Randonneuring is a many-splendored thing,
It’s the April rose that only grows in the early spring,
Randonneuring is nature’s way of giving a reason to be living,
The golden crown that makes a man (OR RANDONNEUSSE) a king (OR QUEEN).
Remember that old tune? While the actual word in the song might be “love,” and not “randonneuring,” I find randonneuring fits quite nicely, and the stanza encapsulates how I felt at the end of our DC Randonneurs 2009 ACP brevet series. Good thing that randonneuring isn’t a broadway play or I would have belted out those words upon completing the final ride of our series. (It does make me wonder what randonneuring would be today if Julie Andrews had been a randonneur, though. She would definitely ride a mixtie. But I digress…)
While I may have been overcome by sentimentality and exuberance upon completing the spring brevets, I don’t always have those feelings. Sometimes when I ride I wonder if I trained enough, am I making the right food choices, if I really do like my outfit, whether I’m riding fast enough or pedaling hard enough, and does anyone besides Ed know that I’m on this ride?
When these thoughts start rattling around my brain, I try to dim them by reminding myself that randonneuring is “just bike riding.” Is it really worth all my fretting?
On one level it may be just bike riding, pedaling and pedaling and pedaling for miles and miles and miles and miles, but randonneuring is much more than that. It is a social experience (and sometimes an experiment) on wheels that brings me together with other riders in the area. The group bonds primarily by their affinity for being on their bicycles all day (and sometimes all night!). I often have little or no idea what people’s day jobs entail, but I know how and what they like to ride. We all find our place of belonging in the randonneuring community, and it isn’t based on what we do or where we live.
Riding brevets challenges my body and spirit, especially the long hilly ones! It encourages me to maintain a basic level of fitness that allows me to finish the rides within the time limits and, hopefully, without suffering.
A ride takes me out of the day-to-day and allows me to reflect on my life in a different way and in a different space. As I venture through the areas outside of Washington, DC, I often start pondering my existence in this big wondrous world. (This pondering is sometimes accompanied by an “Is everything ok back there?”)
Randonneuring is also a unique way for Ed and me to spend time together. It is an incredible feeling to be able to share a brevet with a person you love.
Given we have so much time to think and reflect on our rides there is always some point on a brevet when I realize that it’s ok to worry some about the details (training, clothes, speed, etc.), but it’s far better to spend energy savoring the brevet adventure.
It’s when the savoring starts that randonneuring transforms from just bike riding to a whole lot more.