Sunday, October 25, 2015

Mendo's Coffeeneuring Challenge 2015 - Day 5

Sugarie and Their Favorite Bike

Most of my coffeeneuring stops have been places I've never visited before. But Sugarie is a favorite. The owner really seems to like my Soma single-speed bike (belt drive, disk brakes). Once, when I rode my Volagi, I don't think he recognized me. Otherwise, it's a very welcoming, friendly, hometown place. And yummy!

### Coffeeneuring Control Stop #5 ###

DATE: 10/24/15
DRINKS: Cappuccino and Espresso
MILEAGE: 4.7 miles
COFFEE SHOP: Sugarie Bake Shop

BACKGROUND: Russ and Natalie started baking French Macarons (which are different than Macaroons) and selling door-to-door. That led to catering and eventually the shop two miles from my house. It's very French, and it's very much about pasteries, first, but the coffee is quite good, too.

COFFEE REVIEW: The plan was to have something with milk so they could show their latte artistry. The cappuccino was soothing and yummy, big cup. Artistry was just so-so, too frothy to qualify for a better score. I'm not a cappuccino or latte kind of guy, usually, so I don't have much of a frame of reference for a useful review. Yummy enough, that I wanted to stay around and have something more.

Round two was an espresso. I'm not an espresso guy, either - generally too bitter. But this was quite good. Not too bitter, but smoky and edgy yet still enjoyable. The chrome espresso cup was cool, too.

I've been here many times before and usually just have coffee. The Peter James they get from Fremont already ground and it's a single-origin from Costa Rica. Thumbs up for that. Their espresso bean is a secret.

FOOD PAIRING: Two rounds of coffee meant two rounds of pastries! The aroma was wonderful as soon as I walked in, just minutes after they opened. Most of the freshly baked pasteries were still cooling on the racks instead of steaming up the case. The scones came out just after I arrived. Very tempting but I thought the berry flavors might not work well with my coffee choices. So, for the cappuccino, I chose the kouign amann, which is buttery like a croissant but also sugary and crunchier. Both were light and airy, very easy on the palate. Big gulps, big bites and gone too quickly! For the espresso, I chose the mini éclair. About the size of Mendo, it seemed harmless. I thought the chocolate would match the strength of the espresso and I was right, but the abundance of the cream filling was the real kicker - fabulous pairing. I could stay there all day.

BIKE AMBIANCE: The shop is in a strip mall and they've done their best to make an outdoor seating area like you'd find in Paris, but that doesn't leave much room for more than perhaps two bikes. Otherwise, it's fine. The decorations were decidedly Francophile, but not TdF-ophile.

DUCK'S VIEW: It never ceases to amaze me how easily people accept a grown man carrying around a rubber duck and taking too many photos. Mendo was allowed to "swim" in a display jar of green coffee beans. The decor suited him well: much distressed white, chrome and black. You may noticed the orange "Field Notes" memo book in the background. I've started carrying it and using the "bullet journal" method for organizing and journaling - highly recommend both. The orange version is called the "Expedition Edition" and it's waterproof. Both the color and the water resistance go well with Mendo.

THE BIKE: Somasee Day 1 post.

THE RIDE: In keeping with the Coffeeneuring spirit, the ride was all about the coffee. Just a quick spin down Main Street past the farmer's market and straight to Sugarie. No frills, no detours. The weather was cloudy and cool but promised to be a rather nice, 50-60-degree fall day. Perfect for coffee. Straight home by a hillier route. Yes, it's more of a struggle on a single-speed but two rounds of coffee didn't hurt.

INSERT THEME HERE: Perhaps today's theme is brightness. My new Field Notes book, Mendo, my "Traffic Master" jersey, the sunny disposition of the Sugarie owners and the atmosphere of the shop. I titled the post with "Their Favorite Bike" because the owner usually mentions my bike.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Mendo's Coffeeneuring Challenge 2015 - Day 4

Sunol Railroad Cafe and the Invisible Cyclist

I didn't intend on doing another Coffeeneuring run this morning, but I didn't feel like a big ride, either. So I tucked Mendo in my pocket just in case and his mere presence made it happen.

### Coffeeneuring Control Stop #4 ###

DATE: 10/18/15
DRINKS: Seattle's Best
MILEAGE: 15.6 miles
COFFEE SHOP: Sunol Railroad Cafe

Worm's-eye view from across Main Street. Almost perfectly timed - that's me entering the frame...

