Randonneuring: When it’s Worth the Effort

Morning riding on the DC Randonneurs 600K

I completed my first brevet and Super Randonneur series in 2005. Since then, I’ve completed rides of at least 600K distances each year with the exception of 2007, which I spent in graduate school. Seven years of brevet riding.

Up until this year I’ve excitedly anticipated the arrival of the Super Randonneur series. Time to hit life a little harder, test my physical conditioning, enjoy long days on the bike with others, and find a way to balance cycling with competing life priorities.

This year, the attraction of brevets faded. The car rides, 4 a.m. starts and 2:30 a.m. wake-ups, reflective clothing and Camelbaks, convenience store food, pushing through while managing various physical discomforts, and post-ride grogginess and fatigue started to get to me. The effort randonneuring requires began to overtake the overall enjoyment I experienced in previous years.

Sometimes it’s good to hang it up and other times it’s worth it to hang in and see what the next ride brings. I chose the latter and I’m glad I did.

On some rides, you get something back for each thing you give up.

A car ride takes you to a ride start in new territory beyond your regular radius.

That middle-of-the-night wake-up rewards with sparkling stars and moonlight. Dawn offers up breathtaking morning light that makes you want to take a million photos, even though there’s no way they can truly communicate the morning’s beauty.

The burdensome Camelbak becomes a good friend that lets you not worry about water as you traverse segments that are lovely, but have no services.

Riding diligently takes you to places you never thought you could reach in one day on a bicycle, and it’s almost like living two days in one.

A hot day in the saddle yields to a gorgeous sunset and a cool and dreamy night ride where you see fireflies glow and hear the steady chorus of little frogs.

There is also that rare brevet moment that compensates in its unexpected perfection. After waiting and waiting, this weekend’s 600K gave me that gift.

Felkerino and I had ridden 177 miles and just eaten a warm meal. We grouped up with Bill Beck and David R. for the final miles of the first day. The late afternoon sun warmed my skin. A gentle breeze blew over me and sifted through my hair.

The bike meandered smoothly in and out of tree-lined shaded sections of a lightly traveled country road. We only had 65 miles to go for the day and I knew that a peaceful starry evening awaited us. I found myself completely in the present, thoroughly engaged in the ride.

Sunset over the mountains in Virginia on the DC Randonneurs 600K

Those elusive idyllic moments keep me coming back to brevets. They don’t happen on every ride, but if I just hang in there, they will happen.

It’s those moments that fill my heart and make all the effort, time, and discomforts of randonneuring absolutely worth it.

Advertisements

11 thoughts on “Randonneuring: When it’s Worth the Effort

  1. Love it, MG! You really capture something of the special allure of randonneuring here. I especially love this line: “Riding diligently takes you to places you never thought you could reach in one day on a bicycle, and it’s almost like living two days in one.” That’s it!

    I had a few of these moments this weekend on my 400K. I love that feeling, as you pass over the threshold of the midway point in a terribly long ride, when you realize that it’s shorter to go forward than backward. It’s like the meeting place of physics and psychology.

  2. Its fascinating to read your post. This summer I’ve just started riding my first brevets and I’m finding it a bit addicting. After some trepidation at the first 200k I finished well and went on to a 300k and again enjoyed it and finished comfortably. Diabolically, each successive ride beckons and I’m feeling the pull, mostly because it put me up to the question of “can I?” and I feel the strong desire to find out.

    Its very interesting to read a seasoned rider’s perspective.

  3. Pingback: Tour dem Parks, Hon!! | porta-john

  4. Pingback: Randonneuring: When it’s Worth the Effort « chasing mailboxes d.c.

  5. This is so fantastic! I’m constantly impressed with your breveting, and hope one day to give it a try. Excellent writing as well. This passage:

    “That middle-of-the-night wake-up rewards with sparkling stars and moonlight. Dawn offers up breathtaking morning light that makes you want to take a million photos, even though there’s no way they can truly communicate the morning’s beauty.”

    is how I feel about extended outdoors activities period – and what keeps bringing me back to the concept of going out to go in (John Muir style).

  6. As a rookie this is all new to me, but very well said. The Rando people are great and please keep up the blogs. I am a regular reader.

  7. Lovely observations. Again I find myself drawing comparisons to ultrarunning and feeling that our sports share a lot. It’s always those times when you’re really present, noticing the smallest of things, that bring the highs that make these endeavors so worthwhile. As you said, it doesn’t happen every time, but it’s so wonderful that it’s worth coming back again and again.

  8. Pingback: Looking Ahead Without a Spreadsheet | chasing mailboxes d.c.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s