Winter Challenge: The Errandonnee, 2014 Edition!

@MrTinDC on the Brompton
@MrTinDC on the Brompton

Winter got you down? Craving the warmth of spring days? Feel down no more and hop on that bike. It’s time for a March challenge designed for the utility cyclist with lots of errands to do, even in winter– the Errandonnee!

The tweet version of The Errandonnee is:

Errandonnee: Complete 12 errands in 12’ish days and ride a total of 30 miles by bike between March 7-19, 2014.* 

*Technically, this is 13 days, but I encountered some issues with math along the way. And with the weather this year, I’m building in a snow day.

Since we must run errands, anyway, let’s take the opportunity to recognize the utility cycling we often do, but seldom celebrate.

The term “errandonnee” was developed in my friend Eric P.’s language laboratory and is a hybrid of “errands” and the French word “randonnee.”

Conceptually, these two words may not initially fit well together, but string 12 errands together for one long ride interrupted by sleep and other diversions, and you have… an errandonnee. Technically, I suppose there should be an accent above one of those last e’s, but it’s too much work to find that character on my computer.

Errandonnee is almost as much fun to spell as Mississippi so how can you not want to participate in this challenge?



Below are the 11 Errandonnee categories (or controls) in order for you to plan and map your Errandonnee accordingly:

  • Bike Shop
  • Breakfast or Lunch
  • Coffee or Dessert
  • Community Meeting (e.g., church, parent-teacher conference, board meeting)
  • Dinner
  • Grocery Store
  • Any store that is not the grocery store
  • Personal Care and Health (e.g., doctor, haircut, massage, gym, manicure, riding to the start of a bike ride)
  • Library (also includes book reading)
  • Work
  • Wild Card

Of course, a Chasing Mailboxes challenge can’t be too simple so I’ve added in some rules. These may initially look like a lot of rules, but I think after you read through them you will find this challenge to be quite manageable.


  1. Complete 12 errands from Friday, March 7 through Wednesday, March 19, 2014.
  2. Complete the Errandonnee Control Card as you go.
  3. There is no minimum length for each errand, but you must complete at least 30 miles of bike riding over 12 days to successfully qualify for the Errandonnee. That’s an average of 2.5 miles per errand.
  4. There is no maximum number of errands you must complete each day, provided you complete all 12 by the end of Wednesday, March 19. You can ride all 12 errands in one day, do one errand per day, or any other combination that works for you.
  5. You must complete errands from at least seven of the 11 categories represented on the Errandonnee Control Card.
  6. Each category may be used a maximum of two times. For example, you may count a ride to work a total of two times.
  7. The Wild Card errand is for any trip you make that does not fall into any of the categories listed on the control card and you somehow cannot figure out how to fit into the Personal Care category.
  8. It is suggested that you complete two errands after dark (or before daylight), but this is not a requirement. Please note the lighting method used.
  9. To evidence your errand, take one photo during your outing and submit at least one thing you learned or observed during your trip. Photos may be provided to me in the following ways:
    • If you have a blog, you can post them there and send me the links.
    • You may also use a site like flickr or Picasa and link me to your photos.
    • You can send me the links to your Errandonnee tweets.
    • Finally, I will accept 12 photos via email if that works best for you.
  10. There are no geographic limitations on the Errandonnee. OK, Earth. All participants must be from somewhere on Earth.
  11. If the Errandonnee stresses you out or offends you or makes you feel bad or sad or competitive, you should stop. This is supposed to be fun and if you are not having fun then please do not continue because feeling stressed out or offended or bad or sad or competitive due to the Errandonnee is not what this is all about (that’s what family is for, KIDDING!) and it’s no way to live.
  12. Deadline for Errandonnee submissions is midnight in your area, March 25, 2014.
  13. Submit all Errandonnee paperwork, including your Errandonnee Control Card to me at gersemalina “at”
  14. Send all qualifying rides together. That is, send me all 12 in one go, NOT ride 1, ride 2, etc. If you have been blogging or tweeting your errands, you can send me the links to those as well as the completed control card.
  15. Everyone who successfully completes the Errandonnee will receive a prize. But, as in coffeeneuring, it is not a mountain of money so don’t quit your day job. Please include a snail mail address in your submission so that I may send your Errandonnee swag to you.

Also, please feel free to tweet as you go using the hashtag #errandonnee. Two r’s, two n’s, two e’s.

If you have a blog and errandeur, please send me a link to your write-ups!

Additional questions?

I have an additional Q&A post here. If that still doesn’t address your question, ask in the comments of this post or send me an email if you’re shy.

The Errandonnee: March 7-19, 2014. Winter’s last gasp (fingers crossed). Let’s do this.


