Coffeeneuring 6.0: Coffee + Food in Larchmont

I was getting down to the wire. It was the final weekend of the Coffeeneuring Challenge. I had two days to get in my two final outings. Much to my delight, I had a bicycle-loving house guest who was happy to join me that Saturday morning. I thought it would be fun to show her some of the local architectural and culinary goodies. Besides, charming Larchmont village is just a couple miles from my home, and yet it has more coffee shops than I have yet visited, so something really must be done about that.

My guest for this ride, Judi, is big on bike touring and seeing the world. On a recent trip, Judi spent several months seeing Hawaii, the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and New Zealand. You can see her pics from that trip and others on her Flickr page. We met when I saw her post to the Los Angeles Women & Bicycles Facebook page, asking when the next coffee meetup was planned. When I asked what part of town she was in, she replied that she was looking for a place to stay for the next few weeks while visiting. And with our kids out of the house leaving empty bedrooms behind, I figured it was a perfect chance to practice our bed & breakfast services. It was so fun to have a bicyclista staying at our home.

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Judi and I rode north into Hancock Park to the northernmost end of Larchmont to check out Coffee + Food, a place on Melrose I’d found in my online research for coffeeneuring destinations. Bike parking was easy to find close to the front of the shop. We went inside and made our selections. I had a flat white coffee with caramel, just because I had never had a “flat white” before, and got some kind of sweet cinnamon thing to go with it. Judi went for a drip coffee and a breakfast burrito.

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If, like me, you need a tutorial on what the heck a “flat white” is, here’s the low down. The quick answer: it’s like a latte, but with less milk and less frothy.

We wandered through Koreatown on our way back, stopping by Alexandria House. Just the night before, we’d been at a neighbor’s house for a fundraising party in support of this shelter that provides transitional housing and other resources for women and children. We stopped inside for a bit, and saw a group of women and teens getting makeovers. It’s a gorgeous house, and it was filled with warm and wonderful people.

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We completed a loop back towards home, turning our short ride into a respectable 9.1 mile route.

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The short dip along the southern edge of our loop (between Wilton Place & Crenshaw) is where I just had to show Judi my favorite mansion in Country Club Park, that has apparently been seen in a show called American Horror Story. The short dip near the northeast part of our loop is where we stopped to check out Alexandria House.

Total mileage: 9.1

Bike: Specialized Dolce Comp

Destination: Coffee + Food, Larchmont Village, Los Angeles

Beverage: Flat White

Coffeeneuring 5.0: Santa Monica & Sex Ed

What does coffeeneuring have to do with sex ed, you ask? Nothing, unless you decide to bring them together. As a coffeeneur who also has duties as a facilitator of a sexuality program, I knew what I had to do given the short time remaining to complete the 2016 coffeeneuring challenge. A couple of Sundays a month, on a biannual basis, I help facilitate for 8th & 9th graders at the Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Santa Monica. The program is called Our Whole Lives, reflecting a recognition that we are sexual beings throughout our entire lifespan. It’s an awesome curriculum that covers far more than anything offered in the school system. We discuss honestly all aspects of sexuality, not just reproduction and safety. We help young people develop their skills for dealing with peer pressure, seeking consent, understanding the wide variety of sexual identities and different ways of expressing and experiencing one’s sexuality, in a context of values and within a trusted community.

I was scheduled to teach a session on that Sunday in early November, and I needed to get some coffeeneuring in. I normally enjoy biking the 11-12 miles (depending on my route) to Santa Monica, so why not bike to a coffee shop after the session ends? Santa Monica offers a plentiful selection of fancy coffee shops worth trying. For this one, I decided to try out Philz Coffee on Santa Monica Blvd & 6th Street.

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I loved the cool design of the bike rack right next door to Philz.

Philz offers some outdoor seating, in addition to a large indoor seating area. There was a substantial line, but they have several servers taking orders at the counter, and the line moves quickly.

