Category Archives: 1200K & 1000K Rides

PBP Memories: Drew Buck and his 1900 Peugeot

This week BBC News ran a feature about Drew Buck, a long-distance cyclist from Somerset, England, who is famous in the randonneuring community for completing Paris-Brest-Paris (PBP) multiple times on vintage bicycles.

Drew Buck arrives at PBP. Love this shot. Photo by Felkerino

Drew Buck arrives at PBP on his vintage retrodrive Peugeot. Love this shot. Photo by Felkerino

The article prompted me to search through my own set of photos from the 2011 edition of PBP, and I realized that Felkerino I had the pleasure of encountering Drew Buck at various points throughout the ride.

Making his way to the start

Making his way to the start

Drew completed the event riding a 1900 Peugeot bicycle and wearing clothes representative of that time period as well.

The 1900 Peugeot at the finish of 2011 PBP

The 1900 Peugeot at the finish of 2011 PBP

Here is Drew arriving at the 90-hour start, where his presence caused quite a stir.

Drew Buck arrives amid a sea of modern bikes

Drew Buck arrives amid a sea of modern bikes

Felkerino and I watched him ride past as the 90-hour riders began their journey.

Drew Buck-PBP 2011

Because we opted for the 84-hour start we were able to take part in the 90-hour festivities as observers. Energy was bouncing around every corner of Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines that day.

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Drew Buck at the beginning of PBP

We crossed paths on Roc Travezel (Roc’h Trévézel!) as we were pedaling our way toward Brest and he was on the return. Brest is the midway point of PBP.

Drew Buck outside of Brest on PBP 2011

Drew Buck outside of Brest on PBP 2011

I was snapping photos of riders as we passed them going in the opposite direction and did not even realize that I captured Drew as he was remounting his bike.

Drew Buck-PBP 2011

Drew Buck and others (including Judith Swallow) at the finish of PBP 2011

I also have a few shots of him at the finish. Drew is looking away in this photo, but it gives you another idea of his ensemble. Avid randonneur and mile-eater Judith Swallow is also in the background of this shot.

And finally, a last look at Drew’s Peugeot after its long journey. Great job, bike!

Drew Buck's 1900 Peugeot PBP 2011

I was so caught up in my own ride and how Felkerino and I were doing during PBP that I did not give much thought to how cool it was to encounter Drew Buck at these various points. We just happened to cross paths with him at the beginning, middle, and the very end of the ride. Now I see these times again in my photos and it’s really quite amazing.

PBP was an incredibly intense experience. So much was happening, it was hard to soak it all in as one complete experience. I have loved the tangible memories of my photo sets because they have helped me unpack other moments from this great ride, like these of Drew Buck. Thanks for revisiting them with me.

My 2012 Colorado High Country 1200K Story

Hello, readers. Big news! I wrote up my account of Felkerino’s and my Colorado High Country 1200K. It took a while, but it’s finally finished.

Felkerino and me on the Colorado High Country 1200K

I call it a highlight reel because, instead of chronicling the ride as it happened each day, I honed in on the aspects that made the High Country unforgettable.

Check it out here: 2012 Colorado High Country 1200K: A Breathtaking Trip out West. I hope you enjoy reading about this ride even a little bit as much as I loved riding it.

Memories of Donald Boothby and the Cascade 1200K

Donald Boothby, a Seattle randonneur, died of cancer this past week. I did not know Donald well, but he left such an impression on me during the 2006 edition of the Cascade 1200K, that I wanted to share the fond memories I have of him.

One of the best things about randonneuring is the people you have the chance to meet.

In 2006, I embarked on my first grand randonnee (on tandem with Felkerino), the Cascade 1200K. I’ll never forget that ride: the whole new experience of the 1200K distance; the heat; fellow riders from all parts of the country; and the incredible volunteer support provided by the Seattle International Randonneurs.

Among the volunteers on that ride was Donald Boothby, an avid randonneur and tandem rider. Donald, like many of the volunteers, followed the randonneurs through the 90-hour course and helped out by providing food and water along the way. Volunteering on a 1200K is an intense experience, as arduous as the ride itself, only you don’t get a medal at the end.

Donald provided the best encouragement to Felkerino and me. We rode most of the 1200K just inside the control limits, ultimately finishing in 89 hours. It was the hardest ride I had ever done, and with the uncharacterisctically hot temperatures, I wrestled with my doubts that Felkerino and I would officially complete the ride.

