Every Errandonnee Ends Eventually

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The 2016 Errandonnee has come to an end, the twelve days flew right by! Thanks so much to Mary at Chasing Mailboxes for such a fun and friendly competition.

I had a great ride this morning. It began with fighting a strong headwind for 18 miles. Normally I find riding into a stiff wind very demoralizing because it feels like climbing a hill except that the hill is invisible and never ending, but this morning was different. My mind was in the right place (for once) and I didn’t let that wind best me. I knew that the harder the wind blew the more benefits I would reap when I turned around at the halfway point.

Once I hit 18 miles, I made sure the road was empty before making a U-turn. Now it was time to fly.

Wind at my back, exhilaration in my heart I let the bike go at full throttle. My bike and I had been waiting for this, a strong tailwind to transform us into epic heroes. Every time I sprint down a road with the power of a strong wind behind me, it makes me burn with the desire to become a faster, better cyclist. To be able to ride like the wind…but without the wind. I want to be able to tear up the road like this under my own power.

When I came back into town I went to a friend’s house to do a few hours of babysitting. The two kids were filled with boxed up energy so I took them outside and they started riding their bikes around the yard. The tires of these little bikes were quite flat so I took out my mini pump and showed them how to pump up their own tires. The kids were fascinated and ended up pumping up the tires of all of the bikes they could find.

After their mom came home, I was able to get my mini pump back with some gentle coaxing and I went to donate blood. It felt good to donate again and the process went smoothly. (Although I did almost fall asleep at one point. They had me lay down on a cot and since they were busy, no one actually took my blood for 5-10 minutes and I got rather drowsy while staring at the ceiling.)

Then I ran a few errands before eating supper and going to a meeting at church. It was a busy day. And a very good one.

My last three errands were all pretty much in the same place, so I am splitting the distance equally between them to keep them all happy.

Errand 10
 Blood Donation
Category: Wild Card 
Distance: 0.25 Miles
 After biking and babysitting, giving blood makes me feel like taking a nap.

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If you want to be mean, you can just wait until tomorrow because I am not donating blood then.

Errand 11
 Library
Category: Art and Entertainment
Distance: 0.25 Miles
The best way to pick out book sat a Library is to browse around until you find some that jump out at you.

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And one of these books jumped out at me so I took it home.

Errand 12
 Dollar Store
Category: Store
Distance: 0.25 Miles
 People stared when I clomped around in the store like a horse, but I have learned to simply smile back, after all bike shoes honestly do sound funny.

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My Trek doesn’t mind being a workhorse as long as it gets to go fast at least occasionally.

A Mini-Vacation

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I have been working extra shifts for a coworker lately and she offered to take a couple of my shifts in return. The weather forecast said it was going to be a gorgeous weekend, so I asked her to take my Saturday hours.

Friday, after work, instead of going back home, I headed Northwest, straight to the “big city”. My brother lives there and it was time to pay him a visit. Our work schedules are completely opposite meaning that we rarely get a chance to see each other anymore but now, thanks to my coworker, we had a chance to hang out.

The route was a new one for me and fairly flat until the last 12 miles. The sun was beginning to set in front of me and each hill that I crested gave me a new view of the sky. It was beautiful, but my body was achy from working all day and then spending a couple of hours on a bike that it hasn’t quite adjusted back to yet-so I was ready to get my destination.

Just as the sky was at its most brilliantly flaming orange, I climbed up the last hill to find that I had made it. Below me, spread out in the valley was a million city lights. I don’t usually find cities stunning, but paired with the colorful sunset, the beauty of it all left me breathless. I plunged down that monster of a hill, the cold air stealing every particle of warmth from my face, arms and legs.

But it was so worth it to feel the icy fingers of an early spring night because in a few minutes I was swallowed up in the traffic and lights of the city. The adrenaline rush I felt is one of the most powerful I have ever experienced on a bike. As I rode through the city, all of my senses were at full alert and any tiredness that had been nagging at my body moments before had been completely swept away. Before I knew it I was at my brother’s apartment.

He made me supper and not too long after I called it a night and went to bed.

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Saturday morning I made him a triple batch of cheeseburger buns to freeze, which should give him lunches to take to work for awhile. Then we did a bit of shopping around town. I bought a new camera, hallelujah! Ironically, I paid less for it than my current (broken) camera and it is much better quality, hooray for good deals.

