Sunday, October 12, 2014

Coffeeneuring 2014

Coffeeneuring  is a tongue-in-cheek variation on randonneuring:  a short, leisurely ride to enjoy a hot drink, documented in photography rather than receipts and signatures.  This is my second year of participation.  Last year I kept individual rides in separate posts, then added a consolidated post at the conclusion of the series.  This year I think I'll just build one integrated post.

Ride 1, October 5 2014 (2 miles)

My first coffeeneuring ride was a "ride to the ride" for a permanent brevet from Market of Choice.  Since I had my usual quota of coffee before leaving the house, and since my stomach didn't like the idea of hot chocolate, I elected to have a cup of tea (which I find often soothes an unhappy stomach on rides).  

I wasn't expecting much.  To my surprise, the tea was really, really good.  They spooned a bit of loose leaf tea from a sealed jar into a cylinder of some sort of fiber, then twisted a knot in the cylinder to form a tea bag.  Lately I have not been a very discerning tea drinker, settling for Twinings in tea bags.  The tea at MoC was so much better than what I have been drinking that I decided I need to get some supplies to make better tea. 

Ride 2, October 12, 2014 (4 miles)

My second ride is most in the spirit of coffeeneuring.  Cyndi rode with me to Market of Choice to get bread and milk, and to inquire about supplies for the tea I had enjoyed on my prior visit.  We got the tea but they didn't have the DIY bags in stock.  Since I had already coffeeneured there, we stopped at Friendly Street Market on the way back home for hot chocolate.  Hot cocoa, actually, which is not quite the same ... but it was a nice environment, and I really like how the outdoor seating and improvements to the cafĂ© have made Friendly even more of a neighborhood institution.  

Ride 3, October 18, 2014 (8 miles)

Hideaway Bakery make the best bread in town in their big wood-burning oven.  They also make nice cakes and pastries, and the coffee was good --- notably better than when I coffeeneured here last year.  Cyndi drove to meet me, and my daughter Adrian rode over. 

We each had caffé latte, and shared a piece of chocolate cake.

Hideaway has pretty good bicycle parking. It's on the other side of the building from the cafe and bakery, but visible enough to seem reasonably safe.

After coffee, I rode along with Adrian to her home to deliver a few jars of applesauce, and saw a couple fawns on the way back.


On the way home, I stopped at Arriving by Bike (a transportation-oriented bike shop in Eugene) to check on long sleeve wool jerseys and lights.  I didn't find what I wanted in a jersey, but they had the B&M Eyc in stock.  I called Cyndi, who brought her bike down to have an Eyc installed.   After riding home, I swapped her front wheel for one with a generator hub, from my old Salsa rando, so now Cyndi should have a good light system. 

Ride 4, October 18, 2014  (~4 miles)

John Pearch rode my permanent populaire from Florence today, and I rode down to meet him at the conclusion. Although he was at a Starbucks inside Albertsons grocery, I elected not to get my drink there but instead to look for something a little better after helping him find some fast food in the area.  (He ended up at Fisherman's Market for fish and chips; I hope it was good.)  I cruised toward center town looking for something reasonable.  I was headed vaguely in the direction of Barn Light when I caught sight of the library and remembered that Eugene Public Library has a cafe.  It was open, and gave me a good excuse to brag about out our excellent library.

I had a hot chocolate. I think it was pretty good, but unfortunately I didn't drink much before I accidentally set the paper cup down on the lid and spilled the rest.

The library is quite bicycle friendly.  I leaned my bike against the window because I didn't have a lock with me, but there is quite a bit of bicycle parking.   Eugene is the sort of place where you needn't feel weird about walking around with a helmet on.  (In truth I don't feel weird walking around with a helmet pretty much anywhere, but that's me.)

Ride 5, October 25, 2014 (4.25 miles)

Picked up five pounds of cranberries fresh from Bandon from a friend-of-a-friend, then stopped at 16 Tons on the way home.  They are serving micro-roast coffees from Water Avenue Coffees in Portland.   According to the server, they get a delivery once a week.   I ordered hot chocolate.  (OK, I guess I am a little snobbish about coffee ... I will drink almost anything in a pinch, but if fresh roast is your thing, a week old doesn't cut it.)  The hot chocolate was ok, but not better than the cup I got at the public library last week.  I should probably have at least tried 16 Tons' coffee to give it a fair chance, but as usual I had a couple coffees in me before leaving home  (currently drinking an interesting blend of Kenya Nyeri Karogoto AB and monsooned Malabar, which is excellent in espresso).  I really do like 16 Tons as a place for beer and cider on tap.  I'll try their coffee another time.
Nice weather for napping

Ride 6, October 26, 2014 (21 miles)

Macbeth and Fox Hollow is a popular short training loop in the area, but at my pace today I can't call it training.  Moseying.  I went out over Bailey Hill, then Lorane to Macbeth, and down Fox Hollow.  And of course that means nothing at all unless you happen to know the roads around Eugene, but for a Eugene recreational rider that is a complete description of the route.

