Saturday, November 12, 2016

Coffeeneuring Roundup: 2016 Edition

Once again, the October beginning of coffeeneuring season found me on the road. I always treasure the opportunity to work two-wheeled beverage hunting into my travels, but this year I really outdid myself. During October I was in both China and Japan. The Facebook posts may have US dates and times – but this blog records the local date of my adventures in all cases.

Ride 1: October 7, 2016 – Beijing gave me a 12-hour time advantage over the East Coast US to begin coffeeneuring…making me perhaps the first official 2016 rider. It was a rainy morning, so I procrastinated a bit, but then took my newly borrowed bike in a loop between the Cycling Yogi’s office and the nearest metro stop (Life Sciences Park – in the upper northwest corner of Beijing) to ensure the requisite 2-mile trip. Between the modern office buildings, apartments, shopping malls, and metro station there is an area that looks very different. Tiny crowded shops, produce vendors, purveyors of street food, and lots of dirt, litter, and garbage make for an old world atmosphere. Despite the garbage and smells, I prefer this glimpse of old-style China over the shopping mall, which could be in any American city.

Our sweet buns had to be heated up

I enjoyed the big bowl of doujiang: warm soymilk

I loved riding this adorable one-speed bike: look at the pedals!!!
The Cycling Yogi met me on foot and helped me negotiate our order of doujiang – warm soymilk, which I had been looking forward to sampling. Traditionally it is served for breakfast with a long twisted doughnut-like pastry crumbled into it. We were too late for these, but did manage to get some delicious sesame balls to accompany our large bowls of doujiang…the whole breakfast for both of us costing under a dollar. While he walked back the short way (down a narrow dirt alley and across two sets of RR tracks), I biked the longer way, having to share bike lanes with electric motor scooters and dodge cars, which never yield the right-of-way to bikes or pedestrians.

Ride 2: October 8, 2016 – I wanted to get a longer bike ride in Beijing, although long rides proved to be not very pleasant. The Cycling Yogi had not managed to find a large enough bike for his Beijing use – given that he’s 6 feet tall with a long torso. A friend had located the right neighborhood for him to find a good bike store – near Peking University – so we hatched a plan. He rode my little orange bike – standing all the way there – and I took the subway. He easily found a nice bike at a good price and we stopped for tea and food. We then headed to Bai Wang Shan Forest Park – a non-touristy park located on probably the only mountain in Beijing. As luck would have it, this was the one day of clear blue skies for my entire three weeks in China. We parked our bikes and hiked to the top, getting magnificent city views.

The tea was really weak

The view was amazing - we were lucky to have clear blue skies: rare in Beijing!
Our ride back entailed many navigational snafus. Cycling directions are not readily available; bike “lanes” that run along a major highway often turn into smaller access roads – always used by motor scooters and often used as convenient parking spots for cars – and side roads peter out with wild fields and footpaths creating interesting (and frustrating) routes.

This shows part of our route and gives an idea of how far we were from central Beijing
Total distance – I’m not sure, probably around 10-12 miles. Fortunately I’d had the opportunity to bike a lot in the countryside the previous week in the beautiful area of Yangshuo, along the Yulong River. This was a far more pleasant biking experience than I had in Beijing.

Ride 3: October 22, 2016 – After leaving Beijing I spent two weeks in Japan, hiking through beautiful countryside, exploring small villages, and visiting the large cities of Tokyo and Kyoto. I had little opportunity for cycling, but was able to get a bike from my Kyoto hotel toward the end. It was a supremely comfortable 7-speed internal hub bike ($13 for the whole day!) and I made my destination the Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine (fox shrine) – famous for its thousands of red torii gates and strenuous uphill hike. Kyoto has a long canal running north-south which has broad multi-use paths on both sides. For some reason, however, my navigation system insisted I get off the lovely canal path and took me through many city streets, including bridges over highways that left me feeling the path couldn’t possibly be right. But I prevailed and soon found myself in the Saturday hustle-and-bustle of busy train stops, street vendors, and foot traffic leading up to the grounds of the shrine.

