Coffeeneuring 2017

Number 1

Avoca Coffee, 835 Foch St, Fort Worth, TX 76107, https://www.avocacoffee.com/

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This year’s Coffeeneuring Challenge started on the very first day of the season (October 13), and I arrived before they opened the doors.  I’ve never been more eager to get started.

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I enjoyed their highly regarded Cortado, and added an enormous chocolate muffin as a bonus. While my senses were being delighted, I couldn’t help appreciating the special bike parking accommodations.

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Today’s outing started with my normal 50-mile drive from rural northwest Denton County to my workplace in downtown Fort Worth. It then transitioned to more pleasurable transportation as I grabbed the Rivendell Quickbeam kept in my office for my city life. I turned on my lights and glided through dark and empty streets, on to the Trinity Trails, across the Trinity River pedestrian bridge, through the silent park, and up Foch Street to the coffee shop. After snapping my first photo of the bike outside, the boys raised the big overhead door. Coffee time! Finally, I took an alternate route back to work to make a 4-mile loop. It might be Friday the 13th, but it seems I’m off to a great start.


Number 2

Trinity Park, Downtown Fort Worth, Texas

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Pre-dawn, Friday, October 20

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Riverside… coffee outside. Fresh, hand-ground Avoca Noir beans, and a robust pour-over brew using my Soto Helix.

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Similar to last week, I decided to go coffeeneuring before work on Friday instead of waiting for my more typical Saturday outings. So the Rivendell Quickbeam was once again on call for another peaceful glide through the early morning darkness. Next to a silent blue flame, I watched a city come to life. As the sky became lighter, I saw the swirling clouds reflected on the calm surface of the tranquil river flow.

The weather was so pleasantly cool, I was tempted to secretly glide away from downtown. But I had my moment of peace, pedaled about 6 miles, and was appropriately caffeinated. So maybe I could manage one more day before the weekend.


Number 3

I enjoyed two coffeeneuring achievements this week. The first one was a mid-Friday (October 27) escape at Buon Giorno Coffee, 915 Florence St, Fort Worth, TX 76102. The second one was Saturday morning (October 28) outside my tent on a frosty morning in the nearby State Park.

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This MY parking space right around the corner from the door of Buon Giorno Coffee. It is only a 10 minute walk from my office, but I’d rather ride the Quickbeam, and lock it up to this gas meter.

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I ordered one of their famous cappuccinos, and added chocolate shortbread. It was the perfect way to cap off lunch on a Friday, and anticipate the coming weekend.

Because the coffee shop is so close to my office, I rode out to Trinity Park first, made a loop, and stopped in for my treat on the way back.  Total distance…about three miles.  A cold front blew in overnight. The sky was cloudy, about 50 degrees, and the wind was howling out of the northwest. I was under-dressed. When I sat down to enjoy my coffee, my ears were aching. With warm beverage in hand, I recovered. But my wife reported some sleet up at my house. Since I planned on an overnighter that night, it was not a great sign.


Number 4

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But the skies cleared nicely during my drive home. It was a lovely night, but colder than expected.

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I enjoyed my Avoca Noir beans via Soto Helix pour-over, brewed outside on my campsite table. The coffee was especially appreciated because of the unexpected cold.

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I had dressed for mid-30s, but awoke to 29 degrees. Fortunately, I tossed in my sleeping bag vapor barrier into my camping load “just in case”.  It served me well. As long as I was in my bag, I was comfortable. Making the coffee in the early morning was a little uncomfortable, so I retreated back to my bag and enjoyed warmth from the inside and out.

The sun eventually come over the tree tops, and it warmed up nicely. I loaded my gear, rode some easy park trails, and returned home for a total distance of about 41 miles.


Number 5

It was another two-stop coffeeneuring week for me, and both were coffee shops without walls. The first stop was at the confluence of the West Fork and Clear Fork of the Trinity River immediately north of downtown Fort Worth, at dawn on Friday (November 3). The second one was on a rock in a remote wooded area near the shore of Lake Ray Roberts on Saturday morning (November 4).

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When you step back and look at it, the reason I get mistaken for homeless so often is apparent. Say what you will, but sitting here in peace and watching the fog form, while the City comes alive is a joy. Since this was back in Fort Worth, the Rivendell Quickbeam was today’s ride.

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The air was cool, so it seemed good to mix in some hobo camp oatmeal this time. It was so good, I’ll definitely do this again.

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It wasn’t my first cup of the day. I had already driven an hour into town. So I didn’t need a lot of coffee. This shot of faux espresso, was perfect. I’m really enjoying this little GSI device. An old small jam jar has been re-purposed as my espresso cup.

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Ahhh…now I can face the workday. A six mile loop, and coffeeneuring 5 of 7 was done.


Number 6

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I enjoy coffeeneuring in the city, but brewing coffee in rural areas is the pinnacle for me. I rolled out Saturday morning with much more than coffee kit. I’m practicing carrying camping loads on rugged roads and trails for a big bikepacking trip planned in late December.

