Destination: Buzz Bakery, Navy Yard, Washington, DC
Total distance: 11 miles
The great thing about biking around a city are the surprises you see along the way. Being on a bike allows you to cover large amounts of ground quickly – but it also lets you stop and check things out, in ways that you couldn’t if you were trapped in a car.
I was on my way to the Navy Yard for my final coffeeneuring adventure when I noticed that Constitution Avenue was closed along the National Mall. I stopped and asked someone what was going on. A historic Pullman train car was being installed in the African American History Museum. It’s such a large object that the Pullman is going in first and then they’re building the rest of the museum around it, which isn’t scheduled to open until 2015.
Everyone has their secret spots, places that they only know about.
For me, it’s Illy Cafe at the Renaissance Dupont at 22nd and M St NW. It’s a hipster-free zone, without a beard or skinny jean to be seen. There’s also no wifi, so you don’t get laptop campers or deluded grad students.
A beautiful cappuccino is only $3.08 – probably the cheapest in the city.
“The journey is its own reward” should be the slogan of the Coffeeneuring Challenge. It’s not the coffee you drink, but how you get there.
That was my consolation after drinking this.
It was supposed to be a cappuccino, from Quartermaine’s in Bethesda. It was more like hot milk in a bowl with a dollop of espresso. I’d been so spoiled on my previous coffeeneuring adventures to Dolcezza and Buzz Bakery that this mediocre concoction was a shock.
I needed to return to DC, where cappuccino was made by surly men with beards. So I gulped this down and headed back to the Capital Crescent Trail. It’s my favorite trail in the Washington area and the one I ride the most. The CCT follows an old railway line from Georgetown to Bethesda, with a gentle uphill grade most of the way. Scenic year-round, it had exploded with fall colors over the weekend.
Four coffeeneuring adventures completed – three to go! Will I complete all of my seven required trips by November 17? Will I have better luck in coffee? Stay tuned!
Progress in this city is as rutted and uneven as the bike lane pictured above. This is the 15th St Cycletrack. It’s supposed to be a bike lane running along the curb, protected from traffic by white, reflective bollards and a line of parked cars on the left.
The DC Department of Transportation (DDOT) is rebuilding the lane – great! But they tore it up and left it this way, with no detours or accommodations for cyclists. Without white painted lanes or bollards, drivers don’t know it’s a cycletrack. They drive and park in it while cyclists come the opposite way – a recipe for accidents.
DDOT was warned. WABA asked to help during the planning process – and was ignored. And once the construction started, cyclists tweeted at them, including me, after witnessing WABA Bike Ambassador Pete Beers nearly get killed. I asked that orange cones be put up to mark the lane. DDOT assured me that they would fix the problem. But they did nothing.
This infuriates me. I work in government. I respond to citizen concerns every day. Civil servants have a duty to fix problems. DDOT under the Fenty administration responded to and fixed problems the same day.
This DDOT project has been poorly planned, reckless and negligent. It would not have happened under Adrian Fenty. But is commonplace under Mayor Gray. Cast your vote accordingly.
The great thing about coffeneuring is that it gets you biking to new places. Coffeeneuring #1 sent me to Buzz Bakery and their delicious red velvet cupcakes. Coffeeneuring #2 was a trip to hipsterville aka Big Bear in Bloomingdale.
For my third coffeeneuring adventure, I decided to visit Union Market. This wholesale market in Northeast DC (formerly known as the Florida Avenue Market) has been reinvented as an artisanal shopping experience.
To get there, Google Maps sent me across the city via M Street. I thought the route was crazy, but I played along.
The Google sent me down M Street through Shaw, across Mad Max-style New York Avenue and through NoMa streets torn up from construction. After going under the railroad tracks, I just followed the hipsters up to the market.
Union Market is home to more than a dozen different restaurants and retail shops, including Peregrine Coffee, Dolcezza Gelato, Co Co. Sala and TaKorean. It’s sort of “city in a box” where you can shop for all your luxury treats in one location. Continue reading “Coffeeneuring #3: Union Market”
For my second coffeeneuring adventure, I biked to Big Bear Cafe in Bloomingdale. Reminder: the idea behind coffeeneuring is to bike to seven different coffee shops by November 17.
Like most bike people, I have more than one bike. I’ve limited my addiction to just to two cycles – a Specialized Sirrus and Breezer Zig 7, a folding bike that I bought off Craigslist. Small enough to fit in the trunk of a car, I’ve taken this bike everywhere, from the cobblestoned streets of Savannah to mile-high trails in Colorado.
But I had a problem.
I can fix a flat tire. But I could not loosen the nut that held the tire to the frame, even after employing bike tools, WD-40 and even a hammer. So I took it to The Bike Rack at 14th and Q.
Shutdown has a silver lining – more time for coffeeneuring! What is coffeenuering? The idea is simple:
Ride your bike to 7 different local coffee shops from Saturday October 5 through Sunday, November 17.
You ride your bike to a coffee shop, take a photo and tag it with #coffeeneuring. Simple.
After some research on Yelp, I decided to visit the Buzz Bakery on Slaters Lane in Alexandria. Though it’s right off the Mount Vernon Trail, I didn’t even know it existed. That’s the beauty of coffeeneuring – it gets you to new places.
I cruised down the 15th St bike lane, went around the White House and then encountered Shutdown Theater.
Shutdown Theater is when the National Park Service unnecessarily shuts down open-air parks, monuments and even bongo-playing hippies. The purpose is not to protect monuments built to last thousands of years (they’re guarding them anyway, as you can see above) but to provide visuals for TV anchors to stand in front of. It’s a political strategy.
But, on a bike I’m free of these petty functionaries, and could escape over the river to Virginia. Crossing my favorite Memorial Bridge, I cruised down the Mount Vernon Trail. This is National Park Service land too but all they’ve done is close the bathrooms. I was joined by plenty of other lawbreakers.