Over the next few weeks, The Daily Randonneur will run a series of posts featuring guest contributors and some of their thoughts about randonneuring. We wanted to find out more about how people got involved in riding brevets and what inspires them to keep going.
Our first contributor is Katie Sayers Raschdorf, the RBA for the New Jersey Randonneurs. I hope you enjoy her insights as much as I did!
1. When did you start randonneuring?
2. Why did you start?
I got lost riding my bike in the wilds of Bear Mountain and decided to follow these guys that had on NYCC (New York Cycle Club) jerseys. I assumed they would be heading home.
Ummmm… eventually they did head home, but they completed 200KM before getting there. I think they thought I was stalking them. Good thing I was fast enough they couldn’t shake me.
Then I read an article about PBP and thought stupidly enough “How difficult could it possibly be to ride your bike for 10 miles per hour for 80 hours?” I am such a sucker.
3. What is your home club?
New Jersey Randonneurs (I’m the RBA elect!)
4. What is your favorite distance of the Super Randonneur series (200, 300, 400, 600K) and why?
200K’s, preferably flat ones with my stokerific friend “Jet-Pack Jon B Levitt (JPJBL)” on the back of Team Tandemator. Our goal is to complete rides under the “3 B” auspice; Biking, Brevets and BEER (stress on the last part).
My other favorite distance is the Fleche, if for no other reasons that I’m usually waaaayyyy out of shape and the weather is ridiculous to the point of being just absurd. Fleche experiences seem to make the best stories.
5. Which distance do you find the most challenging of the SR series and why?
600K. I like to sleep and I’m not really all that fast when JPJBL isn’t around (although Rex RAAM Carpenter did a phenomenal job of towing me around the NJ600 this summer). It is hard to find the motivation to get back on the bike the second day when you are still tired from the day before.
6. If you have done 1000Ks and 1200Ks, what do you like about them?
I’m headed up to Alaska in three weeks for my first 1200K. I think I can safely assume what I will like the most about the ride will be the downhill parts, the not being eaten by bears or moose parts, and the now I’m finished I can drink beer parts. I will get back to you.
7. What is it that you love about randonneuring? That is, what keeps you coming back ride after ride?
Male butts in spandex, the alphabet game at 2:30 a.m., a justification for visiting every Wawa store in southern New Jersey, the scenery the rides take us through, and the amazing people we ride with.
Through this sport I am lucky enough to have made friends with some amazing randos from here and other areas of the country. When I started I had no idea that crazy randos would make the best friends or that Wawa rice pudding is the manna of the gods.
8. What constitutes a “good ride” in your view?
One that I finish, one that I finish with the insides still on the insides, and one that I finish fast enough to hit happy hour pricing.
A very wise New Jersey RBA of years past, Laurent Chambard imparted this bit of wisdom “A good brevet is like a good life– lots of ups, very few downs.” Locals to the New Jersey scene call these “Laurentisms.” He’s a very smart man, although forgetful about how many hills are actually left in a ride. But then again, never trust an RBA about the terrain description.
9. What are the qualities you think a randonneur has to have to be successful?
Must show up (tough when they start at the ungodly hour of 4 a.m.), unrelenting forward momentum, efficiency in the controles, homing pigeon like navigational abilities, leather like butt skin, cast iron gullet, a magic sock, and a little bit of insanity also goes a long way in this sport! And if you are lucky enough, a Jet Pack stoker always helps.
10. How do you define successful?
I think the reason we all keep coming back to the sport is we are all striving to be successful in some way or another. Last season I battled the worst digestive issues ever so a success last year was getting around without losing my cookies. This year it’s a completely different set of challenges related to my seat.
Generally, I can define success as: no matter whether I finished in the time limit, with a DNF (Did Not Finish), or with a DSQ (Disqualification), when it is all said and done, I’m still smiling!
Thanks so much for sharing your perspectives with us, Katie. All the best on The Big Wild Ride 1200K in Alaska. Can’t wait for the ride report!