Motion Cycles, Bike Friday, Rolf Prima wheels, Burley cycling accessories, and one-person builders including English Cycles and Winter Bicycles.  Eugene also has a high ratio of LBS to population. 
2) How did you decide to coffeeneur?
Peer pressure?  It really doesn't make a lot of sense, rationally.  I roast my own coffee and make espresso drinks at home, and rather seldom venture out to coffee shops.   But several of my Portland-based randonneuring friends coffeeneured last year and seemed to be having fun.   Also I'm hoping to meet a few people through coffeeneuring. Not that I'm a hermit and need some contrivance to meet people, but it seems like potentially a nice social activity. 
3) What bike are you using as your coffeeneuring bike? What makes it a good coffeeneuring bike?
Bike, singular?  Should I designate a single bike as my coffeeneuring bike?  Why would I do that? 
In the first week of coffeeneuring, I used my commuter bike, a Canondale hybrid from the early 90s.  It has a generator hub, flat bar,  twist shifters, fat tires, fenders, and a back rack for panniers. It has flat pedals with "power grips", which work with street shoes roughly like toe clips.  
In the second week of coffeeneuring I used my Salsa Casseroll, which is outfitted for randonneuring.  It has a generator hub, drop bars, bar-end shifters, fenders, a back rack, and SPD clip-in pedals.  It is my winter training bicycle and my randonneuse, and also a pleasant choice if I need to carry a bit but not so much that I need to stuff panniers. 
Both of these are quite suitable for coffeeneuring, because the first lets me wear street shoes and the second lets me wear walkable MTB shoes, which are good enough for a coffee shop.  
4) Where did you choose to coffeeneur for this coffeeneuring trip?
Ah, I see, I am choosing one outing.  I'll choose the outing to Hideaway Bakery on Saturday.  It's a bakery that also makes coffee, as versus a coffee shop per se.  The bread is baked in a wood-fueled oven, and it is fantastic ... the best bread in Eugene, and Eugene has good bread.  The pastries are good too. 
5) Is the coffee shop beautiful and the coffee delicious? Tell us a little about your coffeeneuring locale.
It is very nice, very comfortable, very Eugene.  Outside and inside seating.  Essentially invisible from the street, but full of people nonetheless because people tell their friends about good food and nice settings.   I had once met a friend here to start a ride, and wanted to go back.  The coffee is good, but unexceptional by Eugene standards.  The pastries were excellent. 
6) What other types of riding do you do besides coffeeneuring?
I randonneur.  I rode my first 1000k this last summer, and am aiming to ride Paris-Brest-Paris on 2015.  I also commute to my work, about 3.5 to 5 miles each way depending on the route I take.  Sometimes I take a longer way home to get in an hour or two of exercise.  Western Oregon's weather is mild, making it easy to be a year-round commuter. 
7) What else did I forget to ask you that you want to share?

The cycling around Eugene is excellent, and there is more excellent cycling up and down the west coast.  Although Oregon is known for rain, we actually have fairly dry summers, and much lower humidity than the midwest and east coast of the U.S.   If you have an opportunity to visit, bring your bicycle!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Coffeeneuring #3: Allann Brothers

Allann Brothers Coffee, outside view

Sunday afternoon ... I had my morning coffee (blend of two of my home roasts in a caffe latte), then finished reading a paper I am reviewing, and took an afternoon ride.  Chose Macbeth / Fox Hollow loop because it brings me conveniently near several Allann Brothers Coffee, which seemed more in the spirit of coffeeneuring than getting some pretty awful afternoon coffee at a convenience store along one of the other potential short ride loops.

Interior view of Allann Brothers Coffee

Allann Brothers is actually a chain based in Albany, but it's not a Starbucks-like mega-chain.  They make pretty good coffee, which they roast themselves not too far away, and the shop has a pretty good neighborhood vibe.   Allann Brothers is also one of the few places you can still see commercial espresso machines with hand levers.  While Pavoni makes a sort of imitation of this for home use, the commercial hand lever machines work on a completely different principle:  You pull down to compress a spring, and it is the spring that then applies steady pressure to the water through the group head.  Thus the origin of the term "pulling a shot", and a "short pull", in which the lever is pulled down only part way to reduce the amount of water in the espresso shot.   The other place I have seen these old machines, several years ago, was Sicily.  I never saw them in northern Italy.

Looking out from Allann Brothers Coffee

This being afternoon, and me being sufficiently caffeinated, I chose hot chocolate instead of coffee. It took three tries to understand the server asking me whether I preferred semi-sweet chocolate or Mexican chocolate.  Semi-sweet, with whipped cream, why not. It was nice.

Coffeeneuring data:  13 October (Sunday), Allann Brothers at Hilyard Street and 24th, hot chocolate, approximately 15 miles round trip including the loop around Macbeth and Fox Hollow  (otherwise it would be 6.2 miles round trip by the shortest route).

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Coffeeneuring 2013 #2: Hideaway Bakery

Coffeeneuring 2013 #2:  Hideaway Bakery by young.michal

I think this is currently the best bakery in Eugene, for both bread and pastries. I particularly like their rustic breads, but today Cyndi and I shared a scone and pain au chocolate, and each had a mocha.  (Cyndi was on four wheels, and I was on two.)  The coffee is fine, but not the best in town; the reason to go here is excellent breads and a nice atmosphere.

Coffeeneuring 2013 #2:  Mocha, pain au chocolate and scone at Hideaway Bakery.
On the way home, I got to see a bunch of cool cargo bikes, and even a cargo skateboard, preparing for the Disaster Relief Trials.

Perhaps the most interesting was a cargo bike towing another bike on the way to the trials. 


Coffeeneuring data:  5.6 miles round trip (probably a bit more with the detour to see the DRT prep), to Hideaway Bakery, 3377 E Amazon Dr, Eugene, OR, where my qualifying hot drink was a mocha. 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Coffeeneuring at Wandering Goat, Oct 5 2013

I haven't coffeeneured before ... I like to think I make good coffee at home, and if I have enough time to go to a coffee shop, then I probably have enough time to hang around the house and enjoy making my coffee as much as drinking it.  Still ... it's a cool idea, and Eugene is a good place to explore and appreciate coffee.  So in 2013 I'm participating in the Third Annual Coffeeneuring Challenge.   I am hoping, in particular, to meet up for coffee (or other hot drinks) not only with current cycling buddies, but with some people I don't know as well, or at all.

October 5 I met Patrick Deegan and his daughters at Wandering Goat (268 Madison, Eugene), where I had a mocha.

 I rode by it twice looking for it, before recognizing it as my destination ... it is not a flashy place.   It may well be the best coffee in the Eugene/Springfield area, with a homey, friendly atmosphere that I enjoy.

Patrick brought his daughters in his bike trailer.  They speak English, Russian, and Chinese together ... very cool.  Also they have sparkly shoes that light up (although I think Patrick's shoes were not electric).