Errandonnee: Creeping Across The Finish Line.

Yes, I have finished the Errandonnee.This news will doubtless come as a relief to any non-utility cycling readers. Will my control card pass muster? Time will tell. My documentable errands had dropped off throughout the week and the last ones were completed over the course of a few days. There were a some trips that could have qualified but as in the case of shopping for my wife’s Valentine Day gift, I choose not to regard them as errands.

Thanks to MG for organizing the Errandonnee. It has put a bit of fun into the daily drudgery of chores.

ERRAND #9, Friday, Trip to the bank.

On the way home from work I detoured to downtown to deposit a cheque at the bank. The weather was so fantastically and unseasonably warm that I cycled home without a jacket, hat or gloves, just because I could. For those who doubt, I have photographic evidence.

Look Ma! No gloves!

Look Ma! No gloves!

Errandonnee #9

The Errandonnee rules state that participants must record an observation about each errand. In the Sherlock Holmes story ” A Scandal in Bohemia” Holmes points out that he is in the habit of observing his surroundings whereas  Watson is not. He illustrates this by asking if Watson knows how many steps there are in the stairs leading to the the Baker Street flat they have both walked up so many times. Watson of course does not know, whereas Holmes has the ready answer: 17 steps. In this spirit, I observed the number of steps leading up from the river valley to the Hotel MacDonald.

There are 201 steps.

There are 201 steps.

Errand completed!

Errand completed!

ERRAND #10: Sunday. Trip to the Post Office.

I made a rare trip the post office to mail a post card to the States. My neighbourhood office closed  a year or so ago and now I  usually use the one at Kingsway Mall. While there I observed that not the new LRT line under construction seems to be creeping towards completion. I imagine the winter slows things down somewhat.

A rare trip to the post office.

ERRAND #11: Monday, Trip to Bikeworks North to work on one of my bikes.

A significant perk that comes with being a regular volunteer at Bikeworks is access to the shop after hours. I could probably count this errand in the Bike Shop category but I think it’s better to use my wild card for this one.

Today I was finishing up my “Ravine Bike”. I found this abandoned bike when volunteering at a ravine clean-up last spring. It was missing many parts but over the months I managed to cobble enough together to resurrect it. Today’s mission was getting the brakes working properly. I had tried once before but it’s the first bike I’ve worked on with disc brakes and I didn’t quit get it right. I rode the nearly brakeless bike very slowly to the shop and had another crack at it. This time, partly due to truing the rotors I was able to nail it.

As of today this bike is complete and ready to ride. While riding to the shop I observed that the shocks work much better at -7ºC than in the -20ºC I last road this bike in. I’m not ready to reveal the bike itself yet, but will feature it in an upcoming blog post. You will find a small hint below.

Rotor truing.

Rotor truing.

Errand #11

ERRAND #12: Monday, Bargain hunting at a local thrift shop.

Once or twice a month I usually drop by one of the second-hand stores to look for bargains. Lately, I’ve been having a good run with the best finds being new or like-new merino wool clothing and gore-tex outerwear. The store I visited today seems to have been getting shipments of brand new clothing from a major work wear store, so I was hopeful.

I tried on a new pair of good quality steel toed work boots. They fit well but were heavily insulated and not suitable for my purposes so I left them for somebody else. The big find today turned out to be an Eddie Bauer Gore-Tex parka with goose down fill. This thing is so warm that it’ll have to be pretty cold out to use it. I certainly won’t be cycling in it. Wearing it, I felt a bit like George from Seinfeld. It was missing the hood, but for $30.00 I brought it home anyway.

Errand #12

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More Errandonneuring!

Continuing with the Errandonnee Challenge I mentioned in my last post, here are Errands #4 through #8. And a few bonus photos, just ’cause I’m feeling generous (or maybe mean).

ERRAND #4: Sunday Afternoon, Volunteering at Bikeworks North.

Normally BWN isn’t open on Sundays, but during the water problems at the south shop it was announced that BWN would be open instead. Even though the water was restored in time for the weekend we still opened the north shop. The shop is only a 5 minute pedal from my house so I popped over to put in a few hours. While there I spent a little while salvaging some hubs from a couple of damaged rims, starting tuning up another bike, and helped a fellow who was working on his first wheel build.

