Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Paris-Brest-Paris 2007

For the eight years since my first PBP in 1999, I've told anyone willing to listen (and some who weren't) that Paris-Brest-Paris offers a unique and wonderful cycling opportunity - promising great challenge, wonderful people, and a great experience. I hope that I never promised fabulous weather. I had a wonderful ride (see article below), but there was much more to it for me.


As always, the experience of PBP started long before the event. I had the privilege of working with some great people at Randonneurs USA involved in getting the largest group of US riders ever to the event. Over 40 RBAs worked hard to offer qualifying rides and to prepare their riders for PBP. Through my travels, I witnessed first-hand the efforts of Mike Berry in San Diego, Susan Notangelo and Lon Haldeman in Arizona, the Davis Bike Club folks in California, Susan Plonsky in Arizona, Matt Settle in DC, and Susan France in Oregon. On these rides I also saw RUSA members assisting their RBAs and their fellow riders by volunteering. At home in Seattle, the usual outpouring of rider-volunteers brought us a great series of qualifiers. I rode some pre-rides with organizers (300, 600, 1000) and enjoyed the camaraderie of the larger group on the 200 and the 400.

I was proud to be part of a team of sixty SIR members and of a team of six hundred RUSA members bound for Paris. The tireless efforts of Don & Phyllis Hamilton to process memberships, of Don Bennett to keep the website updated, of Lois Springsteen to handle brevet results processing, and of Jennifer Wise to get our applications to the ACP benefitted us all and were impressive to watch. Equally impressive was the work of the ACP to register more than 5000 riders - many were involved; in particular, we saw the work of Jean-Gualbert Faburel as he processed results and helped us find an efficient way to register US riders and the work of Claude Lepertel as she registered all of us.

Old friends

In Saint-Quentin en Yvelines before the ride, it felt like a reunion of old friends. Riders from Seattle were all over the place. A non-participant from Seattle called out to us in line in Paris at the Musee d'Orsay. I chatted with many RUSA members that I've known and I made the acquaintance of many more that I had not met before. Leroy Varga, the oldest member of the RUSA team, and Johnny Bertrand, the most experienced, were staying at my hotel. Puerto Rico RBA William Medina and some friends bumped into us at the Eiffel Tower on Thursday.

RUSA's board of directors was well represented. Treasurer Tim Sullivan, VP John Lee Ellis, and brevet coordinator Lois Springsteen were there to ride. Jennifer Wise and Don Hamilton were non-riders but on hand to help. Webmaster Don Bennett and newsletter editor Mike Dayton were there to ride, as were medal/award volunteers John Kramer and Peter Beeson. Super-volunteer Bill Bryant offered advice and assistance as always.

In addition to SIR and RUSA members, the reunion included international friends as well. Over the years, I've had the pleasure of participating in a few major international randonneuring events - two prior PBPs, two Boston-Montreal-Boston 1200s (2002 and 2006), London-Edinburgh-London in 2001, the Great Southern Randonnee (which I DNF'd in 2001), and the Rocky Mountain 1200 in 2002. So, in the days before this year's PBP, I ran into old friends from Canada, the UK, Denmark, and Australia.

Delighted to spend time with fellow randonneurs, I barely spent time riding or sightseeing before or after the ride. One day in Paris before the ride, we saw a couple museums, walked a lot, and met some friends for sunset pictures by the Eiffel Tower. A shakedown bike ride took a few of us to the grounds of the Palace at Versailles. After the ride, Bob Brudvik and I spent a great day riding around Paris on the rental bikes, drinking coffee and enjoying the atmosphere, before meeting the Dusslers and Greg Cox for dinner. Other than these excursions, however, I spent my time in SQY with other randonneurs.

