PBP Update: Halfway to Qualified

Hi folks. I’m back to break my long stretch of not blogging. Frankly, it’s easier and faster to just post our latest adventures to Instagram in real time vs. coming up with a compelling narrative. And, Mary usually posts on our rides at her blog Chasing Mailboxes long before I get around to my own report.

That said, I have a minute this weekend to bring this blog up to date, and I’ll do my best to keep it brisk. I’m in Helsinki, Finland to visit my daughter who is spending the semester abroad – that means time to write.

Test riding a Moulton in Helsinki

This year is dominated, as you probably have guessed, by qualifying for the Paris-Brest-Paris 1200K randonnee in August. It will be our second trip to ride PBP on tandem, if all goes well; we completed the event in 2011.

In terms of preparation, we rode some moderately hilly local routes over the winter of 70-90 miles by ourselves and with friends. Separately, I put in regular sessions on the home trainer, a Tacx Neo, using the Zwift online training platform.

I have not ventured into Zwift structured workouts; rather, I choose challenging routes and spirited group rides.

Alternatively, Mary hit the streets and trails to get in a bunch of running miles, and completed her annual spring marathon in March.

For a bigger training block we took our coupled Co-Motion Java touring tandem to Arizona and rode more than 500 miles with our friend Tim F. from Flagstaff to Los Angeles. We primarily took the Route 66 trail and made the trip in five days, with a sixth day on a group ride up to Calabasas.

Another friend, Jerry S., joined us in L.A., as he was in town with his partner Carolyn on the last stages of their almost-around-the-world bike tour. We had a great visit with them and our Los Angeles tandem friends Patrick and Delpine, who got their group together for the Calabasas ride.

Mary and Tim outside Flagstaff
Us and Jerry in Calabasas

Since then we’ve been in brevet mode, but not all has been easy.

We rode the DC Randonneurs Nokesville Nomad 200K on April 6, with both of us in less than top form.

The weekend before, Mary had a bad bug and and I crashed my bike commuting home from work. I went over the bars and strained my neck and shoulders enough to wake me up at night. We both spent a couple of days off our feet trying to get well.

Lucky for us, actual riding was not very painful for me by the day of the 200K – as long as we kept the out-of-saddle efforts to a minimum.

Good weather helped, and we got around the course without much problem. The most painful part was getting the tandem on and off the roof rack; I started thinking about getting a minivan again.

Mary wrapped it up at her blog Chasing Mailboxes.

Next up was the DCR Frederick, Md. 300K on Apr. 20. My upper body was mostly healed for this hilly event, but we had weather challenges, in keeping with Washington’s streak of wet weekends this year.

We had rain in the first half and then strong, gusty headwinds on the second. The tandem helps in the wind, but only so much.

We lost time to a flat and a dropped timing chain, but really the winds slowed us more than anything. We came in more than 90 minutes later than usual for this course, at more than 16 hours, and felt exhausted. Mary has her report here.

Both of us hit a wall of sorts with that ride. It took us a good two weeks to start feeling like ourselves again. I craved sleep, and Mary felt much the same way. We could hardly keep our eyes open after dinner.

The sign that we were on the upswing? Mary and I volunteered to pre-ride the DCR Warrenton, Va. 300K brevet. It has lot of really beautiful miles in the foothills of the Shenandoah and the spring blooms were out to decorate the course.

Our ride with organizer Bob C. went really well. We spent too much time off the bike but that’s the deal with pre-rides, having to check the cue sheet and take notes for controls along the way. With dry, mostly sunny skies until some rain in the last 20 miles, the ride was really enjoyable.

Bob has an account of the ride at Mary’s blog here.

Outrunning the crop sprayer with Bob C.

Next up for us is the Frederick 400K this coming weekend and the Shenandoah 600K on June 8. We feel ready to go.

If all goes well, we’ll take some recovery time, maybe two weekends of easy riding, and then start a set of longer jaunts to get ready for PBP. But for now, our focus is on completing the final two qualifiers.

I’ll be back soon with some tech and bike updates. The main news is that we’re retiring and selling our Java tandem for a new 650b-wheeled Co-Motion steel coupled frameset that will fit us better and weigh less. It should be ready soon and we plan on taking it to PBP.

While that project has been in the works, we’ve been riding the brevets on the 650b aluminum tandem Co-Motion built us last year, and it’s a fun ride.

Thanks for reading, and happy spring riding, wherever you point your handlebars!

A photo of the red Co-Motion during the Warrenton 300K
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