Tuesday, June 24, 2014

On the day that the sun stands still: East Creek 600K

On the Solstice, the sun pauses in the sky before it transitions to a new season. As long as humanity has looked to the heavens and searched for meaning, we have taken this event as a cause for celebration. Less so now, but there was a time when people danced for rain. A time when we knew the meanings of the shape of clouds and the names of the full moon. We once built structures of stone that aligned with the stars on midsummer's day, the longest day, the Solstice. 

Call it what you will, but a celebration so specific in time yet so global in performance must come from a quality intrinsic to our very nature, one inherent to our humanity. If we, as Carl Sagan said, are made of star stuff, then on the Solstice day we celebrate our origin; our collective journey through the universe. 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Englewood 400K - The longest of the short rides.

We couldn't have timed it better. After riding 150 miles of seemingly endless rolling hills and short steep climbs on the route that trended up, we reached Ellenville, NY. Then we started the 4.5 mile climb up the Shawangunk (pronounced SHON-gun) Mountains just as the sun began to set. Our road, Route 52 East, climbs 1400 feet. On our left, the setting sun sets the bare rock aglow in warm light. On our right, a lush green valley of manicured farms and occasional pristine points of church spires unveils itself as we ascend; the buildings shrinking into the expanding scenery. The sun gently illuminates the valley, filling it with a final light, closing the curtain on a beautiful day. Miles away, west of the valley, another mountain range runs parallel to our route. The distant range receives the setting sun as a sleepy child receives a parent's gentle kiss: softly, with stillness, believing in the promise of tomorrow. 

I seem to climb in time with the setting sun, rising as it descends, which pauses it in the sky, slowing time, extending the spectacle. The quiet beauty of the vista magnifies the labored effort it takes for me to make this climb. A young couple, barely teenagers, watches the sunset from an overlook. As I approach, they turn to me and with the eager shyness of two young people on their first date, they smile, clap a little, and congratulate me on my effort. I smile, imagining that they see someone doing an evening fitness ride and think that they have no idea how I got here and how far I have yet to go. I call out "Thank you! But I'm not done yet!" The boy replied, "You're almost there!" I smiled, thinking - yup, just 100 more miles to go.

Friday, June 6, 2014

First Friday Writing for Randos - 2013 London - Edinburgh - London 1418km Randonnee

{First Friday Writings for Randos - A monthly post that features pieces from other writers that touch some facet of the Randonneuring experience, even if that was not the author's intent. It's stuff that's best read out loud - slowly. This month it's an excerpt from Susan Otcenas's account of her 1418km (881 mi) ride from London, England to Edinburgh, Scotland and back to London (LEL).}


2013 London - Edinburgh - London 1418km Randonnee

by Susan Otcenas

I am not a natural athlete. Not even close. In high school, I played trombone in the orchestra. The only trophies I won were in thespian competitions. In college I gained the typical Freshman Fifteen, studied economics, and smoked a pack a day. In my 20s and 30s, I gained more weight, started a business, bought a house and “settled down”. But as I approached my 40th birthday, I knew I needed to make some changes. And my bicycle, which I’d always ridden for pleasure and exercise, became the vehicle for those changes.

Four years ago I found randonneuring, and it changed my life.