Behind the scenes

Unlike my prior PBPs, this trip exposed me much more to the organization of the event. On Saturday, I joined Jennifer Wise and her husband Pierce in offering help to the ACP in setting up at the gymnasium. With her good French and winning personality, Jennifer is an amazing ambassador to the ACP from RUSA. I met the first family of the ACP - Bob and Suzanne Lepertel, still running strong, as well as their daughter Claude, who handles all French brevet results in addition to her PBP duties. Also present - president Pierre Theobald and do-it-all Jean-Gualbert Faburel, who processes all non-French brevet results. We liberally distributed gifts from RUSA and pins from SIR.

On Sunday, the volunteers at bike inspection and rider check-in included a strong RUSA contingent. Don, Pierce, and Bill working outside directing riders. Inside Phyllis and Jennifer handed out registration information and brevet cards to US riders. In addition to checking myself in and joining my SIR teammates for a picture at lunchtime, I spent much of the day inside the gym offering what help I could to US riders. Late in the day, many of the RBAs present gathered for a meet-and-greet and picture outside the gym. Afterwards, the board and volunteers gathered at Pizza Pino for a nice dinner.

On Saturday after the ride, I represented RUSA at a meeting and lunch of the Randonneurs Mondiaux. This is the association of correspondent organizations that sponsor brevets around the world. Specifically charged with the sanctioning of events of 1200km or more (other than PBP), the RM also promotes randonneuring around the world. Although I could probably have done without 7 hours of chair-riding after spending 4 days on my bicycle seat, I enjoyed meeting randonneur officials from around the world.

Back home

On Monday, I flew home still high on the experience. I can hardly wait until 2011!

PBP - The ride

Much has been written (and will be written) about the tough conditions on the 2007 edition of Paris-Brest-Paris. The old-timers I met at the Randonneurs Mondiaux meeting after PBP called it the worst conditions since 1956. Others thought 1987 was worse, but the bottom line is that the rain and wind made this a tougher than usual PBP. The non-finish rate - for SIR, for RUSA, and for all riders - was quite high - probably in the 30% range all around.

Under the conditions, some great stories of perseverance emerged. Riders fought through sickness, mechanical problems, exhaustion, etc to complete the ride - some even soldiering to the finish long after time had run out for an official finish. Mine is not one of these stories. I had a great time and a great ride. I felt well prepared and well rested. Although I didn't train for strength and speed, I rode an awful lot of miles this year, including two long brevets of 1000 kilometers. In addition, the experience of two prior PBPs helped me plan how to approach the ride. And I had the company of riding companions Peter McKay, Greg Cox, and Bill Dussler. This was our third PBP together.

Not a fast rider, my time goal was simply to finish. (I carried Steve Hameister's name plate and some of his ashes with me. Although I did not need the extra incentive, I wanted to give those mementos a Paris-Brest-Paris finish as well.) My overall goal was to enjoy the ride. From my previous trips, I expected to enjoy the company of friends, the international camaraderie of my fellow riders, and the great support from the ACP and the people of Normandy and Brittany. In these I was not at all disappointed. Maybe I even got a perverse pleasure out of facing the challenges of the windy, rainy conditions.

Luck plays a role in these things, of course, and mine held throughout the ride. Unlike some other riders, my bike and all my luggage arrived on time and intact. Nagging foot and ankle problems caused some pain, but did not impede progress. Although mechanical problems did not stay away completely, they did not present any show-stopping issues. My biggest weather fear - hot weather for which I had done little training - did not materialize.

Although three PBPs do not create a huge sample size, I enjoyed some personal bests:
  • Most sleep on a PBP - 10+ hours.
  • Most nights in a bed - 3 (more on this outrageous luxury below).
  • Most ham sandwiches - I lost count, but this readily available and quick control staple helped me stay fueled throughout the ride, along with
  • Most chocolate croissants consumed - at some patisseries and controls, I was eating them two at a time
  • Most pins distributed - Bill Dussler created some wonderful SIR/PBP 2007 pins. Offering these to control volunteers, fellow riders, and the supportive children and adults along the road brought plenty of smiles in return.
  • Lightest load on the bike - although I saw many riders with less, my load of supplies, spares, tools, clothes, and food was the lightest of my three trips (see posting below for more details).
  • Most beer consumed - three 0.25cl beers, one before each bedtime. Not quite the consumption of the local riders, but a great way to relax and fall asleep.

