Category Archives: 300K

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.

The sun and I get along so well. The temperatures rise, but there are no uncomfortable flare-ups.

Carol, Bill. Warrenton 300K Brevet

I’m not sure how it happens, but Felkerino and I coalesce with other riders, forming a group that rides together through the first century.

We flow up and down the day’s rises. Everyone holds their space well and conversation is relaxed. We take photos. Of course.

Bill. 2014 Warrenton 300K Brevet

As energy levels change, the group disburses. Felkerino and I ride alone, basking in the glorious day. I almost wish we were riding a 400K so we could make the ride last longer. Almost.

Matt. Warrenton 300K brevet

My legs show up and urge us on throughout. Pedal pedal pedal. Let’s go! Felkerino and I are completely in tune with each other, both present in each pedal stroke and aware of the other.

At some points my feet say, “Hold on, legs, I need a break,” so we stop under the sunny skies and I sit in stocking feet while the breeze attends to my toes. Ahhh, so nice.

300K Brevet. Shoes and Camelbak

After miles of riding solo, we come upon another group of rando-buddies. We ride peacefully to the next control. Company makes the miles pass quickly.

Randonneur lifestyle. 2014 Warrenton 300K brevet

The cue sheet says 60 miles remain, and I have a moment of “Will we ever get to the end?” A helpful wind pushes us forward and says gently, “Of course you will.”

In the final miles, we reunite with Bill, who I was sure had already finished. We’ve spent many a good brevet mile with Bill over the years.  We ride in as a group while the late afternoon sun continues to keep us company.

Finished. Warrenton 300K Brevet 2014

To bookend this blissful day, I make sure to take one last photo. What a day.

More photos where those came from. Full set here.

 

Second Chances: The D.C. Randonneurs 300K Brevet

D.C. Randonneurs 300K, Photo by Bill Beck

D.C. Randonneurs 300K, Photo by Bill Beck

This past Saturday, the D.C. Randonneurs ran their 300K brevet out of Warrenton, Virginia. It was my third time on this particular 300K route (although I did ride it one additional time as a no-credit “fun ride”), and I was determined to make this year a different experience than 2012.

Last year I experienced a new and awful feeling while riding– the urge to stop and go home. Upon reflection, I think a number of things contributed to this, some of which I postulated in last year’s ride report: fatigue; a rainy forecast; and an unexpected been-there-done-that sentiment toward brevets.

Regardless of the cause, though, the result was I was not mentally prepared to pedal 188 miles and it took a lot of effort to get myself back into the flow of the ride.

Memories of the negative thoughts that arose during last year’s 300K were strong in my mind as I began to ready myself for Saturday’s ride. I spent several days mentally prepping, largely by frequently telling myself that Felkerino and I were going to have a good ride. I believe there is truth in the power of positive thinking.

Applying the power of positive thinking at the last control. Photo by Bill Beck

Applying the power of positive thinking at the last control. Photo by Bill Beck

I also ate well, and tried to get decent sleep the week leading up to the event. I moderated my workouts in order to have fresh legs on Saturday. I meticulously packed for the ride two days before, giving myself plenty of time to remember something I might potentially overlook and to avoid throwing things wildly into bags at the last minute.

Felkerino said that he wanted to ride steadily and minimize time off the bike. Done! I packed sandwiches for myself (one almond butter and strawberry preserves, and two hummus sandwiches) as well as a couple of Clif bars. That freed me from having to rely completely on the stores along the route.

Saturday arrived and I was ready and focused. My legs felt good (although I do still have a lingering pain in my left knee).

It was a perfect day to be a bike rider on the 300K. The day was clear with winds out of the west. As the route generally goes north to south, we avoided direct headwinds for much of the course. Humidity was low. Early morning temperatures hovered in the mid-40s and rose to the low-sixties by afternoon.

Redbud

To add to the blissful conditions, the countryside was in full bloom. Apple trees had started to flower. Puffy pink cherry trees and white and pink dogwood brightened the landscape. Redbud (my favorite) contrasted beautifully with the lush green around us. Meadows of bright yellow interspersed our route.

300K Meadow

The vividly painted surroundings almost made me feel like our colder-than-normal spring had been worth it. I appreciated the mild temperatures and spring warmth that much more, and the later blooming season perfectly coincided with our brevet.

