It’s hard for me to believe that I completed my first Super Randonneur series in 2005. That seems so long ago, yet it doesn’t feel like I’ve been randonneuring for that many years. Time is flying!
As the brevet season kicked off for Felkerino and me this past weekend, I started feeling a little nostalgic and excavated this post out of the archives.
It’s a first-year reflection on randonneuring as well as the touring rides Felkerino and I did with the well-known duo of Chuck and Crista. The highlight of that first year in 2005 included completion of the SR series as well as a bike tour to Niagara Falls with Chuck and Crista and friends, where we averaged over 90 miles a day. With bags!
I shared a couple of other posts of my early randonneuring days previously, but thought you might enjoy this one, too.
My first full year of riding with the D.C. Randonneurs is coming to a close. Thanks to falling in with this crowd, I more than doubled my cycling miles from last year, completed my first full brevet series, cycled up hills I previously believed were only for cars or pedestrians to scale, and made some new friends.
Riding this past year has helped me see my world in a new way. I find riding a bicycle has made my environment more vivid and interactive.
Felkerino and I spied hawks and bald eagles, we crossed the Appalachian Trail multiple times, and during our tour from D.C. to Niagara Falls we even saw a black bear.
I have felt the grade of a hill in my legs, befriended and fought with the wind, sweltered in the heat, and throbbed in pain in the cold. I recall a brevet where I watched the moon set, the sun rise, the sunset, the moonrise, and wondered whether that was crazy beautiful or simply crazy.
I scrutinize convenience stores and gas stations in new ways. I’ve learned that 12 packs of pop or beer and large bags of salt can also serve as rest stop furniture. I am now a huge fan of gas stations/convenience stores with seating areas and clean indoor bathrooms.
I discovered that some places serve coffee unfit for human consumption, which has made me appreciate the rare find of good coffee on the road.
I love it when we are at rest stops, people ask us how far we are riding, and we get to tell them “100 miles (or more)!”
People parceled out various comments or tidbits of advice throughout the year. They shared precious gems like, “GET OFF THE ROAD!” “It’s too hot to be riding your bike,” “It’s too cold to be out on a bike,” “Make sure you drink plenty of water,” and “You know they have cars now, right?”
Others told me stories of friends who rode across the country on a bicycle or participated in charity bike rides. One lady told us that we were “fit, not fat” for riding our bicycles.
I experienced the kindness of strangers in unexpected ways. When Ed and I broke our free hub eight miles into a cold weekend winter ride outside of Frederick, Maryland, a man in a pickup stopped as we were walking dejectedly back to the ride start and offered us a ride back. He carefully stowed the tandem in the back, we clambered in the front cab with him and his puppy, and he delivered us back to the car safe and sound!
During a December century we flatted at the 80 mile mark, and at least four people stopped and asked if we needed help or wanted a ride. (I thought a ride was a great idea, but Felkerino was having none of that!)
And of course, the randonneurs have been great support whenever I have had a mechanical. Just last week, Steve Ashurst and Lynn Ho stood faithfully by while we—alright, Felkerino– fixed a flat that occurred during the last four miles of our ride.
Riding tandem with Felkerino has made for lots of fun riding, both because I am never wanting for company (mostly a good thing), and because people really notice our tandem, the two seated machine of love and acrimony.
My final observations are a potpourri that has stuck in my mind as the year has passed.
- People really can talk for hours about disc brakes.
- Wearing wool does not prevent a person from developing unseemly body odor.
- If a person says they are only going to wrench the bike for 10 minutes, it is seldom a true statement.
- The descriptors “epic,” “scenic,” and “lovely” are really secret code words for “hilly,” “hilly,” and “more hilly.”
- Just because you bought it during a rest stop doesn’t mean you should add it to your regular grocery list.
- When the temperature is 18 degrees outside, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad day for a ride… for some people.
- There is nothing sweeter than a good pre-ride cup of coffee, a rest stop cup of coffee, and a post-ride cup of coffee.