After checking and rechecking the forecast and observing the sky on Monday, we resigned ourselves to a rainy beginning to PBP. From past experience and current estimates of the number of riders, we knew that the 90 hour start would be a mob scene and would involve a lot of standing around. Although 9:30 was the nominal start time for this largest group of riders, the ACP planned to send the riders out in waves. As president of Randonneurs USA, I had a VIP pass that would have allowed me to move to the front of the line for the first start wave. Instead, I joined a fairly large contingent of SIR riders bunched up in the circle a bit before 8PM for what would be marked as the 10:10PM wave (although the start signal for this group was not given until 10:20).

For fun, a couple of us bought cheap umbrellas to protect us from having to stand in the rain for hours. Happily there was no deluge, but when the rain started as we stood on the stadium track, our umbrellas went up to the the chuckles of our fellow riders.

The first 200km of the ride went by in a blur of taillights. Less than 20km from the start, I noticed a flat tire. After a brief foray into a very muddy field, I pushed the bike forward to a paved sidewalk in Jouars. I considered replacing the tire, but Peter suggested instead a boot cut from a piece of Tyvek that he carries. The boot would last another 1200km to the finish. Our stop split us off from the rest of our group, including Greg and Bill. We chased along the country side, hopping from group to group in search of them. Bill would stay ahead of us all the way to our stop on Tuesday night; Greg followed another group of riders on a 15km detour and would not see us for another 1050km until Mortagne au Perche on Thursday night.

The bunching of riders in the 90 hour group creates large crowds at the refreshment control at Mortagne (140km) and the first real control at Villaines la Juhel (222km). We brought enough food that we could just stop for water at Mortagne. In Villaines, we stopped before the control at a patisserie known from prior PBPs - delicious pastries (pain au chocolat, of course) and quick service. Just before the control, we restocked from our bags at Dave Jordan's bag drop truck (ride "food" and a spare tube). At the control, we took care of our control cards, filled our water bottles, and moved quickly down the road. The relatively short time spent in Villaines moved us fairly far forward among the 90 hour riders.

As a Seattle randonneur, I've accumulated an awful lot of rainy kilometers over the years. The off-and-on rain on Tuesday remained well within the bounds of comfort for this wool-clad rider. The wind was less pleasant. We never really found a group of riders that fit comfortably with our riding style, so we pushed into the wind without rider shield for much of the distance.

One fun part of Tuesday was crossing paths multiple times with the motorcycle carrying our friend Gregg Bleakney, who was photographing riders for RUSA and SIR. He and his buddy Sebastian clearly enjoyed being among the riders and documenting their progress. In one small town, we stopped at a bar for some coffee (right) and spotted their motorcycle out front. Inside they had made friends with the staff and patrons, who then greeted us as riding heroes when we arrived.

We reached Loudeac around nightfall and pushed ahead toward our overnight stop in a nearby farmhouse rented by our friends Rick and Barbara Blacker. This turned out to be one of the great luxuries of this PBP. Twelve Seattle riders shared the two buildings, which had nice beds for all and three(!) separate showers.

Bill was there already when we arrived, but no sign of Greg or the others - Rick Blacker, Rick Haight, Joe Llona, the Jensen tandem, the Jameson tandem, or Lew Meyer. Later that evening, Rick Haight apparently rescued Greg from wandering around lost. After a delicious dinner, I slept for more than four hours - a real luxury.

Other than the headwinds, most of Wednesday was a nice day for a ride. A baker in the secret-control town of Corlay offered the most wonderful, flakiest, buttery-est pastries of our entire visit to France. Stoked with at least two of these, we headed out to Carhaix and Brest. Along the way we traveled over the Roc Trevezel, the "big climb" of PBP. At about 1250 feet or so, this pales in comparison to any climbs of the Alps or Pyrenees, or for that matter, to any of our pass climbs in Washington. Nonetheless, it can be a bit of a slog coming at 550km into the ride. This time, however, I felt great and I enjoyed every minute of the climb.

