Growing up, I lived in a small town of about 500 people. Our back yard abutted an expansive cornfield. Neighbors lived across the street and behind their yard stood another cornfield.
Streets were tranquil and what little traffic there was plodded along. Stoplights? None. My sisters and I could ride our bikes from one end of town to the other, sometimes without ever having to touch our brakes to pause for oncoming traffic. We were the only traffic and it was beautiful.
Space. We had lots of it in that little town. Sometimes it was boring, but when I was on a bike, I loved it.
Over the past few months, people interested in dabbling in the randonneur lifestyle have asked me various questions about getting into randonneuring. After answering them, I thought I’d share some of my thoughts with you.
Since I started doing brevets in 2005, I’ve realized that randonneurs vary widely in their approach to training and riding brevets. Over time, I’ve figured out some of the methods that work for me, and those are the foundation for the answers to these topics.
My experience is based primarily on brevets with the D.C. Randonneurs. Other clubs may operate slightly differently, though the general approach is the same.
Utilitaires are a great way for me to get out the door when I might be swayed to stay inside otherwise. This Saturday the winds were howling in the D.C. area, but I had a baby shower utilitaire to attend. I pedaled my way diligently to the shower, totally focused on my destination and blocking out the windy conditions with my mind. My reward was a lovely baby shower, a bit of exercise, and an awesome tailwind on my return trip. Thank you, utilitaire cycling!
Friday ride home into the sunset
What other utilitaires have been happening, you ask? Let me fill you in…
What fantastic weather this week. Made for some lovely night riding. The sliver of moon illuminated while you could still see its fullness in shadow, suspended over the Lincoln Memorial on a clear night? Stunning. I only took a photo with my mind cam so you’ll have to trust me on how gorgeous the scene was.
It's really the geese who run this town.
Things worth checking out on the interweb this week:
I’m totally copying this post title from Bicycle Bug. Earlier this week, the man behind the D.C. bicycling blog Tales from the Sharrows put out the call for a guest post. Both Bicycle Bug and I drafted up the happenings from one of our commutes as potential posts. However, another local commuter rose to the challenge and we were left with our Sharrows-inspired posts and no place to publish them. What to do? Guest post on our own blogs. Ha ha! Yes, it makes no sense!
To that end, here is my experience of last week’s ride to #FridayCoffeeClub. Will you be attending? Please do!
Mixte Commute Racing and #FridayCoffeeClub
In order to officially complete the Utilitaire 12, at least two rides must be completed in the dark and thus, require lights.
What do people use to ride in the dark? Some people, not part of this challenge, use nothing. Boo. Bike ninjas are all over. At least, I think they are. I have a hard time picking their silhouettes out of the darkness.
Most people who commute and utilitaire, however, end up adopting some type of front and rear lighting system to get them through dark times. Literally dark, I mean.
This past Saturday, Felkerino and I met up with a couple of riding friends to take on some challenging terrain near Skyline Drive. Starting in Marshall, Virginia, we scaled Massanutten via Chester Gap, rolled our way over to Edith Gap, descended into Luray, and climbed back over Thornton Gap under Skyline Drive before biting off the final miles back to Marshall. Truly beautiful riding.
Felkerino wrote up a fine summary of our challenging day, and you can find it here.
The extended climbing on this ride was definitely one of the aspects that made it special, as was the unseasonably warm February weather.
Another highlight was the number of dogs that pursued us at various points during our day. I don’t recall the last time so many dogs tried to chase me. At a convenience store about 18 miles out from the finish I saw this sign.
Chained-up pups were certainly not an issue on this ride.
Friends of the spoked wheel, I am having the best time reading about all the utilitaires people are doing. I’ve found that it’s the everyday adventures that give life its spice, and that’s what I see in the utilitaire posts, tweets, and photos. In daytime, darkness, weekdays, sick days, and all kinds of weather people are out pedaling to get things done and make the everyday routine special.
Additionally, people often turn their utilitaires into multiple destination rides, which has given me a great idea for my NEXT challenge.
So let’s talk utilitaires. What’s been going on? Here’s some of what I know:
I blinked my eyes and the now the weekend is upon us. I like weeks like that.
Hope all is well with all of you. I’ve been spending some evening hours perusing the utilitaire posts. Thanks to everybody who is taking the time to write up and tweet their trips. They make for such fun reads!
Valentine's Day Card from Satsuma Press
That’s not all I’ve been doing. I read a few other bike-related posts and took in a couple videos I think you’ll like:
- PBP 2011 Video. For those of you who have not yet seen the official video of Paris-Brest-Paris, campyonly put a copy up on YouTube for your enjoyment.
- Make your Life Awesome. This post about 100 People Doing Extraordinary Things provided hours of inspired reading. I didn’t see any randonneurs on the list, but it does note some athletic endeavors.
- Sew Your Own Bike Accessories. 2wheelerme decided she wanted some accessories for her cycling. Rather than purchasing them at a store, she has started sewing hats, caps, and sunglasses cases to use on the bike.
- Bike- and Pedestrian-Friendly Cities. The Mineta Transportation Institute of San José State University recently issued a study analyzing what cities can do to better integrate bike and pedestrian traffic. Based in part on case studies, interviews, and surveys, you can read the full shebang or choose the summary version.
- An Alternative to #FridayCoffeeClub. Is #FridayCoffeeClub too early for you? Pedal ‘n Purl is coordinating a couple of evening get togethers for the #bikeDC crowd and wants to know if you can attend.
- I can do that. Wait. No, I can’t. Mickael Dupont took a vintage step-through bike and turned it into an agile stunt machine. I was especially taken with his forward flips off the bike. I wish I could do that. I would really impress people at my office.
Looking forward to finishing the work week and heading for the country. Hope you can get outside, too. Good weekend, all!
Avid cyclist and stalwart commuter Pedro Gringo is one of my favorite people from the flickrverse. I regularly check in on his two-wheeled activities, which range from power naps and puppy rescues to mountain biking and gear tests.
When I saw his fat bike (see how hip I am saying fat bike?), I knew it would make a great contribution to Bikes to Like. Thanks, Mr. Gringo!