Week One of 30 Days of Biking in Washington, D.C.

Day 1


When I was just as far as I could walk
From here today,
There was an hour
All still
When leaning with my head against a flower I heard you talk.
Robert Frost, The Telephone

Day 2


The budding twigs spread out their fan,
To catch the breezy air;
And I must think, do all I can,
That there was pleasure there.
William Wordsworth, Lines Written in Early Spring

Day 3


I used to like being young, and I still do,
Because I think I still am. There are physical
Objections to that thought, and yet what
Fascinates me now is how obsessed I was at thirty-five
With feeling older than I was: it seemed so smart
And worldly, so fastidiously knowing to dwell so much
On time — on what it gives, what it destroys, on how it feels.
John Koethe, A Private Singularity

Day 4

Old Rag 200K

If ever there were a spring day so perfect,
so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze

that it made you want to throw
open all the windows in the house

and unlatch the door to the canary’s cage,
indeed, rip the little door from its jamb
Billy Collins, Today

Day 5


Crabapple blossoms, blown,
fall and flutter down,

littering like confetti
the main street of our city.

Confetti… the simile
quickens, and you and I

walking sometime later
amidst the drifted litter

come to realize
that we feel ill at ease

in this belated beauty
since, if it is confetti

it means we have missed
some great things seen by most:
Bill Coyle, Fallen 

Day 6


Trickles through my fingers, ensconced in a dune cleft, sun
Warmed and breeze cooled. This peace is full of sounds and
Movement. A couple passes, jogging. A dog passes, barking
And running. My nose runs, a little. Just a drip. Left over
From winter. How long ago it seems! All spring and summer stretch
Ahead, a roadway lined by roses and thunder. “It will be here
Before you know it.”
James Schuyler, Hymn to Life

Day 7


I could clean
The garage, weed the garden,
Or get out the shears and
Prune the rose bushes back.
Yes, a thousand things
This beautiful April morning.
But I’ve decided to just lie
Here in this old hammock,
Rocking like a lazy metronome,
And wait for the day lilies
To open.
Robert Hedin,This Morning I Could Do A Thousand Things

A Dose of Reality on a 200K

Felkerino and I met up with bicycling friends Eric, Jerry, Barry, and Joel to ride the classic D.C. Randonneurs “Old Rag 200K” route. Jerry had some weird rattle in his rear wheel that would not go away, Barry was riding a loaner bike since his main rando ride was in the shop for repairs, our Schmidt generator hub failed, and Eric’s shifter broke in the final five miles.

Old Rag 200K

Other than that, the day was spectacular. Windy and sunny, but warm with temps reaching the low 60s. It’s been so refreshing to ride under these truly spring-like conditions. The winds I feared were– for the most part– not so bad, as the hills provided many sections of shelter.

While Felkerino and I rode consistently throughout the course, my legs still lacked pop. As I considered my less-than-lively legs, I realized that this course was softly doling out a dose of reality– the reality that if I don’t ride with discipline through the winter I will likely end up in minimally acceptable brevet shape.

Randos by the forsythia
Randos by the forsythia

I’ve posted before about Felkerino’s and my approach to preparing for brevet distances: overall miles; time in the saddle; hills; and weather tolerance.

From January through March, I logged less than 1,000 miles, completed only one century-length ride each month, and didn’t force myself to ride long and out in the hills on frigid days. The lure of the espresso machine was strong this winter.

I’ve run just over 300 miles for the year, but I’m here to report that good running fitness does not translate into solid brevet shape. Running benefited me cardiovascularly, but the muscles used from one to the other are distinct.

We managed to outrun this speedy dog.
We managed to outrun this speedy dog.

It is a rueful feeling to know what I should have done over the winter, but did not. As I rode on Saturday, part of me wanted to reach back in time to have the winter months back so I could follow the approach I penned in that randonneur preparation post and rigorously followed in previous years. Too late.

I admonished myself over my conditioning, but the spectacular skies, delicious panorama, and easy company of our riding group made it difficult to dwell on the negative.

