As part of our preparation for an upcoming two weeks of summer bike touring in Colorado and to maintain the bicycling fitness we developed over the course of the brevets, Felkerino and I have spent the past two weekends doing back-to-back Saturday and Sunday rides.
Randonneuring requires a certain level of commitment (no, not that kind of commitment). Early rises, car rides, bike maintenance and tuning, convenience store dining, and long days and even evenings in the saddle are all part of the randonneur lifestyle.
Given that most of us do not have unlimited leisure time, what is it about the brevets that appeals enough that we’re willing to dedicate so much of our spring and summer (for some, even more) to it?
When mainstream media picks up a thread about the effects of endurance pursuits on health, I usually hear about it. The most recent one I know of was covered in the Wall Street Journal.
The article’s focus was “extreme exercisers,” and how they may experience some health benefits from their activities, but likely put their health at risk in other ways as a result (such as atrial fibrillation and coronary-artery plaque).
I’m sure this study and others like it are a validation to all those who put extreme exercisers in the “crazy” category. “What did I tell you? You-all are crazy for doing insert whatever endurance activity you do here!” they say. “Not only are endurance pursuits crazy. They’re bad for you, too! ”
I started riding with the D.C. Randonneurs in 2005 when I was invited to participate on a flèche team. At that time, I had never ridden farther than a century and I had no idea what randonneuring was. Despite my ignorance the flèche sounded like an exciting opportunity to test my limits.
To prepare for the 360K distance, I eagerly threw myself into riding. I logged weekends of back-to-back centuries, and participated in big training rides of 145 miles and longer. The flèche came and went and still I kept riding with the randonneurs.
Before finding out about the D.C. Randonneurs I had never fathomed pedaling over 200 miles in one go on my bicycle. Yet there I was, getting it done. So many of these rides represented new personal milestones. First back-to-back centuries, first double century, first tandem brevet, first Super Randonneur series. It took a lot of effort to make those rides happen, but I was fueled by the thrill of new accomplishments and the novelty of testing how far I could go under my own steam.
Now that spring is here, the longer rides have begun for Felkerino and me. This weekend, we packed in a 155-mile ride on Saturday (Felkerino wrote an excellent post about it here) and a 37-mile recovery ride on Sunday.
Saturday’s ride was in preparation for our upcoming 24-hour, 360 kilometer flèche. In order to avoid suffering during the flèche, we rode this weekend to build our base miles.
Even though we completed a 200K brevet a few weeks ago, the 155-miler on Saturday felt like the first “big ride” of the season and with it, I experienced all the sensations and thoughts that typically arise this time of year.
Given this week’s temperate weather, I’ve heaved a big sigh of relief and welcomed the idea that fall will soon be (if it is not already) here.
Fall is my favorite time of year for bike riding. Ironically, fall is often when my monthly mileage slacks off, at least for a couple of months. As I looked over the way that Felkerino and I plan our riding, I realized that the fall months really represent cycling for fun and relaxation.
That got me thinking about what I see as our “bicycle cycle,” and I realized that our bicycle cycle follows the four seasons.
The past couple of weeks I have not spent much time on the bike. Rather I’ve been catching up on things that went neglected while Felkerino and I focused on the brevets and our trip to Colorado for the High Country 1200K.
It’s been a nice release to know that our big bicycling event for the year has come and gone and that it went well. However, the off-the-bike time also got me thinking about how much bike riding is enough.
Look, I know I have a good life if whether I rode my bike enough is one of my main existential questions. Nevertheless, I’m still giving it considerable thought.
This past weekend I tabulated my miles and looked at my mileages and cycling and running events. Here’s what the log showed so far for 2012:
I regularly get some form of the pre-ride jitters before intense multi-day cycling events. I don’t sleep well. I keep thinking I’m forgetting something. The longer the event and the more complicated the travel logistics, the greater the jitters. Continue reading “Pre-Ride Jitters: High Country 1200K”