Errandonnee Events

Errandonnee 2015: DNF

Well, that was a bust:  we Did Not Finish. I had high hopes, though.  Schedules were tight, so I knew that succeeding at Errandonnee 2015 would be tricky.  To start, Basil and I set out to knock off as many errands as possible on a very short ride.

err15-mgFirst we headed to a bookstore, and checked out the biking magazines (Errand 1).  (We weren’t too impressed; they seem to be getting less relevant and less inspirational every month.  Of course, Basil is a Brompton, so why would I need a buyer’s guide.  Heh, heh.)

err15-libThen we headed to the library (Errand 2), where Basil shared our books with a couple of very cold children outside the front door.

err15-cofWe stopped for coffee (Errand 3) — iced coffee on a cold day, my favorite! — and then rode a nearby trail for a bit, stopping to admire the end-of-winter scenery.

err15-aqAfter popping into a sporting goods store (Errand 4) in search of a wool Buff (a fail; they’re hard to find in stores; also I forgot to take a photo), we got lunch (Errand 5) at a pizza place.  (“Mediterranean Salad”, yum!)

err15-pzOn the way back, we stopped to admire the icy waters of a pond.  Ice: that was this winter’s theme, all over our world.

err-15icWe managed five errands, covering only about six miles/9.6 km.  Unfortunately I had only one day free left during the challenge period to complete the full slate of 12 errands and the remainder of the 30 miles/48 km required.

All would have worked out fine if that particular day hadn’t coincided with our final storm of the season.  That storm was a doozy — a doozy which vanished in 24 hours, but, even so, that was a day too late for us.

No matter; Coffeeneuring is next up, in the fall, and next March we’ll give Errandonneuring another go.

Errandonnee Events

Spring Approaches!

Or at least must be on the way:  MG has announced the dates for this year’s Errandonnee.  Mark your calendar:  March 5, 2015 to March 16, 2015.


For the uninitiated, the Errandonnee is an eccentric event designed to get people out and about on bicycles, doing ordinary things that perhaps might otherwise be done using a planet-destroying motor vehicle.

There are rules, which are sometimes peculiar, and always entertaining.  There are records, which participants must file.  There is reporting, at the end, with maps, and a spreadsheet.  And, for finishers, there has traditionally been a small premium in the form of a commemorative patch, which some of us covet.  (That’s 2014’s, above.)

Details have been promised, once this year’s rules have been finalized, and will appear on MG’s blog, Chasing Mailboxes.  Gentlemen, gentlewomen and gentlepersons of all sorts, prepare to shift your pedals!

Errandonnee Events

and the winner is . . .

. . . everyone!  Not only do the participants get to meet an excellent, real-life challenge by participating in chasing mailboxes d.c.’s Errandonnee , but once it’s over, a splendid little reward shows up in the mail:


MG’s patch and photo arrived this week, evoking happy memories of the best (only?) good moments of the horreur that was  the ever-lasting Winter of 2014.

If MG keeps this up — she produced a wonderful coffeeneuring patch, too — Basil may need an awards sash, à la the ones worn by scouts (or decorated warriors)!

(Basil and I are out of town again this week, so response to comments and email will be slow — well, to be frank, non-existent — until our return.)

Errandonnee Tours, Trails & Group Rides

Whitford Station

As part of our Errandonnée explorations, Basil and I took the train to an unfamiliar stop.


Here’s Basil, all set to board the train.  Is it wrong that one of the benefits of riding a Brompton is the sheer pleasure of observing, over and over, what a beautiful thing — aesthetically and engineering-wise — is a Brompton?


There’s a wonderful old trestle at this very small station.  (Obviously, I’m predisposed to love metal .  .  .  )

And, hence, a long climb up to or down to those tracks.  Many of the train stations in the area specialize in inaccessibility; this one would be pre-eminent in that class.


It’s not surprising that there are no shoulders on the road; that, too, is commonplace in this area, but then there’s that sidewalk-to-nowhere at the bottom of the stairs.


