Coffeeneuring #3: Muffins and Marathons

Banana walnut muffin and coffee for #coffeeneuring 3
Banana walnut muffin and coffee for #coffeeneuring 3

Coffeeneuring 3: Uprising Muffin Company
Date: October 12, 2014
Distance: Ten miles

It was one of those days that you never wanted to go inside – a warm Sunday with fall leaves at peak color.

For Coffeeneuring #3, I decided to check out Uprising Muffin Company on 7th Street, right next to the Shaw Metro. I was up at an absurd hour – good thing they open at 7 AM. And  the muffin selection is truly  impressive. Their “everyday selections” include cranberry orange and lemon poppy-seed while they have daily specials including maple pancake muffins and even some kind of muffin egg sandwich.

I kept it simple with a banana walnut muffin, which was delicious, and coffee, which was okay. If you just want coffee, Compass a couple blocks away is a better choice.

Coffeeneuring suits me because there’s nothing I like better than wandering the city by bike. Coffeeneuring gives these ramblings a purpose. After breakfast, I crossed town using the R Street bike lane, then turned south on the 15th St Cycletrack and headed for the National Mall. I ran into this sight on Freedom Plaza:

Looks like the @wabadc safe cycling class #bikedc
WABA teaches safe city cycling.

It was The Intro to City Cycling class by the Washington Area Bicyclists Association, designed to teach “confident control of the bike in all situations.” The class took advantage of the wide, car-less space of Freedom Plaza to learn how to brake, corner and other necessary skills. Looks like they were having fun.

The Marine Corps Marathon was going on. I saw on Twitter that the winner had already crossed the finish line. I went down to the National Mall to see if people were still running. In fact, they were. Thousands of them. Somewhere in these hordes was the Queen of Coffeeneuring. It’s not enough that she has to bike everywhere – she runs marathons too, just to make me feel like a slacker.

Runners on the Mall #marinecorpsmarathon #igdc
Marine Corps Marathon on the National Mall.
America! #igdc #marinecorpsmarathon
America

The course went around the Mall, across the river, and basically all over the city as runners racked up 26 miles. In front of the Capitol (now covered in scaffolding – weird), a marching band played to cheer them on.

The Capitol looks so strange with its scaffolding #igdc

Watching this endless stream of jogging humanity, it was impossible not to feel inspired. But I was also very glad to have my bike. That running stuff looks exhausting.

Imagine what history would be like if the Greeks had bikes. It would’ve been much easier to get word back to Athens. The first marathon wouldn’t have ended in a cry of “Victory!” and death. Instead, a bike messenger would’ve brought the news of the Persian defeat. He might be sweating a bit after twenty-six miles. And Greece would be celebrated as the birthplace of the bike (and democracy).

As the runners trailed off, I headed home, passing the White House and one final fall scene:

This has to be the premier fall weekend of the year #igdc #bikedc

Fall is ephemeral. These colorful leaves will be gone within days. Winter is coming once again – cold temps are rolling in. If you weren’t out last weekend, you missed the best fall weekend of the year.

Running on Empty on the Jackson River Scenic Trail

Crunchy on the Jackson River Scenic Trail
The leaf-covered Jackson River Scenic Trail in Covington, VA.

Can you outrace a flat? I found out on the Jackson River Scenic Trail.

It was a lovely, warm October day. I was on my way to western North Carolina when I made a little detour up I-64. I wanted to check out the Jackson River Trail outside Covington, VA.

The terrain looks more like West Virginia than the Old Dominion – it’s tree-covered mountains broken up by narrow, winding streams. Covington is an old factory town, with a towering paper mill surrounded by closely-packed houses.

A couple miles outside of town, I parked at Intervale, where the trail begins. On this Friday afternoon, my car was the only vehicle in the lot.

I took the foldy out of the trunk – it’s a Breezer Zig7, basically the same thing as a Dahon. I bought it off Craigslist seven years ago. Other than changing the occasional flat (foreshadowing), it’s needed little maintenance.
Breezer Zig7 in fall leaves

The trail follows the Jackson River up into the hills. The day was warm, the leaves were at peak color, and I hardly saw another soul on the trail. The surface is crushed gravel and is very soft and smooth. I meandered and took photos with my iPhone.

Jackson River #latergram #fall
The Jackson River in fall.

Along the trail, I passed rocky cliffs, gurgling rapids, a crossroad called Petticoat Junction, a gaggle of little barky dogs (behind a fence) and even some miniature ponies.

Seven miles in, the trail turns from gravel to dirt. I decided to turn around.  It seemed like I had been going uphill for the last couple of miles. Then I noticed my rear tire – it had gotten dangerously deflated. Pressing my thumb into the tire, it had lost half its pressure over the course of the ride.

Did I have a pump and a spare tube? Of course not. I am the unprepared cyclist, one that relies on serendipity to guide me.

I didn’t want to walk seven miles back to my car so I decided to outrace the slow leak. I would pedal as hard as I could to get back to Intervale before my tire went completely flat.

Is this logical? Can you really outrun a flat? Is a flat a function of time, distance or weight? Wouldn’t riding the bike make the tire go flat even quicker?

These were academic concerns. I hopped on my bike and took off, racing past the miniature ponies, crumbly cliffs and colorful leaves of the trail.

With relief, I made it back to the car. The tire still had some air in it. By the next morning, it would be totally flat.

Did I learn my lesson? Maybe. Maybe not. The joy of having a bike is the ability to just go. If I had to plan things, it wouldn’t be as much fun. The downside, of course, is the possibility of a long walk home. But I can live with that.

Coffeeneuring #4: Capital Crescent Trail

“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.

bad cappuccinno
A bowl of hot milk – enjoy!

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.

handlebar view
There’s actually a speed limit on the CCT – 15 miles per hour. On the downhill run back to Georgetown, it’s easy to exceed the posted limit. DC hasn’t figured out how to post speed cameras on bike trails – yet.
well-maintained section of Capitol Crescent Trail in MD
The MD section of the CCT is maintained by Montgomery County. It’s in better shape than the DC section, which is neglected by the National Park Service.
Light at the end of the tunnel #latergram
The Dalecarlia Tunnel, where the CCT passes under MacArthur Boulevard.
bridge over the C&O Canal
And then there’s great old railway bridge over the C&O Canal.
leaf-covered Capitol Crescent Trail
The Sunday after the time change, and the shadows were long.
C&O Canal in fall
For the last few miles into DC, the CCT runs parallel to the C&O Canal. This is at Fletcher’s Cove.
Key Bridge in fall #coffeeneuring
The CCT begins in Georgetown, right under Key Bridge. The late afternoon light and the fall colors were absolutely perfect. Crazy how good iPhone pics can be with the right light.

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!