The Coffeeneuring Challenge: Always Be Coffeeneuring

My bike, a Specialized Sirrus

The Coffeeneuring Challenge is where you ride your bike to 7 different local coffee shops from Saturday October 4 through Sunday, November 16. Only the weekends and holidays count. You have to ride at least two miles. And you have to record your adventure.

I coffeeneured even before it was a thing. There’s nothing I like better than wandering the city by bike, off to explore some new neighborhood and grab some coffee. I coffee even during non-coffeeneuring season.

Biking and drinking coffee is a lifestyle for me. My motto: Always Be Coffeeneuring.

Where did I go this year?

Killer ESP
October 4
21 miles

Rain was a theme for this coffeeneuring season. There had been a ton of rain the previous day and portions of the Mount Vernon Trail were slightly flooded. But I had coffeeneuring to do! I set off into the drizzle and coasted through the water-logged portions of the trail, keeping my feet up so that they wouldn’t get wet. No one was on the trail except the coffeeneuring and the crazy.

Cyclist navigates flooded Mount Vernon Trail

Killer ESP was a disappointment. The cappuccino was fine. It was just that the place was packed with laptop campers and a woman occupying a whole couch with her tiny dog. But at least I didn’t get a $91 ticket for failing to stop at a stop sign. Alexandria is the worst.

Coffeeneuring in a very crowded Killer ESP. Place is packed with laptop campers and a woman occupying a couch with her dog. So I sit at the bar and ponder the reading choices of other people. #coffeeneuring #va #coffee #bikedc

October 11
20 miles

There is no place better to bike during the fall in DC than Rock Creek Park. The trees had just started to change so I rambled over Boulder Bridge and down Beach Drive before returning to have coffee at Firehook. An absolutely perfect fall day.

Boulder Bridge in Rock Creek Park

Firehook Bakery

National Mall
October 12

Eight miles

The Coffeeneuring Challenge has all sorts of different rules and provisos. One of them is “Coffee Shop without Walls” where you can make or bring your own coffee. So I loaded up the thermos and headed down to the mall.

A holiday Monday BYOC #coffeeneuring excursion down to the Mall #bikedc

Lot 38
October 18

11 miles

One of the things I like best about coffeeneuring is hearing about new bike routes and coffee places. There’s a Facebook group where coffeeneurs post stories and photos from their adventures. A fellow coffeeneur had mentioned Lot 38 by the Navy Yard so I went to check it out. On the way back, I went for a spin around Capitol Hill. Sunday afternoons are a very quiet time to ride around the city, especially when the Redskins are playing.

Lot 38

Capitol view

Note: one of the coffeeneuring requirements is to rate the bike friendliness of the places visited. None of the coffee shops I went to were particularly bike friendly. I primarily locked my bike to sign posts, as you do in the city.

Room 11
October 25
12 miles

Coffeeneuring gets me out of the house and off to new adventures. It was a rainy and wet Sunday morning. But I had coffeeneuring to do so I biked up to Room 11 for a biscuits and bacon. Then I wandered through Petworth to the Old Soldier’s Home (never been there before) to watch cyclecross (never seen that before). Looked like fun!

Room 11

here they come!

Compass Coffee
October 31
7 miles

Trick or treat! Candy doesn’t interest me that much but free coffee? I’m there. Compass Coffee opened a new store off U Street, part of a hipsterville development. To celebrate, they offered free coffee drinks. I had never had a cortado before – delicious! I now have a whole new way of drinking my second-favorite beverage.

Cortado at Compass

found Waldo

La Colombe (Philadelphia)
November 8

7 miles

I wanted to do something big for the grande finale, so I took a bus and then a bike share to the Philadelphia Bike Expo. Yo, Adrian! While there, I ran into the Coffeeneur herself! And I looked at all sorts of bikes before going to La Colombe for an awesome cappuccino.

Me at the Rocky Steps

cappuccino at La Colombe

Lesson Learned

Truth be told, there was a lot more biking and a lot more coffee. But these are the highlights. Always Be Coffeeneuring.

I learn something new every coffeeneuring season. What did I learn this year?

  • I don’t like getting my bike dirty.  As I biked up to Room 11 on a rainy morning, I was annoyed at all the grit that my bike accumulated until I saw all mud at DC Cyclecross. That put things in perspective. But I still don’t like it.
  • There are still places in the city that I have yet to discover, like the Old Soldier’s Home.
  • Walking the halls of the Philadelphia Bike Expo, I realized that biking is a hobby that can consume all your time and disposable income. With only two bikes, I’m far from a cultist. I’m not ready to sell all my possessions and hit the road on a bike – at least not yet.


Author: Joe Flood

Joe Flood is a writer, photographer and web person from Washington, DC. The author of several novels, Joe won the City Paper Fiction Competition in 2020. In his free time, he enjoys wandering about the city taking photos.

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