The bike I got from  my hotel was supremely comfortable

There were large crowds at the shrine

Foxes are revered, in part, because they eat mice.
I had taken my own tea in a bottle, but I stopped to sample a sweet concoction of sticky rice ball that was stuffed with a choice of sweet bean, green tea or, I think, chestnut. I thought the green tea was most in keeping with the coffeeneuring spirit, so that was my choice. As I was navigating on foot, I noticed that the canal came very close to where I was, so I decided to ignore the phone navigation and follow the canal back. It worked just fine – although several times I had to cross from one side to the other and I discovered that this part of the canal was not the major canal; it was a few miles before I hooked up with the “official” canal.

You can't park a bike just anywhere in Kyoto; often you have to get paid parking

The canal paths made for perfect cycling.
I wish I’d had more time for biking in Kyoto. Although there is plenty of traffic, drivers are very considerate and there is much good infrastructure. I was concerned it would be confusing to get used to riding on the left, as is the rule in Japan. However, this was my informal observation – and I’m not sure whether it’s accurate or not. When bikes and cars shared the road it seemed to be the convention for bikes to ride opposite the oncoming traffic. This meant I got to ride on the right, as I was accustomed to do.

Total mileage – about 8 miles.

Ride 4: October 25, 2016 – Two words: jet lag. When I returned from Japan I was exhausted but found myself unable to sleep at night. My body’s internal clock was all confused. After five weeks of travel, where I rarely had access to the kind of strong French Roast coffee I normally brew at home, I was really looking forward to a gigantic mug of my own home brew. I had plenty of coffee at home, but no cream, and I wanted the whole perfect cup. So I took my coffee in a travel mug to Village Sweet in Westover, added their yummy cream, and bought a pumpkin scone. It was divine! (Note on bike friendliness: there is no place to park right in front of Village Sweet, but plenty of good bike parking across the street in Westover, and their baked goods are worth the minor inconvenience.) From there I went to the gym to lift weights and take a steam – two other things I’d been without for 5 weeks - and then picked up the last installment of my summer CSA, so I’d have some fresh veggies. I was in quite a fog. Total mileage – about 6 miles.

They make delicious scones (and cookies)
Ride 5: October 31, 2016 – Well, everybody seemed to be hopping on the early voting bandwagon so I decided I would, too. I rode to the Arlington Courthouse, cast my ballot and then stopped at Northside Social where I had a ginger-turmeric tea and pistachio chocolate chip cookie: both delicious. (Bike friendliness note: NS has 3 bike "staples" but they are usually full. Perhaps a few more are in order as the place is - with good reason - very popular.) From there I made a stop at the library and headed home for a total of about 8 miles. The leaves were beautiful, the air crisp, and I felt lucky to have such great bike riding weather.

(Postscript - no we are not going to ruin the joy of biking by talking about the election.)

Ginger-turmeric tea seems to be the latest craze.
Ride 6: November 7, 2016 - With the change to standard time it now gets dark very early. Bike Arlington sponsors a free light giveaway and I volunteered to help by the bike counter in Rosslyn. It was great fun to give away lights and encourage people to pick up other reflective gear to help them stay visible in the dark. 

Lots of cyclists stopped for free lights
Once the sun went down, however, I got quite chilled, even with my jumping around to attract cyclists. So I left for home, decked out with a few supplemental blinky lights and a new Bike Arlington reflective vest. I decided to stop at The Italian Store, close to home, thinking I could get a decaf cappuccino. No luck - their coffee bar had closed up for the night. But I needed something hot, even after fast-pedaling 4 miles up hills. So I got a slice of pizza and a limonata. Total distance - 10 miles.