Passengers who disembark on this side of the tracks find themselves stranded and facing a rather infelicitous jaunt to the parking lot, which is around to the back, under the tracks, behind the scene shown here.


Though this area isn’t very pedestrian-  bicycle-, or disability-friendly, there are some compensations, like unexpected, pretty, little views of meandering creeks and small bits of untouched woods.


Basil enjoys the views, too.  We spent a moment hoping this would be the last snow we’d see this year.  (Fruitlessly, I might add.)  Endless winter or not, it was still a lovely day for a ride, and we both went home well-satisfied.

Errandonnee Events

Errandonnee: Part 3

What’s an Errandonnee?  Click here!

The pick-up errand:  I accidentally completed 12 errands in 7 8 categories on my previous runs — but failed to rack up sufficient mileage.  That was remedied today, at the very last minute possible.


Basil and I went grocery shopping, and padded the trip with a few miles to make up my missing 10 (16 km).

Errand 13Category (6th 7th, second use):  Grocery Store.  Cheese, lovely cheese.  Oil. Potatoes. Italian meats for Dr. Diarist. Leeks, yummy leeks.

Learned/Observed:  Today felt like spring, and time to say good-bye to root vegetables.  Also, I’m glad cheese is a year-round food!

And that was it — thanks, MG, for another excellent event!  Is there any better way to say good-bye to winter??

Mileage:  10.54/16.9 km   Errands: 1   Total Categories:  1

Cumulative Totals for Errandonnee:

Total Mileage: 30.66 miles/30 miles  (49.3 km/48.2 km)

Total Errands:  13/12

Total Categories:  7/7 8/7

Edited almost immediately after publication, due to incompetence at filling out the control card.  Sigh.

Errandonnee Events

Errandonnee: Part 2

Errand 8Category (2nd; second use):  Bike shop.  Ahh, much nicer than the experience earlier in the week.  I got a friendly greeting here, and so did others who came into the shop.


Sadly, though, no high-vis gloves, so Basil just checked out his non-folding compatriots, and we were on our way.  (Look at that guy — so compact!  So portable!  Not to diss big bikes; I’m sure they have their place.)

Learned/Observed:  Staff of this independent bike store is a lot more invested in being in this shop than was Mr. Chainstore Rep from the other day.

Errand 9Category (6th):  Personal Care (or possibly “Wild Card” if it comes to that).  This may be a bit of a fudge.  I actually made a “personal care” stop during Errandonnee: Part 1, trying to buy bath salts, but the store was so stinky, I had to leave, and didn’t write it up.

er-poI avoid hair salons, manicures and so on like the plague, and our (excellent, non-bank) financial institution is a 70 mile/112.6 km round trip on highways, so all of those were out as options.  Nonetheless, MG has allowed “personal finance” errands in this category, and I hope I’m not pushing the limits too much here:   I cycled to the post office to mail our bills.

Learned/Observed:  It was weirdly tricky to pose Basil next to anything that represented the post office while at the same time allowing a glimpse of him.  I’d never noticed how bare this lobby is.

Errand 10Category (4th 5th, second use):  Lunch.  Spring! Rolls!  (Spring . . . rolls!  Why yes, it will, as soon as these Arctic storms depart .  .  . .)

er-luA woman stopped as she passed Basil.  “It that a Brompton?” she said.  I was impressed; an accurate identification here in the hinterlands is unusual.  A great conversation ensued, covering folding bicycles, Minis (the cars, also British), and Bromptons in general.

Learned/Observed:  I’m kind of backward in the socializing department, but I’ll talk Bromptons forever!

Errand 11Category (6th 7th):  Grocery Store.  We stopped in for a few items at our organic market.  That’s just about 50% of the produce available — but quite a lot of it is from local sources.


Learned/Observed:  I bought a bit of produce, but wasn’t tempted by anything else.  The store, like just about every other organic/health food market I see these days, doesn’t exactly sell health(y) food. The aisles are full of processed foods (or, one might say, junk food) made with organic ingredients.  I guess it’s a step forward?  (Are chemical-free Cheeto-like “foods” really an advance?)

