Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Errandonnee Wrap Up

As much as I would love to participate in the Coffeeneuring challenge hosted by Chasing Mailboxes' MG, I have found it difficult to play along. I have extreme reactions to caffeine, making it difficult to ride for a coffeeneuring-ish beverage. It's not that I never have caffeinated beverages, but I have to be extremely cautious about the time of day they are had and how frequently they are consumed. My sensitivity to the drug seems to be extremely high, and while there are probably drinks that could follow the rules, I haven't made the effort to seek them out - at least yet. Perhaps one year I'll throw caution to the wind and just lose sleep for a couple of weeks in order to play along.  Either that, or I'll have to figure out ways to make bottled water look like a coffeeneuring beverage.

Running errands is a bit broader though, so when the 2015 Errandonnee challenge was announced, I read along (as always) with enthusiasm. I don't normally participate, but I've had a rough few weeks and knew I needed something to distract me. I quickly took mental stock and realized that I really don't have many errands to complete in a given week. On top of that, the weather is very hit or miss in March (and April, and May). Would I really be able to complete 12 errands by bicycle in 12 days?
Initially, I intended to document errandonnee clothing throughout the challenge, but that very quickly fell apart. I have no idea how bike chic ladies keep this up (not that I think anything I wear is chic by any stretch of the imagination. Paint stains and holes from dog teeth are hardly "chic"), but I have a new found respect for the effort it takes to document such things. 
Additionally, I wasn't entirely sure that I'd be able to get in 7 of the 9 categories for the challenge. Let's face it, I work from home. Any supplies I need, I order online (for the most part) because there's not much locally offering what I need. I rarely have time for social visits or other entertainment these days. We have no cash to be out buying items because it's all going into house renovations. What sort of errands would I run over the course of the event if I expected to finish?

I do have the bonus though of being able to ride fairly often during daylight hours that aren't completely frigid, so perhaps I just needed to take advantage of this fact.

Well, I decided it was worth the effort to see if I could finish, and patches (much like stickers) are something I often seek out. Though I usually pick them up while vacationing, I think an errandonnee is just as valid a reason to obtain one, right?
Most of the errandonnee rides would be completed using this bike. This was one of the early errandonnee rides.
When I started trying to figure out possible errands to complete I realized there are a couple that would be no-brainers. I go to kickboxing multiple times a week and ride there, so I could use two of those trips. I'd have to hit the grocery store at some point in 12 days at least once (probably more), and even though I've yet to make a trip to the grocery store by bike since our move, I believed I could make this happen. Plus, there would likely be some sort of need to get some other task completed. Maybe it wouldn't be as challenging as I initally believed.

The first errandonnee ride was to kickboxing. It was Saturday morning at about 7:30a, and due to the fact that the majority of locals are sleeping in on Saturday's, I always get to experience the feeling of freedom on the roads while riding. Sure, it's pretty cold this time of year (particularly early in the morning), but I've managed to dial in the layers fairly well over time. It's easier to soak in the city this time of day too because the sun is just coming up and the world doesn't seem to be fully awake. Sam and I chatted and enjoyed being able to ride side-by-side most of the way to class.

Now, we do this ride all of the time, so it was easy to forget that I was starting to move my way through the challenge. It almost seemed like cheating because it wasn't an extra trip I was taking, but rather one I'd ride anyway. But, I didn't seem to be breaking any rules (surprisingly, as I do love breaking - or at least bending - rules), so I counted it. The 4.9 miles went into my log sheet and I was on my way.
Sam played along for a few errandonnee trips. I think with just a few more he would've completed his own challenge. Maybe next year. 
A couple of days later, I needed to make an appointment. I started to pick up the phone to do so and then thought better of it. The shop is less than a couple of miles away, why not take a ride to make the appointment? Plus, I could pick up some shampoo I was desperately needing. So, off I pedaled to make the appointment and pick up needed goods.

Later that evening, I was reminded that I have a new bike light to test out for review. So, a trip in the dark was in order (which is the only way to truly test a headlight or taillight on a bicycle, I think). A few more miles under my belt and another errandonnee ride completed.
Hey, the light works! :O)
Soon, I found myself taking a ride to the post office and then for a quick visit during a friends break at work.

Were "excuses" to ride getting easier to find? Maybe I take more trips than I thought during the week.
I used the Rodriguez for a longer errand because, well, I felt like it and I didn't need to carry anything. :O)
Then, I suddenly made the realization that there were only a handful of days left in the challenge and I still needed to complete 7 errandonnee rides.

Have I mentioned that I can be a procrastinator? The good and the bad of being able to pretty much ride any time is that I can ride any time. It's easy to put off until tomorrow, just as it's as probable to decide at a moments notice that I can take off for a quick errand.

I started thinking back to my human resources days and leading classes on time management (Oh, how I laugh about this now!). Somehow, my lessons on not allowing "time bandits" to get the best of me didn't rub off.

You can do this G.E., I said to myself, as I felt a bit of anxiousness rising within. You just have to get organized and make a plan. I'm pretty sure this in itself was breaking rule #12 of the errandonnee challenge. But, like I said, I am not one to really follow rules (Side note: Can you imagine me as your H.R. person? [shaking head] I know, I have a hard time believing I did this for a living for so many years too.).

