Errandonnee, 2014 Edition

I took part in this year’s Errandonnee Challenge : “Complete 12 errands in 12′ish days and ride a total of 30 miles by bike between March 7-19, 2014.

I took part last year as well, and found it fun, and a good way to get out and do things on the bike despite winter hanging on.

I did get lucky this year, since we had a few days here and there of gorgeous weather. I completed 7 of the 12 errands on Saturday, since the weather was just so nice! Several people (a guy at the bank, the cashier at Trader Joe’s) made it a point to remark “nice day for biking!” (And Monday the DC metro area was shut down by 5-10” of snow.)

One note regarding mileage: minimum total mileage needed to be 30 miles for all 12 combined errands. Since I was going to be using 2 work commutes, at 26 miles RT each, I didn’t bother to calculate the mileage for any of my trips, since I exceeded the minimum mileage with just the work commutes!

Trip #1: 3/7/2014

Work commute! One thing I learned during the trip, is that my favorite ghoul at work is still there! I thought someone had tossed it out, but no, indeed, the ghoul is alive (so to speak) and well. I will consider this something I learned “on the trip” because the ghoul lives in the general loading dock / dump / garbage area where I park my bike while I’m at work. On the one hand, I love having indoor parking. On the other hand, it kind of sucks that the reason I park indoors is that there is literally nothing to lock the bike to for miles around. Springfield is not exactly a bike mecca, that’s for sure. I am very very lucky, however, that the building manager is fully supportive of my bike commuting, and basically told the landlord to take a hike when they said I wasn’t allowed to park indoors. “As soon as you provide a bike rack,” she said, “we will stop parking the bike indoors.” (Crickets from them.)


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Coffeeneuring, 2013

When I started coffeeneuring last year, I thought that I would probably end up making a couple stops at chain coffee shops to complete the challenge. But that was before I started researching and compiling my spreadsheet of local non-chain coffeshops. I was amazed! Just a few miles from home, there were all these places I could get coffee that I had no idea about! So that was a revelation, last year. This year when the Third Annual Coffeeneuring Challenge was announced, I pulled up last year’s spreadsheet. And started adding to it.

As it turns out, this year four of the seven stops were places that I’d never been to before, and three (and a half?) of my trips were social events! Including one meetup with twitter friends, Ted and Jean, who I hadn’t met before.

I hadn’t set myself extra challenges along those lines, but only because I hadn’t thought of it.

Details below the fold…

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Errandonnee, Winter Challenge 2013

I got started on this winter challenge sort of late, about halfway through it, but the rules made it still doable. 

The first was my bike commute, as expected. Though my commute is mostly on-road, I do have a precious 1/4 mile through the woods on a mostly-unused neighborhood path that is a shortcut from Beulah to Cinderbed, and which is also a nice break from cars.

By the time I got to work, both brakes were having issues. Neither were releasing properly. I could manually releasing the front easily and it would stay released, but the rear was harder. Couldn’t release it while moving, first of all, and it also would shift back once I was in motion so that essentially it was rubbing constantly. 

So, errand number two was to the bike shop. Spokes, in Fairlington, is my bike shop of choice. I love the guys there. They replaced the brakes (front and rear were completely dead, things split and broken that shouldn’t be split or broken), and I was on my way.

By the time I am at the bike shop, I’m really close to my favorite grocery store, MOM’s.

Picked up a few things, and went on my way, happy with a 3-errand day! 

On Friday, I had just one errand, but it was important in that it was a pre-sunrise ride, and a minimum of 2 in-the-dark rides were required. Full disclosure: this ride started 45 minutes before sunrise, and it takes me an hour to get to work. And, as I really noticed on this particular day, it starts getting light even before that, so I had my doubts as to whether this qualified as a dark ride. But my picture for it is taken when it was dark!

For lighting, I use a standard rear blinkie, plus the Light & Motion vis360 helmet light set (front and rear combo) as well as a handlebar mounted Light & Motion Urban somemodelnumber. They’re pretty bright…

On Saturday, I had the brilliant idea to ride to the bank to get some cash. I had used up my last two dollar bills so this was an overdue errand. It’s just one I usually hate, because I’m usually trying to fit it in to a car-errand-trip, and it’s an awkward location by car. But by bike, it’s much easier. And not because of parking, just because of the streets, and the versatility of the bike to ride on the road as well as the sidewalk / access ramps. 

I rode it right up to the ATM, where I stood in line, and took a rare self-portrait.

From there I took some back streets I’d never ridden on to avoid Columbia Pike. The pike is similar to Van Dorn, in that it’s often the only way to actually get through parts of Arlington, and yet it is designed with such focus on cars that it is jarring to ride on. And not just because its surface is always in such bad condition. I rarely am riding somewhere that requires me to do more than cross the pike, and on this day even though it would have been faster to shoot straight down the pike toward my next destination, I decided to have some fun with the side streets. And they were fun! Especially when I found myself riding down ramps and through a narrow gap in a chain fence to get to a parkinglot and then to the sidewalk. All I was missing was a short mountain bike trail and I’d have covered just about all the types of terrain that bikes switch between so effortlessly. 

My destination was Twisted Vines, a coffee / wine bar on the pike.  A pre-dinner wine and some relaxing reading time for me.

