Monday, October 14, 2013

Coffeneuring: Rd 2

As the days get shorter and the mornings increasingly grow frosty, the appeal of a hot cup of coffee gets stronger. So strong that an otherwise well-adjusted cyclist will voluntarily ride out long before the sun is up. I will also admit that even though I only need to do one coffee stop per week, I'm front loading this challenge. By the end (even the middle) of this challenge we could be getting snow in the Fields of Dreams, so I've no guarantee that weather will be on my side in the coming weeks.

On to coffee. 

251 North Main Ave. #301
2.5 Miles

Saturday is bike shop day. I work part time at Brothers Bike Shop, mostly as an apprentice bike wrench. As I headed out for coffee, I drug our Sun Atlas Cargo along. Recently, the Sun had been exhibiting very odd behavior in the headset. Despite all my adjusting, the steering was stiff and the fork was rattling in the headset. I finally realized that a small spacing ring had gone missing during one of the disassembly sessions that the Sun had undergone in the last weeks. Without that ring, the spacers would contact the top of the headset without hitting the bearing, meaning that I had steering that was both stiff and loose. Thinking that I would save some time by dropping the Sun off at the shop on my way out to coffee, I pulled the longtail alongside my Schwinn World Tourist. I've towed bikes this way many times before, but this did not go well at all. A 50 lb longtail with stiff steering running alongside is a recipe for a wipe out, and I had to admit defeat after only a block. Mercifully, Brothers is a short walk away.

Left: Minivan.
Right: Dedicated muffin hauler. (The Schwinn has a porter rack
which I can get 2 doz  large muffins on) 
Released from the burden of the family beast of burden, I was free to find some coffee. While we lack a Portland or DC grade concentration of coffee shops, the few we have become institutions for their rarity.
Yep, still dark.
Casey's has been tormenting my town with delicious smells since 1946. They're mostly a bakery, but they do carry coffee, and most importantly for you, they enable me to tell you about the joy of stroopwafels. Unfortunately I was so filled with stroopwafel joy that I took no photo of the interior of the bakery, but gleefully fled the scene. This means that all food photos take place inside my home shop, not to be confused with the interior of a bakery.

While I cannot get fresh made stroopwafels, the imported versions are the perfect coffee snack. Since a stroopwafel is basically a thin waffle with caramel inside, a little heat makes them perfectly gooey.
Unforgettable snack. Forgettable Coffee

Take the lid off the coffee, place stroopwafel over cup. Doing it this way keeps the coffee warm, and in a few minutes you've got...
...something wonderfully gooey.

Now that we've had breakfast, and it's finally getting light out, here's the shop:
It's basically a small two story garage, about 24x36.
My Saturday office.
It has all the usual fixtures, though we mostly work in bike sales/repair, not so much in the apparel department. After working in an office all week, working here is a wonderful change of pace. Here I feel the work I do is a benefit for the people who come here. Plus it's a hobby that I turned into paycheck, so it's not altogether altruistic.
I don't know if it's possible to take a picture of a bike shop
without it looking claustrophobic.
We do manage to get a ton of bikes in a pretty small space. We carry lots of hybrids, entry level road and MTBs, and some city bikes.
I like to get people on everyday bikes. If you're looking for advice on Di2, better go someplace else. If your looking to do RAGBRAI, run errands, just ride around, we're your shop.
If you're in NW Iowa, come check us out!
(Oh, and I did get that steering sorted out on the Atlas. Longtails are a bear to get on the stand though.)

#4 Coffee Shop Without Walls
Lat: 43.08°
3.5 mi
Whoever says Iowa is flat...
is telling the truth.
I know that it's easy to knock on Iowa for its lack of hills, endless fields, and general dullness. Now I've grown up in this area, so it's easy for me to get defensive. To appreciate this part of the midwest, you need to slow down. This is a subtle country, if you're going 60 you'll never notice the small variations, you'll just want the ride to be over.

I recommend waking up early, go someplace quiet with an open view. Don't talk, maybe bring something hot to drink, and just watch the world wake up. You'll find that the stars disappear in a quiet rush, that the one lone dove cooing in the dark will be drowned out by the robins and blackbirds getting up with the sun. You can hear dairy farms miles off start milking, hear the industrial park spooling up for another day.

Something subtle, something hot.
I think that any place is better appreciated if you just sit down and be silent. The world is noisy enough on its own.
If you get snuck up on in Iowa, it's your own fault. Halfway between that tree and the light pole are two little
 dots on the landscape. They're water towers, eight miles away.

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