Errandonnee 2018: Turning Chores Into a Challenge

Transportation is an essential part of how we get things done. Most of the errands we run in our regular daily lives involve short trips. Those trips can often be done more easily by bicycle, and yet, most are not. Sometimes we need a little nudge to help us see how easy it can be.

Enter the Errandonnee: a challenge organized and led by the woman behind Chasing Mailboxes and Coffeeneuring. She’s a randonneur, and loves to meld concepts to create new terms to describe her cycling challenges, which serve to encourage folks to keep biking during the off season. Errandonnee is a fun play on the combination of “errand” and “randonnee”. Like a randonnee, the errandonnee has a set of rules participants are to follow in order to successfully complete the challenge and document their achievements. For this one, participants must complete 12 errands over the course of 12 days, March 20th-31st. The errands must fall within at least 7 of 10 categories, and no one category may be used more than twice. It is permissible to carry out multiple errands in a single day, and there is no minimum mileage per errand. One need only report the total mileage for all 12 errands, and that total must be at least 30 miles. As if all that fun isn’t reward enough, you can even get a patch!

A patch from a prior year’s challenge

This is now my fourth year taking on the challenge. I have found that it is really quite doable, provided I set aside a little time for planning to make sure I hit a sufficient variety of categories. It’s easy to hit the “work” and “store” categories, and I have learned to let my dry cleaning (of which I tend to have very little) pile up so I can take it in as a “non-store” or “personal business” errand. Also easy is “personal care”, as I can always count a recreational ride in that category. Going to an event or meeting a friend for dinner is an easy “social call”. The category that entices and intrigues me, is the “you-carried-WHAT-on-your-bike”. Some errandonneurs have come up with remarkable feats of bicycle transport of sizable loads, and I would love to make my own mark in that category. But, no, I’ve managed nothing more than a giant load of dry cleaning, or several bottles of wine. Perhaps this year I can redeem myself. Then again, perhaps I should just concede this category to one of the cargo bike riders.

Let’s see now, what did I leave out? Other categories are: “arts & entertainment”, “wild card”, and a new one, “peaceful everyday actions”. Yesterday (March 21st) I pulled out my calendar to consider the activities already planned or under consideration, and began making a list of places I’m likely to bike to in the remaining days of March. My list was pretty easy to make. I’d had already taken care of three errands, with two in the “work” category (yesterday’s and today’s commutes), and one run to the “store” on my way home from work yesterday. I think my problem this year is going to be figuring out how to keep it interesting and not too easy.

Here’s my “control card”:

#1: March 20th; Commute to the office (work);

  • Distance: 2.3 miles round trip;
  • Bike: Gazelle Tour Populaire;
  • Bloomers: Groovy Tie Dye;
  • Observation: We don’t often get overcast skies here in Los Angeles. I noticed today how much cooler and darker the ride home feels under such skies, even when the temperature is rather warmish.

#2, #3: March 21st; Commute to the office (work); stop at store for groceries (store);

  • Distance: 2.2 miles round trip;
  • Bike: Gazelle Tour Populaire;
  • Bloomers: Wick-It Black;
  • Observation: Those ready-to-eat roast chickens available at the grocery store on my way home from the office are wonderful when you need a simple, easy dinner, plus they are easy to carry in a bike basket!

#4, #5: March 23rd: Transport several samples of Bikie Girl Bloomers to my office (personal business); take package to post office for shipment (non-store errand);

  • Distance: 3 miles total;
  • Bike: Gazelle Tour Populaire;
  • Bloomers: Blue Bandana;
  • Observation: Although the logistics involved in selecting, organizing, and sending samples out of state, plus coordinating with the recipient, are cumbersome and overwhelming, the excitement of having my Bloomers appear in a Bike Fashion Show (at the Pedal Power Bike Expo in Olympia, Washington) is exciting enough to make it all worthwhile!

#6, #7, #8: March 24th: Ride to downtown Los Angeles to attend the March For Our Lives (peaceful everyday action); stop on return at Whole Foods for groceries (store); bike date with El Cochinito to attend the 20th Anniversary celebration of Peace4Kids at Fais Do Do (arts & entertainment);

  • Distance: 18.8 miles total;
  • Bike: Gazelle Tour Populaire;
  • Bloomers: Shimmering Sapphire;
  • Observations: seeing families marching together for safety gives me hope; buying fresh produce makes me want to take better care of myself; and seeing people who give their time to help those in need makes me want to be a better person; I really appreciate it when the authorities close off downtown streets from cars – what a great way to ride through downtown L.A.

#9, #10: March 25th: Bike to start and home from finish of a group training ride (personal care); Attend BUSted Storytelling’s 4th Anniversary show at Stories Books & Cafe (arts & entertainment);

  • Distance: 16.3 miles;
  • Bike: Bianchi Volpe;
  • Bloomers: Crazy Daisy;
  • Observation: pushing myself (and failing) to climb longer and steeper hills than I can (on the 3rd super-climb, I had to walk the last part of the hill) is still an important part of my self-care — it tells me that I really did do my best, and gives me a goal for next time (I’m so impressed with my ride, I took a screenshot of the route as recorded on Strava); biking to Stories later that same day was still possible even though my legs were feeling it!

#11: March 26th: Women on Bikes Culver City coffee meet up (social call); plus a bonus errand, see below;

  • Distance: 12.1 miles round trip;
  • Bike: Bianchi Volpe;
  • Bloomers: Pinka Dot Black;
  • Observation: every time women get together, amazing conversations and connections happen!

#12: March 28th: Camp Coffee with the coffee outside crew in Marina del Rey (social call);

  • Distance: 24.6 miles round trip;
  • Bike: Bianchi Volpe;
  • Bloomers: Dazzling Amethyst;
  • Observation: getting up early and heading out on the bike when it’s still cold and dark may be painful, but the fun of riding on a car-free path (Ballona Creek Bike Path) and socializing over coffee makes it all worthwhile. Must do this more often.

I must give credit to a new bike friend, Audrey, whom I met on the group training ride that was #9. She was eager to meet other members of the local bike community, so I had extra motivation to make #11 and #12 happen. Both of these require a certain commitment to getting up early so I can make it to a meeting that is a half hour or an hour from home. Knowing that someone else was expecting me to show up and make introductions prevented me from making excuses or backing out.

BONUS ERRANDS!

Thanks to my thoughtful advance planning for this year’s errandonnee, I knew that my 12th and final errand would be the March 28th social call to join the folks at Camp Coffee. I’ve been wanting to increase my biking miles this year, and nudging myself to get up early for Camp Coffee is a great way to add a chunk of miles int he middle of my week. So, when a few additional errands presented themselves before that day, I decided to treat them as “bonus errands”. Beside, I just wasn’t ready to be finished so soon. It’s too much fun to just tick each one off the list and stop.

BONUS #1: March 26th: Visit to my local bike shop for adjustments (wild card);

  • Distance: 2.4 miles round trip;
  • Bike: Bianchi Volpe;
  • Bloomers: Pinka Dot Black;
  • Observation: I like maintaining a good relationship with the owner of the shop where I bought my Bianchi last October, and I like maintaining my bike. I’m not so good at the DIY approach with the updated technology since my youth, so I’m happy to have the mechanic make sure it’s done right. After a gentle fall on the group ride the day before, I was concerned that something might be a little off, so I had him check it for me. He said only the rear brake was in need of a little adjustment, but everything else was fine (I’m always nervous if the bike falls to the derailleur side). Since he didn’t charge me for it, I used this as an excuse to buy a spoke light so I’ll be ready for my next nighttime social ride (when all the cool kids light up their bikes).

