Category Archives: Brevets

A Dose of Reality on a 200K

Felkerino and I met up with bicycling friends Eric, Jerry, Barry, and Joel to ride the classic D.C. Randonneurs “Old Rag 200K” route. Jerry had some weird rattle in his rear wheel that would not go away, Barry was riding a loaner bike since his main rando ride was in the shop for repairs, our Schmidt generator hub failed, and Eric’s shifter broke in the final five miles.

Old Rag 200K

Other than that, the day was spectacular. Windy and sunny, but warm with temps reaching the low 60s. It’s been so refreshing to ride under these truly spring-like conditions. The winds I feared were– for the most part– not so bad, as the hills provided many sections of shelter.

While Felkerino and I rode consistently throughout the course, my legs still lacked pop. As I considered my less-than-lively legs, I realized that this course was softly doling out a dose of reality– the reality that if I don’t ride with discipline through the winter I will likely end up in minimally acceptable brevet shape.

Randos by the forsythia
Randos by the forsythia

I’ve posted before about Felkerino’s and my approach to preparing for brevet distances: overall miles; time in the saddle; hills; and weather tolerance.

From January through March, I logged less than 1,000 miles, completed only one century-length ride each month, and didn’t force myself to ride long and out in the hills on frigid days. The lure of the espresso machine was strong this winter.

I’ve run just over 300 miles for the year, but I’m here to report that good running fitness does not translate into solid brevet shape. Running benefited me cardiovascularly, but the muscles used from one to the other are distinct.

We managed to outrun this speedy dog.
We managed to outrun this speedy dog.

It is a rueful feeling to know what I should have done over the winter, but did not. As I rode on Saturday, part of me wanted to reach back in time to have the winter months back so I could follow the approach I penned in that randonneur preparation post and rigorously followed in previous years. Too late.

I admonished myself over my conditioning, but the spectacular skies, delicious panorama, and easy company of our riding group made it difficult to dwell on the negative.

Jerry on Etlan Road, one of the most beautiful roads around
Jerry on Etlan Road, one of the most beautiful roads around

Despite the lack of bike fitness, Felkerino and I still made it around the course without any physical problems. It was our bikes that suffered most, it appeared.

Now is too late to undergo any intense fitness-building. What is important is to stay healthy, keep our base miles strong, and our attitudes positive. I need to look ahead, rather than peruse mileage logs that tell a story I can’t change.

While I wish I was more ready to roll through the brevets, I really enjoyed the lack of bicycling discipline and a break from feeling as though I had to log miles on the bike. My dose of reality this weekend showed that I paid the price of losing some of my fitness, but the benefit of being excited to ride long again was worth it.

We Interrupt This Brevet for …

Sometimes when riding my bike, I feel like I’m inside a video game that’s throwing all manner of obstacles my way, and I have to react and deal with them in order to move on to the next level.

Stopping to put on night gear. Photo by Felkerino
Stopping to put on night gear. Photo by Felkerino

Last weekend’s 600K had a fair number of these– enough that I began to take notice.

Continue reading We Interrupt This Brevet for …

Don’t Look Back, Keep Your Eyes on the Road: 2014 Super Randonneur Series

Felkerino toward Crozet

After a year away from the 400K and 600K brevets, 2014 has been a year of re-learning the brevet ropes. Unfortunately for me, this process has also had me on the ropes at various times throughout the spring rides.

I’m happy to say it’s all done and behind me. Felkerino and I got out there, did the work, and rode the brevets we needed to once again complete a Super Randonneur series (200K, 300K, 400K, and 600K) with the D.C. Randonneurs.


My body held up well. I am relieved to report that I have the normal aches and fatigue that come after a big ride, but no residual pain from any of the riding this year. Success on the physical front.

However, my state of mind over the course of the last two rides (the 400K and 600K) is a different story. As I wrote about the 400K, I had difficulty being present and setting aside my worries about what was to come.

Continue reading Don’t Look Back, Keep Your Eyes on the Road: 2014 Super Randonneur Series

The Last Ride of My First Super Randonneur Series: A Hilly and Hot 600K Brevet

In an effort to put all my old ride reports either on this blog or The Daily Randonneur, you’ll notice that I’m sharing a few “vintage” pieces. This one is the story of my first 600K experience from 2005, and is also the first story I ever wrote about randonneuring.

I never intended to become a randonneur. I did not even know what a brevet was, let alone think I would be completing a Super Randonneur in the same year I was introduced to randonneuring. I anticipated completing the fleche and thought maybe I would occasionally participate in a century-plus distance every now and then.

Nine years later I’m still riding with Felkerino and randonneuring with the D.C. Randonneurs. We’ve completed three 1200Ks, including Paris-Brest-Paris and a 1000K together. Life continues to unfold in ways I did not imagine.

Continue reading The Last Ride of My First Super Randonneur Series: A Hilly and Hot 600K Brevet

Figuring Out the 400K Brevet

DC Randonneurs 400K-Matt

After rolling into the finish of the D.C. Randonneurs Northern Exposure 400K, I heard myself enthusiastically discuss our ride and revel in the adventure shared by Felkerino, Matt, and me over the last 20 hours and change of riding.

Incredible valley vistas and invigorating climbs! The cutest dog chasing us! A sublime night ride! Clouds clearing and a glowing crescent moon guiding us home! Roads so quiet you could hear peepers sing to you and creek waters whisper encouragement! A giant shooting star! The best mocha I ever had… at mile 230… from McDonald’s!

This fluffy dog wanted to join us.
This fluffy dog wanted to join us.

Who was this person, another part of my brain wondered. What’s with all the exclamations about this great ride? Doesn’t she know that much of her day was spent with an undercurrent of worry and an almost obsessive urge to press forward?

Continue reading Figuring Out the 400K Brevet

Devil’s Daughter 210K Permanent

Devil's Daughter 210K Permanent. Jerry and Andrea

The emerging warmth and green of spring days tempt us. Long days at the office interrupted by relatively brief spates of outdoor time urge us to spend weekends actively exploring.

This weekend Felkerino and I joined bicycling friends Andrea and Jerry to revisit the Devil’s Daughter 210K permanent, a ride carefully crafted by RUSA permanista Crista Borras.

Continue reading Devil’s Daughter 210K Permanent

Pure Bliss: D.C. Randonneurs 300K

Carol and D. Warrenton 300K Brevet 2014

The ride begins with warmth in the air. After a couple hours of darkness, the sun rises and bounces down the road with us. It must sense that we’re in for a 190-mile day of play.

Continue reading Pure Bliss: D.C. Randonneurs 300K

Old Rag 200K Permanent: Hills, Vistas, and Math Word Problems

This weekend Felkerino and I hightailed it out of the city to escape the crowds that have descended on Washington, D.C., and arranged to do the lovely Old Rag 200K out of Warrenton, Virginia, with bicycling buddies Andrea and Mike.


The D.C. Randonneurs site describes the Old Rag 200K as follows:

From Warrenton we head generally southwest passing through rolling horse farm country with the Blue Ridge Mountains as our backdrop. We parallel the Blue Ridge as far south as Madison where we begin our return to Warrenton after a stop at the friendly, well-stocked Yoder’s Country Market.

Continue reading Old Rag 200K Permanent: Hills, Vistas, and Math Word Problems