The Urban Errandeur 2013: Ride. Report.

After a winter hiatus, TDR is back in business. Please, hold your applause until the end of the post. Thank you! Ha ha.

I’ll bring everyone (all six of you) up to date on my and MG’s bike riding in January and February in a separate post. We’ve put some good miles on the new Co-Motion tandem and worked on the final setup. In the meantime, see MG’s post on the tandem over at Chasing Mailboxes.

Today I’m recounting my rides to qualify for  MG’s worldwide Errandeuring Challenge.

Errandeur Control Card

Errandeur Control Card

The goal sounds simple: 12 errands by bike in 12 days. Since I do most of my errands by bike already, this one seemed easy, at first.

But the challenge came in having to fulfill seven categories, and claim no more than two rides per category. Plus, I had to cover a combined 30 miles.

Grocery store? Sure. Personal care? Hmmm.

Bike shop, dinner, community meeting. After knocking off the easy ones, I actually had to put some thought into this.

That’s what made this challenge fun. I started planning my errands by bike to meet the 12 days timetable. Plus, I had to think about what I got out of them along the way to comply with the instruction to note what I learned/observation.

It made me stop taking my riding around for granted.  The goal of using my bike to get groceries by bike or ride to dinner made me appreciate the ease of cycling in the city. Good lights, good reflectives, careful riding — GO!

I also included stops we took on the longer weekend rides we’ve been taking out in the Virginia countryside. Lunch wherever — by bike — is still lunch. Thankfully I could clarify the rules with MG on the fly, seeing as she was with me on the same tandem bike on those rides.

Here goes:

Ride No. 1: Ballston Mall, Arlington, Va.
Category: WILD CARD!
Date: Feb. 9
Distance: 15.2 Miles
Observation: We went to see Skyfall at one of the last theaters showing it in the D.C. area before it came out on DVD. As we rode back toward D.C. in the late afternoon twilight, I wished I was wearing a finely tailored suit and riding across rooftops after the bad guy.

Skyfall. Q! M! Bikes!

Skyfall. Q! M! Bikes!

Ride No. 2: Whole Foods Grocery, Arlington, Va.
Category: Grocery Store + Night
Date: Feb. 9
Distance: see Ride No. 1
Observation: MG and I stopped at Whole Foods in Arlington on the way home from seeing Skyfall, Q. I put my share of groceries in my Wald wire front basket. I liked that we picked up a few things for dinner as if we were in Paris.

Whole Foods at Twilight

Whole Foods at Twilight

Ride No. 3: Reva Market, Reva, Va.
Category: Lunch
Date: Feb. 10
Distance: 106 miles
Observation: On a long ride with MG and our pals Lane and Bennett, we stopped at this country gas station and convenience store to get snacks. Lo and behold, the market had little diner tables and chairs set up in a nook in the back. Never underestimate those little mom & pop places during your bike travels, they might have a table waiting for you.

Reva Market. Yes, Virginia, there is lunch inside.

Reva Market. Yes, Virginia, there is lunch inside.

Ride No. 4: Downtown Washington, D.C.
Category: Work
Date: Feb. 11
Distance: 5.5 miles
Observation: I went to a work event on my old Cannondale touring bike on a gray cold day in my suit and a long windbreaker. The bar end shifter indexing had started failing and I switched it to friction. Riding home I recalled the 10-speed bike I had as a teenager that I rode in sneakers and cut-off jeans. It was a good memory.

My bike kit today includes a necktie.

My bike kit today includes a necktie.

Ride No. 5: U.S. Capitol
Category: Work
Date: Feb. 12
Distance: 3.8 miles
Observation: This is a regular roundtrip between home and the Capitol where I’m a member of the press gallery. I can go each way in about 10 minutes by bike if I catch the lights. It was warm enough today to ride in my suit without a coat. I love that about Washington winters.

Mid-winter warmup let me leave the jacket at home.

Mid-winter warmup let me leave the jacket at home.

Bike parking near the Russell Senate Office Building.

Bike parking near the Russell Senate Office Building.

Ride No. 6: Dry Cleaners, my neighborhood in Southwest Washington, D.C.
Category: Personal Care and Health
Date: Feb. 13
Distance: 7.2 miles (part of a multi-errandee)
Observation: A Wald basket and remembering how much I could drag around on my bike when I was a kid plays into taking a big bag of clothes to the cleaners three blocks away. One hand on the brake, one on the bag, pedal, no sudden moves!

Steady now.

Steady now.

Ride No. 7: BicycleSpace Bicycle Shop, Washington, D.C.
Category: Bike Shop
Date: Feb. 13
Distance: See No. 6
Observation: This was the day before Valentine’s Day, so where better to shop for your beloved? I got a handpainted Crane bell for MG after stopping by the dry cleaners. She liked it!

Handpainted Crane Bell + Surly LHT = Love.

Handpainted Crane Bell + Surly LHT = Love.

