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.
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.
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.
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. Continue reading →
So much happens on a group ride like the fleche. Teams cover over 225 miles in an intense 24-hour period. It can be overwhelming in retrospect. For me, it’s often easier to focus on the memories that emerge after the event ends and some time has passed. Recollections of a ride can be so distinct to what you experience during it or even in the immediate aftermath.
Felkerino has a full ride report planned, but in the meantime I wanted to put pen to paper about a bit of my experience.
This past weekend, Felkerino and I broke the tandem in two and took off for the Eastern Shore to ride the D.C. Randonneurs 200K Flatbread brevet. While I’ve ridden this brevet once or twice before, this time was unique because instead of the usual tandem routine, I rode it on my Rivendell Romulus.
Felkerino and I made the decision to ride singles after riding last weekend’s dirt road ride on our “back-up” Cannondale tandem. (Our regular tandem, a beautiful Co-Motion Speedster, has gone to tandem heaven, or wherever it is that tandems that are no longer rideable go.) While a fine bike that performs well on dirt roads, the Cannondale is NOT comfortable for me when riding distances of over 100 miles because the handlebar reach is too short.
The Flatbread 200K was the first time I’ve ridden my single bike on a brevet since 2008. Seriously! Even though I ride my trusty Surly LHT every day to commute, and do several weekend nondonneuring rides throughout the year on my single, I felt nervous about attempting the brevet on a single.
I was not confident about how I would do riding on my own. What if I went too slow? What if I missed a cue and got lost? How does this steering thing work again?