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 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 2016-1.0: 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

 

Rolling With Los Pobladores

Los Pobladores refers to the original settlers of Los Angeles, who founded this fair city in 1781. Every year, to celebrate the birthday of Los Angeles, a contingent joins with descendants of these original settlers and walks the 9-mile route taken in 1781 from the mission in San Gabrial to Olvera Street in what is now downtown Los Angeles. Many walk the route in this annual ritual, while others make the journey by bicycle. This year I joined the group on bicycles.

The pre-ride gathering in front of the San Gabriel Mission

And off we went!
We rolled past some cool places, such as the Ming Ya Buddhist Association along Valley Boulevard.

 

And Lincoln Park.

 

Soon enough, we arrived at El Pueblo, just across the street from Union Station.

 

And we got to watch the final part of the procession.

 

La Plaza United Methodist Church faces El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument.

 

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Free bike valet parking was available to us on this street off El Pueblo, just across from the Chinese American Museum – I’ve visited before and highly recommend it.

 

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Heading to the bike valet, I got to meet Bikie Girl Maria, whom I’d noticed riding in her new Wick-It Black Bloomers.

 

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A ceremony featured some direct descendants of the original settlers and natives who shared traditional blessings.

 

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The prayer in the four directions.

 

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One of the dancers, relaxing after the performance with her companion.

 

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Smokey Bear was among the attendees observing the hoopla.

 

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La Iglesia de Nuestra Senora la Reina de Los Angeles, just across from El Pueblo

 

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Olvera Street Marketplace

 

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If you venture down Olvera Street, you will come upon America Tropical Interpretive Center, where you can see the rediscovered Siqueiros mural completed in 1932, now sheltered for conservation and viewable from a special platform.

 

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Also viewable from above Olvera Street is the beautiful Post Office Terminal Annex Building, which served as the central mail processing facility for Los Angeles from 1940-1989.

 

My complete route for the day, 30 miles total.

This will be remembered as one of my favorite urban cycling adventures.

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).