Saturday, August 25, 2012

The next big thing

Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful,
we must carry it with us or we find it not.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Those who have been following this meandering blog may recall that I have been training for an event that I have referred to as "the next big thing." This entry is about that thing.

The longest events on the Randonneuring calendar are the 1200K rides.  The time limit for a 1200k is 90 hours. 1200 kilometers is about 750 miles. 750 miles on a bike in less than 90 hours. That is what I plan to try next. That is what I have been training to do. It will be my first attempt at the distance. 

This year there are five 1200k events are on the US Randonneuring calendar. I chose the Taste of Carolina 1200k. The course makes a sash across the State. Starting in Greensboro, NC, it goes into the Blue Ridge Mountains and enters Virginia before turning south and east to head toward the North Carolina coast, where it dips into South Carolina before heading back to Greensboro. The ride will have about 30,000 feet of climbing and, hopefully, just as much descending -  I've asked, but no one seems to measure the descents. 

1200K is about 1/4th the width of the continental United States. How far is that? It's approximately the distance from:
  • Seattle, WA to Sacramento, CA
  • Chicago, IL to Atlanta GA
  • Boston, MA  to Greensboro NC
  • Washington, DC to Jacksonville Florida
That far. On a bicycle. In under 4 days days. A daunting task to say the least.

Probably hundreds of people have ridden 1200k rides. I even know a few of them. But I never have. I have gone half the distance - 375 miles. I did that once last year and once this year. Neither one was easy. In a few days, I will attempt to double that distance.

I recently asked blogger and adventure cyclist Kent Peterson what I should take with me. He gave me a thorough and thoughtful response. You can read it here

His description of the most important thing to carry got me thinking about the things that this sport put in my head. As a result of the two and a half years I've been doing this rando thing, there are lots of new things in there. I learned from my successes and even more from my failures. I have stories in my head that were shared by other riders. I saw and heard tales of athleticism, bravery, camaraderie, compassion, perseverance, patience, failure, success, tragedy and triumph. I witnessed first hand the marvelous spectacle of the human spirit rising to a meet difficult challenges with humor, kindness and pure unbridled determination. And all of this taking place in unheralded, wonderfully picturesque settings.

Most of all, I realize that I have seen, heard and learned all these things because of my supportive wife and three wonderful children who have cheered, endured and even encouraged this mid life cycling. They are always in my head. All this beauty I will carry with me.

The training is over. Bring on the next big thing.


  1. All the best Nigel. I look forward to reading about the Taste of Carolina after your successful completion.

    Bon Route!!

    1. Should be quite a tale. Thanks Mike.

  2. Nigel, You've prepared diligently and are ready for the challenge. May luck be on your side as well. Bonne Route.


    1. Thanks Joe - for the company on the road, the good advice along the way, and the comment today.

  3. Hi Nigel,

    Hope you will have some good company to ride with, the wind at your back, strong legs, lots and lots of focus. But mostly have a safe ride! And a bit of time to eat and sleep. Best of experiences and successes to you.

  4. As I write this, you have hopefully been on your way for several hours. I'll be thinking of you, wishing you all the best, and looking forward to your report. Bon route!