Sunday, 2 April 2017

#Errandonnee 2017 Challenge: Starring Bridget the Surly Cross Check

Errandonnee #1

Date: Monday, 20 March 2017
Errand: Get my bicycle repaired
Category: (Bike) Store
Destination: Brixton Cycles, 296-298 Brixton Rd, London SW9 6AG
Distance: 11.13 km
Steed: Bridget the Surly Cross Check

What I learned/observations:

Some cretin tried to steal my stem cap mounted bell by force but only succeeded in destroying the star nut. Cue impromptu trip to the bike shop first thing Monday morning. Must say, 6 miles on a bike with its headset not tensioned is something you can do... but I wouldn't want to repeat the experience!

Errandonnee #2

Date: Tuesday, 21 March 2017
Errand: physiotherapy appointment
Category: Non-Store Errand
Destination: Octopus Clinic, Harmsworth House, Bouverie Street, London (in the old UK Patent Office building)
Distance: 16.04 km
Steed: Bridget the Surly Cross Check

What I learned/observations:

"Will they let me bring my bike inside? Or will I need to lock up outside?" The answer lies with the people (and their personal biases), not the place. 

A blog post all about my knees is coming up soon. At the moment all I'll say is, Nicole Oh is an amazing physiotherapist. 

Errandonnee #3

Date: Tuesday, 22 March 2017
Errand: Photographing Cycle Superhighway Design Failures on my Commute Route
Category: Volunteering (Cycling Advocacy)
Destination: My Office, Bury Street, London EC3A 5AR
Distance: 18.10 km
Steed: Bridget the Surly Cross Check

What I learned/observations:

There are a handful of places along Cycle Superhighway 7 -- where there is protected space, segregation, cycle-specific traffic lights, etc -- that nonetheless just don't work and in some cases are dangerous, either by accident or by design in creating conflict with motorised traffic that simply did not exist before.  Today on my commute, I set out to record a few of these sites/situations. At one junction in particular, I feel very lucky to have captured the 'perfect storm' where the most dangerous vehicles are exactly positioned by the phasing of the traffic lights to pose the most risk. 

The two junctions shown here should get their own blog posts. I do think I need supplemental video footage. At the moment, I have not got enough here, from these few photos, to explain in words exactly what is going on. Sorry!

Waiting for my green light to go straight ahead

Over in parallel, waiting for green light to go straight ahead

On simultaneous green light phases, northbound cyclists and traffic Go, Go, Go!
But... see that turn signal? Immediately after the dotted diagonal line is a bus stop.
Guess what that bus driver is trying to do? 

Errandonnee #4

Date: Wednesday, 22 March 2017
Errand: osteopathy appointment
Category: Personal Care
Destination: The British School of Osteopathy
Distance: 2.22 km
Steed: Bridget the Surly Cross Check

What I learned/observations:

While physiotherapy is an ongoing regime right now, the occasional "fix me up" of the reactive rather than proactive kind is sometimes also needed. Tonight, I went to the osteopath to work on a little problem that flared up two weeks ago just before the first Friday Night Ride to the Coast of the year, which I've been ignoring but of course only became worse. I really like the team at the British School of Osteopathy and there's never a problem getting a short notice appointment after work.

Errandonnee #5

Date: Thursday, 23 March 2017
Errand: glaucoma test (referral following high pressure readings and pain over several months)
Category: Wild Card
Destination: The Eye Clinic, Luton & Dunstable University Hospital
Distance: 7.3 km
Steed: Bridget the Surly Cross Check

What I learned/observations:

When the chips are down and you really really have to... you can run an errand with a blinding migraine. Especially if someone with a car can come get you afterwards.

Oh, and I don't have glaucoma. Might be thyroid related. Back to square one (and back to my harried, part-time NHS GP to try and talk her into ordering gold standard blood and saliva tests that the NHS simply does not pay for). 

more coffee please (in the hospital cafe waiting for Adam)

Errandonnee #6

Date: Saturday, 25 March 2017
Errand: return my lock to work, after taking it with me on Thursday to go to the hospital
Category: You Carried What On Your Bike?! - a 3 kg chain and padlock
Destination: Bury Street, London EC3A 5AR
Distance: (part of) 4.39 km
Steed: Bridget the Surly Cross Check

What I learned/observations:

my bike's weekday home

my office

the Swiss Re Building aka 'The Gherkin', opposite my office

Errandonnee #7

Date: Saturday, 25 March 2017
Errand: bike shop to try on summer mitts
Category: Another Bike Store
Destination: Cycle Surgery, Southwark Bridge
Distance: (the other part of 4.39 km)
Steed: Bridget the Surly Cross Check

What I learned/observations:

Weird thing. The shop guy didn't really know what they had in stock or how to check what was in their warehouse or how to order stuff in, couldn't work the til properly... and he made some incredibly sexist comments (out of presumptions not malice -- he truly didn't have any concept of being offensive). And yet... I can be a tricky customer. I tend to know exactly what I want and to spell out specific criteria I'm looking for. This guy went out of his way to help me, spent a lot of time trying to find out what stock might be available, was sincerely embarrassed and apologetic about his difficulties in ringing up the sale. In the end, my overall impression of Cycle Surgery staff (formed over 7 years since I bought my first bike there) is unchanged: friendly and helpful, passionate about cycling and helping people get the most of their ride.