New supplemental lights

I wanted hot coffee, but had to settle for hot pizza and cold drink.
Ride 7: November 11, 2016 - Is any coffeeneuring season complete without taking at least one ride on a bike share? Not for me and I love the challenge of seeking our bike share systems wherever I travel. But who'd a thunk I'd find one in Corpus Christi, Texas? Okay - here's a little self-promotion. An essay I wrote was awarded first place in creative nonfiction by the Coastal Bend Wellness Foundation - a very worthy organization that provides free health services and promotes women's health. Published in the literary journal of Texas A&M University - The Switchgrass Review - I was invited to read from my work at their fall festival. 

I think the total system has 40 bikes and fewer than 10 docks.
The next morning I checked out the city's new bike share system - in operation since August. I had planned ahead and downloaded the Zagster app, which you need to secure a bike. Unlike other bike share systems, these bikes are secured to their dock with a U lock. The key is in a locked box on the back of the bike. When I could not unlock the first bike, I called customer support which was quick to respond - even at 8 a.m. on Veteran's Day! They cancelled my ride and I was able to unlock the next bike. 
The light made it hard to get a good photo of the Selena statue
The docking station was just steps from my hotel, and right on the Gulf of Mexico. I rode as far as I could go up the shoreline, which had a nice multi use path, past the statue of the Tejano star Selena, a Corpus Christi native who was tragically murdered at the age of 23. Going north I came to the arts and entertainment area, with many museums and so forth. A large construction area made it challenging to get from the shoreline and ride more inland. I had searched for coffee shops, but then made many wrong turns and did not manage to find one that looked appealing. Ideally, I would have found a place serving a Tex-Mex breakfast. But it was not to be.
Art Museum of South Texas

This bridge goes across to Padre Island
The advantage of a bike share that comes with a U lock is I could have locked the bike anywhere - even when I couldn't find another docking station. And the rental system doesn't require bikes be returned within half an hour. Plus - the system is CHEAP! As you can see from my receipt, I kept the bike nearly an hour and a half for the low price of $3!

But, back to food - the restaurants that appealed to me didn't open until 11 (too late for me to get to the airport and make my flight home) and I refused to go to a place called Whataburger. So I cycled back to the hotel and chowed down on their brunch buffet - complete with coffee. 

By the time I had brunch, I think anything would have tasted good!
With all my twists and turns, I estimate I rode about 8 miles. Then I got to walk on the beach, put my feet in the warm gulf and fly home.
Beautiful view from the air

Friday, October 7, 2016

Biking in Beijing

        We Westerners may remember the Beijing of old in which the streets swarmed with bicycles and few people drove cars. And although Beijing now places strict limits on automobile ownership (one must have a permit to purchase a car and there are long waits) cars rule the roads, as is true most places. More common than cars are electric motor scooters and, as the middle class in China continues to grow, these have become widely available. So here’s what happens: as cars and buses clog the roads, slower-moving motor scooters use the bike lanes, making cycling somewhat hazardous. Bikes (and motor scooters) move onto sidewalks (when sidewalks are even available), leaving the poor pedestrian little space to safely navigate. Despite the wide prevalence of walking, pedestrians are probably the least-safe travelers – often having no choice but to walk in the roads with bikes, scooters, cars, and exhaust-belching buses.

These problems are compounded by a dearth of traffic signals and a nearly universal disregard for the signals that do exist. Cars and scooters beep their horns to warn the bicyclist and pedestrian, “I’m coming, I’m not going to stop, and you’d best get out of my way!” Admittedly I’ve only been in China a few weeks, but I have yet to experience an instance of a motor vehicle yielding to a pedestrian – either in urban Beijing or Guilin or even in smaller villages in the south.

Many Beijing cyclists use electric-assist bikes, allowing them to move faster than traditional bikes. Although Beijing is very flat, perhaps people travel far distances, as this city sprawls for many miles. I’ve been staying on the northwestern outskirts of the city (if you look on the Beijing subway map, my stop is Life Sciences Park on the pink line). Getting to central Beijing, even on the very efficient subway system, takes at least an hour and often involves as many as five trains, depending on my destination. While traveling above ground I pass miles and miles of new development – huge apartment and office buildings springing up everywhere.