Matt, Bill, Felkerino, and Andrea on the 300K

Matt, Bill, Felkerino, and Andrea on the 300K

Oh, and babies! I almost forgot the babies. We passed a mother horse with her newborn foal, saw many baby calves on our ride, and even encountered two baby goats– one of whom appeared to be escaping from its fenced-in home.

Photo by Felkerino

Photo by Felkerino

Early in the ride, Felkerino and I grouped up with Matt, a randonneur from Pennsylvania, and Andrea, of D.C. We also leap-frogged throughout the day with Bill, who took some beautiful photos of the course. That ended up being our little brevet posse, and we had good time chatting and riding the day away.

300K Matt and Andrea

Our group rode at a comfortable pace throughout, but tried to be judicious with time off the bike. Felkerino and I generally plan to spend one hour off the bike per each century ridden when we’re doing brevets. On Saturday, we rode 188 miles and spent 90 minutes total off the bike. For Felkerino and me, that is a disciplined bike ride.

Thirteen hours and 13 minutes after rolling out of the parking lot, we returned to make our final control. Ninety minutes faster than last year’s time. Pretty good.

Redbud on the 300K Brevet

George Moore, who organized the brevet and had spent much of his time out along the course taking photos of riders, was there to greet us, sign our cards, and provide us pizza, cookies, and pop. Thank you, George!

As you read this report, you might think it seems boring. Maybe in some ways it is. Felkerino and I planned our ride and packed our stuff. We woke up early. We rode our bike 188 miles. The bike rode great. The course was pretty. The ride was well-organized. We took some photos. We rode with nice people.

Made it! Photo by George M.

Made it! Photo by George M.

For me, though, it was not boring. Saturday’s ride was a second chance. It was a way for me to recreate my ride experience and remind myself of the reasons why I love doing brevets. 

I paid special attention to those things on Saturday: the beauty of spring rides; the solid organizing and well-thought-out routes of the D.C. Randonneurs; the fellowship of others; the joy of spending an entire day out in the country with my husband on a beautiful tandem; and the sense of accomplishment that comes from riding long.

D.C. Randonneurs Warrenton, VA 300K: In Each Life, Some Rain Must Fall

Now that I’ve caught up on sleep, uploaded my photos, and enjoyed a brilliant sunny warm Sunday I can say I truly enjoyed Saturday’s  300K with the D.C. Randonneurs.

George, Christian, and Rick on the Warrenton 300K

This brevet, which starts in Warrenton, Virginia, is a rolling course that traverses some beautiful Virginia farm country. Full ride description here. It actually reminded me of Paris-Brest-Paris terrain. No major climbs, but enough hills to make you feel like you got a good workout.

Our day was mostly cloudy interspersed with cameo appearances of sunshine, light rain, and varying temperatures between 40 through the low 50s throughout the day.

I won’t take you on a cue-by-cue of this ride. Instead, I’ll hit the highlights so that you can get about the rest of your day.

  • The Urge to Quit

The day started out innocently (and early!) enough. A 5a.m. rollout from Warrenton, which at first is more descent than ascent. Our tandem zipped along spiritedly until around mile 40 where we stopped to delayer and soon after I began to have a rough time of it.

I tensed up and began to feel overwhelmed about the ride. We had only gone 40 miles. We were never going to get there. AND we were going to get rained on.

I was definitely viewing the world with a glass half empty mindset.

Bye bye friends! An early stop on the Warrenton 300K

I then thought about quitting, which I NEVER do. I totally believe that when I start an event, I commit to doing everything I can to complete the event. I also go into it believing that I will finish. It’s self-defeating to start with anything less.

Somehow on this ride, though, poisonous thoughts entered my mind.

I’ve been doing these rides for almost eight years now. What’s the need to do another one?

I have nothing to prove. It’s not that nice outside. What would be the harm in bailing? I’d still end up with 80 miles on the day. That’s not a bad day on the bike, is it?

Those thoughts FREAKED me out. They had no place on this ride. My head was not in the game. I was in no physical pain or discomfort. I was simply lacking in desire, with 150 miles to go in the ride. Great.