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Knowing I needed to fuel up for a longer ride home, I got some peanut butter power balls and a yogurt in addition to a refreshing iced gingersnap latte. I strongly recommend the iced gingersnap when you need a combo of spice, creaminess, and potent java on a hot day.

I wanted to take a leisurely route back home by heading a few blocks farther west to the beach. It was a nice day to ride along the beach and then take the Ballona Creek bike path back into the city. This routing added a few extra miles to my ride, but many of those miles were delightfully car-free.

It felt great to be out on my road bike, enjoying some warm weather again. Soon enough, I was back in my own neighborhood. It was such a clear day, you could see the Hollywood sign.

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Total mileage: 30.3

Bike: Specialized Dolce Comp

Destination: Philz Coffee, Santa Monica, California

Beverage: Iced Gingersnap Latte

Coffeeneuring 4.0: Closing Out the D.C. Triple Shot

As it turns out, my free block of time on Saturday did not align with that of my fellow coffeeneur, Ilga, so this last ride in the D.C. coffeeneuring triple shot was a solo adventure. A place called Baked by Yael came highly recommended by a member of the local Women & Bicycles group, and it just so happens to be a short skip up the road from the conference hotel in Woodley Park. In fact, Baked by Yael sits directly across the street from the entrance to the Woodley Park Zoo, perfectly positioned to receive families looking for a refreshment break after a day of zoo-gazing.

It was a damp and dewy morning. I was pleased that I had remembered to carry with me a seat cover that I bought for those times when a shared bike’s saddle didn’t look like something I’d want to sit on. I placed the cover over the very wet saddle, and was on my way.

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My handy dandy saddle cover
In order to (a) make the ride more fun and interesting, and (b) ensure that my ride met the two mile minimum, I decided to do some exploring through the beautiful neighborhood near the Cathedral.

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The colors were stunning, and I enjoyed the architecture of the stately homes in this neighborhood, some of which serve as embassies. I was also tickled to recognize what must have been part of the American University campus, my hubby’s alma mater.I looped around a bit, wanting to be sure I’d logged enough extra distance before getting to my destination on Connecticut Avenue.

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I found Baked by Yael easily enough, and remembered to snap a photo with evidence of my bike mode in front (just the helmet and my bag, as I’d already parked the bike). There’s a capital bikeshare docking station conveniently up the street. It seemed I might be their first customer of the morning, as the place was perfectly clean and quiet. I was taken by the chocolate that faced me, and knew a hot chocolate would be the perfect thing to warm me up on this brisk morning.

This was a new thing to me: being given a popsicle stick with a big chunk of dark chocolate on it, together with a cup of hot milk. I then sat and stirred my chocolate into the milk and watched my hot chocolate form before my eyes. It was divine.

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I went back to the dock and retrieved a bike for the return trip. Heading south on Connecticut Avenue was no picnic – I’d rather not bike on such busy streets. I decided to take the first left turn, at Cathedral Avenue, and turned from there onto Woodley Place to cut over to Woodley Road, a familiar street to me. I thought I was being so clever by taking that on around, connecting back up with Cathedral Avenue, believing this would take me right to Calvert Street, where I would be able to dock the bike right there on the bridge. Except Cathedral Avenue actually dips down under the bridge and curves on to pass under Connecticut Avenue into Rock Creek Park. By the time I realized what I’d done, there wasn’t any easy way to back out of it. I followed the road as it curved around, and then I recognized the steep hill that one can take back up out of the park to Calvert Street.

Let’s just say I got a chance to burn off some of that hot chocolate! If you’ve ever tried to climb a steep hill on a clunky bikeshare bike, you know what I’m talking about.

 

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Total mileage: 2.9

Bike: Capital Bikeshare

Destination: Baked by Yael, Woodley Park, Washington, D.C.

