Then I read some accounts of the winter 600k (link) that took place in North Carolina (link) over the same weekend that I thought was too cold to ride a 200K. West coast mega-milers Mark Thomas and Vinnie Muoneke were there, hardcore North Carolinians, Mary Florian, Mike Dayton and Ian Hands were there, rookie randos were there, my friend Rick was there bringing a little PA spirit to the ride. They rode in the sub-freezing cold all day and night. Water turning to slush in bottles. They rode past the chasing dogs. They did the ride - all 600k of the epicness.
That did it. This sport is not about a supported charity ride on a nice spring day, it's about being bold, audacious and, yes, maybe a little crazy. But if you wanna ride epic rides, you can't sit around waiting for nice weather. It was time to ditch the excuses and get back in the saddle.
I got in touch with Paul S. He owns a few permanents that are close. He was willing to work with me on short notice to get the ride in. Wednesday looked to be best day of the week. A southern wind would bring warmer temps but also strong winds and a dangerous evening thunderstorms just after sunset. The clock would be ticking.
Just past dawn, thick fog dimmed the light of the morning sun. Dressed in reflective stripes and flashing lights, I rode a short stint with commuting traffic before leaving the main roads. The course, Princeton Belmar Princeton (PBP) goes from Princeton Junction to Belmar at the Jersey Shore. The route goes ESE then WSW before turning due north for the final leg. I hoped that when the 20+ mph south wind was in full effect, it would be during that last leg.
The scent of the ocean came sooner than I anticipated. The fog had lifted. I was riding solo in the middle of the week in the middle of the day on quiet roads on my new bike. I had escaped the rat race for a day and was heading toward the sea. Iron Rider's day off.
The wind did pick up in the afternoon but, after a short stint into it, I turned north and it was behind me. A 20 mile per hour tailwind is a wonderful experience. I almost flew back to the start, despite my tired legs, making it back to the start just before the rain began to fall. So I guess, in the end, I ended up riding on the best day of the month. Nothing epic about it, but boy was it fun.
Three days later, in subfreezing temperatures, I rode a 100k with Chris, Janice and Joe. In frosty breath we talked of big rides and things to come. This year of Randonneuring was officially under way.