Friday, March 20, 2015

Errandonee 2015

My friend Mary organizes an "Errandonnee" every year, latish in the Winter.  The term "errandonnee" is a play on the words "randonnee," which is an organized long distance bike ride of 1200 kilometers in 90 hours, and "errand," which is, well, an errand.  The Errandonnee is a bit easier than a randonnee: bike at least 30 miles and finish 12 errands in 12 days covering at least 7 of 9 prescribed categories between March 5-16.  It is actually harder than it seems because of the category requirement.  You can't just ride to work every day, and maybe stop at a bunch of different stores on the way home.  The upside is that it pushes you to use your bike in new ways.  Or, if you are a lawyer like me, it encourages you to redefine the term "errand" and get creative with the categories.  It is a lot of fun and I look forward to it every year.

To prove I completed the event, I completed the a "control" card Mary created to document my errands, and took a photograph of each errand.  I forgot to take a photograph a couple of times, so let's just say I have a photograph closely associated with each errand, many of which were actually taken on the errand.  In any event, here is my control card, with bonus commentary and photos.

Errandonnee 2015: Errand by Errand

Errand 1

I started the Errandonnee on my back foot because we had the heaviest snowfall of the year on the first day and I am simply afraid to ride on anything like ice or snow.  In fact, that fear, plus a bit of travel, had kept me off the bike for almost three weeks.  So on Sunday, feeling desperate for a ride and an errand I dabbled with the Dark Side and went for a nice 50 mile ride and by lawyerly sleight of hand, called it an errand; you know, to "pick up" some mental and physical health.  You can see my route here.
Category:Non-Store Errand       Destination:  Riley’s Lock

What I learned/observation:  I went for a bike ride to get my happy place after two+ weeks off the bike.  I learned I can still ride a bike.  I saw two spectacular Broad Winged Hawks in Rock Creek Park and a Pileated Woodpecker in a snow covered copse off Esworthy in Potomac.

Miles:           52               Date:     Sunday, 3-8-2015                            

Snowy Historical Marker at Riley's Lock
Snowy Stairs up to the Tow Path

Errand 2

With that out of my system, and the weather improving to near-seasonal temperatures, I could settle into more normal errandoneeing, starting with a ride to the dry cleaners Monday morning.

Category: Personal Business        Destination:  Carriage House Dry Cleaners

What I learned/observation:  Potholes and a bit of ice are still lurking in the early morning hours.  And you can stuff an amazing amount of dirty laundry in panniers.

Miles:         0.3                Date:     Monday, 3/9/2015   

Carriage House Cleaners, Takoma Park

 Errand 3 
That evening I stopped at the bank on my way home.  I felt bad about this one because it broke one of my personal Errandonnee rules.  Because I bike to work almost every day, I want my Errandonnee errands to require some deviation from my normal commuting route, and I count only the miles of the deviation.  But, I was tired, and really had to get to the bank, so I stopped at the ATM right on on the route. 

Category: Personal Business                                 Destination:  Bank

What I learned/observation:  Warm weather!  Shorts!  Short sleeves!  I think I biked much faster with fewer layers.  Whatever, it felt great!

Miles:          6                      Date:  Monday, 3/9/2015
Takoma SunTrust ATM

Errand 4
Tuesday was another workaday day of errands.  I decided to count my commute as an errand today. 

Work or Volunteering Destination:  Work (Farragut Sq.)

What I learned/observation:  Despite the warm temperatures and rain, there are still some surprise piles of filthy, gritty, snow, or “snirt”, in the bike lanes.  (FYI: Snirt is that mix of dirt and snow by the side of the road that just won't melt).

Miles:        6.5                Date:         Monday, 3/9/2015    

A bit of stubborn snow on our North-facing front yard

Errand 5
That night I went by CVS to pick up a few things, although they did not have everything we needed.  No drama, but was very frustrated that CVS in Takoma has no accommodation for bikes. 

Category: Store (includes bike shop, grocery store, etc. You know, a store.)     Destination:  CVS

What I learned/observation: CVS no longer carries Q-Tip brand cotton swabs, which is sad because CVS brand swabs are not the same as the real thing.  Also, the Takoma CVS has no bike parking.

Miles:             .5                Date:         Monday, 3/9/2015      
Deluxe Locking Station at CVS
The VIP Bike Lot at CVS

Errand 6 
The next night I was not sure if I would get an errand in, but a last minute text message from my son asking for ketchup saved the errandonnee!  And off to CVS I went.  It had started to rain, so I metroed to Takoma and then biked to CVS and home.
Category: Store                                                                    Destination:  CVS Part 2

What I learned/observation: Last minute call for catsup/ketchup let me pick up another errandonnee errand.  Forgot a lock, though, so I pretended my bike was a horse and tied it up with my helmet straps and a Velcro strip.  That high security, or maybe the rain, deterred theft and my bike was waiting for me when I finished my errandonneeing.

Miles:       1                         Date:  Tuesday, 3/10/2015      


Errand 7
The next night I counted my ride home as an errand and was treated to mild temperatures and striking sunset.

Category: Work/Volunteering                                            Destination:  Home from Work

What I learned/observation:  Beautiful sunset tonight.

