Saturday, October 24, 2015

Coffeeneuring #4: All City Coffee

bike parking outside
Space Odyssey Beacon Hill

It started off as a fine adventure, riding downtown and snubbing the bike lanes on 2nd Avenue that seem like an accident waiting to happen. I took a car lane, flew through downtown faster than bikes, buses and cars, green lights all the way to Royal Brougham at the Link Light Rail's Stadium Station. Just say "light rail" or "train" – it's easier. OK, so I was tired and I wanted a break, a little bump to get me up to Beacon Hill. Some might call it cheating; I call it an adventure.

in the wilderness of the Duwamish
Just a couple of stops and a few minutes later, I emerged into the tube-like, futuristic station at Beacon Hill where the only way out is via the elevator. From there, I followed the signed bike route to Georgetown. I was dubious as I merged onto 15th Ave with cars exiting from I-5, but there was a wide shoulder and in a block, I turned to a quiet street and rolled down toward Lucille Street and on into Georgetown, finding bike parking right in front of All City Coffee.

the industry of the Duwamish
My fellow coffee drinkers from the Seattle Coffee Club all groaned about finding parking and the fact that there was a 2-hour limit. When I motioned toward my bike, one woman expressed an interest in riding, but only if she could be mostly on the trails. She could have ridden there on all flat trails, as I would demonstrate on my way home. After a latte at All City and lunch across the street at Hitchcock Deli (their other location is Bainbridge Island), I was off on my second half of the day's adventure.

along the waterfront trail
I stopped a bunch of times to wait for bridge decks to open, to take photos, enjoy the view, try to find a bathroom, find a bathroom and walk my bike across the Ballard Locks. By then, I was wiped out, out of water and out of snacks, only a credit card left for payment. So I didn't stop; I kept plugging away uphill from Ballard to get home and eat and drink and take a nap. It was not a pretty sight. So much for my fine adventure.

Distance ridden: 27 (28.5 minus the light rail trip)

All City Coffee
1205 Vale St

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Coffeeneuring #3: Cafe Lulu

Cafe Lulu in tile
I suppose you could say it started out as an errandonnee. I needed a few things from Trader Joe's… bananas, bars, bathroom tissue (that's what proper people call toilet paper). I had a taste of their coffee of the day and had to have more of that taste. I picked up some crackers which can't be found anywhere else – raisin and rosemary, fig and oh, who cares, it's figs. Then, some white bean and basil hummus to go with the crackers and frozen mango to make smoothies with. I packed it up in my awesome Detours bike bag and though it was bursting at the zipper, I was still able to close it.
soy latte and chocolate coconut bar

On the way back from TJ's, I turned to 65th Street and then Latona. Next to the Latona Pub is Cafe Lulu. The bike parking is outside the pub because it's more essential to bike after drinking beer than after drinking coffee, I guess. I ordered a Soy Latte and a chocolate coconut bar (the same ones I get at Pioneer Coffee in North Bend when going hiking) from the friendly barista in the small cafe and took a seat by the window. Outside, across Latona was a restaurant I had heard mention on, The Butcher and the Baker, but didn't know where it was. A quick search told me that it's an excellent spot for brunch – I am filing that tidbit away somewhere.
It's in the bag!

After quaffing my coffee, I quickly packed up to head home for the sake of my frozen fruit.

Distance ridden: 5.5 miles

Cafe Lulu
6417 Latona Ave NE

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Coffeeneuring #2: Sky Cafe

Saturday was all about procrastinating. Later in the day I would be going to a friend's wedding and, while I had at least purchased the gift (a blender from the registry) and the wrapping paper, the two had not yet merged into a presentable gift. And then there was the weather: cool and cloudy. It was supposed to improve as the day went on, so I decided on a short ride up north which would get me back in plenty of time to get both the gift and myself in a presentable state.

Unfortunately, once you leave the core of Seattle, coffee shops that aren't part of a large chain are few and far between. I managed to find one in an unusual setting, one that would include the ambiance of fresh flowers and an open and airy feel. I rode on the Interurban Trail to Sky Nursery, at 190th Street. I walked my bike inside the greenhouse to their cafe and leaned it against bales of hay (part of their fall theme). To my surprise, I was not the only cyclist there; one guy had actually locked his bike to something while shopping inside.

The friendly barista (she asked me how my ride was) made me a soy latte and I sipped it while watching families with dogs and babies, just like in any other coffee shop. I continued on my ride, feeling the heart-pumping effects of the caffeine, just as my heart was pumping plenty on its own, due to the long climb up 25th Ave that I hadn't anticipated.

After my shower and post-ride stretching was done, I had barely enough time to wrap my gift before taking off for the wedding. My procrastinator's penalty came in the form of every single light along my route being red, though I still made the event in plenty of time. Sometimes, it just works to procrastinate.

Sky Nursery Cafe
18528 Aurora Ave N
Shoreline, WA

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Coffeeneuring Challenge, Day 1: Ventoux

a beautiful day at the cafe
Years ago, on a bike tour in France's Provence region, I had the opportunity to ride up to the summit of Mt Ventoux; I didn't take it. Between my tight gearing that meant grinding gears (and my knees) and the thought of the screaming descent with only an inch of rubber and petite brakes to stop me, I made the decision that it wasn't worth the risk. Today, I got a second chance.
my US bike in the company of an Italian

Today is the first day of the Coffeeneuring Challenge, 2015 and I started with a 25-mile loop up to Shoreline titled, Decent Descents of North Seattle. On the return leg of the loop, I extended the route to include a climb up 55th Street to 35th Avenue for a stop at Ventoux Roasters. No need to hop a plane for this climb; the mountain has come to Seattle in the form of a sweet neighborhood coffee shop. I was out on a bike ride for some good coffee, plus a little treat for having made such a vigorous climb.

Oddly, there was no bike parking outside so I took my steed inside and leaned her against the wall, below some classic frames and jerseys. Since I had just made the climb up Ventoux, I was still perspiring and high on endorphins, in stark contrast to the barista and patrons who were mellowed out with coffee (yes, that happens when you drink it regularly) in the quiet, open environment of the little cafe.

Soon, with a Mighty-O Donut and a soy latte in hand, I was able to join those ranks. Appropriately, the espresso art was a heart (Hart Roasters) and was very smooth. The decor was bike-centered, but not entirely so in that a non rider would enjoy the space just as well.

attention to detail: chainrings and coffee bags