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Buzzed in the Burbs: Coffeeneuring #6 & #7

Our last two coffeeneuring rides took place in the 'burbs this weekend.

You see, we lead a double life. We have a city abode and what I joking call our "country estate." It's in the soulless suburbs, where the only people you see outside are walking their dog (or standing just outside their car with their kids at the bus stop in the morning).  Oh, and there's an occasional runner or two, but almost never anyone on a bicycle.

Saturday, I played the part of the occasional runner. I ran five miles (there's actually a pretty nice trail nearby, to give the burbs a fair shake).
It was a beautiful day for a trail run

Then, I dragged Hubz out the door for Coffeeneuring ride #6. We headed to quaint little Occoquan to check out a coffee place neither of us had visited yet.

Despite the fact that Occoquan is just three miles from our abode, with quite a few places to eat, we have never ridden our bikes there. One reason is that we are used to driving. The other is that the only way to get there is along a three lane road where it's not unusual for cars to hit 50 mph despite the curving route and frequent intersections. There is a narrow sidewalk on one side, with no barrier between it and the traffic. 

Hubz was dubious, but I was determined to try it. It felt ridiculous riding on the sidewalks, but we weren't brave enough to try to mix with traffic. The burbs are not bike friendly.

I may have forgotten to mention that there are a couple of big, long hills on the way. As I stood on the pedals halfway up the first one, my legs let me know they were having none of that. I sat down again and got in my granny gear, huffing up the hill. 

Elevation profile of our sixth coffeeneuring ride

At the top of the hill, a car turning right slowed and paused in his turn lane.  We made eye contact, and then as I weakly pedaled forward, he accelerated and cut me off. 

In the city, when you make eye contact, you know the driver sees you and you are ok to go. Not in the burbs!

The rest of our ride was exhilarating downhill. Long, steep downhill. As much as I was loving the thrill of the moment, I was thinking, no way in hell can we go back up this monster. Turns out it is named "Mount High."

We pulled up to our destination, in a lovely little courtyard complete with a gazebo. There was no other bike parking, so we locked our bikes to it.  

Gazebo turned bike rack

Cute place. Next time, I'll try the crepes!
I ordered the Caramel Apple Cider, expecting a sugar bomb, but it was really quite balanced and natural tasting. Two thumbs up!  Since we arrived late in the day, we didn't order any food, but the crepes and sandwiches looked tempting. 

Cafe Americano for Hubz, Caramel Apple Cider for me
We took a longer route home to avoid the big long uphill and instead did a more reasonable grade and a longer hill. We arrived home with a sense of accomplishment. New territory conquered!

Destination: Blue Arbor Cafe, 201 Union Street, Occoquan, VA
Date: Saturday, November 10
Beverages: Caramel Apple Cider and Cafe Americano
Total Miles: 8

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In his excellent blog post Why I Don't Hate Starbucks, David Leibovitz talks about his appreciation for the chain, and how it paved the way for all the wonderful independent coffee shops we enjoy. I wholeheartedly agree.
And thus, our final coffeeneuring excursion was to our suburban Starbucks. We took a roundabout way to stretch our mileage a bit. It was a beautiful warm November day and we were ecstatic to be out and about on two wheels.

As we pulled up to our neighborhood shopping center, I noticed that a bike rack had been installed quite recently. This totally thrilled me! I had emailed the company who owns the shopping center to request a bike rack and been told that one was "in the works." I had been dubious as to when that might happen, if ever -- and lo and behold! 

It was almost as if this were my prize for completing the final ride of the Coffeeneuring Challenge!

The bike rack and the Starbucks in suburbia

Pumpkin spice latte for me, Thanksgiving blend for Hubz. See our bikes?

Note the evidence of freshly drilled concrete. BIKE RACKS FOR THE PEOPLE!
I splurged and ordered the quintessential Starbucks fall creation, the Pumpkin Spice Latte, to celebrate our accomplishment. We sipped our beverages, then pedaled home through the neighborhood, smiling all the way.

Destination: Starbucks Coffee, 12447 Hedges Run Drive, Lake Ridge, VA
Date: Sunday, November 11
Beverages: Pumpkin Spice Latte and Thanksgiving Blend coffee
Total Miles: 3.2


  1. Welcome to cycling in the burbs.

    I know the hill very well. What a beast! I found out about it the hard way; I rode up it.

    The bike rack is nice. Too bad it's up against a wall. It should've been placed perpendicular to the wall to allow use on both sides.

    Congrats on completing the Coffeeneuring Challenge for 2012.

  2. Sounds like a great way to get out and see an area. I think my hubby would like if we got more into biking more. Once he doesn't work so much and we find a local sitter.

  3. I am loving these. We have a little bakery we visit on our long rides but now I am wondering whether we should start looking for coffee shops along the way. BTW, glad you are safe. Drivers are crazy.

  4. Fun, fun, fun! In fact, I'm drinking coffee while I read this (although I didn't bike anywhere to get it). I also do the urban/suburban split, and I'm with you - biking in the burbs is WAY more dangerous than in the city. Scary drivers!


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