BONUS #2, #3: March 27th: ATM (personal business), and attending the neighborhood association meeting (wild card);

  • Distance: 2.1 miles total;
  • Bike: Gazelle Tour Populaire;
  • Bloomers: Leaping Lady Leopard Print;
  • Observation: It is important to participate in civic discussions when we know there will be NIMBYs and nattering nabobs of negativity trying to shut down any change. The meeting was to discuss a proposed new development immediately adjacent to our lovely historic neighborhood. I don’t like it when developers get waivers to get around all the zoning requirements designed to preserve a neighborhood’s character (as often happens in L.A.), but I also don’t like it when new housing is perpetually blocked by NIMBYs who want it to be done elsewhere. That’s how we end up with urban housing crises. I was happy to learn that, despite all the angry neighbors complaining about the project, the developers have taken a very progressive and “green” approach to their proposal. They are including more set-back, more off-street parking, and fewer units than zoning allows, plus they will include electric car sharing and bike parking, and amenities aimed at attracting families.
  • I couldn’t bring myself to snap a photo of the actual meeting – it ran so long, and I just wanted to get the bleep out of there! My only photographic evidence shows one of the yard signs announcing the meeting that I passed as I was biking over there.

Although I listed this bonus errand under the “wild card” category, it inspired me to propose a new category for next year: “civic engagement”. Attending meetings like this, working for safe streets and bicycle infrastructure would also count. Many of this year’s errandonneurs, including myself, also participated in a public march to voice concerns about civic issues (in this case, gun violence). It seems to me, we could support a separate category for these activities.

So, TA-DA! There it is: another successful errandonnee challenge completed! Total mileage for all errands combined was 40 miles. Even if we subtract the 4.5 miles of “bonus” errands, it still easily meets the 30 mile minimum.

The question for reflection: was that a challenge? Can I call it a challenge if I had so much fun just doing activities I (mostly) would have done any way? I think so, and for two reasons. First, it was still a challenge to plan and organize how I would hit the variety of categories and fit it all in to the 12 days. Second, I know that I biked more miles and did more social activities than I would have without the errandonnee challenge influencing my decisions. I see no reason why that fact that I finished ahead of schedule and had a blast doing it should negate the accomplishment.

Once again, thank you, Mary, for the inspiration! And thank you to the fellow errandonneurs for their inspiring posts shared on Facebook and Instagram. A great way to grow my network of bike friends. I am so excited for my new patch!

Ride on!

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Bike Date: Hollywood Bowl

My hubby sure knows how to make me happy. Some folks are real good at taking lemons and making lemonade. El Cochinito excels at taking a pitcher of lemonade, and making it into a party!

It all started innocently enough. In July, our friend Angie had offered me a pair of tickets to a performance at the Hollywood Bowl on August 9th. That date just so happens to be my birthday (I suspect she knew that), and no plans had yet been made for how the occasion would be celebrated, so I immediately said, “YES!” to the offer. El Cochinito took it from there.

All dressed up for date night

He let me know that afternoon that I should try to be home by 4 p.m., as we would be heading out early for our pre-Bowl activities. He didn’t give any details, keeping the pre-party a surprise, except to let me know we would be biking to the Hollywood Bowl – something he knew I’ve been wanting to do. I planned ahead, wore my date-night-dress to the office, and rode to work on my road bike instead of the Dutch bike I usually take for commuting and errands. I didn’t know how much of a challenge it might be to bike up to the Hollywood Bowl, but I was quite sure I did not want to try that on the heavy upright 8-speed Gazelle I normally use for commuting.

Am I the follower or the leader here?!

It was a wee bit interesting getting started, as el Cochinito was in charge of the itinerary, but asking me to lead the way on our bikes. Not wanting to reveal our destination, he would tell me things like “ride to the UU church” and then, at some point, tell me, okay, now we need to go up Rampart. And off we went!

Stopping by a fruit cart on a summery evening

We ended up in Los Feliz, which necessitated climbing some hills that were nothing to sneeze at, especially on a hot August afternoon. Finally he announced that we had arrived at our first stop, and we locked our bikes to a railing in a small corner strip mall at Hillhurst & Franklin. Although we didn’t exactly take the most direct route to get here,  we avoided the nasty traffic streets during the late afternoon commute, and what’s an extra mile or so when you’re out having fun, right? I was grateful for the quieter streets, and considered that well worth any extra distance.

Our first stop turned out to be Lou Wine Shop, where we were greeted by Lou himself. He asked us what we were looking for, but then took a good look at my deep red and very sweaty face, and suggested perhaps I would like to start with a cold glass of water – just what I needed! Of course, el Cochinito was appearing all refreshed and sweat-free, having made the ride on his electric-assist Pedego bike. (Harumph!) Lou helped us select a nice bottle to take with us to the Hollywood Bowl. It was apparent that we could learn a lot about wine from Lou, and we both agreed we will have to return for more one day.


El Cochinito had hoped we could partake in one of Lou’s wine tastings, but the timing wasn’t quite right. Being a master at last-minute plan revisions, he quickly found a place nearby to grab some pre-dinner drinks. We toodled over to a nearby establishment, Spitz, that had some refreshments to offer. Hubby had a beer, and I tried my first mango michelada (a beer with mango puree mixed in, and some spice). It was just the ticket after getting all sweaty on the uphill ride.

Mango michelada at Spitz

From there we headed west into Hollywood, for a delicious dinner el Cochinito had booked for us at Cleo’s. It appeared the parking valets at Cleo’s were not accustomed to diners arriving by bike, but they were nice enough about helping us identify a suitable place to park in their garage. The restaurant is elegant, without being over the top – lots of photos and decor celebrating Cleopatra. They have an enticing menu of craft cocktails to choose from, and a delectable selection of food to cover just about any appetite or palate. I had a fancy-schmancy cocktail and some seriously delicious roast lamb with lebaneh and Israeli couscous. I felt like I was getting quite the royal treatment, and it was wonderful.

Dining in style at Cleo’s

We retrieved our bikes and headed up (really UP) to the Bowl. It wasn’t a bad route, and we were able to do some of the first part off of the busiest streets. But one of those cute little streets took a super steep incline for about 1/4 of a block as we made our way from Yucca to Franklin. Even in my lowest gear, and weaving side to side, I found myself beginning to fall over, rather than continue up that nasty little hill. So I stepped off the bike and walked it up that last little bit, where el Cochinito was waiting for me. I had imagined the hill up Highland to the Bowl would be a hearty climb, but it didn’t seem that hard. Not sure if that’s in comparison to the earlier climb, when it was hotter out, or because I was still buzzing from my killer cocktail!

I loved the feeling as the parking guides waved us on in at the Bowl entrance, and breezing past all the poor suckers stuck in their cars. Moments like this help make up for all the times we feel like the bottom of the traffic food chain. We entered the event space, and began the quest for where exactly one goes to park their bike at the Hollywood Bowl. We asked one of the Bowl employees who was guiding folks in, but he had no idea. Luckily, a pair of modest bike racks caught my eye, and we locked up there.