After that, we went to a state park on the shore of Lake Ontario and wandered around the trails for a couple of hours. The weather was perfect and we even spotted the first robin of spring on our walk. We had a great time, my brother is ridiculously silly and cheesy, so we get along quite well. (Funny how it is easier to get along with siblings once you all move out and have a place to call your own.)

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Then I rode back home and before long I set my alarm clock on my phone and went to bed. Why is the alarm clock detail important?

Well, yesterday was daylight savings time so I knew if I set the alarm on my phone for 7:15, it would change the time automatically for me. Except that it didn’t. I woke up Sunday morning and puttered around the house thinking I had plenty of time to get to church. I had completely forgotten about the time change so I wasn’t the slightest bit suspicious.

As I was reassembling my bike (I had cleaned it after my ride the night before), I realized that my cell phone and the bike computer were displaying the same time. The truth hit me, I had been pranked by my cellphone. Just as it was all clicking into place, my Pastor called wondering if I had forgotten the time change. Haha, yup!

I rushed up to church, arriving an hour later than normal. Usually I go to church at 8:00 to finish the power point before Sunday school so I had to find someone to fill in for my Sunday school class while I got it all sorted out. Whew!

Errand 8
 Visiting my brother
Category: Social Call
Distance: 68 Miles
 Cities are stunning when paired with a lovely sunset.

Errand 9
 Church
Category: Non-store Errand
Distance: 2 Miles
 Technology is not always as helpful as it is supposed to be.

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Look! I found green grass on the way home from church!

3 Great Things About Spring

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I loved seeing this little cluster at the park.

It is possible that by reading this blog you have observed that I am fan of winter. Snow makes me happy, it is as simple as that. But I can’t really be sad at the end of winter when the snow melts and disappears into the rivers and streams, because the end of winter means the beginning of spring.

And spring is awesome.

In the past three days I have experienced three great things about spring.

Biking Buddies
On Tuesday, after months of biking all by my little lonesome, my brother agreed to join me for a ride. I love biking by myself, in my own little world, but biking with a buddy is completely fabulous.

We went to a state park to hang out and take some pictures, I rode home with a huge smile on my face. Thanks man!

thawed river

This is the river I cross every time I ride to work, by Wednesday all the ice had completely melted.

Bare Arms
The past three days I have been riding in short sleeves, it feels great! One thing I adore about wearing short sleeves in the 40-60F zone is that I can really pick up what the air around me feels like. I love the cool pockets of air beside the melting rivers and dark forests, the warmth that comes from passing by a barn and how in every twist and turn in the road the air can be a different temperature. It is especially noticeable at night when I only have the road ahead to focus on.

Then today, I was able to bike in the rain. It felt so great to feel the rain pelt my arms after a winter with multiple cold rains where I had to be bundled up.

foggy day

It was rainy and foggy today.

The Road Bike
I took the road bike out for the first time today. I should have waited until tomorrow when the roads will be dry and clean from today’s rain, but I couldn’t help myself. My road bike was right there, all ready to go and the temptation overcame me.

The first few miles I was a newborn foal, stumbling around on its brand new legs but then muscle memory clicked into place and it was smooth sailing. Oh man, I forgot how fast and quiet this bike is! Since most of my riding (especially in winter) is for transportation purposes, I ride the same routes over and over again. But today biking the familiar route up to my nephew’s and nieces suddenly felt bizarrely short. I feel like the world has shrunk!

When I finally had my “riding no-handed” breakthrough this winter, Jim told me it would be even easier on a road bike. After ten miles of getting reacquainted with my bike, I was ready to try it out. The first couple times I was too timid, I brought my hands up into the air for a second but quickly replaced them when I felt the bike wobble. Seeing the unfamiliar skinny tire in front of me did nothing to build my confidence. But on the third try I took a deep breath, told myself that I could do it and sat completely upright.

Oh my goodness! It felt so stable and smooth and natural that I may never want to ride no-handed on a mountain bike again.

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It needed a good cleaning when I got back home.

Three great things and spring has only just begun.

Errand 5
Park Visit with my brother
Category: Wild Card (I am putting this in the Wild card category because it took me by surprise, I wasn’t expecting anyone to ride with me!)
Distance: 18 Miles
Biking with real, living people is awesome.

Errand 6
Commuting
Category: Work
Distance: 20 Miles
When it is so warm out that you have to put ice cubes in your water bottle, you know it’s spring.

Errand 7
Visiting My Sister-in-Law
Category: Social Call
Distance: 26 Miles
How do my nephews and nieces get cuter every time I see them?

