Coffeeneuring Challenge Wrap Up! Controls 6 and 7. Peets Coffee and San Mateo Coffee Company.

If you have followed any of my coffeeneuring posts you might recall that the challenge MG set up was to go to seven different coffee shops over the last six weeks. It had to be at least two miles round trip. You could only go on the weekend, you could only go once per day, and you could not go to the same coffee shop twice, unless it was a chain and they were different locations. You could combine coffeeneuring with shopping, or other errand, but you could not combine it with sanctioned ride or randonneur brevet.
I had five visits under my belt, and last weekend was my final opportunity to complete the challenge. I had to go each day. This was going to be a little tough, as there were things needing doing at the house, but I could spare an hour and a half each day for a coffeeneuring trip.
Coffeeneuring Control #6 – Peet’s Coffee, downtown San Mateo California (not the same one from Control #1!)
One of the things I had to this weekend was to pick up more beans from Peet’s. Normally, I get them at my office in San Francisco, but I forgot last Friday. I always get a half pound so that I get a free regular coffee and also because the beans are fresher that way.
I set out in the early Saturday afternoon with my Salsa Casseroll, sadly now discontinued,  and got to Peets around 2:30. Surprisingly, it was rather full and there was no place to sit at first. I maneuvered my randonneur bike over to the side wall and placed my order. 
 I asked for the beans to be ground at setting #3, which is a fine grind,  so it worked best with our Aerobie coffee press at home. I got a peppermint mocha and a piece of coffee cake. After ordering, I saw that a table had opened up and went and grabbed it.
I had never been to this Peets before, and I quickly noticed that they operated at a much slower pace than the Financial District of San Francisco. It took about five minutes to get my mocha, and there was nobody in front of me. This barista would have been quickly overwhelmed at the downtown San Francisco Peets!
Anyway, when I finally got it, it was quite tasty and went well with my coffee cake.
When I was about halfway done, I ordered a regular mocha for Tanya and put it in my thermos and took it home for her. 
Coffeeneuring Control #6 complete!
Distance: 6 miles round trip.
Coffeeneuring Control #7 – San Mateo Coffee Company
Sunday, I did a quick scan on my MacBook Pro, and saw an interesting mom-and-pop store the opposite side of San Mateo from the Peets I went to the day before. It looked to be about two miles away.
I set out at 12:30 on a very sunny  and found it very easily. Nice little place, just down the block from “Vinyl Solution” which is a used record store that I haven’t popped into in 20 years. 
Thought I might as well, so pop in I did,  and thought it strange that I knew all the music until I realized that since I am old enough to remember records, most of the music would be from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s… my time!
Making a mental note to go back when I had more time to really browse, I walked my bike down two stores to San Mateo Coffee Company.
 
I parked my bike to the side and then went to the counter and spoke to one of the co-owners. His name was Scott and I cleverly figured out he was a bike guy after noticing his shirt:
 I ordered a cup of coffee and a couple of scones, one to bring back to Tanya.
He told me he noticed my bike right away when I walked in. He said, “I could tell you like to ride in comfort after I saw your handlebar bag and Honjo fenders.” I had to tell them the fenders were actually from Velo Orange and much less expensive. He was pretty impressed with that!
The coffee was very good, a proprietary blend of theirs. I really liked it. Scott also only charged me a buck for each pastry as “We’re about to close in and they will be day-old by tomorrow anyway, so what the heck?”  Now that’s great customer service and something only a mom-and-pop would do. Pretty cool!
Scott told me that they also made sandwiches. When I asked what kind, he said “anything you want!” and showed me a little card you fill out where you check the type of meat, bread, condiments, etc. Nice build-your-own set-up.
Oh, and they have other stuff too:
Scott told me about some of the bikes he had. One that really sounded interesting was an old tandem he bought and removed the rear cranks and stoker bars, and turned into a cargo bike. Sounded like an early xtracycle. He told me he sold it to some guy that wanted to take it to Burning Man. Sounded appropriate. Sadly, he couldn’t find any pictures.
All in all, San Mateo Coffee company was a nice little place,  and absolutely worthy of another visit. I’ll have to go back and try their sandwiches soon.
Coffeeneuring Control #6 complete!
Distance: Four miles round trip.
Final thoughts on completing my first coffeeneuring challenge.
I thought it was a cool idea when I read about the coffeenneuring challenge when MG did it last year for the first time, but for whatever reason, I never did it. I think what got me moving this year was a desire to ride more. As I said in my first post about this, I had been injured last summer in a dooring incident and was wanting to try to get out and ride a bit more. I had only ridden my first 200K a year ago, and had done two more, a couple of populaires, and a Double Century (200 miles in one day) before I was hurt. I had hopes of completing a 300K, a 400K, and perhaps a 600K.  It was very disappointing to have my riding come to a halt due to my injury.
So if I wasn’t ready for Randonneuring, then Coffeeneuring would fill in! Even though it was for short distances, I found myself looking forward to the rides. And like a brevet, I discovered new things, new places, and met some cool people and experienced things that I wouldn’t have done if not for the challenge.
The regular rides also, somehow, gave me the confidence to attempt a bit more of a physical challenge when I rode up to Mt. Hamilton with my good friend Sam last weekend, Mt. Hamilton, at 4,200 feet being the highest mountain in the San Francisco Bay Area.
It was 22 miles up and 22 miles back down. I made it all the way up to the Lick Observatory at the top, slowly, but I didn’t stop except for two five minute breaks, and I did NOT walk my bike up. My ass hurt like hell, my hand hurt like hell, and I swore I would never do it again when I was done.
It was so awesome!   (Randonneurs are weird, huh?)
Bottom line is the coffeeeneuring challenge gave me the bug to try a tough ride again. Saving my receipts, watching my time. It just got me back in the mindset, and for that I am grateful.  Now to work my up for a real brevet when the season starts again next January.
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Curryneuring…or Coffeeneuring Control #5

