Bike blogs are blooming their first few posts about events and activities all across the bikeblogosphere. If you’re still stuck in a snow bank, my sympathies but be assured that the earth continues to tilt closer toward the golden orb so you too will soon be out on the road racing your shadow. Because of the new rules for PBP qualification I expect there will be considerably more activity this year than there might have been otherwise.
So what’s coming up for the Rhino on two wheels? Well I have a plan, and though it may be moderate compared to many, for me it’s the right mix of ambitious and achievable.
MARCH – March offers a wealth of opportunities to blow up the quads: There is at least one ACP sanctioned brevet within driving distance each Saturday. I’m planning to ride ACP sanctioned 200K brevets on the first two weekends (Sheesh! Can you believe it’s March?) Later in the month the real work begins: SIR offers a 300K event and that will be a test for me. I’m getting around the 200K courses well enough now, slow but confident of avoiding a DNF or running out of time. When I finish them I ask myself “Could you go another 100Km? How about another 200Km?” I know I have gas in the tank at the end, but can’t say with confidence if it is enough to get me through the night and down the road double the distance. I guess I’ll just have to keep pedaling to find out, stay tuned.
APRIL – April offers unique opportunities: Our club hosts a spring training camp in Wenatchee in April. I had thought I would throw some time at that, mixing in some riding and some volunteering but a couple things have developed such that Wenatchee camp will have to come off the schedule this year. It is a matter of time and timing (work does get in the way of life). More’s the pity because mentally I think I will be ready for some full bike emersion along about then.
April is also the month of the SIR Fleche, a 24 hour team event. I think the Fleche is one of the most fun events that randonneuring has to offer. It has many of the characteristics of a typical brevet but there are just enough differences that if you don’t pay attention, the meter can swing from fun to psychological torture in the blink of an eye. I’d like to ride the Fleche however because I am currently so slow it may not happen. One of the requirements of the fleche is that the team rides together and I’d feel bad holding others back. Still, it’s a couple months off so we’ll see if I can’t up my average a bit between now and then. As an added bonus, it ends in Olympia! Since I've commtted to trying to ride closer to home a little more, it would be silly for me to miss this opportunity.
MAY - After I get over my big event for work in April, I anticipate that there will be a need for some time away. As it happens the BC Rando's Fleche Pacifique the first weekend in May. Again, I’m not sure I will be in ‘360Km’ condition’ by then. That is one of the defining characteristics of the Randonneuring season: You go from zero to 600 in what seems like the blink of an eye. New randos are often a little overwhelmed with what seems to be the warp speed progression of events. Once you’ve finished an event, you better get busy and fix whatever needs fixin’ on the bike, shoes, rain booties, ... whatever, because before you know it you’ll be packing your overnight bag for another event somewhere a long way from home.
I’ve ridden this a couple times and it is not only Fleche fun but you get to ride to a foreign country, see a beautiful place, (the end is at Harrison Hot Springs in BC) and reconnect with old friends. The times I’ve ridden it we’ve just taken off from Oly and ridden north; Twenty-four hours later, there you are on the shores of beautiful Harrison Lake. Fabulous! Like March, there is an event every weekend in May, but instead of 200K and 300K events they are 400 and 600K events, and that Fleche (a minimum of 360K). May could be a leg breaker!
JUNE – “And now, for something completely different”: I’ve been recruited to help support the Oregon Blue Mtns (OBM) 1000Km brevet. This is the latest iteration of what I call the Kramer Classic series. If you have not ridden or are not aware of Kramer’s legendary eastern Oregon events I recommend you look into it. The Kramer events are not classics, in the ‘classic’ sense, more like cult classics, (think Big Lebowski) and as such tend to develop a cult following. As ‘one off’ events (so far) they are like collectable mementos, not many people get them and you never know if and when another will come along.