The Ugliest Time of the Year

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A coworker came home after RV-ing in Florida and she bought me this magnet. She told me she saw it and thought of me. My heart melted just a bit. Needless to say, it is already on my refrigerator. I have the best coworkers!

Two more errands done, eight more to go.

Yesterday, after church, I took care of an elderly couple at my friend’s house. Sunday is often my laundry day and my friends kindly offer their washer and dryer for me to use whenever I am over at their house. So I hauled my clothes up to their house using my bike trailer. It is pretty amazing how much stuff can fit in that little green trailer.

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Taking my clean laundry back home at dusk.

Then today, after work, I stopped at the bank to deposit my paycheck. It occurred to me while I was riding just how ugly my homeward route is right now.

The land is in that awkward, gangly phase where no one can tell if it is winter or spring and everything is a drab shade of brown. There is no brilliantly white layer of snow left, only dirty, melting piles here and there. And the grass and trees are still waiting to spring to life and fill the fields and woods with lovely colors.

What is it like to bike in a drab world?

Well, today I felt excited.

Maybe it was the flocks of geese flying overhead that cheered me on.
Maybe it was the warm sun smiling on the barren fields.
Maybe it was seeing the tracks of other cyclists in the sand.
Maybe it is knowing that soon there will be green grass everywhere.
Maybe it is because I am one good rain from taking the road bike out.

Maybe it is everything all mixed together!posted

Errand 3
 Washing Laundry
Category: Personal Care
Distance: 3 Miles
How did I ever do laundry before I bought my bike trailer? 

Errand 4
 Banking
Category: Personal Business
Distance: 5 Miles
 Bank employees are still nice to me even when my pants are caked white patches of dried salt from the road.

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Bonus picture: I unknowingly rode with this squashed spider in my tire all winter.

Errands to Run

 

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These horses were running away from me, not because I was scary but because they are doing the running version of the Errandonnee this year. They have errands to run!

The Errandonnee has begun!

 

Yesterday, I ran my first errand-bringing up a jello salad to my church for a funeral dinner that is being held today. Since the salad was in a large bowl, I used my bike trailer to give it a safe and gentle ride.jello salad

My bike likes going to church. While all the cars have to stay out on the parking lot and endure the rain and snow, my bike gets the VIB(Very Important Bicycle) spot. I ride my bike right up to the entrance and lean it against the building where it stays nice and dry no matter the weather out.bike at church

Then today I rode back and forth to work. I also rode back and forth to work yesterday, but I couldn’t take any pictures because the shutter on my camera refused to budge. So now I am using my old camera which has an annoying scratch on the lens. I apologize for the weird blur on all the photos, I will work out a solution as soon as I can, or else I will go bonkers from having to deal with the blurriness.

I had a beautiful ride in to work, the sky was bursting with glittery stars and the moon was a stunning orange crescent. The temperature was close to zero and the crisp cold air felt wonderful.

Throughout the day the temperature rose until it reached 26 degrees for the ride home. The sun was out and shining brightly and there was a gentle breeze.

If the weather forecast is to be trusted we are going to have a warm week. Tonight I am going to take the studded tires off my mountain bike and put on a pair of smoother, hybrid-ish tires. My bike and I should be flying tomorrow!ice

Errand 1
Deliver Salad to Church
Category: Non-Store Errand
Distance: 2 Miles
Big bowls of food may not fit in my panniers, but a bike trailer is up to the task.

Errand 2
Commuting
Category: Work
Distance: 20 Miles
Cold, clear night skies are the best!

End of the Errandonnee Era

Errandonnee 2015 ends today. It was great fun seeing what everyone was up to on their bikes these past twelve days! Many thanks to MG from Chasing Mailboxes for organizing this friendly challenge.

Another one of my coworkers told me today that she and her boyfriend are thinking about biking to work. When she first started working at the restaurant in November she thought I was nuts for riding to work, but my evil plan to convince people that biking to work is awesome is slowly starting to gain traction.

The weather on my trip home was perfect. Forty-four degrees! Although I kept my earmuffs on since my ears can be sensitive to the cool air blowing past them, my gloves and jacket came off. It is t-shirt weather!

I have never felt so connected to a seasonal change before. I feel the world waking up, as strange as that sounds. I can feel myself coming alive with the return of warmth. Winter is a stately, calming season, where snow drapes gently but securely over the land. Spring is full of energy: roaring brooks, chattering birds and budding trees.

