Errandonnee Encore

My Christmas stocking contained a small packet of ground Texas Turtle coffee from World Market. Judging by the name I had my doubts about the taste but it turned out to be the best coffee I had in years. Today’s first errand was to ride 15 miles to a store in Bailey’s Crossroads, Virginia to restock.

I am easily spotted around town my the humongous saddle bag on my Surly CrossCheck. It holds a ton of stuff and easily handled two packages of coffee and a box of tea.


I had planned to ride a long way but I dressed inadequately for even the warm temperatures so I made my way back toward home. I stopped at District Taco for lunch. I had picked up a $10 gift card at the Hains Point 100 and finally got to cash it in on a California Burrito.


Muy deliciosa.

I hit 30 miles again.

To recap:

I’ve totally crushed the mileage requirement. Living in the suburbs has its advantages after all! And I’ve done four errands in three days. Not too bad. However, I can see that I will have trouble covering enough categories. (There are nine. You have to use seven.)  Life is hard. Then you get a needle in the back. Maybe I’ll ride to the pain doctor on Friday. It’s only a half mile from home.

The weekend, by the by, was brutal. My back went out in a big way Friday or Saturday. This was the worst stenosis pain in a long time. I couldn’t stand up straight so I spent a lot of time sitting with an ice pack on my back. I made it to a Super Bowl/birthday party and had beer instead of pain killers. I woke up this morning and my back felt much better. I highly recommend Koltsch as a stenosis remedy.



El Gran Errando – Sums It Up

Part of the rules of the Errandonnee Challenge is that you have to submit a control card.  Here’s goes mine:

Errand No. 1

Errand No. 2

Errand No. 3

Errand No. 4

Errand No. 5

Errand No. 6

Errand No. 7

Errand No. 8

Errand No. 9

Errand No. 10

Errand No. 11

Errand No. 12

  • Date: February 19
  • Category: Wild Card (7-11 in Hollin Hall) (7th category, 1st time, 2nd night time errand)
  • Miles: 1.0 (Actually 29 but I can’t really count my commuting miles)
  • Total Miles: 107
  • Observation: When a raccoon crosses your path, it must be your lucky day. Buy a lottery ticket or two.
  • Photo:

Final Observation: I honestly can’t believe I did this. It just goes to show you what throwing in the towel at the start can do when you are El Gran Errando.

For ease of use, here are the pix .

The End of an Errand

The ride to work today was a gift.  A tailwind made it a literal and figurative breeze. Little Nellie was my hoss du jour, because of the threat of rain for the evening rush. About two miles from home a raccoon sauntered out in front of me. It was a big one. It could have been a normal sized raccoon with its fur fluffed up against the cold. Or maybe it was a momma full of babies. In any case, it made it to the middle of the street and stopped. It turned its head to check me out, the, as if it were saying “D’oh!” turned around and scampered back the way it had come. Actually, it was more like a waddle than a scamper. Maybe it had too much scampi at the garbage buffet.

I was hoping for more wild life on the way in. There was the usual heap of geese and ducks and a great blue heron all scrunched up out in the river. No raptors or exotics. (I am soooo spoiled.)

I am starting to get the Rosslyn Circle of Certain Doom down to a science. Just assume that, when the light turns red, three cars will run the red to turn onto Key Bridge. Then proceed. You see car drivers never flaunt the laws like bike riders. Never ever.

The ride home was started by a jaw dropping moment.  It was light out. Not, almost-sunset light out, but honest to bejebus light out. And it stayed that way all the way to Belle Haven Park.  Even beyond there was enough sunlight left over that the headlights of the cars on the Parkway were tolerable.

By the time I arrived at the stone bridge 2 miles from home it was dark. I was running my Stella headlight on “high”. I headed for the 7-11 near home and stopped to do my last errand of the Errandonnee. Since it was my wild card, I thought it would be appropriate to buy a couple of lottery tickets. And so I did. Since it was in the dark, I also knocked off my second ride at night.

Errand 12: Wild Card

Now that the Errandonnee is in the books, El Gran Errando will retire knowing that this challenge was muy bueno.