Bikes for sale. Come and check them out! Choose one that has already been tuned up by  the volunteers or buy one as-is and fix it up yourself.

Bikes for sale. Come and check them out! Choose one that has already been tuned up by the volunteers or buy one as-is and fix it up yourself.

I started working on this old Kuwahara Savage MTB.  It's a bit scuffed up but will make a great stealth commuter (a sweet riding cromoly frame that most theives would't look twice at). BWN seems to be Kuwahara/Apollo central right now. There are several more.

I started working on this old Kuwahara Savage MTB. It’s a bit scuffed up but will make a great stealth commuter (a sweet riding cromoly frame c/w eyelets for racks and fenders that most thieves would’t look twice at). BWN seems to be Kuwahara/Apollo central right now. There are several more.

I also cleaned and oiled my own bike.

I also cleaned and oiled my own bike.

ERRAND #5: Sunday Evening, Purchasing a new printer at Futureshop:

Our old printer died a little while ago and my wife has been in dire need of a replacement (me, I didn’t use it often). After finishing at Bikeworks I headed downtown to buy another printer. I’m picked one with a small foot print as space is at a premium in our small house. Even so, it was about as big a package as I was equipped to carry on my bike. The main routes with bare pavement were no problem but the box slid around a bit on the heavily rutted side streets. Nonetheless, the printer arrived home intact and is now installed and working perfectly.

I used the omnipresent Canadian Kickstand to get this picture.

I used the omnipresent Canadian Kickstand to get this picture.

ERRAND #6: Tuesday. Work. Again. Wheee.

I was treated to another gorgeous sunrise on the way to work this morning but was running late, so I can offer no photo. After work I snapped a few pics of the road conditions near my workplace. These are on an official bike route. The unseasonably warm weather has continued and so real, honest to goodness asphalt is emerging from under the thick snow hard pack. The city keeps the main roads cleared to the asphalt ( and does a pretty good job) but only blades residential roads to a 5 cm snowpack. They kept up on this through the first part of the winter but have been falling behind a bit and in many areas there is a good 6 inches or more of rutted, hard packed snow and ice.

Gasp! The asphalt emerges! Dreams of riding speedy road bikes through summer  days momentarily overwhelm me.

Gasp! The asphalt emerges! Dreams of riding speedy road bikes through summer days momentarily overwhelm me.

I discover that

So that’s what was under the snow! I discover that the winter months have not been kind to the road surface (none too good to begin with). This area is due for repaving this summer.

ERRAND #7: Tuesday evening, Grocery Shopping at Earth’s General Store

EGS is conveniently located on my homeward route and I occasionally stop to pick up foodstuffs there. I was disappointed to find that they were out of Ohsawa Namu Shoyu soya sauce. Best…soya sauce…ever. On the other hand, that stuff ain’t cheap. I did come away with numerous other items.

Note the bike racks made from old bike frames.

Note the bike racks made from old bike frames.

ERRAND # 8 Tuesday evening. City of Edmonton community meeting on bike lane projects for 2013.

This  was one of two open house meetings that the city is holding to communicate the bike infrastructure plans for the 2013 construction season. This meeting was held in a school right next to one of the bike routes and was well attended with neighbourhood residents and cyclists: at least a hundred people, maybe more. Rolled out on long tables were maps of the proposed work, with post-it pads so people could make comments about specific issues. City engineers were present at the various tables to answer questions. I watched the presentation, left a couple of comments, chatted with a couple of other bike commuting types I knew, and I headed for home.

Errand #8 Bike Lanes Meeting

There was a lot of local news media in attendance.

There was a lot of local news media in attendance.

THE TRIP HOME: Tuesday evening

Not at all related to the errands, but it was a beautiful night so I stopped to take a few pictures on the way home.

Homeward bound

Homeward bound

Edmonton: The City of Pyramids.

Edmonton: The City of Pyramids.

The pyramids are the Muttart plant conservatory, a green haven during the bleak winter months. At night they are well lit and change colour….a lot.