Volunteers on the 2006 Cascade 1200K

Every time I saw Donald, he said that we were doing great. “Wonderfully,” I remember him saying. “Winning the tandem division.” (We were the only tandem.) The way he spoke always reinstilled my confidence.

To combat the heat, Donald gave me a little toy fan that he said would really help me out in the stoker zone. I’m not sure it helped with the heat, but it made me laugh and kept me moving forward.

On the third night of Cascade, our rear wheel detensioned and our front tire flatted. That required us to install a new wheel which we had brought along “just in case,” as well as change our front tube. We decided to wait until the following morning to mess with the bike and instead, banked 90 minutes of sleep.

When we awoke on the final day, Donald had already put our tandem in his workstand and made us espresso while Ralph Nussbaum and Jeff Bauer went to work on our wheels. Quicker than quick, we were up and on the bike again, with Donald’s espresso running through our veins.

It’s remarkable how people’s belief in you and willingness to help can fuel your body and mind. In that moment, I knew Felkerino and I were going to successfully finish our ride.

Whenever I look back on Cascade, I remember how much the Seattle volunteers helped and encouraged us. I recall Donald Boothby’s thoughtfulness, his ever-positive spirit, and his belief in our tandem team.

Like I said, one of the best things about randonneuring is the people you get to meet. I feel so fortunate to have met Donald, and I’m sorry I won’t get to see him again.

Tailwinds, Donald.

Colorado High Country 1200K Photos

Hard for me to believe that the Colorado High Country 1200K is now in the books. Felkerino and I spent the last six months working toward this event, and suddenly it’s back to business as usual. No 1200K on the horizon, just the regular routine.

To keep the post-event blues at bay, I’ve been reviewing, uploading, and captioning my photos of our four days of riding.

Below is a preview of each set. To see each day in detail, just click on the corresponding image and you will be taken to the appropriate flickr set. I hope you enjoy taking a virtual ride with Felkerino and me.

Colorado High Country 1200K: Day 1

Colorado High Country 1200K: Day 2

Colorado High Country 1200K: Day 3

Colorado High Country 1200K: Day 4

Like I said last week, we had a fantastic ride. Felkerino wrote up an excellent synopsis of our experience over at The Daily Randonneur, promising a full ride report later. As for me, I will probably write something, too, but I think I’ll take some time to catch up on sleep and figure out what our next challenge will be.

See you on the commute, all.

And We Made It: High Country 1200k

Friends, Felkerino and I officially finished the High Country 1200K yesterday in just under 83 hours.

To give you a brief summary (full report and pics later), we had an incredibly good ride. Our bodies held up well, weather was pleasant, and we spent lots of miles chatting and pedaling with some great randonneurs.

John Lee Ellis and his volunteers did a fantastic job of organizing and taking care of us throughout the event. The scenery and route were spectacular.

Felkerino and I worked efficiently as a team and were well-synchronized throughout our 4-day journey.

Thanks to everyone who followed, tweeted, and sent us words of encouragement. I read them each night to inspire me for the next day’s ride.

What a ride! I’m so lucky and grateful.

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And We’re Off: High Country 1200K

If you’re reading this, we’re off riding the High Country 1200K!!!

Rider updates will happen on the High Country blog as the event unfolds.

Felkerino (@dailyrandonneur) and I (@gypsybug) will post updates of our adventure via Twitter, using the hash tag #hc1200. Fellow DC Randonneur Bill (@bicyclic) is riding, too, so be sure to check in on his progress as well!

Below are a few pre-event pics for your enjoyment. They are:

A glimpse of our 1200K cue sheet;

Felkerino ascending James Canyon;

The Co-Motion in Jamestown, CO;

Jimmy’s Gunnar, complete with The Acorn Boxy Rando bag;

Bill B. and his Trek at bike inspection;

Jeff B. and his Salsa Casseroll prepped for a pre-ride; and

Mordecai and his Rivendell Romulus at Sunday’s bike inspection.

I’m using my iPod Touch to post this. It’s rather handy, yet rudimentary, so you may have to do some caption matching to the photos.

As always, thanks for reading and to all who’ve wished us well. Talk to you soon, and I hope everybody has an excellent week.

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Pre-Ride Jitters: High Country 1200K

I regularly get some form of the pre-ride jitters before intense multi-day cycling events. I don’t sleep well. I keep thinking I’m forgetting something. The longer the event and the more complicated the travel logistics, the greater the jitters.

A peaceful moment in the park with my Bike Friday. On the inside, it’s all pre-ride jitters!

