Known for riding off the front of group rides only to be caught in the first mile, CJ got back on a road bike and realized he must win the Donut Derby at least once in his life. Regularly pledging he's "not a climber," he can be found as a regular attendee of Trexlertown's Thursday Night Training Criterium or sitting on the couch watching Paris-Roubaix reruns. CJ has been a constant rider of the Hell of Hunterdon in New Jersey and races the Tour of the Battenkill before going into seasonal hiding on cross-country ski trails.

Stops We Love: The Zen Den

Stops We Love: The Zen Den

(2015) I think of a lot of things when I ride. I’m sure that doesn’t set me apart too much from other riders. Like me, I’m sure the world’s problems get solved millions of times per day. The only problem is those solved problems vaporize once the bike is dismounted and stowed. Some people solve problems in the shower; I solve mine on the bike.  

With rides only possible on weekends these days I happily got out and set my sights on a coffee shop in the middle of Doylestown. After reading a headline somewhere that stated five cups of coffee lead to a longer life, I felt this supported my destination. And wouldn’t it translate into even longer life if it where my sixth or seventh cup today?

Well, I revived a route from older times. These old routes are great to note the changes. There was a new house at the corner of Stump Road and Silo Hill Road. Silo Hill Road is great for its four ninety-degree turns that are difficult to get right. It splits a farm and it’s a bumpy road, but Silo Hill is completely worth it.

The bridge was finally replaced on Gayman Road. Gordon Road was repaved and what once were expansive fields are now lighted sports fields on one side with suburban blighted sprawl on the other. This brought me into borough of Doylestown. Many people – as per usual – were out and about in town. Leaves were being raked, runners were running, and dogs were dogging.

Here is where I met the wife for coffee at The Zen Den. I had been told this was a fun place to go: it’s full of curious quotation signs, it has a piano, it has beautiful wood plank floorboards, it has a little reader’s nook, but most of all, it has great coffee. This was certainly a place to solve problems.

  The back wall of The Zen Den with all the drinks laid out.

The back wall of The Zen Den with all the drinks laid out.

The ladies behind the counter discussed the new quiche (asparagus) coming up for sale. That sounded good. We split a chocolate chip muffin. It was delicious. The espresso was full of bite and the cappuccino was full of froth. I could have sat there for hours. Actually, the next time it rains I just may get in my car and scratch away a few hours here.

Begrudgingly I left the Missus behind as well as the Zen Den and looked to finish off the ride. Since it was already nostalgic to come to Doylestown, I decided to line up the final portions of the ride as they used to proceed. Court Street was repaved. Chubb Road was repaved (and with bike lane markers). Even the pass-through linking Miller Avenue to Stable Court had a bike lane marker blazed on it.

Fell Road is always beautiful as is Hansell. It was after completing Long Lane and turning onto Stovers Mill Road that I saw the biggest change: what was once a peaceful corn field was now parceled for development. More blight coming our way. Deer crossed the road ahead of me where they almost always do when I’ve come through here.

Sinking into Carversville I decided to access Fleecy Dale Road. I thought of tackling Fretz Mill’s beast climb but switched to Short Road at the last second. The name is true. But it’s a steep hill consisting of barely one lane of road. It took me a considerable time to overtake the couple walking their dog up the hill. They cheered me on. It helped. The stop sign at the top of the hill always seems to mock me as it floats on nearly level ground.

It was here I rejoined the roads I typically take to come home. I even passed through Loux Covered Bridge but not before I had to outsprint a German Shepherd in full flight. It was big and stared me down whilst sprinting into my path. Luckily I was going downhill.

What were some of the things I solved while riding today? Well I forgot. Zen is the value of meditation. There is no better way to meditate than to push the pedals around these wooded areas to think about things. A close second is stopping at the Zen Den for coffee and hoping at least one solution could be salvaged and scribbled on a napkin. Until then, I guess I’ll just have to bring a legal pad and pencil and write as I ride.

Zen Den in Doylestown is open Monday through Friday 7:30am to 9:00pm. They are open Saturdays 8:00am to 10:00pm, and Sundays 8:00am to 6:00pm.

Essay: On Getting Out There

Essay: On Getting Out There

Review: SKS-Germany Tyre Levers

Review: SKS-Germany Tyre Levers