Yet it’s only when one is close to the ground that one can truly experience the juxtaposition of the old and new Chinas. Clean modern buildings and shopping malls featuring a full capitalist consumer extravaganza rub shoulders with old-style shops, narrow lanes, and less-than-savory sanitation practices. If I travel on foot between the modern office building where The Cycling Yogi is working to the subway (a mile by road, slightly less by footpath) the route takes me through a dirt path to a crossing of two sets of RR tracks, the other side of which is a narrow, trash-strewn lane. A small village of tiny shops, eateries, and street-food sellers fills several square blocks. Between this remnant of “old” China and the subway is a modern shopping mall which includes a Starbucks and array of stores, many of which are indistinguishable from those in any American city (aside from the language on the price tags).

Very few bikes here are fancy. Most look old and well-worn. Old-style tricycles (I think of them as truck-cycles), built to haul large loads, abound and they move quite slowly. Street sweepers move about on these cycles, and use brooms made of branches to clean the streets. Children ride on the back of bikes or on little seats in front. People cycle while holding an umbrella in one hand. Many bikes are equipped with rain covers to protect bike and rider from the elements.

I was fortunate to be able to borrow a bike from The Cycling Yogi’s work colleague - the gracious and incomparable Meng-Qiu - who has helped in every way possible (even giving me the shoes off her feet). I have enjoyed riding her adorable orange cycle with pedals shaped like flowers. Its one gear is perfectly adequate for the flat terrain. As my feet have suffered from enormous blisters (the result of a week of mountain hiking in the heat) and an aggravated bunion, being able to navigate between The Cycling Yogi’s apartment, office, and other locations by bike has given my feet time to heal before my next adventure.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Summer Roundup

Just because I haven’t been blogging doesn’t mean I haven’t been riding my bike…although most of July and August proved to be much hotter than I enjoy. I probably did more swimming and Zumba classes than biking. But June was beautiful bike weather and toward the end of the month I returned to Bemidji, Minnesota – my second year attending the Northwoods Writers Conference.

This year I felt like an old hand biking around the lake – a 17-mile loop. If Lake Bemidji was formed by Paul Bunyon’s right foot, the university (where the writing conference is held) would be at the lower part of the inner arch. Riding clockwise, there’s a long stretch along the inner arch of the “foot” that is probably the least enjoyable part of the ride. Although there is very little traffic, the route goes along the shoulder of a highway. But once you round the top of the foot and get to about the fourth toe you enter Bemidji State Park – a beautiful forested area and a chance to swim in a cool, clean lake. Leaving the park, there is a long stretch of shady bike path. Almost directly across from the university is a bridge where you can see the Mississippi River flow into the lake and watch the young people jump from the bridge into the water. After rounding the “heel” you can see where the Mississippi flows out of the lake and from there it’s a short ride back to campus.

Lake Bemidji
This summer I got to take the loop twice – once with my pal Tricia, who was my biking guide last year, and once by myself. The workshop was even better than last year, with inspiring writers, productive workshops, and new friendships.

Biking Yogini by the Mississippi
 In July I had several trips that included modest amounts of cycling. There was a short jaunt to Stone Harbor, NJ, which included a prefect day for the ferry ride to Cape May. It’s always fun to ride at the beach in the early morning before the sun heats up and my friends have plenty of well-weathered bikes to borrow.

On the ferry to Cape May, NJ
Then it was up to Philly, where I left my dogs while the Cycling Yogi and I headed back to the West Coast. At 30th Street Station I saw a waiting commuter who seemed to be a bit obsessed with the color green.

It's not easy being green...
After a long weekend of hiking in the Northern Cascades we returned to our friends’ house which is a good 10 miles north of downtown Seattle. Fortunately they not only have a beautiful set of bikes for us to borrow; Seattle has a wealth of bike paths from which to choose. We rode into town on the Interurban trail and stopped for lunch at a place called the Wayward Vegan – which seemed like a perfect fit for the two of us. I decided to sample their version of the vegan fried chicken sandwich. It was pretty good – but can’t hold a candle to NuVegan in DC.