Looks like a bike rack to me!

We found our seats. Angie had done quite nicely by us with these tickets. I’ve never sat so close at the Hollywood Bowl before. Angie stopped by to visit us at a couple of points, and introduced a friend she and her hubby had brought along – they were sitting even closer to the front. The music was a delight. A Latin jazz group led by Pedrito Martinez opened, followed by the lively Angélique Kidjo. And then we heard the popular (VERY popular in Cuba) group Gente de Zona. The wine was great, the music was great, and we were fortunate to be sitting with folks who like to get up and dance!

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Afterward, we found our bikes, put on our lights, I donned my reflective vest, cued up some music on my combination headlight/bluetooth speaker, and off we rode. I loved, absolutely loved, riding down the hill in the crisp evening air. The ride alone was fun, but of course, it was made sweeter knowing that we had bypassed the whole misery of trying to leave the Bowl in a car along with thousands of others.

Would I do this again? YES!

Thanks to el Cochinito for a wonderful night on the town!

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Our full 16.6 mile round trip (with only 795 feet of climbing)

Coffeeneuring 5.0: Santa Monica & Sex Ed

What does coffeeneuring have to do with sex ed, you ask? Nothing, unless you decide to bring them together. As a coffeeneur who also has duties as a facilitator of a sexuality program, I knew what I had to do given the short time remaining to complete the 2016 coffeeneuring challenge. A couple of Sundays a month, on a biannual basis, I help facilitate for 8th & 9th graders at the Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Santa Monica. The program is called Our Whole Lives, reflecting a recognition that we are sexual beings throughout our entire lifespan. It’s an awesome curriculum that covers far more than anything offered in the school system. We discuss honestly all aspects of sexuality, not just reproduction and safety. We help young people develop their skills for dealing with peer pressure, seeking consent, understanding the wide variety of sexual identities and different ways of expressing and experiencing one’s sexuality, in a context of values and within a trusted community.

I was scheduled to teach a session on that Sunday in early November, and I needed to get some coffeeneuring in. I normally enjoy biking the 11-12 miles (depending on my route) to Santa Monica, so why not bike to a coffee shop after the session ends? Santa Monica offers a plentiful selection of fancy coffee shops worth trying. For this one, I decided to try out Philz Coffee on Santa Monica Blvd & 6th Street.

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I loved the cool design of the bike rack right next door to Philz.

Philz offers some outdoor seating, in addition to a large indoor seating area. There was a substantial line, but they have several servers taking orders at the counter, and the line moves quickly.

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Knowing I needed to fuel up for a longer ride home, I got some peanut butter power balls and a yogurt in addition to a refreshing iced gingersnap latte. I strongly recommend the iced gingersnap when you need a combo of spice, creaminess, and potent java on a hot day.

I wanted to take a leisurely route back home by heading a few blocks farther west to the beach. It was a nice day to ride along the beach and then take the Ballona Creek bike path back into the city. This routing added a few extra miles to my ride, but many of those miles were delightfully car-free.

It felt great to be out on my road bike, enjoying some warm weather again. Soon enough, I was back in my own neighborhood. It was such a clear day, you could see the Hollywood sign.

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Total mileage: 30.3

Bike: Specialized Dolce Comp

Destination: Philz Coffee, Santa Monica, California

Beverage: Iced Gingersnap Latte

Minneapolis By Bike

Love the little bike symbols on the bike-friendly street signs, but apparently, it did not entice this gentlemen to ride on the street.

I recently attended a conference, and felt so lucky that it was being held in one of our nation’s top bike-friendly cities, AND during a week of fantastic weather! If you have to attend board meetings, there’s no better way to get there than by bike, except, of course, for taking the long way by bike!

For the last three years, I’ve been serving a term on the Board of Directors of the American Intellectual Property Law Association, also known as AIPLA. It has been an incredible honor and privilege to serve, and it also means that, each of the three years, I attend the 3 stated meetings plus a board retreat, held in varied locations, as well as 3 additional day-long meetings at the AIPLA headquarters in Crystal City, Virginia. This makes for quite a bit of travel, and I have been determined to make the most of these excursions by working in some bike adventures whenever I can.

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How’s this for bike-friendly infrastructure?

Last year’s AIPLA Spring Meeting just so happened to be held right here in Los Angeles, so I biked from my home to the JW Marriott in Downtown LA each day of the meeting. This year, the Spring Meeting was held in Minneapolis, a city designated as a gold level “Bicycle Friendly Community” by the League of American Bicyclists, among other bikie accolades. Not only that, the meeting was being held right smack in the middle of Bike Week! When I realized that, I started looking into what Bike Week events I might be able to participate in while I was there.

I also got to work at finding the right place to stay. I am not a big fan of paying big bucks to stay at a standard, run-of-the-mill chain hotel room. A room in a Marriott or Hilton can look completely interchangeable with any other corporate chain hotel room in just about any other U.S. city. The tastefully bland decor can be a damper on the spirit, if not outright soul-killing. I prefer to book my stays at nearby bed & breakfast inns or boutique hotels. It means spending significantly less per night, plus staying in a charming place, and meeting interesting people. In most cities, I’m also able to rent a bike and see a bit of the city I’m visiting while commuting from my charming B&B to the conference site. It’s a real win-win-win. So far, I have biked to AIPLA meetings in Austin, Orlando, La Quinta, Philadelphia, Seattle, and Washington, DC, as well as L.A.

I also love trying out bike share in different cities, and I knew Minneapolis has a bike share system called Nice Ride. I was delighted to find that they offer a 30-day membership for just $18, so I signed up before my trip. Membership meant I could get a key for easier unlocking of a bike and 60 minutes of use per trip instead of 30. A great bargain. Nice Ride mailed me a code that I could use to obtain a key at a Nice Ride station once I was ready to begin using my new membership. I stowed that code in a safe place, or so I thought until I went to retrieve it and spent a few hours searching everywhere I could possibly imagine having been considered a “safe place”. Luckily, the kind folks at Nice Ride were happy enough to issue me a new code — by email this time — when I called to tell them I’d lost the code.

I stayed at LeBlanc House, a Victorian B&B just north of downtown. The house was built in 1896, and is just two blocks from a Nice Ride station. Even though I arrived in the wee hours, I got up early my first morning there, hopped on a Nice Ride bike, and rode to the south side of town for a coffee meet up. I’d reached out to various women in the Minneapolis bike community to explore the interest in a coffee meet-up, in the style I’ve written about before. I contacted people of the Minneapolis Bike Coalition, reached out via the Wheelwomen Switchboard, and emailed a blogger I found. Erin, a woman who responded on the Switchboard pointed me to a Facebook group for WTF cyclists in Minneapolis called Grease Rag Ride & Wrench, so I created an event page and invited that group. That post got lots of likes and started some conversation, but did not draw any others into the coffee plan. Both Erin and Lindsey, the blogger, participated in the coffee meet-up. Erin has lived in Washington, DC, and is already quite familiar with the Women & Bicycles Coffee Club tradition.