We took a short break for a coke and a bite of food. Felkerino kept steadily steering us forward, I pedaled through, and gradually I started to feel better. Our pedaling picked up a rhythm, and by the time we rolled into the first control at mile 65, life was looking up.

I was fully engaged in the ride again and my brain sent me no more distracting and unhelpful messages about quitting. Thank goodness, or it could have been a long day out there.

After the ride, Felkerino told me he thought I’d been bonking, but I’m still not sure. I think that I did not adequately prepare mentally for the day. Food for thought. (Get it? Bonking? Food for thought? Ha ha!)

  • Good Company Makes all the Difference

Our early miles were spent with Bill B. and Kelly, who are always amicable company. And I even got a meta-randonneuring shot of Bill taking a picture of Felkerino and me before we all parted ways.

Meta-Randonneuring Moment: Bill B. taking a picture of me taking a picture of him.

Shortly before the first control, Felkerino and I began to criss-cross with George W., Rick of North Carolina, and Christian. Solid steady riders, easygoing, and pleasant to ride around. We chatted about bikes, Grand Bois tires, food, and weather. Sometimes we rode quietly in each other’s company.

650B Attack

It’s just lovely when you end up lopping off brevet miles in the company of others that share your enjoyment of cycling.

  • Oh Sun, How I Love Thee

This ride had some sun, lots of clouds, and a little rain. And not much wind, yippee!

It’s much easier to tackle a long ride on a warm sunny day. Fortunately, the sun came out enough throughout the day that I did not feel totally abandoned by it, but most of the day was cloudy.

A sunny spot on F.T. Valley Road

I also got to use my rain jacket some. I do love my rain jacket (Gore Tex Paclite), but like leaving it in the Carradice as opposed to wearing it much.

It’s surprising how much the sun can lift my spirits. Whenever it peeked out, I found myself reaching for my camera. That’s why my photo set makes our ride look deceptively sunny.

  • Dogs!

Lots of canine buddies who came out to meet and greet…

Hi, buddy!

Hi buddies!

And one who definitely looked like he wanted my leg for dinner.

EEEEEEEEEEEKK!!!

  • D.C. Randonneurs Brevets are Beautiful

Sometimes I can’t believe how close I live to such natural splendor. The Blue Ridge, Skyline Drive, historic battlefields, and the Catoctins. We’re so lucky!

Our club offers such beautiful rides, and yesterday’s was no exception.

Thanks to everybody who made it a good day! Oh, and Felkerino did a writeup, too. Check it out on The Daily Randonneur.

D.C. Randonneurs: Frederick, Maryland 300K

Saturday was a beautiful day to be a randonneur, and today I am still riding the post-brevet high of this ride. The D.C. Randonneurs 300K out of Frederick, Maryland, is one of my favorite rides for a few reasons:

  • The course is gorgeous;

The 5 a.m. start was totally worth it.

  • The majority of climbing occurs in the first third of the ride;

Shippensburg Road. Did you bring your granny along?

  • You can tell all your friends you climbed big bad Big Flat the hard way;

45 mph? For us, it’s 4.5 mph.

  • The terrain challenges, but doesn’t punish; and

Church of God Road. It’s divine.

  • The final 50 miles are gently rolling.

30 miles to go. Looks nice out here!

Highlights of the 2011 Frederick 300K.

The Weather.

We spent much of the morning miles pedaling in the sun. Temperatures rose quickly into bare legs and arms weather.  Not too hot. Not too cold. Just right!

Bill Beck spent the first 60 miles of the ride exclaiming about the great weather, and then we spent the next 60 miles watching the clouds roll in and a few raindrops fall. Thanks a lot, Bill! Fortunately, the clouds did not last and the sun returned to spend the rest of the day with us.

The Company. 

Felkerino and I had a great time pedaling with fellow randonneurs. We  spent the first part of the ride with Charlie, Glenn, and Bill Beck.

Charlie and Bill

Glenn and Bill

Jeff M. kept us company for the last 30 miles or so. He has a new bike!

Jeff

The Critical Stops.

Critical Stop #1. Just before we turned to make the climb up Big Flat, our riding posse popped into an orchard entrance to delayer and mentally ready ourselves for more hilly miles. Everybody was in such high spirits about the day and the orchards were so lush.