Earlier today the rain was quite impressive, and yesterday was windy.  This afternoon, though, it was lovely.  I decided to stop for a few more pictures than usual.

LeBleu, just off Macbeth near the top

I turned off on LeBleu (near the top of Macbeth) just for this view ... I always love the afternoon sun through the trees.
Sheep and alpaca on Fox Hollow.  The sheep are wearing blankets because they have been recently shorn.  The alpaca look short-haired as well, but seem to be doing fine without blankets. 

At Allan Brothers I had a choice of three hot chocolates:  semi-sweet, Mexican, or white chocolate.  I chose semi-sweet.  It was probably the best hot chocolate of the series so far, although the hot chocolate at the library was close.  Allan Brothers wins out for making better whipped cream.

Ride 7 Verboort Populaire aftermath (2.5 miles)

My normal rule is to avoid driving to a ride that is shorter than my drive, but I occasionally have reason to make exceptions.  I discovered that I had fulfilled all the requirements for a "RUSA Cup" award  (every distanced of calendered RUSA event from 100k to 1200k in a 2-year period, totaling at least 5000k) except for the shortest, a 100k populaire.  So, off to ride the Verboort Populaire, a 100km (63 mile) triangle from Forest Grove to Vernonia and back to Verboort, timed to coincide with the annual Verboort Sausage Festival.

(Banks-Vernonia trail, photo by Keith Moore)
It's a lovely ride, and I haven't done it in a few years, so it was a pleasure despite spending more time in the car than on the bike.  But the stop at Black Bear Coffee in Vernonia does not count as coffeeneuring ... you can't coffeeneur while participating in another event.    

Fortunately the ride starts in Forest Grove and ends in Verboort, about 2.5 miles away.  Just far enough to coffeeneur if you ride back to your parked car after the populaire.  So: Hot tea and a sausage with sauerkraut on a bun.  Also, good company and a festive atmosphere. 

(Verboort Sausage Festival, photo by Keith Moore)

Ride 8:  MacBeth and Fox Hollow to Vero, Sunday Nov 16

This is my extra credit ride ... just in case!   Or just because.

We're having a cold spell in Eugene, and in paranoia of ice I didn't even commute by bicycle Thursday and Friday.  By Sunday it had been a few days since rain, so I figured roads would be clear, and took a short training ride (but at a less-than-training pace) up MacBeth and down Fox Hollow.

I had been to Vero earlier in coffeeneuring season with Bill Alsup, but on a weekday ... coffeeneuring for him because he was on vacation, but not for me.  So, back to Vero to make it official (or rather "official"), and to check out their hot chocolate.   Worthwhile!

Hot chocolate at Vero Espresso
Total distance: 20 miles, give or take a mile.  Temperatures between 25.4 (at Bill's Bench, top of Fox Hollow) to 35 or so downtown.  Really glad I went in the counter-clockwise direction, so the ice was all in slow-speed climbs, rather than descents.

Summing up: Hot chocolate in Eugene

Although I started with (surprisingly good) tea at Market of Choice, my coffeeneuring series this year was basically a chocolateering series.  I learned that surprisingly good hot chocolate can be found in unlikely-seeming spots (Eugene Public Library, for example), while a really first-rate bar can offer sub-mediocre hot cocoa (16 Tons).   The best:

  1. Market of Choice.  I didn't log my hot chocolate at MoC above, since I had already logged a coffeeneuring visit for hot tea (also excellent), but I did have hot chocolate there as a starting control for a permanent brevet.   And, remarkably, it was the best hot chocolate I had this season:  ganache, not overly sweet, mixed into steamed whole milk.  This is a supermarket, and it's beating the socks off coffee bars in Eugene.  The only downside is that it comes in a paper cup.  
  2. Vero Espresso.  Also ganache in steamed milk, and with latte art (see last photo above).  Approaching the quality of MoC hot chocolate, but a little on the over-sweet side. 
  3. Allann Brothers.  I didn't see how it was made, but it is probably also ganache in steamed milk.  Choice of Mexican, white, or semi-sweet.  The semi-sweet is on a par with Vero, but in a paper cup (because I was in cycling gear?) and minus the latte art. 
These three are close, and well above other choices, although the Eugene Public Library comes closest.  (I believe the library is using chocolate syrup in the steamed milk, which is not as good as using ganache but much better than stirring in cocoa.) 

Not in my trial group:  Full City Coffee (I know they keep a vat of ganache for making chocolate-based drinks, but didn't get a chance to check them out this year);  Wandering Goat Coffee (generally the best coffee in town, but I have no idea about their hot chocolate).   I'll have to try them out sometime this winter. 

With this training, I think I'm well on my way to properly appreciating hot chocolate in the early morning in some little town between Paris and Brest.