Monday, December 9, 2013

Audaxing through the snow

The New Jersey Randonneurs held their annual holiday gathering on Sunday. In true Rando style, it centered around riding a 112K permanent - the Great Adventure.  Joe "K-Hound" arranged it all including the meals and refreshment. We'd meet for breakfast, ride the route and then eat again. 

The weather took a turn toward cold with morning temperatures in the high 20's under a heather gray sky. Despite the sub freezing temperatures, a dozen riders showed up in good spirits and ready to ride. The breakfast spread featured a wide selection of hot foods, coffee and OJ. While we ate, Joe proposed that we do the ride "audax" (pronounced "oh-dux") style which means riding as a group at a comfortable pace. 

We set out with the plan to finish together in about 5 hours. The Great Adventure permanent is an out and back course with a few gentle rollers sprinkled in to provide riders a chance to stand and stretch the legs a bit or switch gears. Riding as a group gave us a change to talk, meet, or catch up from the last meeting. Basically, it was  a moving party.

The controle at the halfway point passed quickly. Then we were out for the return trip, chilled from the stop and looking forward to getting re-warmed on the early climbs.

On the return leg, we headed into the light wind, just enough of a breeze to transmit a sense of snow. Against the winter browns of the dormant fields and the hushed tones of the monochrome sky, our bright yellows and oranges popped with a brightness that reflected the mood of the day.

In the last hour a light flurry of snow began to fall. It did not stick and the roads remained safe, but it added just a touch of the season to the ride.

Another fine meal, with beer and wine, was ready when we arrived. We ate. We drank. We celebrated the successes of the past year. We shared some plans for the next ride, the next goal, the next season and beyond. 

Randonneuring is a many faceted sport. It is not a race but there are many goals and milestones to work toward. Each rider must ride their own ride but along the way many share in your journey, they volunteer their time, ride through the night with you, share their stories and listen to yours. They encourage you and inspire by example.  It is a sport of extreme achievements made possible by heartfelt acts of simple camaraderie.  

Happy holidays to all who make the journey possible.

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