Friday, June 18, 2010

The Long Ride

Speaking to many people over the years about cycling, I have realized that what passes as a long ride can vary quite dramatically. For some, anything longer than say 35 miles requires equal parts insanity and determination. For others, the century is the apex of their distance riding ambition. Then there is the randonneur. This lot will ride 400, 600 and 1200k brevets! Just to make sure the point is made, that’s 248.5, 372.8 and 745.6 miles respectively. 200k (124.3 miles) is introduction and consequentially, the shortest distance for a brevet. I believe it’s safe to assume that for the majority of the general cycling population, a 200k is “long” and covering 400k or more on a bike in the allotted time absolutely requires some insanity as a pre-requisite.

Having completed my first populaire this last weekend, the 100k Bread & Water ride, I have given much thought to the long ride and the spirit of randonneuring. Populaire, by the way, is reserved for randonneur rides under 200k and serve as a super intro to randonneuring. I used to be steeped in the competitive world of cycling where I regularly covered 75 to 100 miles as my weekly “long” ride in a six-day-a-week ride schedule that added up to what a 400k brevet covers in one ride. Well, that was seven years ago. I have long since had a “ride schedule”. In the last calendar year, I have been on my bike only a handful of times with my longest ride being just shy of 13 miles. Inspired by a friend who decided to do a 200k brevet on the Denali Highway cold turkey, i.e. no prior experience of long rides and no regular training schedule on the bike, and successfully finish, I decided to test the legs and my will. Just to make the jump that much more committing, I decided to ride to the ride. I live only five miles from where the ride start was. As if to prove that I knew I was in way over my head, I left the lycra cycling kit at home and instead wore jeans, a hoodie and Converse.

It was interesting showing up to a ride looking like a commuter. I rode in a tight knit group of four. Though each of us is very active in other ways (running, hiking, etc.), we were untrained for a longish bike ride. We just wanted to ride!

We started together and we finished together. This was not a race. We just wanted to finish. It was in this light that I understood cycling as I had not since I was a kid. Instead of obsessing on how fast I could go, I wanted to see how far I could go. There is a lot of psychology involved in pushing your limits. Reflecting back, I realized that I suffered more in dealing with the distance psychologically than physically. Yes my legs hurt and at times they really really hurt, but as long as I could talk myself out of pulling off and calling for a ride I could make it to the next mile, then the next and so on. The last 20 miles were as pleasant as the first. By the time I arrived at the finish with my friends, I realized that the extra five miles home would not be all that bad.

I now have my eyes set on the 7/17/10 Denali Park Road 200k randonnée! Either I have already forgotten how painful it was to add 60 miles to my longest ride in a year or the joy of camaraderie and accomplishing something beyond my current limits makes it all worth it. Am I mad for wanting to double my current highpoint a month from now? Maybe, but the memories of a bike ride in Denali National Park will be worth it!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Solstice Rando Adventure on June 19th

The Bread & Water Populaire was a smash hit! 70 riders showed up to ride the big, beautiful loop around Anchorage. It was great seeing so many new faces on the ride. And even the weather cooperated. Looking for more populaires, or perhaps a 200K? Check out the rest of the rides on the Rando Calendar.

Thanks to Buzz and Carlos for helping out on the course. You two really made things run smoothly.

Results will be posted soon. But in the meantime, populaire photos are HERE!


Next up is the Solstice 200/400/600K brevets starting from Gakona next Saturday, June 19th.

Ride details for the 200K, 400K, and/or the 600K are HERE.

The 600K is a huge, remote, beautiful ride! If you're not quite up for it, but are still looking for a solstice adventure and a reason to ride the Richardson Highway, consider the one-way 200K to Delta, or the one-way 400K to Tok. It's up to you to get yourself back to your car at the start, or perhaps you can cajole friends or family to drive up and meet you. Another option is to get a B&B in Delta for the 200K, and ride back to Gakona the next morning. For the 400K, consider taking an extra day and ride the remaining 200K back to your car in Gakona.

There are lots of options! The riding is such high quality, and the scenery is so breathtaking, I really hope more people make the effort to get up there sometime during the summer!

Photos from 2009 are HERE.

See you in Gakona!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Bread & Water 100K Populaire, Sunday, June 13

Now that we have the big Anchorage/Seaward/Anchorage 400K behind us, we're taking a little break, before the Gakona 600K, to see the local sights with a beautiful populaire around Anchorage.

Join us Sunday morning at 7:00AM at the Great Harvest bakery for the start of the Bread & Water 100K populiare.

This ride is a giant loop around Anchorage. It has one big hill, a short dirt section through Far North Bicentennial Park, lots of bike trail riding, and it will be marked. This ride attracts all sorts of riders: racers, commuters, mtb'ers, tandems, 'bents, old, young, fixie-hipsters, etc... It's for anybody looking for a wonderful day on the bike, some new trails, and loads of new friends.

Details about the ride are HERE.
Photos from last year's ride are HERE.


Congratulations to all the finishers of last weekend's Anchorage/Seward 200K and Anchorage/Seward/Anchorage 400K. Every single starting rider finished!

Results are HERE.
Sorry, no photos for this one right now.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Anchorage/Seward/Anchorage 200K/400K Brevets

The AEA's Denali Classic was an amazing experience. We made a bunch of new friends and are grateful to Carlos and the gang for letting the Alaska Randonneurs offer a brevet option for their ride. The Denali Highway is a magical 135-mile gravel road paralleling the Alaska Range between the communities of Cantwell on the west, and Paxson on the east. The road offers spectacular riding through the remote Alaska wilderness, especially when the weather is nearly perfect, as we found it over the Memorial Day weekend. If you've never ridden the Denali Highway, I urge you to make the time and go up for a grand adventure!

Denali Classic 200K RESULTS
Denali Classic 200K PHOTOS

The classic Anchorage/Seward/Anchorage 400K brevet, along with the new Anchorage/Seward one-way 200K option, is this Saturday, June 5th. Either option is a beautiful ride in its own right, and is a great training opportunity for those looking for some big milage in preparation for the Fireweed.

Everything you need to know for the rides may be found at the links below:

Anchorage/Seward 200K or 400K DETAILS
2009 Anchorage/Seward 400K PHOTOS

Looking forward to seeing you at the start!