Randonneuring events allow ordinary people like me to participate in extraordinary bike rides. Brevets changed my definition of a long day ride, from a century to more than double that– distances I previously could not even conceptualize pedaling.
The randonneuring community helped me feel okay as a rider who does not move particularly fast, but has a body that has proven itself durable over time and distance.
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!
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?
This past weekend Felkerino and I organized the D.C. Randonneurs 400K brevet. Of all the spring brevets the 400K is the one that, as a rider, I find most daunting. It starts at 4 a.m., and is the first of the brevets that requires hours of night riding. Riders roll out in the dark, and arrive in darkness, too.
I overhead the staff at the hotel where we staged our ride called our 400K a pizza party. That made me laugh. If the 400K could be considered a pizza party, it’s likely the most hard-earned pizza you’ll ever eat.
I may be laughing now, but I certainly was not on Saturday morning when my alarm went off at 2:45 a.m. I never imagined that my idea of fun would require this kind of early riding rising. I propped my eyelids open with toothpicks, felt heartened by the comfortable morning (or evening?) temperatures and forecast, ate a banana, and hoped for the best.