Sunday, October 4, 2015

Coffeeneuring in Eugene, 2015 edition

Mary has suggested a 'theme within a theme' for coffeeneuring this year.  Mine will be 'social coffeeneuring.'

Most of my riding is solitary.  Even on organized brevets, I ride mostly alone.  I rode mostly alone among 5000 other riders from Paris to Brest and back, with a few hours of socializing now and again.  I'm fine with that.  I enjoy solitude.  But this year I'm going to try a little harder at sharing coffeeneuring with others.  We'll see how it goes.

Coffeeneuring 1, October 4, Sunday

Blue Heron beside the path
I had not made advance arrangements to meet anyone, but thought I'd kick off the season anyway, alone.  (Yeah, so much for trying harder to be social.)  I decided to try a coffee place I had not visited before, partly because Jolene (whom I hope to coffeeneur with later this month) had stated that as one of her conditions for coffeeneuring.  Google told me there was a new micro-roastery in town, Coffee Plant and 11th, and moreover it was close to home and not far from the Fern Ridge path.  Great!

When I arrived at Coffee Plant, I saw that there was a big anti-EMX sign in their lot.  (For non-Eugeneans, EMX is a bus rapid transit system, and it's broadly popular among Eugeneans but intensely unpopular among some business owners along a planned route.)  Before ordering, I asked whether the Coffee Plant was behind the sign. "Oh yeah."  OK then, thanks, I'll find coffee somewhere else.  I was polite, no arguing with their position, but I just wasn't willing to let any part of my coffee money go toward that cause.

Another Blue Heron
So much for my plan.   I took the path to another patch of 11th where I thought I remembered a coffee shop I had not visited, but I didn't find it, so I headed downtown and then toward campus where I knew there were plenty of coffee shops.  As I neared campus on 13th and saw Blue Heron bicycle shop, I remembered that Sue works weekends.

Sue taught me how to disassemble and reassemble my bike for travel.   She's an excellent mechanic and a wonderful, warm person who established a bicycle shop next to campus because she enjoys working with students.   Inspiration:  I can make this a social coffeeneuring outing after all, easy peasy, by bringing Sue a coffee, which I obtained from Espresso Roma just down the street.  Each time a customer entered, I perused the bicycle parts and tools and accessories while she took care of the customer.  In between, we drank and talked about randonneuring and about the advent of electric bicycles.   The coffee was so-so.  The company was great.

Beverage:  regular coffee from Espresso Roma, to go, with a chocolate biscotto.
Round trip:  ~10 rambling miles.

Coffeeneuring 2, October 10, Saturday

Another blue heron ... might be a motif
When I began riding recreationally a dozen years ago, I rode often with Greater Eugene Area Riders (Gears).  I learned a lot from the group, and rode with them frequently for years.  Eventually my interest turned to distance riding, and more and more I do my training rides solo,  but it's nice to occasionally join the Gears group.

Bike bridge from the park to downtown

Hideaway Bakery booth at the market

My plan was to get coffee with Virginia after the Gears club Saturday ride.  Problem:  Virginia is fast.   I have no idea how far behind her I reached the finish, but far enough that she was gone.  Nonetheless I will declare my "more social" goal accomplished in riding with old and new Gears friends.

There is a nice farmers' market in Eugene on Saturday, and Hideaway Bakery brings their wonderful breads and pastries and also makes pour-over coffee.   I had a potato donut, which was delicious, and a nice strong cup of coffee.   On the way home, I happened upon Lesli walking Chaz, so again more social component to my coffeeneuring, even if the coffee itself was drunk alone.
Hideaway making coffee
Distance: ~40 miles
Beverage: coffee

Coffeeneuring 3: October 17, Saturday:  Disaster Relief Trials

Once again I failed to arrange a meet-up in advance, but I thought I might still have a chance to be a bit social in my coffeeneuring, or at least be around people, by being a spectator at the Disaster Relief Trials.

The start/end point, with periodic check-ins for contestants, was at Alton Baker Park.  Among the features of the park is the center of Eugene's scale model solar system.  Sol, Mercury, Venus, and Earth are in the park.  Some of the outer planets are several miles away.