LeBlanc House, on bike-friendly NE 3rd Ave
Nice Ride Bike Station

Even though I’d only slept for about 4 hours due to my late-night arrival, I was able to rise and shine early enough to make the journey to Peace Coffee on Minnehaha my first experience with Nice Ride. The weather app on my phone said it was 43 degrees outside, so I bundled up with tights and a trench coat. As it turned out, the morning sun was plenty warm and I was over-bundled.I was pleased to have given myself enough time to arrive just a couple minutes ahead of the scheduled 8 a.m.meeting time. I snapped a few pics of Peace Coffee, ordered my mocha & almond croissant, and settled at a central table that made me easy to find. Erin and Lindsey joined me, and we had a great time visiting. Erin shared her comparative experiences with biking in DC and Minneapolis, and Lindsey shared her passion for spreading bike love and making her own bike-friendly clothes. Of course, I had to pull out some samples to share of my Bikie Girl Bloomers.

Over-bundled for my morning ride
Peace Coffee on Minnehaha
Hangin’ with Erin and Lindsey

After Erin headed off to work, Lindsey and I stuck around while she interviewed me about biking in Los Angeles and the Bikie Girl Bloomers story.Afterward, she walked with me back to the Nice Ride station. We stopped briefly on the way to admire her nice custom bike made locally by Handsome Cycles. Lindsey is quite a delightful tour de force, full of great ideas for helping people, and the businesses who employ them, discover how easily they can work bicycling into their lives, improve health and productivity, and find their own win-win solutions. She’s also very efficient, as she posted the interview with me on her blog the very next day!

Lindsey with her Handsome bike

From there, I enjoyed a leisurely meander on Nice Ride back to LeBlanc House, making use of the Hiawatha Light Rail Trail, one of many bike trails in and around Minneapolis. This one took me into downtown right alongside some light rail tracks.

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My route back from Peace Coffee

 

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Hiawatha Light Rail Trail
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Coming in to the City Center from the south.

 

 

 

Once in the city’s center, I soon found myself near the Old Mill Ruins, riding over wood planks. This area is right along the riverfront, with a view of the beautiful Stone Arch Bridge, one of the highlights listed on the Bike Bridges tour. Of course, I had to cross it! It’s a beauty and fed me right into a beautiful neighborhood greenway. I took great pleasure in all the bike-friendly features along my way.

 

Stone Arch Bridge
Riding the wooden planks by the Old Mill Ruins
Looking back over the Stone Arch Bridge from the north
Cute bike signs
Beautiful greenway

I was able to get in a much-needed nap before it was time to head to the downtown hotel for my first meeting associated with the conference. What would be my regular commute for the next four days took me into downtown via the picturesque Hennepin Avenue Bridge. Continuing on Hennepin Avenue into downtown was only moderately hectic, as the bike lane gives way to a lane with sharrows and lots of city buses. Shortly before my turn onto 10th Street, I passed State Theatre, whose marquis was advertising an upcoming opportunity to see a final performance of A Prairie Home Companion – so Minnesota!

Hennepin Ave Bridge
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State Theater Marquis
Feelin’ floral in my Crazy Daisy Bloomers under the purple Hitchable Flounce Skirt

After an evening event at Hell’s Kitchen, I went to retrieve a Nice Bike from the docking station right across the street from the Hilton where the conference was being held. I’d switched bags for the ride back and realized I’d left my Nice Ride key in the other bag back at LeBlanc House. No problem, though, as I knew I could just swipe my credit card and get a bike through my membership that way. Except that the kiosk wasn’t responding – not to my credit card swipe or to any attempts to press the touch screen. No problem, though, as I knew there was another Nice Ride dock just around the corner. Except that kiosk had an unresponsive touch screen as well. I began to wonder if Nice Ride doesn’t operate after 10 pm. I called their number for assistance, and got a recording telling me it was after hours for customer service, but inviting me to leave a message. I let them know I was rather concerned about not being able to get out of downtown after 10 pm. I figured I would just start walking back toward LeBlanc House, and keep an eye out for another Nice Ride station. I did find another, but had the same problem at the kiosk.

Suzannah and Angie enjoying the reception at Hell’s Kitchen

I looked up and saw what I thought was the Hennepin Ave Bridge I’d come into town on, so figured I’d just walk the rest of the way. Except at some point, halfway over the bridge, I knew that was not the Hennepin Ave Bridge. I was not going over a river; I was going over a freeway. The neighborhood did not look very residential. In fact, it seemed like a rather creepy place for a woman to be walking alone at night without knowing where she was or how to get where she was headed. I was glad I’d already installed the Lyft app on my phone, and requested a ride. I immediately called the driver who was on his way to let him know I did not feel safe standing in place to wait for him — that I was going to keep walking, and we identified a good place ahead of me to meet. I made it back to LeBlanc House fine, but a bit miffed that Nice Ride had let me down.

The good folks at Nice Ride called me back the next day, terribly sorry for my troubles, and reassuring me that it was supposed to work any time of day or night. They did point out that, if I’d had my key with me, I wouldn’t have been limited by a malfunctioning touchscreen, so I made sure I always had it with me the rest of the week. While on the phone with me, they also noticed that I’d had a significant overage from the morning before and asked if I’d had a bike out for 3 hours. I told them I’d discovered my bike was still loose at the docking station where I’d parked it before my morning meeting when I returned to get another bike. They kindly credited my account to remove the overage charges, and advised me to be sure the bike was completely locked back into the dock whenever returning a bike to a dock.

I commuted back and forth between LeBlanc and the Hilton twice each day, finding that I always needed a nap in the early afternoon in order to recharge and get through the evening receptions. On Thursday, which was Women/Trans/Femme Day of Minneapolis Bike Week, I wanted to try to catch an event listed as part of that day’s schedule that would fit my free gap in the middle of the day. At the downtown farmer’s market, there was to be a free bike check and zap-tagging event running from 10-1. I got out of the Hilton around 12:15 and walked over to the market, except I had a heckuva time trying to find it and follow my Google maps walking directions. After wandering in a big circle for a half hour, I got real hungry and stopped at one of the many food trucks parked along 2nd Avenue. After enjoying the best brussels sprouts ever, I finally found the farmer’s market. The bike “event” was just one booth in the park where an occasional passerby would stop and inquire about zap tagging (used to count bicyclists). There was nothing about this event that was connected with the Women/Trans/Femme theme of the day, so I shrugged it off and went back to LeBlanc to attend to some work matters and grab me a power nap.

Free bike checks & ZAP tagging at the Farmer’s Market downtown.

Friday was great because I didn’t have any early meetings to attend. Finally, on my fourth morning at the bed and breakfast, I was able to take advantage of the breakfast offered and get to meet some other guests at LeBlanc. After dining with a couple in town from Ohio to attend their kid’s graduation and visit with old friends, the hostess was kind enough to give me and my suitcase a ride to the Hilton. I stowed my luggage at the hotel, and then took off on my much-anticipated bike adventure.

The Walker Art Center had been recommended to me, and wasn’t too far away, so I headed in that direction. I knew it likely wouldn’t be open when I got there, but figured I could at least explore the sculpture garden. The ride through Loring Park to get there was absolutely gorgeous. Ponds, bridges, gardens, park benches, all right there on either side of the bike path.