Errand 12Category (7th 8th): Dinner.  Basil and I went home and suggested that Dr. Diarist and Argyll join us for dinner at a local Mexican joint.


Argyll and Basil, with us, waiting to be sorted by the hostess.


I forgot to forgot to take a photograph of our actual dinner; these were starters.  The salsa was fine, but those tortillas were fried to perfection and the guacamole which followed was excellent, with diced, not smashed, fresh avocado.

Learned/Observed: Crispy tortillas and avocados, how I love thee.

Mileage:  12.00/19.3 km  Errands: 5   Total Categories:  7

Cumulative Totals for Errandonnee:

Total Mileage: 20.12 miles/30 miles  (32.38 km/48.2 km)

Total Errands:  12/12

Total Categories:  7/7  8/7

Edit 20 March:  While finalizing the control card, I realized I’d messed up my categories.  (Well, while finalizing the third attempt at a control card.) Counting and categorizing are proving a wee bit too challenging right now; perhaps my brain is in deep-freeze as a result of this past ferocious winter?  Corrections noted above.

And double whoops . . . I thought I’d planned this so that my next ride — to the market  for a more substantial grocery stop — would be errand 12, and would polish off the remaining miles.  This carelessness — wrapping up the categories and errand count before finishing the mileage — is impugning my geek cred.  I’m miffed, but shall persevere.

Errandonnee Events

Errandonnee 2014: Part 1

Errandonnee 2014 is underway, and Basil and I undertook our first errand run of the year a few days ago.  For each stop,  documentation is required:  a photo and an observation.  Here’s how the first run went.

Errand 1Category (1st):  Coffee/Dessert.   It was another brisk day, so we stopped for coffee first.

e1-cf Learned/Observed:   A hot latte is an inefficient method of warming extremely cold fingers.  Also: don’t take gloves off and expose fingers during a very, very cold ride, no matter how much adjustment your goggles need.

Errand 2Category (2nd):  Bike Shop.  Then we trundled over to a bike shop —  a chain/franchise with “support your LBS” sign. Their stock selection is OK, though jerseys, etc., are mostly in men’s sizes, but, sad to say, something is always just a little off at this particular store.


It is today, too.  They don’t have much selection in women’s biking gloves, so the guy wants me to order the florescent gloves I’m looking for.  He explains that the manufacturer will exchange them if they’re the wrong size (not that his shop will!). Then he tells me three times, too defensively, that he is just trying to save me the trouble of going around to “fifteen different bike shops”.

OT Rant, feel free to skip:  Why does this fellow think I mind going to bike shops? Why is this poor guy so defensive?  Why does he think I want  to order unseen gloves from him when I can do that myself, at home, and deal directly with whomever will exchange them, if necessary?  (Not that I would go that route anyway; gloves really need to be tried on, if they’re going to be satisfactory.  I may not mind going to fifteen different bike shops, but I would mind buying and exchanging fifteen different pair of gloves.)

Learned/Observed: This is not the experience I have at my own LBS, where the guys know and love bikes, and don’t have to be defensive about anything.

Errand 3Category (3rd):  Library.  Moving on, we headed to the library to return various items and to pick up the newly-mandated re-registration sheet.


Learned/Observed:  Re-registering a library card every three years is going to be a pain and seems like a silly bureaucratic expense. Why not just prevent check-outs when media is overdue?  I’m getting cranky; it’s time to move on and find some food.

Errand 4Category (4th):  Not A Grocery Store.  Then we went to a book store to buy magazine to read at lunch.  Dr. Diarist met us there, his schedule not permitting Errandonnee participation.


He ordered coffee (I’d already had mine) and proceeded to exhibit an unfortunately irreverent attitude toward Basil, saying  “I see you brought along a hat rack” and tossing his Tilley on top of my noble Brompton!  He followed this up by stuffing his tablet on top of Basil at a dangerous angle, fully aware that I am appalled by his techie reckless attitude toward his computer equipment.

