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Old 12-11-11, 08:57 AM   #1
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The triumph of optimism over experience

This phrase is often used to describe a second marriage, and it also seems to apply to my decision to join the US Randonneurs (RUSA). I've ridden very little until I purchased a bent a month ago, and my longest ride to date on it has been 30 miles on flat roads. My longest rides ever have been 100, 75, and 75 miles and those were done two years ago.

Still, if you don't have goals you'll never achieve them.

There will be a very hilly populaire in February. I note that all the "easy" rides take place when it's cold and nasty out, at least in the northern hemisphere.

I would love to be able to travel to France in two or three years and do either PBP or L'etape. One can dream.

Anyone on this forum a randonneur? I know there is a sub forum for this, but I want input from mere mortals.
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Old 12-11-11, 04:29 PM   #2
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Pretty ambitious of you, indeed. PBP in a couple of years? Boy Howdy!
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Old 12-11-11, 04:43 PM   #3
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I just found out on the long and weird forum that the next PBP isn't until 2015, so it's actually an obtainable goal.

Retirement would help

The LBC sends a contingent up to your neck of the woods each years for RAIN. I think that would make a great training goal for the next several months.
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Old 12-11-11, 05:00 PM   #4
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Dudelsack,
Congratulations on joining RUSA. Your goals seem admirable and very obtainable. I look forward to your posts as the time goes by as to how you are progressing.

Bill
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Old 12-11-11, 05:12 PM   #5
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Machka and I are randonneurs. We have embarked on a Super Randonneur series, our first since 2007. A number of personal events have intervened since then. We attempted one last season with the intention of going to PBP2011, but our fitness and endurance weren't up to scratch, and we opted instead to go to Canada to see Machka's family and do some very pleasant touring.

I started randonneuring in 2002 with the aim of going to PBP2003. I was hooked into it by a friend, Tim, who is a bike fanatic and became my long-time riding partner. We succeeded at PBP, then did a 1000 together and I eventually ended up doing another couple of 1200s, the Last Chance out of Boulder, and the Great Southern here in Australia.

All that qualified me to win the Randonneur 5000 medal, an international award (not to be confused with anything run bv RUSA), and the Graham Woodrup Award, which is run along very similar lines. The R5000 requires 5000km all up, including an SR series, a 1000, a fleche, and a 1200 -- the R5000 is based on PBP, and the Woodrup on any other except PBP.

The bushfires that ripped through my area in 2009 destroyed most of my awards, but I was fortunate enough to have the co-operation of both Audax Australia and Les Randonneurs Mondiaux to have duplicate awards struck and sent to me. That delighted me no end at a very dark time in my life.

Our current plans are to finish the SR (we have done the 200, finished the 300 this past weekend, and only have the 400 and 600 to go), and try for another Woodrup or R5000. Plus we have a local, non-randonneur series we are participating in, the 7 Peaks Alpine Ascent Challenge, for which we have finished four climbs and have already qualified for a draw that has as the top prize a guided trip to the Tour de France next year (fingers crossed!).

Randonneuring over the past 10 years have given me the chance to see many parts of the world I would not have seen otherwise, and Machka and I met through randonneuring. It keeps us out of trouble, and focused on achievable goals -- neither of us is fast nor has a significant interest in racing (12 and 24 hour TTs excepted).

There have been many special occasions -- breathtaking views, great descents, magnificent sunrises and sunsets, amazing weather (both good and very, very bad), and cameraderie.

One of the very special ones for me was the reception for the last rider in a Boston-Montreal-Boston 1200 who had struggled through the entire ride, and was the only rider who had to negotiate a huge downpour in the hour before she finished. The reception she received was rousing and brought tears to my eyes, not only for her achievement, but for the respect shown by the others.

EVen this past weekend, riding on the last leg of the 300, the full moon came out and shed a silvery cast over the countryside, while off to our left the storm clouds gathered and lightning flashed. We got in just before the rain pelted down.

I've always maintained, too, that if you want to know anything about a well-built, comfortable, durable and properly equipped bike... ask an experiened randonneur. Spending all that time and distance on a bike sure teaches you a lot about fit, comfort, plus equipment suitability and reliablity.

Enjoy!

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Old 12-11-11, 08:18 PM   #6
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I have never joined RUSA. I'm not much of an organization joiner. I don't even belong to our local bike club, although I do volunteer when they hold an event. I've been doing rides of 200-1200 km for three and a half decades. I guess I was randonneuring before there was a RUSA to formalize things. I did think about joining this year, but all the rides in my state are out of Portland and I didn't want to ride 140-200 miles of crappy roads to go for a ride; I'd rather just ride more in places I like riding. I even looked at the rides in NorCal, where I spend a good deal of time, but they seem to choose lots of routes that really aren't a joy as well. There seems to be a preference for traffic over hills among the organizers. I personally prefer hills to traffic.