The route leaves Brest and the turn-around control by a different route than it enters. As a result, you don't get to see all the riders ahead and behind as you would on a true out-and-back. The routes do converge, however, before Sizun and we had the opportunity to see many of our friends as we returned. Lots of smiles and waves and cheers. Riders were enjoying the best weather of the event and the satisfaction of nearing the half-way point.

Sizun is a lovely town and it was filled with 90hour cyclists returning from Brest and 84hour cyclists on their way out. We hung out for a while to chat (and, of course, to eat). Steve & Peggy Rex were there; Will Roberts was there; Kevin Main was handing out ice cream cones (he wanted one, but could only find a multi-cone box).

The nice weather would not quite hold for the rest of the day. A couple hours before reaching the gite on the return, the rains returned - real gully-washers for part of the time. Peter and I were quite happy to see the gite again. Warm showers and another four hour sleep fortified us for what we suspected would be a long Thursday.

In the pre-dawn confusion of the secret control after Loudeac, Peter and I split up. (I thought I was chasing him back out on the course, but he was taking care of business at the stop). Eventually we regrouped and rode together to the controls at Tintineac and Fougeres. At Fougeres, we saw Amy Pieper and her friend Lola Jacobsen. They were out enjoying the French countryside and cheering on Amy's husband. Robin, an 84hour starter, arrived while we were there, having erased our 7 hour headstart. (He would later finish with Bob Brudvik from the 80 hour group).

Not far from Fougeres, my right shifter (relatively new Campy Record ~5000 miles) decided to abandon. I could shift to larger cogs, but not back down to smaller. (Occasionally I could coax a shift the other way, but mostly I just needed to pick a cog and leave it there). As a result, I rode the rest of the ride on what was basically a 3-speed. Happily, I had spent a lot of time over the past 13 months on a single-speed bike, so I wasn't overly intimidated by the prospect. Plus, I was still feeling pretty good.

The next stretch brought the fun of revisiting nice memories from prior PBPs. In the little town of La Tanniere, Paul Rogue and his friends and family quadrennially set up an oasis for PBP riders. He serves crepes and coffee (and offers sleeping and bathroom facilities). In thanks, all he asks is that the riders send him a post card from home. We spotted the postcard that Peter sent in 2003, with Mount Rainier rising above Peter's home neighborhood of West Seattle. Shortly after this we descend to the river town of Ambrieres, where we've stopped in past (warmer) PBPs for ice cream. This time we had coffee and found the answer to the age-old question - does dog drool smell better or worse than a randonneur? As we were getting ready to leave, the barmaid comes out with my headband, just retrieved from the resident dog's mouth. I wipe off the obvious slobber and give it a quick sniff. Can't tell that it's any worse, so on it goes.

Peter and I have approached each PBP with basically the same ride plan - spend Tuesday and Wednesday night in Loudeac and then push on to the finish. In 1999 and 2003, we ran out of gas at Mortagne au Perche and grabbed some unsatisfying sleep at the control. This year, I planned for this by reserving a hotel room in Mortagne, just in case the inevitable happened again. We picked up clean shorts and shirts from our drop bags in Villaines and rode to Mortagne. As expected, this turned into quite the long slog. For amusement, Peter gave me a running status on the steadily expanding hole in the back of my shorts. (Silver lining - I had the excuse just to throw them away at Mortagne and not carry them into the finish).

Although we weren't there long, maybe 2.5 hours total, the shower and bed refreshed us well. Our pre-dawn ride to the penultimate control at Dreux was still challenging, but we had the good company of Will Roberts for much of the way. Will has been a graduate student in Seattle and has ridden with SIR for the past few years; he's just moved back to his native England after graduation. Being a little sleepy, I talked incessantly to keep myself awake. Perhaps I should have offered Will my earplugs. On the way into Dreux I picked up speed and rode with some different folks, including a fellow from the Carolinas who thanked me later for riding with him. "You know those white lines on the side of the road?" he asked. "They were starting to open into chasms and I was afraid I'd fall in." Ah, the joys of randonneur hallucinations.

