Define Personal Care

One of the categories for the Errandonnee is “Personal Care”. That could be getting your hair cut, nails done, therapy, yoga, etc.

My therapy is riding my bike, so I’m claiming Errandonnee #5 for me is Personal Care. Today my friend Laura and I got out for a nice 45 mile ride. We waited until noon so it would be at the day’s warmest by the time we were in our stride. Both of us thought we’d be shedding layers eventually.

But that didn’t happen. It never got really warm enough to shed layers – but it was warm enough that we enjoyed a great ride. We went up Fairfax County Parkway trail, crossed Rt. 7 and continued up Algonkian Parkway, went all the way around there to stay on it across Rt. 7 again going south, when it turned into Atlantic. Once we hit the W&OD we headed west and stayed on it until we could do an Ashburn loop, then returned to the trail to head east towards home.

By the way, as we went south on Atlantic, I finally got to take a photo of one of my very favorite road signs. Not a great photo, but fun. I had Scotty’s brogue in my ears, “Captain, the warp drive isna workin’. I need some time!”


We stopped at Green Lizard for a little R&R, and fortunately Laura had some Aleve. I haven’t been on my Cannondale for a while (except for short workouts on the trainer) so my joints were aching from different positioning than my Surly. Aleve is a miracle drug! After we finished our coffee products, we headed home for the last 5 miles of our ride. This photo is on our final stage.


Observation: There is a direct correlation between my ability to get a ride in and my personal well-being. If you don’t believe me, ask my husband.

Five out of 12 are finished.

The Irony of Trying Something Different

Yesterday, in order to support my Errandonnee experience, I went to a different drug store than I normally do. I wanted to go to a different shopping center, to an actual drug store rather than inside a grocery store (two errands instead of one). I rarely patronize that shopping center, and almost never the drug store.

My purchases were inexpensive but I literally had $2 in cash (my bank was the errand after this one), so I had to use my credit card – for about $10.

I didn’t use the card again until yesterday evening for a parking garage in DC. (People in Reston should quit complaining about parking fees – it cost us $20 last night)

This afternoon my husband got a fraud alert on the credit card. Between those two purchases, my card had been charged for 3 purchases in California – one $1, one $3.50 and one $75.00.

Obviously there was a skimmer of some kind at Rite Aid — and this was using a card with a chip! We’ve straightened things out with the credit card company and ordered new cards, but how annoying (I’m leaving town on Saturday for a bike trip and I’d really like to have a CC with me!) and really infuriating. On the grand scale of theft, these little purchases were nothing. But they add up to a huge world wide fraud business.

These kinds of things always take me back to the important questions like, “Why do people choose to do the wrong thing?” Clearly, that person knows the digits don’t belong to him or her. Everything I needed to know I learned by kindergarten – keep your hands to yourself, take turns, be kind, and don’t take stuff that isn’t yours.

I was supposed to lead a ride today to go see the Cherry Blossoms but all my riders backed out over cold and wind. I used the day to do something so incredibly fun — worked on taxes. Ugh. No biking but I did go to help with the afterschool bike shop. That was fun.

Sunshine Riding

Today was a beautiful day to ride. I’d still be out there except that I have a meeting this evening so needed to come home to fix dinner.

Errandonnee Success #2

Category – Store errand – stopped at Rite Aid to pick up some items for my trip and some small Kleenex packs. Everything is blooming. Observation: NO bike parking. Sigh.

Rite Aid

Errandonnee Success #3

Category – Non-store Errand – Stopped at bank to get $$ for trip. Observation: The free lollypops they give out are a lot smaller than the old days.


Errandonnee Success #4

Category – Social Call – Had coffee with my friend Rick. Observation: the guy who sits in front of Lucia’s smoking his cigar makes it a challenge for anyone else to sit outside and enjoy the weather.


And a bonus photo: Saw a new place getting ready to open. I just looked it up – apparently it’s a chain that sells bubble tea. If that’s all they sell, they’ll miss out on my business. Can’t stand the stuff.

TeaToday’s weather was perfect for running errands. Watch this space tomorrow to see what March loves to do!

To Err is Bikish…

It’s Errandonnee season! That’s the time of year when, in order to escape the late winter biking doldrums, our friend Mary from Chasing Mailboxes challenges us to use our bikes to complete 12 errands in 12 days, and ride a total of 30 miles between March 20-31, 2017.

