Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Frosty Pre-Solstice Kersey Kick!

On the Saturday before Winter Solstice, I joined John Klever, Leslie Sutton, and Tammie Nakamura for a scenic but frosty Kersey Kick 200k.

This ride was particularly festive because it capped John Klever's second R-12 award - congratulations John!

It's all smiles as we head east, facing the sun.

There hasn't been much of a thaw in the weather, so what Plains snows we've had haven't melted off, making for a blanket of white.

Temps bottom out at around 14ºF around Firestone.  This may be a personal best icicle count while riding!

On a mesa above the chilly valley air, Leslie stops for a sandwich.

And everyone relaxes around the Kersey store's randonneurs' dining table.

One thing you can count on, as Tammie points out: 14 miles uphill into the wind from Kersey to Hudson.

It's been chilly, topping out in the 40's, but lots of scenic views, too.

And now it's a race with the setting sun on to the finish of another bracing ride.

Thanks to John, Leslie, and Tammie for some great, upbeat company!


Friday, December 16, 2011

Rio Vista Rumble 200k - LSR Fun Galore!

Visiting my family last week, I had a chance to do my first Lone Star Randonneurs ride.  RBA and bon vivant Dan Driscoll chose the Rio Vista Rumble 200k Permanent, a lightly rolling course that made it easier for folks to stay together.  One good thing about visiting is that the LSRs ride most every weekend.

Here's a very approximate idea of the route:

Ten riders start off at dawn from Joe Pool Lake near Arlington.  A chilly start made chillier by a brisk breeze blowing off the lake.

Pleasant morning but staying chilly, as Gary Gottlieb and Dana Pacino, Pam Wright, and John Hogue near Rio Vista.

What's this?  Riders spy someone at the top of a rise waving us down, a sign revealing the reason: 

LSR - and Last Chance veteran - Vickie Tyer (center, between Pam and Dan) has graciously come out to provide a bit of sociability (and snacks).  Vickie would be riding, but is recovering from a wrist fracture from a skating mishap.

Dan gives some exhortation, while Sharon Stevens (also a Last Chance veteran) focuses on nutrition.

Kaylene, Dave Campbell (up from Austin), Pam Wright, and DD take a break at the "apogee" of the ride in Blum.

Though there is the occasional live oak grove, much of the route is expansive and wide-open, like our Plains Permanents. 

Fortunately, Gary knew that this bridge replacement was far enough along for us to cross it, but not before hoisting bikes over barbed wire, and crawling through barricade fencing.

Despite occasional mild patches, it never actually gets balmy.  (The high temps, breaking 50º, were about the same as on the Front Range.)

Seems like all the hills on this course have rider-provided monikers.  Here's the namesake for Orphan Hill, a country orphanage now a Texas Historical Site.

A chance to pose at a county line (thanks, Dan).  Like Dan with his Texas Stampede jersey, I'm wearing my 1200k event's jersey (and vest!).

We illuminate taillights for safety on the final stretch.

And everyone pulls in pretty much together for another fine day on the bike.

Thanks, Dan, and all the LSRs for a fun, friendly ride!


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Moss Beach Ramble 207k

One great thing about Permanents is that if you happen to be away from home, there may be a Permanent to ride nearby.

My wife and I were spending last week in Monterey, so I looked up Bill Bryant's and Lois Springsteen's Santa Cruz permanents.  Of course, if I'd not known there were permanents in the area, I could have checked the RUSA Permanents Map:

I zeroed in on the Moss Beach Ramble 207k:

The day of the ride, Bill graciously started me off on his commute to work, with some added tips for good measure.

A nice start, just after dawn, heading up the coast towards Davenport.

Parts of Highway 1 are open, parts more sheltered.

Spanish Moss adorns the coastal pines.

The route turns inland up Gazos Creek Road.  I wasn't expecting to encounter a woolly mammoth!

