The first couple of weeks after a 600K randonneur brevet always feel odd. I really like dialing it back to just commuting after the giant ride, but I have to deal with this feeling that I should be out riding. That is, until I put in any kind of decent effort on the bike and my legs tell me that I’m still recovering.
The weather cooperated last week in my recovery plan, with steady rain hitting the Mid-Atlantic from Thursday through Saturday.
Mary and I rode to the Georgetown waterfront Bike to Work Day pit stop last Friday morning in drizzle. Despite the special day, the path had fewer cyclists and runners than a normal spring day – a good thing, the paths get pretty crowded until the real heat and humidity of summer arrives.
Georgetown’s pit stop always has great food and that was the case again. Everybody was in pretty good spirits despite the sodden weather.
Mary rode on to work and I backtracked downtown. After a solitary Friday Coffee Club stop at Swing’s for some crucial caffeine uptake, I met up with Andrea and Ricky (who we also saw at Georgetown), along with Ed and Rudy at the Freedom Plaza stop.
The pit stop there has seen a huge gathering in the past but not this year, at least at 8:45 a.m. A few dozen folks milled around and there were some tents, but that was it.
DC Bike Ride and Some Computer Riding
Mary and I hauled ourselves up early Saturday for the DC Bike Ride. My employer graciously bought a number of entries for staff and family, so free bike ride day for us! Off we went at 7:30 a.m. on our single bikes for what was supposed to be a 20-mile jaunt around closed roads along the National Mall and the Kennedy Center.
The rain continued but wasn’t a downpour. Our randonneur pal Tom Reeder and his wife Ruth, and their group, hung out with us at the start. The temperatures were in the 60s but there wasn’t much warmth and I started to shiver even though I wore my Gore-Tex jacket, helmet cover, wool jersey and arm warmers, and knee warmers.
The ride finally took off a few minutes late for what was to be a shortened 15-mile route because Hains Point was closed with high water. We ended up talking with a couple along the way from Baltimore about her Spectrum touring bike and their travels, and how we all miss the closed Gravel & Grind bike and coffee shop in Frederick, Md.
We also rode a couple of miles earlier on with Sam and John Pickett, a.k.a. Rootchopper on Twitter, who heads off on his coast-to-coast tour to the great Northwest this week. Bonne Route John!
The ride ended after an hour or so, we were cold, and after hanging around the little finishing festival on the east end of the Mall, we went home. I can’t say I’d want to do the ride again – it didn’t really go anywhere new for us, though we got to ride over the 14th Street Bridge to Virginia and back again. On the plus side, the riding was pleasant enough, riders spread out well and the organization seemed solid. They gave out good looking bottles too.
At home I watched the finale of the Giro d’Italia stage up the Zoncolan climb on Flobikes streaming service. The race was just crazy with the steepness and the fan intensity. It made the Tour de France look pretty staid.
Over the winter I got hooked on streaming video of European cyclocross and World Cup track racing via the NBC Gold streaming package, and this month I added a Flobikes subscription to watch the Giro and other lesser-known races to come.
Finally these events are being shown in the U.S. and I’ve gotten a lot of motivation out of them, even though I’m still wary of pro cycling culture given its past cheating.
After the stage on I got on my smart trainer, turned on Zwift and and put in a good hour of moderately high tempo pedaling. I rode an Amgen Tour of California-themed event and grouped with four others, including a rider in Germany and another in the U.K., who kept up a similar intensity. The global group riding experience on Zwift is the reason I’ve kept up with it, along with the simulated climbing that I can’t get in the city, which offers a good workout.
Sunday – The Big Day
On Sunday the skies finally cleared, as if to say, you should go get your new tandem. So we did!
Mary and I drove up to College Park Bicycles to pick up our Co-Motion 650b aluminum gravel tandem. The bike has been some seven months in the making, from our first conversation with Dwan Shepard from Co-Motion about it at the Philly Bike Expo in November.
We’re keeping our two other steel tandems, the Spectrum for randonneuring and area road rides, and our Co-Motion coupled Java for touring and travel.
The are both great road rides, but we wanted a dedicated big tire tandem for mixed surfaces, something to replace our Cannondale MTB rigid tandem – the Lead Sled – that we sold off. It never fit us all that well and we had stopped riding it.
Co-Motion worked with us on a custom that is long enough for Mary and has bars level with the saddles, which I want. The parts list is pretty simple: Avid BB7 disk brakes, Velocity Atlas rims and WTB Byway tires, installed with tubes, Schmidt front disk generator hub, and a White Industries rear hub. A mix of Shimano, Nitto and Velo Orange parts complete the mix. We’ll ride on a Brooks leather sprung saddle for Mary and a Brooks Cambium C17 for me.
We took a little two-mile test ride and the bike had that light, stiff feel of aluminum. We can’t wait to get it out for a longer ride – after I get fenders and other finishing touches installed.
Thanks for reading!