Another Timer Photo Experiment
BACKGROUND: Mark Martin owns and runs the little cafe on Main Street in Sunol, where he grew up. Situated a block from the Niles Canyon Railway station and a block from the Sunol Glen School, where my son attended - Sunol is really only about two blocks long - it occupies a house built after the 1906 earthquake. Sunol, population 913, is a pocket of small-town life with more than its share of eccentricities (residents unofficially elected a dog named Bosco as their mayor in 1981). 
"The place is a throwback, it's old-fashioned Americana," says Martin. It's more about comfort food than coffee, plenty of hellos and how-are-yas to old friends. The review I read referred to the diner's funky Mayberry-in-Silicon-Valley vibe. This was my first time inside, even though I'd been by it hundreds of times. So I figured I need a place like this in my Coffeeneuring group, to contrast the "rock star" baristas.
COFFEE REVIEW: I am too much of a novice to be a coffee snob yet, but I was a bit let down to see the "proudly serving Seattle's Best" sign in the window. But that wasn't really the point for this stop. I didn't ask if they were serving the "house blend" or one of the numbered series of "signature blends". It was fine. It really was.

FOOD PAIRING: The covered pastry platter was empty by the time I got there, so I had an English muffin. That was pretty good, too. They paired well enough. But this is really a better place to sit and have a meal.

BIKE AMBIANCE: The parking lot down the street for the Niles Canyon Railway is a common meet-up for cyclists, as is the school. And there are several great rides from here. On the weekend there are probably as many cyclists as cars rolling down the only street. But the cafe doesn't give off a cycling-friendly vibe, per se. It's a train-friendly vibe, for sure. But having said that, everyone is welcomed here and everyone feels comfortable - as you would be at gramma's house. Parking is adequate and the town itself is safe enough that there's no worrying.

DUCK'S VIEW: This is a great place to be a duck. Well, the town is - if a dog can become mayor - but the cafe is a railroad cafe. Not great for ducks, but great for old men wearing pinstriped overalls and an engineer's hat. Mendo was happy on the bike ride down here. He wanted to get out when we crossed Verona Bridged and hop in the arroyo. It flows slowly down to Sunol and he wanted to meet me there. Sorry, not happening.

THE BIKE: Volagi, see Day 1 post.

THE RIDE: Although it looked fine with possible sunrise photo opportunities, it actually rained. (That's a bit rare here.) I took the Happy Valley route, detoured into the Serenity neighborhood and noticed I was at the intersection of Sanctuary and Sleepy Head. So there, that's how the ride was. And that's why coffee was in order.

INVISIBLE: I enjoy cycling for many reasons. One is the serenity of being alone on a scenic country road. That's my happy place. For most of these CC2015 rides, I'm trying to venture into new places, chat up the owners and maybe learn something about coffee. I realize I'm wearing lycra in very loud colors, but I'm man enough to own it. But I was a little apprehensive entering the Sunol Railroad Cafe knowing it was a place for the locals - and I wasn't really one of them (although I thought I could fake it pretty well). But although the staff was nice, they were "Midwestern nice" - term I made up, being from the Midwest. It means that they don't gush with fake friendliness, they are just nice. They might end up being your friend for life, but not at first. And so I was politely left alone while they greeted others heartily - people they obviously knew much better. Eventually, I paid my bill, left $2 and left. I doubt they thought twice about me. I would certainly go back for a meal. But not just for coffee, unless I was wearing my overalls.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Mendo's Coffeeneuring Challenge 2015 - Day 3

Cloudy with a Shot of Panama Red

Sometimes, coffee can't fix the grumpies. I woke up a 6am, having set my alarm to feed the cats. I was profoundly tired: 200 miles of bike commuting, too little sleep (teenager home from college... oh, the stories). The skies were dark, as was my mood but I was optimistic that CC#3 would help.

### Coffeeneuring Control Stop #3 ###

DATE: 10/17/2015
DRINKS: "Panama Red" - coffee with a shot of espresso
MILEAGE: 20.7 miles
COFFEE SHOP: Panama Red Coffee Co., 2115 1st Street, Livermore, CA

BACKGROUND: They started in 1993 as Panama Bay Coffee Company and now have six locations in the Bay Area. I don't know much more other than they claim to have "rock star baristas!"

