2015 Coffeeneuring Challenge Recap

When I started this year’s coffeeneuring challenge, I really intended to post about each individual ride, but, I just haven’t been feeling much like blogging these days and it sort of fell to the wayside. Good thing I had to do some kind of recap of my coffeeneuring rides to satisfy the challenge requirements, otherwise I don’t think the blog would’ve been updated quite so soon!

Well, it was a great season of coffeneuring. I got to visit some new places and some old favorites. I ended up riding a total of 67.5 miles.

On to the rides–

No. 1: 10/4/15

Blue Beagle Coffee

Santa Rosa, CA

Miles ridden: 8.5

Strava Route

I took the long way to my neighborhood coffee joint, cruising along rolling Faught Rd and looping back via Old Redwood Highway. Blue Beagle is located in a strip mall, and unfortunately, the entire complex does not provide any bike parking. The café does have a couple of outdoor tables, so I just tucked my bike behind one, against the front window, while I ordered. Safe enough. Blue Beagle is a really cute cafe with plenty of comfortable seating. They are well known for their pie, but I arrived about a half hour before closing and was disappointed to find that they had sold out for the day. It was a surprisingly hot October afternoon so instead, I ordered an iced green peach tea and relaxed outside for a while before lazily riding home.

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No. 2: 10/8/15

Brew Coffee & Beer

Santa Rosa, CA

Miles ridden: 6

Strava Route

Since I was heading out on vacation in two days, I employed the Vacation Rule for this ride. I stopped at this newish spot close to downtown, on my way to catch the bus for work. I rolled up to find that bike parking was available, but it was a rack that wasn’t actually bolted to anything – not very secure. I was able to lock up to a sign post in front of the café, though. I arrived just after opening and was the first customer of the day. The cafe is staffed by friendly folks and has plenty of seating, both indoors and out. I chose a seat in the front window and enjoyed a really solid latte and a good breakfast burrito. +1 for providing packets of Tapatio with the burrito!

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No. 3: 10/7/15

Tavern on the Green

New York, NY

Miles ridden: 6

Strava: not recorded, as my phone’s battery was dying

Employing the Tara Rule, I took the opportunity to coffeeneur on Labor Day while on vacation in New York City.  The husband and I had planned to visit Central Park that day so I figured, why not rent bikes in the park and find a place to grab a cup of coffee or tea in the process? Perfect idea!  We cruised around the perimeter of the park, stopping to take in the sights and sounds. It was a HOT day in the city, and after two hours, the crazy amount of hills (not really, I had just expected it to be totally flat) on our route dictated that we find a cold beverage to help us cool off. We happened to cruise by Tavern on the Green and decided to stop in for an icy beverage. There was little to no bike parking near the restaurant but found that most people were leaving their bikes unlocked along the restaurant’s fence, so we did the same. The restaurant was full of people, and not being particularly hungry, we opted not to wait for a table. Instead we headed for the bar and easily found seats. The bartender was genial and recommended several local beers to the husband. Sticking to the coffeeneuring rules, I enjoyed an iced tea. We sat at the bar chatting and enjoying the relaxed atmosphere for a good hour before heading out to our next destination of the day.

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No. 4: 10/24/15

Café Noto

Windsor, CA

Miles ridden: 11

Strava Route

First ride of the challenge that actually felt like fall! A few days earlier, I saw that Buff was having a sample sale at their factory near my home. A perfect excuse for a leisurely ride and coffee stop! I rode over to the next town north, Windsor, CA, and stopped at the warm and friendly Café Noto on the Windsor Town Green. The Green features plentiful bike parking near the Café and I was able to secure a spot to lock up, just across from the Café. Noto provided a lovely warm pit-stop on a very brisk (for CA) morning. I warmed up with a Café au Lait and a bacon breakfast sandwich. Delicious! Having satisfied my need for caffeine and food in my belly, off I rode to the Buff warehouse, where I picked up several steeply discounted items for next year’s backpacking and Tenkara fishing adventures. All in all, a wonderful way to start my day!