We're definitely wayward, and mostly vegan!

Vegan fried chicken sandwich

Our Seattle rides

We returned via the Burke-Gilman trail – a slightly longer but more scenic route. It goes along Lake Washington where gorgeous homes with breathtaking views abound (and are probably only affordable by multi-millionaires).

From there, the Cycling Yogi departed for three months in Beijing, where I am soon to visit. I’m sure there will be some interesting cycling experiences in China!

Post Script – in a previous post I mentioned biking in New York and taking in the Gustav Klimt exhibit at the Neue Museum. I was subsequently contacted by someone from an organization called Artsy, which endeavors to make art widely available to the public online. Here is a link to their page on Gustav Klimt – if there are any fans out there.

Delayed Posting - Guest Blog from the Cycling Yogi

Listen up, Citibike!
(...and Capital Bikeshare, if the shoe fits…)

Last month I came to New York for the day, on a train to Penn Station arriving before 11 for a noon appointment.   I thought I’d take a Citibike downtown.  It’s fun to go faster than the cars, and it’s the lifestyle I want to promote, even if it works out to more than twice the price of the subway, and I can’t claim it’s faster.
Well, there were bike stalls lined up on 8th Ave just outside the station, but they were all empty.  I walked a block to the other side of the station.  There are four Citibike stations near the four corners around Penn Station, with room for 189 bikes in all. Every one was empty--not a bike to be had.
I walked, I downloaded the Citibike App to try to find the nearest bike, but the app wouldn’t cough up the information until I coughed up a credit card for a monthly pass.  But I’m not a New Yorker.  I just want to know where I can find a bike...
When it got to be 11:30, I gave up walking and looking, and I got on the subway.  7 minutes to the front door of my downtown destination.

Today I had another New York interview.  This one was 11 AM, and I got to Penn Station at 10.  Once again, all 189 Citibike stalls were empty.  My keen scientific intellect began to discern a pattern.  It turns out that this has been a problem at least since 2013.
This time I had scoped out the next nearest station North and East where I was headed.  I walked uptown about half a mile, and found plenty of bikes.  I paid the $13 daily fee with a smile and set out to weave through the crosstown traffic to my destination, 3rd Ave at 47th St.  I had mapped that out the previous night as well: a docking station conveniently located on 48th St, corner of 3rd Ave.  But when I got there...yes, you guessed right.  55 docking stalls and every one of them had a bike in it.  No place to return my bike.  A young man in a Citibike T-shirt directed me to the next nearest station.  “Concierge parking” he said.  That one was full, too, but there were Citibike employees like him taking return bikes from riders, locking them in chains until a truck could come and port them downtown, or until the morning traffic reversed at the end of the day.  I did as he suggested, and 10 minutes later I was walking in for my appointment.  But I had walked almost half the distance, and the total time from Penn Station to 747 Third Ave was 32 minutes for 1.5 rectilinear miles--not any faster than I could have walked.

Well, it’s been at least 3 years that Citibike has been working on this program.  They’re buying trucks and hiring nice young men in Citibike T-shirts.  But I have another idea.   Are you listening, Citibike?
The elegant solution to this problem is to reverse the credit card charges if you ride the bike from a station with too many bikes to one without enough.  Then the hordes of entrepreneurial young New Yorkers will do the rest.  Thousands of kids will take this on as a part-time job.  (And in Manhattan, most of them probably already have their own credit cards.)
Here are my proposed rules:  If you pick up a bike from a station that is more than 90% full and you drop it at a station that is more than 50% empty, the system credits your account $5.  Same $5 if you pick up a bike from a station that is more than 50% full and drop it at a station that is more than 90% empty.  And if you port a bike from a station that’s more than 90% full to one that’s more than 90% empty, you can double-up and earn $10.
From what I hear, Citibike is enormously profitable, thank you very much, and can well afford to pay the kids.  Their increased ridership will more than pay for an army of 14-year-old bike porters.  But if they really need to make more money solving this problem of their own bad planning, they could do it with surcharges.  If you take one of the last 5 bikes at a station, there’s a $1 surcharge.  If you take one of the last 4, it rises to $2...up to $5 extra for taking the last available bike.  Same thing at the other end:  If you fill the last empty dock, you are charged an extra $5.  Second-last empty dock: $4, etc.
This is the direction the economy is moving.  Craigslist and Uber and Air-BnB are signs on the wall.  It’s not the top-down Corporate Model that Citibank is used to, but hey--we’ve all got to adapt.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Gearing Up for Summer