Sadly, I gasped in horror at both transgressions, which he found most gratifying.  After all these years, you’d think I’d know better than to take the bait, but noooooo.

Learned/Observed:  I’m a slow learner.


Errand 5Category (5th):  Lunch.   Dr. D decides to accompany me and my beleaguered Brompton to lunch.  I eat a piece of pizza bigger than my head.

Learned/Observed:  Eggplant is perfectly edible if unrecognisable; also goat cheese makes anything tasty.  Dr. Diarist goes for chicken and bacon.  We leave fatter, but happy.

Errand 6Category (4th, second use):  Not A Grocery Store.  Onward:  I am  looking for featherweight packing cubes to use in Basil’s T-Bag.  Score!  (I bought then in a citrusy-green, though, since they are more consonant with Basil’s colors and his T bag, and also less likely to look grubby.)  We have a conversation with a multi-bike-owning employee, who has never heard of Bromptons, but is quite taken with Basil.


Learned/Observed:  The clerk at sporting goods store more engaged and interested in discussing bicycles in general than the one at the bike store.  That’s kind of sad — but fun at the sports store!

Rode around a bit just for fun; mileage for this set of errands is going to be unfortunately low.

Errand 7Category (1st, second use):  Cofffee/Dessert.

Then, craving cannoli, I stopped at Italian place, unsurprisingly empty in mid-afternoon.  There are no humans in sight, and no one appears.  Eventually I notice a sign: e1-it

The hallway in question is the full width of a huge building, narrow and dark.  (It’s the passageway to the left, there.)  Decide that this particular place doesn’t want to be bothered.  Decide I don’t either.


We cross the street and enjoy a cannoli elsewhere, which proves highly satisfactory.  I take most of it home; it’s too much to eat all at once, after a pizza lunch.

Learned/Observed:  Cannoli at the non-Italian place was excellent, the atmosphere warm and friendly.  Note to self:  Don’t plan to consume two rarely-eaten, marginally unhealthy, foods on the same day.


Basil and I took a train to an area where we could run these errands:  That’s totally legitimate, according to MG, though, of course, we can’t count train miles as miles cycled.  Multi-modal!  We had never stopped at this station before; this was a great opportunity to check it out.

Total miles:  8.12/30   Total Errands:  7/12   Total Categories:  5/7

Errandonnee Events


So much to catch up on — and I haven’t even yet posted about Basil’s first ride since the end of our cycling hiatus!  That will come shortly, but in the meantime I’ll be writing about a couple of timely events others might be interested in.


First up is MG’s annual Errandonnee, in which participants run errands on their cycles, in the cold, bleak, final (or so we hope) days of winter, and report back.

There are categories!  There are rules! There are challenges!

Check it all out here, and let the errandonneuring begin!

Barring another week of Snomageddeon-like events, Basil and I will be participating.   Curious about this excellent event?  Here’s what Basil and I did last year:

Errandonneuring On A Brompton Bicycle, Part 1

Errandonneuring On A Brompton Bicycle, Part 2

Basil might have been the only Brompton participating in 2013, but according to MG’s note, that’s @MrTinDC on the official Errandonnee image above, on his Brompton.  Will it be a Brompton sweep this year??

Errandonnee Events

Errandonneuring on a Brompton Bicycle, Part 2

Basil and I were all set to go today, ready to knock off Part 2 of MG’s Winter Erranndonnee Challenge.

Errand 11:  A second trip to the library, this time to drop off only one book. (Due tomorrow, but why not get it done early?) Category 9: Library

This was our second trip to the library for this challenge — allowed, happily — but this time Basil was sporting a new bit of luggage, much smaller than his Brompton T bag, and perfect for this cargo-lite day.

Bonus shot: Inside Basil’s new bag, with library book, water bottle, and mysterious metallic packaging material.  The latter will become important later.

