Errandonnee 2019:Assume an ATM

I arrived at home last night at the stroke of midnight. I rode 20 miles to the doctor’s office in the morning then did 31 miles to the Nationals game at night. I awoke today with tree pollen in my eyes and lead in my legs. Coincidentally I was low on cash.

So I pulled Big Nellie from the basement, cleaned and lubed her chain, and pumped the tires up. I rode to an ATM in Old Town Alexandria for some cash. (You’ll have to imagine the bank and the ATM because I forgot to take a picture when I got there.)

After that, I rode a few more miles to enjoy the beautiful weather and avoid yard work.

Errand 7

Category: Personal Business

Place: Suntrust Bank, Old Town Alexandria

Observation: The best thing about riding a recumbent is heating the remarks of little kids.

Errandonnee 2019: They give awards out for this

My doctor’s office is in an office building near an interstate highway in Alexandria, Virginia. It’s 10 miles from my house. I rode there for my 10:30 appointment. The first half of the ride was on the Mount Vernon Trail. Then came some city streets in Old Town Alexandria. I climbed the hill in the bike lane on King Street. The installation of the bike lane created a big ruckus, with one of the homeowners along the street actually raging about it in the Wall Street Journal. From what I can tell, the bike lane works fine.

I turned onto Janney’s Lane which becomes Seminary Road. I followed painted bike lanes and sharrows for a couple of miles, sharing the road with vehicles big and small.

Not one of these bike lanes is protected. They are just paint. It’s a wonder that when I pulled into the parking lot at the doctor’s office building I saw a bicyclist leaving. He told me that the only place to park was at the railing in the front of the building. And so I did.

Errand No. 7

Category: Personal Care (1st use)

Place: Doctor’s office (I’m gonna live!)

Observation: The League of American Bicyclists calls Alexandria a Bicycling Friendly City at the bronze level. I think it should be called a bicycling tolerant city, at best. Over a month ago I gave some remarks to the Alexandria Traffic and Parking Board about a dangerous intersection. The Board voted unanimously to remove a sign and replace it with a No Turn on Red sign. The old sign is still there.

Not very awesome bike parking. Note also the pollen on my handlebar bag. Achoo!

 

Errandonnee 2019: Shoppin’ and Shaggin’

With rain holding off until evening, I took a muggy ride this morning. I stopped at my local Safeway to buy three things: castile soap (for my bike tour), oatmeal (for my bike belly), and Woolite (for my holey sweaters). They only had oatmeal. It’s not a very good store. So I rode three more miles to the bigger Safeway at Belle View Shopping Center where I scored all three items.

After that, I rolled up Fort Hunt Road past the Belle Haven Country Club. I suck at golf but some of the members of this club make me look like Tiger Woods. I picked up three golf balls all within five feet of each other on the side of the road.

The rest of the ride involved spotting scores of eastern red bud trees in bloom. At one point I saw a lilac blooming and took a big whiff for my favorite scent.

Whatever my Cross Check and I are doing, it’s working. I am riding faster and with more comfort than at any time since my bike tour.

Errand 5

Category: Shopping (2nd use)

Place: Belle View Safeway

Observation: If you shop by bike at my local Safeway, you get to lock up next at the loading dock. At the Belle Haven Safeway, you get to lock up at a stop sign. Such is the life of a cyclist in car-loving Fairfax County, Virginia.

Errand 6

Category: You Carried WHAT on your bike? (1st use)

Place: On Fort Hunt Road next to the Belle Haven Country Club

Observation: Technically, this category is supposed to be used for carrying odd sized items like a rug or a sharpened lawn mower blade. But hear me out. I’ve been collecting golf balls (and a few tennis and baseballs) for years during runs and bike rides. One of my sisters contracted cancer years ago. She and her oncologist were golfers. So she told him that she once she was cured (she was), she’d take him out on the course and kick his butt (I don’t know if this ever happened). Ever since I have been shipping my golf ball bounty to her.  Conveniently, my Carradice saddle bag has side pockets that hold four golf balls. I have 15 golf balls already this spring.

