Coffeeneuring 2022, Rides 6 and 7: Houston!

One of the things that I try to do with each Coffeeneuring Challenge is “make it spicy”. I like to do a ride or three that’s different than my others. The easiest way to make it spicy is by doing a ride in another location that’s not Portland. Doing it in another state, and especially in an area that I have never biked before, makes it extra spicy.

For this year’s challenge, my last two rides became the spicy ones by default. I had hoped to travel to SoCal in early November and bring the Brompton so I can do Coffeeneuring rides, but COVID prevented that from happening. But I did end up going to Houston, and the first part of the trip fell within the Challenge timeframe. I have never bicycled in Houston, nor the state of Texas. 1 The only places I’ve bicycled in the Southeastern United States before this is North Carolina (where I lived in 1990-91), Virginia (a couple days spent in Richmond in 2007, riding Todd B’s borrowed Brompton) and Kentucky (bikeshares when we were in Louisville in 2019.)

Houston has a reputation as a car-centric place, inhospitable to bikes or pedestrians. This is definitely true in many parts of the metro area, but we were staying right downtown, the most urban part of town. Now besides some tall towers in the CBD, central Houston is fairly low-density, but it’s that “streetcar era” low density with quiet side streets, and those streets were pretty good for getting around on the Brompton. And there are a few cycletracks running through the heart of downtown–still not enough to get everywhere, but a good start. This was the type of bicycling environment I was presented with.

I had some free time on Friday November 18th, so I decided to have my Ride 6 of the Coffeeneuring Challenge then. From my hotel I rode over to Day Six Coffee for a basic cup of drip coffee. I did a big ol’ loop around the central city, pausing at Discovery Green to sip from my travel mug. It was a 6.3 mile loop total. (Ride map here.)

Discovery Green Park, downtown Houston. 18 Nov 2022

The seventh and final ride happened on Sunday November 20th, the last day of the Challenge. I wanted to ride over to Hermann Park, which turned out to be a pretty and “classic” urban park with fountains, monuments, and the like. My route took me from downtown through Midtown. I was hungry and in need of caffeine, so I had a late brunch at a vegan soul food cafe, Mo Better Brews. After exploring Hermann Park, I was a bit drained of energy, so I used Houston’s light rail system (a stop was right at the park) to get back to the hotel. It was a 5.8 mile ride total, see the route here.

Hermann Park, Houston. 20 Nov 2022

And that’s a wrap to my 2022 Coffeeneuring Challenge! Stay tuned for my wrap-up post where I reflect on this year’s challenge. Thank you for reading.

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1 I passed through Austin in 2005 and technically had a bike with me. But I was traveling Amtrak, and the bike had to be boxed. There was no baggage service in Austin, so the bike traveled in advance to St. Louis, my next stop. I hoped to be able to borrow a bike at the punk-ish house I was staying. My friend made it sound OK when I made my plans, but when I arrived, none was available as no one at the house would let a schlub like me ride one of their fancy bikes. Or at least that’s how it was presented to me by my friends. Looking back, he probably didn’t bother asking anyone and wasn’t willing to.

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