Loring Park
Loring Park
Walker Art Center

Then I found my way onto a bike path that runs along a very busy part of Hennepin Avenue, with Walker Art Center visible on the other side of many lanes of fast-moving traffic. Google maps wanted me to do something else, I wasn’t quite sure exactly what, but I saw a bridge up ahead and had to explore that. It was a fantastical contraption, a bit awkward to go up the ramp to get to the bridge, but a fun challenge to tackle with the clunky Nice Ride bike. I got up and over and found my way to the sculpture garden. Except the sculpture garden was fenced off and closed for renovation.

So I continued onward, knowing there were lakes off in the beyond somewhere, lakes completely encircled with bike paths. I saw a sign that announced Kenwood Parkway, an area that was lush and green, so I kept right on pedaling. Soon thereafter, I came upon a crossroads of bike paths to choose from. I saw that I could head left to take the Cedar Lake Trail, so I headed that way. After enjoying that trail for some good while, it dawned on me that I had best figure out where there might be a docking station, as soon my 60 minutes would be up. I consulted the Spotcyle app’s station map, and realized that going around Cedar Lake was not a practical option. Of course, going over the 60 minutes would simply mean incurring a surcharge, but I was a bit uneasy that I would underestimate just how long it would take to go all the way around Cedar Lake. I did have to get back to the Hilton for a meeting at noon!

Kenwood Parkway

Instead, I headed toward Wirth Lake, where I was able to dock the bike at a Nice Ride station and take a little break. There was a playground and a building next to the bike station, so I got real hopeful that there would be a place to get some desperately needed water. Whatever facilities beyond restrooms that the building is used for appeared to be shut down, perhaps waiting for the official start of Summer. At least there was a drinking fountain and a lovely shaded seating area.

Wirth Lake

From Wirth Lake, I continued north alongside the lake and then through a golf course to Plymouth Ave, a nice bike-friendly street that took me back toward the Mississippi River, north of the city center. I had a bike lane most of my way along Plymouth Avenue, and even a protected lane for part of it, with a well-marked zone to guide the transitional zone where cars must cross the bike lane to make a right turn. When I got to the river, I turned right and rode along the waterfront. So many bridges – it really was beautiful.

Protected bike lane on Plymouth Ave
Riding along the riverfront
Styleshot for Friday’s adventure: Pinka Dot Bloomers under black Hitchable Flounce Skirt
Friday adventure: Part One
Friday adventure: Part Two

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I decided to arc in a big circle around downtown and then head back to the Hilton from the east. At one point, I missed a turn and went a little too far south, but was able to course-correct quickly enough to get back just in time for my meeting. Maybe not as epic an adventure as I’d hope to squeeze into my morning, but enough to give me a taste of how much there is to explore by bike in the Twin Cities area!

 

Took the light rail from downtown to the airport – got there at the same time as a group who’d left the hotel at the same time as me, but went by car.

 

Errandonnee: My Mad-Dash Exploits

Having so thoroughly enjoyed the Coffeeneuring challenge orchestrated by Chasing Mailboxes last Fall, I could not resist accepting her next challenge, the Errandonnee. With Coffeeneuring, the challenge was to visit seven different coffee shops by bike over seven weeks, staying within some rules and documenting the events accordingly. The schedule for the Errandonnee challenge, however, is a bit more compact: 12 errands in 12 days, hitting at least seven different categories. As luck would have it, I was out of town for the first half of those 12 days (March 4-15). Normally visiting another city would add to the fun, but my schedule for these travel days was packed, and managing any of my tasks during that packed schedule by bicycle just wasn’t practical under the circumstances.

I didn’t worry about the scheduling too much though, in view of two things. First, I was confident I could cram my 12 errands into six days, if need be. Second, Rule No. 12 of the Errandonnee is that you should stop if it stresses you out. I couldn’t let that happen! So here’s how it played out:

Ready to head to the office

 

My Gazelle, parked at the office building

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Errandonnee #1, March 10th: My first day back in town, I rode my bike to work, as I normally do. No biggie. Off to a great start! Category: Work. Miles: 1.2 (one way – the direct route – no time for lollygagging along the scenic route!). Bike: Gazelle Tour Populaire. Observation: I really need to fix the left handlebar grip on my Gazelle. It came loose before I left town, and it slides off every time I accelerate, and especially when I go uphill. Bloomers of the day: Tie Dye Pettipants.


 

Groceries secured with nylon bag inside pannier basket

Errandonnee #2, March 10th: Stopped at the grocery store on my way home from the office. Category: Store. Miles: 1.7 (total from office to store to home). Bike: Gazelle. Observation: Packing the eggs at the top of the nylon shopping bag with the handles tied together, and then set inside my Nantucket basket pannier, provides a stable and secure means of transport for my groceries. I always worry about the eggs, but thus far, no casualties.

 

 

 

 


 

Counting on the heat from my flame shorts to keep me dry
I’m not the only one commuting to our building Dutch style

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Errandonee #3, March 11th: Usual commute to work, again taking the shorter route, as I’m still exhausted from my travels and running a bit late getting out of the house in the morning. Category: Work. Miles: 1.2 (2.4 if we count the round trip). Bike: Gazelle. Observation: Gray skies with rain in the forecast for the afternoon has me thinking about whether I will want a jacket for the ride home – or would that make things worse? I’ve got the right helmet, though. The Closca Waterproof Flatcap not only keeps my noggin dry, but the bill helps minimize the raindrops in my face and eyes. Bloomers of the day: Smokin’ Hot Flame Shorts.


 

Thoroughly enjoying breakfast with my sons
A gorgeous day for riding

 

Riding Western style
Noah and Adam with our three bikes locked together around a sign post

 

 

Errandonnee #4, March 12th: Breakfast outing with my sons to Grub (that’s the name of the restaurant) in Hollywood. I raised my boys right: they both use bikes as their primary means of transportation. I was delighted to have them both home at the same time for a Spring Break visit. Category: Social. Miles: 7.6 (round trip). Bike: Gazelle. Observation: Without parking signs, many establishments would have absolutely no place to lock a bike! We locked all three bikes together with one long cable and a U-lock around the no parking sign on the grassy strip between the sidewalk and the street. Bloomers of the day: Blue Bandana.


 

Selfie in front of Griffith Observatory

 

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Red Hot Aqua Dot Bloomers

 

Clear view of the Hollywood sign

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Errandonnee #5, March 13th: Spiritual recharge ride up to Griffith Observatory. Category: Personal Care. Miles: 23.9. Bike: Specialized Dolce Comp (Roadie). Observations: The golf courses at Griffith Park feature an impressive variety of trees, including oak, eucalyptus, redwood. I doubt many urban golf courses can top the foliage here. First time doing this route after some heavy rains means (1) there is a lot more bright green growth alongside Mt. Hollywood Drive, and (2) there is a lot more dirt and gravel washed across the road, requiring extra care, especially when going downhill in the hiker-heavy zone. Bloomers of the morning: Red Hot Aqua Dot.

 

 

Link to my route:  https://www.strava.com/activities/516304635/embed/b2d8ebc802c8076be056d1581e0095d865a1ffa7

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Looking out over Los Angeles from Griffith Observatory

 

Adam makes it look like he’s having fun.
Noah is a good sport.  