COFFEE REVIEW: They offer the usual coffee shop range, but their signature cup is "Panama Red" which is regular coffee with a shot of espresso. Apparently, you can get it as a "red eye" or a "black eye" depending on one shot or two - I went with one. I'd give it a thumbs-up. The coffee itself was pretty good and I could taste the little shot of espresso hiding in there. I forgot to ask about the base coffee (the website says it is a pour-over, but they served me from a pot), but it was medium and well balanced.

Since I sat outside, I didn't get any follow-on conversation with the rock star. I mean barista.

FOOD PAIRING: The iced cranberry scone was light enough to not bother the medium coffee flavor. The hit of sweetness from the icing was just enough to counter the espresso aftertaste.

BIKE AMBIANCE: I'm sure my review is more negative than others would give for two reasons: my foul mood and the dog whose owner said "he doesn't like bikes." Really? So I didn't park my bike by the *other bike* but rather on the 1st street side. This felt rather exposed, so I can't give high marks for bike friendliness. But I could see it from inside while I ordered and there was a table close by, outside. But that put me away from the other people sitting outside, without the social opportunities.

DUCK'S VIEW: Mendo was in a much better mood than me and really liked sitting outside. He also was quite enamored with the barista with her pink hair and nose-ring. She loves it there, thinks their coffee is fantastic and most of the barista's are working on their latte art - she does an awesome heart (I saw the previous customer's). Mendo also loves sitting outside and doesn't mind the lack of conversation - rubber duckies can't talk.

I had forgotten that Mendo can't stay upright when he floats. Hence, there will be no photos of Mendo floating in coffee (unless I get a stunt duck ...I have several to choose from). Regardless, high marks on this place from Mendo.

THE BIKE: Volagi, see Day 1 post.

THE RIDE: The skies were dramatic, but not threatening so I kept catching glimpses of photo-worthy sunrises. That lured me up side streets and hills for better vistas - only to think "not so great." I don't live in Livermore, so there and back was twenty miles with some reasonable hills. Not too many cyclists out, but the soccer field was packed - I'm sure plenty of Starbuck's were there, too.

Note: Inspired by Ms. Coffeeneur herself, I attempted a timer-selfie-action-shot-photo. Clearly, I need more practice - oh, a pun clearly!

Controversy. On the very last turn before getting home, I'm waiting in the left turn lane. The light is red and I know it will never give me a left turn arrow. A nice lady is crossing in front of me from the left. I can see the walk light counting down from 20-something. So I turn after she passes and use the crosswalk to the sidewalk rather than wait. Is that okay? I hear her say "it's a red light" in a calm but condescending way. Why did she feel compelled to say that. Before "the tone" hit me, I said politely, "I know, I'm using the crosswalk." But for the next two blocks home, I got more and more annoyed. Why do people get so bothered by cyclists? True, I don't follow all the rules - but the ones I bend are only because I feel safer with my choice than what the rules dictate. Didn't help my mood.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Barq's Root Beer

Root beer is often associated with childhood, but it is very much a part of my adulthood as well. I’ve gone through phases where I tried to avoid caffeine and where I tried to avoid high fructose corn syrup. Root beer generally met both criteria. There is a wide variety of root beer brands, mainstream and craft brews, and you can even brew it yourself at home. It’s not just for kids. Lately, I tend to avoid the big brands: Mug, Dad’s, Hire’s. One exception, for me, is Coca Cola’s brand: Barq’s.

Although I was born and raised where it snows, my parents eventually moved to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. And I’m pretty sure that’s where I had my first taste of Barq’s. Like so many things, I cannot simply enjoy them – I must know their story. And if its history has something unexpected then I’m compelled to write about. Aren’t you lucky.

My expectation was that Mr. Barq started brewing root beer in his tub somewhere in the South, grew from local to regional and eventually got bought out by the big guy. All true. Well, maybe not the part about the tub, but they also had some controversy about the “other Barq’s”, and some Soviet slight-of-hand to give this story some bite.

French Quarter

Mr. Barq, Sr. is Edward Charles Edmond Barq and he was born in New Orleans in 1871. His mother moved him back to France at the age of two, when his father died. I believe he attended a university and learned the art of flavor chemistry from the masters in Paris and Bordeaux. But to avoid French military service, he returned with his brother, Gaston, and opened the Barq’s Brothers Bottling Company in the French Quarter of New Orleans (giving Louisiana claim to the original “Barq’s”). Gaston died but Edward carried on, buoyed by a popular orange flavored soda called Orangine which won the gold medal at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago.