Beverage: Hot Chocolate

Coffeeneuring 3.1: A Fun Fail

Another opportunity to meet up with the Women & Bicycles Coffee Club arose during my visit to D.C. in October 2016 (just to clarify, since I’m writing this in March 2017). It meant sneaking out early on Friday morning from the breakfast meeting of the Women in Intellectual Property Law Committee of AIPLA. Thank goodness I didn’t sneak out too early or fail to show altogether, as this was my last meeting after serving three years as the Board liaison to this committee. The committee leaders had thoughtfully acknowledged me as their departing liaison by calling me to the front of the room to receive a lovely gift. I stayed as long as I could without completely missing the coffee club, and then ducked out in the middle of the breakfast meeting’s program to hurry on over to the nearest bikeshare station and hop in a bike.

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Rolling into Adam’s Morgan

This time the sun was already up, and it was a glorious morning to ride the just-shy-of-a-mile trip into Adam’s Morgan. I was able to catch the group of seven women before they had to leave for work and whatnot. Particularly exciting about this group of women is that it included a fellow coffeeneur, Ilga, with whom I had communicated about planning a joint coffeeneuring outing while I was visiting her home town.

So much of the fun of participating in coffeeneuring is the shared community that forms between coffeeneurs all over the country, and even the world. Most of us do not have local fellow coffeeneurs with whom we gather in person, and enjoy making a virtual connection through our Facebook group and Instagram sharing. My familiarity with Washington, D.C., the Women & Bicycles group, and the Coffeeneurs all came together in an opportunity for intersection of these elements. It was fun to make an in-real-life connection with a co-coffeeneur.

Since I’d arrived rather late, most were winding up their coffee experience when I arrived. I wanted to make a quick and easy beverage choice, to avoid a long wait for my drink. In a departure from my usual coffeeneuring beverage, I decided to try some fresh grapefruit juice that appeared ready for drinking in the refrigerated display case. It was a refreshing quencher when I’d already had breakfast and my morning coffee, and meant no waiting.

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Women & Bicycles Coffee Club at Pleasant Pops

As is typical for the Women & Bicycles Coffee Club types, these women were most welcoming to the out-of-town stranger. Of course, two of the women there had participated in Women & Bicycles coffee meetups last Spring while they were visiting Los Angeles. So we weren’t all strangers.

As the meeting wrapped up, I had a chance to talk some more with Ilga. She walked with me as I headed for a bike share station and she headed to her next thing that was in the same direction in Adam’s Morgan. Before my trip, Ilga and I had a few preliminary planning communications about trying to coordinate a common coffeeneuring destination for the Saturday during my visit. As we discussed the particular constraints each of us faced for Saturday, we realized it might not work as initially planned. Since Saturday’s co-coffeeneuring plan did not work out, it was especially nice that we had the chance to meet up on Friday morning.

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Co-Coffeeneur Ilga, in front of Pleasant Pops

After parting ways with Ilga, I continued my search for a bikeshare station with a bike available. Unfortunately, I tried three stations, and all were empty of bikes. I ended up walking back to Woodley Park. Although I was disappointed that this meant I would fail to meet the requisite two-mile minimum for a coffeeneuring ride, it was a glorious sunny autumn day. I enjoyed the chance to take in the Fall colors, something we get very little of back in Los Angeles.

One after another docking station, all empty! (The lone teaser bike was out of order.)

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Some of the beautiful scenery for my walk back to Woodley Park, crossing the Duke Ellington Bridge on Calvert Street

Total mileage: 0.8 (biking; additional 1.7 miles walking, including the part where I got lost)

Bike: Capital Bikeshare

Destination: Pleasant Pops, Adams Morgan, Washington, D.C.

Beverage: Fresh Grapefruit Juice

 

Coffeeneuring 2016-3.0: Washington, D.C.

Official ride #3: Bullfrog Bagels in Washington, DC

As with the 2015 Challenge, this year’s event coincided with my trip to Washington, DC, for the Annual Meeting of the American Intellectual Property Law Association. Thanks to the mercy of Rule #4, I was able to make full use of the opportunity to combine a coffeeneuring ride with a chance to meet up with the Women & Bicycles Coffee Club. Andrea was kind enough to schedule a meet up for that Thursday, a day when I didn’t have to be at the conference until 9:00. Of course, the Thursday Coffee Club meets at Eastern Market, and my conference was in Woodley Park, not exactly close by.

