A whirlwind 2016 Errandonnee

When MG over at the Chasing Mailboxes blog announced the start of this year’s Errandonnee Challenge, I knew I wanted to join in on the biking and errand running fun! I immediately started to make plans and, after not being able to participate last year, I was super excited to finally complete the challenge.

Of course things are rarely as easy as what we plan. On the first day of the challenge, it started raining. Soon, an atmospheric river settled over Northern California, and flash flood warnings were issued. Then actual flooding started, mudslides happened, and trees toppled over into roads and onto houses. Being a Californian, I already don’t like being out in cold or wet weather, and there was just no way I was going to cycle in the crazy storms that we were having. Though we desperately need the rain, I hoped that it would clear out with enough time for me to complete the challenge. After 7 days, I was sure I was going to miss out on being able to participate in the challenge. Finally, though, after 9 days of rain and with 2 days left in the challenge, the weather finally cleared up. “Two days”, I thought, “can I actually complete all 12 errands in such a short amount of time?” I wasn’t sure, but I was sure going to give it a shot!

Well, a whirlwind 48 hours passed and I’m happy to report that I got in all 12 errands!

On to the nitty gritty!

Bike ridden for all errands: My trusty commuter and general stuff-hauler, a flat-black Trek 7.2 FX. For the challenge, I used a Green Guru Carbon Cooler 22L pannier that I picked up at the REI used gear sale last year for $20. It’s the perfect size for hauling around the stuff I need for work and any purchases I make while on the go.

Total mileage for the challenge: 31.1

Day 1: 3/14/2016

Errandonnee #1: Work or Volunteering

Distance: 6.5 miles

Destination: Bus depot

I rode to the downtown depot to catch the bus to work. This multi-modal commute has been the way I’ve been getting to work during the shorter days of fall and winter, when the 16 mile ride to my workplace is just too far to do in the dark mornings.

Observation: The time change has made it so that this shorter commute into downtown is almost entirely in the dark. I’m looking forward to the longer days of spring and summer when the mornings are light earlier in the day.

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No more rain but still cold and windy on this morning’s commute.

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Parked outside of Salazar Hall. The bike racks are pretty much empty due to spring break.

Errandonnee #2-4 (Wildcard, Arts & Entertainment, Social Call)

Distance: 10.3 miles

Destination: Sebastopol, CA

#2 (Wildcard) – After work, I needed to chip away at the planning for my upcoming John Muir Trail thru-hike before meeting the husband for his weekly billiards league night and an ice cream date, in nearby Sebastopol. I decided that I wanted to do my hiking research over a delicious pint of beer and figured it would be best to centralize these errands, so after work I rode out to Sebastopol, via the lovely Joe Rodota Trail. I took the long way through town, riding through Florence St., a residential street famous for having Patrick Amiot sculptures in many of the front yards. Having had my fix of art gawking, and wanting a reasonably quiet spot to research for my hike, I rode over to one of my very favorite beer spots in Sonoma County, The Garden. This little gem is the taproom of a local co-op, Community Market.

Observation: All of the rain we got has made for some of the most luscious and vibrant greens I’ve seen in a long time. Also, I love that each time I visit The Garden, they almost are almost never offer the same beers.

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Views along the Joe Rodota Trail.

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One of the many Patrick Amiot sculptures on Florence St. in Sebastopol.

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Reading and planning over a pint of Berryessa Brewing Company’s Rye Ryerish.

#3 (Arts & Entertainment) – Leaving The Garden, I made the short ride over to the Sebastopol Plaza to meet the husband at the Old Main Street Saloon, a little hole-in-the-wall bar. I always have a blast watching the team shoot pool. Husband did ok, winning 3 out of the 5 matches he played.

Observation: The Old Main is, unfortunately, not as divey as one would expect. Having a thing for dive bars, I was a bit disappointed.

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#4 (Social Call) – After the match, the husband and I had a late-night ice cream date at our favorite place, Screamin’ Mimi’s, which is conveniently located just across the plaza from the Old Main Street Saloon. I enjoyed a small sundae, which I sometimes think I order just to get the amazing house made maraschino cherry that comes on top of it. The husband enjoyed a scoop of his usual, Mimi’s version of mint-chip.