Last weekend I was very busy and had no time for a coffeeneuring trip during the day. However, a friend and I had discussed going out for Indian food on our bikes that weekend and I thought that I could have coffee with my dinner, and hopefully that would still qualify under the rules.
We went to our mutual favorite place for Indian food, “Curry Up Now” which in downtown San Mateo, Ca. Even better for Coffeeneuring purposes, the logo incorporates a bike!
Curry Up Now started as food truck and the idea was to bring the taste of great Indian street food to the San Francisco Bay Are. The owner started with one truck in San Francisco, and quickly expanded to two. It didn’t take too long until they decided to open a brick-and-mortar operation. Luckily for me, that happened to be only 2.5 miles from my house! They are now in process of opening up a second restaurant in Palo Alto.
I discovered them initially in downtown San Francisco, which is where I work. One day as I was walking to lunch on Bush street and I saw this food truck with a line of 20 or 30 people leading up to it.
[LUNCHBOX1]t y 
I saw it again a few days later, and then again. Thinking that it must be good to always have a long line like that, I walked closer. The smell of what appeared to be delicious Indian Food wafted toward me. That was enough for me, so I decided to try them out.
Turns out their specialty was a chicken tikka massala burrito. I had to wait almost 20 minutes to get it, but it was phenomenally delicious! How can you go wrong combining burritos with Indian food? You can’t!  After that I was hooked, and became a regular customer.
So Saturday night Sal and I set out for Curry Up Now. I rode my Surlyized bike and he rode his hybrid. We weren’t going far, and I had no fear locking this bike out front of a restaurant at night. I would not feel so comfortable with my Casseroll, along with SON generator hub and Edelux light (stay tuned for a post about that soon.)
Downtown San Mateo was really jumping. The majority of businesses are restaurants in this area, and a lot of people were going in and out them for dinner. The big theater multiplex is right there as well.
We locked up our bikes and went inside.
Sal had a deconstructed Samosa
 and I had a chicken tikka massala burrito and sexy fries (Criss-cross fries with chicken and curry sauce
I also had  a Kingfisher (Indian) beer.
To comply with the coffeeneuring rules, I ordered a Desi coffee, which is a special type of Indian coffee. I was only planning on giving it a token swig, but it was actually really good. Very sweet with cream. Not my usual taste, but a pleasant surprise.
After we finished, we loaded our stuffed selves back on our bikes and rode 2.5 miles or so home. It was a darn good meal!
I’ll have to go Curryneuring again!

Coffeeneuring Challenge Control #2 and #3.

Bean Street Coffee, San Mateo, CA.

So this weekend I went for coffeeneuring control #2 and #3 as part of the Second Annual Coffeeneuring Challenge.

I was in a bit of a dilemma. Evidently, I am a creature of habit as I was at a loss trying to decide where to go for my second trip. You see, I pretty much always go to Peet’s coffee. Ok , not pretty much, let’s just say always.

My solution was to use Google. I just typed in “Coffee Shops San Mateo, CA,” and would see what I got. Well, the first one was Bean Street Coffee. It sounded familiar, and I realized that I had ridden by it hundreds of times on my way home from the train station, thinking ” I should go there sometime” and then never did.