Jerry on Etlan Road, one of the most beautiful roads around
Jerry on Etlan Road, one of the most beautiful roads around

Despite the lack of bike fitness, Felkerino and I still made it around the course without any physical problems. It was our bikes that suffered most, it appeared.

Now is too late to undergo any intense fitness-building. What is important is to stay healthy, keep our base miles strong, and our attitudes positive. I need to look ahead, rather than peruse mileage logs that tell a story I can’t change.

While I wish I was more ready to roll through the brevets, I really enjoyed the lack of bicycling discipline and a break from feeling as though I had to log miles on the bike. My dose of reality this weekend showed that I paid the price of losing some of my fitness, but the benefit of being excited to ride long again was worth it.

Errandonnee 2015 Finishers and Honorable Mentions

The moment to announce the Errandonnee 2015 Finishers and Honorable Mentions is finally upon us! Thanks to all for their patience as I homologated entries.

This year’s edition of the challenge boasts 62 Finishers and 4 Honorable Mentions, including one Honorable Mention from Boston. Yes, that Boston, the one that received record-breaking snow this year.

Overall, errandeurs completed 804 errands and rode a cumulative 4,668 miles over the 12 days of the Errandonnee. That averages out to around 68 miles and just over 12 errands per person. Impressive? I say yes.

The states with the most representation are: Washington (10); the District of Columbia (10); California (5); Virginia (5); and Oregon (4).

While 53 participants live in the United States, 3 errandeurs hailed from England, 2 from Scotland, 2 from Finland, 2 from Canada, 1 from the Netherlands (I think), and 1 from Sweden.

This year’s totals stack up similarly in terms of overall miles and number of participants when compared to last year. However, there were many new Errandonnee participants as well as some repeat Errandonnee champions.

March isn’t the same for everyone. For some, it is a month of snow and cold. For others it means rainy days. Or wind. And for a few participants, March means sunny skies and days in the 70s– we’re jealous of you. Errandeurs ranged from more temperate states like California, Oregon, and Washington to “real winter” states like Minnesota, Michigan, Iowa, Montana, Pennsylvania, and New York. Not even winter days defy the determined errandeur.

daffodils and surly lht

Congratulations to everybody who took on the Errandonnee: 12 errands, 12 days, and last but not least, paperwork.

You did it!

