Sunday, February 12, 2012


I put up a rant here recently (I know, .. so out of character for mild mannered me) about rando passion, obsession, whatever.  Back on our mellow New Years Day ride my pal Brian and I talked about the changes we have witnessed in the rando scene.  I don’t want to make it sound like two geezers rolling along on big trikes pining for the good old days. The truth is I have not been at this all that long.  It may just be that we came along at a time of great growth in this quirky corner of the bicycling world.

We found the rise of the ‘real’ rando bike an interesting phenomena.  It seems in a very short time there has been a significant adoption of this specific kind of bike.  I could call it a purpose built bike but the champions of these machines claim it to be the ultimate do-it-all bike: capable on rough roads, fast as the fast bikes, good for all day, or a 20 mile speed run.  You know; a dessert that is hot and cold and sweet and sour.  Buy one of these and you’ve got all the bike you will ever need.

Of course when we started out we both had mutt bikes, and so did a lot of the other riders we encountered.  It was true then as now; you can participate in this sport on any bike that is comfortable for 10 hours or more.  Of course I’m talking out of both sides of my mouth; I’ve got one of these randoish bikes.  It’s not a Rene Singer, or Alex Herse or any of that but it’s got most of the characteristics, including a price tag that matches most of the run of the mill cars I’ve owned in my life.

Further in the conversation we whined about how every ride now has to be accompanied by a route, a time clock, a brevet card, and a fist full of receipts from local vendors. I am guilty of this as much as anyone.  So much so that my friends often ask which permanent route I am about to head out on. 

When I started out in this business, we rode the spring series, and then the summer series, and maybe some of the Terry Z winter rides.  But we also did a lot of JRA riding.  JRA (just riding around) is a great way to mix the social and training aspects of bike riding.

And so it was that I agreed to meet Brian at Kitzles Crazy Delicious Deli in Oly at 10:00am yesterday morning for a JRA ride.  Kitzels is new to me and I’d say it's as close as you can get to an authentic NY Deli in the south sound.  I had a sesame bagel  (they make thier own, boiled not just baked!) with egg and cheese and coffee.  We talked, politics and pop culture over coffee as the gentle rain came down outside.  There was no rush to get ready for the official start time, no tyranny of the clock.  Eventually we saddled up and only then as we contemplated riding out from the comfort of the awning and into the light rain did we even consider where we were headed.

Rainier was offered and so off to Rainier we rode.  Funny thing, for the most part we followed the route of a once favorite summer populaire that starts at the Fish Tale brewery, but along the way we took a few side routes, less direct but more scenic and less traffic, something not allowed on a rando event.

Here in the south sound we are still cleaning up after the snow and ice storm of January. 
Still lots of limbs and trees down, adding to the mess on the road shoulders.  No big deal, we were not on the clock, and if it got too bad on a given road, we could always turn off if we found something a little more appealing.

Once at Rainier, we stopped at the little hamburger shack for a brief respite from the rain and sustenance in the form of a cup of coffee and a shared order of French fries.   Behind the place there was a huge pile of limbs and tree tops that people in the area had been building. 
I talked to a truck driver having a cup of coffee who said he had already delivered 12 loads to the pile. The material is being collected there and then forwarded to a recycle facility where it will be chipped.

Where next?  I was a little knackered, we had been riding into a steady headwind with on and off rain from the start.  The thought of turning north to catch that tail wind back to town was alluring, but this is democracy in action so I waited to hear Brian’s take.  

He suggested we continue south, taking in Johnson Creek, and then Skookumchuck creek.  OY!  More headwind, more miles, and the rollers on Johnson creek.  But this is winter riding and the general idea is to get in some 'base' miles.  “Sure” I responded cheerily and we wandered out into the weather.  The head wind was stronger than ever, and we had stayed in the burger shack just long enough that my sweaty wool jersey was cold and clammy.  Pushing into the wind helped generate heat. (Oh yes, so lucky to have that head wind!)

Through Johnson Creek I noticed how much storm damage had been done to the second growth plantations.  These trees were planted by Weyerhaeuser in 1991. 
It may not show in this pic (click to embiggen) but a lot of them had their tops broken out. Pity the poor young trees. 

It rained on and off, but the wind was constant, value added base miles (agin the benefit of a stuff head wind).  We hoped against hope that once we came out on to hwy 507 and turned north for the run home that monster wind would push us all the way back to town.  If you ride bikes you already know that by the time we made the turn, the wind had dissipated.  It could have been worse, it could have turned 180 degrees to fight us on the way in but it had only calmed.  After 35 miles of head wind that in itself was a blessing.  Thank goodness for small favors.

So we got a nice little ride in, it wasn’t one for the books, about 5 hours and no recounting of average HR, total elevation gain, watts, or any of that.  Just out to see the countryside, spin the cransnks and chat with an old friend.  Those are the metrics of a JRA ride.


  1. I used to say "Sunday rides are not planned". Then I joined RUSA.

    However, I chose to DNS one Sunday permanent last year, and had a great, un-planned ride!

    I still like getting on the bike and ... just following wherever the front wheel goes.

    JRA - JRA - JRA.

  2. I have one of those 'real' rando bicycles but I like yours and don't think it's any less for not being 650b!