Saturday, January 23, 2010

5000 Kilometers Behind

Last October , sitting on a train to California and feeling behind on my randonneur blog, I wrote A Catch-Up Post. Little did I know that it would be three months before I wrote another post. As someone commented recently, "isn't about time for a catch-up post to your catch-up post?" But I'm five thousand kilometers behind - that's a lot of catching up.

Randonneurs are fond of joking that they ride for trinkets. I sure do. In the last three months, I've happily collected all sorts of doodads. An offhand comment from frequent riding companion Vincent Muoneke launched one quest. Vincent mentioned that he had earned his third 5000km RUSA distance medal. (He would subsequently earn another one and finish the year with over 22,000 RUSA km, an amazing record!). Having once been a bit of a math nerd and thinking of 15 as a nice triangular number, I figured that if I ever rode 15,000 RUSA kilometers, I'd want to commemorate the achievement with a full set - a 5000km medal, a 4000km medal, a 3000km medal, a 2000km medal, and a 1000km medal. Suddenly I had a distance goal for the rest of the year.

Along the way, I found all sorts of other blankets and baubles in my mailbox.

A 2009 ACP Super Randonneur medal (for riders who complete a 200, 300, 400, and 600km brevet in one year),

a RUSA Super Randonneur jersey (for riders completing the same series of RUSA events),

a PCH Randonneurs Super Randonneur jersey (for riders completing the same series, with at least one of the events done with the PCH Randos in Southern California),

a Last Chance 1200 commemorative jersey (for the summer's party ride),

my second International Super Randonneurs patch (in this case for a ISR1200-3C - completion of a 1200km event in each of four different countries on three different continents),

my third R-12 medal (at least a 200km event in each of 12 consecutive months),

and a beautiful new Randonneurs USA Mondial award globe (for RUSA lifetime achievement of at least 40,000 RUSA kilometers).

Of course, I really ride for the joy of the time on my bicycle, so it's more fun to recall the rides that generated the trinkets. The train ride to California in October took me to Salinas, the start of a one way 600km brevet down to Ventura/Oxnard with the PCH Randonneurs. Spectacular scenery, good company, lots of climbing early in the ride. Worth the trip.

In December, I flew to Dallas to ride a 300km brevet with the Lone Star Randonneurs. Good friend and LSR RBA Dan Driscoll hosted me and took me out for a nice RUSA Permanent ride the day before the event. Having a local rider came in handy when looking for a place to stock up along the way.

On the 300k, it was a treat to ride with many of the legendary Texas K-Hounds. A rite of passage for the local randonneurs is to complete 10,000 kilometers of randonneur events in a single year and get recognized as a K-Hound.

On the 300km brevet, I rode with Dan and Mark Metcalfe, each of whom has had a 20,000 kilometer year, Gary Gottlieb (above right), who was on his way to his own 20,000 kilometer year, Val and Robin Phelps, both on their way to more than 15,000 kilometers for 2009, and Vickie Tyer (above left), a RAAM-qualified (at the 2009 Last Chance) K-Hound. In training for an upcoming 24-hour event, Mark was off the front early, but the rest of the group stuck together all day, building camaraderie by enduring chipseal, headwinds, and Val's jokes (that's him below, laughing at one of his own now).

In between and after these two out-of-town brevets, I rode nearly 4000 kilometers worth of local permanent events. Some were epic, like the all night ride in torrential rains to greet the arrival of the winter solstice. Some just good rides with food.

And many, many were a chance to spend the day with good friends Vinny and Geoff, who are handy with a flat.

And I'll admit that a few fell into the "yeah, I've done this one before, but if I still want 15,000km . . . " category.

Looking forward to 2010.