Today I needed to return an e-bike I borrowed from ElectriCity Bikes in DC. Yesterday was the Nova Maker Faire and I demonstrated e-bikes. Big shout out to Tempo Bicycles for arranging with the bike shop for me to borrow this one, the Santa Barbara model. Big shout out also to The Bike Lane in Reston who loaned me a Trek e-bike for the event.


The Trek – configured more like a traditional bike – real shifters and everything.


I hadn’t really gotten much of an opportunity to try the Santa Barbara yesterday, so I figured if I needed to return a bike, I’d ride it back. It’s only 23 miles and something I do frequently on my me-powered bike, so it seemed like a way to really test the e-bike concept.

Sadly, there is some kind of speed governor on the e-bike, so going down Hunter Station road wasn’t the usual thrill I enjoy. It took a while to get the rhythm of when to use the e-assist. I was a little paranoid about using up all the juice before I got to my destination because this bike is 53lbs and I did NOT want to be powering through the hills of the Custis trail without any e-assist on a 50+ pound bike!

The best part of the ride was when I got to DC. Every time I had to stop and start again (you do that a lot in the city), starting back up was a dream because even on low, the e-assist gave me a nice boost. When cars are backed up behind you at a light, that’s a nice thing to have in your ‘gas tank.’

borrowed bike

It’s very cute – the step through is nice. But more of a city bike than I need.

I arrived without incident, took a photo, and returned the bike. I hopped on the Metro back to Reston. When I arrived at the Wiehle station and went to the bus stop the bus was just pulling out and wouldn’t stop for me. The next bus was 30 minutes away and I live 3 miles from the station. It wasn’t raining and my bag wasn’t too heavy (since I left the charger with the bike shop), so I walked.

Now I need to figure out what category the errand falls into. My observation for the day is that this e-bike will not do the work for you. There are various settings for cadence that seem to affect the boost rate – which means you can actually get a work out and sweat if you want to. Of course, if I’m going to sweat, I might as well be on one of my me-powered bikes. That will be tomorrow when I errandonnee to the bank, and grocery store, and whatever else I might dream up!

Normally when I rDinneride to the city, and especially when I ride back, the last thing I want to do is cook dinner. But the e-bike did take the edge off my level of fatigue, and the walk energized me. So this was dinner. I felt quite virtuous since this used up left over mushrooms (in the burger), sweet potato hash (added chopped bacon tonight to make it a new dish), left over sour cream (sauce on the burger) and a cucumber that I needed to use or lose. Oh, and the burger buns. They were left-overs too. Love this when it happens!

Unexpected Gifts

We had a week of rain, snow, ice, with sleet in there somewhere. By yesterday I was stir crazy so I headed out to the W&OD to see if enough pavement was clear to get in a good ride.

W&OD Ashburn Rd

I might need to redefine “good ride.” This is an intersection with the W&OD trail where the other side was clear, the crosswalk was clear, but the west side was like this (I turned around to take the photo). I gingerly walked through it.

Then I discovered I couldn’t clip in. I felt like a cyclo-cross rider – too much detritus in my clips! I banged my clips to no avail. Finally got back off the bike, dug out my car key, and used it to flip the ice out of the clip.

From there to the next intersection was a nice ride. Pavement mostly dry in at least one lane.

I saw three joggers and only two other cyclists on the trail, and they were together, heading the opposite direction from me.

There were only a couple of places, mostly where roads were overhead, that looked like this:

W&OD Ashburn Village Rd

More digging out ice.

My tires are a little wider than the typical “skinny” tires of road bikes, but I’m a bit gunshy about ice and snow. In December 2015 I crashed on an icy bridge (that did not look even wet) and broke my thumb. It didn’t really heal for about 6 months and it was a pain to deal with. Since I’m getting ready to head out for spring rides, I didn’t want to take any chances.

I was only able to ‘ride’ about 15 miles total and there was more walking than I wanted to do, but it was still good. There were so few trail users out and that’s always awesome. I find that when the trail is quiet, I get to be respectful of the other trail users by slowing down and watching the way they move.

If you look closely on the ridge line, you can see a bunch of deer looking down at me. I couldn’t figure out why they hadn’t run off, but then about 8 feet away from me, a young deer came from the north embankment, lightly ran across the trail, and up the embankment to join them. There were 7 total, unafraid of me, and enjoying the day on the trail with few humans.

So yes, I’m looking forward to dry pavement and sunshine, but this was an unexpected last blast of winter gift.