By 1897 he had closed Barq’s Brothers, married Elodie Graugnard and moved to Biloxi, Mississippi. In the winter, he worked as a chemist on Louisiana sugar plantations, and in the summer, he would return to Biloxi to bottle artesian water and experiment with soda flavors. (Note: I was raised saying “pop”, but now I say “soda” and I don’t believe anyone should ever say “soda pop”.) In 1898, Barq opened Biloxi Artesian Bottling Works and within two years he was producing their first root beer (giving Mississippi claim to the original “Barq’s Root Beer”). Different than other root beers, Barq's had more "bite", partly from a higher level of carbonation and lower sugar content. It has less of the foamy head. I don’t know if it contained caffeine from the beginning but it probably did. Regardless, 1898 is thus considered the founding of Barq’s as we know it today.

Biloxi Blue

Early bottles were clear with blue lettering and had a diamond pattern on the shoulder. They were embossed with “Biloxi Artesian Bottling Works as well as "E. Barq, Prop." and "Biloxi, Miss." They dropped the word “Artesian” from their name and expanded with another plant in Gulfport in 1902. These bottles can be identified by the embossing of "Barq's Bottling Works, E. Barq, Gulfport, Miss."

Although he attended a university in France, Barq did not speak much English and could not write it, so what records there were, were in French. Through the years, he had partners in the family business. Mr. Court, perhaps sometime around 1900 and Mr. Hartner around 1907 – some bottles have Hartner’s name on them.

The clear glass and blue lettering is associated with Barq’s of Biloxi. I need to say that because there are were also red-lettered bottles from a different Barq’s in New Orleans. I’ll get back to that, later.

“It’s Barq’s son, just Barq’s”

Root beer is made from sassafras or sarsaparilla, usually, and first commercial credit goes to Charles Elmer Hires. He wanted to call it “root tea” but apparently opted for “root beer” to appeal to his local clientele from the Pennsylvania coal mines. When Barq’s root beer was introduced it was just called Barq’s to avoid the Hires trademark. That eventually went away and we had Barq’s Root Beer.

I’ll tell this story, but I don’t believe it. Supposedly, one of the franchisees – Richard Tuttle of Cincinnati, Ohio –added red dye to the amber-colored Barq’s Crème Soda, creating what became “red pop”. I’m from Michigan so I’ll continue to believe that Faygo Red Pop is the original red pop (I guess there is something called “Big Red” but I haven’t looked into this yet).

Now, you probably know that Barq’s root beer contains caffeine (diet Barq’s does not, by the way, and usually the fountain version of Barq’s won’t either – so they can make regular and diet from the same syrup). In 1938, the federal government banned caffeine in root beer. Barq simply changed the name of his drink to “Barq's Sr.” after the old man himself. Decades later, the government reversed its caffeine ban (1960). So they dropped “Barq's Sr.” and went back to the original name – which caused a bit of confusion. This is my favorite part of the whole story – the old man supposedly put an end to it by saying, “it’s Barq’s son, just Barq’s.” People still say this down on the Gulf Coast.

“Barq’s has Bite”

Barq’s has come up with interesting slogans and marketing ideas over the years. In the early years, soda was sold in six ounce bottles for a nickel. The story goes that his son, Edward Jr., came up with the idea of 12-ounce bottles and kept the price at a nickel – a first in the soda industry. He said it would give “a sense of satisfaction which comes with getting more of a good thing than the price seems to warrant.” Obviously, the 12-ounce bottle or can is still the most common size today – but not at a nickel anymore.

One of the earliest slogans was “Barq’s has Bite” – which I always thought referred to the caffeine. But apparently it was the higher level of carbonization. The popular slogan, “Drink Barq’s. It’s Good” appeared on restaurant boards and apparently on pencils and rulers handed out to schoolchildren – and it didn’t cause obesity back in my day. Somewhere along the way in the 1970s it picked up the banner, "Famous Olde Tyme Root Beer". But still everyone said “Barq’s is Barq’s”.