Pretty Valentine's Day decorations at BicycleSpace.

Pretty Valentine’s Day decorations at BicycleSpace.

Ride No. 8: Luna Grill & Diner, Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C.
Category: Dinner + Night
Date: Feb. 14
Distance: 8.3 miles
Observation: We rode to Valentine’s Day dinner at one of our local favorites by bike. There’s nothing better than going to a romantic dinner with your love by bike.

Work done. Valentine's Day dinner next!

Work done. Valentine’s Day dinner next!

My bikesuit portrait. With fig leaf hand.

My bikesuit portrait. With fig leaf hand.

Ride No. 9: Swing’s Coffee, downtown Washington, D.C.
Category: Community Meeting
Date: Feb. 15
Distance: 5.3 miles
Observation: On a lark in January, 2012 we called our bike pals on Twitter to meet for Friday pre-work coffee at another of our local faves, Swing’s Coffee by the White House. The meetup has been going every Friday since, and has a name, Friday Coffee Club. All the fun of the rest stop without the ride.

Baby Hugo has a future in dentistry.

Baby Hugo has a future in dentistry.

Ride No. 10: Luna Grill & Diner, Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C.
Category: Dinner + Night
Date: Feb. 15
Distance: 11 miles
Observation: Our pal Alec B. came into D.C. this weekend for a rally but did not bring his bike. We made a plan to meet at Union Station with me on my bike and a Capitol Bikeshare key to get him rolling. After taking the first bike back to the dock because the front and rear lights were not working, Alec chose another and we made our way through downtown D.C. At Luna we met MG, Lane and Mike for a reunion dinner. We all shared good rides together before Alec moved to Philadelphia. Alec brought us custom mud flaps. Thank God for friends.

Back at Luna. Today was unofficial wear orange and red day.

Back at Luna. Today was unofficial wear orange and red day.

Mike and MG already at Luna by bike.

Mike and MG already at Luna by bike.

Ride No. 11: Boccatto Coffee, Arlington, Va.
Category: Coffee or Dessert
Date: Feb. 16
Distance: 16 miles
Observation: There’s no good reason not to get out on the bike for errands when you build in a treat stop. I rode up here to get groceries at Whole Foods and then go to REI. Lane met me in his car and we talked about our team’s upcoming fleche. That’s a team 24-hour ride that ends at the same spot as other teams. Lane gave me a ride to REI and then I rode back from there, so I’m not counting the car miles.

The Ritchey has a nose for good espresso.

The Ritchey has a nose for good espresso.

Ride No. 12: Middleburg Common Grounds, Middleburg, Va.
Category: Coffee or Dessert
Date: Feb. 18
Distance: 91.9 miles
Observation: We came here on a much-appreciated President’s Day day-off-from-work ride with Lane. We had stopped a few times early in the ride to resolve a noisy front fender and rolled in happy for a break. Like the first time we visited here last fall, my doppio was bitter. Sigh. An employee asked me how I liked my drink. I said it wasn’t that good and asked him what he thought of their espresso. “Oh, I don’t drink coffee!” he explained. Well, there you go.

Someday, good espresso. Not today.

Someday, good espresso. Not today.

Ride No. 12 Bonus: U.S. Post Office, Washington, D.C.
Category: Any store that is not the grocery store
Date: Feb. 20
Distance: N/A
Observation: I did not want to end my errandonee on a sour note (!) so I decided to treat this as my final entry. I fulfill medal shipments every winter to members of Randonneurs USA who earn the international Randonneur 5000 award. The process involves getting a batch of mailers over to the Post Office and stamping them. I like starting these medals and the accompanying certificates on the final leg of their journey by bike, and this year I was able to fit them all in one large pannier.

R5000 Awards, away!

R5000 Awards, away!

Rivendell Atlantis, Ortlieb gets the job done.

Rivendell Atlantis, Ortlieb gets the job done.

Total Mileage: 277.6
Categories: 10

That wraps up my inaugural Errandonnee roundup. Thank you MG for your latest gentle bike challenge. I’m glad to say I have done the Utilitaire, the Coffeeneuring Challenge twice and now the Errandonee. This one was different in that everything had to happen in a condensed time period, which got me on the bike just that little more.

I like getting credit for the riding I’m already doing. I think there should be more recognition of the bike as a transportation alternative to the car.

The Errandonnee shows that people everywhere are slowing down and getting out in the fresh air for their local trips. Go errandeurs! I am glad to be among you.

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7 thoughts on “The Urban Errandeur 2013: Ride. Report.

    • Thanks Mark. We’ve had enough dry weather to get out for some long rides this winter, always a good thing for the spring and summer events ahead. Where are you and how has the weather treated you this winter?

  1. Nice post. I like what appear to be your innovative solutions to protecting your paint when locking-up in public: is that a bit of styrofoam and a wrap of some sort around the top tube. Clever.

  2. Pingback: Errandonnee, the Blog Victory Lap | chasing mailboxes d.c.

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