Humbling Encounters

Last summer when I was biking cross-country with Fuller Center Bike Adventures, I was in EPSON MFP imagea bike shop in Bloomington, Illinois. (Shout out to Bloomington Cycle and Fitness). As Caryn (the owner) introduced me to some of the women in the shop, and they exclaimed over my adventure, it occurred to me that for the first time, I had bike shop cred!

I had always seen the people come into my local bike shop who have done extraordinary things, and marveled at their prowess, but I had never thought of myself as having anything to add to the conversation. Halfway into the trip, I already had something to say!

I completed the trip and settled back into life back home. Whenever I was at my local bike shop (Shout out to Green Lizard Cycling, Coffee & Beer), Beth (the owner) would tell people that I had ridden across the country. It made me feel extraordinary and I enjoyed a wee bit of local fame.

But last week I had the pleasure of riding with the woman who set the record last summer for oldest female to cross the US by bicycle! Lynn Salvo was 67 when she did it last summer. Hers was an amazing personal journey AND Lynn is delightful and fun to ride with. Just being with her lifted me up and humbled me at the same time.

Then Lynn introduced me (via email) to a woman named Lou Cooper who is 72 and wanted to ride cross country this summer. I told her about FCBA and she check it out…and KABOOM! Lou has signed up to ride from San Francisco to Savannah this summer with Fuller Center Bike Adventure.

This means I will have NO “I’m old and don’t feel like it” excuses this summer. Not even in the mountains.


I will be doing a number of rides this year, including the first half of the Fuller Center Bike Adventure Cross Country ride. I will go from San Francisco to Santa Fe. My hope is to blog about it more consistently than we did last summer.

But before I get going to San Francisco, I’ll be riding in just a few weeks in Big Bend National Park with Adventure Cycling. I’ll be home for a few days and will then leave for Nashville to ride with Fuller Center’s Natchez Trace spring ride. These two April rides should prepare me for the summer ride.

I plan to blog each ride, with photos, as wi-fi permits. Stay tuned!

Immigrant Musings

I help run an after-school bike shop at a local middle school. All of our middle schools have after school activities three days per week. The thought was that if students this age had the opportunity to do fun things after school, they would stay there, supervised, rather than be at home or out roaming the community from 2:15 to whenever their parents get home. Ours is the only school with a bike shop. It’s a real shop – tools, bikes, and a paid mechanic to come in and supervise and teach the students.

I usually have 8 students, evenly divided between girls and boys, 7th and 8th grade, with a mix of skin colors. Four of my kids are Latino, one born here to Ghanian parents, and the rest some blend of white. In bike shop they just work on bikes together. No politics, no age, no flirting.

One of the students who joined us this semester is 14 and struggling to learn English. He just came from a country in Latin America in August. “C” is living here with an aunt and says his mother is still back home. I don’t know his full story or his immigration status, but I know he has had a difficult time. I can’t imagine moving to a new place with a new language and starting over, especially at age 14 without my mom.

There is also a high school student, “K”, the older brother of one of the girls in class, who comes to help for the last hour. He walks from the high school, about 2 miles, so by the time he arrives, we are half finished. But he jumps right in and gets to work. He has more English fluency than “C”, but it’s still tough. He’s a junior at the high school.

Today “K” brought a friend from school who had less English ability than “C” and no bike skills. I have no idea if his English challenge is because he is new to the US or has just not picked it up. He needed a bike, and helped “K” work on one. He then asked how much we would sell it for because he needs a bike to get to work. I told him $10 and he could pay next week or send the money through “K”. He didn’t want to take the bike until he paid, but I told him I trust him to do the right thing.

This kid “J” is probably 16 or 17, and his English skills are minimal. His future is grim if he doesn’t acquire them. While it is possible to live in our area and not interact in English, it is very difficult, and will certainly keep him from moving ahead in any meaningful manner.

But if he’s from El Salvador (and  most of our recent arrival students are), it’s safer for him here than back there. Tough choices for a family.

These kids aren’t statistics or a category. They are in our school and community because some adult made that decision for them. How they choose to use this opportunity is up to them as well as intertwined with the education they had before they arrived. Many have had little or none.

Usually I chat with the bike shop students about home and if they’re originally from another country, ask them how long they’ve been in the US, etc. I’m interested in their stories and what they find different, new, exciting, annoying. Their answers make me laugh – they’re teenagers no matter where they’re from. But I’ve stopped asking about their “before” stories now. I don’t want them to feel any more pressure about being recent immigrants. There’s enough uncertainty in the community. I don’t want to add to their anxiety.


I hate that I’ve had to change my behavior because of external forces. But I want the kids to know that bike shop is a safe place.