Errandonnee 2015 – I Met the Challenge!

12 Errands on your Bike in 12 Days was the challenge – and I force fit it into 3 days

I came late to the game but wanted to see if I could still meet Chasing Mailboxes’ Errandonnee Winter Challenge. You can read my original post here.

Now I have to admit that some of the errands were accomplished since riding my bike is  part of my work and I’m staying in sunny Los Angeles at the moment so weather isn’t an issue. But to give myself credit, I did have to make a special effort to tick off each of the categories.

I was able to go back and count some of my rides that happened to fall within the Challenge dates of Mar 5-16th. The problem was that I needed to have some kind of documentation for each. I like to take photos when I am out and about but I am not compulsively capturing the moment and my bike isn’t usually the main subject.

Another requirement is to make an observation for each errand. You’ll see that I’m a bit obsessed with infrastructure (again, part of my work) so I wasn’t always poetic in my musings on bike racks.


Errandonnee Scorecard

Errands: 12

Categories: 8

Total Miles: 105


Without any further delay, here are my errands in chronological order.


March 5th

Category: Work or Volunteering

Miles: 3

Volunteering with Santa Monica Spoke handing out bike lights as part of Operation Firefly.

Here's the Thursday night team

Here’s the Thursday night team

It’s amazing how many people will ride their bikes at night without lights. As volunteers we set up along a major bike route near downtown Santa Monica. We would flag down riders without lights, conduct a quick survey and after providing some basic safety information send the riders on their way all set up with a new set of bike lights.


March 8th

Category: Work or Volunteering combined with Social Call

Miles: 38

Scouting Routes to Downtown Los Angeles and Brunch in Culver City


This was a bit of a fortunate finagle but part of my work is leading bike rides. I can’t lead rides if I don’t know the routes so I always pre-ride before I take others out on the road. Even though I didn’t have a particular ride in mind, I was looking for an excuse to go exploring potential routes.

Joel and I posted a brunch ride that would head first into downtown Los Angeles with the lure of breakfast tacos, ride south towards USC and the Expo Metro line where we would follow the companion bike route to Culver City for brunch with friends then make our way back to Santa Monica.

We got lucky in that our companions were an architect and a transportation planner that have worked on the routes we were going to ride.

I hadn’t realized that USC was a private school thus they have the entire campus fenced with gated access. We trespassed our way down the main drag to access the Expo Metro station and adjoining Exposition Park. I am used to universities that may control vehicle access on campus but people walking or cycling can cross through. I feel that the fences are a not-so-subtle reminder to the neighbors that they aren’t welcome.

Exposition Park is home to a number of museums but we were disappointed to find that the Natural Science Museum’s outdoor gardens were off limits without museum tickets. ($12 adults and $6-9 for kids.) This is in a low-income area of Los Angeles with a dearth of public green space. The gardens could easily be opened to the public during opening hours just as they are for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art located on the same block as the Science Museum’s companion Page Museum in a wealthier area of LA.

A lawmaker is floating the idea that the LA museums should be free to the public due to the tax preference they receive as non-profits. I couldn’t agree more.


March 14th

Category: Arts & Entertainment x 2

Miles: 10

Kayak Rental in Marina del Rey and Lunch

This is where I started negotiating with my husband. We absolutely had to ride for this trip – I couldn’t possibly complete the Winter Challenge if we drove! I only had 72 hours!

A beautiful morning was spent paddling around Marina del Rey with plenty of seals and pelicans about. It was going to be a hot day but it was cool on the water.

I warned you that I tend to focus on infrastructure – my observation at both of these errands was that they need bike racks! The kayak rental is located on the beach bike trail and their employees ride to work. How could they not have even a crummy rack? At lunch, there were no racks on the street level so we carried our bikes up the stairs and locked to a sign near our patio seating.


March 15th

Category: Wild Card

Miles: 40

Los Angeles Marathon Hustle Ride


Wild card is not just the category but the wild ride that this event is!

Cyclists used to run a bandit race called the LA Marathon Crash Race on the marathon course just after all the road closure barriers were installed but before the runners left the gate. It has gone legit now. Negotiations with the LA police department created a public bike ride on the marathon course as a trial run for future race events.

I included this since I rode the event with two members of the steering committee of Santa Monica Spoke, we ate donuts and planned out a series of events culminating in Bike to Work Day in May.

The wild ride started by meeting at a local donut shop at 3:00am for the trip downtown to the start of the main event. Nearly a hundred cyclists gathered just for this “feeder ride”. My first companion was late to arrive so we enjoyed the streets pretty much to ourselves including cruising West Hollywood after bar close. (It wasn’t quite as crazy as I was expecting.)

I haven’t seen an attendance estimate but it was several thousand riders. We started at the back so we had an open field for the entire ride. My main observation – It is crazy amazing to ride on closed streets in Los Angeles!

I’m anticipating that this Sunday’s CicLAvia will pale in comparison with only 8 miles closed to car traffic.


March 15th (after a nap)

Category: Social Call and Store

Miles: 9

Happy Hour  and a stop at CVS on the way home.

Map your rides

This route avoids the hills in the neighborhoods.

For the challenge we are supposed to provide documentation of our errands. Being sleep deprived even after a nap, I didn’t think to take photos at the Happy Hour or at the local CVS drug store. But for completeness sake – here is my gps file for the trip to Happy Hour.


March 16th

Categories: You Carried WHAT on your Bike?! and Personal Business

Miles: 4

Whole Foods Market and Southland Credit Union

We were having vegan friends over for dinner so I combined a trip to the grocery with a stop at the bank. I bought vegan cheese and ripe avocados – I know it’s a bit lame for the WHAT?! category – but it was hard to carry avocados in my pannier without getting smushed.

The trip to the bank was fairly uneventful except that it’s fun that the teller recognizes us since we always bike there.

You can read my rack observations on the photos. (I know, again with the bike racks…)

I did run into one of my Marathon Hustle compadres on the street outside the bank. We conversed some more on details for the upcoming bike events we are planning so that could also fall under a business meeting.


March 16th

Categories: Store and Personal Care

Miles: 1

Ambiance Salon and CircuitWorks Gym


Here’s where my final finagle really happened. We are staying in a very walkable neighborhood so many of my errands I do on foot. I rode my bike to pick up some shampoo so I could chain it with my trip to the gym – which is 2 blocks from the apartment – ticking off my last required category.

My observation here again fixates on the bike rack – I used the public art bike rack at the library next store. This one has a typical problem that it’s not all that functional for locking bikes to it. I am not opposed to this since art is the primary goal of the rack but it’s helpful to have additional racks nearby.

We had chatted with the local librarian the first night of Operation Firefly when the team set up camp at this location. She let us know that it was the most bikes she had ever seen on the rack at one time. That was true but most of the bikes were actually locked to each other.

I bought my Brompton folding bike so I could carry it with me when bike security was an issue. I’m just not very practiced at doing that yet. Some of my Brompton buddies will take their bikes onto planes stashing them in the overhead compartments. Something I need to practice before attempting myself. I expect one would need a lot of confidence to pull this off without creating backups through security and loading the plane.

At the salon I spent too much time chatting with the stylist so was late for my class at the gym. Thus I locked my bike to the convenient rack just outside the door. If I had just a few more minutes of prep time, I would have folded up my bike and brought it inside. Case in point on needing more practice to be smooth with the folding bike. It was faster to lock up only partially folded.


So there you have it – my first attempt at being an Errandonee! This was great fun so a big shout out to Chasing Mailboxes for creating this event!!!