  1. Jake of Bicyclist Abroad. The Netherlands  @bicyclistabroad   113 miles
  2. Linel. Alexandria, Virginia   @linelisel   83 miles
  3. Shirley of No Spandex Required.  Seattle, Washington
    @nospandexreq   48.2 miles
  4. Astrid.  Lynnwood, Washington  @astridbear  31.64 miles
  5. Chris of Riding the Mindway.  Des Moines, Iowa  @pyrtwist 147.7 miles
  6. Corbi of Pedaling Nut.  Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania  68 miles
  7. Joe Flood.  Washington, D.C.  @joeflood  73 miles 16 errands!
  8. Randy of Randy and Nova’s Cycling Scrapbook. Haysville, Kansas  95 miles
  9. Jim of JE.  Glasgow, Scotland  @jimewing  52.7 miles
  10. Judy O.  Toronto, Ontario  Canada  35.5 miles
  11. Rachel C. Washington, D.C.  @rachelcannon  81 miles
  12. Line B. Boulder, Colorado  125 miles
  13. Lis of Round World.  Washington, D.C.  azizza09  53 miles
  14. Jon of Peninsulawyer  Suffolk, England  @jonbloor  39.47 miles
  15. sprite.  Washington, D.C.  @spritewrites 30.1 miles
  16. Carol H.  Bend, Oregon @carolski 67.1 miles
  17. Lydia of Lydia Rides.  Espoo, Finland  167.09 miles
  18. Kel. Redmond, Washington 39.4 miles
  19. Rudi R. Washington, D.C. @randomduck 35.4 miles
  20. Marina of Sister Leigh Viticus  Los Angeles, California @marinanachos  65.46 miles
  21. Madi of Family Ride  Seattle, Washington  @familyride 138 miles
  22. Annie of anniebikes. Burlington, Vermont  30 miles
  23. Sally of City Exile.  Dumfries, Scotland  @sallyhinch  88 miles
  24. Johanna L.  Helsinki, Finland (formerly of #BikeDC!)  @djjoha  32.5 miles
  25. John R.  Washington, D.C.  @dirteng  80.9 miles
  26. Eric of The Written Ride.  Washington, D.C.  201 miles
  27. Anders.  Märsta, Sweden  284 kilometers
  28. Eric W.  San Francisco, California  @ewalstad  229 miles!
  29. Bill A. Portland, Oregon  @tangobiker  63.7 miles
  30. Glen B.  Kirkland, Washington  @glenbikes  119.51 miles
  31. Laura H.  Seattle, Washington  41.5 miles
  32. Alicia M.  Lynnwood, Washington   47.42 miles
  33. James H. (tandem!)  Manchester, Connecticut  38.7 miles
  34. Laura G. (tandem!)  Manchester, Connecticut  38.7 miles
  35. Eileen of Eileen On.  Santa Monica, California  105 miles
  36. Bri of Bike Like Crazy in Upstate New York.  82 miles
  37. Crystal of Aesthetics of Everywhere.  Santa Barbara, California (formerly of #BikeDC)  @crysb  150 miles
  38. Biking Yogini. Arlington, Virginia  @bikingyogini  45 miles
  39. Lisa D.  Norfolk, Virginia  39.49 miles
  40. Tom H.  Billings, Montana  66 miles
  41. Tess M.  Beaverton, Oregon  35.8 miles
  42. Jimmy Phoenix Manchester, England  70 miles
  43. Nate P. Ann Arbor, Michigan (first Michigan finisher for a Chasing Mailboxes challenge!)  @yikes_bikes 58.7 miles
  44. Rootchopper.  Alexandria, Virginia   @rootchopper  98.55 miles
  45. Zak S.  Temecula, Washington  @zakschwank  75 miles
  46. Jon P.  Baltimore, Maryland  45 miles
  47. Michelle P. of The View from the Crosswalk.  Kirkland, Washington  @crosswalkview  50 miles
  48. Mark P. (Errundonnee!) also of a The View from the Crosswalk.  Kirkland, Washington  @crosswalkview  67 miles
  49. Gray H.  Fort Collins, Colorado  48 miles
  50. Chris of PureFix Cycles  Burbank, California  52 miles
  51. Nate N. Sioux Center, Iowa  @clodhopperrides  55.65 miles
  52. G.E. of Endless Velo Love.  Longmont, Colorado @endlessvelolove  58.5 miles
  53. Lynne of Lynne’s Mostly Cycling Blog.  Portland, Oregon 40.16 miles
  54. Jessica K. Washington, D.C.  @lawderly  32.4 miles
  55. Vannevar! Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania  @vannevarb  66 miles
  56. Colleen S. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania @redinthe412 47 miles
  57. Deb of Debiguity.  Arlington, Virginia  @debiguity  88 miles
  58. Felkerino.  Washington, D.C.  @dailyrandonneur  35.65 miles
  59. Cynthia R. Sioux Center, Iowa  30 miles
  60. Andrea of Physics Girl on the Loose.  Toronto, Ontario  Canada. @aem2  49.5 miles
  61. Lynda T.  Thousand Oaks, California  32.8 miles
  62. Martin of Martin is Cycling 365 Days  Lincolnshire, England @winsladem  53 miles
  63. Matt of Just Like Riding (Honorable Mention).  Boston, Massachusetts  45.3 miles
  64. Darin of Northwoods Trekkers (Honorable Mention!) Duluth, Minnesota  63.1 miles
  65. Rebecca of Velovoice (Honorable Mention)  Bedfordshire, England  @velovoice  25 miles
  66. Kate of Girl on a Bike (Honorable Mention) Washington, D.C. @girlonabikedc 26.6 miles
  67. Joan O. (Honorable Mention)  Arlington, Virginia 34.5 miles

If you think you should be included on this list, please let me know by email or in the comments. Also, if I have somehow erred in presenting your Errandonnee information, let me know that as well.