Bonus snack:  Scarfed a piece of chocolate on the way out. Fuel!

Errand 12: On to lunch. Dismal place, actually, and that’s not a very inspiring plate, is it?  Was it my fault for telling them to hold the chips? (The server asked if I wanted lettuce instead, for a 25% surcharge.  I said no.)  It was surprisingly fresh, though. Category 2: Lunch

Bonus shot:  There was plenty of room for Basil. (whoops — I must have been famished.  Never noticed the blur or the lack of light. Good thing I ate.)

Errand 13: On to the Micro-Brewery/Pub, to buy ice cream.  You might think that this is the end of the Errandonnee for my Brompton, Basil, and me. Not so, though, because we still have a second night ride to do.  So we’re over-achieving slightly.  (Also, just in case buying a yoga book on the previous day’s errands is suspect).  Category 10:  Wild Card

As it happens, I don’t drink beer.  Mr. Diarist, though, is extremely fond of Victory Hop Devil. This vice has led to my own discovery of Hopped Up Devil Ice Cream. (Must have messed up my camera settings; it’s always been exceptionally good in low light in the past.  Must investigate.)

Bonus shot:  Ice cream.

It’s possibly the best ice cream ever.  Truly.  Cayenne.  Coffee beans. Chocolate. Just a touch of cinnamon — not enough to notice, except . . . it’s perfect!

Second bonus shot:  Ice cream in thermal packaging.

I bought no beer.  Remember the metallic envelope in Basil’s bag?  That was for the ice cream.  It was 49 F/9.4 C; couldn’t take any chances.

Third bonus shot (whew):  Cycling jerseys.

Mr. Diarist wears the Hop Devil jersey.  Good choice, and, though not high-vis, at least highly visible.  They are for sale in the brewery’s retail store.

Errand 14:  Irish Potatoes. Category 3: Dessert.  Also, NIGHT.  This was going to involve a cupcake. Some kind of TastyKake  “special edition” almost made the cut, but then I spied the “potatoes”, which I, quite wrongly, assumed were dusted with chocolate. The ingredients list looked slightly less poisonous than the one on the TastyKake wrapper.

Yes, I was at the local grocery again, having previously identified it as the only even marginally safe night destination in my area.

I did my best to observe the spirit, as well as the letter, of the rules, and consumed one on the spot. The moment was even a bit social, as one of the clerks had never tried them.  Naturally, I offered them around. The general reaction was “meh”, but then aren’t these a March thing?

Bonus photo: Corn syrup disguised as a small, under-nourished potato.

They’re really kind of awful, but they do look like potatoes. This errand did, however, 1) get me out at night; 2) sent me, for a second time, to a local grocery to which I’d never been before; 3) got me to try a food I’d never considered eating before; 4) required me to use Basil’s rear rack for the first time; and, all around, got me to experience new stuff.  All of which seems right in with the spirit of something  like an Errandonnee, don’t you think?

Second bonus photo:  Basil engaging in the frantic search for a non-frozen (cold ride back) dessert.

Lights:  Cateye HL-EL135N Bicycle Head Light and Portland Design Works Danger Zone Tail Light in irregular flashing mode.

The night rides were tricky, and this is a bit of a fudge (though the potatoes weren’t).  Night riding on our rural roads is suicidal (think roads and streets built where horses used to trod.  No shoulders. Curves. Oblivious drivers who are, generally, quite courteous to the rare cyclist in daylight, but would be stunned to come across one on a road at night.  Or worse, baffled and uncomprehending.)

Managing these two night rides involved sidewalks, a rather fraught enterprise itself, as the sidewalk in question is broken to pieces, and visibility is not great.  We’re happy to have survived.

Third bonus photo:  Basil on the way home. He’s leaning into the brush because the Irish Potatoes are bungeed to his rear rack.  This is why front luggage is first choice when riding a Brompton: The rear rack is Basil’s kickstand.  It doesn’t work very well when there’s a package attached. Fortunately, front-loading a Brompton works beautifully.  Just not tonight!

