The Randonneur Q&A returns again this week to feature a guest post from my friend Andrea M. It’s because of Andrea that I began randonneuring and I’m happy to say that we’re both still at it.
How did Andrea become a randonneur (or randonneuse, given that she is a woman) and what keeps bringing her back to the sport? Read on and find out!
1. When did you start randonneuring?
Well, I’ve been rambling all of my life but did my first 200k brevet spur of the moment in 2004 with my life partner, Bones. My first Super Randonneur series was the following year in 2005.
2. Why did you start?
Bones talked about these crazy-sounding (to me) cyclists and he wanted join them. Not wanting to miss an adventure I joined him for my first brevet those 8 years ago.
But really, I owe my start in randonnuering to Lynn Kristianson. She asked me to join her 2005 Randonnettes Fleche Team. Icing on the cake, I convinced my new friend Mary G. into joining us too! Mary and I met at RAGBRAI the summer before and she seemed like a good addition. Boy, was I right!
Now in shape from April’s Fleche, it was time to try out the 200k again and more. And so I took each brevet as it came without the goal of completing the series. I did do the series that year. It was a thrill to finish the 600k with the new tandem partners, Mary and Ed. Now I was a Super Randonneur [insert Superman’s theme song here] and hooked on this style of riding.
3. What is your home club?
My homies are the D.C. Randonneurs and I’m currently an at-large board member. We’re a great group of friendly and supportive riders with awesome routes in the D.C. metropolitan area. Come join us if you’re in the area! Our website is www.dcrrand.org. Oh, and did I mention that I’m the publicity coordinator for our club?
4. What is your favorite distance of the Super Randonneur series (200, 300, 400, 600K) and why?
Favorite distance of the series? Why, that’s like asking which is your favorite child!
5. Which distance do you find the most challenging of the Super Randonneur series and why?
The 400 and 600k are close picks as most challenging for me. The 600k wins because of logistics of having a drop bag (I like to sleep!) and getting up at o’dark thirty two “days” in a row.
6. If you have done 1000Ks and 1200Ks, what do you like about them?
I really like the 1000k distance and recall Crista Borras saying something similar when we did the Pennsylvania Endless Mountains 1000K in 2008. Those three days were fun all the way through!
I’ve successfully completed two 1200Ks. The last 200 of my 1200Ks had uncomfortable moments due to knee pain, but I’m looking to do many more because of the adventure that comes with those distances!
7. What is it that you love about randonneuring? That is, what keeps you coming back ride after ride?
I love randonneuring for the adventure, extremes, self-learning, self-reliance, mental pushing, lessons learned for life, feeling my strong body, friends, camaraderie, scenery, and goal accomplishments.
I also love the reactions from non-randonneurs and feeling like I’m on the dark side. As a publicity coordinator, I’m tempted to tell people to join us by saying, “Come to the dark side, we have pizza!” or “Join us and temporarily run from your demons!” Can you tell I love pizza and the temporary lack of every day responsibility?
8. What are the qualities you think a randonneur has to have to be successful?
Fortitudine Vincimus, or “by endurance we conquer.” I recently found this motto in the Washington Post article Fantastic Voyage about Matt Rutherford’s circumnavigation of the Americas on a sailboat. I am struck by this borrowed motto from the Shackleton family.
In my book, to endure is the number one quality to be a successful randonneur. Sometimes I call it being plain ol’ stubborn!
9. How do you define successful?
Success defined? Yikes, that is a scary question for me! I guess it depends on my pre-conceived (often unconscious) goals and if I’ve met them.
During the 2007 Paris Brest Paris, I didn’t officially complete the ride due to pneumonia and food poisoning. But during that randonnee, I did successfully achieve 99% of what I love about randonneuring (see question #7). Is that success?
10. What constitutes a “good ride” in your view?
A good ride means lots of smiles and laughter. Yes, even when I ride by myself. Really, everything else is secondary to me. This is a good point for a “shout out” to my riding partner, Greg Conderacci who always makes it a good ride!
Smiles and laughter. I’m totally with you. Congratulations, Andrea, on your recent 1000K completion and thank you for being a guest contributor to the Rando Q&A.
Questions or comments for Andrea? Don’t be shy. Comment!