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.
I hit 30 miles again.
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.
I’m out of the gate fast with two errands on the first day of the 2020 Errandonnee Challenge. I rode ten miles to the bookstore to pick up a couple of books. (Bill Bryson and Gillian Flynn), After a ride across the Memorial Bridge I headed for home. We’re going to a party for a friend’s 65th birthday with a side of Super Bowl. Mrs. Rootchopper had requested that I buy some beer. It easily fit in my panniers.
I was a bit worried that the bottles in the right hand panniers would break in transit but they made it home intact.
A couple of things to note.
About four miles into the ride I had the worst back spasm I’ve had in a long time. This was quite different from my usual aches. It felt like an electrical shock through my pelvis.
At the supermarket I locked up near a dumpster because Safeway offers zero decent bike parking. Anyway as I was loading the panniers on my bike, I saw the biggest turkey vulture I’ve ever seen perched on the top edge of the dumpster. It was at least 2 feet tall.
Errand No. 1: A stop at a shop
Errand No. 2: You carried what on your bike
Lesson learned. Even with back spasms you can do errandonneuring. Where there’s a pill, there’s a way.
Do a 12 errands over a 12-day period and you will be a hero, or something like that. And you get a prize!
I usually crush this little challenge but I am at a disadvantage these days. Prior to 2018, I could count two bike commutes as part of my 12 errands. I don’t work anymore so I’ll have to get inventive.
On the plus side, the Errandonnee coincides with my time on the medical hampster wheel so I get some benefit from being a decrepit person. Yay, aging!
This year participants get to pick their 12-day window. If you screw up and don’t get all 12 errands done, you can re-boot and try again. The window only has to fall in the 60 days (leap year, woot!) from February 1 to March 31.
If you haven’t tried this you should. These things are fun and fun is good.
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.
Category: Personal Business
Place: Suntrust Bank, Old Town Alexandria
Observation: The best thing about riding a recumbent is heating the remarks of little kids.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.