So I set out last Saturday 10/20/12 to check it out. I had to ride through a pretty fierce headwind to get there, but it was only 2.5 miles, so  I managed.

I got there, parked my bike in front, and went inside.

Interior of Bean Street Coffee.

It’s a very small shop, barely room enough to stand in front of the counter and order. It has a very nice atmosphere to it, with a very friendly vibe. I ordered a cup of coffee and a piece of coffee cake and sat at one of the three small tables at the front of the store.

The coffee was very good and the pastry quite delicious. I thought to myself, “Must come back here again.” It was then that I glanced up at the wall and saw this sign announcing their closure. Last day 10/21/12.:

Sad news from Bean Street Cafe.

I felt it was somewhat bittersweet. I discovered a great new coffee shop, only to find it was closing its doors. However, if it weren’t for the coffeeneuring challenge, I never would have gone there. Thanks Coffeenuring Challenge! 😉

The next day, I went on a short 20 mile ride with a friend. I used my Salsa Casseroll for this ride, and went to the Mini Coffee shop in downtown San Mateo on the way back for Control #3. Polar opposite of Bean Street Cafe. Nothing wrong with it, but nothing special either.

The coffee was ok, and the shop owner did heat up my muffin, and that was a nice touch, but not enough to get me to come back.

My Salsa Casseroll in front of Mini Coffee.

I’m going to expand my choices for next weekend and look for something new and different. Perhaps… gasp! A different town?!

Stay posted!

Commuter Bike Racing, or How to Feel Like a Man in Two Short Minutes!

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I have been guilty of commuter racing for some time now. I think the best part of it is that your opponent is usually unaware of the competition. It makes the inevitable victory so much sweeter…;)

But rarely do I get feedback from any of my valiant adversaries. I was fortunate enough to get such feedback this morning.

I catch a train at 6:14 am in San Mateo, California, which takes me to San Francisco, where I work. From the train station, I have about a two-mile trip to my office. Occasionally, I will engage in a friendly little race to my office. Again, the situation is usually that I come up to some carbon bike, or whatever, at a light and I think to myself “NONE SHALL PASS!” If you have ever seen the Black Knight from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” you know the voice I hear in my head.

I guess I enjoy it because I am riding my steel bike with fenders, front bag, trunk bag, and propeller helmet, and I know I they think I am  slow. I get a very rewarding, and completely underserved, ego boost when I blow by them.

So on the train this morning I engage in conversation with my new commuter friend, Kent. We’re both about the same age (I’m turning 51 this Saturday). Anyway, he noticed the Randonneurs USA logo on the back of my visibility vest, and was curious about the sport.

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Ty's RUSA visibility vest. I wear this always . Every little bit helps!

He  rides a nice carbon road bike with aero bars, and rides pretty regularly, about 40 miles every weekend, and was intrigued. I gave him my “newbie” perspective, and encouraged him to ride in the SF Randonneurs Populaire this Saturday, March 31st.  He is not sure he is quite up for that yet, but does want to learn more about it. I gave him my card, in case he has any questions, or has trouble remembering how to spell “Randonneur” when he searches for more information when he gets to his office.

So the train arrives, we both pack up, and leave separately. He was ahead of me at the first light. When I pulled away he said “Hey! I came up behind you the other day. I thought, ‘I can beat this guy, steel bike, fenders, propeller on the helmet’ … and then I couldn’t keep up! That wasn’t right!”

We both laughed and I told him that I did the same thing with my folding bike, a Bike Friday Tikit http://www.bikefriday.com/bicycles/commuter, as the smaller wheels actually accelerate faster from a stop.

I also told him that  in my opinion, carbon bikes don’t have all that much advantage in the scheme of things. He had asked me earlier if he needed to get a special bike for randonneuring and I had told him that though the classic randonneur bike is steel with fenders, there are plenty of people out there in full carbon bikes, etc.  It is really personal preference.

So yes, I am a commuter racer. I know it is silly, and I know my shrink would probably have something to say about it, but I do try to keep it safe. I don’t blow through red lights, and I don’t cut in and out of traffic. It makes it fun, and also makes the short ride at least a bit of a workout.

Funny thing, but with the randonneurs,  I’m pretty slow, a regular Lantern Rouge. But  on the wild and wooly streets of San Francisco, fighting the commuter biker wars, I’m Lance Armstrong… or maybe Bob Roll?