    Errandonnee #6, March 13th: Coffee shop run with my boys to check out Go Get Em Tiger in Larchmont. Category: Social. Miles: 2.9 (one way). Bike: Gazelle. Observations: The new bike corral in Larchmont Village is nice – plenty of room for our three bikes – but the positioning relative to the adjacent angled car parking makes it awkward. I was nervous that the driver of the van parked right next to our bikes might no be able to see our bikes when getting ready to back out of the spot. The sweet latte on the menu at Go Get Em Tiger is indeed sweet – in a good way, as far as I’m concerned. I will be back for some future coffeeneuring. Bloomers of the afternoon: Crazy Daisy.

Locking up at the O.K. bike corral.

My Sweet Latte on the left, Noah’s Curiosity Cola in front, Adam’s straight-up pure coffee in the carafe

 

 

Crazy Daisy Bloomers under my Hitchable Flounce Skirt

 

Errandonnee #7, March 13th: Stop at Rite-Aid for the eggs and milk hubby needs to make flan. Category: Store. Miles: 0.05 (just down the block in Larchmont Village – there’s no minimum distance in the rules!). Bike: Gazelle. Observation: It’s amazing the groceries available at a drug store. We bought sweetened condensed milk, half and half, and a carton of eggs (yes, more eggs – he’s making two flans).



Errandonnee #8, March 13th: Stop to admire one of my favorite architectural gems of historic Los Angeles, the Wilshire Ebell Theatre. Category: Arts & entertainment (or Wild Card if need be). Miles: 2.75. Bike: Gazelle. Observation: Lots of motorists have to wait patiently for their turn to enter the parking lot upon arriving for whatever event is taking place there this afternoon. It’s so fun to zip past them on our bikes.


img_1073
Elmer & Marilyn at El Cholo as they passed through town

Errandonnee #9, March 13th: Crazy run-around to figure out where to have dinner with my uncle and aunt, who had just arrived for a stopover on their way from San Antonio, Texas, to Monterey, California. Category: Wild Card (it was a wild ride, and my uncle is a real card). Miles: 1.8 (total). Bike: Gazelle. Observation: During the crazy run-around, I zipped around Koreatown on my Gazelle as quickly as the other two groups did in their cars.

We had initially made arrangements to meet my aunt and uncle at a Japanese restaurant that is just over a mile north of us, but when we called to make a reservation, learned that they would not be able to accommodate both my uncle’s wheelchair and a party of six at the same table. That was disappointing. Then we settled on a place just under a mile east of us: Guelaguetza. Based on the size and lay-out of the restaurant, we thought it would surely be suitable for accommodating my uncle’s wheelchair and our group of six. The restaurant would not allow us to make a reservation on short notice, and then we discovered, after we got there, that the wait was going to be at least 45 minutes. The place was a mad-house, the parking lot completely jammed, and even trying to get through on the street was nearly impossible (for cars, that is). Who knew it could be like that on a Sunday evening?! Noah stood out in the street, near the entrance, to wait for my aunt and uncle to arrive, while my husband and I brainstormed on a back-up plan. Having ridden over on my bike, I’d noticed El Cholo, a Mexican restaurant just a few blocks from our house. Duh! Why didn’t we think of that in the first place? Hubby gave them a call to confirm that they could accommodate the wheelchair and our party of six, and away we went. I was able to ride up alongside my aunt and uncle’s car at a key intersection and give them guidance on where to turn to find the entrance to El Cholo. It worked out perfectly.

Whew! Good thing I was able to get 5 of my trips into one day!


Errandonee #10, March 14th: Bringing 7 bottles of wine home from the office. Category: You Carried WHAT on your bike? Miles: 1.3 (one way). Bike: Gazelle. Observation: I wasn’t sure I could get up the ramp out of the parking structure carrying this much weight, without having to hop off the bike, but I did it! I had 4 bottles in one basket and 3 in the other, along with my computer, my purse, and my lunch bag with my empty food containers. The entire ride, even the hill on St. Andrew’s Place, went more smoothly than expected. I think having the load balanced between the two basket panniers and relatively low on the bike made for a nice, stable ride. Bloomers of the day: Leaping Lady Leopard Shorts.

The ramp emerging from the parking garage

 

 

 

The little hill on St. Andrew’s Place

I think these go well with my wine.


I don’t get the appeal of tagging. Makes me sad.
Errand complete: the proof is in my basket

The dirties in the basket as I show off my bloomers.

 

 

 

Errandonnee #11, March 15th: Drop off dry cleaning. Category: Personal Business / Non-store errand. Miles: 0.4 miles (one way). Bike: Gazelle. Observation: The tagging in Koreatown makes me sad. It is most unfair to our neighborhood business owners. Bloomers of the day: Pinka Dot.


To the mailbox, for the win!

Errandonnee #12, March 15th: Mail a payment to Pam, my graphic artist. Sure, I could’ve paid via PayPal, but that doesn’t involve a bike, so why would I? Category: Non-store errand. Miles: 1 (one way; add 0.3 for the rest of the trip home). Bike: Gazelle. Observation: The traffic light at Olympic Boulevard & St. Andrews Place changes frequently. During the time it took me to stop the bike, get the letter out of my pannier, snap a photo to document my errand, and drop the letter in the mailbox, the light went through almost three cycles!

It’s a good thing I decided to throw in an extra errand by mailing the letter/payment on the 15th, as I had miscounted and this was not my 13th or bonus errand — it was my critical twelfth errand I very much needed in order to complete the series! Looking back at my effort to cram twelve errands into six days, I can’t say that I’m terribly proud of my showing. It seemed a bit lame, and I feel like I stretch the rules a wee bit here and there. I am pleased that I managed to pull it off, but the experience leaves me eager to do a better job of it next year. If nothing else, I look forward to coming up with a better submission for the “You carried WHAT on your bike?” category. I would love to devise a plan that makes for an impressive photo. But I did log a total of 45.8 miles (or 47.3 with parentheticals), so I feel good about that.

Post Script: I thought I had until March 31st to submit my Errandonnee report. I’ve been working on it a little each evening, struggling to get it done. I just reviewed the rules and see that I’m a few days late. Will the Chief Errandonneur let me get away with a late submission? Fingers crossed. I want my patch!

Bikie Girl Shero: Charlotte Hager, Artist & Cyclist

This post is the second in a series highlighting interesting women who love to bike. Photos provided by Charlotte Hager.

Winter Biking
Charlotte, in winter biking mode

Last month’s featured Bikie Girl Shero was Megan Jones, founder of the Hains Point 100, which has raised many thousands of dollars to support the Washington Area Bicycle Association (WABA)’s Women & Bicycles program. Bikie Girl helps sponsor the event by offering a raffle prize. This month’s Bikie Girl Shero is the most recent winner of the free bloomers from Bikie Girl Bloomers, Charlotte Hager of Arte by Charlotte. When I discovered Charlotte’s artwork, I just had to find out more about her!

 

Bikie Girl: What inspired you to participate in the Hains Point 100?

 

Planeta LaFragola
Planeta LaFragola

Charlotte:  I have been a fan of Hains Point 100 since its inception. I am in such awe of Megan and the rest of the kicka$$ lady cyclists of the Sticky Finger Team. Megan and I are both part of the Women & Bicycles group in DC – and have crossed paths many of times because, in DC’s bike world, everybody knows each other. I have watched Megan’s promotion of Hains Point 100 and have always wanted to be involved in one way or another, but the time of year never works out for me. I was so incredibly fortunate to have Megan reach out to me directly this year to ask to be involved artistically as a means of helping create fun art pieces inspired by cycling that the event could use for door prizes. I created three original “tiny paintings” for the event as well as shared some prints of a painting I completed last year called “Planeta LaFragola” where the planet’s ring around it has bicycles!

