Errandonnee No. 5: Tater Tots and a Tailwind

After work today I diverted from my normal route along the river to attend a happy hour hosted by the Washington Area Bicyclists Association. WABA has happy hours on a rotating basis monthly throughout the DC area. Since this was Alexandria’s turn, I felt duty bound to have a brew.

The event began at 6 so I left the office a little late. A tailwind made the ride to the No. 9 Lounge on Mt. Vernon Avenue in the Del Ray neighborhood a, sorry, breeze. To my surprise I arrived early.

I sat down and talked with Ben Wokas, WABA’s membership coordinator and happy hour honcho. Then I went to order a beer. The first beer on the draft menu was called, I kid you not, Shower Beer. I

I ordered a burger and some tater tots. Tater tots are powerful bike commuter food, according to the Mount Vernon Bicycle Commuter Society. (Not a real society.)

Kathy (known in the Twitterverse as @arlingtonrider) came in and sat down. We used to talk almost weekly at Friday Coffee Club which I no longer attend due to time constraints. So it was terrific to touch base with her.

After a couple hours, Kathy and I headed out. We went our separate ways, she headed to north-ish and I headed south-ish. I still had a bit of a tailwind. The skies were clear and black overhead. At the horizon the black turned to a band of dark blue, edged by a thin strip of white.  Not a bad view at all. Car traffic was light so the ride home was stressfree and seemed effortless.

Category: Social Call

Miles: 1/2 (the incremental miles from my regular bike commute)

Observation: In my mind Shower Beer is synonymous with Alex Baca. We miss you Alex. Cheers.

Errandonnee No. 3: Mulching to Work

I chose Little Nellie, my Bike Friday New World Tourist with little wheels, to ride to work. Everything was going along just fine until we hit the mulch pit of death near Teddy Roosevelt Island. Wee wheels won’t work here. So I dismounted. And took a picture.


Category: Work

Miles: 29 1/2 (round trip). So I’ve already hit the Errandonnee limit.

Observation: Spring bike commuters are starting to appear. They were generally well behaved today. This evening will almost certainly bring out the Lance Mamilots, who ride like asshats only to demonstrate their frail male egos and small man parts.


First Day of Spring: This Bird Doesn’t Get the Worm

I took the day off to go to the doctors office. The weather looked great but there was still a chill in the air, especially considering this is the first day of spring.


I rode to the eye doctor’s office, picking up my first errand of the 2017 errandonnee in the process. I was expecting to be dilated which would have ruined my ability to read for the next several hours. Instead, the doctor checked my personal field. My right eye didn’t fare well. A closer examination of my eye revealed protein deposits on the membrane behind my lens. My lens is artificial having been replaced during cataract surgery. I had notice some difficulty seeing in low light and was planning on getting new glasses. Now the glasses will wait until I get the membrane cleared. This will be done with a simple laser procedure. It takes about three minutes. Still, to my mind it counts as eye surgery. It will be my 7th surgery and my 3rd of this type.

After the doctor’s visit, I rode to DC to check out the cherry blossoms. Basically, there were none. The cold temperatures knocked the trees for a loop. I rode to Hains Point and then up to the Tidal Basin. So disappointing. Next I  stopped to help some visitors from Minnesota. I took their picture under the non-blossoming trees with the Jefferson Memorial in the background. They have come to DC five times to see the blossoms and haven’t seen a peak bloom yet.


I biked and walked around the Tidal Basin then headed for Virginia. I wanted to check out the sale of winter gear at the Spokes Etc. store on Quaker Lane in Alexandria. I rode the Mount Vernon Trail to the Four Mile Run Trail to Shirlington. This was about 6 or 7 miles without a traffic light and only two stop signs. Not bad. Once in Shirlington I backtracked and rode up the long hill to the Quaker Lane shop. They were all out of the jacket I wanted so I headed for home along the King Street bike lanes. The city did a pretty nice job with this. On the way home, I swung by the Belle View Spokes Etc. shop where I had tried on a jacket a few days ago. The jacket had been sold so he who hesitates doesn’t get the worm. Or something like that.

