Category Archives: Rando Reflections

John and Lynne

When I began riding bikes with the D.C. Randonneurs, I didn’t imagine the significant role this activity, as well as the people involved in it, would have on my life. But the randonneuring community is small and the rides are long. Preparation for events leads to pick-up rides through the countryside with other randonneurs.

Brevets require riders to maintain an overall pace, but randonneuring rewards successful completion rather than speed, and I think these elements contribute to the evolution of a rather unique sporting club.

There aren’t many people who “get it” when it comes to randonneuring. Most people think we’re crazy and tell us so in various ways. But we know the appeal of long days on the open road, and even if we don’t share much in common beyond that, we have a way of sticking together.

In a sense, it’s like living in a small town. Our little community grows stronger through mutual acceptance as we tolerate–  even appreciate– each other’s quirks and our individual approaches to long-distance riding. Nobody else understands where we come from or why we choose to ride long year-round, through rain and chill, on sunny as well as less inviting days, but we do. We get it, and among each other we relax, knowing we need never explain that part of ourselves.

You start randonneuring, and unfamiliar faces gradually become cycling buddies. Over time, you develop the ability to recognize fellow D.C. Randonneurs from afar. Some combination of their bike setup, the way they sit or pedal, their clothing choices, or the bags they use to carry their gear reveals their identities before you glimpse their faces. Every rider has a unique profile.

John and Lynne
John and Lynne outside Frederick on August 29, 2015

This was the case with local riders and long-time D.C. Randonneurs John and Lynne, who I’ve known since my early days of randonneuring in 2005. John and Lynne regularly rode tandem and used conspicuous helmet mirrors to see behind them. Their loaded-up Ortlieb panniers made them easy to discern. They almost always appeared to have packed for a long tour, rather than a brevet or day ride. Even on warm days, they layered up for unpredicted changes in temperature.

Outside of randonneuring and weekend rides, I had no knowledge of their lives, but we shared an affinity for tandeming and riding that led us to encounter each other fairly regularly. Felkerino and I saw them a few times this summer. We’d be pedaling along a country road thinking we were the only cyclists around for miles, and suddenly we’d spot John and Lynne on their tandem. We’d all smile, and exchange hellos and waves.

John and Lynne

Avid riders, John and Lynne loved being out together. When it came to brevets, they were extremely dogged. Not the fastest randonneurs, John and Lynne seemed to enjoy testing their endurance through randonneuring events. They never expected anyone to bail them out or pick them up if they missed a time cutoff, and always finished under their own power. I admired that tenacity and self-sufficiency.

John was a skilled router, and after decades of riding he and Lynne knew the roads around our area intimately. They sewed rides together from all the nearby quiet rural roads.

This weekend John and Lynne were out on what I imagine was one of their regular weekend rides, and a drunk driver hit them from behind. The drunk driver killed them, and I really don’t want to accept that these two gentle souls died so violently during what I have come to find is a glorious pastime– a weekend tandem ride with one’s partner.

Our community has experienced a great loss, and I’m so angry and sad. Angry that our country has such a problem with drunk and dangerous drivers on our roads. Angry with myself for reading the comments in response to the Washington Post article about John and Lynne’s horrifying deaths at the hands of an intoxicated driver, where some suggest that cyclists who ride on roads are just waiting for an “accident” to happen to them, and that the only place for cylists is on trails. Angry that so many leave cyclists to fend for their own safety in the face of racing giant boxes of metal.

Mostly, though, I am overwhelmed with sadness that John and Lynne are gone– that I’ll never see John and Lynne on another ride, or be able to look forward to a chance encounter with them on their tandem and those overpacked Ortliebs.

For the Love of It

Not one to let the end of summer pass by while we sip iced tea and laze on our balcony, Felkerino has been unstoppably enthusiastic about weekend rides in the country.