Ed Jr. died in 1970, leaving the company to his children, Ella and William. A few years later, they sold the company to John Koerner and John Oudt. They hired Rick Hill to be their VP-marketing. Despite graduating from Cornell University, with a Wharton MBA he euphemistically marketed Barq’s “like he was 200 bucks short of the rent money, and willing to gamble it all on the turn of the next card.” Never a follower, Hill endeared himself to the Baptist preachers of the Deep South by sponsoring MTV’s Head Banger’s Ball. But his craziest idea came in 1992.

Hill decided to buy an old Cadillac that was once owned by Elvis Presley, cut it up, and offer these pieces with proof of purchase. But the Presley estate insisted on over $1 million in licensing fees. The back-up plan was offering Soviet Union tchotchkes since the Cold War had just ended. He pitched the idea to Koerner, Barq’s president, “He just stared at me, and finally said, ‘Do you have anything else?’ When I told him no, he finally shrugged and said ‘Go with it.’” That year’s key summer season promo would be “The Soviet Union Going Out of Business Sale.” Crazy, perhaps, but even crazier because they didn’t have anything to give!

With an open airplane ticket, a lawyer and $70,000 in checks, Hill went to Russia where he negotiated with members of the “Soviet Mafia.” “After all,” he explained, “The country had just gone to hell, and the only people able to do any business were the criminals.” Ten days later he’d purchased “4,000 pounds of stuff, to be shipped FOB New York, for around $75-$80,000.”

“We filled a container with matryoshka dolls, Lenin Day pins, tank commander watches and military medals,” Hill reminisced, “we even had complete Soviet Army uniforms as bottler premiums. Of course we were offered MiGs and tanks, but we declined.”
Koerner became so successful with Barq’s that he was named “Executive of the Year” by Beverage Industry magazine in 1994. Hill later went on to work for Hewlett-Packard.

Battle of New Orleans

Supposedly, at some point in the early 1900s, Barq took in a local boy from a broken home and raised him like a son. His name was Jasper "Jesse" Louis Robinson. Barq’s biological son, Ed Jr, must have been about the same age and would eventually take over the company when Barq Sr. died in 1943. But what about Jesse?

As an adult, Jesse Robinson operated a Barq's production facility in New Orleans – I’m not sure if Barq initiated this or merely helped it happen. In 1934, Barq gave Robinson the right to use and even modify the Barq's formula and gave him the right to the Barq’s name to sell root beer in all of Louisiana, excluding Washington Parish, while Barq maintained the exclusive rights to operate in Mississippi. Barq’s of New Orleans became a separate company. Because of Robinson’s success, many New Orleanians think of Barq’s as their own hometown drink – thems fightin’ words! (Here I’m siding with the folks in Biloxi.) These bottles generally were green glass with red lettering.

Wikipedia says the marketing plans of Koerner and Oudt were complicated by the existence of the Louisiana-based Barq's which was owned by Robinson's heirs. The legal battle went all the way to the United States Court of Appeals, 5th Circuit which ruled in favor of the Robinson heirs. It’s surprisingly murky, but I believe the Biloxi company then purchased the New Orleans company in 1988. The headquarters was moved to New Orleans. Koerner and Oudt finally sold the New Orleans-based, former Biloxi company to Coca-Cola in 1995.

Almost Happily Ever After

In 2010, a lawsuit against Coca-Cola charged that they did not have the legal right to purchase certain portions of Barq’s that were passed down through the Robinson family. This case was dismissed. And then asked to be reviewed again, but denied. Unfortunately, one relative had some apparent mental instability and a violent reaction to the outcome. This happened a few months ago!

According to the police, the relative used his pickup truck to run over a man from the other side of the lawsuit – twice! The victim was knocked unconscious and suffered numerous broken bones, police said. Then the relative went to a local hospital and took an employee hostage at gunpoint. A negotiator persuaded him to surrender. The relative pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and was sentenced to five years' probation.

In accepting the plea, the Judge ordered him to serve two years in the court's intensive probation program, which includes a mental health evaluation, classes and random screens for illegal drug use. "I can't begin to stress, you need to undergo that evaluation and treatment," the judge said.

Yankee Perspective

Having grown up in the Midwest, it’s hard to believe most of this story. But having spent a lot of time on the Gulf Coast, I can see how people claim Barq’s as their own. It’s like family, even the weird relatives – and you’ll defend them against any outsider.

