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.
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.