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The MTB trail wandered close to the lake shore, and a large rock was sitting there on the slope. Its a good thing I bring a little padding for where I sit.

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I had such a good time with the GSI device Friday before work, I decided to bring it along again on Saturday.

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All in all, it was a good 45+ mile load carrying practice session, including the adventure of completely tossing one of my panniers, repairing a flat tire, and with the delight of coffeeneuring 6 of 7 right smack in the middle.


Number 7

My last entry for this year’s Coffeeneuring Challenge happened on the last day of the schedule (November 19). I actually went coffeeneuring during my 9th Annual Fall Finale Fifty-ish Mile Country Path Ramble, but I was so distracted by having friends with me I simply didn’t get it documented properly. Go figure.

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I was not able to get out on the bike on Saturday, November 18, due to other commitments. But on Sunday afternoon, circumstances fell into place and I was able to get out to a special place and complete the challenge.

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The destination was the LBJ National Grasslands. I took the Bantam, and ambled along for about 12 miles in absolutely perfect fall conditions. The ride included gravel roads, double-track, and some single-track equestrian trails. The gorgeous afternoon light and stunning quiet made it hard to release the weekend from my grip, return home, and transition into another work week.

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I found a sandy beach area near a small lake to enjoy the sunshine and water view.

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The GSI Outdoor Mini Expresso made another appearance. I ground my beans by hand on the spot, and made a faux Americano with my pseudo espresso.

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I actually used the Aeropress during my (undocumented) Ramble ride to intentionally add a little variety to my excursions. I had sort of planned for some variation of indoor/outdoor, and a mix of brewing devices, this year. But in the end, I seemed to revert back to “going with the flow” as usual…and this is simply how it played out. At least I was able to use all three of my excellent bikes.

My first outing occurred before daylight on the very first morning, and my last (documented) outing was mid-afternoon on the very last day. So ends another successful and enjoyable Coffeeneuring Challenge during my favorite time of year. As thoughts turned into the Thanksgiving holiday, I was specifically grateful to be “challenged” to such shenanigans.

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The Unplanned

IMG_6985A rare (for me) night brew…and foreshadowing

My “go-to” S24O destination is at one of the two Lake Ray Roberts State Park Campgrounds (Johnson Branch up north or Isle du Bois Branch near the east end of the dam). I can be there within an hour and a half, and I’ve been many times. I’ve got my favorite spots. I have an idea which spots would be best for various seasons or weather conditions. I have an idea about what to expect.

IMG_6990Colder than it looks…and more foreshadowing

But even my rather civilized outings so short, so familiar, and so near to home can bring me the unexpected. It is the unplanned things that make these little outings little adventures. So this post is about the unplanned.

I didn’t plan…

  • To arrive at the Park and learn that most of the primitive camping spots were already taken, and the spots I had in mind for myself were already taken. But I found a nice quiet spot that worked well.
  • To test my new Thermarest pad as a raft on an ocean of spilled coffee inside my tent as I was settling in for the night. But I learned that clean-up duties can be substituted for reading as camplife entertainment.
  • To wake up to 29 degrees in the morning. I had planned for mid-30s. But for some reason, I packed my vapor barrier for my sleeping bag. I slept fine.
  • To learn that my fire steel will not ignite my alcohol stove in 29 degree weather. But if I put my stove in a plastic bag, crawl back into my sleeping bag, and put the stove between my legs, it will warm up enough to ignite.
  • To leave half my breakfast at home (eggs).  But I still had my oatmeal.  So I at least had something warm to eat.
  • To actually consume some gas station coffee. I needed a little more fuel for the windy ride home (remember no eggs), and learned that it was serviceable in a pinch.

IMG_7008Trails are more rugged than they appear…and, yes, more foreshadowing

And finally…

  • To learn that my GoPro camera, threaded to my tripod and covered snugly with my Carradice flap, can be shaken loose and lost as I bounced along with all my gear on the trails. Actually, I didn’t discover that until after I arrived back at home, and that one still stings a little.

Epic Lollygagging 2017

This is the post that provides key information for the 9th Annual Fall Finale 50ish Mile Country Path Ramble. This year’s information post includes bonus photos of Blue Moon leading the reconnaissance expedition. That was a huge responsibility because this year’s route has been modified. The key differences in the route are (a) it is a couple of miles shorter, (b) includes less mileage on FM roads, (c) omits the Rosston General Store, and (d) includes a few new segments. The route for 2017 is similar to what we’ve done in the recent past, but Blue Moon wanted to shorten it a little and trade FM road mileage for County Road mileage. Regrettably, he had to sacrifice a crowd favorite stop in Rosston, but was able to keep the delightful Greenwood stop on the route.

1Blue Moon takes his reconnaissance seriously

When

This year’s Ramble will be on Saturday, November 11. We will roll out of my driveway at 9 am. That means you should arrive in time to make all needed preparations BEFORE 9 am. Sometimes we have a fire going, or some breakfast tacos to munch. We always enjoy admiring our friends bicycles. This is a social ride, so arriving an hour early would be brilliant!

