Category Archives: 600K

Living On In Memories

This past weekend I had one of the best rides of my life on the D.C. Randonneurs 600K brevet, and that’s not the randonnesia talking. The course layout, weather, and randonneur fellowship combined to set up a practically perfect 375 miles.

Early morning fog lifted out of valleys to reveal the lush terrain in which we would ride for the weekend.

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The sun warmed the Shenandoah Valley, but cloud cover conveniently rolled in on many of the exposed afternoon sections of our route on both days. Temperatures were never exceedingly hot, meaning riders could focus their energy on pedaling without worries of overheating.

We were also treated to a double tailwind– the pink unicorn of randonneuring. The only other time I’ve experienced a double tailwind was during the 2011 edition of PBP.

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Before ride organizers John and Cindy bid us adieu, our friend Bill Beck spoke about Lynn Kristianson, the designer of this particular 600K route as well as many of the D.C. Randonneurs’ brevet courses. Lynn died this past week, and Bill suggested that we remember her along the way, as we crested ridges and took in the beautiful valley vistas of the route.

Lynn heavily influenced my growth as a randonneur when I was first starting out. She introduced me to the Shenandoah Valley, and the eccentric world of randonneuring.

In 2005, I became part of Lynn’s all-woman fleche team, the Randonnettes. This was my first randonneuring event, and I felt so lucky to be part of it, as though I had somehow gained entry into a secret club. At that time I was just thrilled to be a randonneur, and didn’t realize or understand the rarity of the all-woman team Lynn worked so hard to recruit.

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My dad was very sick this year and during his illness, he told my sister that he believed people lived on through the good memories you hold of them. As I rode our 600K, I thought about my good memories of Lynn.

Lynn believed a view was worth the grind of a tough climb. She never feared hills and she liked quiet roads in the country. She wanted to involve more women in randonneuring, and I am a direct beneficiary of that.

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The tangible memories Lynn leaves behind include the formation of our club, the D.C. Randonneurs, as well as many intricately thought-out and visually stunning routes like this past weekend’s 600K.

But the best memory I hold of Lynn is that she thought to introduce me to Felkerino, my tandem partner and best friend. Lynn didn’t know it when she did this, but she helped me discover true love. I thought about that a lot as we followed the route she plotted for us this past weekend. For that I will always remember her.

Randonneuring Beneath the Stars

The sun flares orange and pink, drops behind the mountains, and leaves us. Felkerino and I pause to don night gear, assess our 600K progress, and estimate the hours of night riding ahead. Continue reading Randonneuring Beneath the Stars

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

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. 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

Randonneuring: When it’s Worth the Effort

I completed my first brevet and Super Randonneur series in 2005. Since then, I’ve completed rides of at least 600K distances each year with the exception of 2007, which I spent in graduate school. Seven years of brevet riding.

Up until this year I’ve excitedly anticipated the arrival of the Super Randonneur series. Time to hit life a little harder, test my physical conditioning, enjoy long days on the bike with others, and find a way to balance cycling with competing life priorities.

This year, the attraction of brevets faded. The car rides, 4 a.m. starts and 2:30 a.m. wake-ups, reflective clothing and Camelbaks, convenience store food, pushing through while managing various physical discomforts, and post-ride grogginess and fatigue started to get to me. The effort randonneuring requires began to overtake the overall enjoyment I experienced in previous years.

Sometimes it’s good to hang it up and other times it’s worth it to hang in and see what the next ride brings. I chose the latter and I’m glad I did.

On some rides, you get something back for each thing you give up.

A car ride takes you to a ride start in new territory beyond your regular radius.

That middle-of-the-night wake-up rewards with sparkling stars and moonlight. Dawn offers up breathtaking morning light that makes you want to take a million photos, even though there’s no way they can truly communicate the morning’s beauty.

The burdensome Camelbak becomes a good friend that lets you not worry about water as you traverse segments that are lovely, but have no services.

Riding diligently takes you to places you never thought you could reach in one day on a bicycle, and it’s almost like living two days in one.

A hot day in the saddle yields to a gorgeous sunset and a cool and dreamy night ride where you see fireflies glow and hear the steady chorus of little frogs.

There is also that rare brevet moment that compensates in its unexpected perfection. After waiting and waiting, this weekend’s 600K gave me that gift.

Morning riding on the DC Randonneurs 600K

Felkerino and I had ridden 177 miles and just eaten a warm meal. We grouped up with Bill Beck and David R. for the final miles of the first day. The late afternoon sun warmed my skin. A gentle breeze blew over me and sifted through my hair.

The bike meandered smoothly in and out of tree-lined shaded sections of a lightly traveled country road. We only had 65 miles to go for the day and I knew that a peaceful starry evening awaited us. I found myself completely in the present, thoroughly engaged in the ride.

Those elusive idyllic moments keep me coming back to brevets. They don’t happen on every ride, but if I just hang in there, theywill happen.

It’s those moments that fill my heart and make all the effort, time, and discomforts of randonneuring absolutely worth it.

D.C. Randonneurs 600K Brevet

Hi, everybody. I’m still trying to catch up on sleep from the excitement of the weekend, but I  put together what I believe is a coherent summary of Felkerino’s and my 600K adventure. Find it over at The Daily Randonneur.

Check out my photos here.

Long story short, the ride was killer gorgeous and we’re qualified for Paris-Brest-Paris!

Finishing the D.C. Randonneurs 600K (c) Bill Beck