For about half a dozen years or so I have been planning to take up randonneuring. There are many sports I find fascinating, like water polo and biathlon, but I would not try them if you paid me. Randonneuring, I can do, nay, I want to do.
I had put a few local events on my calendar this spring without any particular intention and even as far back as three weeks ago, considered them outside of my abilities. However, I have ridden over 1500 km so far this year including four 100+ km rides (in bad and worse weather). On paper at least, I was prepared for a 200 km brevet.
At Britannia Park I knew I was in the right place when I saw a titanium Marinoni with an extra large Carradice saddle bag and fenders. Our group consisted of three bona-fide randonneurs and me. The club policy is for at least one randonneur to accompany newbs as long as they can keep a pace that will allow them to finish within the 13.5 hours time limit. Unfortunately for him, though fortunately for me, one of the guys had injured his knee earlier in the season and was significantly slower than me on the hills. Though there was no way I could keep up with them on downhill or even flats, I was able to stay ahead on the hills. On a different course, this might have not made enough difference for me to keep up, but the route we had taken had 3500 m of climbing which meant that I did not have to put in more effort than I was comfortable with to keep pace and I was almost never the last.
We reconvened every so often at depanneurs, gas stations, pretty beaches or bakeries. The conversation was sparse but interesting. All of my companions had a few Paris-Brest-Parises under their belts and had been randonneuring for a while being some decades older than me. We tended to stick together on busier roads but spread out in the quiet countryside. One of the guys mentioned that randonneurs like solitude and as I zipped though the country road behind Mont Cascades I was glad to be able to gasp at the pretty scenery and sing through the rolling hills without an audience.
We rolled over the finish line within five minutes of each other, a few minutes short of 13 hours running time. I really enjoyed this brevet. I enjoyed the calm and determination that I did not experience to such an extent when I was doing Ottawa Bicycle Club rides a few years ago. I like that there exists an organised sport which I can actually enjoy. Whether I keep doing these events remains to be seen. I don’t see myself doing much beyond 200km rides and it is questionable whether I can keep depending on other randonneur’s injuries to keep me in the running.
This is the only picture I took. I was hoping to take a picture of my brevet card but the team lead spirited it away before I got my phone out. As I was not dealing with the Twitter generation, I did not feel it appropriate to protest. Yes, my max speed topped at 65.5 km/h. Weeeee!
The next day I got to do another first. I was not up to biking so I got to sit on the back of my cargo bike for the first (and probably last) time ever.
My legs are still kind of sore a week and a half later. It is a good sore though.