  1. Excellent! Friday should kick off with a bang – I’ve got 3 distinct things that need doing and should be able to catalogue them all. Not often that happens. After Friday, some ingenuity may be necessary. Or lots of rides out to drink coffee. 😉


  2. I’ve been waiting for this!!!

    I’ll be on travel 3/1-8 and 3/10-15. Gonna have to errandonée (Ha! My iPhone knows the word!) like crazy those few days home. Good news is I plan to rent a bike in the Netherlands. 🙂


    Sent from my iPhone which sometimes has a mind of its own.



  3. Hooray, the errandonnée! Some rule changes, will be studying, spreadsheeting and outlining the rules, then making laminated cue cards to carry with me for referral. Thank you for giving me a few days to accomplish all of that prior to the start. (And, at least on a Mac, the accented e can be typed by holding down option key & e key simultaneously, that produces the égout, then type = voila – é)


  4. Okay, MG, now you’ve done it. You’ve inspired me to try it again this year. I would never have accomplished it in February this year, but I’m banking on warmer temps in March – at least it’s supposed to be near 30F by this Friday. It should also have the added benefit of getting me in shape for the start of spring(?) commuting to work.


  5. My March Break falls right smack bang in the beginning of this. I had planned on spending most of that time in my jammies, but you have inspired me to get dressed occasionally. Like, at least one day.


  6. I am in with a big Friday start planned. My only question is, pronunciation, when I tell friends what I am doing.
    Errand- O-nnee
    I am, sadly, obsessed with this and will be chanting the word as I complete my tasks


    • Excellent! I have always pronounced it Er-RAND-onnee, but given that it is a made up word I think the first pronunciation is perfectly fine, too!


  7. Ooh I was hoping I hadn’t missed this!! Unfortunately I read this yesterday, right after I got home from: the bike shop, the grocery, the library (where I met a librarian-randonneur!), the bank (wild card), work, did a community meeting last night and went to another bike shop… Can’t wait to do it all again though!! It’s on!!


  8. […] spend all their time reading about obscure bicycle stuff on the internet, challenges you to run 12 errands by bike in 12 days, between Friday March 7th and Tuesday March 19th, which is apparently 13 days but who’s […]


  9. Last one of these I’ll be able to participate in before I retire to the hinterlands of Vermont!

    Question: can we submit a Strava map image in lieu of a ride photo? I believe you’d accepted mine last year, but wanted to double-check.


  10. If I bike to where I planned to run an errand, but fail to actually complete the errand, does that still count? (in my case, I went to a bike shop only to find that it’s closed all week)


  11. Seconding Adam’s follow-up question, because in the Library category, the phrase, “also includes book reading” confuses me — does that mean that riding somewhere to read a book that I already have, could go under the Library heading?

    Next question: Could visiting a friend who’s going through, let’s say, a very tough time, count as “Community Meeting”? Because it’s a lot closer to a religious service or a teacher conference than it is to a HappyFunTime hangout. Or is the point of that category that more than two people are involved in whatever the event is (and that the purpose of the event is “bigger than”, or “outside”, those two people)?


    • Vance and Froggie: Library and book reading. 1. A book store cannot count as library, but as noted, as store that is not the grocery store. 2. “Book reading” was conceptualized as being a person going and listening to an author read his or her book. However, I had not considered this liberal interpretation of riding somewhere to read a book one already owns. I will count it as a “Library Without Walls” library.

      Vance, for your second question I don’t think it would count under Community Meeting. That is intended to be, as you suggest, larger than two people. However, you could count it as a Wild Card, OR if you visited and had lunch or breakfast or something, you could count it in the Breakfast or Lunch category.


  12. This seems pretty cool!
    One question, though. Could riding to school count in the Work category, or is it more of a Wild Card?


  13. Thanks for putting this challenge out there. More often than not, I drive on most of my errands. Even the ones nearby. This should be just what I need to help motivate myself to take my bike instead.


  14. Two questions: Suppose one is retired, so is not riding to work? What might substitute for that?
    Also, I have knitting group every other Thursday, and cycle over. Does that count as community meeting? There is a whole bunch of us 🙂


    • 1. If retired, then volunteering can count as work. Or, if one is retired and taking a class somewhere, then that can also count as work. 2. Knitting group can definitely count as a community meeting!


  15. […] – I might have left Maggie home today, if not for the Errandonnée challenge. I’m glad I didn’t! Cold, rain and wind were all tolerable, and it felt good […]


  16. […] hosts a winter biking challenge focused on encouraging participants to run errands via bicycle. The Errandonnee ran for two weeks and required completing 12 errands from a minimum of seven (of 11 categories). […]


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