Monday, November 30, 2009

RUSA SR Jerseys Are On Their Way!

The RUSA Super-Randonneur jerseys are being sent out by RUSA over the next couple of weeks, so if you ordered one, watch your mailbox! Here's one satisfied customer who has already worn his outdoors (in the interim before the next cold snap):

If you missed out this time around, or are contemplating your first Super-Randonneur series next year (a good goal, and an especially smart idea if you're aiming for Paris-Brest-Paris 2011), they may well be offered again next year.

If you *are* receiving one, you may send a photo of you wearing it, and I'll compile a montage of everyone's pix.


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Eric Simmons Rides the Sydney-Melbourne 1200k!

Earlier today (well, yesterday our time), our friend and randonneur par excellence Eric Simmons pushed off on Audax Australia's Sydney-Melbourne Alpine 1200. Perhaps the most visually interesting and certainly the most topologically challenging of the 1200k's Down Under, Eric has been eager to gear up for this one.

You may have encountered Eric two months ago on the Last Chance, ladling out his delicious pasta salad (as you see in this photo) or orange broth at the Byers control; or ridden with him on any number of brevets or permanents; or been fortunate enough to ride the Flèche on his Team Falcon.

For event updates and to follow rider progress, look to the left on the above webpage. We wish Eric all the best (or some suitable aussie expression probably involving "crikey!").


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Super-Randonneurs - Who? Why?

What are Michelle Grainger and Steve Le Goff looking so happy about? Maybe it's because they just finished their 600k and thereby their first Super-Randonneur series!

A Super-Randonneur (SR) series - 200k, 300k, 400k, and 600k brevets ridden in one year - is a big goal for many randonneurs, and the qualifying series for 1200k's such as Paris-Brest-Paris.

A rider recently asked me what it was like to ramp up for the first time to those distances, terra incognita for many riders. Among the 23 local Super-Randonneurs this year (a record for a non-PBP-year), seven are first-timers. Here are stories and advice from some of them:

Might an SR series be on your radar for 2010? It's good training, a fine accomplishment, and, if you're thinking of riding Paris-Brest-Paris in 2011, an especially good idea in the year prior to the event. And as you can see from the SR list, there are plenty of veterans to help you out.


New Super-Randonneur: Irene Takahashi

Someone asked John Lee what it's like to ramp up to a Super Randonneur series for a first time, so this is my story (photo from PCH 600k courtesy of Catherine Shenk):

I'd been riding sporadically as a recreational rider for 30 years. Riding in the spring and summer so I could do the occasional century with the goal of "just finishing". I had ridden the Triple ByPass 2-3 times and done a couple of weeklong bicycle tours before my first brevet.

In April of 2008, I decided to try a 200K brevet and, so, joined the RMCC on the Kersey Kick. Later in the summer I decided to try a 300K brevet...then I was hooked. It felt like such an accomplishment to ride 186 miles in one shot.

This year, I was recovering from a January hip resurfacing (new hip) surgery and really wanted to get back on the bike ASAP. I had no intention of trying to get Super Rando status until trying and completing a 400K in July. I realized that the SR was doable, so I rode the 300K in August and was lucky enough to be invited to ride a California 600K in October. Four weeks before the 600K I started working with a personal coach to try and get stronger and a bit faster so I wouldn't be a huge anchor for my 600K partner, and to be able to finish within the 40 hr time limit.

Having a good bike fit and comfortable saddle are a MUST, along with adequate lighting for nite riding and reflective gear, so as not to become road kill. Doing a test night ride (I joined a friend for the 2nd half of a 400K) was very helpful to gain confidence and see how the equipment performed...i.e. how long will the batteries last, how easy to change out the batteries.

Nutrition on the 600K was interesting. At the advice of Catherine, my partner on this ride, I learned to eat convenience store food quickly (at least relative to what I'd been doing) and head out. We ate sandwiches, burritos, occasional ice cream bars, energy drinks (double shot espressos, redbulls, odwalla smoothies, gatorade), lots o water, some cookies and candy bars.....real food with protein and carbs. It was important to EAT at EVERY control to keep fuelled up for the next section.