Errandonnee 2019: Errand No. 4 at the Old Ballgame

My niece is leaving DC soon and tomorrow is my daughter’s birthday. What better way to mark these two events than to take them to a day game at Nationals Park. The game began at 4 but we arrived early to partake of happy hour brews.

The two ladies took the Metro and I rode my bike. I had noticed on Instagram that my Venezuelan friend Emilia was out and about on her bike. I hadn’t seen her in over two years. As I headed north of Alexandria on the Mount Vernon Trail, I reminded myself to say Hola instead of Hi in the extremely unlikely event that I should see her. Not two seconds later, she passed me heading south. “Hola, Emilia!” I yelled. Just as I did, I realized that she was in a bike trance. My shout made her eyes bug out of her head. I am sure she had no idea who it was who yelled at her. Sorry about that, Emilia.

The ride to the park was a brisk one. Lately, I’ve been feeling pretty good on the bike, even if my back and shoulder have been wonky. It’s all a mystery to me.

After meeting at the bike valet, the three of us entered the ballpark and had a beer at the happy hour bar above center field. We took our seats in the left field bleachers and enjoyed the game in shirt sleeves and shorts. The Nationals did their part by coming from behind  in the 8th inning to win 3 – 2 over Pittsburgh. It was an entertaining game that lasted 2 1/2 hours, a welcome change from the 4 hour slogs I’ve become used to seeing.

We parted ways at the bike valet and I headed up First Street through the crowds of fans making their way out of the park. While stopped at the traffic light at M Street, I noticed a bike pull up alongside me. It was Klarence. She leaned her bike over and gave me as big a hug as could be done with two bicycles in the way. We hardly ever run unto each other anymore. We chatted briefly as we rode side-by-side for a couple of blocks. She headed east and north; I headed west and south.

Once I cleared the throngs of pedestrians and cars on the cycletrack at The Wharf, I increased my speed with little effort and flew home on the Mount Vernon Trail with sunlight fading. Oh, how I love riding my bike at night.

Errand No. 4

Category: Arts and Entertainment (1st use)

Place: Nationals Park

Observation: To see two of my favorite people in DC totally by chance in one day was a cherry on top of a pretty splendid day with my niece and daughter. Thanks to all four of you.

Total Errandonnee mileage: 61

 

 

 

Errandonnee 2019 – Three Errands in One Day

The 2019 Errandonnee started today. I left home before dawn riding my Surly Cross Check 14.5 miles to Friday Coffee Club. There was an ever-changing cast of characters and cranberry scones. Bueno.

Errand Number 1

Category: Social Call (1st use)

Place: Swings House of Caffeine, 17th and G Streets NW, DC

Observation: Friday Coffee Club regular Pancho Bate and the Canadian children’s folk singer are dopplegangers. Pancho confirmed that the comparison has been made for decades.

I left at about 10 and headed homeward for a weight lifting session at the gym. My wonky shoulder behaved for a change and I survived the ordeal.

Errand No. 2

Category: Personal Care (1st use)

Place: George Washington Rec Center, Fort Hunt Road and Belle View Boulevard, Fort Hunt in Fairfax County

Observation: On the way I picked up my 12th golf ball of the year. Belle Haven Country Club has more hookers than a truck stop.

From the gym I rode to Village Hardware, the best hardware store in northern Virginia. I bought a spray can of primer to cover some water spots on the ceiling of our Florida room.

I was going to do a fourth errand but it started to rain. I wasn’t dressed for wet weather so I called it a day. Three errands down, nine to go.

Total miles so far: 30.

Roofs and cars

My little retirement goal is to do one adult thing a day. For whatever reason, tour planning hasn’t made the cut so far. (I’ll get there. Eventually.)