Errandonnee Saturday

MG over at the blog Chasing Mailboxes D.C. has issued a winter utility cycling challenge: The Errandonnee. Participants must complete 12 cycling errands within 12 days and ride at least 30 miles while doing so. Documentation of the errands is required, including photos and a randonneuring inspired (could you tell from the term Errandonnee?) control card. Errands fall into 11 categories of which you must complete at least 7, using each category no more than twice. For more details on the rules of the challenge, check out this post.

This seems a natural for me as I’m pretty much in pure errand mode these days. I haven’t been on a purely recreational  ride since my New Year’s Day Bridge Ride. It should put a bit of fun in my daily pedaling around the city.

ERRAND #1: EARLY MORNING COMMUTE

I don’t normally work Saturdays but we’re swamped right now. I’d agreed to go in and open the shop so that myself and two other employees could clock some overtime and chip away at the backlog for a few hours in the morning.  This past week I’ve been enjoying the lengthening days and some beautiful sunrises on my morning commute. Today, however, I was going in an hour earlier than normal so it was back to commuting in the dark.This was useful for the purposes of the Errandonee, as two of the errands must take place during the hours of darkness. The pre-dawn temperature was a balmy 3°C, a pleasant change from the statistical average low of -16°C for this date.

Riding the well  cleared path beside the LRT tracks. A nearly empty train passes.

Riding the well cleared path beside the LRT tracks. A nearly empty train passing.

Downtown and the river valley.

Skirting the edge of the downtown core.

I detoured a little to get a picture overlooking the river valley. The trail down to the bridge seen on the left side of the photo was a fun, fast ride and I was pleased to see that it was well plowed and maintained.

ERRAND #2: GROCERY RUN

We called it a day at noon and after locking up the shop I headed off to the Strathcona Farmer’s Market to pick up some groceries for the coming week. I had noted in my last blog post that the Market wasn’t doing a great job of keeping the bike racks clear. Today the bike racks were so snow covered as to be unusable so I locked up to a lamp post. After a quick trip through the market my panniers were well filled (and heavy) with food. Onwards  to the last errand of the day.

Slushy Saturday at the Farmer's Market.

Slushy Saturday at the Farmer’s Market.

Just  a little closeup pic  of the winter bike.

Just a little closeup pic of the winter bike.

ERRAND #3: BIKEWORKS SOUTH

Since  Bikeworks North opened in my neighbourhood early last year I haven’t got down to the south shop very often. As I was in the area, I zipped over to say hello to the south volunteers and rummage through the used parts room for any handy odds & ends. After having been shut down for a week because of a water problem elsewhere in the building, there were a gaggle of volunteers in the shop. I found a couple of items I could use and headed home.

Bikeworks,, the community bike shop operated by the Edmonton Bicycle Commuters' Society.

BikeWorks, the community bike shop operated by the Edmonton Bicycle Commuters’ Society.

Piles of parts to keep the bikes of Edmonton commuters on the road.

Piles of parts to keep the bikes of Edmonton commuters on the road.

HOME WITH THE GOODS:

The ride home was fun even if the slush, ice and brown sugar were making things messy. My total Errandonneuring distance was about 22km. This is only approximate as I don’t have a bike computer on my winter bike (they tend to freeze when it’s sub-zero) but I’m well familiar with the distances for my regular destinations. Here’s what I brought home with me:

There was still a little room left in my well worn 56L MEC pannier set.

There was still a little room left in my well worn 56L MEC pannier set.

Cycling fuel.

Cycling fuel.

This ratcheting friction shifter appears to be a copy of the old Suntour ones I have on my winter bike. I love those shifters and hopefully this will  b

This ratcheting friction shifter appears to be a copy of the old Suntour ones I have on my winter bike. I love those shifters and hopefully this’ll be a good spare.

I'm building up a MTB from an abandoned frame that I found last spring. Apparently it's almost impossible for me to build a bike without putting a rack on it. This solidly built aluminum seatpost rack should do the trick. It also has a sturdy quick release mounting clamp so I can remove it without much problem if  want.

I’m building up a MTB from an abandoned frame that I found last spring. Apparently it’s almost impossible for me to build a bike without putting a rack on it. This solidly built aluminum seatpost rack should do the trick. It also has a sturdy quick release mounting clamp so I can remove it without much problem if want.