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No. 5: 11/7/15

Downtown Bakery & Creamery

Healdsburg, CA

Miles ridden: 22

Strava Route

On a crisp fall morning, I rode north to Healdsburg, CA to visit my very favorite bakery, Downtown Bakery & Creamery. I have been patronizing this delicious spot on the Healdsburg Plaza for over 15 years! Taking the meandering backroads that the Sonoma Wine Country is so well known for, it was apparent that fall was here. Having been born and raised in Sonoma County, the vineyard-strewn landscapes that this area is known for don’t often catch my attention anymore, however, this time of the year, bathed in the warm colors of fall, the beauty of the vines is impossible to ignore. Needless to say, I cruised north at a leisurely pace, taking in the beauty of my surroundings. I arrived at the Plaza only to find that there wasn’t any decent bike parking nearby. I had to make due with a sign post, just outside the café’s entrance. The morning was COLD so I was eager for a hot drink to warm up. Thankfully, I got there just a bit after opening, and there were few patrons inside and no line. Good thing, because I’ve stopped here before when the line was 10-15 people deep. I love this particular bakery not only because everything they make is delicious, but because it’s not one of those pretentious wine-country cafes; just a nice warm atmosphere, friendly folks, and delicious eats. Normally, I would order one of the delicious baked goods behind the case but today I was feeling a bit hungrier than that so I ordered poached eggs over polenta with ricotta and lemony spinach and a double cappuccino. Delicious! I slowly enjoyed my breakfast while looking out onto the Plaza and watching the town slowly wake up.

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No. 6: 11/14/15

Gaga Café at The Santa Rosa Farmers Market

Santa Rosa, CA

Miles ridden: 3

Strava Route

My local farmer’s market is a short 3ish miles from my home. A need to stock up on veggies for the week presented the perfect opportunity to coffeeneur. The husband and I cruised over to the market and found very little bike parking available but made do with a sign post to lock up to. We took our time perusing the offerings from the various vendors and loaded up with groceries for the week. With the chore of shopping done, the husband and I grabbed some some pour-over from Gaga Café and almond croissant from Costeaux Bakery, to share. We found a couple of empty seats at a communal table and settled in to enjoy our delicious coffee and just OK pastry to the soundtrack of some really great live gypsy jazz guitar. We lingered in the sunshine, enjoying the music, long after our coffees were consumed, but knowing that we had a day long hike ahead of us, we had to grudgingly pull away from the great music and cruise back home.

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No. 7: 11/15/15

Village Bakery

Sebastopol, CA

Miles ridden: 11

Strava Route

After a failed attempt a week ago, I was determined to ride on the Joe Rodota trail for my final cup. This is one of my favorite routes in Sonoma County. The trail is an old rail line that stretches from Santa Rosa to Sebastopol along the Laguna de Santa Rosa (the largest freshwater wetland complex on the Northern CA coast). This trail connects to the West County Trail, making it possible to cycle 14 car-free miles from Santa Rosa to Forestville! After a lazy morning and catching up on some household chores, I headed out to the trail in the afternoon. Rain had been predicted but was lucky that it didn’t materialize until I was almost all the way back to my car. The trail was pretty quiet, I only passed a handful of people on my way into Sebastopol. I cruised slowly, taking in the colorful vineyards, the oaks of the Laguna, and relishing the crunch of the leaves underneath my tires. I rolled into Sebastopol and made my way to The Barlow, and my intended destination – Village Bakery. Bike parking was plentiful in The Barlow and I found a place to lock up just outside the bakery. Inside, the tables were well packed with folks enjoying the bakery’s offerings. I ordered a coffee and an excellent pear tart to enjoy inside the warm and cozy space. After lingering over my tart and coffee for about a half hour, I headed out to explore a part of the West County Trail that I had never ridden. From The Barlow, I rode north and connected to the trail. I rode it out to the eastern edge of town. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough time that day to ride all the way out to Forestville, and turned around at the trail’s intersection with Hwy 116. All in all, it was a great ride and a wonderful way to finish out this year’s Coffeeneuring Challenge.