At Dreux, Bill Dussler decided to nap, but Peter and I smelled the barn and pushed hard over the last 70km, in the company of Will and another AUK rider and a few others. We arrived, happy, at the finish at around 11AM. Unofficially, my time was 84:50, remarkably consistent with the 85:42 of 1999 and the 84:29 of 2003. Although the times were similar, I think this was my best ride of the the three. This time, I felt stronger throughout the ride and better after the finish. Unlike 2003, I never tossed myself into a bed of thorns (see story here).

After a shower and some lunch, we returned to the finish to watch the remaining riders come in. It was inspiring and humbling to watch those riders who had persevered through much adversity arrive happy and exhausted at the finish, some with evident makeshift repairs to their bikes or their bodies. Even after the time required for an official finish, riders continued to arrive.

PBP - Lightening up the bike

All year, riding buddy Bob Brudvik has encouraged me to try to pack more efficiently and to carry less stuff on the bike. I've used handlebar bags, underseat bags, frame wedge bags, rack trunks, and panniers in different combinations on my brevets and permanents this year. For PBP, I planned to ride with a jumbo sized Berthoud front bag and (possibly) an Ortlieb underseat bag.

In St-Quentin en Yvelines before the ride, I fussed around extensively and perhaps obsessively with my packing. In the end, I decided to use just the front bag. As with many randonneurs, I tend to fill whatever on-bike storage that I have available. Omitting the underseat bag would make me pack less stuff. Purists will note that I had restock available at drop bags in Villaines and Loudeac; I'll readily admit that the drop bags aided the gear choices.

Here's what I carried. (The bike and the body offer additional places for stuff.)

On the bike at the start:
  • Two large water bottles
  • Generator hub and Schmidt light
  • Battery powered backup light (DiNotte)
  • Frame plates (PBP number plate, SIR name plate, SIR name plate for Steve Hameister, Maindru photo plate)
  • Fenders & courtesy flap
  • Two taillights
On me at the start:
  • wool t-shirt
  • wool jersey
  • armwarmers & knee warmers
  • bibs
  • headband
  • reflective sash & anklebands
  • wool socks
  • shoes
  • gloves
  • SIR wind vest (with pockets - very handy to store arm/knee warmers and to carry day 4 change of shorts & undershirt from Villaines drop bag to Mortagne sleep stop)
  • helmet with headlamp and taillights (I had a button light and also clipped a Planet Bike light to the strap across the back of the helmet. This came in later when I discovered that the matching taillight on the bike had broken off. I just moved the light from the helmet and had two on the bike again.)
  • Sunglasses with light yellow lenses and mirror
In the bag:
  • Clothing
    • Rain jacket (never used)
    • Wool liner gloves (never used)
    • Cap (never used)
  • Nutrition
    • Clif Blox (used and restocked from drop bags)
    • Ensure (used and restocked)
    • Nuun electrolyte tablets (used and restocked)
    • Endurolytes (not used)
  • Repair stuff
    • Spare tire (never used)
    • 3 tubes (used 1 on first night and replaced from Villaines drop bag)
    • patch kit (never used)
    • tire boots (not used; used a piece of Tyvek from Peter McKay instead when I flatted; boot held for 1150km)
    • multitool (used twice to tighten fender bolts)
    • chain quick links (never used)
    • 2 fiber spokes (never used)
    • zip ties (never used)
    • 2 spare bulbs (used one)
    • 4 spare AAA batteries (used)
    • Swiss army knife (not used)
  • Personal care
    • Sun screen (never used; but gave some to Peter when sun came out outside Brest on Wednesday)
    • Lip balm (used occasionally)
    • Ibuprofen (used lots)
    • Vivarin (used twice)
    • Neosporin (never used)
    • Ear plugs (used at sleep stops)
    • Bandages (never used)
    • Toothbrush; toothpaste (happily used)
  • Other
    • Space blanket
    • Dark lenses (never used)
    • Camera (never used; I don't know why I continually carry a camera on rides and fail to take pictures)
    • Wallet
    • Phone
    • Brevet card wallet with brevet card, mag swipe card, and passport
    • SIR PBP2007 souvenir pins (handed out and replenished from drop bags)
Overall, I was pleased with what I had with me and felt reasonably confident of my ability to make it to the next control in case of any mechanical adversity. I used the drop bags for clean clothes and bike food replenishment. I also restocked the tube I used on first night and changed headlamp batteries on Thursday morning.