This year, Felkerino and I signed up to ride the High Country 1200K, which takes place out in Colorado from July 9-12. The event comes five weeks on the heels of the D.C. Randonneurs 600K brevet. While in a way that is perfect timing as we do not have to re-peak for the long distance, it’s also given me ample opportunity to work up my nerves.

While some people may never get these nervous feelings before an event, I am not one of those people. A worrier by nature, I use the weeks before an event to maximize my freak-out time.

I convince myself that if I do something, the jitters will go away. I’m not sure what that something is so I try a variety of somethings. This round of pre-1200K jitters prompted me to meticulously review a variety of aspects of our upcoming trip and ride. I started with the aspects over which I have some control.

Ride Updates. Our ride organizer, John Lee Ellis, has done a great job of keeping riders informed about the High Country 1200. He’s shared helpful blog updates and emails about the course description and profile, what to expect when riding in Colorado, and other critical aspects about the ride. It’s been a good way to mentally prepare for our time out west and has assuaged a few of my worries about what the ride will be like.

Bike Checkups. After a season of riding brevets, Felkerino and I make sure to take the bike in a for a checkup. Usually something on the bike will require a little attention. That is followed up by a discussion about gear. Do we have enough spare parts? Tires? What’s the saddle situation in the Dining Room Bike Shop? We want to make sure everything is in good working order.

Clothing. It’s funny how I somehow made it through a full season of randonneuring with no clothing shortages, but the looming 1200K has me rooting through my closet to see if I might need more shorts, jerseys, socks, or arm warmers. In this case, I think that is partly because we will be riding in areas where we could experience relatively large temperature swings and I want to be prepared for that, but it’s also a way of burning nervous energy.

Packing. Preparing for a bike trip takes extra effort. First, we have to pack for both on-the-bike as well as off-the-bike clothing. Yes, it’s true that a person can cycle in anything, but for brevets I prefer my “special ride” clothing and shoes. Things like helmets, Camelbaks, and tools add bulk and weight to our bags. (May I also add that helmets are an easy item to forget?!) Sometimes I have special ride food that I want to make sure I pack. Traveling with a tandem, even a coupled one like ours, is always a cumbersome adventure. My list of items to pack seems to keep growing by the day, and still I wonder if I have enough stuff to do this ride!

Fingers crossed that these 6 tubes of Chamois Butt’r will be enough for this ride! Ha ha ha!!

After I checked the above items off of my freak-out list, I moved onto the things that are, at least now, beyond my ability to do anything about.

Altitude. In fact, altitude was one of the first things I spent my time being concerned about. I lived for a while at altitude, but it was many years ago and I wasn’t participating in ultra-distance events then. I have no idea how my body will react to cycling at altitude.

People say that response to altitude is very individualized so I will just have to read what I can about acclimating to it, wait and see what happens to me as we ride, and address any issues if and when they arise. To worry about it now is not productive.

Weather. I can’t even talk about this. It’s potentially bad luck to discuss weather.

Training. The time between my last hard effort prior to an event and the event itself (the tapering period) is a window to rest and reflect on my training. While I did have some level of control over my training, that time has now passed. Instead I’m going over and re-going over my workout logs, seeing if I really did put in an acceptable level of miles and cross-training.

No matter how I look over my workout log, I always come to the conclusion that I could have done more. Perhaps that is slightly true, but in the effort to balance riding with work and family, I think I did a pretty good job.

Tapering. Usually when I fret I head to the gym, go for a ride, or head out for a run. During a taper that’s not necessarily the best idea, as one of the most important things a person can do prior to an endurance event is to show up to the starting line well-rested and full of energy.

I’m not saying I’m not staying active, just not in the quantity it would take to keep the nerves at bay. I’m a big believer in tapering, even though it’s more difficult to do than I think it should be.

When I’ve worked hard to develop endurance-distance conditioning it’s difficult to accept that there should be a time set aside to rest before the big day. Instead, I want to push and push and push until I’m at that starting line or else I worry my condition will vanish.

Provided the tapering period is not excessive, that is not true. My body craves recovery from hard efforts so that I will be strong for the next thing that comes its way.

There is only so much that I can do to prepare for this 1200K. I can read up on the ride and know the course layout, control what I pack, but I can’t control what happens to my body at altitude or what the weather will bring. I have to accept that I trained as well as I could and I tapered to rest my body for the big day(s).

Ultimately, many of my jitters stem from the general thrill of attempting a longer ride, as well as the knowledge that distances of this length test me, sometimes in unexpected ways. After diligent preparation, all that’s left is for Felkerino and me to ride our best ride with whatever the event has in store for us.