Before someone tells me that if I don't like it I should step up and help fix it, that is exactly what I plan to do. I will join RUSA this year. My primary purpose is to get some permanents approved in my area and then try to get enough interest to organize a SR series for 2015 so that those who live nearby will have more options for qualifying for PBP. I hate organizing things, but I would do almost anything to get more people interested in riding longer distances on bikes.
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Old 12-11-11, 08:25 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dudelsack View Post
I just found out on the long and weird forum that the next PBP isn't until 2015, so it's actually an obtainable goal.

Retirement would help

The LBC sends a contingent up to your neck of the woods each years for RAIN. I think that would make a great training goal for the next several months.
LBC=Louisville?

Odds of RAIN being on a typically hot, humid July day are pretty high. Anyone who can do 16 mph for 10 hours on that hot, humid day probably has a very good fitness base.

I'm still working my way towards a century. Maybe 2012 will be the year.

The last couple of years I've ridden a hilly 50 mile club ride near Columbus on RAIN day.
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Old 12-11-11, 09:32 PM   #8
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Yep, Tom Armstrong and Larry Preble and the like. I'd like to begin the suck-up process so I can hitch a ride on the club bus.

Here's a typical video from that crowd: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzNE1...e_gdata_player
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Old 12-14-11, 01:37 PM   #9
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OK. I got 25 miles of rolling road in today.

If I can just string about 35 of them in a row, I'll have PBP under my belt.
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Old 12-14-11, 03:23 PM   #10
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A pessimist and an optimist are both falling off a very tall building. The pessimist is having a horrible time all the way down. Every floor he goes by, he thinks "Oh my God, only 99 floors to live," or something like that. But every floor the optimist goes by, he says "So far so good."
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Old 12-15-11, 12:07 AM   #11
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OK. I got 25 miles of rolling road in today.

If I can just string about 35 of them in a row, I'll have PBP under my belt.
Well, oddly enough, your own "strategy" is not as silly as it might seem.

We often given people confronted by a significantly long distance they haven't encountered before this advice: How do you eat an elephant? One mouthful at a time...

An oldie but a goodie because it does encapsulated what LD riding is about -- doing each ride in stages.

On our 300 last weekend, we had some very difficult climbs for our tandem, so difficult in fact that we worked out that the time difference between riding if we could and walking the distance we expected to walk was only about 10 minutes.

We knew we would have the flat stuff under control, the rolypoly stuff, too, and by working out what we would do with the steep climbs, we were satisfied we would finish the entire ride within the time limit.

Machka went further and said the first 140km was a distance we had done heaps of times before, as was the 50km next leg, and likewise the remaining 110km...and we also had ridden the steep ascents, too. So that's how it was tackled, a ride at a time. And we finished a little under three hours ahead of the final control closure. It was very satisfying.

And another thing to watch, is riding with others on randonnees. You need to keep a check on the early effort you are making to run like a rabbit to ensure you don't end up crawling like a slug later on. There was/is an article on the UMCA website about rabbits and how they quite easily can end up fricasseed, stewed and broiled (or somesuch) on the side of the road. It's a good read.
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Old 12-15-11, 04:31 PM   #12
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And another thing to watch, is riding with others on randonnees. You need to keep a check on the early effort you are making to run like a rabbit to ensure you don't end up crawling like a slug later on. There was/is an article on the UMCA website about rabbits and how they quite easily can end up fricasseed, stewed and broiled (or somesuch) on the side of the road. It's a good read.
Been worried about the title on this posting because I would put Experience over Optimism every time. I Used to do a long hard offroad ride and it was hard. 100 miles and 12 hours for the average rider is a good time. I had fitness and training for the first time I did it in 94. I did not have experience and put too much in early in the ride and bonked at 70 miles. Later in the year I did it again but with the hindsight of Experience- I managed it. Done it 11 times now and only failed twice- Last time was in 2006 when the weather defeated us.

I know it depends on your own personal fitness and training- you have have to have both in high numbers for what you are contemplating- but Experience counts aswell. Few years ago I went to the Alpes for Ventoux. I had trained but how successfully I could do it on a Max climb to 800 ft is difficult to rate when Ventoux is 6,000ft. Took it steady- and did it. What got me up that mountain was the experience to realise that 13 miles of climbing is different to the 1 mile I have round here.

So I would say that Optimism is great for those new hard rides you want to do. You realise that you have to train for them but the thing that will get you through is experience. You may not have the experience of PBP and the weather that northern Europe can throw at you- But the experience of you knowing what your body can do can work wonders.
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