Some more pix from my excursion are on my Flickr page.


Errands No. 1 and 2: The Incompetent Errandonneur

Errand No. 1

Category: Personal Care

Distance: 6 miles

Observations: If you tuck the camera away you’ll forget to take a picture of your bike at two bike shops which would have made this a three errand day. I am such a putz. My eye doctor is a bike commuter. This is my Cross Check parked across the street in Old Town Alexandria. Notice that although Alexandria is a bicycling friendly city, there were no bike racks of any sort on the other side of the street.


Postscript: I decided to re-enact my trip to one of the bike stores just to get a picture. So I went today (4/1) and posed Deets in front of Spokes Etc. at Belle Haven. This is my local bike store. They’ve done so many repairs on my bikes so I wanted to give them a shout out.  So now my trip to spokes on March 20  counts.

Errand No. 2

Miles: 4

Category: Store

Observation: I could have taken a picture any day in the last two weeks but today was the first day that I’ve ridden my Cross Check since the errand.



Errandonnee 2016 Control Card

Here’s the list of errands. To qualify as a finisher you need to do 12, in 7 of 9 categories. Here are mine:

Errand No. 1: Dry Cleaner

This qualifies in the Store category. That’s one category.

I rode 2 1/2 miles round trip for this one. Nice people who run businesses in your neighborhood deserve your business.

Errand No. 2: Drug Store

This one goes in Personal Care. That’s two categories.

This one was also about 2 1/2 miles round trip. Asthma sucks, so to speak.

Errand No. 3: Bike Shop

This one goes in the Store category. That uses up this category.

The Bike Shop is about 4 miles from home. So the round trip is 8. Support your local bike store or you won’t have one no more.

Errand No. 4: Ride to Work

This one is in the Work category. Clever, no? That’s three categories.

Depending on the odometer and the route this is 28 1/2 to 31 miles. I think this one was 29. I have the best bike commute ever.

Errand No. 5: Ride to Happy Hour

This one goes under the Social category. This is category number four. I rode a few blocks up a hill to get to this one. So the mileage may be 1/2 mile, tops. Even happy hour can’t make Rosslyn appealing.

Errand No. 6: Ride to Work # 2

This uses up the Work category. Another 29 miler.

Errand No. 7: Bank

This one goes in Personal Business. This is category number 5. Lets’ see I get to go to wokr and see sunrises, bald eagles, ducks and geese and egrets and herons and redwing black birds and jets taking off and landing and monuments and riverscapes and….you get the idea.

Errand No. 8: Bank

Another Personal Business entry. That’s it for this category.Tis one was – 1/2 mile because it chopped off my usual commuting romp through Jones Point Park.

Errand No. 9: Friday Coffee Club

This finishes off the Social category. This one is really only 2 1/2 miles. That’s the diversion from my 29-ish mile commute. To get to this one, I rode through a drone free zone near the Washington monument. I tried not to talk in a monotone here.

Errand No. 10: Hikenneuring

This goes under the Wild Card category. Category No. 6. This was an inventive 4 mile ride to a bike shop followed by a 4 mile hike home. I learned that my legs are not ready for serious hiking, but this was a good way to tune them up.

Errand No. 11: Lost Food Rescue.

Another Wild Card entry. All used up. This was an insane trip to a grocery store located 100 yards from the bike shop. Except I made the trip separately by bike. This wasn’t intentional but the trip involved retrieving cookies and coffee. Well worth the 8-ish mile effort.

Errand No. 12: Seeds!!!

This is falls in the You Carried What on Your Bike category, which is my category No.7

Another 2 1/2 mile trip to the hardware store with the intent of picking up a humongous bag of bird seeds. The store was all out of the bike crushing bag so I went with a ten-pounder and a bag of grass seed. Riding home was somewhat unbalanced but manageable. I thought about putting this one in the Arts and Entertainment category because I probably spend 1 or 2 hours each week watching the birds come and go to our feeder.