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2014 Coffeeneuring Challenge Wrap-Up

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Seven weeks, cycling to seven different coffee spots…

When I first set out to take on the Coffeeneuring Challenge, I didn’t really know what to expect. Would it be difficult? Fun? A chore? I’m happy to report, that though I wasn’t always able to bike under the best circumstances, every ride was enjoyable and something I looked forward to completing every week.

The majority of the places I visited were both interesting and delicious, though there was one spot did leave something to be desired (I’m looking at you Starbucks). All in all, this was a wonderful series of little bike adventures. Though I bike often, almost every day in fact, I’m often in a hurry (commuting to work) or on a long training ride, and this leaves little time to enjoy things like stopping for coffee. Coffeeneuring allowed me to take slower, more relaxed rides than I normally would, and I can say that my life is all the more better for it!

What I rode

More often than not, I rode my Trek 7.2 hybrid bike on the Coffeeneuring rides. This is my everyday, commuting bike, and it’s set up with a rack and a set of panniers which makes transporting things very easy. I prefer not to bike while wearing a backpack, so I tend to ride my Trek whenever I have to carry anything.

There were a few rides, though, where I left the Trek in the garage and instead rode my Fuji Sportiff. This is a new bike for me, having acquired it just a few months ago. I’m still getting the hang of riding a road bike (so different than my Trek!), but it’s super zippy and fun to cruise on.

Where I rode

Coffeeneuring #1: Atlas Coffee Co.
Date: 10/5/14
Distance: 11.2 miles

Coffeeneuring #2: Tin Roof Bakery
Date: 10/11/14
Distance: 4.9 miles

Coffeeneuring #3: Spring Lake Regional Park
Date: 10/18/14
Distance: 25 miles

Coffeeneuring #4: Holy Roast Cafe
Date: 10/24/14
Distance: 5.2 miles

Coffeeneuring #5: Empire Coffee
Date: 11/1/14
Distance: 2.2 miles

Coffeeneuring #6: Peet’s Coffee
Date: 11/9/14
Distance: 8 miles

Coffeeneuring #7: Starbucks Coffee
Date: 11/16/14
Distance: 2 miles

What was my favorite ride? Definitely the Coffeeshop without Walls at Spring Lake Regional Park. You really can’t beat making coffee while sitting on the edge of a lake!

Coffeeneuring #7 – The Final Ride

The last few days, I’ve been fighting off some kind of stomach bug, which has left me feeling pretty un-motivated to do much of anything outside. I had planned to cycle north on Sunday to visit one of my favorite Wine Country towns, Healdsburg, but I really couldn’t muster up much energy to do a long ride. Sadly, my first Coffeeneuring year ended on a whimper, rather than with a bang. Sad indeed.

Coffeeneuring #7: Sunday, November 16, $tarbuck$ Coffee, 4745 Old Redwood Hwy., Santa Rosa, CA

For my last Coffeeneuring ride, I ended up visiting my neighborhood $tarbuck$. I don’t usually patronize chains (I prefer instead to support local businesses) but this was the nearest coffee joint that satisfied the Coffeeneuring rules.

Pulling up to the shop, I immediately noticed a lack of bike racks. Luckily there was a sign post that did a good enough job of standing in for a proper rack. Definitely not a very bike-friendly location.

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Walking inside, the shop was surprisingly full for a weekend afternoon and only one table remained. It was near the front door, but far enough back that it didn’t provide a view of our bicycles. The area that the shop is in is a fairly safe neighborhood, though, so I wasn’t too worried about theft.

The husband and I enjoyed an adequate, though nothing special, cup of coffee (cafe au lait for me and white chocolate mocha for him) and a sub-par slice of gingerbread.