Through my research, I’ve found that there’s a book in the works. I will definitely buy it. And I’ll fix the details that I’ve got wrong. No two stories that I’ve found so far have corroborated more than a few details. So it will be nice to have something more authoritative. Meanwhile, I think I’ll get some vanilla ice cream and make myself a root beer float. Barq’s is Barq’s.

“Digging for facts... A history of the Barq Bottling Works” Douglas Bremenkamp,
“Grandchildren of Barq's founder are challenging sale of root beer rights to Coca-Cola” Jaquetta White, The Times-Picayune, October 17, 2010
Barq's, Since 1898 (
Barq's Page Two, Kat Bergeron writes for The Sun Herald in Biloxi, Mississippi, “FROM RUSSIA WITH ROOT BEER”, June 1, 2003, Chief Marketer Staff, “Federal judge dismisses lawsuit filed against Coca-Cola by grandchildren of Barq's founder”, Jaquetta White, The Times-Picayune, January 07, 2011, updated January 07, 2011
“After losing legal battle over Barq's root beer, man goes on rampage, NOPD says”, Helen Freund,, The Times-Picayune, March 13, 2014, updated March 14, 2014, “Barq’s founder’s relatives appeal suit’s dismissal”, The Associated Press, February 2, 2011,
“ROBINSON v. COCA-COLA COMPANY”, NO. 11-30130, United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, Filed May 22, 2012,
“Losing plaintiff in Barq's lawsuit pleads guilty to assaulting Elmwood hospital worker with gun”, Paul Purpura,, The Times-Picayune, July 21, 2014, updated July 21, 2014,

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

October 3 Fun and Games at the Treebones Resort Day 2

Can you believe it? All you can eat breakfast with waffles, home made peanut butter, quiche, fresh juice, even bananas!

But there's more.

Soon we were on our bikes riding up Hwy 1. It was a bit spooky with some of the car drivers but that's the life of a #Cyclomonkey. I waved at everyone and asked them to slow down and give us 3 feet. Some only gave us 3 monkey feet. That's not cool. But most drivers waved back and gave me (and Dave) plenty of room.

After lots of ups and downs Dave and Dedi turned right and we started to climb. and climb. and climb! I love it!

...and no traffic.

We stopped for some photo ops. Nice. I needed the break. The air was starting to feel thin!

Stopping for some fresh air!

I love it when Dedi smiles!

Shall we dance!

We kept climbing and made it all the way to the top where we visited the New Camaldoli Hermitage. 

Wow is all I can say!

Boy we are up high!

The monastery!

Our ride home was quite nice. More of a shoulder heading South. I liked that. We met a funny rider from Wales. He thought I was quite the sight! He rode with us and told me he was rooting for Australia in the Rugby games. Promised me a beer if they won. But my friend Sean Maloney would have not liked it if I celebrated with him.  I knew Sean was rooting for England. So I politely told him no.

We got back to the Yurt and Dave wanted a few more miles. So we rode up a super steep dirt road. I thought we would tip over backwards. But Dave climbs about as well as Todd so we were fine. But I was still a bit scared. 

Swinging in the wind!

Finally a close up of me! I sure am cute if I may say so myself!

The ride home was sure bumpy and steep but I got to ride up front and really enjoyed it!

From here it was another nice evening but Sunday we headed home. I was a bit sad. So I won't show any pictures from that sad day. But don't worry.  I know that more adventures await me. I've heard talk of Italy, Scandinavia and even Australia. I wonder which one is next!


October 2 Treebones Resort Day 1

Can things get better! YES! SWEET!

Dave and Dedi are driving me to Big Sur!

I will get to see tree houses, new trails, new adventures, and I'm sure new friends!
I'm ready to go!

It was a long drive but the company was great.

Driving away!

We stopped at the old Steinbeck cafe in Monterey for a quick lunch.

Kids with greasy fingers were all around and wanting to play with me, but Dave and Dedi kept me safe and explained to them that I was famous and needed to be kept out of their reach! Pheww..

Here I am lounging around before the big adventure!

Just Hanging out!

Keeping Dedi company and cooling off next to some ice water!

After lunch and a scenic drive down Highway 1 we reached the wonderful Treebones resort. I couldn't believe it! 

We were greeted and taken to our Yurt by Rita who gave me a big hug and even offered me a banana! Can you believe it?

