1: Ceremony Coffee Roasters, Annapolis, MD; 64.8 miles: natural process Wazzala
The first time I tried to head out to Annapolis was with Ben and Dustin. I’d spent the night before nervous and not sleeping (this happens a lot before big rides), almost didn’t show up at Proteus, and, when we did get going, had to bail along Springfield Road—just couldn’t keep up on the rollers. Sure, I made it back to the start of the Goose Loop by the time the morning farms ride showed up, but it wasn’t exactly my best showing.
Time two was with Eric and Laurie for BikeMaryland Day; we followed Eric’s supersecretspecialrandoroute. Yeah, um…there’s no way I’m ever going to be able to follow all those cuts we took through Bowie back streets and over metal grate bridges again. I get lost.
Time to screw my courage to the sticking place and take the nutcaseroute. Between highways, geography, and poor planning, there are no good ways between DC and Annapolis, just picking evils.
To summarize: 1/3 is great, 1/3 isn’t too bad, and 1/3 is Bowie.*
So, the other reason why I came here…Amsterdam Falafel. Yes, I know, I work across the street from Amsterdam fairly often. Yes, I know many a night has started there before making the usual Idle Time/Black Squirrel/Potter’s House/Columbia Station circuit. Why bike all the way to Annapolis for frikkin’ falafel? It’s like going to McDonald’s in Rome.
One, it’s probably the most bike-friendly joint in Annapolis (they let me take Marianne inside and have an oddly colorful patio—no way I’m letting her out of my sight unlocked!); two, it’s on the waterfront in an old customs house during the boat show, so history and people watching collide (though I’m aware that the cyclist in full kit photographing his falafel may have been a person to watch); three, it’s really, really good, especially for bikechow. Load up on beets and sprightly things, and you’re set.
And like the Trastevere Micky D’s, there’s a few things you don’t see. I haven’t seen stroopwafels in The Morg, nor anyone who hasn’t heard of falafel and thinks this might be something new worth trying following after the old hand with the bike who’s trying to figure out how many pickled beets he can slide in next to the eggplant.
Quick ride over to Saint John’s. Eleven years ago, I walked these same brick sidewalks as a prospie. Had my name on the dotted line of the acceptance letter, was about to take it out to the mailbox. Maybe it was the right decision, but I often wonder. Quite a few of my more decent School of Philosophy colleagues were SJCA alumni/ae. Yeah, I know I had Oxford, but never Santa Fe. Fine, Webster and Weburn, but never Virgil or Bach.
Still. The college bookshop may be the best liberal arts bookstore in the mid-Atlantic. Hello, old friends. Translations and editions of authors I spent long, weary nights with—from my first weekend in the law library with Homer to the night before my MA orals I spent studying Hobbes, preparing for comps I would never take. I went over to Dante, the Paradiso, Sinclair prose translation, and opened it.
Canto 10. More old friends. Names I knew well from Tim Noone’s seminars, from Augustine, from many a project in my past. Thomas Aquinas, Gratian and his Decretals, the Sentences of Lombard, Pseudo-Dionysius, Paulus Orosius, the very Boëthius of Toole and Chaucer, Sigier of Brabant…
Have to put this down. I don’t do this anymore. My medievalist days are over, right? Not much of a philosopher anymore, save for the occasional random work that takes a critical/radical/Marxist approach to the problem of the suburbs. I work at a bike shop. I’m a dillitante yuppie urbanist, a half-baked activist, a washed-out hack academic. I still have my books, but why? They belong to a person in the past, one who never had philosophical differences with his philosophy department.
Back on the shelf with you, friends.
Right. Wodehouse. They have lots of Wodehouse, in those collector’s editions I love. Jane Austin’s on sale? Been meaning to read Emma for a while. A study on the significance of Hegel in…NO! NO! BAD PHILL! You left the backpack at home for a reason! No Books For You!
This place is dangerous. If I’d brought some way to carry them, I’d find what was left of my last paycheck had been turned into books, with nothing left over for even a coffee on the way home. Let’s get out while I still can!
Okay. Ceremony. Navigate Annapolis, avoid the worst, stay to cobbles, take a back way in off the path, lean the back tire against the garage door, enter St. Kaldi’s-on-the-Severn. I don’t know if Ceremony (along with Vigilante) was responsible for breaking Counter Culture’s seeming dominance DC’s coffee scene, but, if it did, go them. Counter Culture used to rest pretty hard on some fairly undeserved laurels, IMHO; while it’s been a long while since I’ve gotten a dull cup from Potter’s House or Peregrine, I still interrogate Sarah whenever I’m at Union Market just to make sure Rustico espresso is very well and truly not coming back.
Ceremony also uses immersion drippers (most of the deliciousness of a French press, none of the PITA cleanup!) and, unusually for a third-wave coffee roaster, takes their blends very, very seriously. Last year’s Winter Light was the first (and one of the best!) tart espresso I’d found—like a good Columbian or Guatemalan, but more focused, sharp, and intense. They also have Thesis, Antithesis, and…well, Archetype. Not the third I expected from that Hegelian triad, but a Phenomenology reference nevertheless.
So yes. A flavorful, fruity natural process Ethiopian, section A of the Times, and a last Indian summer day. Oh, and a sack of Antith…wait. Left the backpack at home, knowing I’d be tempted. No sack of beans this time.
Back on M. More navigating, more back ways. VeloOrange, here I come!
Nope. Just Clint.
I’m going to summarize the next hour of conversation: Clint’s kinda awesome. He does cool things, like “use test” new VO bikes, and moonlight as a bunny-hopping buttmodel. He also geeked out over Ellie the Kona (bikegeeks always do), who is completely different than any bike VO will ever sell. Much as VO is kind of retroheaven, I have a sneaking suspicion that their folks are less “retrogrouch” than “retrogeek” and won’t begrudge you your 1×11 tubeless ‘cross monster…so long as they get to ride it next time they’re in town.
So what do you get for your bikes now that you’re running tubeless (and intentionally left the backpack at home)? Why, a retro-looking French inner tube patch kit, of course! Remember, “you could flat!” Or “you could die!” Either way.
Clint promises me that they’ll have pink Rustines caps in some day as I head for the door. “Oh, and be careful; drivers here are crazy. They ran someone over, then stopped to throw their bike into the ditch before driving off.” Cheery thought as I head back.
…man, that gel’s such a letdown after Ceremony. Seriously, does anyone actually like these things?
*Okay, BARC and Old Bowie are good, Bowie suburbs from Race Track Road to just after Highway 3 are Awful (though 3 isn’t that bad, shockingly—stick to the wide shoulder, cover as much ground as you can immediately after the turn before the stoplight behind you turns green and lets the main pulse of traffic back through). 450 isn’t too bad, though parts of it are torn up and there’s not usually a shoulder; cars seem to expect that there might be cyclists along the route, maybe due to the “cyclists may be present on roadway,” “bike route,” or “share the road” signs posted everywhere. Once you hit the Annapolis suburbs, things get Gross again. Best take Bestgate around and hook up with the Poplar Trail—yes, you will have to climb the Admiral Wall. Sorry about that. Annapolis is cobbled in parts, which can be fun, but it doesn’t seem to slow down the drivers or make you visible—be on the lookout for people opening doors or merging into you! Navigating near the Naval Academy gets Weird (you can’t cut through it), many bridges over the Miles or Severn are bike-unfriendly, and high-speed arterials reach almost to the historic center. Enjoy the coffeehouses and used/rare/academic bookshops (there are a lot of good ones—did I mention I left the backpack behind for a reason?), but Get Out by 3 so you’re not caught in Bowie Exurban Hell during rush hour.