Observation: The first thing you notice when walking into Mimi’s is the amazing and overwhelming scent of freshly made waffle cones, which the shop makes continuously throughout the day. The scent lingered in my hair after leaving the shop!

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Date: 3/15/16

Errandonnee #5-8: Work or Volunteering, Store, and Personal Business

Distance: 6.7 miles

#5 (Work or Volunteering): Another commute to the downtown bus depot. I left extra early today because I had several errands to run before catching the bus.

Observation: Good to see several other bike commuters out on the streets today.

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The Humboldt Bike Blvd. is my preferred route on my morning commute.

#6 (Store): I stopped at the Safeway that is on my commute route to purchase a yogurt for breakfast.

Observation: There were a surprising amount of people in the store even though it was a touch before 7 a.m.

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Good bike parking at Safeway! 

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#7 & 8 (Personal Business): I continued along my usual route but made two quick stops before arriving at the bus depot. First, I headed to the Post Office. My FasTrak transponder had recently stopped working so FasTrak sent me a new one. I had to mail the old one back to them so that I would not incur a fee for not returning it. After the post-office, I headed over to the the downtown branch of my bank to make a deposit through the ATM.

Observations: I don’t usually have time to make it to the post office during their retail hours, so I was happy that the downtown branch has a self-service kiosk. My bank is next-door to a frequently visited local brewery, Third St. Aleworks. When I passed by, I noticed that they are celebrating their 20th anniversary with the release of their 20th anniversary ale. I made a mental note to stop in soon to sample their special release.

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Post office. No bike parking nearby but also no people nearby. Felt safe enough to leave the Trek by the door while I mailed my stuff.

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Errandonnee #9-10: Non-store errand

Distance: 1.2 miles

#9 (Non-store errand) – Today, I didn’t have enough time in the morning to throw a lunch together so, when twelve o’clock rolled around, I needed to actually leave my office (a rare occurrence) to obtain food. Since it’s spring break at the University where I work, almost all of the dining venues on campus are closed. The one venue that was open didn’t sound appealing so I headed off campus, just across the street, to a local Korean/sushi joint.

Observation: I got there a bit after noon, expecting the restaurant to be super busy, but was surprised to find that I was the only person there. Must be because the students are gone for the week.

#10 (Non-store errand) – After packing my to-go order in my pannier, I headed across the plaza for a quick stop at a Redbox kiosk to pick up a movie to watch that night. I found several options but settled on Bridge of Spies.

Observation: I don’t usually see many interesting-to-me options in the Redbox, but I was pleasantly surprised to find several movies that I would like to rent. I debated renting more than one movie, but knew that I wouldn’t have time to watch more than the one.

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My to-go lunch order sitting in the top of my pannier, while stopping to rent a movie.

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BBQ chicken and spicy tuna roll combo, enjoyed back in my office.

Errandonnee #11: Personal Care

Distance: 0.5 mile

I had an acupuncture appointment after work and not having enough time to get to my appointment after work via my bike, I rode the bus to downtown Santa Rosa from my office and then biked over to my appointment.

Observation: There is no decent bike parking close to my acupuncturist’s office. I had to walk a block over to lock my bike up.

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Errandonnee #12: You carried WHAT home on a bike?

Distance: 5.9

After my acupuncture appointment, I headed north to pick up some ravioli for that night’s dinner, before heading home. I stopped at Canevari’s Deli, a Sonoma County institution that’s been churning out fresh made ravioli for over 80 years. I picked up an order of cheese ravioli to accompany the chicken I planned to make for dinner.

Observation: Though it was near closing time when I stopped in, there were several customers ahead of me and many things were already sold out. A testament to the deliciousness that Canevari’s serves up.

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Cheese ravioli; ready to cook up at home.

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2015 #Coffeeneuring Challenge starts this week!

There’s nothing like a good cycling related challenge to reawaken this long dormant blog!

October 3 marks the beginning of this year’s Coffeeneuring Challenge, hosted by MG of the awesome blog Chasing Mailboxes. If you’re new to the whole Coffeeneuring thing, it’s essentially a 7-week challenge wherein you ride to 7 different coffee spots. You can check out this post for all the rules.

If you read my blog during last year’s challenge, you might remember that I had planned all 7 of my coffee shop visits before the challenge even began (even though I didn’t always end up sticking to the plan)! This year, I’m throwing caution to the wind and approaching the challenge with no plan whatsoever. I will be out of town several times during the 7 weeks of the challenge, which is mostly why I am not planning ahead. We’ll see how that goes.