Bill, at the impromptu critical stop.

Critical Stop #2. At mile 160, Felkerino and I decided to park for a few minutes in a church parking lot, rest our legs, and eat a little something. It felt great. I put my feet up on the curb, laid down in the peaceful parking lot, and watched the clouds drift in the blue sky.

Critical stop at Tom’s Creek Church Road

Just hanging out on our bikes in the middle of the country. That is the life.

Felkerino’s Obligatory Cow Photo Obsession.

Obligatory Cow Photo (c) Felkerino

Obligatory Cow Photo (c) Felkerino

Obligatory Cow Photo (c) Felkerino

Felkerino kept making me laugh. This course passed by many dairy farms, and Felkerino did his best to make sure that no cow went unphotographed. As he snapped the cows’ photos, he would tell them that he was a “world-renown cow photographer.” Felkerino is truly dedicated to the Obligatory Cow Photo.

Want to see more of what you missed? Check out my pics here, Felkerino’s photos here, and Bill’s set here. All in all, a spectacular route on a spectacular day! Thanks to Mark V. and the volunteers.

Frederick 300K Vista

D.C. Randonneurs 300K Brevet: The Contrary Mother

It’s prime time for randonneuring and all my bike riding is encroaching on my blogging. Imagine! I wrote a summary of my weekend ride over at my favorite randonneur’s blog, The Daily Randonneur. The story is here, and the teasers below. Oh, and the pics are here.

Contrary Mother 300K

Things I learned on my 300K bike ride:

  • Pay no attention to the forecast. Just wear wool and hope for the best.
  • Fog is the enemy.
  • Take the time to wrench your saddle.
  • Dogs that don’t bark are trouble.
  • Ascents on the tandem are tough, but the descents are incredible.
  • You can pedal at 2.9 miles per hour, but is it necessary?
  • PBP Anciens are everywhere.
  • Hilly rides scatter the groups, but that does not mean you are alone.
  • The Branch Mountain United Methodist Church on Jersey Mountain Road has a lovely outhouse and slippery parking lot!
  • Just keep pedaling. Seriously.

In more local news, I saw my first blooming dogwood tree today. Could spring really be here?

Blooming dogwood

300K Fun Ride – Warrenton, Virginia

If a ride happens and no one knows about it, did it really happen?

This weekend, Felkerino, Lane, and I rode the 2009 D.C. Randonneurs 300K route from Warrenton, Va. This is a lovely rolling route that takes the rider all around horse country and back. It’s not killer in terms of terrain, but the first part of the ride, in particular, has plenty of hills to keep your attention and tire you out.

Apples, Hay, and Mountain Views

I wasn’t that excited about doing the ride, but if I have to choose between staying at home by myself doing dishes or riding my bike, I’ll definitely lean toward the latter most days. If Felkerino was riding, then I was riding, too!

24 Crows.  Artisan and Coffee Shop

24 Crows. Artisan and Coffee Shop

The day was clear and hot. We all did a good job of managing the heat, hydrating well, and taking very civilized stops like this one in Flint Hill.

The fun thing about our “fun ride” was that we were able to start later than a “real ride.” We rolled out at 6:20 a.m., not something I would ever consider on a “real ride.” The other nice thing was there was no time pressure.

These upsides about our “fun ride” were also the things I think could get us into trouble. Knowing there is no time pressure could turn the “fun ride” into an impromptu 24-hour fleche-type ride. Our stops throughout that day were at least 15 minutes longer than they would have been on a “real ride.” However, this “fun ride” was also blazing hot during the middle of the day and taking a few extra minutes to cool down, rehydrate, and refuel was critical and kept my spirits up.

The last time Felkerino and I rode this course we spent many miles riding with Russ Morris. I thought of him when we made our last stop of the day in Remington, Va., where Russ educated us about the Crucial Stop.

The last Crucial Stop of the day. Remington, Va. (c) Felkerino

Back to my question: If a ride happens, but nobody knows about it, did it happen? Probably not, which is why Felkerino and I made sure to keep the cameras rolling throughout the day. My set can be found here , and Felkerino’s is located here.

In conclusion, it was an excellent “fun ride.” Good company and enjoyable riding (save for the blazing hot portions!). Now, about those dishes that need washing…