Howling winds kept me from the mother of all errands this past weekend: a 45 mile ride for barbecue. I really wanted the food, but I also wanted to test the route for a future club ride. But with wind gusts exceeding 30mph, heading out on a bike seemed foolish. I’m not into accumulating miles in lousy conditions just for the sake of accumulating miles. Yesterday was house-cleaning day, leaving today as the last day for me to accomplish the errands necessary to finish the Errandonnee.
First stop: Starbucks for some coffee and a snack. 0.52 miles. On the way there, I observed something that I bet other cyclists see all the time: the bewildered look on the face of the driver stopped behind me at a traffic light as I waved her up closer to me so she would trigger the sensor embedded in the road to change the light. Are the sensors a secret to all but those who cycle?
From Starbucks, it was 343 grueling feet to the ATM to get some cash. The objective of today’s journey was to purchase Pop Tarts for my kids and the stop at the ATM was necessary to achieve that goal. I noticed that my drivetrain is making a lot of noise due to all the sand on the roads. Anyone could have heard that, I suppose, but what I find interesting is the cyclist’s ability to tune into subtle sounds such as drive train and braking noises and immediately start a diagnostic routine in one’s head.
From the ATM, it was 1.29 windy miles to the library. I noticed that the wind bothers me the most when I’m in a rush. If I have nowhere to go and all day to get there, the wind is little annoyance. But when I need to get somewhere quickly, I despise the wind.
0.1 miles brought me to the local community center where I obtained information about after school programs for my kids. What I noticed during this stop is how little secure bicycle parking there is in my town, particularly at public buildings such as the library and community center; no bike racks or convenient place to chain the bike to.
From the community center, it was 0.72 miles to the Radioshack for an obscure battery and the supermarket for the Pop Tarts. Battery in hand, I began to walk next door to the supermarket and realized I forgot my Kryptonite lock. The supermarket is one of maybe three places in town where I always lock my bike, primarily because it will be out of my line of sight. What I learned during this errand is the value of double checking my bag before leaving the house. I double checked all the things I put into the bag (wallet, phone, camera) but failed to check for the thing that “normally” lives in the bag; namely, the lock.
0.35 miles brought me to the local bike shop where I contemplated (just for a moment) buying a lock. That seemed stupid, so I snapped this picture and moved on in my search for Pop Tarts. What did I learn? I learned my LBS carries a boring selection of bikes and gear, perhaps explaining why I rarely visit the shop.
It was 0.64 miles to the neighborhood deli in search of those toaster treats. No luck. I observed, at this point, that what normally would have made me aggravated (striking out in my search for breakfast snacks), was tolerable because I was conducting the search on my bike. Cycling makes everything tolerable if not enjoyable.
Onto the last errand, a ride to the school where my son’s parent-teacher meeting would take place later in the day, for 3.05 miles. Notice I didn’t say I attended the meeting, just rode to the school. As I rolled up, I realized that the school district might not appreciate my Pearl Izumi & Rapha outfit at a semi-formal meeting, so I decided to ride home, wash, change and come back in the car. What I observed/realized is that I am woefully unprepared for casual errand-running on the bike. I don’t have clothes suitable for pedaling around inconspicuously. My cycling wear is full-on lycra and smart wool, and my casual clothes are a little too nice to get coated in salt and sand while riding. It might be time for some “undercover” cycling clothes.
I wrapped up the Errandonnee with a 1.14 mile “personal care” easy spin (except for the wind) home, during which I realized/observed that I really don’t run a lot of errands during the week. Doing them on the bike was fun but I feel like I was making work for myself as a reason to complete the Errandonne. But any time on the bike is good time.
So here’s the summary, by category:
1) Food store: 2 trips, one in the dark, for = 0.64 + 3.03 = 3.67
2) Library = 1.29
Community Center = 0.1
3) Community Meeting (PTA) = 3.05
4) Work: 2 round trips, both in the dark for = 20.1 + 20.3 = 40.4
5) Other Store (Radioshack) = 0.72
6) Wild Card = Bank = 343 feet
7) Coffee, 2 trips = 0.52 + 1.34 = 1.86
8) Bike Shop = 0.35
9) Personal Care = 1.14
Total = 52.58 miles and 343 feet
I never got the Pop Tarts!