One of the reasons why I love this challenge, besides the fact that it combines bike riding with coffee (two things I love), is that it provides a good opportunity to explore around my town/county. In this vein, I’m planning to only visit new-to-me coffee spots. I’m excited to see what awesome places I discover through this challenge.

So, who else is joining in on the caffeinated cycling fun? Let me know in the comments if you’re taking on the challenge. I’d love to follow along on your adventures if you’re blogging/instagramming/tweeting about it!

30 Days of Biking – Week 2

With Week 3 of #30daysofbiking almost over, I figured I should do a quick Week 2 update.

I rode 6 out of 7 days last week, total of about 65 miles. It would’ve been 7 out of 7, but we had a totally out of the ordinary lightning and hail storm pass through early in the week. Also a bummer: I started getting sick early this week. I got hit pretty hard with a nasty cold and ended up staying home from work for 2 days. Subsequently, almost no riding this week.

I did do a little better with my picture taking, though I keep forgetting to snap pics of my bike, doh!

Here’s what my Week 2 looked like.

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My usual bike to work route takes me down the Humboldt St. Bike Blvd.

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My town was the adopted home town of Charles Schulz. There are many sculptures of Peanuts characters around the county.

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One of my favorite buildings on my regular bike to work route.

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Cycling behind the husband along the backroads of Sonoma County.

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Loving my new bar tape!

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Husband riding next to his second home, the local golf course.

Spring is made for cycling

As a cyclist, winter is tough for me; the days are ridiculously short and I hate cold weather. It totally zaps any motivation I have to ride a bike. While I made the effort to at least bike commuter a couple of times a week over the winter, it was definitely a struggle. What can I say…I’m a fair weather cyclist at heart.

Thankfully, spring has rolled around and the days are finally longer and warmer. With the change, my desire to go on longer rides has finally returned!  Early last week, I rode out to Black Butte Lake from my parents place in the northern Sacramento Valley. 18 miles of mostly flat country roads took me over the Glenn County line into Tehama County and up to the reservoir. What a picturesque, peaceful route!

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Being a Bay Area resident, walking across the GGB is something you do at least once in your life. Being a cyclist here, riding over the bridge is also a must do! Having a mid-week holiday at work provided the perfect excuse to try out the route from Sausalito to San Francisco.

The husband and I parked in Sausalito and rode up to and across the bridge and down into the Marina neighborhood. We rode out to the Wave Organ and then to Fisherman’s Wharf for some clam chowder. Though it was mid-week, the Wharf was full of tourists, so we didn’t stick around there too long. Instead, we headed back through Ghiradelli Square, stopping for a lazy nap in the sun at the Great Meadow. Afterward, we rode out along the Bay Trail through Crissy Field to Fort Point and back over the bridge. It was a fabulously lazy, meandering 22 mile ride. wpid-03311510172.jpg.jpeg wpid-0331151024.jpg

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Succeeding and failing(?) at reaching my 2014 goals

Back in December 2013, I came up with a list of things I wanted to accomplish in 2014. Here is the original post with the list of 8 goals, but essentially I resolved to: reach my goal weight, run 14 races (including 4 half-marathons), ride a metric-century bike ride, bike commute 3x/week for part of the year, complete 30 days of biking, hike to the top of Half-Dome, backpack in Yosemite, and hike once a week.

When I set this list of goals, I never imagined that I would face the biggest health issue of my life so far, and how much this would impact my ability to accomplish those goals. So, how did I do? Pretty good considering everything that life threw at me this year. Though I had to modify some of my goals, and let others fall away, I’m still pretty proud of the things that I did manage to accomplish. After having surgery and recovering for so long, I could have easily quit. I re-assessed my list based on my physical limitations after I had surgery, and I modified what I could. Here’s the final breakdown:

  1. Reach my goal weight: My goal weight is 165 lbs. In the month leading up to my surgery I managed to gain back some of the weight I had lost (thanks stress!) and after basically sitting on my butt for two-weeks after surgery and then not being able to do much more than slowly walk, I gained even more weight back. After I was recovered I tried Weight Watchers again, without much success, then tried the 21 Day Fix plan, with much better success. Since Thanksgiving, though, I haven’t done much in terms of being mindful of my diet or regularly exercising. I’m down to about 175 lbs.
  2. Run 14 races: I completed 13 races and was derailed only by the wrath of Mother Nature. I didn’t run any half-marathons due to my lack of time for training after recovering from surgery.
  3. Ride a metric century bike ride: I rode the metric-century route of the Chico Wildflower Century Ride 4 weeks after having surgery. One of the most physically difficult things I’ve ever done! I also rode the half-metric century route of the Sonoma County Backroads Challenge later in the year.
  4. Bike commute 3x/week for part of the year: I managed to bike commute at least 3x/week (sometimes more) during the nice months of the year. As the days got shorter and the weather got colder, my bike commuting decreased, but I still managed to ride at least once a week.
  5. Complete 30 Days of Biking: Since 30 Days of Biking officially runs from April 1-30, it was too soon after I had surgery to be able to participate in this. Bummer.
  6. Hike to the top of Half-Dome: I was unlucky in the Half-Dome lottery and failed to score a permit to hike this trail in 2014.
  7. Backpack in Yosemite: I finally backpacked in Yosemite! The husband and I completed a 25 mile loop from Sunrise Lakes to Cathedral Lake in August.
  8. Hike once a week: I started the year off on track, but with the stress of my diagnosis and then having surgery, this was the one goal that fell completely to the wayside. With running so many races on the weekends, too, this became a really unrealistic goal to accomplish.

Although I didn’t succeed in reaching my goals the way that I had initially set them, I definetely don’t feel like I failed either. Having lost 2 months out of my year to surgery and the subsequent recovery, I could’ve easily given up. Instead, I made some tweaks and made my goals fit within my modified time-frame. I think that’s a definite success! I’m working on my goals for 2015, and no matter what life throws at me in the new year, I know that whatever I set out to do, I will learn, grow, succeed, and fail in my attempts to accomplish new things. This is, after all, what life is all about!

2014 Coffeeneuring Challenge Wrap-Up

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Seven weeks, cycling to seven different coffee spots…

When I first set out to take on the Coffeeneuring Challenge, I didn’t really know what to expect. Would it be difficult? Fun? A chore? I’m happy to report, that though I wasn’t always able to bike under the best circumstances, every ride was enjoyable and something I looked forward to completing every week.

The majority of the places I visited were both interesting and delicious, though there was one spot did leave something to be desired (I’m looking at you Starbucks). All in all, this was a wonderful series of little bike adventures. Though I bike often, almost every day in fact, I’m often in a hurry (commuting to work) or on a long training ride, and this leaves little time to enjoy things like stopping for coffee. Coffeeneuring allowed me to take slower, more relaxed rides than I normally would, and I can say that my life is all the more better for it!

What I rode

More often than not, I rode my Trek 7.2 hybrid bike on the Coffeeneuring rides. This is my everyday, commuting bike, and it’s set up with a rack and a set of panniers which makes transporting things very easy. I prefer not to bike while wearing a backpack, so I tend to ride my Trek whenever I have to carry anything.

There were a few rides, though, where I left the Trek in the garage and instead rode my Fuji Sportiff. This is a new bike for me, having acquired it just a few months ago. I’m still getting the hang of riding a road bike (so different than my Trek!), but it’s super zippy and fun to cruise on.

Where I rode

Coffeeneuring #1: Atlas Coffee Co.
Date: 10/5/14
Distance: 11.2 miles

Coffeeneuring #2: Tin Roof Bakery
Date: 10/11/14
Distance: 4.9 miles

Coffeeneuring #3: Spring Lake Regional Park
Date: 10/18/14
Distance: 25 miles

Coffeeneuring #4: Holy Roast Cafe
Date: 10/24/14
Distance: 5.2 miles

Coffeeneuring #5: Empire Coffee
Date: 11/1/14
Distance: 2.2 miles

Coffeeneuring #6: Peet’s Coffee
Date: 11/9/14
Distance: 8 miles

Coffeeneuring #7: Starbucks Coffee
Date: 11/16/14
Distance: 2 miles

What was my favorite ride? Definitely the Coffeeshop without Walls at Spring Lake Regional Park. You really can’t beat making coffee while sitting on the edge of a lake!