But it’s supposed to be a challenge, right?

Bright (okay, not so bright) & early (definitely early) start at the bike share station on Calvert, near Woodley Park

So I mapped out my route and gave myself extra time to walk from my B&B to the nearest bike share station. This meant heading out at 6 a.m., well before the sun comes up. Having come in from the west coast, it feels more like 3 a.m., but I’m tough like that.

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Heading out through Adams Morgan

Being on a mission made the cool darkness part of the fun. Having to get across town meant using one of my favorite bike lanes – the scenic ride down Pennsylvania Avenue, with the colorful sunrise and the Capital dome before me. Unfortunately, the ride was very rough, as the asphalt has been stripped and the transitions between stripped and unstripped sections, at every intersection, were quite rough. I alternated between taking the lane with car traffic and bumpily working me way along the bike lane.

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Riding the bike lane that runs down the center of Pennsylvania Avenue

 

It was an exhilarating ride for me. I loved rolling past famous buildings: the National Archives, the Smithsonian along the mall, then onto Constitution Avenue and right alongside the Capitol and the Senate office buildings, the Supreme Court. To do this ride in the early morning, as the sun was rising, felt magical.

Once east of Capitol Hill, I turned south a few blocks to Eastern Market. I found the bike share docking station and walked through the picturesque market area and found my destination, Bullfrog Bagels.

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Bullfrog Bagels

 

I made it to Bullfrog Bagels on time! I had coffee and a breakfast bagel, and, once I remembered that I needed to look for the group upstairs, joined these lovely women, two of whom visited Los Angeles this past Spring. You can read about the inaugural Women + Bikes + Coffee meet ups with Elisabeth and Andrea, seated across from me here, in this post.

 

Women & Bicycles Coffee Club – Southeast

The only realistic way for me to dash back to the conference hotel in time for the first meeting of the day meant turning this into a multi-modal adventre. So I hopped on a subway at Eastern Market, transfered to the red line, and got back to Woodley Park just in time! It’s amazing how deep beneath the bowels of our nation’s captial one can travel. Here’s my view coming up the loooong escalator back to street level.

Emerging from the red line
My route from Woodley Park to Eastern Market

 

Total mileage: 5.3

Bike: Capital Bikeshare

Destination: Bullfrog Bagels, Eastern Market, Washington, D.C.

Beverage: Coffee with milk

Coffeeneuring 2016-2.0: Heart of L.A.

Official ride #2: The Alchemist Coffee Project & CicLAvia

The Gazelle; ready to roll, CicLAvia style.

When I participate in CicLAvia, I usually like to bring along both of my Nantucket Basket Panniers, one filled with samples of my Bikie Girl Bloomers (never know when I’ll wish I had them with me), and the other with a floral display (just because). This time, I tried adding some Bikie Girl stickers to help advertise, but I think I need a bigger sign.

First things being first, I went straight to my coffee shop: Alchemist Coffee Project. This seemed the perfect choice for today’s coffeeneuring ride, as it was conveniently on my way to the First Unitarian Church, where I wanted to catch the service before joining the CicLAvia fun. I have been curious to try this place, as I often pass it when taking the 7th Street bike lane towards downtown Los Angeles. I was also curious to try this place since noticing it had taken the spot formerly known as the Bourbon Street Cafe, where I had been many times. I have a special place in my heart for Bourbon Street Cafe, as this is where all the first meetings happened back when the plans for Bikie Girl Bloomers were first being hatched.

Alchemist Coffee Project at 7th & Vermont

Once I saw the “New Orleans Cold Brew” on the menu, I knew that had to be my drink. Having recently been to New Orleans, where I was reminded how much I like the taste of chicory coffee, it was a no-brainer. I was quite happy with my choice. Both the drink and my pastry indulgence were delicious.

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Almond Danish & New Orleans Cold Brew
Cool space features lots of Edison bulbs

The interior was appealing, with plenty of tables and interesting decor.

