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Halv VASA Ride

This past Saturday I dragged Hubz and my friend Boots on the VASA ride.

To my relief, the weather was clear and mild, if a bit brisk to start.

We rode down to the House of Sweden early to sign in. That left us plenty of time for photos and socializing.

Ed, Tom and Boots
Ed/@dailyrandonneur, Hubz and Boots/@bootsni

Lisa and John
Lisa/@ramblingrider and John/@Rootchopper


John chats with Jacques and a not-yet-awake Hugo
Jacques/@jarsenault and Hugo showed up!

impromptu pause at Old Anglers Inn
Shedding a layer at The Old Anglers Inn

There goes the pennyfarthing!
Guy riding a penny farthing

Hubz looking good astride his Novara cyclocross bike

Robin, Adam and Tom enjoying the blueberry soup at the House of Sweden
Enjoying blueberry soup with Robin/@robininrealtime and Adam

Boots and I toast to our ride with Blueberry Soup
Boots and I toast to our bike adventure with blueberry soup

The usual suspects from Friday Coffee Club at Luna Grill
Post-ride lunch at Luna Grill with some of the usual suspects from Friday Coffee Club

We chose the Halv Vasa, which is 31 miles. It was the perfect distance for a fun day.

I finally got to taste the legendary warm blueberry soup at the House of Sweden afterward. Pretty good stuff! 

From there a convoy of us headed to lunch at Luna Grill.

We had a wonderful day riding, eating (a key component) and laughing the miles away with many friends. I am really enjoying my increased biking. 

Oh, and Spring, could you please grace us with some more warm, sunny days? Thanks.

Errandonnee Challenge, Part 2: Down to the Wire

Another snowstorm shut down DC while I was visiting family in Kansas City. When I woke to the news that my Monday morning flight was cancelled, I knew the odds of completing the Errandonnee Challenge were suddenly not in my favor. Instead of two full days to complete my final 7 errands, I'd have just one. And that was provided the snow and ice melted quickly. It wasn't looking good, but I decided to find a way to do at least one errand by bicycle in the Midwest.

Errandonnee #6: Velo + bike shop roasts their own coffee
At Velo +
Luckily, my brother Adam was able to take the afternoon off work and he was up for a bike adventure. He pumped up the tires on his two bikes and we pedaled toward Old Town Lenexa to check out Velo +. The owner, Vincent, was enthusiastic about bicycles and his shop. We talked Surly LHTs, Brooks saddles, yoga (they host classes at the shop) and coffee. Vincent spent 18 years at Starbucks and now he roasts his own (the shop will be selling it soon). He was kind enough to give us a taste. Delectable! He even took us in the back room to show us the steel frames he was building. What a great place for a cyclist!

#Errandonnee #6 A borrowed bike, snow-free pavement and a cool bike shop stop in my brother's 'hood.
#6 - I'm secretly hoping this fun jaunt will get my brother (and the whole family) biking more.
Destination: Velo + 
Category: Bike Shop 
Date: 3/17
Miles: 7.74
Observation: This shop roasts their own coffee (available soon), carries Surly (and other) bikes and offers yoga classes.

I made it back to DC late Tuesday afternoon, ditched my suitcase and hopped on my bike. I rode to dinner after a stop at my second job.

#Errandonnee #7: Dinner
#7 - There's still snow on the ground, but thankfully the roads were clear.
Destination: Open City
Category: Dinner 
Date: 3/18  
Miles: 2.5
Observation:  I was craving the lemon garlic chicken and Brussels sprouts. Though I was dreading the cold, my ride was quite pleasant.

My hunger sated, I tossed my leftovers in my basket. It was dark now, but I pedaled to the grocery store to procure food for the next day.

#Errandonnee #8 to Yes! Organic Market
#8 - A stop for groceries. Note my Light & Motion Urban 400. It's bright!
Destination: Yes! Organic Market
Category: Grocery store (second use)
Date: 3/18  
Miles: 1.6
Observation: The more I ride the more I want to find another errand/excuse to keep riding!
Lighting Method: Light & Motion Urban 400 in front & Planet Bike red flasher in back.

Another stroke of luck - MG of Chasing Mailboxes extended the Errandonnee deadline by one more day. I am so glad I didn't throw in the towel. I can do this!
The next morning I biked to meet my friend Kim from high school. Every Spring she attends a conference in DC and we have breakfast and catch up. I suspect she made some sort of deal with the devil because she hasn't aged.

#9 - Kim at Open City

Destination: Open City
Category: Breakfast
Date: 3/19
Miles: 2.5
Observation: Usually this place is packed in the morning, not today. Lull in the Spring conference season? 

I stopped by the bank to make a deposit, then on to work. On the ride home it was raining heavily. The puddles obscured many potholes. This ride kind of sucked, honestly. By the time I made it home I had popsicle toes, though the rest of me stayed dry thanks to my rain pants and jacket.

#Errandonnee #10: Bank
#10 - Bike Parking at Capital One
Destination: Capital One Bank
Category: Wild Card
Date: 3/19
Miles: 3
Observation: There are a lot of nasty potholes in dire need of repair.

I had one last errand to complete and I knew just what it would be: An errand to procure a bottle of wine to celebrate the completion of the Errandonnee Challenge!

#Errandonnee #12 - A celebratory bottle of wine
#11 - Sherry's Liquor
Destination: Sherry's Liquor
Category:Other store
Date: 3/20

Observation: Spring is capricious. Wicked headwind!

I pedaled home with the wind in my (helmet) hair and a big smile on my face. I had a boatload bakfiets of fun Errandonneeing. Thanks for creating this wonderful challenge, MG!

