Monday, November 4, 2013

Coffeeneuring Rd 4: All this for a cup of coffee

Coffee Shop #5
Dutch Bakery
221 Central Ave NE Orange City
21 Miles

While the "Coffee Shop without Walls" has kept me in the running for this year's challenge, it does start to feel like cheating after a bit. And while I don't think I can avoid having at least half of my stops be the "without walls" sorts, I felt compelled to put in a few miles to make up for it. Entry #5 will probably be about as far afield as I go this year.

The Dutch Bakery is located about ten miles from my home in the nearby town of Orange City. To be clear, we do not grow citrus in NW Iowa, rather the orange references William of Orange, and is yet another indicator of the Dutch obsessed corner of the world that I live in. Almost none of the offerings that the Dutch Bakery cranks out have anything to do with the Netherlands, but what this bakery does have going for it is its hours. This place is open from midnight until 5 pm, meaning that I could sneak a 20 mile ride for coffee before I needed to be home by 7:30.

I was rolling a bit before 6 am, which was about a half hour later than I had wanted. There was a headwind that would be an issue on the way back, and I would be taking all gravel. While there are two paved route options, both are some of the busiest roads in my area, and I had no desire to test them in the dark. Absolutely no one expects to see a bike rider out a full hour and a half before dawn out in the middle of nowhere. So I clipped on an extra flashing taillight, slipped on a reflective vest, and hoped for the best.

We had had light rain the night previous, so the roads were nice and firm without being tacky. This is a blessing because my headlights are bit under powered, so it's hard for me to judge where the best track is on the road. The sky was clear, but no moon, and the roads were dead quiet. The stars were amazing, Sirus burned like a torch.

Riding in the dark with poor lighting is a strange experience  I would find myself gasping for breath without knowing why, until I finally realized that I had started climbing a hill. The ever changing nature of the roads also kept me on my toes. In the dark, I can't tell if a smooth patch is packed hard or sandbox loose. With my 200+lb frame on 32mm tires, I find out in a hurry.

About 40 minutes later I rolled into Orange City, a town completely dark and quiet, except for my bakery.
It's hard to see, but my bike is lurking just to the left of that garbage can.
Also: To people with light temperature obsessions, I'm sorry.
Perhaps the owners think that as long as they have someone on the clock baking, they may as well try to sell a few rolls. Most of the day's goods were still cooling on racks in the back, so the nice guy behind the counter (looked like a linebacker with a Red Soxs grade beard) let me in back to pick straight from the rack. The other nice thing about this place are the prices. A coffee, a doughnut (for my wife) a pink smiley faced cookie (for my daughter) and a roll (for me!) cost $3. No idea how they turn a profit.

With no time to enjoy my loot, I loaded up and rolled out of town. I had been nice and warm, but now that cold wind was in my face, and I had cooled down while in the bakery. My highly specialized bike clothing (old pair of khakis, heavyweight work shirt) kept me shivering for a bit, but a few miles down the road and I was good again.

Dawn started to catch up with me a few miles from home. I know I've taken dozen of photos of the sunrise during this challenge, but I never get tired of this view.

A few miles later and I was home with enough time to get cleaned up and open up the bike shop. Then I finally got to enjoy the coffee (still hot in my thermos) and the roll that I had hammered 20 miles on the dark gravel to get. Effort makes for good flavor.

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