Obviously this not for everyone: Eastern Oregon is to Western Oregon as the Gobi Desert is to the Amazon Basin. Really, compared to just about anything you have done before, well this just does not compare. More and more, rando’s are seeking unique experiences on the bike. If you had a 1000Km event in mind but were not sure where or when, look into this. I am certain it is something you won’t soon forget. Don’t put it off too long, participation is limited to 30 hearty souls. I’ll be out there with the rest of the crew doing everything possible to make this the highlight of your riding season. “Don’t wait, call now, operators are standing by to take your reservation!”
June also offers the SIR Spring 600Km and the Cascade 1200. The 600 is something I plan to do, maybe this one or perhaps one later in the year (or maybe multiple 600’s!) It depends primarily upon fitness, but time and cost are also factors. I’ve ridden the C-1200 and would like to do it again, but since its inception it has become a ‘hot ticket’. It sold out pretty quickly once registration opened up.
June may be the month I ride one or two S24O type rides. I have not done this but there are plenty of destinations with attractive features within riding distance of the ranch here that there is no reason I could not ride a few of these. To the west there is the Blue Pacific, to the east the Cascades, and north is Hood Canal and the Olympics. This is fairly tentative but I feel like it is time to mix it up a little. I shudder at thought of sitting in a rocker on the porch at ‘the home’ wishing I had done a few more ‘different’ things.
July - I get to put on the Summer populaire again. I have thought until recently that I would just do the same route we have been doing for the last few years. That’s a solid fallback, a very enjoyable and scenic route, but recently I’ve thought about maybe developing a new route. I could imagine starting from the Olympic Club in Centralia. There is plenty of very pleasant riding within 100Km of Centralia and McMenamens makes a great start/finish location. Plenty of time to think about it.
July is also the start of the second series. After the Populaire, the SIR 200K appears, same weekend as the OrRando 300K. Again, living in proximity to three different rando clubs (SIR, ORR, BC Rando) offers lots of event opportunities. But I promised Josh I’d lend a hand on the 200K, I think that’s going to be a fun and ‘slightly different’ event. STP is also in July. I don’t have any interest in riding that but I hope that somewhere down the way I get to join the mass of humanity on bikes that is STP.
It has been some time since I have achieved Super Randonneur (SR) status. The SR is awarded for those who complete a series of brevets. In Randoland a ‘series’ is composed of 200, 300, 400, and 600K events. Now they have a special jersey for that, (I’m a little disappointed it does not come with a cape! ‘Super’ and all). This medal is not really a goal but a by-product that will come if I am able to achieve the goals I have set for the year.
AUGUST - August is when the second series for both SIR and ORRANDO really kick into high gear. The SIR summer 1000K is also in August and that is my ‘A list’ event. I am not at all confident that I will be in ‘1000K shape’ by then but it would be great to ride a new route and it sounds like Vinnie, Geoff and crew have something very exciting in store. I do want to get a long event in the books this year. First to give myself the best shot at getting a ticket for PBP next year but also, I think the long events (1000, and 1200K) are special, and not just because they are especially long. These events are a breed apart, for me they take an entirely different approach to complete. It’s not about just doing what you do on a 600K twice; they are multidimensional, like a Rubics cube compared to a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle. I also get a sense of well being, accomplishment, and self-sufficiency after finishing one of these things that just cannot be found on the shorter distances. I think it is these outputs that affirm my belief that riding a long event is the best prep for tackling PBP. I don’t think PBP is any harder than other 1200 or 1000 k events, but it takes so much to get there that preparing, even ‘over preparing’ makes sense.
Unfortunately that summer 1000 conflicts with a work event that I may not be able to avoid. I’m working the schedule but this is more like an iceberg than a road barricade so it may mean I don’t get toride the 'inaugural' event.
As a fall back I have gotten myself on the ‘want to’ list for the Colorado Last Chance 1200 in the middle of September. It would be fun to travel to an event however, time and money play in again, but Colorado is someplace I could drive to in order to limit the cost. It is far enough away to count as ‘going somewhere’ but not so far that the travel costs and complications are prohibitive.
But that is far enough out there that I don’t have to think too much about it right now. Like riding a brevet, I just need to get to the next control, do my thing and then look down the road to the next, so on, and so forth. Bit by bit that elephant becomes just a pile of bones.
What’s on your plate?