After church was over, hubby was waiting out front to meet up with me and head for the CicLAvia route. The McArthur Park hub was just a few blocks east on 7th Street.

We followed the route into downtown and onto Broadway. Please note the awesome shirt hubby is wearing. It reads: “I never dreamed I’d end up married to a sexy cycling lady, but here I am, living the dream!” You’ll never guess who got that shirt for him.

Hubby capturing the action on Broadway

We continued along Broadway into Chinatown, where we joined a party for volunteers and supporters of CicLAvia hosted by Blossom Vietnamese Restaurant. The food at Blossom was good – I think we will have to go back and experience the restaurant as regular customers.

From Chinatown, we rode back into the heart of Downtown and parted ways. Hubby headed back toward home, while I took the left turn onto 4th Street to explore the remaining part of the route. Along the way, I encountered the biking photographer, David G., who graciously obliged my request for a photo.

That’s me, sporting my pink zebra bloomers & the drape neck top (also part of the Bikie Girl Bloomers collection).

From the downtown hub, I followed the route over the 4th Street Bridge into Boyle Heights where the final CicLAvia hub was at Mariachi Plaza.

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The play zone in Boyle Heights
Mariachi Plaza
Mariachi Plaza Hub

Once again, I ran into someone I know. This time, I was getting in positiimg_1215on to take a photo at Mariachi Plaza when I ran into James. We had just met at the New Urbanism Film Festival the weekend before.

I followed the route back toward McArthur Park and on home. Lots of variety packed into a simple coffeeneuring ride!

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Total mileage: 17.5

Bike: Gazelle Tour Populaire

Destination: Alchemist Coffee Project, Koreatown, Los Angeles

Beverage: New Orleans Cold Brew

Coffeeneuring 2016-1.0: Downtown L.A.

Official Ride #1: The Wheelhouse & an event on “Fashioning the Future of Urban Living”

See a theme emerging here? I started out just loving to ride my bike when & where I can, and next thing I know, I’m a fan of “urbanism”. When I saw an announcement about this event, I knew I had to go for several reasons. First, I love an excuse to visit The Wheelhouse, a new-ish coffee & bike shop that brings together good coffee, stylish urban bikes & accessories, while-you-sip bike repair services, and an inviting community space. Second, the event was highlighting a designer of women’s bike-to-work fashion, a topic so very much up my alley, given my side business, Bikie Girl Bloomers. Third, I always enjoy meeting other women who love to bike, and this was sure to be an event that would attract my kind of peeps. Fourth, I wanted to hear the women on the panel, a delightful representation of women who embrace the active, multi-modal urban lifestyle.

By the grace of new Rule #4, the fact that the event was held on a Thursday evening did not prevent it from counting toward my official 7 rides. Although I prefer to make my coffeeneuring rides about exploring new-to-me places, I felt visiting The Wheelhouse at night would make for a new-ish experience as I’d only visited it twice before, both times on a Saturday morning.

Parked my Gazelle in front of The Wheelhouse.
Tried the mocha cold brew with almond milk – yummy!
Fantastic display of stylish accessories.
The discussion of urbanism featured the new Metro Bike Share program, with one of the Metro’s bikes out on display.
The Wheelhouse offers an impressive variety of quality saddles and bikes.
The panel in action.

The panel discussion was led by Colleen Monroe, a designer preparing to launch a line of clothing that accommodates a physically demanding professional workday: Untucked Workwear. Other panelists were Gloria Hwang, Founder and CEO of Thousand; Tami Spenst, Actor, Designer at Pluck, and Co-Owner of the Wheelhouse; Rubina Ghazarian, Department of Transportation’s New Mobility Division, Creator of LA Metro’s Bike Share; Audrey Bellis, Founder of Startup DTLA and Worthy Women, Co-Founder of Grid110, and Alissa Walker, Urbanism Editor at Curbed.

I opted for Leaping Lady Leopard Bloomers under the black Hitchable Flounce Skirt for the occasion.

