Sunday, November 16, 2014

Getting Mugged

During the summer, I kept promising myself a fun slower ride with stops for coffee. I got to do that somewhat in June in Washington, mostly because they celebrate coffee enough that there are all of these espresso joints on the main cycling routes. But Nashville has lots of good coffee brewers, too, and I knew that it would be relatively easy to put together a route that would hit those places. Saturday, some friends were planning a short mid-day ride that would include a good coffee shop, so I decided to book-end it with a few miles and more caffeine.

It had been cold all week and Saturday was no different. Since the group was not starting their ride until 11, I waited around the house until 9 am when the temperature was finally above freezing. Then, with my travel mug on Sparkeltini still half-full of that morning's french-pressed Zaragoza, I rode the five miles to Westhaven and High-Brow Brew.

It's very nice to have a place with great coffee this close to my house. They've also got some tasty pastries, but I've been eating too much of that stuff lately. My travel mug re-filled, I hit the road.

Del Rio Pike was remarkably empty for a Saturday morning ... either everyone was hibernating for the day or they had already gotten to the mall. The peak leaves had fallen, of course, but there were still lots of oak leaves hanging on. Next week's forecast polar vortex will probably knock them loose, getting everyone out with their rakes, blowers, and mulching mowers.

For as long as I have lived here, Old Natchez Road has been a minefield of potholes and crappy pavement. This past summer, they rebuilt a couple of the bridges and then repaved the road. As much running and cycling traffic as it gets, I really wish that they had a multi-use trail, bike lane, or at least more of a shoulder on it. But it was nice enough being able to ride that way Saturday not having to constantly dodge punji pits.

They weren't quite done with Old Natchez past Moran, but it looks as if they will be by next weekend. Until then, a quarter mile of the old pavement was a nice reminder of how good things are now.

I went up Vaughn and over Old Hickory Boulevard into the park. Time was getting tight, but a bike ride through the park is always nice.

The golds there had burnished into a coppery vibe, tinged with hints of verdigris tarnish. The leaves on the road were still golden and supple, not yet desiccated and crackling into dust but no longer wet enough to go slippy under bicycle tires. I didn't see any other cyclists, but there were plenty of bundled-up walkers with dogs.

The hills and walkers in the park kept my speed down, and I barely got to the Starbuck's in Belle Meade before 11. Everyone there was ready to ride, so I didn't get coffee there then. Fortunately, I still had some of the good stuff from High-Brow, so this was not a problem.

The route was a compilation of multi-use trails, bike lanes, and calm roads. We got to ride a few miles on a multi-use trail on top of the berm running along the narrows of the Cumberland River past the Nashville Metro Center, and then went by the edge of Germantown and the Nashville Jazz Workshop. Somehow, we emerged in downtown, riding by government offices, honky-tonks, and the Music City Star train station before we arrived at our next coffee stop, Crema.

I got my cup refilled with some El Salvador drip, and RandoGirl got a latte. After 40 miles, I now felt that I deserved a chocolate croissant.

We took a different route back, going by some of the renovated condos along the river before taking the pedestrian bridge and climbing back up Demonbreun and down Music Row. We skirted the edge of Sylvan Park before getting onto busier West End Avenue at the end.

After getting a cup of Starbuck's coffee and kissing RandoGirl goodbye, I started back towards home. The day had warmed up a bit, and I was riding much harder than I had with the group. After crossing back over Old Hickory on the bike lane on Hillsborough Road, I stopped to take off my jacket, glove liners, and head tube. This left me cool enough that I was able to push the pace for the rest of my ride, but strained the limits of the pockets of my wool jersey.

I kept to the bike lanes on Hillsborough Road all the way into downtown Franklin. By now, I was ready for another cup of coffee.

Frothy Monkey is a little further from the house than High-Brow Brew, but the coffee is almost as good. Also, I was ready for some real food now.

By the time I left there, the day was starting to cool down again. I took some of the bulk out of one my pockets by pulling out my glove liners, and that was enough to get me home. Somehow, I had managed to get in a nice 75-mile day with a decent workout, but still stop and smell the coffee.

That made this a long ride with all of the perks.

Ha-ha. I kill myself.

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