If you have suggestions about how categories could be changed or rules adjusted, please let me know. I’m open to ideas.

Congratulations to all the finishers, almost-finishers, as well as the repeat Errandonnee finishers. Many thanks to everyone who participated. It might just have been the best Errandonnee yet!

April is for 30 Days of Biking. And Poetry

“How many miles to the sun?” He smiled
In answer to my “Where are you going?”
Lilacs were caught in his handle bars,
His pedals were mud, his eyes were stars,
His hair was blowing.
Marion Strobel, “Man and Bike”

Today kicks off 30 Days of Biking, where people far and wide commit to getting on their bikes and– you guessed it– riding them for the 30 days in April.

As someone who rides year-round, I didn’t initially see the benefits of 30 Days of Biking, but I had such a positive experience with it last year that I decided to make the pledge again.

I’m combining my 30 Days of Biking with a personal challenge to read poetry every day in April. I used to love reading poetry growing up. However, my interest in it lapsed or was overtaken by other activities until recently.

Tidal Basin and Surly and me

During times of uncertainty and fear, poetry has soothed and helped me through, and I now have a desire to add a dose of lyric into my daily routine.

I thought you might enjoy the images captured in Marion Strobel’s “Man and Bike,” which is available to read in full here.

I think her poem a fitting way to ride into the month.

Errandonnee note: Still finalizing finishers, miles, and errands, but hope to have a full list this week. I mean it this time. Thanks to all for their participation and patience!

Stillness in the Ruckus of Washington, D.C.

Buses align Ohio Drive, one after the other, and block my once-daily view of the Potomac.

Large chatty groups of tourists swarm the National Mall, oblivious to the bike commuters that weave around them. They start the day early, and I fail to wake up any earlier to avoid their field trips.

The sudden influx is an annual jolt. The quiet commute is gone. Rush hour noises surround me. They seem even louder than before. People chatter and shout, buses belch and surge. And there’s honking. Always honking.

I still seek stillness in the ruckus. It’s my silent scavenger hunt. Instinct guides me, and the camera in hand is like an extra set of eyes.

A moment may be all there is before a still spot vanishes. Years ago, that would anger me. Now it is all I need.

Forsythia on the Mall
Forsythia on the Mall
Bike shadow on Green
Bike shadow on Green
Early Blossoms on the Mall
Early Blossoms on the Mall
Tidal Basin plus Surly
Tidal Basin plus Surly

Fallen flowers on 14th Street

Celebrating a sunny warm day as the cars go by
Celebrating a sunny warm day as the cars go by

Mood and Safety Enhancing: M204 Monkey Light Review

Our hours of daylight may be lengthening, but I still find myself doing plenty of night riding in the city. Melissa over at MonkeyLectric asked if I’d be interested in trying out a set of their M204 Monkey Lights, a multi-colored battery-operated light that attaches to one’s wheel spokes.

Monkey Light

Generally, I’m not much for doing product reviews, but the Monkey Light intrigued me so I said sure. I’ve now been using the Monkey Light on my Surly Long Haul Trucker for three months and my short summary of this light is:

Both mood and safety enhancing, the M204 Monkeylectric Monkey Light 204 is a reasonably priced (around $25.00), relatively easy-to-install supplemental light with a slightly clunky hub-affixed battery pack that provides colorful peripheral lighting for bike commuters. 

For night riding and dreary days, the Monkey Light M204 has been a pleasant addition. It’s like having my own little front wheel rainbow.

It was fairly simple to install, key for someone like me who does not like to futz with things. Total time to put the light on my bike was less than 30 minutes, and I took pictures along the way.

Monkey Light

The instructions explaining how to attach the light to my hub were easy to follow. The light affixes to the spokes with two zipties, and the battery pack fits to the hub through zip ties as well.

Monkey Light

MonkeyLectric sends a few extra zip ties with the light in the event you need to replace one, as well as a couple of metal ties to make the light more theft-proof (which I am not using).