“You ride a lot, but you ride slow,” the mechanic said to me, as I picked up my bike after a much-needed tune up. He must have seen my face blanch as he quickly backpedaled explaining, “not like these racers.”

How could he tell, just from looking at my bike, I wondered. And the truth is, I do ride a lot, but I’m not very fast. My natural cycling cadence is leisurely and I’m rarely in a hurry. But here’s the thing: I’ve had this beautiful bike for three years and recently told the Cycling Yogi, “I feel like I wasted my money getting 18 gears, since I only ever use the 9 on the ‘easy’ chain ring.” Perhaps this granny-like cycling habit showed to the bicycle-whisperer who’d done my tune up. (By the way – a shout out is in order to Bike Club in Falls Church, which let me bring in the bike yesterday and had it done in 3 hours – a fortunate event, as it later turned out.)

So, with the lovely cool morning and newly spiffed-up bike, I went out this morning to ride from about mile 5 of the W&OD Trail out to Hunter Mill Road (about mile 15). The brakes were tight and the gears shifted smoothly like a brand new bike. And I decided to gear up, pushing the chain onto the larger ring. This was a good ride for my new experiment, as there is only one sizeable hill each direction. And to my delight, I was easily able to ride using the tougher gears – only slipping back to the smaller ring for the aforementioned hills.

On my ride home I got a phone call from my daughter, whose car started smoking on I-270. She arranged to have it towed to Rockville and I rearranged the two appointments I had for the week that required my car (one out in un-bike-friendly Fairfax and the other taking my two dogs to the vet). In a serendipitous bit of luck, as she was waiting for the tow truck some friends of hers spotted her on the road and drove her to her appointment in DC. Later in the afternoon, I drove to NW DC to give her my car to use until hers is fixed (which won’t be until Sunday).

Given the single-tracking nightmare on Metro, I decided to avoid it. I took a bike share from Friendship Heights to Rosslyn and, from there, took the ART bus home. The bike share is fine for the mostly-downhill portion of my ride, but having already cycled 25 miles by then, I could not face taking the heavy thing up the hill from Rosslyn. However, on a side note, I had just noticed the previous evening that a new bike share is now open at the East Falls Church Metro station – less than a mile from my house. I’m guessing that Orange and Silver Line Metro-hell helped speed up this long-awaited development.

Yay - at last a Bike Share station walking distance from home!

 So, given that I will be car-free for the next few days, I’m extra happy that I got my tune up done and that the weather is cooperating with mild temperatures and sunshine.

Speaking of mild temperatures and sunshine, here's a photo from Bike to Work Day 2016 - where I, once again, volunteered at Fresh  Bikes in Ballston, handing out T-shirts and raffle tickets. 

I was glad to get a new water bottle because, can you believe it, on one of the really hot days I was parked by Ballston mall and someone stole my 2015 Bike to Work Day water bottle off my bike - making for a thirsty ride home. Not cool, thief!!!

Stealing water on a hot day - NOT COOL!!!

And, making this blog a spring round-up - I was delighted to see a new bike work station installed outside the Tenley library - where I ride from time to time for a free viniyoga class.

Way to go DC!

Note my bike and backpack in the background
And now for some time on the foam roller...