His love affair with summer is certainly infectious, and I’ve been happily coming along for the ride. (See what I did there?) Bicycling in the countryside is a nice change from riding home as the sun sets over Rosslyn every night. Continue reading For the Love of It

Training for Randonneuring Rides on a Tandem

Those of you who receive American Randonneur– a quarterly publication of Randonneurs USA– may find this article about randonneuring tandem basics familiar, as it is a piece that was recently published in the Summer edition. I’m reprinting it here. Thanks to Mike Wali for the pics in this piece. Continue reading Training for Randonneuring Rides on a Tandem

PBP Qualified…

Our recent finish of the D.C. Randonneurs 600K brevet means that Felkerino and I have now qualified for Paris-Brest-Paris. Continue reading PBP Qualified…

Finding Your Randonneur Superpower

When you begin to dabble in the randonneuring arts, you may have an inkling of what your cycling strengths are. You may develop additional skills for riding long-distance. However, it is only through doing brevets over time that your randonneur superpower will reveal itself to you. Continue reading Finding Your Randonneur Superpower

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. Continue reading Living On In Memories

600K Brevet Packing List

I’ve been readying for the weekend’s big ride– the D.C. Randonneurs 600K. I stew in my nervousness and look frequently at regional weather forecasts. I burn off steam with short runs and rides, during which I consider and reconsider all I need for two days of pedaling. Continue reading 600K Brevet Packing List

Transformation and Inspiration

It’s surreal to recall it now, but bicycling– even running– were largely absent from my life during my post-college twenties. I worked long hours, drove my car, and attended many a happy hour. Continue reading Transformation and Inspiration

Summer Legs on the C&O

Lately I haven’t had a lot of words to describe my riding. I have things to write, but my mind has been fuzzy and my motivation rather stilted with regard to writing any posts. I also have some work things that have required my time and attention.

However, friends, I have been riding. My summer legs are starting to come in now. These are the legs that show themselves during the brevet season. They have the urge and strength to ride and just keep riding. How long? Until daylight ends. Until the battery in my headlight dies. Until dinner. Until I need to be in bed for work the next day. Continue reading Summer Legs on the C&O

The Mind’s Journey

I began this year feeling quite uncertain, almost ambivalent, about the brevets. The past year has included some serious and unexpected health issues in my family. These scrambled up my head, and prompted a reassessment of that big question “What am I doing with my life?” Continue reading The Mind’s Journey

Randonneuring In Retrospect

I’m a randonneur romantic. Sure, longer brevets almost always include periods where I question my recreational pursuits due to discomfort, exhaustion, or some dissatisfaction with a route segment, but they don’t hang on. Eventually, those feelings fade and bike riding reclaims its place on my list of favorite things to do. Continue reading Randonneuring In Retrospect

Bringing Made-Up Words to Life: Coffeeneuring and Errandonnee

I don’t mean to shock anyone, but the words “coffeeneuring” and “errandonnee” are totally made-up words. That’s right, both are fake words used to describe activities that people do on bicycles.

These terms were born out of similar circumstances. Continue reading Bringing Made-Up Words to Life: Coffeeneuring and Errandonnee

The Truth and Nonsense of the N+1 Principle of Bicycles

If you’ve been around bikes long enough, you’re likely familiar with the “n+1” principle. Velominati describes it as follows:

The correct number of bikes to own is n+1.

While the minimum number of bikes one should own is three, the correct number is n+1, where n is the number of bikes currently owned. This equation may also be re-written as s-1, where s is the number of bikes owned that would result in separation from your partner.

I became quite caught up in the n + 1 principle in my early days as a bike enthusiast, although I did not know it had a name. My stable quickly grew from one Fuji road bike to a road bike + fixed gear + light touring bike + a commuter/touring bike + folding bike + single speed folding bike + you get the idea. Continue reading The Truth and Nonsense of the N+1 Principle of Bicycles

The Randonap

Since beginning my glamorous randonneuring career in 2005, I’ve not only ridden in places I never imagined, but I’ve dozed in an assortment of spots I never before would have considered comfortable or conducive to sleeping.

Ride long enough, sleep little enough, and you too will find yourself mastering the strategy of the perfect randonap. Continue reading The Randonap

Why Write About Bicycling

As I was padding around the Mall on a meditative lunch run, I pondered what keeps me writing about time spent on my bicycle. Continue reading Why Write About Bicycling