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March 18, 2016 / bikesbytesbites

Errandonnée 2016

Errandonneuring — doing errandonnees — was conceived by @Chasing Mailboxes. It is a portmanteau work combining “errand” (duh) and “randonnée”, a self-supported bicycle ride. So errandonnées are bicycle rides on which you run errands, and document your ride. The concept was expanded this year to include errands done by foot, running or walking:  errundonnées?

Anyhow, @Mary Gersemalina sends out a Google spreadsheet on which to track  errandonnées, and participants also need to document them.  Here’s the link to my Google Spreadsheet — not finished yet, but working on it … as well as trying to learn WordPress.
Leslie’s 2016 Errandonnées

1. Personal Care

  • Dr Read – in the same K St building as my sports orthopedist
  • Kiehls – On M St in Georgetown; an old reliable, and they welcome the bike indoors

2. Personal Business

3. You carried WHAT

  • A new ceiling fan/light fixture in the inaugural voyage of my Burley Travoy
  • IMG_0578[1]

4. Arts and Entertainment

5. Non-store errand

  • Library – I can comfortably carry one book in my running back pack

6. Social Call

7. Work or Volunteering

8. Store

9. Wildcard

February 16, 2016 / bikesbytesbites

Adventures in Translation – Machines Fail


OK, I thought this was going to be easy. I was browsing through  Le Monde and I came across what seemed like a wonderful recipe for  stewed winter vegetables.  (

No problem. I can translate the amounts from kilograms to pounds, and the oven temperature from Centigrade to Fahrenheit.  The problem came with the list of ingredients — one was “radis red-meat”.  What the **)*())( is a red-meat radish? No online translation apps or browser plug-ins would help. Even a culinary French-English dictionary was no help until I found an alternate French expression for the radish — “radis pastèque” – “watermelon radish”.

Google knew about watermelon radishes, they’re of Chinese origin. But the real problem arose: where do I find a watermelon radish? Even Google only showed sales for watermelon radish seeds. Or what’s an acceptable alternative? A daikon (black radish?) It would work, but it’s not as pretty …

September 25, 2014 / bikesbytesbites

Recollections – Part 1 of Several

MedStar_Brain_InjuryIt has been an overly eventful little-over-a-year for me. The starting “event” was my bicycle accident, on May 17, 2013. The culminating event was my father’s death, on August 6, 2014.

“Recollections” is kind of ironic, when I refer to my bicycle accident: Since my injuries included a severe concussion, I have no actual memories of 3 hours before the accident, the accident itself, or (and here’s the good one) 10 days after the accident.  And, according to my friends and co-workers, my memory was a bit spotty even after those 10 days were over, for say, at least another month or so.  (So, that’s their “recollection”, as recounted to me.)

Several things prompted me to try to figure out, a little bit more, what actually happened to me after my accident, and how it affected me. One was quite sad and horrifying — the life-threatening accident that happened to a friend (Lynn K) last February: as she was going through phases of her recovery, I kept having parallel lines of thought: wishing her well in her (admittedly, much more arduous than mine) recovery, and thinking about how her recovery phases compared to my recovery phases (for example, being transferred from one hospital to rehab (for her), and, for me, being transferred from my original hospital to the Traumatic Brain Injury ward of another hospital. (Although I didn’t remember the first hospital at all.)

Another thing that prompted the trying-to-recollect was the invitation from that Traumatic Brain Injury Program to an “Open House and Educational Fair”, just about a year after I was in that program.  So, I went and “met” my physical therapist and occupational therapist. It turns out that the very first thing I remember from after the accident was a conversation with my physical therapist, where I insisted that, no, I didn’t need physical therapy for balance, I always had bad balance, and it wasn’t a result of the accident.  Hah! Total BS, as it turns out.  I had remembered the conversation, but not who I was having it with. So, it was great to get it confirmed (by Gina). I apologized for being a lousy patient, but I guess it’s pretty par for the course for someone who’s had a concussion, doesn’t remember she had a concussion, and continually questions why she’s in the hospital (despite the pain in her ribs and clavicle from the broken bones). And Gina seemed quite happy to see a patient who has (apparently) recovered from her brain injury.

So, anyhow, I’ll post some recollections I’ve put together over the past year-plus. With thanks to my sister and friends for actually remembering some of this stuff, supporting me while it was happening, and putting up with me asking questions about it after the fact.

March 13, 2014 / bikesbytesbites

My Bicycle Accident and Recovery (So Far)

Posts have been slow “recently” (ok, for the nine months) because I’ve been devoting my time and energy to recovering from a bicycling accident and, in my copious spare time, trying to get some work done.  I wrote about the accident here:
Oxon Hill Bicycle Club Newsletter February 2014

June 18, 2013 / bikesbytesbites

Utility Bicycling on Three Continents

Utility Bicycling on Three Continents

In the fall of 2012, it seemed I wasn’t getting much mileage on my bicycle. However, I more than made up for it with airline mileage, which led to some interesting exploring of bicycle facilities elsewhere. The link above is a PDF of some highlights of trips.

November 21, 2012 / bikesbytesbites

Bicycles in Tokyo/Japan

Bicycle Parking

Yes, there are bicycles all over Tokyo. Bike paths are marked, mostly on sidewalks. Bicycles are parked all over the place. Most apartment buildings have sheltered bicycle parking, some with elaborate double-decker rack systems.

