Friday, July 10, 2009

How far is too far?

For my butt, it's about 150 miles or 250km max. That's when the fun of riding typically wanes and I get distracted by things like... oh, food, real food, a shower, clean clothes, and something to sit on other than a 1.5 inch wide piece of carbon fibre, titanium and wannabe leather. But for those who wander farther and further its called 'Rondonneuring' and officially its riding a bike over an organized long distance - unofficially it means "too stupid to stop".

I was first introduced to rondonneuring by my good friend Todd (photo). When we first met on a Thursday Lawyers Ride I had no idea where this long distance road led. Within weeks it seemed he had coaxed me out for my first hundred, the former Spring Century hosted by the Portland Wheelmen Touring Club. (Now renamed the Pioneer Century it is an excellent rather flattish hundred miles perfect for anyones first shot at teaching your bum how to sit in a saddle for 5, 6, 7, plus hours.)

Like everyone else, Rondonneurs have their own club - Rondonneurs USA will get you started. And they lay claim to one of the oldest ride/races on two wheels (yes, eclipsing the ol'great yellow father - the Tour)
Paris-Brest-Paris (PBP), first run in 1891 - over a decade earlier that the Tour in 1903.

Returning to that unofficial definition about being too stupid to stop, Todd then went on to complete the remarkable Randonneur 5000 - the full series of 200, 300, 400, 600, and 1000 km brevets (one-day events), the Paris-Brest-Paris and a Flèche Vélocio (in which at least three riders must start, and at least three must finish). And the best part - Randonneuring is not a competitive sport. It is a test of endurance. All riders who complete the task are congratulated, and no prizes are given to those with the fastest times.

I and the "Kids" helped where we could, riding the 200 and 300 versions - riding out to meet him on the others for support, throwing the bon voyage party as he left for Paris, and finally teaming up to
Flèche out the Vélocio (on one of the most perfect one-day rides of my life, even if it was over 150 miles!). And while over these past few years my imagination has flirted with the whole idea, like Alice trying to decide on blue or red, I still stand in awe and bewilderment at Todd's accomplishment.

Recently I met Portlander Heidi Swift, photographer-writer-cyclist-bloggist. Heidi is continually pushing her cycling boundaries and has recently fallen for the allure of the shiny object dangling hundreds of kilometers away on a distant shore - PBP. As the chronicler she is, she is sharing that journey on her blog through entries and interviews and its worth riding along - here's a excerpt:

"This year, I’m after a bigger fish. A 300k, a 400k and, if I play my cards right, a 600k. All this in the name of possibly riding in the biggest Rando show of all time - the 2011 Paris-Brest-Paris.

Can I really do it? Is it really possible? Can I really ride 1200 kilometers in less than 90 hours? (For anyone slow with the metric conversion math that’s about 745 miles in a little under 4 days).

I’m going to be honest with you. I have no idea.

"In fact, as of about two weeks ago, I had no idea how I would even attempt such a feat. And then along comes “The Ride of Your Life“, an eBook written by long-distance specialist David Rowe.

I’ll be honest with you (again). eBooks aren’t my thing. I like to hold a book. To damage it, dog-ear it, and spill wine on it. I like the physicality of books, the texture against my thumbs, the precise stacking of pages, one against another.

But Rowe’s electronic tour de force is something different altogether. It’s more than a book. It’s a tool. And therein lies its beauty.

The book is actually useful. In addition to being inspiring, motivational, informative and well-written, it’s applicable and practical"

Read the rest at

The “Ride of Your Life” Book Tour: An Interview with David Rowe

If this long distance moment of insanity should ever strike you and imprison your cycling imagination - then this series of web articles by Heidi are worth a read. Check her other entries beginning with Ready to Ride?

As for me?? Still can't decide if it's Blue or Red??

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