Tuesday, July 23, 2013

BRF Randonneur Weekend

This past weekend the Minnesota Randonneurs made their second annual trek to Black River Falls for a full weekend of brevets and socializing.  As a prelude to the weekend, Rob, the Minnesota RBA came in to town on Friday afternoon. We did a brisk 30 mile ride on one of my favorite training loops.  We had a good time but the real fun was on deck for Saturday and Sunday.

Saturdays options included a 300K (188 mile) loop through Pepin or a 200K (127 mile) loop through Coon Valley. I opted for the 300K as part of my training push for the Endless Mountains 1240K randonnee. Six other riders also thought the 300K was a good idea. Seven riders decided to do the 200K route through the Coulees to Coon Valley.

We could not have asked for a better day. Temperatures were comfortable, only rising to the upper 70's, and winds were light. On the 300K, a group of 5 formed right off the bat and ended up riding the entire day together. I rode with Mark O., Jerry C., Jerry H., and Hall S. We had a nice, uneventful day riding over the undulating roads of western Wisconsin. The total route included somewhere around 8,000 or 9,000 feet of climbing. As usual, the Harley motorcycles were out in force along the River Road, just to keep things interesting. At various points in the day I seemed to be approaching a bonk, but managed to eat and drink my way through it each time. Our group ended up rolling into the finish, which was conveniently located at my house, just before 8:00pm for a total elapsed time of 13 hours and 54 minutes.
Heather and the girls had been working hard all day and has an awesome party set up to greet finishing riders. There was a big spread of food, pop and beer. The girls also made a Welcome sign congratulating riders.
By the time our group finished the 300K, the 200K finishers were enjoying beer, burgers, brats, and stories from the road. I think everyone had a lot of fun spending hours talking about our sport and whatever topics popped up. For me personally, there are other riders that I normally only see at the start of a ride before the power away from me.  The chance to kick back and talk with these Randonneurs  was lots of fun.
Sunday was a whole new day. To start with I only got about 5 hours of sleep because I didn't think it was right for the host to not be awake to greet the final 300K finisher. I ended up getting to bed shortly after midnight.  I had entertained thoughts of switching to the 100K cruise option for Sunday but Mark O., who is also signed up for Endless Mountains, persuaded me to ride the 200K route instead. Not even a forecast promising widespread rain could dissuade us.
As it turned out, our Saturday group (minus Jerry C.) reformed for the Sunday ride. We started on a nice, cool morning that stayed dry through the first 40-ish miles. Fortunately a light rain started just as we arrived in Foster for the first control. As we were getting ready to roll out into the drizzle, the thunder and lightning started. A quick look at the radar on my smartphone showed a large, ugly storm bearing down on us. We voted 3-1 (Mark will ride through anything) to wait around and monitor the weather for a while. Within minutes, it was raining hard enough to pull cars off the interstate and fill up the gas station. Once the thunder and lightning stopped, we left Foster, even though it was still raining hard.  All told, we had a 55 minute control.
The rain continued for the next 50 miles or so, before the sky finally lightened and the sun came out. I actually seemed stronger as the ride went on. By the time we got back to BRF, I was riding better than I had all weekend. Hopefully, that's a good sign for Endless Mountains.
   Endless Mountains starts on August 8th in Quakertown, Pennsylvania. The ride is reputed to be one of the hardest 1200K's on the calendar, featuring aroung 60,000 feet of climbing. I feel like I have done everything I can do to be ready. Now we'll have to just give it a shot and see what happens. I plan to post updates to this site throughout the ride (at least as long as I stay coherent). I also will be using the SPOT locator to update my position to anyone interested in following along.