Make Him Stop: Errand Number 11

Last year during the Utilitaire Challenge, I rode The Mule on a fiercely windy day to get me a roast beef sandwich called a Gary’s Lunchbox at Sherwood Hall Gourmet.  The wind won and I ended up ramming into the back of a parked car.

Errand 11: Little Nellie Get Lunch

This year, same conditions, same sandwich, different bike. Little Nellie got the call and handled the wind gusts without incident. I procured my sammich and received a reward, a wonderful tailwind that carried me home with no troubles.

The sammich was most excellent. Lesson learned: when life throws you a headwind, turn around, dummy!

Miles: 1

Cumulative miles: good heavens, we must be pushing 75 by now

Category: Lunch

Remaining errands: 1, but must be done in the dark. Oooh…suspense and intrique await. (Probably not.)

Lazy Saturdays Don’t Stop El Gran Errando!

Big Nellie, my Tour Easy recumbent uses a Sigma bike computer. I bought the Sigma because it has a long cable wire, which is necessary for the long reach between the handlebar and the little front wheel. The particular version I have attaches to the handlebar mount using an o-ring. My 0-ring broke earlier this week causing me to use my spare o-ring. You might think it’s a bit anal to have a spare o-ring but iit took some trial and error to figured our what size to get (45). It’s a hassle I didn’t want to repeat. Besides o-rings weight next to nothing. (Of course, following this logic, I carry an appalling amount of crap on my bike rides.)

Little Nellie at Hollin Hall

Errand 9: O Rings and SIgma Computer

The hardware store is in the same shopping center as my pharmacy. It’s a 2 /12 mile round trip.  I learned that blue jeans make for pretty comfortable cycling in 38 degree weather. I wouldn’t want to ride a century in them but for short trips like this, they are every bit as comfortable as biking clothes.

I nearly ran out of ground coffee this morning so I rode to the Safeway from the hardware store. The Safeway is about a block away in the same shopping center as the hardware store. Note that the bike parking at this Safeway is pathetic.

Errand 10: Little Nellie at the Safeway

The ride home was a breeze. I spent the next ten minutes re-setting my odometer. It has 31,606 miles on it so I didn’t want to lose track of those miles. I neglected to right down the wheel size I was using so I looked it up on Sheldon Brown’s website. He’s awfully helpful for someone who died several years ago.

So that makes errrands number 9 and 10, in the Other type of store and Grocery store categories.  There’s only a few days left.  I have two rides to go. One has to be at night. I’ve done Work, Personal Care, Grocery, Lunch, Other store, and Bike store.  I need to do one more category to get the requisitve seven, but since there is a wild card category I can pretty much ride anywhere to qualify.

Even if I don’t dot all the ‘i”s and cross all the “t”s in the Challenge, it’s been fun to keep track of how many errands I run on my bike.  It’s pretty much the norm for me. You should try it.