I stayed there until it got dark, and then rode up the street a bit to Lost Dog Pizza, where I learned that my cargo net really does work to strap a large pizza onto my back rack. I’d thought/hoped that it would, but it definitely was nice to have that confirmed. Especially since I’m really not talented enough to ride with a large pizza on the handlebars.

So between the pre-sunrise commute to work on Friday, and the after-sunset ride from Twisted Vines to Lost Dog and then Lost Dog home, the in-the-dark rides were fully accounted for. 

While eating the pizza at home with the Abita Purple Haze beer I’d picked up at Lost Dog, I started strategizing for my final five rides of the Errandonnee challenge. I planned on doing three on Sunday, but was only coming up with two that would hit categories I needed. And then, I thought about yoga. I used to go to Journey Yoga somewhat regularly, before I started bike commuting. And then with the bike commuting I got lazy about yoga. Wasn’t like I needed more exercise after all, and it takes a lot to drag me out of the house on Sundays. But for this challenge, it was perfect. I signed up for the 9am Yin class.

It was so great to get back to a yin class. That kind of stretching is really something I need more of, flexibility being a big weakness of mine. Even though it must have been 3 years since I’d been to a class (they’d even changed locations since I last went), as soon as I chose a spot in the crowded class and started putting my mat down, the guy next to me said, “Deb?” Turns out I just happened to choose a spot right next to someone I knew from all those years ago! And it also turns out he’s into biking, so we had a nice chat about my trucker and our mileage and all those bikey things before class started. 

And during class I was pleased to note that having a quiet mind is now something that comes relatively easy to me. This is, without question, attributable to the bike commuting. I’ve always said that bike commuting is beneficial to me in the way that meditating would be if only I could meditate, and that it gives me a biker zen…more proof for me! 

It was bitter cold, and I wasn’t quite dressed for the wind, but I decided to forge on to my next destination - Java Shack in the Clarendon area. The Java Shack is one of the places I “discovered” as part of the coffeeneuring challenge of the fall, so it was nice to get back there.

It was crowded, but I was able to get a table inside, and chill out for a bit. One of the reasons I chose it is because it is near that shopping center where the EMS store is. That was my next destination.

It just so happened that they were having a huge winter sale. I didn’t have anything in mind, was just sort of browsing to see if they had anything useful that I needed. I ended up getting a couple things for incredible prices. One of which I definitely wouldn’t have needed had I dressed appropriately this morning, but for $30 I figure it was hard to go wrong to have yet another fleecy jackety layer. You never know when you can use another…

After that I was motivated to get my final two errands done today, rather than waiting until tomorrow. I was already out, after all, and with my new fleecy jackety thing, the bitter cold wind hardly bothered me. Other than making my eyes leak something fierce (despite sunglasses), which does impact vision…

Trader Joe’s is on my way home, so it was an obvious stop to make. When I left EMS (or more accurately, where I was parked in front of B&N, since that’s the closest bike parking to EMS), I had noticed what turned out to be a sort of bike/ped back entrance to that shopping area, which led to a quiet street that was exactly where I needed to be for easiest access to TJs. Which is extra cool, because Clarendon/Wilson are pretty annoying roads, for all that they have bike lanes. Now I have a backroads route that will let me avoid the main orange-line road for the most part.

TJ’s, of course, has excellent bike parking. The store was crowded, but there were hardly any bikes parked. Hard to be surprised, really - it was very cold and very windy, and if I hadn’t been trying to rack up the errands for this challenge, I’d have been snug at home myself! 

From there I needed just one more errand. I decided to stop at Twisted Vines on my way home - this time for their excellent latte. They do the best lattes in the area, in my opinion. They didn’t offer coffee during the coffeeneuring challenge - it’s a recent addition to their wine shop persona - but every time I stop there for a latte, they amaze me. And especially going to two different coffeeshops on the same day? Twisted Vines wins, no question.

And that completed my Errandonnee challenge! 

Some cuteness at the sanctuary today, as requested by @mrtindc - Sebastian and Malcolm. Sebastian is a pygmy. He loves to play and Malcolm was having fun too, though Napoleon is so small Malcolm had to lower his head for them to headbutt!

Some cuteness at the sanctuary today, as requested by @mrtindc - Sebastian and Malcolm. Sebastian is a pygmy. He loves to play and Malcolm was having fun too, though Napoleon is so small Malcolm had to lower his head for them to headbutt!

Things that Dad made…

Got these in the mail yesterday. <3

Things that Dad made…

Got these in the mail yesterday. <3

Jake is a top shelf kind of cat&#8230;

Jake is a top shelf kind of cat…

New extra-tall cat tree. Cat-approved&#8230;now to find somewhere for it in my small condo that is not the middle of my living room!

New extra-tall cat tree. Cat-approved…now to find somewhere for it in my small condo that is not the middle of my living room!

Light &amp; Motion Urban series, marketed to the #coffeeneuring crowd&#8230;

Light & Motion Urban series, marketed to the #coffeeneuring crowd…

Took misa&#8217;s most excellent advice and&#8230;light in the kitchen!

Took misa’s most excellent advice and…light in the kitchen!

Oh previous owners, I think I hate you.

Oh previous owners, I think I hate you.