I wound the wire that attaches the light to the battery pack around a spoke. I’m not a huge fan of how it looks, but it’s not too intrusive, and in the dark you can’t even tell it’s there, ha!

Monkey Light
Attaching the battery pack to the hub after winding the light wire around the spoke and before cutting the zip ties on the light.


The battery pack requires four AA batteries and MonkeyLectric sends you a set to get you started. I’m still using those initial batteries, but my nighttime commute generally runs between three and five miles.

Monkey Light battery pack
Monkey Light battery pack
Connecting the battery pack to the light cord
Connecting the battery pack to the light cord

Over the three months I’ve used the Monkey Light the battery pack has shifted, but I could not have attached the zip ties any tighter to the hub. I imagine I will need to reinstall the pack at some point to hopefully tighten the pack down more snugly, but for now it’s working without issue.

I don’t understand the run time indicators or pattern instructions included on the Monkey Light instructions. There are two possibilities for this:

1. I’m not good at reading pictures; or
2. I’m impatient and don’t take the time to decipher the pictures.

In any event, I know where “off” and “on” is located (the red button!) and I then push the black button until I find a pattern that suits my mood.

Monkey Light

I like using this bike in the city. It is eye-catching and gives good additional peripheral light. Unfortunately, I don’t have any good images of me riding this bike in the dark so please accept the couple of still photos I took in my house with the lights off as a substitute.

The colors are fun, brighten my mood, but do not distract from my main job of pedaling. Monkey Light says that the light is waterproof, and it has held up to several commutes in steady rain.

Monkey Light Pennsylvania Ave

While this is no substitute for front or rear lights, if you are in the market for a bit of extra visibility on the bike at a reasonable cost, I’d recommend you check out the M204 Monkey Light. Thanks again to Melissa and MonkeyLectric for the opportunity to try it.

Riding in Search of Weak Spots

Some randonneurs maintain brevet fitness throughout the year, but I haven’t managed to achieve that. When September arrives, I ride for fun, and run myself into shape for a fall marathon or two.

Winter weather tempers my riding ambitions. It’s just not as glorious to ride around the countryside through various shades of winter browns and grays while hands and feet throb in protest.

With a March marathon behind me, and the calendar noting of the arrival of spring, I was out of excuses for not riding long. Felkerino and I agreed that if we were serious about riding brevets this year, then a long-ish tandem ride was in order.

Felkerino on Sugarland Road

We call these early season rides training rides, although more technically I suppose one could call them whatevering rides. We set an ambitious but not unreasonable distance and roughly scope out our route. Then we ride until we’re done.

March whatevering rides are all about acclimating our bodies to all-day saddle time, figuring out the weak spots in our fitness, and remembering what it’s like to ride the same bike.

“I wouldn’t have done that, Felkerino.”
“Thank you for calling out that bump, Felkerino.”
“Oh, we’re turning here!”

Training rides present an opportunity to refine the rando setup and take stock of what the bike needs. We revisit the state of the extra tubes and the tools stored in the side pockets. We dig into the bottom of the bag to see what forgotten treasure might have been left. (My favorite Ibex hat? Thank you!)

Tree in March

We remember how the Carradice starts out mostly empty and then fills with layers shed throughout the warming temperatures of the day. Booties, heavy gloves, jackets. As a ride continues past sunset, the layers gradually re-emerge. Like a multi-act play or a Madonna concert, a whatevering ride can require a few wardrobe changes.

We’re reminded that it’s important to exercise good rando habits, such as closing the Carradice bag each time we open it. Otherwise, a favorite vest might tumble out somewhere on the road and be lost forever. It’s one thing to do such silly things in the city, where it’s easier to retrace steps, but on a rando ride? Forget about it.

Saturday’s ride was a 115-mile loop from the District to Brunswick, Maryland, and back. Some flat, plenty of rollers, and a decent amount of climbing for the day without being punishing. A good early season whatevering, er, training ride.