Hanging out with Rita who showed us to our Yurt

The Yurt was beyond belief! Check it out!

They carved a chair with a view, just for me!

Lots of room for me to play in here!
Hey! Look at me!
Just one glass of wine to help Dave and Dedi celebrate 25 years together!

Going a short hike

Dedi shows me the nest! I love it. Wish  I could sleep there!

We had a nice dinner and soon it was time to call it a night.

Dave promised me a fun bike ride on Saturday! Can't wait!

October 1 and the Lion King

October is here and I'm thrilled! I got to meet Dave's wife Diana (I call her Dedi)  and his daughter Aubrey yesterday. They told me that today I get to see the Lion King.

I can't believe it!

Dedi drove me to downtown San Jose in a real car. Even better I was on the dashboard and could wave at all the people along the way.

Dedi picked Dave up at his work and before I knew it we were downtown at the San Jose Center for Performing Arts.

Dave carried me proudly and introduced me to many of the people walking to the show.

I think some of them thought I was part of the show judging my the surprised looks on their faces!

Before the show started, I looked out the corner of my eyes and saw people searching for #Cyclomonkey on their phones. I really am famous!

Thank you Todd for giving me my well deserved publicity.

Oh, by the way, the show was fantastic! I was scared in parts but Dave and Dedi held me close.

We couldn't take pictures inside but here's a shot of me hanging out in the lobby area!

Riding with Dave (September 30)

As a very well balanced world traveler you would think I could stay on top of things but lately everything has been upside down.

So many adventures, back to back.

But I'm not complaining. And I'm happy that I finally have enough time on my hands to share with you the great time I had when I got to ride with Dave.

The adventure began on September 30. I was happy that October was almost here.

I love October as that's when Halloween comes up and I can dress up like a human.  But back to September 30.

Todd picked me up and told me that we were going for a bike ride. Yay! But it was dark outside and I was a bit nervous when he stuffed me in his backpack. I was almost shivering  when he took me out of his backpack and then handed me to this stranger people call David Fisch.

I'll just call him Dave. Dave seemed excited to see me and gave me a big smile so I calmed down quickly... Even better, he put me in his back pocket so I was able to see everything! So much better than Todd's dark backpack. I need to talk to Todd about that!

Dave even had a rain coat for me to keep me nice and dry in case he started to sweat! Sweet.

Rumor has it that Dave rode 5,000 miles across the country so I knew I was in good hands.

Boy did I have fun going down Calaveras with him I love going fast and so does Dave!

Here's a shot of the three of us (Todd, Dave, and me) relaxing after a speedy descent!

Life is good! I think any friend of Todd's is a friend of mine!

And here I am at Dave's work! Nice place! Nice saddle, but I can't reach the handlebars!

CycloMonkey's Weekend in the Valley

As a certain monkey makes friends and becomes more popular, it's nice to have a quiet weekend at home. But not this weekend. No. If you look at a map of California, there's a big emptiness between the ocean and the mountains. That's the Central Valley.

Almost Yosemite

With what seems like millions of other people, CycloMonkey, my wife and I hopped in the car and started driving towards that barren wasteland of nothingness that straddles Highway 99. Stop. Go. Stop again. 20mph. Stop. Big trucks. Less and less civilization. Less and less trees or even signs of life. Then uphill. Yes, this would make a nice bike route if there was a shoulder, fewer cars and cooler temperatures. Finally, we arrive at Oakhurst, California, at the intersection of Highway 49 and Highway 41.

Oakhurst is a gold-rush-era town on the southern edge of Yosemite National Park. We are here for two reasons:
1. The Yosemite Half Marathon, which my wife will run.
2. Ride #2 of my Coffeeneuring Challenge

Coffeeneuring features another anthropomorphized friend of mine: Mendo, the rubber ducky. As you might expect, CycloMonkey should avoid caffeine. So he is less than ideal for a partner in this. And with his recent surge in popularity, cannot be counted on to clear his calendar for these sedate little rides to coffee shops.

But he's rather unselfish and was happy to endure the long hours in the car. The first order of business, of course, is the half marathon. And that meant waking up before 4am so that my wife could catch the bus taking the runners up into the mountains for the start.

The upside of waking up well before dawn in a town with clear, mountain air and no smog, is the view of the planets aligned outside our hotel window!
The moon, Jupiter, Mars (faintly), Venus (bright) and Regulus (very faint) - taken with my cell phone!

