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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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.


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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!