So ends my errandonnee. I did a bunch more errands but I already used up the categories.

Here are the pix of my adventure.

The End of the Errandonnee Is in Sight

Today is the final day of the 2016 Errandonnee. I didn’t actually plan it this way, but I had scheduled an eye doctor appointment for today back in February. I have glaucoma. The symptom of this eye disease is an increase in intraocular pressure. I have this pressure problem in both eyes. My right eye pressure spiked when he measured it last month so the doctor proscribed an additional medication for it.

I decided it would be less complicated if I worked from home. The distance to the doctor in Old Town Alexandria is 5 1/2 miles. I rode the Cross Check because I didn’t need to carry anything except a lock.

The skies were gray but the morning rain had stopped. The ride was uneventful. I like my eye doctor. It is only a coincidence that he is a bike commuter but that makes gives our conversation a focal point.

He tested my pressure and found that it was lower than at any time he’d been measuring it, which is several years. Yay drugs! What was interesting was the fact that the pressure in my left eye which hadn’t gotten any additional medication was also way down. Yay no drugs!

I rode home in a good mood and even decided to climb the Park Terrace hill. This hill is best climbed with a granny gear but the Cross Check doesn’t have one. I made it without much pain.

For those readers who are averse to taking medications, I looked up some research. Marijuana is known to reduced intraocular pressure. Its effects are short-lived meaning you’d have to get stoned 24/7 to get the desired medical result. Meditation has shown to have miniscule beneficial effect. Yoga, particularly asanas that involve inversion, that is, with your head down, is bad news.  Basically, I can be limber and blind or stiff and sighted.

So concludes the medical portion of our program.

(I know I only need 12 errands but I have to get them in 7 categories. Otherwise I’d just ride to work for seven of the errands.)

Errand No. 1425790505135_f8c3d2217d_m

Category: Personal Care

Distance: 11 1/2 miles

Observation:  The pressure test for glaucoma is painless. It involves having a machine guided by the doctor gently putting a pressure probe against the eyeball. If you think this is icky, blindness is ickier.


In the Swing with the Errandonnee

It was Friday. So I rode to Friday Coffee Club. It was warm so the clubbers were outside. The place was mobbed. At the end of the month, Swings House of Caffeine, the only home Friday Coffee Club has ever known, is closing for a year while the building is being renovated. The temporary interim site is a bit too far afield for me.  So my days of going to Friday Coffee Club are numbered.

Errand #1025397285380_7eca9b5bf2_m

Category: Social

Miles: 32

Observation: Friday Coffee Club has been such as success that I don’t know half the people who go these days. And it is so crowded that I often don’t get a chance to talk to the people I do know. What a complainer. I think I need a cup of coffee.


I made a list. Not all of it was errands but there was stuff to be done.

After a long morning of newspaper reading, I headed out on Little Nellie for Spokes Etc., my local bike shop, in Belle Haven. I put an old Brooks B67 on the bike the other day as I shuffled saddles around while one was out for repair. The B67 is wide in the seat and has bouncy springs. So the ride to Spokes was different in a good way. In fact, I may just leave the B67 on the bike for when I ride the Five Boro ride in New York City.

I wore hiking boots so that I could comfortably hoof it home. The errandonnee does not including Hikonneuring but I am a rebel and their is a wild card classification for one errand. One the way home I stopped at a hardware store. I needed to buy five things. One of the things was a furnace filter. These are big panels of very lightweight material. I don’t think putting it on a bike would work well. I hoofed it home with the panel and some painter’s tape in hand. (The filter will be taped over the air return vent during our floor refinishing project next month.)

Once home, I spent a few minutes tweaking the saddle heights on my Cross Check. I am pretty sure it was ever-s0-slightly too high. After a very small adjustment I rode it around the block. Zoom. We are good to go for tomorrow’s Vasa ride!

