2017 Randonneur Recap

It’s been a full year of rando again, and I haven’t been blogging too much, have I? Sometimes I think that it might be boring to read about the rides, since I keep doing the same ones over and over. Well, I like them anyway! I did do a couple new ones this year, including the longest distance I’ve done so far. Still keeping up the consecutive R-12, which I will continue as long as it seems doable. It would be cool to do 10 years, but that’s a whole four more R-12s away. Life gets in the way sometimes, and that’s gotta be ok. I keep thinking I should give myself a break from it, but then if I don’t do a ride for a while, I get cranky. Gotta scratch that itch!

But seriously, randonneuring has helped me a lot over the past six years. It’s given me a huge sense of accomplishment. Riding gives me the headspace I need to be more effective at my job. Some of the things I have learned are applicable to my work as well, such as learning appropriate pacing, caring for one’s gear, the importance and rewards of perseverance, and so many more things. Of course, there are tradeoffs; long distance riding requires a lot of time away, in the rides themselves as well as in the training rides leading up to brevets, and the recovery time it takes to get back to a normal regime. Striking a perfect balance seems elusive most of the time, but I always try my best.

But anyway, just so I don’t forget where I’ve been, here’s the Year in Rando 2017 edition. Scroll over the photos for captions.


For my July contribution to the R-12, I humbly submit the Double Brevet Ride Report: To Cloverdale Best Western Swimming Pool and Back in a Jiffy.

The work week prior to this ride was very busy, not to mention all the hill sprints I’ve been doing in the Presidio with Ely, Gabrielle, and Alice, so I started out already feeling pooped. In fact, I was nervous about this ride and questioned whether it was a good thing to attempt.

Foggy and a bit blustery starting out… Not feeling great about this ride so far…

I’ve come to recognize the feelings of anxiety about doing these long rides, though, and now that I’d successfully completed six of them, I let those feelings pass and just showed up, open to whatever might happen and willing to do my best. And in the end, I completed both the weekend’s 200k rides successfully this time too, one in record time for me.

I don’t think I could have done it without all the super people I rode with intermittently along the way. After having missed a turn, becoming totally lost on the wrong road on the first day, I ran into Kimber Guzik and her crew, also having missed the turn… We logged a few more bonus miles together and then finally, she was able to get reception on her mobile phone and get us back in the right direction to make it to the penultimate control.

Westside Road… Beautiful, if a bit too much of it

They had sandwiches at the control, but I just refilled my water, ate some food from my pack, and kept going. I don’t know what fire got under me on this ride, but I surely wasted no time at any of the controls.

In fact, because I got through the first control of the day on day two so quickly, I somehow had the good fortune to catch up with another super person with whom I got to ride for a bit, Gabe Ehlert. Gabe designed my bike frame, recommended the parts for the build, and assembled my bike, something I have gotten many happy miles out of, so I have a lot of respect for the guy. Oddly enough, I rolled over something spiky right after we started riding together and blew my front tire. This was the first flat I’ve had on a brevet. I felt a little self- conscious about my repair skills, but Gabe was cool as a cucumber about it and we got back on the road in short order to enjoy an uneventful stretch to the next control.

Heading out along 116 to the coast… the fog awaits

Another unusual thing that happened during this double brevet series, though on day one, was that I came upon a rider I knew who turned out to be having a mild heart attack. A very strong rider, he had just finished riding his bike with two others across the US via the southern tier through Arizona, Texas, Louisiana etc. I had followed his blog as he went and even posted a link to it here on my own blog– you can still read his account of that ride. Anyway,  I was just leaving Guerneville on the morning of the first day, and saw him walking his bike by the roadside. Just to check, I asked him if everything was ok, and he said he wasn’t sure, and that his chest hurt. Once I stopped, he also told me his right arm and hand felt numb for a moment. Of course at that point, I encouraged him to sit down in the shade. By all appearances, he seemed perfectly normal, but I knew this was not a normal situation. He told me how worried he was about not finishing the brevet since he had had to ditch the 1000K a couple weeks before, to which my kneejerk response was, “F*ck that!” All I could think was, “This guy just rode his bike from the Pacific Ocean all the way across the continent to the Atlantic Ocean, and he’s worried about not finishing a 200K?” From his point of view, though, I can see that it is hard to accept that one moment, you’re enjoying a beautiful day of cycling on the Russian River… and the next, you have to give up the brevet and find the nearest hospital. Especially when you’re not sure what’s wrong with you, or if the feeling will simply pass. Personally I have a lot of mistrust of the medical profession and he seemed to as well, but I was pretty firm in the feeling that he get checked out, and did my best to talk him out of continuing the ride until he get checked out. I walked him the few blocks back to the center of town where we thought there was a clinic, but it turned out to be closed. By that point, he had repeatedly said he felt bad about taking up my time, and wasn’t I worried about my finish time (obviously he didn’t know me well, I could not care less about my time!) etc etc. I actually started to feel I was infringing on his time– I didn’t want to tell him what to do. He did seem to be less shaky now, so we talked about him finding a place with air conditioning to cool down for a while, and he said that he could call Brooks, who was driving our drop bags, to come get him if necessary. That sounded like a good plan to me, so I left him there. Once I got to the Best Western in Cloverdale, I heard that he had in fact had gone to the hospital, had a blockage in his heart which resulted in a mild heart attack, and they were holding him there until Monday. So it turns out that going to the hospital instead of trying to finish the brevet is a good idea.

There is no sag service for these rides, so in my view, we all have to provide a sort of sag service for each other to some extent when necessary. I do not enjoy the idea of a sag wagon following me around while I’m just trying to have a good day on the bike, but then again, I felt grossly unprepared for the situation I just described, particularly if the situation had been more urgent. When I got to the hotel in Cloverdale, some people said to me that it was a nice thing I did for him to convince him to seek medical attention, but I felt guilty for not staying with him until he left for a hospital. Of course, if the situation had been more immediate, the way to respond would have been more obvious. Maybe a first aid class is in order.

Okay. One more shout out to some fun randonneurs. After the Point Reyes Station control on the second day, I ran into two riders with whom I finished the first day, and we agreed to finish the second ride together as well. One was Chris Eisenbarth, a very seasoned randonneur, the other was one for whom Saturday was his first brevet (Doug… ? Doug E Fresh?)! Fun! As we rode into Fairfax, I caught sight of the inimitable John Potis, probably heading back to San Francisco from an afternoon of holding down the couch at Black Mountain Cycles in Point Reyes Station.

Chris and John sprinting to the bubbler

John is the captain of my dart team, so we had a lot to discuss along the way! More on that to come in the August installment of mmmmbike!