The See Me Rollin'Bici-CoolTandem Love

Bikie Girl:  What is it about WABA’s Women & Bicycles program that makes it important to you?

Charlotte:  WABA’S W&B has literally changed my life – for the best! The W&B group has Art Bike Photo Shoot 2016been such an incredible system of support and knowledge for me as well as other women of all different backgrounds and biking styles and levels . This group has been a life saver so many times, giving me the supportive environment and encouragement to post all types of inquiries from researching folding bikes to issues I have had with sexual harassment while cycling. The W&B group literally feels like a sisterhood with nonjudgmental, never-ending support for all women. The programs and events that have come out of the W&B group have been incredible and have honestly helped me to get on two wheels more frequently and meet/encourage more lady cyclists. The W&B groups and programming are the first place I go to with any bike questions. I love my W&B sisters! Even now, I live in Baltimore, MD but still frequent the W&B facebook group and the DC-based events because I love and support this group of women so much!

Char and Bike
Charlotte rocking her Hot Pink Zephyr Bloomers under a black Hitchable Flounce Skirt

Bikie Girl:  What is your bike style?

Charlotte:  I am all over the place with this question. I like to consider myself a pretty easy-going putzer. I use a bike for daily work commuting, running errands, and the occasional bike party. I used to ride my bike more when I lived in DC and knew the streets better – but I am learning all about my new home – Baltimore- and am hoping, come summer, a bike will be my main form of transportation! I try to wear a bunch of different types of clothing while biking. My favorite being leggings and a dress. It’s a way for me to feel “normal” while also covering my bits. One thing that’s constant: bike shorts. I slip them on over leggings, under dresses, in exchange for shorts sometimes. It just helps make longer ride my comfy for my lady bits. Lastly – sunscreen. Every time, all the time.

bike girl bloomers
Bloomers Bedazzled!

I own three bikes: my first love – my daily commuter, bada$$ mama jama. Her name is “Blu Goose” and she’s amazing. A blue, with yellow accessories Kona Jake the Snake cyclocross turned into my daily commuting beast. I love her so much. I helped build her from the frame up back in 2010, and she’s been the reason I have become such a huge bicycle advocate and aficionado. Maybe I would be so easily passionate on another bike, but I don’t know. Blu Goose and I are liked bonded spirits. It’s great!

Bike to Work Day in DC 2015
Bike to Work Day, DC, 2015

My second bike I acquired at one of WABA’s amazing annual fundraisers, “Bike Fest.” I believe the teen mechanic group out of Phoenix Bikes made this fun “tank” of a bike. I have lovingly – with much chagrin – named this bike “The Bourbon Bike” because I bought this bike during WABA’s Bike Fest “Bike Auction” after a few bourbons and a new-found sense of competition in the Bike Auction Bidding War. I later tossed the mustache handle bars, added more dutch-style up right bars (all by myself! woo!) and now have a more upright fun bike I keep around as a beater bike for easy commutes or visiting friends.

art bikeMy last and most recent acquired bike is the newly reborn “Art Bike.” This is a Art Bike in Baltimorefun step through, upright cruiser that a dear bike friend gave me before he and his family ran away to Colorado (move back Stewart and Melissa Eastep!). This is a bike I kept around for a few seasons, using it for an occasional guest or grocery run – especially when I wanted to feel Dutch and pretend I was biking in Amsterdam. Recently. however, this unassuming bike was reborn into the Art Bike. I have completed Phase One with a brand new paint job and accoutrements: a used a bunch of different colored spray paints and hot glued on beads and gems. This bike went for her full-fledged inaugural ride as the Art Bike for Baltimore Bike Party’s Halloween ride . . . and I managed to entirely destroy one of her brake cables. So this bike is in repair and will be back on the roads come Spring. She does manage to still show up in my photo shoots . . . that cheeky wench she is.

Bikie Girl:  I’m a lover of bold colors. I think bold colors evoke emotions that I can’t fully express in words, and help me feel more fully alive. This makes me a fan of your art, and also curious to know what the significance of using bold colors in your artwork is for you?

char paintsCharlotte:  Colors make me feel like everything is going to be okay in this world.  There’s a
certain amount of pure, unadulterated joy I experience with bright, bold colors; an almost childhood innocence where the world is fun and has your best interest at heart. The world around me is alive, evolving, and brilliant. To me, color has tastes, gender, temperatures, associative numbers as well as days of the weeks (weird, I know). Colors have personalities to me. Perhaps this is why art has had such a profound effect on me since I was a child – I’ve found a way to channel this magical world I see daily into a visual form that others can experience and begin to understand.

char paints 4
Charlotte in action

Char and Bike 2

Bike Girl:  Do you ever feel as though your bicycling influences your art (or vice versa)?

Charlotte:  Totally! I think art and bicycling are a really copacetic duo. When I’m cruising on my bicicletas, I feel so inspired, so connected to . . . well, really connected to everything and everyone. Being entirely exposed while producing power manifested by your own strength forces you to be super aware of yourself and everything that surrounds you. I feel more connected to the communities I venture through, the people I smile at or chat with at a Char paints 2light. I feel connected to the sights, sounds, and smells that resonate all around me. For the most part, my bicycle experiences are really, satisfyingly cathartic. And I think that disinhibition – that effort to put down the barriers and connect to elements around me – is what can also make art

Happy Halloween from Art Bike
Happy Halloween from Art Bike

such an incredibly powerful experience for me. The connectivity, the whole body experience of art parallels to a good bike ride around town. Something about both bikes and art are just so darn magical to me. Plus I feel like I’m flying – both while cycling and while painting – so that’s cool.

 

Thanks, Charlotte! Keep on flying!

Poppies, 2007

You can find out more about Arte by Charlotte here, and about the Women & Bicycles program here. If you aren’t already a member of the W&B Facebook group, you are missing out on a welcoming and resourceful community. Learn about the Hains Point 100 here.

Follow Charlotte on social media:Self Portrait

Facebook: Arte by Charlotte

Instagram: @artebycharlotte

Twitter: @artebycharlotte

www.charlottehager.com

Arte By Charlotte Logo

Bikie Girl Shero: Megan Jones

This post is the first in a series highlighting interesting women who love to bike. Photos by Dominion Cycling Photography.

Imagine riding your bike in a 3-mile loop over and over until you’ve logged 100 miles, and imagine doing this on a cold December day in Washington, D.C. no less. Who would imagine such a thing you may ask? Why Megan Jones would, and that’s why she is our Bikie Girl Shero of the month.

Meganphone

Megan is the founder and force behind the annual fundraiser, the Hains Point 100, which has raised many thousands of dollars to support the Washington Area Bicycle Association (WABA)’s Women & Bicycles program. Megan reached out to me as the owner of Bikie Girl Bloomers in 2013 to ask if Bikie Girl would be interested in helping sponsor the event by offering some product as a raffle prize. Bikie Girl Bloomers has now sponsored the Hains Point 100 three years in a row, and watched both the event and the WABA Women & Bicycles program grow like gangbusters.