Errandonnee #8

Date: Wednesday, 29 March 2017
Errand: morning commute
Category: Work
Destination: My Office, Bury Street, London EC3A 5AR
Distance: 18.09 km
Steed: Bridget the Surly Cross Check

What I learned/observations:

I cycle every day but chose today as an official control as I felt it might be, I don't know, "typical". Weather coolish, not much wind, skies grey but dry. Traffic a little lighter than usual but a cyclist riding about half a block ahead of me in a residential area called the French Quarter (Clapham) got doored by a guy in, of course, a white van. So stereotypes are alive and well! I didn't actually see the impact (so couldn't offer my 'services' as a witness) as I was distracted by creaky pedals. The guy was okay I think, though there was blood on his face (whether from nose or mouth/teeth, I don't know) so I hope he went to hospital to get checked over. He'll be sore tomorrow! The oddest thing (to me) about the incident was that his exclamation on being hit was not, as you'd expect these days, a four-letter expletive but an actual real-life shout of "OW"! Rather comic book style. Imagine a big lightning-bolt word bubble "KAPOW!" over his head. Sorry for the flippancy but it was incongruous. 

Anyway, lessons for the day: It's called the Door Zone for a reason. Stay out of it. 

And... I've been thinking about it for some time but have definitely decided to buy a video camera I can mount to my bike.

Streatham Vale Park

Tooting Bec Common

Northbound on Blackfriars Bridge (Cycle Superhighway 6)

Bike + Office + Icon

Sorting out my stuff

Arrived early today, even if I was a little slower than usual

Errandonnee #9

Date: Wednesday, 29 March 2017
Errand: osteopathy appointment
Category: Personal Care
Destination: The British School of Osteopathy
Distance: 2.22 km
Steed: Bridget the Surly Cross Check

What I learned/observations:

What a difference one week makes! (Well, and one hour, as we moved to British Summer Time last Sunday.)  This photo was taken exactly one week after the one above, as my appointment was again at 18.45.

I Intended to get a photo of where they let me store my bike when I rock up here (i.e. in their back office) but when my appointment was finished, the staff on reception had already wheeled Bridget out ready and waiting for me. So no "in situ parking" shot. Full points for valet service though.

Errandonnee #10

Date: Friday, 31 March 2017
Errand: morning commute
Category: Work
Destination: My Office, Bury Street, London EC3A 5AR
Distance: 17.72 km
Steed: Bridget the Surly Cross Check

What I learned/observations:

On the day that Mike Hall died... no words. Here are some photos of London architecture.

Errandonnee #11

Date: Friday, 31 March 2017
Errand: Intercept Adam as he drove through central London, so I could get a lift in the car to Bognor Regis 
Category: Wild Card
Destination: south entrance to Blackfriars station, traffic (for him) permitting!
Distance: 2.8 km
Steed: Bridget the Surly Cross Check

What I learned/observations:

I thought I had photos, I truly did. Bridget & I posed against a very picturesque raised concrete flower bed. My attire was even better colour-coordated with her than it usually is. I'm sure there's a photo lurking on my phone somewhere... hmmm.


Errandonnee #12

Date: Friday, 31 March 2017 (plus 1 day)
Errand: filling prescription and buying summer clothes
Category: Unexpected Arts & Entertainment
Destination: Boots and M&Co., Bognor Regis town centre
Distance: 2.5 km
Steed: Lucy the Brompton (because doesn't Bridget deserve a rest?)

What I learned/observations:

As many migraine sufferers will tell you, the worst part isn't so much the pain, it's the lost time. Days, weeks... over a lifetime it adds up to months lost from your life that you can never get back. Missed weddings, rescheduled exams, cancelled day trips... 

So, please lend me a little latitude if I choose to wrest just one day back from the 3 lost to migraine during the 12 days of this challenge. (That's 3 days in addition to the hospital trip documented above.)

Today, we cycled along the seafront in glorious sunshine, so that I could finally run errands of a (very nearly) non-medical nature: filling a prescription and buying a few properly spring/summer clothes suitable for lazy weekends at the coast. Each one of those errands could have qualified, except that I've already got two store controls. Maybe I could claim the chemist as non-store errand -- except I did buy stuff there.  

The other option is to claim a control for what we didn't expect but really did happen:

I wasn't about to ask.

Apparently something called "SU Rag" is happening. University students in weird fancy dress doing a pub crawl all over town during the day? No idea. It was unexpectedly amusing, though.

Of all my errandonnee trips this year, THIS is the only one I felt was made in the "true spirit of errandonneuring".

TOTAL DISTANCE FOR THE CHALLENGE: 99.71 km  (now where can I find another 0.28??!)


  1. Vaguely heard of Errandonnee and also coffeeneuring (sp?). Not quite sure where the 'rules' are for these, but as an avid utility cyclist and scoffer of cakes I'd be interested in the details of both!

    1. They're both on founder Mary G's blog! For example, here's the post that launched this year's Errandonnee: Each challenge has a menu at the top of the page too. Let me know what you think!


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