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I guess I’m not really surprised at the lack of quality being pushed out by the mega coffee chain, but still, at over $10 for two drinks and two slices of bread, I was definitely disappointed. I definitely won’t be patronizing another $tarbuck$ anytime soon.

Total mileage: Just a bit over 2 miles taking the long way home. I completely forgot to turn on Strava, but I did get a distance estimate via Google Maps.

Coffeeneuring #6 & Weekly Workout Recap

Coffeeneuring #6: 11/9/14 – Peet’s Coffee, 2500 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa, CA

On Sunday I set out in the late afternoon for my sixth Coffeeneuring ride. I had originally planned to head out on a longish ride, out to Western Sonoma County, but the weekend completely got away from me and, after realizing that it was 3pm on Sunday afternoon, I figured I needed to set my sites on a coffee shop that was much closer.

I live off of a main north-south through-fare in Santa Rosa, so I headed south on said road to the nearest Peet’s Coffee. The afternoon was quickly winding down, and though the day had been a warm one, it was quickly becoming cool. Riding through minimal traffic, the husband and I made it down to Peet’s in about 15 minutes.

I spied 2 bikes racks, one on either end of the coffee shop, but rather than lock up at one of the racks, we simply parked our bikes on the patio of Peet’s Coffee. We decided to not even lock-up the bikes on the patio, so the husband stayed outside to keep an eye on them while I placed our order.

Soon, our drinks were up (iced hibiscus tea for me, white chocolate mocha for him).

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We sat outside, enjoying cloudy blue skies and the last of the afternoon, discussing physics and the scientific accuracy of the movie Intersteller, which we had watched the previous night.

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Since it is now getting dark at 5:30 p.m., we decided to hit the road around 5pm so that we wouldn’t get caught in the dark.

We rode home under striking pink skies, and made it home (after a quick stop at the grocery store) just a bit after dark.

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Though this was a great little trip, with some wonderful company, I was a little bummed that I didn’t get in a longer ride. Oh well, there’s always next week!

Total mileage: 8 miles. You can see my Strava for this ride here, though I forgot to turn it on on the way to the shop, so it only tracked my distance from the shop back to my house (after a quick stop at the grocery store).

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Workout Recap – 11/3-11/9

Monday: 30 minute total cardio workout, 6 mile bike ride

Tuesday: rest

Wednesday: 30 minute leg workout, 12 mile bike ride

Thursday: 30 minute total cardio workout

Friday: rest

Saturday: nothing (exercise fail!)

Sunday: 8 mile bike ride

Coffeeneuring in a train car and the return of weekly workout recaps

Many apologies for the lateness of this post! Between dealing with my TMJ symptoms, fighting off a cold and dealing with my dog contracting Kennel Cough (after the first and last time we ever board him, ugh!) I haven’t had the energy to sit down and write. Since it’s now Wednesday, I figured I should get to it. Better late than never, right?

Coffeeneuring #5: Saturday, November 1, Empire Coffee, 434 Orange St., Chico, CA

Last weekend I was in Chico, yet again, for the last run in the Chico Running Club’s 2014 Race Series. On Saturday morning, I made the 25 minute drive into town from my in-law’s place up in the foothills above Chico and had my husband drop me, and my trusty Trek, off in downtown. I’m suffering from a TMJ flare-up and having had not much relief for the previous 5 days, I decided acupuncture might help. I visited my old acupuncturist for a treatment (thanks to Michelle @ Pinwheel Acupuncture) that was incredibly helpful and provided relief almost immediately. After my appointment, I cycled slowly down the tree-lined and fallen leaf littered streets of downtown for a few blocks to the Chico Fleet Feet store to pick-up my race packet for Sunday’s 5k run. After a bit of confusion and going over records, the race folks realized that I had double registered. Doh! I guess I’ve registered for so many races this year that I don’t even remember signing-up for this race back in late summer. After sorting out the double-registration and picking up my bib and t-shirt, I headed out for a much needed caffeinated beverage.