I bought the lights to use if a winter afternoon ran slightly late; they aren’t intended to really let me see the road unless there is some other kind of ambient light. (By “slightly late” I mean “well before twilight, maybe nothing more than overcast”.”) They are meant to make it clear that I’m nearby, and moving; that’s it.

If I were buying for night bicycling, I’d probably get something like the NiteRider Lumina 650, which was recommended (and impressively demonstrated) by a fellow Brompton rider I met on a train.

Stats from previous day’s Errandonneuring:  10 Errands in 8 Categories with 1 night Ride, 16.4 Miles Total

Stats from today’s Erranndonneuring:  4 errands in 4 categories with 1 night ride, 15.83 miles total.

Combined stats:  14 errands in 9 categories with 2 night rides, 32.2 miles total.

Report on its way to MG, with thanks for a really fun winter challenge!

Errandonnee Events

Errandonneuring On A Brompton Bicycle, Part 1

Rain was expected yesterday; instead there was a fine mist all day. Perfect for a first attempt at the Winter Challenge Errandonnee. On one 16.4 mile trip, I managed to knock off ten of the twelve control options.  Here’s the report.

Errand 1:  First stop was a small local bike shop, where I acquired a couple of caps for valve stems. Nice people at this shop, and they’ve sold me accessories, and done a little maintenance on my ancient Italian folder in the past.  Category 1: Bike Shop

Errand 2:  Next stop was another local bike shop a couple of miles away.  I’ve bought some accessories and clothing here; today I was asking about fingerless mitts, but I’ll have to check back once the spring stock is in, around March, to see if they have anything I can use.  Category 1: Bike Shop

Errand 3:  Returned 8 books to the library. Amazingly easy. Category 9: Library

Bonus shot: 7 hardback books and 1 paperback virtually disappear into the voluminous Brompton T bag.

Errand 4:  At the office supply shop I learned that the glossy business card pack I need so that I can print more of Basil’s cards is out of stock. Category 7: Not A Grocery Store

Errand 5:  Bought cat bed at pet store.  Copious numbers were in stock. Relieved to see that at least one serious errand will be knocked off on this trip.  Category 10: Wild Card

Errand 6: At the sewing pattern store, I learned that the pattern I’ve been waiting a month for is still out of stock.  Category 7:  Not A Grocery Store

Errand 7: So I found a miniature traditional fruit tart, and ate that.  Category 3: Dessert

Bonus shot: The fruit tart. Loved filling, loved the glaceed fruit, didn’t care much for the crust, didn’t eat it. Perfectly nice crust; I just don’t care much for most tart crusts.

Errand 8: Having sinned, went to local organic store and bought yoga book in order to further healthy living.  I’m calling this “health/personal care” since no doctor’s office is anywhere I can ride (rural roads, no shoulders).  Ditto hair cutter, which I avoid, anyway, like the plague, and I don’t do massage, nails, or anything like.  However, I plan to over-achieve with more than 12 errands, in case MG disallows this rather lawyerly interpretation.  (Though if a beer run counts, surely a yoga resource run should, don’t you think?)  Category 8:  Personal Care

Errand 9: Ate dinner at local Mexican place. Forgot to tell server I don’t eat rice and beans.  The huge stuffed poblano chili was more than sufficient, and tasty. Note Basil, tucked discreetly beneath the table.  (The trim on his saddle bag is just visible at the lower right.)  Category 5: Dinner

Errand 10:  Small neighborhood grocery. First time there.  Sells nothing healthy.  Bought newspaper.   Category 6: Grocery Store, also NIGHT.

Switched to basket for the night run. Bonus shot:  the newspaper.

Lights:  Cateye HL-EL135N Bicycle Head Light and Portland Design Works Danger Zone Tail Light in irregular flashing mode.

Bonus shot: Tron.

Stats:  10 Errands in 8 Categories with 1 Night Ride, 16.4 Miles Total