Coffeeneuring with Nolan, weeks 1-5

This year, I decided to do the coffeenuring challenge.  If you aren’t familar with that, see this link: http://chasingmailboxes.com/2014/09/17/fourth-annual-chasing-mailboxes-coffeeneuring-challenge/

I have never done the coffeeneuring challenge before.  I mean, I’ve stopped for coffee, sure, but I don’t make it a habit.

To make it more fun, I decided to do it with my son Nolan, age 12, on our tandem.  Nolan cannot ride a bike by himself, due to intellectual and physical disabilities, but we often do short rides on our Green Gear Family Tandem with special equipment (backrest and special pedals) so Nolan can ride. Nolan loves riding.

First coffeeneur – Sunday Oct. 5.

We rode to Clemyjontri playground, a fantastic playground designed with disabled kids in mind. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/clemyjontri/ Our ride takes us through McLean. This is our usual ride.

On our way home from Clemyjontri, we went to Star Nut Gourmet in McLean. This is a frequent stop for us on our rides to and from Clemyjontri. We once saw @will_lynn there with his family. Riding distance total for ride is 14 miles—7 miles to Clemyjontri, 1.5 miles to Star Nut, then 5.5 miles back home.

Nolan had a mango smoothie.

.c1 mango smoothie

I had a mocha and a croissant.

c2 coffe and croissant

Both drinks were excellent. I really like places like this where I can get a good cup of java and Nolan can get a good smoothie. There’s great food here too. I’ve had great kibbe, pie, sandwiches, etc. here.

Place is bike-friendly enough. There’s a bike rack in the garage in back. Of course it’s just off a busy street in McLean, and nowhere near a trail, but I’ve ridden through McLean many times without incident.

Second Coffeneur-Sunday Oct. 12

Once again, a ride to Clemyjontri, this time stopping at McLean Family Restaurant (MFR) on way back. http://www.themcleanfamilyrestaurant.com/

So same distance as last week’s ride—approx. 14 miles total. I had coffee and a veggie omelet; Nolan had waffles and turkey (link) sausage and milk. Selfie at MFR:

c2a selfi

The food was, as always, really good. This is a family restaurant, not a coffee house, so they have two kinds of coffee—“coffee” and “decaf.” The coffee is fine.

Bike-friendliness? Well, there’s no bike rack. But I’ve eaten here for many years and my bike’s never been stolen. I lock it out front but not to anything.

I love this place because the food is good—I usually come for breakfast—and because many of the staff know Nolan and great him by name. (They don’t know my name. I am “Nolan’s Dad.”) Having my son greeted by name is a big thing for me.

Third coffeeneur- Sunday Oct. 19

Another tandem ride with Nolan. Three miles to breakfast at The Virginian in Vienna to start. http://www.thevirginianrestaurant.com/

I had an omelet (the Greek omelet – feta and tomato), with coffee (same as MFR—one kind of coffee—passably good); Nolan waffles and turkey (link) sausage, with milk.

c3a counter

Do you see a pattern here?

This was our first tandem ride where we just got up and rode to breakfast instead of having breakfast and then leaving.

After breakfast, we each got a haircut,

c3b haircut

then we rode approx. 9 miles to Clemyjontri. On the way back, Nolan insisted on more waffles, so we had lunch at MFR.

Our total mileage was 19 miles over 7 hours, Nolan’s highest one day mileage ever.

Nolan at Clemyjontri standing by the tandem.

c3c standing on rock

For comparison, here’s a picture of Nolan at Clemyjontri when he was 4 ¼ years old, and just starting to walk, with the aid of a walker:

c3dwalker

He’s come a long way. Although his physical and intellectual abilities are low, you can see from the photos he’s a pretty happy kid.

Fourth coffeeneur- Sunday Oct. 26

The usual trip to Clemyjontri. Like last week, we left before breakfast. Riding through McLean, we passed runners doing a fun run, many in Halloween costumes. After breakfast at MFR (where four staff greeted Nolan by name! I love that place), we rode to Clemyjontri. I got the chain jammed just before Clemyjontri. We coasted to the playground, and I couldn’t unjam it. I had to call my wife and have her bring me tools to partially disassemble the chainrings so I could remove the jammed chain. I think I call my wife with a mechanical problem maybe once every 2-3 years.

After Clemyjontri, we went to Greenberry’s Coffee & Tea in McLean. http://www.greenberrys.com/ I had a Macchiato and a coffee cake. They were very good. Nolan had chocolate milk and a scone. Bike-friendliness? Well, it’s McLean (see above). There is a newly-installed bike rack (wasn’t there the last time I biked there).

c4 eating

We have now hit all of our usual coffeeneuring stops. Since the rules require seven different places, next week we’ll have to look for something new.

Fifth coffeeneur- Sunday Nov. 2

Before coffeeneuring with Nolan, I rode for a couple of hours on my cross bike, half of it on the C&O north from Chain Bridge. Great ride except for the flats! It was cold — 43 degrees at ride start, maybe 46 at finish — and very windy.

Then Nolan and I went on a tandem ride, after I removed my Halloween skeleton from the tandem and readjusted for Nolan. We planned to ride to Clemyjontri, but Nolan was out of sorts (maybe because of the wind and cold? he absolutely refused to wear gloves and his hands were cold). We made it to McLean, almost to MFR, when I stopped to console him. We stopped at Sweet Leaf Cafe, so I thought we might eat there and check another coffeeneuring stop off of our list, but Nolan wanted to go for a walk. We walked a couple of blocks and then had lunch at MFR!

After eating, rather than going to Clemyjontri, we started to ride home as this was what Nolan wanted. Fortunately, his mood was much improved on the ride home. He was actually very cheerful, and really enjoyed going fast on the downhills.

Since we’d been to MFR before, we needed another stop to qualify for coffeeneuring. So I made a slight detour in Pimmit Hills near Route 7, and rode past Peet’s coffee, but Nolan said no. Then we crossed Route 7 and rode through the shopping center, where I offered Nolan a milk shake, and he accepted. We went to Burger 7, http://www.burgerseven.com/
where Nolan had a chocolate milk shake and I had a Nutella shake. His was good. I wouldn’t have the Nutella shake again. I love Nutella — had some just before the tandem ride — but it was too much of a sugar rush.

c5 shake

Ride was 11 miles. Burger 7’s bike-friendliness? Well, it’s in a shopping center on Route 7 between Falls Church and Tysons. So not a great area for riding. And no bike rack that I could see. But if I could get there on a tandem with my son anybody can get there.

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