Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Holiday ride

Now isn’t that just craptastic! As I make the left turn into the parking lot, I see the group of riders just starting out. The last rider disappears behind a building just as I pull into a parking spot. I’m late. Again.

My bike is ready to go in the back of the van, but I still have to put on a few layers before heading out into the 20 something degree weather. I try to quickly pull on my neoprene booties and sweater, gloves and jacket. Leroy, the former NJ RBA, notices and walks over. He is not riding today, but he dropped by to see the group off. We talk as I get ready.

Leroy asks if I know about the route change in the first mile or so. I don’t but I tell him I’m sure I’ll figure it out. The route is Joe’s Great Adventure Permanent. I’ve ridden it once before and I know that I can ride it at a good clip. I figure that the group will ride the first few miles at a moderate pace and I may be able to catch up if I hurry.

In minutes I am on the course, my cue sheet in a baggie clipped to a brake cable, quickly turning the pedals on the fixie. According to my cue sheet, the first turn is 1 mile away (0.8 to the bridge then 02. and LEFT onto Township line Road). Did I mention that one of the rules of Randonneuring is that the official cue sheet is the one that is up to date as of the day of the ride? That cue sheet may NOT be the same as one you printed up days ago and placed in the baggie clipped to your brake cable. If I didn’t mention that, I should. It’s important.

The bridge is right where it’s supposed to be. However, Township Line Road is not.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

On being a Randonneur

As sports go, Randonneuring is a tiny nook in the niche sport of cycling.

How tiny? Consider this:

The Pennsylvania Randonneurs and the New York/New Jersey Randos stage their rides in the heart of the population dense Mid-Atlantic states. New York City has about 8 million people, Long Island has almost 8 million people, approximately 6 million people live in Philadelphia and its surrounding Delaware Valley. Together, that's well over 22 million people - conservatively estimated. A reasonably well attended average brevet in this area draws 20 or so riders.

This has been my second year in the sport. Getting to know some of these "one in a million" folks has been an unexpected bonus.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Stillwater 200k Retour

Sometimes the road is butter. Sometimes it's crispy fried bacon.

The PA Randonneurs' "Stillwater 200k Retour" began on the banks of the Delaware River in the town of Milford, New Jersey. Milford was once a town with a grist mill and a station on the Belvidere Delaware Railroad. Now long gone, the "Bel Del Railroad" ran a regular passenger line from Manunka Chunk to Trenton. Today, Milford is a town of small shops and restaurants that look like they cater to folks recreating on and near the river or living in the rolling exurbs that border the river. The buildings are neat, quaint and picturesque.

This "retour" would reverse the Stillwater route that the group rode in November. I did not ride that brevet. This would be my first time on this course.  After riding two flat 200k rides in the last two months and pushing hard to two personal best times, riding with the Pa Randonneurs would mean a return to hill country. The elevation profile (click link) showed that the two major climbs appear at the end of the route- just when I would likely be at my weakest. My big goal for the day was to  finish the ride without turning it into a sufferfest.