Leaving Fleet Feet, I cycled down W. 3rd St. and through Chico State University’s frat and sorority row. Since the previous day had been Halloween, it was particularly entertaining to ride through this neighborhood. In my short ride, I spotted passed out revelers on the front lawn of a frat house, many smashed pumpkins, young ladies carrying trash bags full of cans and bottles, and more than a few folks still in costume, heading home on foot. Leaving frat row, I noticed that none of the cross streets were signed and I ended up over-shooting my destination by one street. I turned around and cycled one block over to arrive at an old train car, turned coffee shop, located, fittingly, in front of the Amtrak station.

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Empire Coffee is housed in a 1947 empire builder train car, just West of downtown Chico. There were bike racks at both ends of the train car, and when I arrived, several were already taken up by other patrons.

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As I walked into Empire Coffee, I couldn’t help but smile. What’s not to love about a coffee shop inside a train car? The inside of the shop was eclectic and funky with a laid-back vibe. Seating was a bit limited, but not sparse, and there was plenty of room to move around.

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I ordered an Aztec Mocha and sat down in one of the original train seats to wait for my drink. I sat back, enjoying the post-acupuncture relaxation I was still experiencing and soon, my drink was up. The Aztec Mocha was a delicious, spicy concoction of chocolate, cayenne pepper, espresso, and milk. Not too sweet, just a little bit spicy, and absolutely delicious!

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I enjoyed my drink but being a bit pressed for time, I didn’t have much time to hang-out and enjoy the funky train car atmosphere for too long. I exited the old train car and emerged into the sunny, but still crisp morning, and cycled a few blocks down the road to meet up with my husband.

I just barely squeaked by the distance requirement for this coffeeneuring ride. Total mileage: 2.2 miles. Here’s my Strava for this ride.

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Just a quick recap of last week’s workouts:

Monday: none – this was a traveling day for me and I didn’t get home until late that evening.

Tuesday: 21 Day Fix – Total Cardio Fix, 6 mile bike ride

Wednesday: 10 mile bike ride

Thursday: 1 hour yoga

Friday: 6 mile bike ride

Saturday: rest

Sunday: 5k Race (PR’d my time again!)

Coffeeneuring #4 – Holy Roast Cafe

Friday, October 24 (employing vacation rule!): Holy Roast Cafe, 490 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa, CA

Ride #4 already! This challenge is going by so quickly!

Earlier in the week, I had planned to cycle to a cafe near the university where I work. Unfortunately between working late, watching the Giants smash game 1 and then crash and burn in game 2 of the World Series, and packing to go out of town this weekend, time got away from me and by Thursday night I realized that I still needed to complete my 4th coffeeneuring ride before I leave for vacation.

Friday morning I left the house around 6am and headed south toward downtown. The morning was dark and the fog became heavy about a mile and a half from the house. A couple of miles later, my trusty NiteRider headlight died. Crap! It was still dark outside and I still had a couple of miles until I reached my destination. I got off the main road and cycled the rest of the way on much less busy residential streets. I was worried that a) cars would not see me and I would get into an accident or b) because my night vision is pretty crappy, I would hit some sort of object in the road and be flung off my bike. Thankfully, I made it to Holy Roast Cafe unscathed. Whew!

The Cafe is in downtown Santa Rosa directly across from the Trek store and in the same building as the county health department offices. There was a bike rack located on the opposite side of the building from the cafe and I locked up my bike, hoping that it wouldn’t get stolen. Downtown Santa Rosa has a bad bike theft problem and the bike rack was in a location where I couldn’t keep an eye on my bike while in the cafe. I kept my fingers crossed that my trusty stead would still be there when I was ready to leave.

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I walked into the warmly lit cafe and found a lovely, relaxed space with ample seating (both tables/chairs and comfy looking couches). The staff was incredibly friendly, and it seems that there are many regulars at this cafe, which the staff all seemed to know by name.