Before arriving home I stopped at the Post Office to mail an international letter. I made it just before the window closed, thank goodness. It really isn’t best to plan errands that are time sensitive after work because I never know exactly when I will be able to head home.

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This ramp leading up to the Post Office was great fun to run up and down as a kid. These days though I climb the stairs, how very adult of me.

Then I biked all the way over from the post office to the local library (about 100 yards, what a trip!) to return a few books. I also poked around for a few new books to read but it can be tough to pick out books just from their covers. The library was closing at 5 o’clock so I didn’t have time to browse through any pages. Eventually, I found an audiobook which should come in handy now that I have gotten bitten by the spring-cleaning bug.008

To work (10 miles)
3:40 am to 4:40 am
Weather
28F, 7 mph South wind

From work plus errands (10 miles)
3:30 pm to 4:55 pm
Weather
44F, 7 mph South wind

Errand #11 Post Office (Non-Store Errand)
Distance: 0.5 miles

Errand #12 Library (Arts and Entertainment)
Distance: 0.5 miles

Saturday Commute

I had an odd day.

My morning started out great, I got to sleep in until 3:05 am! I am finding out that getting out the door takes less time when I don’t have to don a gazillion layers and tons of face gear paraphernalia. Plus, biking to work takes less time because my legs are actually free to pedal properly, the roads are clear and spring is having this weird “you should go faster” effect on me.

The ride into work was calm and peaceful, just the way I like it.

But mid-morning one of the waitresses told me to come out into the dining room, as one of the tables of customers wanted to see me. Instantly, I was nervous. I really dislike going into the dining room when there are lots of people around and I had no idea what this couple wanted. Did they have a complaint about their food?

Nope.

They had seen a crazy cyclist biking in a ice and rain storm in early January (from what they described I think it was this night) and had been wondering all winter who I was. This morning they had overheard a few of the “regulars” talking about me, put two and two together and found their mystery biker. They exclaimed that I was tough albeit insane. After chatting for a few minutes I went back to the kitchen.

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I apologize for the picture, but at least there is candy!

 

Along the way home from work I stopped into an adorable country store to buy cabbage and some goodies to surprise my brothers with at church tomorrow since they just finished the last game of their basketball season. I went inside, snapped a picture of the candy shelf only to have the owner of the store (a sweet Mennonite lady) pull me aside.

“So you are the girl who rides your bike all the time!”

Apparently, she and all the store employees have been keeping a close eye on me and my travels all winter long. She curiously plied me with many questions, which I was more than happy to answer. As she chattered on about the various conversations she, her family and employees had been having about me throughout the winter, I began to feel my stomach start to turn just a bit. When we ended the conversation, she happily told me that she was so excited to tell all her sisters (there are 16 siblings in her family) that she had finally talked to the winter biker!

I bought everything I needed, left the store and started packing my panniers. I was going to take a picture of the cute storefront, but when I turned around, camera in hand, several people were watching from the windows and I completely chickened out.

After getting back on the road, I had to take a few deep breaths and calm myself. All of a sudden the scrutiny of being the crazy girl biker felt overwhelming. I felt threatened and creeped out when I thought of all the cars that have passed me over the winter and wondered, maybe for months, just who I am and what I am doing on the road in the snow. All the times friends and family have told me about times they have overheard others talk about me came flooding into my mind, haunting me.

Obviously, the dread that had settled over me had been triggered by the day’s events and the shy, introverted side of myself was making me cower. Fearful thoughts started to bog down my mind.  I had take those thoughts firmly in hand and remind myself that the people I had spoken to today were just friendly, kind people who were concerned about my welfare (and sanity). The curiosity and concern of others is nothing to be afraid of.

And then I thought of an exchange between myself and a coworker that happened just before the end of my shift. She is considering buying a bike and riding to work because she wants to have more drive and energy while she is at work.

It is pretty amazing to know that I can maybe inspire people to ditch their car and pedal to work. Or maybe seeing me will remind them to dust off an old bike and go for a Sunday afternoon ride sometime this spring. That makes any scrutiny worth it.

Plus, this was my first winter biking, by next year I will lose my novelty status. Two winters from now I will be a standard part of the landscape and hopefully joined by other winter bikers. That would be downright awesome!

To work (10 miles)
3:30 am to 4:30 am
Weather
33F, 16 mph Southeast wind

From work plus store stop (10 miles)
3:15 pm to 4:45 pm
Weather
40F, 8 mph Southeast wind

Errand #10 Country Store (Store)
Distance: 4 miles