When you eat quickly at the controls and head out, you're trying to bank time for the overnite stop. So, on the 600K, we were able to sleep for about 4 hours before heading out for the final day. Had I been a faster rider, we could have had more sleep time.

Great sense of achievement with the completion of the 600K and getting my SR status. Thanks to everyone who contributed to my forward motion, especially Catherine Shenk and John Lee Ellis.

- Irene

New Super-Randonneur: Todd LeBlanc

When did you ride your first brevet? I did my first brevet in Sept 2008. It was the Stove Prairie 200K.

Your brevet/rando experience up to this point? I had done four day bike tours with a group called the Quadbusters for the past 10 years.

How did your previous rando or other experience help you? Because I had climbed many mountain passes I learned perseverance and the ability to overcome a challenge. I also was a competitive athlete in various sports so knew how to train and push my body.

Did you do any specific training for successive, longer SR events? I got a coach and followed the Training Peaks ( regimen. I started in January of 2009 and trained 7-10 hrs a week leading up to the events. Did lots of speed work, climbing and practiced long rides on the weekends. Another big key was lifting weights and doing core work 1-2x a week.

What were the challenges moving up to the longer distances? Without a doubt sitting on the seat (I got a Selle Titanico to get me through) for 10 plus hours. Also not knowing the courses and if I could do the distances I had a big mental challenge to overcome. Having two small kids finding time to train was also a hurdle.

How many years of working towards the SR award did it take you? Setbacks overcome? Just started this year with long brevet riding. The first couple rides we had brutal weather and I wanted to quit but everyone in the group pushed me on. John Lee Ellis and other veteran riders answered every question I ever had helping me through the rides. I did try to qualify for RAAM on the 1200K ride and didn’t hit my goal but was on pace for about 600 miles. Man I hate those Kansas headwinds but got great experience on achieving that goal sometime in the future.

Any particular strategies (nutrition, pace, sleeping)? I went through each ride in my head and sometimes drove the courses. I used Infinit Drink Solution and supplemented with chocolate milk and sandwiches at stops. I rode with a HR monitor and always kept my HR Aerobic even on the long climbs. Ride your own ride and pace.

Any other tips or words of wisdom? During your training rides make sure you work up to 10 hr rides and practice your equipment and nutrition strategy. Look at the equipment of other veteran riders and ask questions of them as they are a wealth of knowledge. Make sure to taper and take it easy before a long ride. I am living proof you can go from riding 100 miles to 750 miles in one year if you are committed to training about 7-10 hrs a week. You don’t need to ride everyday and with a plan you can achieve your goals.


Ed. Note: Todd followed up his SR series by finishing the Last Chance 1200k, not quite a year after his first brevet.

New Super-Randonneur: Andrea Koenig

When did you ride your first brevet? My first brevet was the 200 km Stove Prairie Saunter in September, 2007.

Your brevet/rando experience up to this point? I didn’t have any brevet experience. I had some “randonneuring” experiences of my own: I biked the RMCC’s Copper Triangle. This ride is not a race and had similarities to the brevets and permanents due to the stops at gas stations and/or convenient stores. I also biked from Breckenridge to Denver during that same summer.

How did your previous rando or other experience help you? I didn’t have a lot, but I was athletic growing up, through high school and college. I think that helped to give me some advantages (I learned how to mentally adjust more quickly to new experiences) and/or disadvantages (aches, pains, injuries).

Did you do any specific training for successive, longer SR events? Some night riding, additional brevets/permanents as well as RMCC club rides.

What were the challenges moving up to the longer distances? Mostly mental ones—I just had to tell myself that I had my cell phone, $, other riders that would help me out in the case that something happened (and I’ve used them all). I would also remind myself that despite my mental and physical preparations, that these were just rides and I didn’t have to finish. Despite that last statement, I still took the rides seriously in my prep work.