Sunday, August 5, 2007


Goals are funny things. In general, I've always focused more on the road than on the destination, but goals do arise. In 2007, randonneuring has been the road. Whether riding brevets, organizing brevets, helping on brevets, riding team events, riding permanents, or readying the SIR or the RUSA teams for PBP2007, I've been reveling in the sport this year to the point of excess or obsession. Chris has looked at all my riding and told me that I'm overtraining for PBP. I've tried to explain that the rides are not PBP training rides. The rides are the goals. Each ride becomes its own goal - to get on my bike and test myself against a new course, a different distance, or different conditions.

Sometimes the road itself starts to suggest a destination to me. I didn't start the 200km brevet up Chinook Pass last month with the idea of setting a personal best, but as the ride wore on and the possibility grew, that idea became a motivator over the last 50km. A similar thing happened over the course of this year. As the randonneur events mounted for me, I noticed that I could reach 10,000 randonneur kilometers. Almost without my realizing it, completing 10k in my 10th season of randonneuring became a goal.

Yesterday, I met a few friends in Duvall for the Stevens Pass 300km permanent (RUSA Permanent #82). After last weekend's rides in Olympia, I had just over 9700km for the year, so this would be the one to put me over. Although we had a few last minute cancellations, five riders met me in the Safeway parking lot. The group included Geoff Swarts, who has done a number of permanents and brevets with us, both before and after his cross-country tour, James Sprague, a PBP veteran with whom I hadn't cycled in a while, Ryan Schmid, a strong cyclist who's been away from randonneuring for a while due to other demands like graduate school, Frank Kaplan, who joined me for all the rides in Olympia last weekend, and Joe Llona, who rode out to the start and let us know (later, when declining a ride home) that riding from his house to Leavenworth and back had been "on his list."

We had learned that US2 west of the summit was under construction. Ralph Nussbaum had recently driven over the pass and reported that the road to "be not only extremely uncomfortable but probably dangerous for bikes" and Will Roberts, with his typically British understatement simply called it "unpleasant." I arranged with Mark Roehrig, the route owner, to modify the route onto back roads as much as possible.

The eastbound ride was terrific. We detoured onto the back roads in Gold Bar. We enjoyed May Creek Road and Reiter Road despite their gratuitous extra climbing. Reiter Road took us into the town of Index, where we stopped at the nice little store there for refreshments before rejoining the highway. James noted that he used to pan for gold in this area and that one of his favorite campsites was up Index-Galena road, but had been heavily damaged in the past winter's flooding. Indeed, signs indicated that the road itself was closed about six miles west of Index. We avoided the narrow tunnel west of Skykomish by taking the back road past Money Creek Campground, rejoining US2 east of the town.

The Old Cascade Highway takes you off US2 for all but about half a mile of the last 10 miles to the Stevens Pass summit. The lower section is a narrow but well maintained road that is a joy to cycle. Heavily shaded and nicely situated along the banks of the stream, this would be one of the highlights of the ride in both directions. The upper section climbs over the entrance to the 7+ mile long rail tunnel (built in the 1920s after an avalanche killed almost 100 people in one of the nation's worst rail disasters) and winds its way to the summit. At one point the road becomes impassable to cars with only a pedestrian bridge crossing a stream. Although the road conditions are less than ideal, with potholes and stretches of gravel, the almost complete lack of cars and nice scenery make it a great alternative to the highway.