A few weeks ago our insurance company sent us an email with attached photos of the roof of our house. Unless we address visible problems with the roof, the insurer will not renew our policy. Are you in good hands?

So today we had our roofing contractor come out. (Basically, this contractor has redone 85 percent of the exterior of our home. We really like working with them.) He went inside the attic and found plenty of evidence of leaks. Then walked around on the roof and found that the plywood is basically gone to pot. Most of the plywood is cheap stuff that was installed when the house was built in 1965. (He also found minor problems with the chimney. In for a nickle, in for a dime.)

So, long story short, we’ll be getting a new roof this summer. Mrs. Rootchopper also wants to insulate the attic but that awaits estimates from another contractor. To add to the “buy” list, Mrs. Rootchopper’s car needs to be replaced.

Five years ago this would have stressed me out completely. Now I just let it happen. As Mrs. Rootchopper’s cancer surgeon said, “It is what it is.” Homes and cars aren’t even in the same class as malignant tumors so what me worry.

With yesterday’s nasty shoulder pain mostly gone (I can’t even), I took off on the Crosscheck for some meditative riding. I decided to ride 30 miles without using the same street twice. This required a bit of on-the-fly planning which kept my mind off roofs and cars. My route was almost entirely on neighborhood streets and trails so it was very low stress. A day of rest gave my legs new life, I suppose. I ended up riding 33 miles and my speed was two miles per hour faster than normal. At the end I had plenty left in the tank, but I topped it off with some chocolate chip cookies just to be on the safe side.

Tomorrow, after Friday Coffee Club, a trip to the gym, and a stop at the hardware and grocery stores (did someone say Errandonnee?), I will sit down and do the itinerary for the second half of this summer’s bike tour.

 

 

Do it on your bike!

It’s that time again. Mary over at Chasing Mailboxes has announced the 2019 Errandonnee. (2Rs, 2Ns, 2Es – get it write).

Now that warm weather is here, ditch your car and get out and do your errands by bike. 12 days, 12 errands, 9 errand categories. There are rules because the Errandonnee is styled after randonneuring, a long-distance cycling event that includes documentation requirements. Try to also keep in mind that Mary works for the government were documentation is, er, queen. If it floats your boat, you can even write yourself a memo to the file like all the bureaucrats do.

No worries. It’s meant to be fun. And it is. Ride to the grocery store, the doctor, coffee club, happy hour, the gym, the barber/hair salon. Carry something unusual on your bike. (I once carried a newly sharpened lawn mower blade. I’m super glad I didn’t crash.) Or get creative and surprise Mary, Goddess Errandonneur Supreme.

If running is your game, you can substitute your legs for your bike. As a sexagenerian, I can attest that the legs are indeed the first things to go, so I won’t be jogging to WalMart.

So follow this link and join in.

Errandonnee: An Alarming Finish

With warm air and a strong tailwind, I rode to DC for my final errand. Along the way, I watched three raptors fighting above the Belle Haven eagle nest. Crazy.

It’s Friday and that means Friday Coffee Club. And it’s the season opener for the Washington Nationals. Woot!

Errand No. 12: Social – Friday Coffee Club

Destination: Swings House of Caffeine, 17th and G Streets NW

Image may contain: 4 people, people smiling, outdoor
Fire Alarm Coffee Club

Observation: When I got to Swings a fire alarm went off. And all the coffee people came outside. I felt like an arriving celebrity. The alarm stopped. I ordered coffee and a muffin and a second alarm went off. So out we went into the wonderfully warm weather. Again. We finally got back inside for good though.

The ride home was into that wind that was so kind to me on the way in. Both coming and going I passed the peripatetic Joe Flood who was out searching for cherry blossoms. (He found a few.) I stopped at the gym for Andrea’s secret sauce (weight training). She’s doing a 200K randonnee event tomorrow. Go girl.