Bicycle Rack - TokyoBicycle Rack – Tokyo

But most parking on the streets appears a bit haphazard. Bicyclists are all over the place — except on the subway (metro) where they’re not allowed. Most of the bicycles are utilitarian — very heavy, with kickstands; some with center stands, like motorcycles. All have lights. Most have very large baskets. My favorite accessory was a set of brackets for carrying an umbrella — kind of like the less formal setup here.

Bicycle with Umbrella

Bicycle with Umbrella

These utility bikes have minimal locks. The most minimal is the old style that attaches to the stays, like a brake caliper, that simply prevents the bike from rolling.

Typical Utility Bike

Typical Utility Bike

I recognized bikes by some known bicycle manufacturers — Bridgestone (alive and well in the Japanese market), Giant.

Bridgestone Commuter Bike

Bridgestone Commuter Bike

I also recognized brands not usually noted as bicycle manufacturers — Chevrolet? Jeep? Hummer? In Japan, do car manufacturers have a profitable side line in bicycles?

Jeep and Chevrolet Bicycles

Jeep and Chevrolet Bicycles

And there were lots of folding bicycles, mostly inexpensive and sturdy ones, although I did see one Bike Friday. There are also hipster bicycles in Hong Kong, if you go to the hipster neighborhoods — I mostly saw these in Shibuya and Shinjuku. Familiar brands — Bianchi, Raleigh — but unfamiliar (to the US market) models. These shift levers are particularly intriguing.

Bianchi "hipster" Bike

Bianchi “hipster” Bike

So, am I sorry I didn’t bring my bicycle to Tokyo. Yes and no. The distance between my hotel and office was too short (1 mile) to really make it worth bicycling. Plus, I couldn’t have brought the bike into the office building. But the bicycling didn’t look that intimidating at all, especially since I’ve ridden in places like the UK and Australia, where vehicles drive/ride on the left. Maybe next time …

November 18, 2012 / bikesbytesbites

Coffeeneuring Challenge #2 – Part 2

Alas, I have failed the Coffeeneuring Challenge this year.  One ride, I forgot to document.  And the last weekend was a total washout, biking-wise.  I have a great excuse … but first…

Saturday, October 27: Panera Bread, Silver Spring, MD

Another ride up to Silver Spring for another film noir. I brought my insulated mug from home (the better to get coffee into the theatre without spilling it), so you’ll have to take on faith that the coffee is from Panera.  And that the bicycle is parked in its usual bike rack in the parking lot just behind where I was standing when I took to picture.  Silver Spring is identifiable by the Art Deco clock on the Lee building.

Panera Bread, Silver Spring

Panera Bread, Silver Spring

Sunday, October 28: Northside Social, Arlington, VA

The day before super-storm Sandy was supposed to hit, I was lucky to get myself out of the house and onto a bike.  Therefore, the coffee run was to a local place, Northside Social, in Clarendon.  They have great bicycle parking and good coffee.

Northside Social

Northside Social

Saturday, November 3: Eventide Restaurant, Clarendon VA

It should count when the coffee (an excellent French press) is the final course of an excellent meal.  However, it doesn’t count because I was in a rush to get to a movie (Pitch Perfect, just right), and forgot to snap the picture.  The food was ok (a little frou-frou for my tastes) but the decor and atmosphere are to die for.

Sunday, November 4: Starbucks, Dulles Airport

Sunday was a gorgeous day for a bike ride. Some friends were doing a long (100-mile) ride, starting from Marshall, having lunch in Lovettsville.  I decided to do the intermodal version of that ride — take the 5A metro bus from Rosslyn out to Dulles airport and ride from there. The coffee was at the Starbucks on the arrival level in Dulles, waiting for the bus to get home.  I know that Starbucks fairly well, but it was my first time taking the 5A home.  Usually, when I do this intermodal trip, I ride an extra 20 miles back to Vienna and take the metro.  But it was November and getting late, hence the Starbucks on the bus.

Starbucks, Dulles

Starbucks, the arrivals level, Dulles Airport

Saturday, November 10: NH001, IAD-NRT

It’s hard to do a coffeeneuring run when you spend the day in a plane.  It’s fourteen hours non-stop from Dulles to Tokyo. The airline dinner (courtesy of ANA) was just about the prettiest and tastiest airline food I’ve ever had.  I documented the trip by taking a picture of the toilet.  I’m sure someone has written a sociological monograph on what toilets say about the culture in which they’re found.  It seems that Japanese toilets in public places (like this airplane and, as I discovered a few days later, modern office buildings), have a button to make flushing sounds when you’re not actually flushing.

Japanese toilet

Japanese toilet

Sunday, November 11: Cafe Excelsior, Tokyo

I really did try to rent a bicycle today.  But all the bicycle rental places I could find were way on the outskirts of town, and my hotel is in town (near Roppongi).   So, instead, I took a taxi to the Museum of Modern Art of Tokyo and walked back to the hotel.  Evidently, streets are closed to cars on Sundays around the Imperial Palace and Gardens, and seeing all the runners and bicyclists made me very jealous.  To pay homage to coffeeneuring, I stopped in Excelsior Caffe for lunch.  The latte was quite acceptable.  But it’s going to be impossible to get decaff coffee in this country.

Excelsior Caffe, Tokyo

Excelsior Caffe, Tokyo

Follow-Up: Coffee in Tokyo

The bad news:

  • As expected, decaff coffee is virtually impossible to find.  Starbucks has it, but drip only, no espresso.
  • What good is a gold Starbucks card if the Starbucks throughout Tokyo won’t accept it?

The good news:

They take their coffee seriously here, and it is uniformly excellent.  Even the Starbucks, although I’ve switched to drinking matcha (green) tea chai during the day.


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