Total mileage: 11.2

Bike: Gazelle Tour Populaire

Destination: The Wheelhouse, Downtown Los Angeles

Beverage: Cold Brew Mocha with Almond Milk

wheelhouse-route

 

Coffeeneuring 2016-0.1: Playa Vista

October 9th – Illicit Ride #1: Warming Up with the New Urbanism Film Festival Folks

Last year, a friend I’d met through the wonderful world wide network of all things bike offered me her pass to the New Urbanism Film Festival in which one of her films from the Velo Visionaries series was being shown. Kristin lives in San Francisco, and was unable to make to L.A. for the festival that year. At first, I thought I was just getting a pass to see her film, and when I saw what else was showing at the festival, I bought a ticket to see one of the feature films. Then I decided I wanted to go back and see some more, and was delighted to realize that my pass would get me in to all of the films.

This year, when I saw the 2016 New Urbanism Film Festival was gearing up for the first weekend in October, I knew I had to buy a festival pass. Kristin had two more of her Velo Visionaries films in the festival and was featured in one of the post-film panel discussions. In addition to enjoying films about topics ranging from the community-building that grew out of art projects in the aftermath of an earthquake that devastated the downtown center of Christchurch New Zealand, to following a woman who got rid of her car and explored what it would mean to live car-free in Los Angeles, to discovering the magic of the historic core of Pittsburgh, plus short films about active transportation and urban planning, there was a group BIKE RIDE. So I signed up for the ride to Playa Vista along the Ballona Creek Bike Path.

The group heads west on the Ballona Creek Bike Path.

This was also the opening weekend of the Coffeeneuring Challenge. I had thought about trying to squeeze a special coffeeneuring expedition into my already-packed weekend, but it made more sense to squeeze the coffeeneuring into a bike ride I had already planned. I have been aware of the Playa Vista development that sprang up in the methane-rich swamp land between Marina del Rey and Westchester, but had never been inside. I only knew that the development project had a history of controversy and some start-and-stop before the high-density live-and-work area materialized. I was curious to see the inside.

I knew this ride wouldn’t really count toward the coffeeneuring challenge, as organized rides are not permitted (although there appears to be a certain fuzziness to this rule). I decided to embrace this as an opportunity to warm up for the official challenge rides.

Hardly looks like an organized ride, if you ask me.

After a fun jaunt along the Ballona Creek Bike Path, we rode through Playa Vista, passing some contemporary office/work buildings and then entering some very hiply designed residential buildings that made me feel we were riding through a slick brochure. We stopped to gather at a park that had the feel of a town square, sort of.

A park in a central part of Playa Vista.

We had the good fortune to be given an introduction and walking tour by Stefanos Polyzoides, an urban designer who had been involved in the early stages of the development. He described for us the features that make for great cities and communities, including building heights in certain places (such as around a town square), inviting entryways, walkable streets. He explained all the challenges facing the original project, including city rules that required street widths that encouraged speeding cars rather than cultivating community feel that invites pedestrians to stroll. After years of back-and-forth encouraging the developer to consider opportunities for design and planning that would optimize the community created and getting the city on board, the developer ended up selling the land and, much to the chagrin of urban designers, sold it without preserving any requirements for how the parcels would be developed to coordinate the dreamt-of urban utopia. Here’s an article that gives the back story on that.

Some parts of the Playa Vista development are attractive and inviting. (Others, not so much.)

The walking tour was educational. I enjoyed learning about the difference between “starchitects” and “marketects”, and came to appreciate the thought that goes into (or sadly sometimes doesn’t go into) the placement of garage entrances, mechanical vents, parking spaces, and doorways. Playa Vista has many things done right, and sadly, several not so great. At the end of our tour, the group was eager to head on back to Culver City for the final screenings and awards for the film festival. A friend and I were both desperate for a beverage and snack, so we dashed into the nearby Coffee Bean for a quick fix. I had a cafe au lait with hazelnut that I was able to drink during the return trip.