Earth and its remarkably large moon
I met and saw a few familiar people at the trials, and saw a lot of interesting cargo-oriented bikes. 

'Responder class' contestant checking in

Not an approved coffeeneuring beverage
Approved and portable beverage

I had a tip that the canal near Autzen Stadium would be a good place to see some of the action.  It was.  Contestants were crossing the canal by rope, with their bicycles in tow.   ROTC students were helping them fasten rope harnesses and attach and detach their bicycles on either side.  They offered to help me get harnessed up.  I explained that I was not a contestant today, just a spectator.  Sure, the officer said, but did I want to go across or not?  I did.  

My commuter bike weighed a lot less than a cargo bike,  but it was still strenuous dragging it up on the far side of the canal, and satisfying.   It was not what I had planned for my Saturday.  It was way cooler than anything I planned or anticipated.  

Fléche teammate Alex Hongo participated in the hardest category, 'responder.'  I saw him at the conclusion.  Fléche teammate Chris Archibald participated as well, and for a little bit the whole 2014 fléche team was gathered recounting our ride and making tentative plans for another. 

In all, my most rewarding outing in three years of coffeeneuring, and also a reminder of what a great town and community I live in.   I'm feeling very lucky.

Distance: ~10 miles
Drink:  Java Sunda (home roast) pour-over
Location:  Alton Baker Park, Eugene  ("coffee shop without walls")

Coffeeneuring 4:  North Plains with Lynne, Corey, and Stefanie, October 24, Saturday

Many of us converged on North Plains, Oregon to witness our friend Susan Otcenas cross the 10,000km mark in her 2015 randonneuring.   (That's a lot of riding, and the 'K-hound' award for riding 10,000k in a year is one of the harder RUSA awards to earn.)  Lynne and I decided to add a coffeeneuring outing by taking a scenic tour around North Plains before the whole group met at McDonalds for the start of a 100k permanent.    The scenic tour was necessary because the only available cafe in North Plains, Hits the Spot, is only a few blocks from the McDonalds.   (Riding to North Plains from Lynne's home in Beaverton would be possible, but impractical since we would also need to ride back in time to get to the celebratory pot-luck after the permanent.)    We met Corey Thompson and  Stefanie Randolph at Hits the Spot, and briefly also Keith Kohan.

Lynne, Stefanie, Corey
Technically the heron made its appearance after the conclusion of the coffeeneuring, on Susan's K-hound ride. 

Assessment:  friendly, bike-friendly service, acceptable coffee
Distance: 2.4 miles
Drink:  Coffee (American style)
Location:  Hits the Spot, North Plains, Oregon, USA

Coffeeneuring 5:  Deschutes Hall, University of Oregon, October 25, Sunday

It's a weekend, and this isn't exactly work, even if it is work-related, so I'm going to count it.  Some of my students asked me to drop in on the Hacktown Hackathon going on Saturday and Sunday.  Saturday I dropped in for a couple hours 9-11pm, but that doesn't count because I had already coffeeneured that morning.  Sunday morning I came again a couple hours before the wrap-up.  On both visits there was a lot of good conversation with students, some jollity, and some advice on debugging and problem-solving.

A hackathon is something like a 400k brevet for software development.  Like a 400k, it generally involves slogging through the night, although as far as I know hackathons are nearly all indoors.  For ditch naps, substitute naps under tables and desks.  For coffee, substitute red bull (but also coffee).    For ACP and RUSA trinkets, substitute small stuffed animals to prize winners.

Eugene is Tracktown, hence Hacktown, and 26.2 hours.

Assessment: bike-friendly campus, friendly students having fun and suffering, just like randonneurs
Distance: 10 miles round trip from my home
Drink:  A mix of English Breakfast tea and chai
Location: Deschutes Hall, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR

Coffeeneuring 6: November 1, 2015, Hendricks Park

Achievement unlocked:  Meet internet friend face-to-face for coffeeneuring.

