Oh, challenges. There’s always the urge to make every ride in a challenge “epic”, unique, cool, or interesting. If not that, make it a misadventure, something comic, something that you’ll laugh at after it’s done, or at least learn something from. But the mediocre installment of a challenge? What fun is that?
But mediocre is what Coffeeneuring Ride No. 5 for this year’s Coffeeneuring Challenge is what I find myself at. So read on, dear reader.
Monday October 30 was a day off, and I wanted to get a quick Coffeeneuring Ride in later in the day. I aimed for a familiar spot about three miles from my house. I won’t name it this time, but it’s near the intersection of N Killingsworth St and N Greeley Ave, and used to have another location on E Burnside. I have been here before many a time (probably even during a previous Coffeeneuring Challenge), but this time it just wasn’t as good as it has been in the past. Sure, the interior is great, and the counter jockey friendly and pleasant. I got a cup of house (drip) coffee, which I get nine times out of ten at a coffee shop. The beans were from a reputable roaster (Coava), but somehow it tasted burnt and weak at the same time.*
Not only that, but the music. Oof. I know that most coffee shops are playing some sort of a mix/”station” from Spotify or Pandora or what-have-you. But they were playing what is probably listed as the “Coffee Shop Mix”, that “blend” of bland MOR/Adult Contemporary/”Light Alternative” songs that some marketer determined as the “best” sound for a coffee shop.** And some owner of a coffee shop looks at their Spotify, clicks “Coffee Shop Mix”, and voila! They don’t even have to think about the music being played. It’s basically the modern form of Muzak for people who (think they) don’t like Muzak. Man, I miss the era when people actually played albums*** (and) **** in coffee shops, or at least played an actual radio station.*****
Anyways, enough of that. I left the coffee shop and went next door to pick up a burrito. It was mediocre as well, but convenient. (I’m not going to name the tacqueria, but if you were around Portland in the early aughts, it was one of the two “it” places to get a burrito in this town, albeit at its Alberta location.) The sun was getting ready to set, and I was mere yards from Rivendell Ridge, so why not do a Sunset Burrito Club? It’s late in the year, there ain’t going to be too many more of these (if any.)
I rode over to the Ridge and managed to get there as the sun was setting. Though technically sunset was 6 PM, due to the West Hills and the angle of the sun, it was passing behind the hills at 5:30. And while it was a warmish day of about 60F/16C, the stiff east wind meant it felt a lot cooler. I had to immediately put on a sweater as I sat down. But it was still a nice time.
So next time, I hope for a more grand Coffeeneuring Experience. But you have to take the good with the bad.******
*I carry a twelve ounce travel mug with me, and normally put in about two teaspoons of sugar. Normally it’s just right, but when the coffee tastes too sweet, I know it’s weak.
**If you don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s basically a mix of songs that sound somewhat like “Meet Virgina” by
Shawn Mullins Train.
***It’s so weird to hear someone playing an actual album in a cafe/restaurant/bar/store anymore, that when they do, you think it’s Spotify messing up somehow. For instance, on my June bike tour when I went to Double Mountain Brewing in Hood River, I heard something that was deep off of The Clash’s Sandinista LP. And since I have listened to that album many of times in my life, it took me hearing a couple more songs in to determine that yes, they were playing Sandinista in sequence and in its entirety. And that is quite the commitment, because Sandinista is a TRIPLE ALBUM with almost 2 1/2 hours of music!
****Then again, every time I walked into a coffee shop in 2002, they were playing Yoshimi Vs. the Something-Something by The Flaming Lips, and I don’t miss that…
*****As long as it’s not the Kmart Radio Network.
******This footnote is just here for Norm.