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Taking the Long Way: the 2016 Errandonnee

If you ever want to find me I can still be found, taking the long way around… (Dixie Chicks)

That’s my approach to the 2016 Errandonnee. Now that I’m retired, I have more time to do errands at a relaxed pace. My only “work” is teaching yoga on Sunday mornings – just 2.5 miles from home. I used to ride 10 miles to my office about 3 days a week but now I find myself looking for excuses to take longer rides. Not that I need excuses; like all good things, the bike ride is its own reward. Nevertheless, taking a yoga class in DC instead of staying in Arlington gives me a 20-mile bike ride; going to Trader Joe’s for my groceries is farther than my local supermarket, but it’s a nice bike-friendly ride.

This year I briefly considered trying to do the entire Errandonnee in one day, but the scheduling logistics were too daunting. Besides, the challenge happened to coincide with gorgeous Spring weather and I knew I would want to be on my bike nearly every day.

It’s interesting for me to watch my evolution as a cyclist. For most of my life I was a recreational rider, primarily using the bike path on weekends for exercise. Then I met the Cycling Yogi – a long-time transportation cyclist – in 2009. Eager to hit it off with my new love interest, I started biking all over Philly with him. In 2010, a bike commuting coworker taught me the route from my Arlington home to downtown DC and I impressed myself by becoming a sometimes bike commuter in my late 50s. At first, like many female riders, I would take a longer route to stay on designated bike paths. But, with more experience, I started using the shortest route – a practice that was supported by the concomitant development of extensive bike lanes in both Arlington and DC. Still, if I could avoid a hill by taking a longer route, I avoided the hill. But after joining the Bicycle Space “Hills of Rock Creek Park” ride last year, I added a new challenge: deliberately adding a hilly ride once a week. Add retirement to the mix and I now find myself inventing reasons to take a 17-mile or longer ride. So what could please me more than the Errandonnee challenge – an opportunity to do at least 12 errands by bike in 12 days, for a total of 30+ miles in at least 7 of 9 categories?

Here’s what I did:

Trip 1: March 6, 2016; Heidelberg Bakery (Store); 1 mile

Delicious breads
I like the multigrain German-style breads at Heidelberg and it is right on my route to the yoga studio. However, if I want a chance to get the bread of my choice on a Sunday morning, I have to go before yoga. There were many St. Patrick’s Day goodies to be had at the bakery, but I resisted – even though I recently found out that I’m 1% Irish.

St Paddie's treats
Trip 2: March 6, 2016; Sun & Moon Yoga Studio (Work); 1.5 miles

It doesn’t feel like “work” but I do teach yoga every Sunday morning. Late winter/early spring is pothole season, and I had to be very careful to avoid some big ones between the bakery and yoga.

My regular parking spot
Trip 3: March 6, 2016; Shirlington Library (Non-store Errand); 11.5 miles

People waiting for the library to open at 1
This was my first of my “taking the long way” trips. The day had started a bit chilly, but by noon it was perfect riding weather – around 60 degrees. Although I could have returned my library items a few blocks from the yoga studio and headed home, instead I rode to Shirlington – adding about 9 miles more than “necessary.” Shirlington is a very dog-friendly village and many were out enjoying the day.

Just one of many cute doggies
Trip 4: March 7, 2016; Peets Coffee (Wild Card); 13.5 miles

Another excuse to take the long way. I like to ride the 17-mile “Arlington Loop” once a month or so, usually stopping at Shirlington (12 miles into the ride) for a little break. I had a lovely espresso, proudly displaying my backpack with the awesome Coffeeneuring patch from last season. On the way there I saw a graceful pair of mallard ducks in the pond along the Custis Trail and many, many robins, especially along the W&OD trail on my way home.

Love my patches!!!
Trip 5: March 7, 2016; Goodwill (Wild Card); 3.5 miles

As I made my way toward home from Shirlington there was a great flurry of fire trucks zooming past. I stopped into the Goodwill store hoping (unsuccessfully) to find some cheap plastic food storage containers. All the police activity was going on right at the intersection of Columbia Pike and the bike path. Although I didn’t find what I was looking for, I discovered a small gift for a cousin and a very nice dress. I was, as usual, glad to be a on a bike, as traffic was blocked off on Columbia Pike – making a huge pile-up.

