Tag Archives: DC Randonneurs

Steering Clear of the Poop

Kit ‘n Kish 600k

Now kids, gather round while your jolly Uncle Mark dispenses some sage wisdom about how to lead a virtuous life. . .and how to be a successful randonneur.  The key thing you gotta remember is this: stay clear of poop.

  1. Avoid other people’s poop.
  2. Don’t poop on other people.
  3. Don’t poop on yourself.

If you can manage those three things, your odds of finishing a long ride, and the long ride of life, go up dramatically.

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Firefly 400K
May 21, 2016

Those of us who have some attachment to Christchurch, New Zealand’s second largest city, have become sadly familiar with the term liquifaction.  It sounds like it should be a happy word, the word that someone would invent to describe the pleasant buzz you get from consuming just enough but not too much alcohol.  Or the feeling you get from gratefully immersing yourself in a warm bath.

In fact the term describes neither of those states.  Liquifaction is what happens to particular types of land formations when they are subjected to a strong earthquake.  I will spare you the elaborate geological summary, and instead just say that one moment the ground is apparently solid and stable, the next it turns to water.  The solid structures built atop that heretofore solid land crack, bend, and often collapse.  As an added bonus, the process can concentrate heavy elements normally present in the soil but locked harmlessly away, depositing them as a toxic mess on the surface or releasing them into the air as a hazardous dust.

By now you are probably getting the sense that this particular brevet did not go well for me.

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Moar Randonneuring! Now With Extra Protein!

Frederick 300K
April 18, 2015

The Good Stuff

At the end of the ride, begrimed, sucking down delicious high fructose corn syrup products and waiting for the Pizza to arrived I was talking with Mike, the DCR club president.  “You know,” he said, “I always read your blog and enjoy it, even if I have to skip some to get to the good stuff.”  I wasn’t at all offended.  I assumed that he was thinking about posts like my last one, where my rando report was seemingly tacked on to a philosophical disquisition about the influence of middle-of-the road Greek pop singers.  But I had to laugh; that is one of the things I like most about writing (and reading): what counts as the “good bits” is different for everyone.  For my rando comrades these posts probably can’t contain enough bike geekery: they will delight in arcane discussions about the TPI of tires, the actual versus claimed lumens of lighting systems, and the dark magic arcana of wheel specs.  For more normal people, the philosophical disquisitions probably represent the good (or at least the OK) bits and then it all goes rapidly downhill.

The short version of today’s ride: lots of going rapidly downhill, lots of good bits, lots of extra bits, and a bit of actual and metaphorical darkness.  Pretty much a typical brevet.  And after the last two rides, “typical” was more than welcome.

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The Big Leap

Many Rivers and Fords 600K
May 17-18, 2014
39 hours and 20 minutes

I am writing this blog post in order to save humanity.  Or at least those of my friends that I’ll be riding with this weekend as we tackle the Mountains of Misery ride down in Blacksburg.  Because there is a real danger that I’ll be boring the arse off everyone with tales of my heroic (ha ha) randonneuring adventures.  Therefore, it is best to get it all out of my system now.

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Scattered, but not Shattered

Northern Exposure 400K
May 3-4 2014
21 hours and 36 minutes

My first 400k ride was definitely a sobering experience.  In fact, I have sworn never to drink again.

And if you believe that, then you’ll also believe that a bunch of disgruntled Australian cricket fans shot JFK. (Oops.  Now watch the interwebs go wild with that one).

It was certainly a tough physical test and left me in more pain than either of the two Ironmans I’ve done.  There, I could move around happily, albeit slowly, the next day.  The day after this ride all I could do was recline helplessly on my chaise while Mary peeled me grapes.  Or maybe I was still hallucinating by that point.  But while I definitely felt fatigued during that ride it wasn’t physically that bad during the ride itself.  Mentally, however, was an entirely different deal.  That is, after all, where much of the challenge of these longer rides lies.  So  learned a lot of valuable mental lessons, and also continued to tweak my equipment, control routines, and the like.

The end result, however, is that I don’t really have a coherent narrative version of this event.  Once again I rode with Damon and he managed to keep his mental composure in order to compose a first-rate account of our ride.  I on the other hand, am left with scattered impressions only.  So here they are, mostly verbal, some pictorial. Continue reading

And now ladies and gentlemen, for your delectation and edification, the first day of spring will be followed immediately by the first day of summer

Warrenton 300K
April 12 2014
15 hours, 2 minutes.

I eased my tired body back into the plush molded plastic and pulled out my phone. From behind the counter came the cheerful shouts of the dedicated Hardees chefs de cuisine preparing a fine gourmet repast. In seemingly no time at all our food arrived.  I took out my phone and quickly texted my partner that I had made it as far as 136 miles into the 190 mile ride and hadn’t died yet.

I looked up. In the time it had taken me to fire off the briefest of texts my riding companion had finished his entire hamburger.

That was lesson #37 in a day of lessons learned and re-learned.

Eat faster.

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What is the furthest you’ve ever biked?

Recently, I’ve been waxing. . .hold on, hold on, settle down, not that kind of waxing.  Sure, I shave my legs but I do it the old fashioned manly way!  No, I’ve been waxing nostalgic for my first real season of triathlon training, the lead-up to IM MOO.

One of the things that I noticed in so many of the people I was training with, and that I’ve seen in so many of my team-mates since as they have trained for their first Ironman (TM), is the palpable sense of discovery and achievement created by distance.  A sizable percentage of people undertaking their first Ironman (TM) have not previously biked the kinds of distances that you need to bike during training.  The rides themselves may be brutal or slightly less brutal, hard or not quite so hard, but at the end of every ride, people are standing around in the parking lot and it is slowly dawning on them: I just rode the furthest I’ve ever ridden in my life.  And for a while, the next week brings a new “furthest,” and the week after that yet another milestone.

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