I then rode The Mule for a few hundred yards. I think the bike mechanic raised the seat to use the seat point as a clamping point. When he lowered the seat, he didn’t lower it enough. In his defense, we are talking about a difference of a few millimeters. I dropped the saddle a bit and, sure enough, it was much more comfortable.

Mrs. Rootchopper goes grocery shopping after her 7:30 pilates class on Saturday morning. Today she left behind some salted caramel fudge cookies and some ground coffee beans. The cookies are crack. Coffee is, well, COFFEE!!! She called the Safeway store and talked to Cynthia, the employee who found the bag. Off I went to retreat the lost goods.

When I got to the store there was no Cynthia to be found. An employee asked for the receipt. It was from a different Safeway store, right next to the bike shop. Argh! You mean I have to bike 3 miles to get my coffee? Yay!

Off I went on The Mule. The newly adjusted wheels were pinging up a storm. Hopefully the spokes will settle in and the noise will stop soon.

At the Safeway store, I met up with Cynthia. She helped me find the items that she had re-stocked several hours earlier. She was cheerful and helpful. Safeway should give her all the raises.

I headed back home the way I came, on busy Fort Hunt Road, a two lane road mostly with no paved shoulder. At one point I was cruising along at 17 miles per hour. A long line of cars was coming toward me. A long line of cars was stuck behind me. I kept plugging away when a silver minivan revved up and passed withing three inches of my left hand. How its mirror missed me I’ll never know.

I like to think that I can be a mindful kind of guy. Having just had my life pass in front of me, I considered the situation. I was, as the saying goes, in the moment. I usually try to reserve my sign language skills for near death experiences. I sat up. I raised my right hand and I gave the van driver a mighty middle finger and a loud “FUCK YOOOOOUUUU!”

My attention went back to the bike riding. The rest of the following traffic gave me ample room as they passed. I hoped to catch up to the silver minivan at the next traffic light but it turned away. I wanted to express my gratitude to the driver for giving me reason to practice my sign language skills. And perhaps smash the passenger side mirror to bits.

Another day.

I rode back to the hardware store for more not so hard wares. I bought some grass seed, because there are big patches of dirt in my lawn, and some bird seed, because there are big flocks of bird on my lawn. (They’ll probably eat my grass seed, now that I think about it.)

I had planned to buy a 25 pound bag of seed but they didn’t have any that size. It’s a good thing. 25 pounds of seed would make for a very lopsided load on a bike.

As it turned out the two bags of seed made for some interesting handling. I made it nearly home and had adjusted so well to the weight that I took a right turn fast and my bike nearly fell over. Oops.

I made it home. Errands done. I think I have two wild card errands today. The Bike/hike errand and the retrieval of the lost cookies and coffee. The seedy hardware store run qualifies as a you carried what on your bike.

Errand #11

Category: Wild Card: The Bike/hike errand

Miles: 4 by bike/ 4 1/2 on foot.

Observation: It would have been much more efficient to do this one by car. It would not have been nearly as much fun. And we all know what the Cat in the Hat said: “These things are fun and fun is good.”

Errand #12

Category: Wild Card: Rescuing the lost foods

Miles: 8

Observation: Never assume you know where to go. According to my driver ed teacher: “When you assume, you make an ass out of you and me.” Truth be told, he was doing the ass thing just fine without my help.


Errand #13

Category: You carried what on your bike?

Miles: 1/2

Observation:  I spend at least $200 each year on birdseed. It’s worth every cent to be able to see the seasonal birds coming and going. Buying birdseed is like buying a bag a spring. If you don’t have a bird feeder, get one! If you put cayenne pepper on your seed, the squirrels will leave it along. (I buy my seeds already peppered.)



An Unwelcome Sign of Spring and Errand No. 9

There was a chill in the air this morning. Since I was riding Big Nellie, I decided to wear tights. Cold air up your pants leg causes shrinkage and other discomforts.

It was a meditative ride. I find myself riding much faster now that I am not all layered up and now that I don’t pay a wind chill penalty for speed.