Categories used: 9

Miles logged: 37.69

Errandonnee Challenge, Part 1

As an ultrarunner who loves the bike, I always have intentions of doing more biking ... but I find myself falling into the usual pattern of running long every weekend.

There's a silver lining to my current injury: Now that I'm not running, I'm spending a lot more time biking. So far it doesn't seem to aggravate my foot issue.

Perfect timing for the annual Chasing Mailboxes Erranndonnee Challenge! Click the link to read more about the rules.

#Errandonnee #1: Friday Coffee Club
#1 Bikes at Friday Coffee Club
#1 - I started off with a bang, hitting Friday Coffee Club for the powerful combination of caffeine and conversation with fellow bike commuter friends. If you live in (or come to visit) DC you should come, and not just because M.E. Swings made the Top 10 Best Coffee to be found in DC list. 

Category: Community Meeting. 
Date: 3/7
Miles: 2.45
Observation: Roads are totally clear after our last snowstorm, alleys are not! Also, nothing puts a bigger smile on my face than chatting with this gang.

#Errandonnee #2: Acupuncture!
#2 Bike Parking at my Acupuncture appointment
#2 - Thanks to the aforementioned foot injury, I had an acupuncture appointment. I rode via M Street which I enjoy despite the lack of the long-promised cycletrack. I've been biking in the DC area since 1998 (whew!) so I'm comfortable riding almost anywhere. It has been fantastic to see the improvements in bicycle infrastructure and it's evident this progress needs to continue in order to avoid utter gridlock.

Category: Personal Care 
Date: 3/7
Miles: 2.35
Observation: 19th street has a decent amount of bike parking, but it's always pretty crowded. A couple of the bike posts are coming loose.

#Errandonnee #3 - dog walking
#3 Watch me work. This is my 2nd job.
#3 - The fact that it's now daylight until 7 pm makes me very happy. I love the sunshine. I left my "real" job and biked to my second job. If you haven't bike commuted in DC before, I can tell you it is the quickest and most enjoyable mode of transportation in this city at rush hour. Most other times, too.
Category: Work
Date: 3/11
Miles: 3.25
Observation: Traveling by bicycle at rush hour in DC beats any other form of transportation!

#Errandonnee #4: Whole Foods
#4 On the way to Whole Foods via 15th Street cycletrack
#4 -Gusty, frigid winds were the theme of this morning commute. At least it was sunny! I pedaled my way down the 15th Street cycletrack to Whole Foods for some greens and veggies.

Category: Grocery store
Date: 3/13 
Miles: 2.9
Observation: Bicyclist along 15th street cycletrack shaking her hands to get the blood flowing on a very cold and blustery morning commute. Have I mentioned that I LOVE MY BAR MITTS?

#Errandonnee #5:  Category: Work Date: 3/13 Miles: 3 Observation: Wind and Bar Mitts are enemies.
#5 The Surly LHT at my 2nd job
#5 My gams were fatigued on my third ride of the day  (the second was on the spin bike). Just in time for the uphills! My beloved bar mitts proved challenging to keep on a straight course as they acted like spinnakers in the crosswinds.

Category:Work (2nd use)
Date: 3/13
Observation: Wind and Bar Mitts are mortal enemies.

I'm out of town for the weekend. That leaves me two days to complete my final seven errands. CAN I DO IT?? What a cliffhanger!

Do you have a bike or have access to bikeshare? You should give the errandonnee a go! 

Salomon Sense Mantra Shoe Review

Salomon Sense Mantras

Awhile ago, some kind folks sent me a pair of Salomon Sense Mantras to try out. After six months of running and walking in them it's time to tell you my opinions. The shoes were provided free to me.

My first run: There was a sensation of my heels not being secure, almost like slipping, though that wasn't actually happening. It took a few runs before I forgot about it, and then I loved the feel of the Sense Mantras.

These are not "minimalist" shoes, but they have all the best qualities of them.

They are lightweight, weighing just 9.2 ounces and have a 6 mm heel to toe drop.

Running in the Salomon Sense Mantras allowed me to feel close to the ground and connected with the terrain, a must in my book.

Incredibly, despite their light weight, they also manage to feel sturdy. I felt stable and confident running on technical trails and pavement alike. 

They handled trails with aplomb. They did well on hard-packed dirt and clay, sandy trails and muddy slop. With the exception of heavy leaf cover (I have yet to find a shoe that excels in these conditions) they performed admirably.*

The toe box provided plenty of room for my feet and I never had any trouble with my toenails hitting the front of these shoes. 

I am less of a fan of the "Quicklace" system. Perhaps because I have somewhat narrow feet, I find it hard to get the fit exactly right every time. I also didn't love tucking the end into the little flap because I had to squeeze it under the lace I had just gotten to the desired tautness. 

On the other hand, once locked in place you don't have to worry about re-tying or re-tightening these laces.

Finally, these are a good looking pair of shoes! While that's low on my list of desirable shoe qualities, I love running shoes that look good (and not too bright or flashy) with a pair of jeans.

Would I buy these again? Absolutely, I would put these in my regular running shoe rotation. They have been a pleasure to run in. 

My well worn pair of Sense Mantras

*Right about the time I received the Salmon Sense Mantras I noticed the ball of my right foot was intermittently tender. As I began testing these shoes, I continued to rotate in three other pairs of shoes regularly. The Salomon Sense Mantra can't be to blame for my foot tenderness, but for this reason I am not rating them on rocky trails, as I cannot reliably say whether they felt "protective" enough for me on that type of terrain. I kept thinking this mild pain would go away so I could rate the shoes on this aspect, thus my delay in posting this review.