Saturday, September 29, 2018

Coffee Rides

The Coffee Emporium & Cafe, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Late season.  All major tides are over.  Trying to keep motivated to ride.  Maintain fitness and shape.  Motivation....  We do the one thing that gets are legs and blood pumping.  Ride for coffee!  So I'm wrong, there is one major riding event left, The 2018 Coffeeneuring Challenge (more about that later).

Short Rides

Outside of DSM Brew

Weekend mornings.  We wake up early.  Everyday.  Our internal clocks are wired that way.  Saturday and Sunday morning we usually make the 2 mile round trip to DSM Brew.  We once rode to Horizon Line Coffee in Western Gateway neighborhood but they messed up my order and there was no where to sit.  I miss the Village Bean in the East Village.

Mary has been getting vanilla iced lattes since it has been a hot humid summer.  I used to order an Americano but lately I order 3 hots over a FULL 16oz cup of ice and fill the remainder with half and half.  I don't know what this is called.  It's like an Americano without the water.  I've tried ordering it as an iced breve but it gets screwed up where I have ordered this way.  A barista in Cleveland said it was similar to what Starbucks calls a White Lightning.  Yesterday someone said order it as an Ole whatever that is.  I usually explain.  "In a 16oz plastic cup, fill completely up with half and half and add 3 shots.  Fill the rest with half and half."  Simple.  No added sugar.  No stirring.  Yet sometimes I get a regular breve (hot latte with half and half instead of regular milk, no flavor or sugar).  Or they use a very small amount of ice and serve it in a small paper cup.  I'm a picky pretentious bastard.

Outside Horizon Line Coffee

Longer Rides

The problem with biking in the last quarter of the year is that we are no longer training.  We also have been everywhere in every direction on or bicycles so riding gets to be a bit dull after 4000 miles in our neck of the woods.  So we search for coffee shops within 20 to 30 miles away from our home.

Smokey Row, Pleasantville, Iowa

This one was a pre-Ragrbai training ride.  Specifically, HILLS.  I think it was something like 28 miles to Smokey Row so we turned it into a 60 mile ride.  The hills of Vandalia Rd.  Try them sometime, it's good for you.  We got to town early and before the pub opened.  But we discovered the coffee shop and were delighted.  It was not our intention to have coffee today on this ride.  We merely wanted to abuse ourselves on fast road bikes on steep long hills.  We got that.  Add in the Dream Team and their roster of children 20 to 30 years, most like more than the latter, as motivation to ride faster, it was a great training ride.  Cannot be passed, cannot let someone pass me....So finding a coffee shop was fabulous.  Recently I was told that this is the original Smokey Row.  I am only aware of the one in Des Moines on MLK.  Nice place.  Good coffee.  Will make this a destination next year when we want to abuse ourselves on hills or when we ride to Lake Red Rock.

Crimson Anchor Coffee, Indianola, Iowa

Needed a 40 to 50 miler.  Fired up The Google Maps and discovered this place about 24 miles from home.  Perfecto!  Ride to Carlisle, Iowa, a mere 11 miles or so from our doorstep, via a trail and county highways to catch the Summerset Trail and take that 11 miles into Indianola and work our way to The Square.  Every Iowa town of significance has a square with a courthouse and businesses.  Crimson Anchor used to be on the square but now it is just off it on the southwest corner.  We had options to stop at Summerset Winery, half way between Carlisle and Indianola and an option to eat at La Villa, a Mexican restaurant, in Carlisle.  This day coffee was sufficient.

CA is in a new location.  They share the space with a frame shop and an antique store.  CA roasts their own beans lightly to medium, never burnt like Starbucks.  We ordered our usual drinks and sat outside at a table.  Good Lord, that was the best coffee I ever had!  Smooth, not bitter, made in accordance to my specifications without any lip from the barista (I've had a barista gig lately so I know that attitude is hard to control sometimes).  We will be back.  On a sad note, the other coffee shop was closed.


Take advantage of what the locals offer when on tour.  WE did a 7 or 8 day touring through our state instead of doing The Ragbrai route.  This avoids crowds and lines.  Our first night was spent in Marshalltown, Iowa, the night before the tornado.  Breakfast was at The Tremont Grille in the old downtown area near the courthouse and at ground zero for the tornado that ripped through a few hours later.  I had my usual as photoed.  The third morning we were in Cedar Rapids.  It was a Saturday so we parked our bicycles and walked around their Farmers Market.  I found a coffee shop, The Coffee Emporiums & Cafe, and indulged.  The rest of the week was drip coffee since espresso machines are expensive.   Funny story, we were at a diner in Cedar Falls, Iowa, and I asked the server if they had espresso and she replied that they had no specials!

Marshalltown.  Nice glass!

No Joy Altoona

I find the lack of a non-Starbucks coffee shop in Altoona quite disturbing!  Photo taken at the dog park in Altoona just right off the trail.

On Sunday we headed east to Altoona, Iowa.  Galaxy Coffee.  This is located in a laundromat.  Strange, unique but Google reviews said it was a good place and I saw the espresso machine in photos.  Capital City Coffee was almost a choice.  I had to contact her via Face Book and got a timely reply. "I don't have specific hours. I roast to order. I don't sell actual cups of coffee just whole beans and ground. Is there something you are looking for that I could get ready?"  Our ride/adventure really was not the target of her business.  Maybe some other time. Other choices were the ever present and on every corner Starbucks, Mc Donalds, Casey's and Dunkin' Donuts.

Took a mix of streets, sidepaths and the Gay Lea Wilson Trail and another sidepath/sidewalk to get to coffee shop.  Greeted by a woman smoking a cigarette and puffing bad news.  "No coffee here.  Taking the sign down next week.  There's a Starbucks across the street."  The 6 words I do not like to hear.  Bummer.  Out of options.

Perk Up Porter from Brightside Aleworks

Or so we thought...there is a brewery between the Hy Vee and the Library not far from the trail!  New opportunity!  Brightside Aleworks.  And sure enough they offer Perk Up a porter brewed with coffee grounds from Capital City Coffee!


Coffeeneuring is an activity created by Mary Gersemalina who can be found at her blog   Chasing Mailboxes.  This is a fun 7 week activity and for small fees one can purchase swag such as Coffeeneuring themed patches and handkerchiefs.  This what we have been doing lately and look forward to the challenge.  I you would like to participate click Coffeeneuring Challenge 2018 The Best Intentions

I image that as winter arrives I'll switch to hot coffee.  I also image that we will not be riding 50 miles for coffee either.  There are a few locations near us that we have not visited.  Until then enjoy the ride and take time to drink the coffee!

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