And so that’s a wrap on my Errandonnee for 2018. Eagles and garage bike races and coffee with friends and physical therapy and Italian subs and gyms and stores. It was fun. Special thanks to Mary for running this crazy event again.

 

 

Errandonee: Peaceful Everyday Actions

Being retired, I am practically specializing in peaceful everyday actions. My intent today was to take advantage of the fact that it was actually spring like outside and the season opening away game for my team (the Washington Nationals) was postponed to tomorrow.

I rode to DC to check out the cherry blossoms. If you want to max out your peaceful experience, it is best to go at dawn when the trees are in full bloom. Alas, it was after 1 p.m. when I arrived and the blooms were well short of full.

I rode Ohio Drive to Hains Point in the lame hope of seeing the trees along the roadway showing off their snowy blossom best. No dice.

Undeterred I headed back over to Virginia where I rode the bike trails around Arlington County. On my way back home, I took the Mount Vernon Trail. In the marsh near Daingerfield Island I spotted an immense snowy egret perched in a tree like a character from a Dr. Seuss book.

He was hard to miss being at a distance and at approximate eye level. I am so spoiled that I often forget to check out the bald eagle nests further south on the trail. Today I paid deliberate attention and was rewarded with quite a sight. A large bald eagle was perched above the nest near Tulane Drive. I pulled over and just took the sight in for 15 minutes. Although I was conspicuous in my eagle gazing, none of the passing trail users stopped to see what I was looking up at. Their loss.

bald eagle tulane.jpg

I left the eagle to his sentry duty and rolled home. I was pretty tired, a result of the warmer, moister air and riding 98 miles in two days.

Errand No. 11:  Peaceful Everyday Action – Eagle Gazing

Destination: The Tulane Bald Eagle Nest

Observation: The cherry blossoms aren’t the only thing in bloom around here. The wildlife population is about to explode. In the last two days I’ve seen egrets, ospreys, herons, an owl, and bald eagles. And last night I heard spring peepers. Sadly, the explosion of clueless tourists is also upon us. Treat them with kindness. They’ll be gone soon enough.

My distance today was 41 miles. Bringing my total to 168.5.

Errandonnee: Bikes, Grilled Cheese, Pie, Puppy, and Owl

Well, it was a nearly nice day here in DC with temperatures in the 50s and light winds. Light rain was the only thing keeping me from celebrating. I rode 29 miles, mostly in the Fort Hunt and Woodlawn areas before finding myself at the gym. After a half hour of weight lifting, I rode home. Lunch was followed by a lame attempt at listening to a podcast. When I awoke it was time to leave for the Crystal City garage bike races.

The 11 1/2 mile ride in the rain was not unpleasant. Faint praise, I know.

Shortly after arriving at the garage, I had a grilled cheese sandwich with guacamole and jalapenos peppers. I somehow managed to refrain from ordering another. Maybe it was because of the cherry pie I had for desert.

Bob “Don’t call me Rachel” Cannon and his wife Elizabeth brought three dogs that were being put up for adoption. One was a mere puppy. I would have taken a picture but it broke the cute-o-meter on my iPhone.

Then the races began. Every time I see people racing bikes all I can think of his “You have to be insane to do this.” I stood with Laura from the Washington Area Bicyclists Association. She was checking out the scene with the intent of racing next week. Let’s just say that Laura appears to be a few spokes shy of a wheel. (Hey, pretty cool name for a blog!)

After the races I rode home. About halfway there I rode the long wooden bridge on the Mount Vernon Trail behind the Slaters Lane apartment building. As I turned a corner I saw something standing on the railing of the bridge. It was an owl looking right at me. He was over a foot tall and seemed unconcerned with my presence.

Errand No. 10: Arts and Entertainment

Destination: Crystal City, Virginia

Observation: Pie+Grilled Cheese+Owl+puppies+garage bicycle races = successful hump day

IMG_0949

This one took 23 miles to do. Total miles for the Errrandonnee so far is 127.5.