So glad to not be in a car!
Trip 6: March 8, 2016; Post Office (Personal Business) 1 mile

This was a good day for trip chaining…planning out the best way to sequence four activities. First stop was the post office, where I took my bike right into the lobby to use the self-service machine. I sent the gift to my cousin.

Self-service - love it
Trip 7: March 8, 2016; Feldenkrais Class (Personal Care) 1.5 miles

Next stop: my weekly Feldenkrais class – a gentle, therapeutic movement modality – otherwise known as rolling around on the floor and relaxing! I noticed how easily I can always lock up my bike outside the yoga studio…a place I park with great regularity.

Time to relax
Trip 8: March 8, 2016; Bank (Personal Business) 1 mile

I had a check to deposit and still use the ATM, which I enjoy riding up to on my bike. The idea of depositing checks with my phone is still scary to me.

Never have to get off my bike
 Trip 9: March 8, 2016; India A-1 Grocery (Store) 1.5 miles

Down the road and across the street I stopped to stock up on some of the spices I’d depleted, since I had spent part of the morning making a fresh batch of curry powder and a roasted spice blend called bese bele. I was annoyed by all the road construction signs that were blocking the sidewalk. Yes, I know that it’s not good to ride on the sidewalk, but for this one stretch of my ride I have to travel on Lee Highway. I will ride in the road on early mornings when traffic is light, but not during the day when it is very trafficky.

Indian snack foods
Trip 10: March 8, 2016; Friend’s house (Social Call) 3 miles

After a brief rest at home, I cooked food to take to a friend whose husband is very ill. This is the reason I was looking for more food storage containers…I’ve been using mine up. She lives conveniently off the W&OD Trail and I discovered a new link from her house to the path on my way home.

Chick peas and spinach
Trip 11: March 10, 2016; Union Market (You Carried WHAT on Your Bike?) 11.5 miles

It was long overdue – my trusty old chef’s knives had not been professionally sharpened in many years. Some time ago I discovered DCSharp at Union Market, but found out there would be a 4-hour wait when I hauled the knives in on a weekend. So on a quiet Thursday afternoon, I carefully packaged them up and headed over on my bike. 

Your knives are crooked, he said
They were taken care of in less than an hour while I enjoyed kale slaw with tofu and Brussels sprouts from TaKorean. I noticed that the market was much closer to Union Station than I’d realized and there were many people enjoying the sunny day.

yum, yum, yum

Unofficial Trip 12: March 10, 2016; 1600 North Capitol Street 

True Confession – I just binge-watched Season 4 of House ofCards in less than a week – gobbling up 5 episodes the first night. I love the opening montage and was intrigued by the shot of a liquor store with the street sign reading 1600 North Capital Street. It was on my way to my next destination, so I decided to swing by, take a picture, and verify that it was a real DC location.

Just like in the show
Trip 12: March 10, 2016; Kramer Books (Social Call) 3 miles

I was meeting a friend before heading to another event (below) and was able to go straight across R St: a flat, direct shot – but one with very rough pavement, lots of traffic, and many long stop lights. But – it was bike lane the whole way (even if the bike lane had the roughest pavement).

Trip 13: March 10, 2016; The Phillips Collection (Arts and Entertainment) 2.5 miles

Since I didn’t do the entire errandonnee in a single day, I decided I would be sure to use every category this year. So, for my last entry, my friend and I went to a poetry reading sponsored by the Folger Shakespeare Library: an annual event in which the selected poets (Mark Doty and AimeeNezhukumatathil, this year) compose or choose poems of their own paired to works of art in the gallery. 

Wonderful poems and art, great discussion
This year the theme was nature. It was a delightful event from which I rode to the Farragut metro, and then home. As I packed my lights at the beginning of my trip, I remembered the days when the errandonnee required two trips in the dark. I don’t miss that requirement, but I like knowing that I am now a veteran of four errandonnee challenges!

A Klimt landscape
Total takedown: 56 miles and 13 trips on 4 days