Total mileage: 12.1

Bike: Gazelle Tour Populaire

Destination: Coffee Bean, Playa Vista

Beverage: Cafe au Lait with Hazelnut

Women + Bikes + Coffee

Saturday morning a group of six women met for coffee, but this was no ordinary coffee gathering. We knew this was the beginning of something. What is it about women who share a love of bicycling that makes it feel so special when we get together?

I have loved following the facebook group “Women & Bicycles”, created and curated by the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA). The WABA group now has 4,781 members and recently changed its name to “Women & Bicycles: Washington DC Region”, perhaps to clarify that it is focused on the DC region. But I am not the only outsider who follows the group. Their discussions of all things bike-related, in the confines of a group open only to women, are the best. I get great tips from that group on gear, city cycling etiquette, you  name it. I also like staying in the know on what’s happening in DC, as sometimes they have an event going on while I will be out there on business. As I’ve shared in my coffeeneuring posts on this blog, I have attended a few of their coffee meet ups.

Which brings me back to Saturday. It started when I saw a post in the Women & Bicycles group from someone who was going to be in Los Angeles on business for a couple of weeks, and she was wondering if anyone knew of a coffee group meet up while she was here. I told her we don’t have a coffee group, but we can start one now! I knew just the place to propose for our first coffee meeting.

I have been following a new coffee shop on social media for the last several months, and have wanted to pay them a visit. It’s called The Wheelhouse, and all I really knew about it was that it was a coffee shop in the arts district and had a bike theme to it, which of course was plenty to motivate me to check it out. So I created a facebook event for 9am Saturday at The Wheelhouse and started inviting women. I also contacted The Wheelhouse to let them know we would be meeting there and got a wonderful reply from Tami, the owner.

I rode the 5 miles to The Wheelhouse early, wanting to be sure I got there well ahead of the others so I could check the place out. It really is in the warehouse zone. The address is on 6th street, just east of the fashion district and produce row, but you can’t see it from the street. There are signs to guide you, but it’s sort of in the middle between 6th & Factory Place, maybe a little closer to Factory Place. Of course, there’s bike parking out front, so I locked up my Gazelle and walked up the ramp to go inside.

Parking for bikes (& cars) in front of The Wheelhouse. A ramp makes it easy to bring your bike inside.

What a treat for the eyes! The shop is beautifully designed. It really is a coffee shop and a bike shop, as in: you can buy a bike, buy gear for your bike, and/or get your bike serviced, and have coffee while you wait. There’s a sign by the repair stand offering an espresso & flat repair for $20 – great idea.

Lots of fun & colorful bike gear, for every kind of rider.

The space is wonderfully inviting. There are two large tables that are great for groups and/or for folks needing a work space. There’s a more casual & comfy couch area, a less comfy but cool-looking seating area, and some tables and chairs out on the deck. Another design element I loved was the menu board, which looks like an old-fashioned train depot schedule. The best design feature of all, though, is the variety of bikes, all painted black, but ranging from cruiser to road bike to folder, emerging from a concrete wall.

The menu reads like a train schedule.

I ordered a mocha and an almond croissant, both of which turned out to be excellent, and sat at one of the big tables, where Tami was working at her laptop. I learned that Tami is responsible for all of these beautiful design features – interior design being one of her specialties. I enjoyed hearing her story: Tami came to L.A. from Chicago, where she lived car-free and enjoyed getting around by walking. She initially settled in West Hollywood, which she loved for its walkability and how, being out on the sidewalks, made you feel so much more like a part of the city. Later, when she met Chase, now her husband and business partner, he was in downtown L.A., and found biking worked well for him there. When she and Chase met, she was very into coffee, and he was very into bikes, and they shared their passions with each other. He helped her find her way to get comfortable biking in L.A., and fixed up a vintage bike for her, which bike is now on display in the shop.

Tami’s vintage bike, on display in the shop.

Tami noticed that the local bike shops were not very oriented to city riding. Instead, the bike culture here seemed focused on road biking out on places like PCH and Mulholland. Tami told me the shop reflects their combined passions for coffee and bicycles, and a mission to foster community and to inspire people who might not relate to the road bikes or mountain bikes on display at other bike shops. This is a place where the bike-curious can discover a bike that expresses their own personal style. In this collaboration, her husband, she says, is the bike person, and she is the coffee & pastries person.