All was going well until a large young man passed me on a mountain bike.Judging by the effort he was putting into going 13 miles per hour and his clothing, I’d say he was new to bike commuting. Speaking of clothing, he wore shiny, baggy gym shorts. The kind that, unfortunately, slide down. After he passed I found myself right behind him, staring unavoidably at his bug fat hairy butt crack. BFHBC will ruin any ride. This went on for about a half mile because I was unable to pass him. I’ll take freezing cold weather over BFHBCs any day.  I passed him on the small hill south of National Airport. He had to stop at the top, an elevation gain of no more than 20 feet. For the sake of the rest of the bike commuters, I hope he was adjusting his shorts.

On the way home I stopped at the bank (again) to deposit a check. So another errand hits the books.

Errand No. 9

Category: Personal Business (2nd use of this category)25623508146_865f001688_m (1)

Miles: -1/4 mile  (the diversion reduces the length of my commute)

Observation: The day was so nice that even a BFHBC couldn’t ruin my ride to work. Aren’t you glad I didn’t take a picture? Rebecca, the Commissioner of the Office Bike Commuting Matrix, found one online.


On a more serious note: George Martin died. I have been a Beatle fan since I was a little kid. George Martin produced the soundtrack of my life, both directly through the Beatles recordings and indirectly through his influence on so many others. He was incredibly talented. In recent years as digital recordings became available, you could hear how he used tricks to cover mistakes and other unfortunate things in Beatle records. McCartney’s voice cracking on a high note in “If I Fell.” Covering the “me” with a McCartney bass note at the begining of “Come Together” when Lennon sings “Shoot me” repeatedly. His string arrangement on “Yesterday” made my mother, a fan of Robert Goulet and Dean Martin, recognize that the Beatles were making real music. RIP.




Three Errands in One Day

Thannk god for the Errandonnee. I don’t have to think of ideas for blog posts for 12 days.

Today’s first errand, such as it is, was another ride to and from work. I wasoperating on 5 1/2 hours sleep this morning and switched my fuel to Eggos for a pre-launch sugar spike. The temperature was in the high 40s so I ditched the winter gear and went with shorts. SHORTS!!! I froze for the first five miles but it was so worth it.

Digression: I neglected to mention that on my ride home last night I heard my first spring peepers of the year at the southern edge of Old Town Alexandria.

Anyway. SPRING!!!

I stopped to look at a sign from the National Park Service. They run many parks in the DC area. Local cyclecross enthusiasts have been using an area alongside the Mount Vernon Trail for training. You know, having fun. Can’t have that, says the grumpy Park Service.


On the way home, I stopped by the bank to use the magic money machine. (I once heard a father tell his toddler that he was using the magic money machine. The poor kid was probably seriously disappointed when he found out the truth.)

A bit further along I stopped at the bike shop to have my shifter serviced. Taylor the Mechanic tried but the replacement part didn’t work so I had to order a new set of shifters.

Three errands in one day, lying in the depths of your Errandonnation. (A free pint to the reader who has a bloody clue what that line was about.)

Errand No. 6

Category: Work (2nd use of this category)

Miles: 29 1/2

Observation: Actually made by #bikedc’s Shawn: The Park Service is always saying it has no money, so where does it find the funds to buy signs prohibiting enjoyment of their parks?

Errand No. 725506598392_d8a41c323c_m

Category: Personal Business (Bank)

Miles: -1/4 (I short cut from my route through Jones Point Park)

Observation: ATMs would be more fun if they really were magic. Maybe they’d emit a cloud of smoke like a magic trick when they dispensed cash.


Errand No. 825330101180_e98ec2d8d4_m

Category: Store (Bike Shop) 2nd use of this category.

Miles:  3/4 (A diversion from the MVT to Belle View Shopping Center via the US 1 connector trail.)

Observation: It was in the 70s today so I was shocked when there was no line at the service desk at the bike shop. Also, you have to love a bike shop that will do minor service on your bike while you wait. Spokes Etc. is terrific for this.