The Hapless Hispanisto

Weatherman was using the s word this morning so Little Nellie got that call. It could have been an unwise decision since there was frost on the cars parked in front of my house.  Once I got to the Mount Vernon Trail all the bridges were coated in rime.  As both faithful readers of this blog know, Little Nellie is not particularly good at riding on slippery stuff.  I was uber careful and made it over the scary bits without incident.
The sunrise was pretty intense this morning. I think the temperature popped up a few degrees because I went from chilly at the start of the ride to sweaty by the half way point.  Speaking of halfway points, as I approached the power plant, I intersected with none other than Nancy Duley.  Normally we pass each other in opposite directions but since I left early to get to Friday Coffee Club I got a bonus. Nancy was riding alone because the evil and heartless Mr. Nancy Duley rode off without her. Nancy and I rode together to the airport. All the way, Nancy was cussing the Mr. up something fierce!!  (Okay, just kidding. Don’t want to start a divorce after they spent all that money on new doors for the house.)
Nancy has an awesome bike.  The frame is a custom Holland frame from 1993 (the same age as The Mule). It’s got nifty looking fenders and a trekking style handlebar. Nancy must be tempted to just keep on riding every morning.  Since she has a job and a mortgage (and new doors!) she turned around at the airport and headed for home. (Or so she said.  She could have continued on to Fredericksburg as far as I know.)
Coffee Club was hopping.  It’s my first FCC meeting in four weeks. It was especially nice to see the early birds, Mary, Lisa, Crystal and Adam, who normally are gone by the time I arrive. Froggie, a.k.a. the Bad Penny, was in from Norfolk.  And John, the dirt engineer, appeared, but left his beard at home. It was an effective disguise.
He reports that he is hard at work on the 2nd Annual Hoppy 100.
It’s always fun to meet new folks at FCC and Ricky and Colin were this week’s noobs.  Welcome.
As is so often the case, the highlight of FCC is getting to play a bit with Hugo.  Hugo’s around 8 months old and words cannot do justice to his cuteness.
On the ride to Rosslyn, Little Nellie had to stop and take in the strange wooden beasts in front of the Kennedy Center.  I do not have an art gene, but I am guessing that some creative type person thought it would be spiffy to put a herd of wooden elk in front of the Kennedy Center. The Kennedy’s were known elk lovers. They had elk races at the Kennedy compound in Hyannisport until an elk got drunk and ran off a bridge and drowned. You could look it up.
If the morning was cool-ish the afternoon and evening were warm-ish. It was 61 degrees at lunchtime. I celebrated by walking several blocks to a sandwich stop.  On the way back to the office, a sky blue Porsche blew through a yield sign at a crosswalk that I was about to enter. The driver was on his cell phone. I slapped the rear panel of his car as he went by. He didn’t look or care. Some day Mr. Sky Blue Porsche will be spending oodles of money on a defense attorney after he hits a pedestrian. How much money? Obviously, if you have to ask you can’t afford it.
I relate the Porsche story partly because of what happened in Old Town on the way home.
The trip home was characterized by two things. First, I wore shorts. In February. Lordy, it felt good. Second, a weather front was approaching. There was a clear line of ominous clouds coming, When I started for home, I had a headwind. By the time I reached the airport, the wind was gusting from behind. They should make a rule that requires that the best tailwind of the week happens on Friday evenings,
On my way along North Union Street in Old Town, I spotted a woman runner on the sidewalk on the opposite side of the street. She was heading south like me. As we reached a parking garage, an exiting car came inches from hitting her. She and the driver exchanged words. She told the driver that it was okay since the sight lines are terrible.  Mighty magnanimous of her after the driver nearly killed her.
As far as errandonnee activity, I diverted 2 1/2 miles from my commute for FCC so I get a Coffee run as errand number 8 (I think). My total errandonneering mileage is well over 60 miles. I hope to do two some more errands this weekend.
Mary, the Mother of all Errandeurs, suggested that I change my errandonneuring moniker from El Errandonisto Grande to El Gran Errando.  Since EGE is a better set of initials than EEG, which makes it look like I have serious neurological problems, I am switching to El Gran Errando.
Life would have been much easier if I had taken Spanish instead of French in high school.
“C’est la vie,” say the old folks. It goes to show you never can tell.


The weatherman warned that there might be snow this evening. Or their might not. I want his job.

Just to be safe Little Nellie got the call today. I can say for certain after riding her 20 miles today that the tweak to the saddle position is a rousing success. And the repair to my shifter cable likewise.

The ride in was nothing to write home about.  And since I am at home as I write this ther wouldn’t be any point to doing so if I did.  Cruising along between the Humpback Bridge and the Memorial Bridge I spotted two robins bopping along the side of the Mount Vernon Trail. They didn’t have their bright orange breast feathers yet but they were definintely robins.

There were a bunch of soldiers doing what must be a required fitness task. They put on massive back packs and walk along the trail. I can tell they are being timed because they look down at their watches and because there’s another soldier timing them at what looked like the finish line just north of the 14th Street bridge.  One of the soldiers was actually running with his pack on. All I could think of is, “Dude, your body’s going to remember this in about 20 years.”

The ride in was dry with a head wind. The ride home was in a spitting rain.  The tailwind made it tolerable. Once the sun went down it was exceptionally hard to see as the light from my helmet lamp and the cars on the parkway were reflecting off of all the water.