Many of the establishments here are named Southgate Something due to the proximity of the south gate into Yosemite. And there are bears everywhere! Fortunately, the live bears hide up in the hills, so mostly there are just these carved, wooden bears that seem harmless.

I won't bore you with details of the race, the coffee or the hot, dry ride home. With Saturday in the books, we turned out attention to Sunday. Rest up, because we are heading back to the Central Valley again!

Bike Ride

At 6:30am on Sunday morning, CycloMonkey and I headed out in the cool, crisp air to meet our riding partners for the twelfth of my twelve consecutive monthy 200km randonneur rides. This ride would qualify me for the R-12 award. This would also be CycloMonkey's very first 200km ride - mostly due to my preference to carry food rather than monkeys in my limited number of pockets. But now I have a small bag for my top tube which freed up my middle jersey pocket. It's the perfect size for a limber and compressible monkey.

Since my jersey fabric wicks moisture away from my body, I worried about CycloMonkey absorbing said same moisture. So his "jersey" was a old plastic newspaper bag. One shot of espresso and we were off!

The streets were relatively quiet at 7am. CycloMonkey's view out the back consisted mostly of our familiar riding buddies. Will was there on the day CycloMonkey found us in Santa Cruz. Steven took CycloMonkey to Europe, so they're old friends. Bumha and Kenny would become old friends by the end of this long day.

The 200km "permanent" rides follow a predetermined route with specific control stops. The controls are usually spaced out about 30 miles apart or whenever it is convenient. The trip over the hills and into the Central Valley leave long gaps without much civilization, so the first control stop was about mile 45. By the second, at mile 61, we were almost halfway - time for a soothing creme soda.

Not frozen today.
Halfway would generally be a good time for lunch. But the control at roughly two-thirds is an oasis in the wilderness called The Junction. It is located where three roads meet: Del Puerto Canyon (our route from the Central Valley), San Antonio Valley (south to Mount Hamilton), and Mines Road (back to where we started). The little grill there serves beer and basic lunch food but it tastes awesome after many hours in the saddle. And you just can't there without spending many hours in the saddle. So we opted to skip lunch and head up the canyon.

From our control stop at the Patterson exit off Interstate 5, we headed west into the hottest, driest part of our ride. On my Garmin, I recorded 107 degrees (F). We went for miles and miles with very little shade or vegetation, slowly climbing. The road has huge numbers painted every mile, to aid airplanes in rescuing dehydrated cyclists. My memory has already faded in three days, but I believe around mile 18 or 19 is a natural spring. There is a small spigot of cold water (free!). Apparently, you'll get your daily requirement of magnesium from this water - but it tastes great.

A mile later, the climb got steeper, unrelenting for several more miles. But no bother, The Junction is right over the top! With the proverbial monkey on my back, I crested the summit before my compatriots. And I wanted the first beer. Somehow, I managed to hold off the chasers and arrived at the locked gate first! Wait, locked? Oh no! They are closed! I knew the owner had recently had surgery and was not keeping consistent hours - but how could this be!

Cheers on your accomplishment
Undeterred (because we had no other option), we carried on back to civilization. That meant about 30 more miles, however. Along the way, we hatched a plan to visit Altamont Beer Works in Livermore (thank you, Will).

Some may think that drinking beer during a long bike ride is crazy. I'd say "crazy refreshing!" CycloMonkey is of the opinion that it isn't wise. And he resisted. But as you can tell, there was plenty of cheering for CycloMonkey's first 200k. Well, it was rather hot. And he wasn't driving. And the "brown" was served with nitrogen instead of carbonization if that matters (looked cool, anyway). So he thoroughly enjoyed it. Perhaps the second was ill-advised.

Back in his newspaper bag and back out into the heat we went. Fortunately, the remaining few miles were flat and the headwind was minimal. Except for Bumha's flat tire, the day was a complete success.
Finally, we arrived back at the Starbuck's where we had started. This was also the finish control. One cookie for me, one cookie for CycloMonkey.

Personally, I'm rather tired. The day would end for me with slightly over 142 miles. But one of those last miles was a detour to drop off CycloMonkey at our friend John's house. Seems that John has a little surprise for which he wouldn't provide any details. Is it some exotic trip? Is it to meet a man in a yellow hat?