I enjoyed a really solid black bean breakfast burrito and a giant cup of drip coffee.

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The cafe has free wifi and prices were very reasonable.

As I exited, I was relieved to see that my bike was still securely locked up.

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Good start to the day and another nice coffeeneuring adventure.

Total mileage for the day: 5.2 miles. My Strava for this ride is here.

Coffeeneuring #3 – A Coffeeshop Without Walls Adventure

Saturday, October 18: Spring Lake Regional Park, Santa Rosa, CA

On Saturday, I headed off on my longest Coffeeneuring ride to-date! Spring Lake Regional Park is a gorgeous open space in Santa Rosa, CA that is sandwiched between two other parks, Howarth Park and Annadel State Park. This area is one of my favorite places to run, walk the dog, and just generally visit to enjoy the scenery. Knowing how popular this park is, I knew that I wanted to arrive early enough to beat the crowds. I set off from my home at around 7am.

I headed south on my usual bike-to-work commute route, and then pedaled east out of the downtown area. I had a long day ahead of me as I had plans with a friend later in the day, so I made a pit stop at the Whole Foods nearest to the park to purchase some breakfast provisions (oatmeal and scrambled eggs). From there, I headed a few short blocks to the entrance of Howarth Park. Since Spring Lake Park is sandwiched between two other parks, there are several ways to reach Spring Lake itself. My favorite route is through Howarth Park. There is a paved path that runs through Howarth Park and winds around Spring Lake.

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As I made my way through the park and around the lake, I was dodging people left and right. Although it wasn’t as busy as I’d seen the park before, there were already a lot of people out and about. I had to weave around people, dogs, and strollers, pretty frequently, and slowed to a crawl on several occasions in order to let people pass. Though the path itself is bike friendly, the amount of people on the path makes it difficult to ride un-interrupted. Early, would definitely be better for folks on bikes at this park.

Rounding the South-east side of Spring Lake, I spied a lovely spot to stop for breakfast. I parked my bike against some trees on the shore of the lake.

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Using my trusty MSR Pocket Rocket backpacking stove and GSI Dualist Pot, I made a lovely cup of pour-over coffee with almond milk. I used a nice big rock on the edge of the lake as both my table and a place to sit.

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I enjoyed my steaming cup of coffee, oatmeal, and scrambled eggs while looking out onto the lake, watching the sun play off the trees and water, and the birds chase one another overhead. It was a gorgeous morning and a really awesome way to start the day!

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Later that morning, I had plans with a friend to go on a cheese and wine tasting outing, so I reluctantly packed up my coffee-making equipment and hopped back on the bike. I had to meet my friend at her home so I left the park and pedaled west.

As I approached downtown Santa Rosa, I took the opportunity to stop at my local Fleet Feet store to pick-up my registration packet for a 5k run I was going to be doing on Sunday. After a quick 5-minutes at the store, I hopped back on the bike and headed toward the Joe Rodota Trail, a regional trail that runs from Santa Rosa to Sebastopol, the next town over, and where I had planned to meet my friend.

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The fog I had seen earlier in the morning on my ride to the park had, by now, completely burned off. I rode to Sebastopol under picturesque Sonoma County skies, all crisp blue and puffy clouds.

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The ride out on the Joe Rodota Trail was peaceful, and except for the goat grazing on the side of the trail that I encountered halfway to Sebastopol, my ride was nice but uneventful.

Not sure where this guy escaped from, but he seemed pretty content grazing on the side of the bike trail.

Not sure where this guy escaped from, but he seemed pretty content grazing on the side of the bike trail.

Coming into Sebastopol, I rode up two steep-ish hills and made it to my friend’s home by 11am. All in all, a lovely morning of biking around Santa Rosa and another successful coffeeneuring adventure!

Total mileage for the day: 25 miles. My Strava for this ride is here.