The day did not start out with Coffeeneuring, but stay with me; it ended up that way! Dr. Diarist, Argyll, Basil and I joined Bicycle Club of Philadelphia leader George’s Sunday ride, along with five others.
Our route took us through parts of Fairmont Park in areas neither we nor our Bromptons had previously ridden, on a lovely crisp fall day.
George pointed out a community project on the way: It looked oddly like an over-sized ant hill but turned out to be a ramped dirt track for stunt bicycling.
We eventually cycled through the Bala Cynwyd train station — one we hadn’t seen before — and rode on the Cynwyd Heritage Trail. Downhill, as it happens, all the way to Manayunk, coasting all the way; Dr. D pointed out that the reverse trip might have been a lot more arduous.
On the way we were treated to a spectacular view of Manayunk, which is in the northwestern section of Philadelphia, with an identity all its own.
George shared local lore along the way, mentioning, among other things, that the trail we had ridden goes past West Laurel Cemetery.
We had seen stone gates as we’d gone by; George explained that the entrance had only been discovered, buried in overgrowth, when a old rail bed was cleared to make the trail. The tracks were formerly used for funeral trains.
We stopped at a coffee shop in Manayunk that I will always think of as the Salon Coffeehouse; it has a stealth location beneath this awning. The first time I went there — on a different BCP ride — I thought that “Salon L’Etoile” was a most peculiar name for a beverage business.
This was a correct assessment: it’s actually called Volo Coffeehouse, and a fine place it is. However, Dr. Diarist and I did not have coffee here. That would have been a violation of both the regulations and the spirit of Coffeeneuring: Group rides may not be used to fulfil the requirements!
After some light snacking, the group headed out. Kelly Drive was closed to traffic, which made the last stretch of the group ride blissful. The ride started and ended at the Azalea Garden, beneath the Philadelphia Museum of Art, a traditional cyclists’ meeting spot.
That part of our excursion wasn’t Coffeeneuring . . . but we are permitted to count cycling either to or from a group event, as long as the ride is at least two miles/3.2 km, and, of course, we indulge in coffee or similar beverage.
Therefore, we rode two full miles, not exactly directly, back to 30th Street Station (which is under a mile from the art museum), and drank chai at Saxbys.
We’ve been to other Saxbys locations and liked them very much. Sadly, this one was a bust. One of the employees (a manager?) fought with another employee in an attempt to get her to serve us, while simultaneously managing to never acknowledge us, himself, at any point during the prolonged and wretched transaction.
We got our chais, eventually, from a highly distracted server who was having a loud discussion with a friend, and two napkins from the guy, who tore them grudgingly from a dispenser that was jammed into position facing the inside of the kiosk, and inaccessible to patrons.
So: ewww. Not quite the experience we had hoped for. Clearly, Volo would have been the better choice!
Day 2 Observations: 1) The chai was excellent. (Go figure!) 2) Worst customer experience either of us could remember having had in a long, long time. It’s a toss-up as to who claims which observation — two Coffeeneuring teams are involved here — but, since Dr. Diarist and were in complete concordance, it hardly matters who claims which.
Tally for the day
Day 2 Location: Saxby’s at 30th Street Amtrak Station
Mileage today: 2 miles/3.2 km
Total Mileage for Coffeeneuring 2014 to date: 9 miles/14.4 km