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The Last Coffee Ride
posted: 10/01/09

RIP riverwalk.

Crushing. Truly. But we'll get to that.

First, a little background.

Recovery rides are key to any competitive, or even non-competitive (which would be me, sometimes) cyclist. If you're not doing recovery rides, you're missing out (and probably sucking). Any rider who is at all structured about training (or at least has a clue about long-term fitness) is doing a recovery ride or two a week. Everyone needs a break. In order to go fast, you must occasionally go slow. So you put the bike in the little ring and you piddle about. An hour, hour and a half tops. Active recovery. No more. A lot less.

I'm as serious about my recovery rides as I am about my hard training days. Perhaps more so. Because after abusing myself on Tuesday, Wednesday, typically briefly on Friday and all weekend racing, I really, really look forward to slug-pacing it along on Monday and [typically] Thursday. And on those days, I like to work in some coffee mid-ride. It's only natural.

For the last six months or so I've had a superb coffee/recovery ride loop at my disposal. I live in an area not too far from, but also not too near to commerical development. I've had to work a bit to find a route that is more or less removed from heavy commuter traffic, short (and flat) enough to get the job done but not be overcooked at the end of the ride, and most importantly: near coffee. This year I put together the best route ever.

For several years there was an independently owned chain of coffee shops in the area. Details on its demise vary, but the gist seems to be that this spring the owner of said chain bilked a bunch of vendors out of a lot of money and skipped town. One of the shops was at a prime (for the town, anyway) location on Main Street. It sat empty for a couple of months, robbing us all of coffee and a social outlet, until a local businessman bought the space and opened Riverwalk Coffee Roasters. And all was good. And I had my coffee ride route. Four easy miles to coffee, another lovely, somewhat secluded 11 miles back home. Perfection.

I started going there late this spring. Thrilled, I was, to have a place this nearby. And the coffee was good. Much better than the previous owner's stuff. Pastries, a bit lacking at the outset, but that picked up. The area of town is always a hard sell, not a lot of foot traffic, but it had potential. One of the best restaurants in the Portland area is just around the corner. What could go wrong?

Well... stuff. Mainly... nobody showed up. I went there solo for a few weeks. When I say solo, I mean I was in the place (and it's a large space) completely alone for a considerable amount of time. I started to put the word out on the shop - even attempting to organize an unofficial coffee "hang" (less a ride, more of a hang) on Mondays among members of my club. I managed to get four people in there one Monday. It sorta never took off. Riders would ask me, "I hear you're doing a ride? On... Wednesday?" And I'd reply, "Nope. Mondays. And it's a hang, more like." And then I'd explain that I really needed people to come drink coffee at Riverwalk because I needed people to drink coffee at Riverwalk so Riverwalk could stay open and I could drink coffee at Riverwalk. Because I'm really selfish.

A friend and I were there this past Monday. It was pretty much us. The barista always cracked me up... She'd worked at the shop under the previous owner as well. The woman is majorly addicted to Facebook and Farmville, specifically, and with a heavy metal heart. The playlist in the shop was always '70s-'80s hard rock, with occasional forays into punk. Sorta like the town. I enjoyed it, despite the clear lack of business. I always wondered how things were going but sort of never wanted to really know. It was pretty obvious. Still... one hopes.

This morning I rode in and all of the windows were papered over. And that's when I saw the sign inside the door. Kinda sudden. No hint on Monday. But maybe they knew it was over. Much sadness.

It's not like I don't have other options. There's a drive-through coffee stand just across the street that's been around for a long time. It makes a lot of sense for this part of town, because that's what people are doing: driving through. I pedalled over and ordered a latté and a banana nut muffin at the window. The guy inside asked if it wasn't a little cold to be riding a bike (it was 40F this a.m. - it's going to get a lot colder). "I like to think of it as 'bracing,'" I said. "Like a painful shave."

I sat outside the stand on a single plastic chair (probably there for the owner's breaks) and quickly drank and ate. This isn't going to work when it drops into the 30Fs. I was incredibly cold getting started again. And it's not cold. Yet.

This was the view.


I'm always a little suspicious of a parking lot that encourages free parking. I mean, free is great, but what are they hiding?

There is a superior shop north and east of here, owned by a cyclist of all things, where my club goes on Fridays. I love the place, but it's just a little too far and the route a little more than I want to do on most recovery days. I may have to suck it up, though. Or drink at home.

Anyway, this blows. I tried to help, but I couldn't save the place alone. Riverwalk, you will be missed. Thanks for giving it a shot.

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January 2011
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April 2010
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October 2009
»The Last Coffee Ride

September 2009
»State-Dependent Memory, Vol. 19
»State-Dependent Memory, Vol. 18
»State-Dependent Memory, Vol. 17
»State-Dependent Memory, Vol. 16
»State-Dependent Memory, RWE

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»State-Dependent Memory, Vol. 4
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