2He wants you to know you’ll see gobs of barbed wire

What

The Ramble is a ride I do each year on a Saturday near the end of autumn. The primary objective is to spend a few hours riding a bicycle with others on rural north Texas roads.  A goodly fraction of the route is on gravel roads (about 44% this year). Historically, it’s length has been in the 40-50 mile range. This year totals 48.

This year’s route, weather permitting, will be about 2 miles shorter than last year, and will include a couple of new segments. In the past, I have offered two options.  The standard route, and a shorter interior loop of approximately 35 miles which omits the Greenwood stop. Blue Moon urged me to omit the short route option this year. There are no services on that route at all. Officially, I probably will omit it. However, if you want to come and are not comfortable with the 48 mile route, let me know.

The pace is what I call “conversational” because I think of this as a social kind of touring ride.  We will stop for snacks, photographs, or just because.  Since I’m participating in the Coffeeneuring Challenge, I am definitely planning to stop for a coffee brew-up. Like last year, I plan to have cue sheets available for those who might wish to ride faster or slower than me.

3Blue Moon allowed for my favorite coffee brew-up spot on the route (mile 14.5)

4Blue Moon approves of the brew-up spot in front of the grove

5The Ramble has gone through Leo in the past, and Blue Moon wanted it back this year

In addition to the coffee brew-up on the route, a sort of tradition has emerged to drive into town (Sanger) after the ride to refuel with Mexican food at Miguelito’s. Any who wish to join before making their way back to the big city are welcome to join the group for a little more bicycle-related socializing.

6Not far past Leo, we’ll get to see the big hole

Who

Anyone who is interested in being a part of what is described above is welcome to participate. If you plan to join me, I would appreciate an email message (cj dot spinner at g mail dot com) or a blog post comment telling me that you will be here.  My preparation plans are dependent on the number of folks participating, so please help me with this. If you plan to join us and haven’t already contacted me, please do so now.

7Blue Moon knows we all want to stop at the Greenwood Grocery for grub (mile 27)

8…and admire the classic ad mural…

9…and the park…

Where

If you need my address and/or directions to my little place on the prairie, send me an email.

10Blue Moon made sure we’d have plenty of creek crossings

11Blue Moon suggested routing through Slidell

12Did he mention barbed wire?

13…and gravel roads, we love our gravel roads!

How

Plan ahead. If this Ramble thing sounds like a good time, block out the day and get it on your calendar now. Then make your contingency plan in case you can’t finish the route for any reason. Finally, let me know you are coming. Bring a friend.

14We are sad when the last gravel segment turns to pavement

I always want folks to know that I’m not hard-core.  I can ride if it is a little cold, or a little drizzly, but I don’t like cold AND wet.  On days like that, I will send you on your way with a cue sheet and my best wishes, and then spend the rest of my day by the fireplace (join me there if you wish).

The other thing to emphasize for this ride is that you are responsible for you. This is not a T-shirt ride, there are no entry fees, and no (official) sag services. That said, Mrs. Pondero has been known to rescue a few folks in the past. She has a pick-up and a cell phone, and often tries to join the group at Greenwood at the time she expects some of us to be there (noonish?).

We’ll have only one place to stop for restroom, water, or snacks (Greenwood, mile 27). You should have a back-up plan for a mechanical problem, and beware…some areas on the Ramble route do not have cell phone service.  Yes, it’s rural.

Any questions?

Lake Murray Trails

I took Eric’s invitation to join him for some early morning trail riding up in Lake Murray State Park. It was a kind of still and steamy hot, and we both were chewed on by chiggers.

Eric made an underbiking comment about “bringing a knife to a gunfight”. Evidently, he is a skillful knife wielder. As usual with photos and videos, it his hard to appreciate the severity of the terrain. Where are all the steep slopes? What happened to all the rocks, roots, and ruts? They most certainly were there, and Eric did a great job of picking his lines. It was probably his smooth, effortless style that made it look so easy.

I plan to return to these trails. But next time, I’m bringing overwhelming fire power against those chiggers.

Midsummer S24O

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In north central Texas where I live, summer overnighters are much tougher than those in winter. But they must not be left undone.  Here’s a summary of this one…

  • Blazing hot departure
  • Arrival after sundown soaked in sweat
  • Some kind of cattle operation at a nearby ranch resulted in bellowing cows until late in the dark, moonless night
  • A grey, windless morning
  • Trailside breakfast and a hilltop view
  • Would it rain? Yes.
  • Clouds and light rain kept the heat away…yay!
  • Sleep was lacking, but it was SO worth it
  • Another micro-tour success

Regret or Satisfaction?

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Sometimes the difference between bitter regret and sweet satisfaction is the ability to quickly formulate a backup plan.

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When life circumstances come and crush your plans, can you analyze the new constraints and find another way?

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Maybe it is best not to dwell on an opportunity lost…

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…but instead develop the mental agility to maximize the opportunity that remains.