You may have noticed ride reports from England this year by TDR co-founder Jon Gardner, formerly of the D.C. Randonneurs. He and I qualified and went to PBP together in 1999, our first.
Jon merely has to knock off a 600K brevet to qualify for PBP. On Saturday he plans to complete the 620K ride known as “The Beast From the East.” The event is an Audax UK qualifier staged by the Willesden Cycling Club from Essex, north of London, traveling southwest to Taunton and back.
Willesden riders are familiar to US randonneurs who have completed the 1,400K London-Edinburgh-London randonnee and their members are a visible presence at PBP as well.
A little backstory: For those of you familiar with the DCR Old Rag 200K, MG and I always think of him at the “Jon Gardner Memorial Bridge,” at the base of Piney Mountain Road. That’s where his ride ended in 2005 when the rear derailleur went into his rear wheel, destroying both — just six miles from the finish! Bad luck, indeed.
Jon subsequently moved to London (no, I don’t think it was because of the 200K!) with his lovely wife Kristen and has participated in running and cycling events since then, but has not gotten back into randonneuring (or Audax, as they say in Britain) until this year.
Circumstances got in the way of Jon going to PBP in 2003 and 2007, so it’s good to see him on the verge of a return this year. Let’s send Jon an encouraging word or two to let him know we’re pulling for him. Good luck Jon!