I became aware that Sally was a coffeeneur in the greater Eugene area last season, and followed her posts on Facebook, but we had never met face-to-face.   We made arrangements to meet in the main shelter at Hendricks Park, with contingency plans to move somewhere else if the forecast rain was horizontal.

What an enjoyable meeting!  We talked bikes, we talked PBP, we talked recycling ... Sally works at one of a very small handful of companies that makes the sophisticated machines for separating the materials in recycling.  There is a lot of very cool and clever technology involved.  I, being lazy, brought my coffee from home in a thermos mug that fits in the bottle holder of my bike.  Sally, being resourceful and an experienced touring cyclist, brought equipment for making her coffee on the spot.

A mushroom walking tour group was having its pre-walk lessons in the covered structure, and the rain wasn't coming down, so we moved to a picnic table outside.  After a nice long chat, a few sprinkles reminded us that it might be time to move on.  

Location:  Hendricks Park, 2198 Summit Ave, Eugene, OR. Hendricks Park is known mostly for its rhododendron gardens, but it's beautiful year round.
Date: November 1, 2015
Drink:  Cafe au lait (me),  pour over (Sally)
Bike friendliness:   Hard to beat leaning your bike against a picnic table and sitting under giant conifers.  
Distance:  ~10 miles round trip for me, farther for Sally

Coffeeneuring 7, Friendly Street Market

It was supposed to rain hard on Saturday.  And then it was supposed to rain on Saturday.  And then it wasn't.  Since I try to keep up a streak of riding at least one 200km brevet each month (going into my fifth year of so-called R-12s), a break in the weather on a November weekend is hard to pass up.  I had a tentative plan to join a work party at a local park (Madison Meadow), which would have been perfect for my 'social coffeeneuring' theme.  I changed plans and rode a brevet 'permanent' instead.  

So, solitude.  Off theme.  The only real social interaction of the whole day was a nice chat with the young woman in a coffee and ice cream booth in Brownsville, on the return leg.  We talked about Paris, about randonneuring, and about her recent adventures in kayaking.  Very nice, but not coffeeneuring.  In fact I drank plenty of coffee in the first half of my ride, but it doesn't count as coffeeneuring.  Rule 8:  "You may not combine your coffeeneuring ride with any other ride such as an organized century, populaire, or brevet."

But Rule 8 goes on to say: "If you do an organized ride, you may do another, separate coffeeneuring ride on the same day, e.g., a pre- or post-event ride to get a latte either before or after your organized ride." So that's what I did.  My ride ended at the 7-11 at 18th and Chambers, purveyors of some of the worst coffee on earth.  But just a mile and a third away is Friendly Street Market, with a deli.  It was not exactly humming at a quarter to eight, and in fact the deli part was shut down, but the operator said he could make me tea.  I chose rooibos tea, avoiding evening caffeine.  There was only one other occupied table, where some friends were having a boisterous conversation over beer.  More solitude, but I was ok with that, being pretty tired after my ride.   Drank it slowly, then rode home very very slowly  (about 3.5 mph up the hill to our home), another 1.3 miles.  

So here's my rationalization:  Solitude is complementary to being social.  Twice a week, for 90 minutes, I lecture to a room full of students, and I spend a good deal of time holding 'office hours' by hanging out in the shared lab space, and in various faculty meetings and in advising or other meetings with students.  I enjoy those interactions.  They take energy, and they move at their own pace.  My short ride to school and back home gives me a little break.  A long solitary ride gives me a much longer time for reflection and for ideas to develop in ways that they never will in my day-to-day routine.  So, while my theme this year is being more social in my coffeeneuring, a little solitude is not a bad thing.  Figure and ground, theme and counterpoint.  

Location:  Friendly Street Market,  2757 Friendly, Eugene, OR.  It's our neighborhood natural foods store, with lots of organic veggies, good local meats, bread from local bakeries, a nice selection of beers, and other stuff somewhere in the spectrum of natural to foody. 
Date: November 14, 2015
Drink:  Rooibos tea
Bike friendliness:   Pretty good --- adequate bike racks (staple design) in front, under cover. 
Distance:  ~2.6 miles