Some sections of our route (especially the suburban ones) gave Felkerino plenty of practice with pothole dodging. Maybe this could be a new form of eye test that optometrists use for cyclists. Avoid all potholes and you don’t need new glasses.

2015-03-23 20.13.29

Our ride went smoothly, if you discount the slowly leaking tire we managed through much of the ride. We were rooting for our rear tire to make it through one more ride, but it was oblivious to our encouragement and continued to plague us with a slow leak until we found a good tire replacement spot, and swapped out worn tread for new.

Randonneurs can be weird. We probably should have replaced it when we first noticed the issue, rather than try to nurse it along. We imagined we were saving time by not changing the tire, but we were really delaying the inevitable.

My legs were not fully recovered from last week’s marathon, but they felt okay. Felkerino probably had to do a little extra lifting for the team on the hilly segments, but he knew what I’d been up to the week before and didn’t seem to mind.

The day offered several pleasantly warm, sunny hours. Oh how long it’s been since my toes felt toasty on a ride. This also aided our disposition during the late-ride tire change, too. It’s a luxury to change a tire in weather where your hands don’t freeze.

Flat fixing tandem. Felkerino and me

Even though my legs lacked the snap I would have liked, we physically made it through with no issues and in good spirits. Our rolling average was lower than it usually is during peak riding months. We took more breaks along the way than we would during a brevet, but completed our agreed-upon route without shortcutting or moaning and groaning.

A new vest has been ordered and we’ve restocked our tubes and spare tire supply. We’ve sketched out additional whatevering rides. I’m finally in a state of anticipation about the brevets.

The early spring warmth and late afternoon sun of Saturday made us believe that spring is coming. The grass is seriously contemplating an emergence, as are the early spring buds. I can feel it.

More whatevering rides through the hills, a little tweaking here and there but not too much, more disciplined time in the saddle, and we will have sorted out our weak spots. Add in a few more sunny days in the 60s (is this too much to ask?) and we’ll be brevet ready.

Birthday Week Bike Rides in BikeDC

Dear Washington, D.C., my current city of residence,

I discovered a better way to maneuver around you after too many years as a subterranean Metro passenger.

Monday Afternoon at the Monument
Monday Afternoon at the Monument

Your dense pinwheel layout and abundant side streets instilled a belief that I could pedal your roads without too much angst or trouble.

Tuesday Morning Under the 14th Street Bridge
Tuesday Morning Under the 14th Street Bridge

My first days were simple routes, from Adams Morgan to L’Enfant Plaza. I had lots to learn. There were missteps, like that one morning I was late to work and foolishly tried to rip down 14th Street. I won’t tell if you won’t.

Tuesday Morning Cheesy Monument Photo Time with the Jefferson
Tuesday Morning Cheesy Monument Photo Time with the Jefferson

But I gained confidence. I explored. You became even more easily navigable than I first imagined.

Tuesday 15th Street Cycletrack and These Horses
Tuesday 15th Street Cycletrack and These Horses

Through the years, we’ve come to know each other better, you and I. You’re a decent place for us cyclists, D.C.

Wednesday by the Jefferson. Watching the Tourists Arrive
Wednesday by the Jefferson. Watching the Tourists Arrive

The cars have tried to take you over, but you still save some parts of yourself just for us. Never concede them, please. Try and reclaim others, if you can.

Thursday Under Memorial Bridge
Thursday Under Memorial Bridge

This is my birthday week– a week in March that also marks the changing of the seasons.

Thursday. Calm water on the Potomac. The Surly wants its own Shot.
Thursday. Calm water on the Potomac. The Surly wants its own Shot.

Before the buses block the view of the Potomac River and the tourists overtake your streets and sidewalks, I captured some moments of us together.

I also snuck in my own tourist photo.

Cheesy pre-work selfie with my favorite cycling partner
Cheesy pre-work selfie with my favorite cycling partner
Ending the Week with a Rainy Pass through the White House Plaza
Ending the Week with a Rainy Pass through the White House Plaza

The city. My bike. Me.

I think we look good together, and I look forward to another year with you. Let’s hope it’s the best year yet.


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