I signed up to become a member or Randonneurs USA a couple of years ago, but really got burned out on the whole long-distance thing right after I signed up–before I had even completed even a single brevet!
It seemed like trying to ride 200 milers for the California Triple Crown, together with the training that went along with it, always seemed to tweak my knee or some other part of my body. Then the baby came, and long-distance training time became scarce, even if I had wanted to continue with it all. As a result, in all of 2012, I only rode over 100 miles on a single occasion, preferring instead shorter and harder rides on the road, and MTB rides under 5-6 hours.
So when my friends Mike and Esteban announced they were going to do the San Diego Randonneurs 200K on January 19, I was reluctant. Besides the distance and my lack of training, for the last couple of years, SD Randonneur brevets have always seemed to coincide with cold and rain. Sure, I’ve got fenders, but who wants to ride in the rain for 10 hours when in SoCal you can usually just wait a day and everything will be roses again?
So when a January heat wave brought predictions of sunny skies and temperatures in the high 70s, I was running out of excuses fast.
Well, I’m glad I did it. It was a beautiful day on the bike, and despite not having done any long-distance rides recently, I didn’t drag much at all, and felt good right up until the end. It helped to have Esteban del Rio as my riding buddy as the miles just seem to tick away a lot faster when the conversation is good.
It’s often the case that doing “too much, too soon” can result in injuries, so I can’t really advise this approach to riding brevets. On the other hand, I’ve been consistently doing some pretty tough MTB rides, so I think my muscles, joints, and tendons are pretty strong. The hide on my butt, now that’s another story.
In terms of food, one of the advantages of having a rando bag up front is that you’ve got space to hold real food. My ride was fueled by bananas, dates, baked potatoes, and a few larabars. Good stuff that does’t leave you feeling icky and strung out the way 9 hours of robot food can.
I don’t think I’ll be pushing the mileage much higher than 200K this year. Even at that distance, an old hamstring injury was starting to bother me. But the SD randonneurs have put together a great series of 200K and 300K events throughout the year, and many of them look awfully tempting.