Saturday, May 11, 2019

A few thoughts on the 2019 NJ Pinelands 300K

Finish the Damn Ride

Finish the Damn Ride is an "unwritten" ethos of Randonneurring. Sure there are caveats, safety comes first but, if you can safely continue, that ethos  can lead to some inspirational results. 

A crash occurred early in the 186 mile brevet, before the sun was up, among the group of riders leading the field. I didn't see it, so I don't know for sure what happened, but apparently a pot hole was involved and more than one person hit the ground. 

I went around the large group that stopped around the crash. Given the number of people, adding myself to the mix would serve no useful purpose. 

A few miles later, under the newly risen sun, two riders approach from behind, steadily gaining ground. When they catch up, we talk and I find out that one of the riders went down in the crash. Riding on her left, I see a a trickle of blood from a knee and maybe an elbow. She insists she is OK and she is riding well. When I am on the right, I see that the crash ripped her short from just above the knee to the left hip. Nothing too revealing, but the left side of the thigh was exposed and showed a light bruise. When I mentioned the obvious, she again seemed unfazed and continued on.

We leapfrogged during the ride, I sped through controls and she would pass me on the course. A former racer, now a proud mom, this ride was part of her mother's day "gift," and her upbeat attitude seemed to reflect that. Despite the setback at the start, she rode on, rode strong, and finished the damn ride.

The route 

The Pinelands 300k is a mostly flat tour of central jersey through the time-trial worthy roads that travel through the sandy Pinelands. The weather was kind today. A cool morning with no underlying sense of cold, warmed to a moderate mid to upper 60's. With surprisingly few stop lights or signs, this was a day and a course to find your pace and hold steady. 

Persistence riding

Persistence hunting is an evolutionary theory that says that human beings developed an extraordinary endurance as an adaptation to their profound lack of other physical traits when compared to the animal kingdom. Lacking claws, fangs, great strength or speed, humans found that if they worked together they could run a larger animal down by pursuing it to the point where it was too exhausted to continue to evade them.

That kind of endurance is more than physical, it requires a mentality that allows a person to work at the edge of, but still within, their limits for hours on end. I think I've witnessed the mindset that comes with that ability to push oneself at a pace that is hard, but sustainable, for hours. I also think I've experienced it too, for a bit at least, but it's a skill that while perhaps innate, must be nurtured, brought forth, and developed.

PBP, the quadrennial gathering in France of worldwide Randonneurs is 100 days away. Today was a day to work on that persistence mindset, that zen of being in the zone, to mentally keep pushing at the edge. 

99 days to go.



  1. In the modern, i-phone, PC, flat screen littered world, randonneuring does indeed hit some hidden, dusty primordial button buried deep inside us-the reset button. Nice post.

  2. Reset button indeed! I was experiencing my own "finish the damn ride" moments in the Berkshires yesterday while as thinking of you and friends in the Pinelands. 100 days?!? Time to get down to business!

  3. Awesome post, Nigel, this really captures the essence of randonneuring and the need for perseverance. It was an honor to ride with you on Paris Brest Paris 2019 and I shared your good wishes with Lois Springsteen and Bill Bryant!