Pescadero Road climbs through redwood forests. 

The cool forest air had me putting on more layers, only to bake at the top of the Haskin's Hill climb which breaks out into dry, sunny landscape before plunging to the control at La Honda.

The San Gregorio store may be the stateliest convenience store I've come across.

Heading through the open foothill landscape back to the coast ...

... and up to the turnarount point at Moss Beach.

The Moss Beach control was friendly, if less stately.

Heading back down the coast, you climb above the cliffs at Halfmoon Bay ...

... and veer onto Stage Road.

An avenue of eucalyptus trees greets you.

Sure enough, a road with the word "Stage" in it is bound to have some good climbing.

While folks may be fleeing hurricanes in the Southeast, or volcanoes in Washington State, here it's tsunamis.  It's not so much how far away or how fast you go, but how much you climb that counts.

Much of the route was very quiet, like this stretch of Cloverdale Road.

Sandy cliffs along the Pacific Coast need regular excavation, to provide room for slides at the base.  They were doing this as I passed.

The final coastal stretch featured great views from above the cliffs including the faintly-visible Monterey Peninsula to the south ...

... and some actual beaches with surfers and picnickers.

Soon the finish line came into view ...

... and a fitting end to an enjoyable, scenic day of riding.

Bill and Lois did an excellent job designing this route (no surprise), and were very hospitable in providing this great riding opportunity!


Friday, November 4, 2011

1200k Round-Up for 2012!

Still recovering from - or thinking fondly back to - that 1200k you rode a few months ago?  Or will 2012 be the year you bridge up to your first 1200k?  

With the snow flying outside, you may be starting to ponder and plan!

Five US 1200k's are scheduled for next year:
And north of the border, BC Randonneurs is organizing the
Further afield, you can look on the Randonneurs Mondiaux calendar for other worldwide, once they've posted their 2012 calendar.  A few I've heard of:

Plenty to whet your appetite!

Awards can add an extra measure of motivation.  Some 1200k-specific ones:
  • American Randonneur Challenge - finish two US 1200k's in the same year (in 2012 there are two within Front Range commuting distance!)
  • Coast-to-Coast -  finish four different US 1200k's - no time limit
  • Can-Am Award - finish a US and a Canadian 1200k in the same year
A few details on each ...

The Shenandoah 1200 takes you through historic Civil War venues, and up and down many hills in Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and North Carolina, many of them stiff, a few ornery, but only a couple extended (Blue Ridge Parkway and Willis Gap Road), with a high scenery quotient to take your mind off your legs' discomfort.  My Report (2010)  Catherine Shenk's Report (2009)

The Cascade 1200 starts and ends on the west side of the Cascades, which is verdant and can be wet.  The middle third of the ride transits the expansive but arid, hot eastern slope, not totally unlike the eastern plains of Colorado.  There are some long, hefty climbs, but they are worth it.  Very well supported by Seattle International Randonneurs.  My Report (2008)

The Colorado High Country 1200 is the world's highest 1200k, topping out above 10,000 ft. three times.  The climbs are prolonged but fairly gentle.  The scenery is expansive, varying from Continental Divide outcroppings and forests to high sage parks.  My Pre-Ride Report (2011) - intended as a rider's guideDay 1 - Day 2 - Day 3 - Day 4

The Taste of North Carolina starts by climbing up the Blue Ridge, then takes you on a flat trek through the coastal plains to the Atlantic, finishing up with some climbs over an ancient mountain range and into the finish.  I've seen generally favorable reviews.

The Last Chance is once again indeed your last chance at a US 1200k in 2012.  It's rolling, open, and exposed.  There are some flat sections, but not as many as you'd think.  And the wind can be your constant companion.  An evocative pioneer experience.  My Photomontage (2006)

Well there you have it.  Start planning, visualizing, and getting excited!


P.S. If you are new to this or are there's a new event you want to explore, just ask! There are plenty of us to help you.