Saturday, June 13, 2015

Boston 400K - New Roads in New England.

            A night in Transit 
At 6:00 am on Friday morning I walked on the Gulf Coast beach of Naples, Florida, carrying my sandals in one hand. Tropical warm water swirled around my ankles as sea birds strolled on stick like legs along the raked sand. That afternoon, I flew to Philadelphia, got in my minivan and drove over five hours to a small airfield on the outskirts of Boston.

At 3:00 am on Saturday morning, I arrived in the parking lot of Hanscom airport in Bedford, Massachusetts.

The Boston 400K was scheduled to start at 6:00 am. The ridewithgps description reported 17,000 feet of climbing. The New England Randonneurs page reported that the ride went through three states: Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. The latter two would be new States in my randonneuring collection - bringing the total to 18. But first I had to do the ride.

Monday, June 8, 2015

East Creek 600K - a simmering melange of desires

Close to 40 Randonneurs stream out from the Days Inn located off Exit 8 of the New Jersey Turnpike. Our red bicycle taillights stretch out along the roads that lead away from the north south Interstate  highway, away from the destination driven journey that the highway represents, away from that thoroughfare where every mile is made fungible, forgettable, less than a passing thought, less than a minute's consideration. On the small roads we ride, the miles grow large, significant, they take on their full meaning. This morning we set out to ride 600 Kilometers, 377 miles. The travel, the distance that we take on with our legs and our machines, is the destination. Over the course of this brevet, we will test ourselves where the only outcome that matters is pass or fail. For me, completing this ride will qualify me to ride Paris-Brest-Paris. I have been waiting five years for this. I have 40 hours to finish.

 seeking upekkha

In the darkness of 4:00 am, the cool air sits heavy with dew. As I ride through, tiny drops  collect on the tips of the individual hairs on my arm. I begin the ride searching for balance, equanimity, a place between extremes to accomplish the extreme, looking for that pace that will carry me through the uncertain miles before me. In my randonneuring, I have failed enough to know that success is not certain, but I have succeeded enough to know that perseverance and patience, especially now, in the first few hours of a major ride, can overcome almost any distance. I ride on, working on patience and building perseverance, as the world turns beneath my wheels toward the rising sun. 


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Middletown 200K - Sunday ride

Sunday, May 24, 2015

With the climbfest Boston 400K on the calendar for the next weekend, I thought it would be a good idea to get in a hilly 200K to test my heart monitor controlled pace on a more challenging route and, hopefully get in safety 200K to keep my monthly streak alive.

I found the Middletown 200K route  on the RUSA site and it seemed to fit the bill. It was a new route for me, but I have ridden in the Lancaster area before and I know the route owner, Andrew M. 

Andrew's routes have always been a scenic pleasure to ride but with no shortage of hill repeats. He emailed that he had intended to do this route as a more moderate ride for the winter, but it ended up being just as hilly as other routes and the ice lingered in the shade so it didn't quite work out the way he planned. The elevation profile showed very few flats and lots of short steep climbs - so I signed up to ride it.


Sunday, May 3, 2015

First Friday Writing for Randos: PBP 2003 by Paul Johnson

{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 Paul Johnson's account of his PBP Ride in 2003* 

At the cafeteria I was treated like some sort of returning war hero. 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

NJ 300K - Cognitive concordance (alternate title: in the zone)

4:00 am. 
OVERSLEPT!
Gonna be late. Out of bed. Jump in clothes. Get in minivan. So glad I packed the bike and the van the night before. Oops! Get out and get cue sheets from computer. Get back in. Drive. The ride starts at 5:00 and it's an hour's drive away. Drive faster. A little faster.

I arrived at 5:15. Most of the 40 something riders were on their way and the last one or two were setting out. 

At the start, Chris N. (from NJ) Ron A., Paul S. and Joe K., checked me in. We tossed around greetings and a few jokes as I did the paperwork. To my surprise, despite the delay and the early hour, I was awake, alert, ready to ride, with none of the typical early start grogginess. Maybe waking up "naturally" helped, even if it made me late.

This ride I planned to go back to basics: even pacing, consistent fueling, minimal times at controles. I even went back to using a heart rate monitor as a method to control pacing. I haven't used one in years. But this is the year I plan to ride PBP. This is a year to do the training that works. So far, I've been working on components of fitness, but the long ride, the thing that is this sport, that has not been the focus. The time has come to focus. 
The pre-riders reported the course to be flat and capable of fast times. They had finished the 187 miles before sunset. Maybe, with a good plan, I could too - despite the late start.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Fleche 2015 - words unspoken.


Prologue:
 
How do you tell a story about human frailty without taking away the humanity of the frail? A story that takes place along the rough edges of the human experience, that seldom visited place where decisions are made on the fly, based on instinct and id, a place where, sometimes, you fall short of what you hoped to achieve, of what you hoped you would do? Sometimes this sport takes you to that place . . .

During the day, the tailwind made heroes of us all. From our start, just north of Quakertown, a stiff steady wind blew us south toward Philadelphia and New Jersey. With that wind at our backs, with that sunshine after weeks of gray skies, with that oh! so new Spring green grass after a long and cold winter, with all that, my god! we were supercharged: riding 21, 22 mph at a relaxed effort, laughing and chatting like performance drug enhanced pros out for a bit of a quick spin on an early Spring day.

The tailwind blew away the memory that, just 48 hours ago, I had a slight fever and congestion that forced me to take a rare sick day from work. That Spring sun and almost ideal temperatures blinded the thought that the Fleche is a 24 hour ride over 234 miles long and I have not gone so far or so long in one day for many, many months.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

March Cycling Challenge wrap-up


Something special and unexpected took place this March.  A good sized group took on the Iron Rider challenge of riding at least 30 minutes a day for 24 days or 30 days out of the month. The group had a few folks who did not own a bicycle and others who have several. Hundreds of miles were ridden, some by people who did it all indoors on a trainer and others who did every ride outside, despite harsh winter weather. Not all who started were able to finish - after a month of consistent regular effort is a significant challenge. But the unexpected development was something else altogether . . .