Miles:      6.8                       Date: Wednesday, 3/11/2015   
Blurry Sunset
Better Sunset

Errand 8
The next night was an extra-special errand: a trip to the liquor store (a treat in itself) to buy six single malt whiskeys for a scotch tasting we were hosting that weekend.  Lots of fun shopping, and then figuring out how to pack the bottles into my panniers.  The clerks and other customers were highly amused, although I am not sure if they were laughing with me or at me.  

Category:  You carried WHAT on your bike?!                     Destination:  S&A Liquors

What I learned/observation:  We are hosting a Single Malt Scotch tasting on Friday so I had to pick up 6 bottles of whiskey on my way home.  Took some advanced geometry to get them into my panniers, but it worked.

Miles:      .3                        Date:   Thursday, 3/12/2015                         Destination:

Now You Don't
Now You See Them

Errand 9
Friday morning means Friday Coffee Club at ME Swings, near the White House.  Mary and husband Ed started FCC a few years ago as an informal weekly gathering of DC bike commuters, bloggers, and twitterers.   I used to be a FCC regular, but Fridays are often deadline days, so I typically try to get into work early and my FCC attendance slid from regular to occasional to "who is that guy?"  The Errandonnee inspired me to make the effort this week, and I was glad I did

Category: Social Call                                             Destination: Friday Coffee Club

What I learned/observation: I need to make a greater effort to come to FCC!

Miles:          1                        Date:     3/13/2015                               

This is a B-roll shot I stole from Rudy.
FCC Still Life

Errand 10
Friday night was the Scotch tasting so I left work a bit early to help get ready.  As I walked out of the office I saw a flower stand and bought some roses for the table.  Errandonnee score!  Good husband points too!

Category: Wild Card                                                      Destination:  Home with flowers

What I learned/observation:  Stopped to get flowers for a scotch whiskey tasting we hosted.  Flowers in your panniers make the bike ride more fun, no doubt.

Miles:    6.5                             Date:       Friday, 3/13/2015     

Reenactment of Roses Errandonnee

Errand 11
Sunday I had a big ride planned.  A new biking friend, Hamid, and I planned to pre-ride a 200k brevet for the DC Randonneurs.  Hamid was the ride organizer so he needed to pre-ride the route.  I had a conflict the day of the official ride, so Hamid let me tag along.  This turned out to be a very tough ride, with strong, 20 mph headwinds for the first 55 or so miles.  Plus, this is a very hilly route with a lot of difficult climbing over the Catoctins, South Mountain, and the Blue Ridge in the first 30 miles.  After that, you only have about 88 miles to ride!  I stretched a point or two in the Errandonnee rules and counted the ride as two errands.  Here is what the complete ride looks like.

Category: Wild Card                                                     Destination:  Lunch in Pennsylvania!

What I learned/observation:  Wind is the silent killer of speed.  Also, my hyper-caloric training regimen this winter did not, contrary to all expectations, improve my endurance on the bike.  Just edged into Pennsylvania on my aborted 200k attempt.  The swollen rivers and streams, especially the Monocacy and Chonocheague, were amazing to pedal by, especially on roads that were just inches above the water level.

Miles:        60                        Date: 3/15/2015

Menu and Brevet Card
Welcome to Pennsylvania

Errand 12
I wanted to do this ride as the first in the "Super Randonneur Series," a series of rides of 200k, 300k 400k, and 600k spread out from March - early June.  I have done the 200k and 300k distance before, but never all four rides in a single year.  Unfortunately, I did not get my 200k this weekend.  Hamid was on his first long ride after coming back from a serious injury last summer, and the wind, hills, and miles were all too much.  After lunch there as a long, tough climb over South Mountain and Catoctin Ridge.  On the top, it was very cold, near freezing.  I made it over first, waited at the top until I got the shivers, and then descended into Thurmont to wait for Hamid.  When he came down he said he was done, and called a buddy for a ride back to his car.  I waited with him, and decided I did not want to ride the remaining 40+ miles alone and took a shortcut (if 30 miles is a shortcut) back to the car.  113 miles on the day, but not the 200k I had hoped for.  On the plus side, I get to do it again to complete the 200k ride.  Here is a map of the ride I actually did.

Category: Non-Store Errand                                Destination:  Urbana to collect completed brevet card

What I learned/observation:  Sometimes things don't go to plan.  Set out to do this brevet with Hamid.  Headwind and hills put us behind schedule almost from the start, and then Hamid needed to abandon at mile 85 because of some health issues.  I ended up riding about 113 miles, but no completed 200k.

Miles:          113                      Date: 3/15/2015
Incomplete Brevet Card
Resting at KOA near Williamsport, MD

 Errand 13 (for luck)
Monday came and my legs were remarkably not sore.  I had made plans to meet Rudy (biking buddy, FCC regular, and all-round good guy) for a beer to catch up on bikes and life (there is a difference ... I think).

Category: Social Call                                    Destination:  Glenn’s Garden Market for beers with Rudy

What I learned/observation:  There is a whole other world out there!  I have not spent much time around Dupont Circle for many years and have forgotten what a whole bunch on young professionals looks like.  It was a nice change of pace and scene, and the beer was good too.  Thanks Rudy!

Miles:     .5                       Date: 3/16/2015                                                 
Rudy and the Beers

Total Errands:           13                                                              
Categories Used:        7        
Total Miles:            201.4        

Once again, the Errandonnee surprised, delighted, and challenged me.  Lots of fun.  Thanks Mary!                   

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