I don't make a plan for moving forward. I am not sure who I thought I was kidding. Instead, I do it the way I do most things in life and figure it will work itself out.
The following day I made a run for batteries, and later realized that I actually had a work-related task that could be completed by bike. Heading off to a local gallery to get some exhibition information, I discovered that they were closed upon arrival. Drat! Well, at least it counted as an errandonnee.
Friday evening is "Second Friday;" the day locally when most galleries open their latest exhibitions. Seemed like a perfect opportunity for a meal together and a chance to see what's going on in the art scene here. The meal together was fantastic, and all the better because we arrived by bicycle. The art showings for the evening were less exciting, but I'm always grateful for the opportunity to see what others are doing in their medium of choice.
Front row parking is fantastic... and we had a snake bike rack cozy to keep the bicycles company.
My final officially "needed" errandonnee trip was to the grocery store. It was an important trip for me to make because since our move into the new house a couple of months ago, I have to admit I haven't once traveled to get groceries of any kind by bike.
Wasn't getting much on this trip, so the trailer was unnecessary.
The nearest grocer is just over a mile away, so it's easily within bike-able distance; however, my brain was set on a particular route to travel which included a very busy street that lacks a bike lane (or any space to safely travel, really). Once I realized it was unnecessary to travel the specific route my mind seemed to insist I must, it was far less stress-inducing than I'd imagined.
In truth, I was able to easily get to the grocery store via a bike lane nearly the entire distance, and the spots that don't have a bike lane are so quiet that rarely is a motorist in sight at all.

On this trip, I picked up very little, but I made a huge realization that there really is no reason not to go by bike.

Overall, the Errandonnee challenge was one that I've appreciated. I was incredibly fortunate to have a stretch of time that was snowfall-free, making it super easy to travel by bicycle. Not only was it completed without snow coming down, but the temperatures toward the end of the challenge were actually reaching 80F/26C. Not too shabby for a state frequently under snow this time of year.
This rider opted to lock to the stop sign as the bike rack was not entirely secure.
Additionally, I've realized how often I pass places and things with little regard, and I still believe, despite the fact that there is not nearly the bike theft here that often exists in larger cities, our bike racks are (in many spots) poorly designed, provide little security, or worse yet don't exist at all in centers or destinations. While it's a requirement for newly built locations in town, some retrofitting in older spots would be fantastic.

My biggest disappointment was not getting to complete the final missing category (You carried WHAT?! on your bike). Normally, I find myself carrying ridiculous things around town via bike, but the need just never came up in the week and a half-ish during the challenge. I thought I'd get to sneak it in on day 12, but it never materialized. Perhaps next year things will work out better in that regard.

Regardless of any minor hiccups encountered along the challenge path, I am grateful for the opportunity to have ridden to many destinations over the last twelve days. There's much to explore by bike and having an extra reason to make trips on two wheels is always welcomed. I hope you enjoyed your twelve days of errandonneering too. I have to admit, I'm a bit sad to see it come to an end. I've enjoyed the thought of people all over riding "together" to get errands completed. Fortunately, I know the rides will continue even if they aren't part of an officially organized errandonnee event.


  1. Well done, and well documented. It brings up the question of the car, and how often is it really necessary? Obviously I think it's good to own one, but I think they are used far too often for short trips, even things that we might have once considered far away are quite close in reality. You will get to carry that odd object on your bike, we just need to start riding to the flea markets, and commit to picking up whatever we find with bikes...!

    1. You too! Thanks for riding several of the trips with me. :O) It didn't hurt that the weather was outstanding for most of the last week.

      I can totally see being that crazy lady who drags her trailer around looking for "finds" at flea markets and yard sales (or dumpsters? okay... maybe not dumpsters). Completely on board with this idea though.

    2. I know what you mean. Since I started riding, I've discovered that there is very little that I actually *need* the car for and often it is actually more convenient to go places by bike.

      I became aware of this challenge for the first time last year and had planned to sign up this year, but somehow it slipped past me. Oh well, I'll try to keep it on the radar for next year. In the meantime, that Coffeeneuring challenge might be good.

      On an unrelated note: I'm curious about the luggage you are using on the Sam H. I'm still trying to sort out when to use panniers, when a basket would be better, etc. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this some time.

    3. I think I just prefer to go by bike. It's so much more enjoyable. I always seem to be angry when I'm in the car (okay, not always, but there's usually someone not paying attention).

      I probably should've been better about posting errandonnee rides along the way so that others would be reminded... but, as you mentioned, there's always next year (and I think the Coffeeneuring challenge would be a fun one too).

      Ah, the bicycle bags, baskets and racks. I think I've changed them out at least a couple dozen times and into different configurations. Part of it depends on what other bikes are around at a given moment, but I find the usage of the Hillborne seems to remain fairly constant, so I'm not sure why I seem to change them as frequently as I do. I can put together a post on bags and such - shouldn't be a problem - which will likely serve to help confuse you more. :O) In all seriousness though, this is probably a good topic to talk about, so I will get that one up soon.


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