How many years of working towards the SR award did it take you? Setbacks overcome? In terms of biking, two years. I did have a set back my first year of cycling and attempting the SR series (I completely only the 200 and 300 km brevets). I was disappointed at first, but also realized I could learn from the experience of not finishing the 400 km. I was happy to have ridden my second longest ride as well!

Any particular strategies (nutrition, pace, sleeping)? I ate/drank all sorts of things—bagels, peanut butter, coffee, hot chocolate, Powerbars and Hammer products. I did nothing really for pacing, other than just knowing the time constraints for RUSA’s (and ACP’s) rules for completing the rides. I slept between the two loops of the 2009 600 km ride, as I liked the idea of knowing that a reward of sleep/relaxation was waiting for me.

Other tips or words of wisdom? Bring enough gear and food/water for the weather conditions, lengths of riding between checkpoints and try to know the terrain in terms of where the route goes as well as hills, flats and mountains.

- Andrea

Ed. Note: After Andrea's first brevet, she rode a 200k or longer in each of the next eleven months, to qualify for the RUSA R-12 award, and continued on with another twelve months after that, her second R-12. After her first SR series in June of 2009, she successfully completed the Last Chance 1200k in September. Photo above is of Andrea off to a good start on the treeless environs of eastern Colorado on Last Chance 2009. -jle

Thursday, November 19, 2009

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Enjoying that Extra Darkness Quotient!

It's that time of year when many of us catch ourselves saying, "dusk already??" or "not light yet??" at times on the clock that a month ago bode sunny miles for our early, late, or longish rides. All lit up and 300 km to go on the Peak-to-Peak 300k:

Our riders are pretty good about their lighting systems; still, a reminder can't hurt. Have a look at this recent post from Mary Gersema on The Daily Randonneur blog written in her inimitable style: "You’ll Never Get Anywhere With That Little Light".

Warming up for last weekend's DC Randonneurs Flatbread 200k (Bill Beck, DC RBA, photo):

Fortunately for us, there is a panoply of bright, lightweight, not-too-expensive lighting systems out there, both battery and dynamo. Among the most seasoned and successful local randonneurs, some use battery systems (I do, for instance), others use dynamos, so it's really your choice.

Team Deer with Headlights on the Flèche. - Catherine Shenk photo

If you are new to riding 200k's on these shorter days or are just thinking about an upgrade, look at what others are using, ask around, and be open to trying out new lighting. One recent Permanent rider (JK) was actually counting on coming in after dark so he could give his new, deluxe unit a good workout.

Oh, and remember the reflective gear, too!


Saturday, November 7, 2009

Relishing the Roggen Roundabout 206k Perm

We're now into the "challenging months" hereabouts for the R-12 rider. October 28, the view from our deck, "the biggest October snowstorm in twelve years" ...

So it was especially gratifying that, a mere three days after a two-foot dump of late October snow, roads had cleared beautifully just in time for seven riders to seize the day - the first day of the month, to be specific - for a November ride.

Leslie Sutton, John Klever, Jane Yant, Tammie Nakamura, Ken Heck, Ronaele Foss and I can attest to the fine conditions. Brilliant snow decks the Indian Peaks, seen from 95th St.

Riders pulling into Roggen were eagerly apprised of those who'd come before by the proprietor of the control store. Tammie Nakamura enjoys a snack in Roggen, in front of some snow remnant:

Heading into the sun with a tailwind was nice as far as that went ... but what would that bode for the trip home?? But in fact at just about the time we turned west at Roggen, the winds turned conveniently to push us all home!

Kersey Road reminds us that folks out east have a much more expansive view of the Front Range than we do. The Front Range viewed from a ranch entrance on Kersey Road:

What was tough driving through snowdrifts a couple days before is now a matter of water crossings:

And scenic drifts were still to be had as we headed back into Boulder County:

All in all, a beautiful day for a 200k, and hopefully (though not likely!) a harbinger for some of our winter riding.