I can’t wait for the ride to start. It’s the only thing that makes the pre-ride jitters go away.

Paris-Brest-Paris by Tandem

Have you heard enough about PBP yet? Well, hang on just a minute, because I’ve got one more story to share with you.

Felkerino and I co-wrote a short piece about what it meant for us to complete this past August’s Paris-Brest-Paris by tandem. It was published in the most recent edition of American Randonneur, the quarterly newsletter distributed by Randonneurs USA.

Felkerino and me, with Rob Hawks on PBP 2011 (c) Antoinette Galon

Randonneurs USA members may have already seen the article, but for those who have not, we decided to post it over at one of my favorite blogs, The Daily Randonneur. Click on over and check it out. It will make you immediately want to buy a tandem and start training for PBP. Kidding, though I do hope you like it!

See you on the road, everybody.

2011 in Review: All Bike Rides Lead to Paris Brest Paris

Now that 2011 is coming to a close, I’ve been reflecting on the year, as many people do. For me, 2011 was all about Paris Brest Paris, not just because of the event itself, but also because of all the careful planning and diligent pedaling it took to get there.

In early 2010, Felkerino and I decided that we would attempt to ride the 2011 edition of Paris-Brest-Paris (PBP) together on tandem. As part of our preparation, we rode the Endless Mountains 1000K in 2010 to give us a good pre-PBP challenge and to see how we might fare on a ride close to PBP distance. While we finished Endless Mountains well within the time limit, I finished with a lot of knee pain and fatigue. I worried about how my body would withstand PBP, an event 125 miles longer than the one I’d just completed.

To build up my strength, I added more weight training and core conditioning to my weekly workout routine. Felkerino and I developed a 2011 cycling plan that had us riding around 1,700 miles from January to March. Ed likes to say the randonneuring season begins the day after the Winter Solstice, and at least this year, he was right. We dragged ourselves outside in the cold and dark, sometimes finishing in the cold and dark, to make sure we developed a strong cycling base.

Through the brevets and the Super Randonneur series (late March through June), we continued to increase our long miles. When not riding brevets, we would do weekend training rides to build our endurance. During June and July, we logged four overnight cycling trips (in addition to the 600K) and completed over 1,000 miles each month. Since June and July are such awesome cycling months, that wasn’t hard to do, except that our household projects and laundry suffered.

About four weeks before PBP, we began to taper and did not worry about logging any big miles until the event itself.

Our plan worked extremely well for us. Endless Mountains proved to be a fine training ground for PBP. The craggy Pennsylvania terrain built up my legs and my confidence. The brevets and our steady buildup of miles until August made me comfortable with spending lots of time on the bike. Before dawn, during the day, after dark… I was ready to be in the saddle.

When PBP arrived in mid-August, we were physically and mentally prepared. I remember going to bike inspection, getting our photo taken, and feeling like life was perfect. I couldn’t stop smiling and I was so proud to be with Felkerino and all of the other randonneurs.

And fortunately, we both arrived in France in good health and with snappy legs. The weather cooperated (for the most part), and we had no major mechanicals. My stomach held up and I had an excellent appetite throughout the ride. Even though we were on the clock, we were able to keep a decent cushion between our ride and the cutoff times. We even got sleep each night!

When Ed and I crossed the PBP finish line, I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude and happiness. Everything had come together.

And how could I forget the most important thing– we had such great companions and support along the way. Endless Mountains, the brevets, our weekend rides, PBP… we seldom rode alone. Laughs, smiles, stories, and shared moments of randonneur loopiness with our friends kept the miles rolling, and made all our rides that much better. The virtual company from the Tweets, blog comments, and messages that we received while out riding motivated and encouraged us. Thanks to all of you for being part of our 2011 adventures.

My PBP 2011 Story: You Have to Go to Know

Hey, readers. The Daily Randonneur, a mighty fine randonneuring blog written by this guy I know, is featuring my Paris-Brest-Paris 2011 story. Yeah, you know PBP, that 1230K ride that so many randonneurs rave about? That one.

It took four days to ride PBP, and another two months to write the story. I’m not sure which was harder. Wait, yes I do.

Day 3 on PBP, with Felkerino and Jon.

Felkerino has been rolling out the story in daily increments this week, with the grand finale going up this Friday.

Have a cup and read my story.

So grab your favorite beverage, click on over to The Daily Randonneur, and take a vicarious trip to PBP. Hope you enjoy it!