The title of this post may sound a bit strange, but stick with me here – I think you’ll like it. Coffeeneuring is touted as a relaxed cycling endeavor for people who like riding bikes and enjoy drinking coffee or tea. Over the course of six weeks, participants must ride their bikes at least two miles round-trip to seven different places that serve coffee (or coffee shop-type drinks) and take photos for evidence. The term coffeeneuring is made up, but has its roots in the French term randonneuring, which is a long distance cycling sport.
Will’s stepdad is an active randonneur, completing at least one 200+ kilometer bike ride a month. Last year, he and Will’s mom participated in the coffeeneuring challenge. Each week they would invite us to join, but we would brush it off and think, there’s no way we can keep up with a cyclist who bikes 200+ kilometers a month, when we rarely bike anywhere. No way. When the coffeeneuring challenge approached this year, we were once again nudged to try it out.
For the past few years, Will has often used his bike to get to and from classes or early morning clinical rotations when he didn’t want to wake me up to drive him, but the buses weren’t running yet, but I hadn’t biked around town at all since my days of living in the Netherlands on my college study abroad trip. Biking in the Netherlands is a totally different experience from biking in the US. In the Netherlands there are dedicated bike stoplights, huge bike lanes and alleys, and overwhelmingly more bikes than cars. While our town is very bike-friendly compared to most cities and towns, I was still wary about our ability to bike to coffee shops around the area.
We decided to do a test ride the weekend before the official coffeeneuring challenge started to see if we could do it and how we liked it. We biked about 8.5 miles round-trip, up and down hills, and through campus, stopping at our local farmers’ market and the coffee shop. We loved it. While I was nervous at first, we quickly got the hang of it and, most importantly, didn’t take it too seriously and had fun along the way.
So we took on the full challenge and for the past five-ish weeks, Will and I have biked to one or two coffee shops a week, documenting our cycling-coffee dates each time. What we thought would be a difficult activity has turned into a fun date that we will likely continue past the sanctioned coffeeneuring challenge weeks. Each trip is a fun adventure that forces us to branch out and try something new – whether that is biking up huge hill, riding on a different portion of the greenway, or visiting a coffee shop we haven’t tried before.
These photos were all taken by the easiest thing for us to carry – an iPhone (and not the newest model at that), so pardon the poor quality. Also excuse the helmet heads – safety first! :)
Date: October 13, 2017
Coffee shop: Coco + Bean
Drinks ordered: Will – drip coffee, Hope – steamed apple cider
Favorite part of this trip: As our first trip, my favorite part was showing ourselves that we could do this! I loved proving to ourselves that we could bike 8.5 miles, up hills, and to a coffee shop, and it was actually fun!
Date: October 19, 2017
Coffee shop: Perennial Coffee
Drinks ordered: Will & Hope – drip coffee
Favorite part of this trip: The best part of this trip was the cute, quaint coffee shop experience on a quiet weekday. Perennial is a brand new coffee shop on Franklin Street and is covered in pretty green plants and Instagrammable tile floors and brick walls. It is a very thin shotgun-style building so most of the seating is upstairs. We went right when they opened before work on a weekday and it was fun to have the whole shop to ourselves.
Date: October 21, 2017
Coffee shop: Caribou Coffee
Drinks ordered: Will – drip coffee (sensing a theme here?), Hope – pumpkin spice latte
Favorite part of this trip: We were originally planning on stopping at a cafe that was about two miles closer than Caribou, but when we got there we spontaneously decided to keep going. I’m not a spontaneous person, but it was so fun to again be able to show ourselves that we could go farther than we originally thought we could. Caribou is close to where we lived for the first two years we were married so it brought back fun memories too. After proving to ourselves (again) that we could go farther, my second favorite part of this ride was the brand spanking new (like not even fully complete yet) bike path/greenway that we discovered on our way back home. It was AMAZING and gorgeous, even though it unexpectedly ended in the steepest hill in all of Chapel Hill.
Date: October 23, 2017
Coffee shop: Friends’ Cafe
Drinks ordered: Will – drip coffee, Hope – almond milk latte
Favorite part of this trip: Friends’ Cafe is one of my all time favorite coffee shops in the area. It isn’t gorgeous or fancy, but the people are nice, the drinks are great quality, and the atmosphere is always wonderful. We turned this coffeeneuring trip into a pre-work/school date. Besides just being in Friends’ Cafe, my favorite part of this one was being able to relax and ease into the day after a wonderful morning bike ride and coffee shop date.
Date: October 27, 2017
Coffee shop: Open Eye Cafe
Drinks ordered: Will & Hope (shared both drinks) – hot chocolate and hot apple cider
Favorite part of this trip: This was our first colder ride, so from the get-go I had my mind set on cold weather drinks. Open Eye is another local coffee shop that I always love, so being able to spend a Friday evening together there with our first warm seasonal drinks was the best part of this ride.
Date: October 31, 2017
Coffee shop: Gray Squirrel Coffee Co.
Drinks ordered: Will & Hope – drip coffee
Favorite part of this trip: Another pre-work/school ride was our Halloween trip to Gray Squirrel. Gray Squirrel just recently opened their own building (they used to share a building with a brewery) and I have been dying to visit. We weren’t able to spend much time here, but I realized (and appreciated) how much a morning coffee shop date can lift my mood for the whole day.
Date: November 4, 2017
Coffee shop: Starbucks
Drinks ordered: Will – drip coffee (yup, no change here), Hope – “Joy” tea
Favorite part of this trip: I’m going to be totally cliche here and say that, behind being able to spend time with Will, my favorite part of this coffeeneuring jaunt was getting holiday tea in a “red cup” for the first time this season. That experience just makes you feel like everything is more joyful :)
So, what coffee shops should we try next?!*
*By bike or by car :)