We bombed down the east side of the pass and through the pretty Tumwater Canyon on our way to a lunch stop and turn around in Leavenworth. On the way back, we were plagued by a few mechanical issues. A broken spoke was trued around and made rideable. More problematic was Geoff's freewheeling rear hub. If you don't have any better ideas, he announced, "I'll be sticking out my thumb." We didn't, so he did. Not long after, a ratty pickup truck rolls by with window down and a smiling Geoff lets us know that he had a ride. Although I haven't heard the details, an e-mail today described his afternoon as "a bit of an adventure, . . . enjoyable and memorable." I'm sure we'll hear the details on a later ride.

Joe Llona, riding very strongly, waited for us at the summit. Frank went on ahead, not wanting to chill down. The rest of us (now just Joe, James, Ryan, and me) picked our way down the poorly paved eastern section of the Old Cascades Highway and then just blasted down the next section. "What a rush," Joe exclaimed partway down that stretch.

We refueled at the Baring Store. James let us know that he'd rather drop off than work too hard to stay on. Joe continued to push the pace, with Ryan close behind. The combination of Joe's speed and Ryan's size made one of the best drafts that I've ever had the pleasure of riding in. But for the narrow shoulders and idiots in cars, this would have been a great run to the finish. Unfortunately, it was marred by two incidents where car occupants hurled stuff at us - first a glass bottle, then a full soda bottle. Luckily they both missed, but we rode angry for a while anyway. The road south from Monroe to Carnation had generally good shoulders and gave us the opportunity to regain our equilibrium and finish strongly, catching Frank just as we turned into the parking lot at the finish. James would arrive about half an hour later.

Another challenging and scenic ride in the good company of fellow randonneurs. And my new goal accomplished - 10,000 kilometers of randonneur events this year. The road continues, however. The goal is only a waypoint, not a destination. Next up - Paris Brest Paris. And I see another waypoint up ahead. I have 48,300 lifetime randonneur kilometers, so there's another milepost not far ahead at 50k!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

A note from Anita Hameister

I received a very nice e-mail from Steve Hameister's wife last night. It says a lot about Steve and about randonneuring.


The farewell took place tonight for all family. It is yet so surreal. I went thru his belongings and saw his passion yet again.

Steven drank in nature, didn't enjoy loud machines. Sailing, biking, hiking...never snow mobiles, power boats......He didn't get it why someone wanted to disturb the amazing sound of the natural world. He told me to try to imagine riding in the middle of the night in silence. Watching stars when the road felt safe to look away. He said the stars were intoxicating. Oh, and seeing Eagles and Hawks soaring, wow.

He only called me once when he said he was in Aberdeen and felt he couldn't finish, needing me to come get him. Next morning he was chipper and had finished. He felt good about his personal best. The journey and completion was his deal.

His journey in this place of time and space were authentic. He felt a kinship with all riders. Raw effort, compassion for the struggle I believe kept him in the sport. His competition was with himself.

I thank you all for being part of his joy. I am sad to lose such an amazing man. He was a good Husband, Father, Grandfather...he was gentle and caring a very deep way.

If any pictures of him are floating around in the past rides, please forward them.

With Gratitude to all RUSA........Keep it up. There are lots of guys you make a difference to.

Anita Hameister
Glacier WA

Olympia 3

Sunday brought out another good crowd of 50+ riders for the Olympia 200km brevet. The Piepers - Robin and Amy - were a particularly welcome sight. We haven't done much riding together this year - Robin is a much faster rider and Amy has largely sat out this randonneuring season. In fact, I think Amy indicated that the 200km would mark her longest single day ride of the year. We had had a great time on the Dart earlier in the year, and looked forward to riding together again. The Piepers had just returned from a week-long tour in British Columbia with Danelle and John's Tour BC. Robin had made a solemn promise to Amy to ride with her all day and Peter and I were happy to draft along behind him for the ride.

Nine and a half hours of great company, nice roads, and good riding - an excellent conclusion to my "too much is not enough" weekend of randonneuring. I felt tired but good after three days of riding. Looking forward to Paris-Brest-Paris!