I asked Megan if she would answer a few questions for me, so we can all get to know a little more about the woman who came up with this crazy fundraiser idea.

Bikie Girl: What inspired you to launch the Hains Point 100?

Megan:  In the cold of winter, at the end of the year, there aren’t too many bike events or races going on in the DC area. In 2012, I wanted to cap off a pretty high mileage year, so, I thought that I would end the year with something interesting. I was going to head out to a local training spot, Hains Point – a 3-mile loop – and attempt to do 100 miles around it….in December. After an Arlington Bicycle Advisory Committee meeting, I mentioned that I was going to attempt it and someone, overhearing this conversation, wondered if I was doing it for a cause. I figured, “why not!”  I was then determined to figure out a way to make it this interesting and earn money for the Washington Area Bicyclist Association’s Women & Bicycles. I knew I needed some company out there to keep me entertained. Almost immediately, a local bike shop jumped in and offered up to help sponsor it. So, 15 days after I came up with the idea, I held the first ever Hains Point 100.

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The “cue sheet” for the Hains Point 100.

I had local businesses and women-bike focused sponsors provide some prizes and raffles, food and amusements to get us through the day. I was thrilled at how responsive these businesses were – it was a crazy idea to start the event, and the support was overwhelming. I was even more thrilled getting the attention of national companies – like Bikie Girl Bloomers – to support the cause.

HainsPtStart

From thBullRidere very beginning, I wanted it to be an all-inclusive event. Everyone was invited no matter what kind of rider they were. I think that’s what makes this event so unique: we have race teams, unicycles, cargo bikes, hybrids, three speeds show up. We have had people attempting their first 100 miles ever riding with people that were completing 200 miles for the day.

I completed that 100 miles with a smile on my face and decided to do the event again . . . three more times so far!Tandem

Bikie Girl:  What is it about WABA’s Women & Bicycles program that makes it important to you?

Megan:  When the Hains Point 100 was born, Women & Bicycles was a pilot program and not yet officially launched. I knew right away that the concept was something that we needed in the DC area, and I wanted to support it. With only 24% of people riding bikes being women, we had lots of room to grow. By creating a program that fosters learning through sharing each others’ experiences, how could it go wrong? Now, we have nearly 5,000 people on our Facebook group and hundreds that have mentored ladies who have then helped others. The group includes daily commuters, racers, casual riders, triathletes, bike messengers, bike shop employees, and more. What defines us is our love for riding. It’s been great watching it grow, because those that started off asking questions are now the ones that are helping others. On a daily basis we are talking about equipment, routes, riding in the snow, advice for gear, what to do after an accident, and more. Women in the group are educators, mentors, and advocates within their community and we’re growing a strong base of active bike community advocates.

MeganNelle
Megan Jones with Nelle Pierson, Deputy Director of WABA

Being in DC, we are surrounded by politics, and each city and county have different structures on how to navigate through to get things done. We have helped to get more women in front of these various committees, boards, legislatures, managers, etc. As a result, we have ladies now all over the DC region that are helping to effect change in cycling infrastructure in the area.

I have seen more women on bicycles inspired by this great group. Best of all, Women & Bicycles has inspired women all over the country now to start up networks just like the DC network. The Hains Point 100 has turned into a celebration of all this great work.

Bikie Girl:  What is your bike style?

Megan:  I currently own four bikes, plus am a member of Capital BikeShare. My outfit really depends on what I have planned for the day or where I’m going.  I don’t limit my outfits because I happen to ride a bike. I actually can ride better in heels than walk in them!

I am on an all-women cycling team – Team Sticky Fingers, so when I’m in training you’ll see me all kitted out in the black and pink racing kit with the “sassy lion” on the front of it. I also commute to work by bike. Then, I am wearing whatever I happen to be wearing that day to work – heels, skirts, jeans, dresses, etc.

I will ride in most any weather so my riding style depends on that. In the winter, it definitely takes me longer to gear up in the layers. Two gloves, windproof jacket and pants, scarf, hat, etc. etc. Currently, my favorite thing to have on is a bright pink scarf that my mother knitted with reflective yarn. I definitely am seen in the dark when I have it on.

I hope that, when I’m riding, other women can see me in my high heeled boots and think “Oh, hey, I can do that!” And, then they do it.

Bikie Girl:  How does bicycling fit in with other aspects of your life (work, hobbies, people in your life)?

Megan:  Cycling is a huge part of my life. It’s my primary source for exercise and transportation. I ride my bike to the grocery store, to meet people for dinner, and I even used it to pick up my Christmas tree. Many of my friends ride bikes and those that don’t are used to seeing me pull up on my bike and lock it up wherever we are meeting.

I am actively involved in my county’s Bicycle Advisory Committee, and just the other night presented at my neighborhood’s civic association about protected bike lanes. I highly encourage women to get involved in their community’s efforts to help increase biking in the area. Sure, it can seem intimidating, with some of the engineering terms and concepts, but there is always someone around to ask. Many of the local committees see the same people over and over, and getting new faces and voices involved in these efforts goes a long way.

I sustained a major ankle injury and dislocation during a bike race that required two surgeries last year. I was not only off my bike, but on crutches for much of last year. It was torture because I had to depend on getting around by car and the kindness of others. Once I was allowed back on my bike for just a mile, I was smiling broadly ear-to-ear, as I was so happy to be able to roll where I wanted and when I wanted.

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Bike Girl:  Has the growth & popularity of the Hains Point 100 made it too much to manage, or do you get more help with it now?

Megan:  The first year, I quickly threw up a Facebook event page, got a Twitter handle. Almost immediately I had people committing to coming and telling others about it. When I first launched it, I’ll admit, I had that fear that “no one is going to show up to my party”. Then, people started committing to coming and sharing the event . . . my original fear turned into “uh-oh! so many people are going to show up!” Ironically, that first year, I counted the riders and 25% of the people that were there were women. I knew that it was only the beginning, and this showed the work that needed to be done to get more women out there.

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Fast forward to 2015, and I had over 550 riders and 45 sponsors. I would probably say that 40% or more that showed up were women. People came from all over, and I really was blown away. I definitely needed more help. In keeping with the spirit of the “one woman” ride, I tend to do a lot of the preparation, and asking sponsors for donations and help, myself. I get a lot of help picking up the donations and day-of, it definitely takes a village to run the event – from registration to handing out the prizes to doing hand-ups. I now have coffee sponsors, and have several bike shops on location to do any last minute repairs. It is so heart-warming how many people show up, see something needs to get done, jump in and help. I also encourage people to bring snacks to share so we have a great “pot luck” of goodies.

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For the 5th Annual Hains Point 100, I’m sure everyone is expecting me to pull out the stops . . . and I’m up for the challenge! Someone likened the Hains Point 100 to a winter block party festival for cyclists. It’s been an amazing ride. I’m happy to have helped to support the cycling community in this unique way.

Thanks, Megan! Keep it up – you are an inspiration to Bikie Girls everywhere!

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You can find out more about WABA here, and about the Women & Bicycles program here. If you aren’t already a member of the W&B Facebook group, you are missing out on a welcoming and resourceful community. Learn about the Hains Point 100 here.

Next month, we will profile this year’s winner of the Bikie Girl Bloomers raffle prize from the Hains Point 100. She’s a gem; you will enjoy meeting her.