Tami Spenst co-owns The Wheelhouse with her husband, Chase. Her interior design skills are on display.

Soon enough, other women began to arrive. I knew all too well that the flake-rate can be high for an event like this, where group camaraderie has yet to be created, so it was a relief to see that it wouldn’t be just me. We ended up with six women total, two of whom were visiting from DC and are regulars of the coffee club out there. It turns out our second DC guest happens to be from the L.A. area, and just happened to be in town this weekend for her sister’s birthday celebration.

Jennifer showed up beautifully styled in her Bikie Girl Bloomers Hitchable Flounce Skirt & Crazy Daisy Pettipants.
Liz & Kristi, representing the DC Women & Bicycles Coffee Club.

We chatted for two hours, discovering common interests and sharing news of upcoming events. It became quite evident that this could not be just a one-off thing. We knew right then and there that (1) we need to have more coffee gatherings, and (2) we need to form our own Women & Bicycles group for Los Angeles. That very day, I started our new facebook group and invited all the local bicycling women I could think of.

Women & Bicycles Coffee Club, L.A. style.

Some of us are planning to participate in the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition‘s next Sunday Funday ride on May 1st in Northeast L.A. Care to join us? Check out our group page here (you can request to join – we will keep the group closed to ensure it stays a women’s group).

Coffeeneuring: The Afterglow

 

This last week, the most exciting piece of mail arrived: my official Coffeeneuring patch! It arrived straight from the Chief Coffeeneur herself, all official-like and very classy. I do not yet have the slightest idea where to place it for its long-term home, but I knew I had to snap a photo. I laid my new patch against the solid brown skirt I was wearing, and realized that it coordinates quite nicely with the Blue Bandana Bloomers I had underneath. Naturally, I arranged it all to capture the pleasing compilation of complementary pieces. These things make me happy.

Lest anyone be misled into believing that I’m only one to go coffeeneuring when in the midst of official coffeeneuring season, be it known that I did in fact go on just such an excursion this past Sunday. My youngest son, who just turned 21, was in town for a week before returning to college for his Spring semester. He likes to bike, so long as it’s not too far nor too hilly. He has a Public bike that is well-suited for city transportation, and he has no interest in road bikes, wearing special spandex bike clothing, or exerting himself to take on a grueling challenge. I proposed a loop around Silver Lake, followed by breakfast at one of the many dining establishments that can be found along Sunset Boulevard.

I decided to take my Gazelle out for this ride, to better match the style of bike my son was riding. I’ve done the Silver Lake loop a few times, but only on my road bike. I knew we could avoid the fun hill on Hyperion, but I wasn’t sure if we would encounter any other hills that might be a bit much for this occasion. After all, Silver Lake is a very hilly area. As it turned out, we had just enough hill action to give us a little exercise, but nothing too discouraging or beyond the capabilities of our 7-8 speed bikes.

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We were able to lock our bikes together around a signpost right in front of the outside seating area at Sunset Junction Coffee Shop. We were very happy with this choice of dining establishment. Noah had the Breakfast Quesadilla, and I had the Sunset omelet. I don’t usually go for omelets, but this one begged me to try it: bacon, sausage, mushrooms, cheese, and avocado. The bonus treat was the biscuit that came with it: one of the best I’ve had.

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All in all, it was an excellent excursion. Noah was very pleased with the length and mild hills of our 14 mile route. We had perfect cycling weather (mid-sixties, light clouds). We had bike lanes and/or bike-friendly streets the entire way. And I got to spend some quality time with my son!

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We may not have burned as many calories as we consumed, but we burned more than if we hadn’t done the ride at all!

And I enjoyed breezing through Silver Lake in one of my favorite styles from the Bikie Girl Bloomers collection:

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Hitchable Flounce Skirt in black, fluttering over my Red Hot Aqua Dot Bloomers, with matching Jambu Mary Janes on my feet.