What is 252 miles, starts at 4 a.m., and has many hills and valleys? It’s the D.C. Randonneurs 400K brevet. Ha ha ha!!
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.
I tend to ride myself awake on these rides, and Saturday was no different. The sun came up, and by 8 a.m. I was happy to be on the bike. For a blow-by-blow of the route’s twists and turns, see the D.C. Randonneurs website. For an impressionist view of our ride, read on!
- Excellent ride organization and volunteers.
Chris and his volunteer crew were extremely organized. Check out the route markings he left on the C&O Canal for us to make sure that we all knew where to exit. The combination of the “R” with the arrow gives it extra style points.
I was also quite impressed by all of Chris’s organizer accoutrements, including his Official Brevet Clock and his 400K Ride Organizer Binder, complete with the club logo.
- Spectacular weather.
This requires no explanation. Just. Perfect.
Our route included a brief bit of cyclocross, where we had to hike our bikes from the C&O Canal Towpath up to the road. You don’t get that on every brevet.
- Friendly and fast controls.
The controls were great! People were so nice about signing our cards, and Kane’s Subs in Newville provided super-fast service to make sure we got fed and back on the road quickly.
- The hidden and unpredictable pop machine stop.
150 miles into the ride, close to “Short Cut Road,” which was my favorite street name of the ride, Felkerino and I started to feel like we were slogging along and in need of a break. Felkerino’s eagle eye caught sight of a pop machine underneath the awning of a church and Felkerino, Alec, and I bee-lined our way over to it. Pops were only fifty cents. What a bargain!
Alec fed the machine a dollar, pushed the button for cherry Coke, and out popped an iced tea. I put in my fifty cents, selected Power Ade, and was served a root beer. It made me want to keep putting in money and pushing buttons to see what various drinks would come out.
- My best obligatory cow photo yet!
I do not have the gift that Felkerino does in the obligatory cow photo department. Even though they are obligatory, I don’t always end up with one. But look at this beauty. I was so proud to be able to add an obligatory cow photo to my brevet photo set.
- Varied terrain that kept me mentally engaged, sometimes forced me out of the saddle, and had Felkerino and me hitting 50 mph on three different downhills.
A few of the climbs had some mighty payoffs. The descents off of Snickers Gap, Tuscarora Mountain, and Big Flat were wild and dreamy. I even heard a “WHOAH!” from two teenagers who were outside in their yard as we passed by them at 50 miles per hour. It must be somewhat unusual to see a bike flying by you at that speed. Yeah, that was pretty fun.
- Dramatic dog action shot!
What can I say? This is my best “Don’t eat me, Fluffy,” shot yet!
- Good Samaritan moment!
Felkerino, Bill, and I paused in Arendtsville to put on our “don’t hit me” stuff, and Bill forgot to buckle his Carradice. He noticed it a few miles later when something fell out. He lashed it back up and said, “I hope nothing else fell out.”
A few minutes later a couple drove by, held up a jacket, and asked, “Did one of you drop this?” Turned out that Bill’s jacket had fallen out, and they had been working in their yard (which other people apparently do on weekends) and seen it happen. They retrieved the jacket, hopped in their car, and drove down to intercept us. Is that nice or what?!
- Beautiful night riding
The night riding of the early morning was lovely, as was the night riding of the early evening.
My bike comes with a ready-made draft (Felkerino) so I was protected from both bugs and any evening cool. The skies were clear and the moon and calm winds made for peaceful night riding.
Last year’s 400K ended in strong downpours. Remember those? Memories of last year’s rains helped me appreciate the dry evening miles.
- Fine riding company.
I love brevets because it’s always fun to
run into see and ride with other randonneurs. Yes, I enjoy the social aspect!
It’s simultaneously fun and odd to embark on a 252-mile “day” ride with other people. And it’s just great to be out there with people who like to spend time on their bikes as much as we do. We don’t all run in the same social circles, live in the same places, or even pedal at the same pace. However, when we come together on a brevet, we form a unique community. I’ve met people through randonneuring that I probably would never have met or gotten to know otherwise. I love that.