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. Rather than race around trying to get flowers for Mrs. Rootchopper, I diverted to the Safeway and picked some up. (Here’s hoping the Mrs. does read my blog.)  It took me five minutes to pick them out and buy them. It took ten minutes of walking around in the rain beforehand trying to find something to lock LIttle Nellie to.  I ended up just locking the rear wheel to the frame near some shopping carts.  Sadly, this is all too familiar in Mount Vernon. Fairfax County is way behind on accommodating biked as transportation.

For those of you who are into the errandoneering challenge, I scored two rides today. 1 bike commute of 29 miles (errand number 6) and one trip to the grocery store (errand number 7) in the dark (a one-half mile diversion off my bike commute).  So that gives me 1 of 2 night time rides.

Happy Ash Valentines Eve.


The Errant Errandonneur

Since I dropped out of the Errandonneur Challenge the day it started I was tempted to reverse course. That’s mostly because nearly all my biking in the in winter fits into the “challenge”. The challenge to me is keeping track of all the details.  Take today for instance.

I intended to go to the bike store to get Little Nellie rear shifter cable fixed. I had messed it up a few days ago when I unfolded the bike and snagged the cable on the left crank arm. When I went to pedal, the bike crank arm wouldn’t turn. So I pressed on it with my foot thinking this would free it up. Bad idea. Long story short, after I figured out what was going on I could no longer shift into my highest gears.

On the way to the bike shop I stopped at the pharmacy thinking that if I took pictures of Little Nellie in front of the store I might rehabilitate my two bike trips to the pharmacy and resuscitate my errandonnering credits. Ah, but the rules clearly state that the pix must be taken during the errand. The Gypsybug is a tricky one.

On to the bike shop I rode. Before I started out, I should note, I adjusted my Brooks saddle by tiliting it up ever so slightly (one click’s worth on the saddle adjustment mechanism) because I have been sliding off the front of the saddle. Just this tiny adjustment made for a much better and more efficient ride. I arrived at the Belle Haven Spokes Etc. store and took a couple pictures for good measure. I rarely buy anything at this shop, but I make lots of use of their service department. For little things, they will often make repairs while you wait.

Errand 3: Little Nellie at Spokes in Belle Haven

Colin, the bespectacled mechanic, examined Little Nellie. I had messed up a ferule (a little metal thing that connects the cable housing to the cable guide brazed on to the chain stay). He replaced that and then decided to check out the cable. It was fraying at the shifter. He replaced the cable and got the index shifting working perfectly. Nicely done, Colin.

On to Old Town Alexandria I rode to have lunch. I stopped at Eamonn’s, a fish and chips place, named after my son. (Not true, but the owner and I both have sons named Eamonn.) I always have chips with cod and tartar sauce. I don’t undestand why people put malt vinegar on their fish and chips. The stuff tastes disgusting.

Errand 4: Little Nellie at Eammon's


Errand 4: Fish and Chips

I headed home . On the way I stopped to check out a photographer using a camera on a tripod. The camera had a lens slightly smaller than the Hubble telescope. He was taking pictures of a rather large osprey who was no more than 30 yards away in a tree on the rivers edge. I’ll bet he gets some amazing pictures.

Since it was around 50 degrees out, it was warm enough to do some work on my recumbent. Big Nellie has a long chain. In the winter time it’s too cold to do proper chain maintenance so I often re-lube my chain without cleaning off the old dirty lube first. Basically, the chain and the pulleys that it runs through were all gunked up with a wax/dirt mixture. It took me 20 minutes to get the thing clean and I probably could have spent another ten on it.  Close enough. Once I put fresh wax on it, it was noticably quieter.

So, here’s the weekend recap: for the last 20.5 miles of riding, I’ve already done 4 of 12 the Errandonnee rides. I’ve done one each in the “Breakfast and Lunch”, “Bike Shop”, and “Personal Care and Health” categories with a fourth ride (to pick up my receipt at the drug store, falling into the “Any Other Store” category. Seeing as how I will knock the “Work” category with my next couple of commutes. I would be halfway done by Tuesday. I am an erranaholic! Or maybe just an errant errandonneur.