Errandonnee Winter Challenge: Twelve Errands by Bike in DC

I am a weekend cyclist. I primarily use my bike for fun and recreation. Plus, it’s the quickest and easiest way to get around DC.

What I liked about the Errandonnee Winter Challenge is that it recognized the utilitarian aspects of cycling. It’s not about riding vast distances clad in lycra. Instead, the Errandonnee Challenge was to use your bike for 12 different errands over 12 days. While there were also sorts of complicated rules, provisos and mandates (the contest was created in Washington, after all), the idea was to use your bike for everyday activities, highlighting how you can do anything by bike.

I looked at it as an opportunity to use my bike more often. Or, rather, bikes, for I would be completing this challenge on two of them – a Specialized Sirrus and a Breezer Zig7 (a foldy bike).

And I would capture it all with Instagram.

Errandonnee 1: Marie Reed Field
Distance: 2 Miles
Category: Health
Bike: Specialized Sirrus
Remarks: It was a short city ride to the play the beautiful game on this new turf field in Adams-Morgan.

Errandonnee 2: Georgetown Waterfront
Distance: 10 Miles
Category: Health
Bike: Specialized Sirrus
Remarks: There was no way I was staying inside on a warm Saturday. After lunch, I biked to Georgetown to get some sun, then made a loop around the National Mall before returning home.

Errandonnee 3: Gibson Guitar Room
Distance: 2 Miles
Category: Work
Bike: Breezer Zig7
Remarks: The next day, I spoke on a panel about screenwriting for DC Shorts Mentors, a four-week class on filmmaking. The class took part in the Gibson Guitar Room, which is a super-cool private venue near the Verizon Center.

Errandonnee 4: Starbucks
Distance: 2 Miles
Category: Coffee
Bike: Breezer Zig7
Remarks: After DC Shorts Mentors, I stopped off at Starbucks on my way home. I know, not very creative, but I was desperate.

Errandonnee 5: Turkish Protest
Distance: 1 Mile
Category: Wild Card
Bike: Breezer Zig7
Remarks: The great thing about biking around DC is that you never know what you’ll run into. The protesters were advocating for democracy in Turkey.

Errandonnee 6: Kindle Edition
Distance: 1 Mile
Category: Reading
Bike: Breezer Zig7
Remarks: A bike and a Kindle is a great combo. They’re both clever devices that can take you anywhere you want to go. I’m working my way through Dissident Gardens by Jonathan Lethem.

Errandonnee 7: Crappy Variety Store
Distance: 2 Miles
Category: Store
Bike: Breezer Zig7
Remarks: The point of Errandonnee is to use your bike for routine activities. It can’t all be coffee and reading. This was a stop to buy shampoo.

Errandonnee 8: Whole Foods
Distance: 2 Miles
Category: Store
Bike: Breezer Zig7
Remarks: Another routine activity later in the week, this was about how much foodstuff I could fit into my messenger bag: not a lot. If I shop by bike in the future, I’ll need some panniers.

Errandonnee 9: Bike to Metro
Distance: 2 Miles
Category: Work
Bike: Breezer Zig7
Remarks: Why don’t I bike to the Metro? That was my thought after biking to U Street a few times during the week. I hadn’t in the past because it was too cold and I didn’t want to leave my bike locked up there. But it was fine.

Errandonnee 10: Glen’s Garden Market
Distance: 4 Miles
Category: Dinner
Bike: Breezer Zig7
Remarks: It was nice having my bike waiting for me at the U Street Metro after work, for it enabled me to quickly cross town to Glen’s Garden Market for some $4 beer and grilled cheese.

Errandonnee 11: Zorba’s
Distance: 6 Miles
Category: Dinner
Bike: Specialized Sirrus
Remarks: On a lovely warm Friday night, I visited Zorba’s, a great Greek place near Dupont Circle.

Errandonnee 12: Corcoran Gallery of Art
Distance: 4 Miles
Category: Dinner
Bike: Community Meeting
Remarks: The Corcoran is closing! Who knows what the future holds for this iconic Washington institution, now that it’s been gobbled up by GW. I took the opportunity of an Instagram DC Meetup to visit the gallery one last time.

Lessons Learned

Like the equally awesome coffeeneuring, the Errandonnee Winter Challenge expands your idea of what can be done by bike. I tend to save my bike for big trips but Errandonnee taught me the utility of ordinary, everyday cycling. My bike is safe in my apartment – but that is not what bikes are for.

Author: Joe Flood

Joe Flood is a writer and photographer from Washington, DC. He is the author of the mystery novel The Swamp, as well as articles, short stories and screenplays. In his spare time, he likes wandering about the city with a camera.

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