It’s been a while since my last long ride. I missed December’s first 200-km permanent earlier this month due to a hip issue. The time off the bike made leaping into a long ride unwise, especially without a shorter test ride to ensure my hip was okay. I’ve done plenty of riding since then and was hoping to ride another permanent tentatively planned for December 16th. However, the ride was scrapped in favor of a new 117-km populaire. I’m leaving town for the holidays. Therefore, I’ll have to reset my run at an R-12 award and start over in January (I’ve only lost two rides). I’m still working on my attire for cold weather riding. So the shorter populaire was a nice change which still allowed me to practice doing RUSA paperwork and test my clothing layers without suffering the discomfort of 11-hours in the “wrong” apparel. My primary goal for 2013 is to complete a Super Randonneur series. An R-12 would be nice. But it’s not my priority. I’ll still continue to attempt one permanent each month if I’m up to it. In the mean time, populaires are a good way to stay connected with fellow randonneurs.
This was my first populaire. The local randonneurs frequently schedule them during the week and ride permanents on the weekends. The weekend populaire was a nice change. The 9am departure time was sweet, too! 😉 We met at a Hardee’s in Suffolk to collect receipts and then departed. There were four of us, an apparent record for local populaire attendance: Jacob, Ron, (recum)Brent, and me. I was the only rider on an upright bike. I rode stronger than on my previous rides… but just barely. I was still the slowest rider. I’m beginning to think I’m just not a cold weather rider. I ride well in the summer, even in the heat. I’ve declared, “the less I wear, the faster I ride…” I’m a C+/B- rider in the winter, a B+/A- rider in the summer, and A+ when riding naked! Okay… perhaps not! 😉 The ride was quiet, pleasurable and uneventful. The route was flat. However, unlike “Southern Sojourn,” there was still plenty of tree cover to keep the wind reasonable. I think the wind was fairly calm in the open as well. The hunt clubs were out in force as we saw plenty of dogs and blaze-orange caps. They were friendly and waved at us as we rode by. The hunters were nice, too! 😉
There was only one control point, a convenience store in Newsoms, VA. Newsoms is a tiny town of less than 300 residents. The store was small, but sufficient for our stop. There was even indoor seating for eating our lunch. To be honest, this was the first time I was eager to keep the breaks short. My choice of clothing layers was working on the bike. But stopping for more than a few minutes made it way too easy to get cold. It was really tough to warm up after our extended lunch stop. Luckily, Brent is actually tall enough to yield at least some draft even though he rides a recumbent (he’s 6’9″). I rode in his draft for a bit until I warmed back up. BTW, I was wearing an UnderArmor long sleeve compression base layer, a medium-weight wool long sleeve layer, a vest, and tights. I suspect I was cold because the base layer was damp. Should I have worn the wool against my skin instead? I appreciate comments from seasoned cyclists. Thanks!
For the rest of the ride, sometimes I was with the group and sometimes I wasn’t… mostly not, though. I’m told there’s another rider whose pace might be more compatible with mine. We haven’t met yet. Regardless, the ACP events are bound to have a good mix of riders and reading the cue sheet is becoming habitual enough that I’m not worried about riding alone and/or getting lost. Even if I get lost, I still have the smartphone with apps running. The vast majority of my rides take place in 3G areas. So I’m bound to find my way back to the route. Check out my write-up on the stuff in this image at “Bags & Gizmos“ in the header. Back to the ride, we finished in about 5 hours and 45 minutes. My rolling average was ~15-mph while my overall average including stops was ~12.5-mph, a slight improvement over previous RUSA rides. I have no doubt this will improve when the warm weather returns. It’ll also improve when I shorten my rest stops. 🙂 Check out my data recording of the ride at Strava.
This is very likely my last entry until 2013. I’d like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year or whatever you celebrate. Go out and get something for your bike! I’ll be returning to the road with a new helmet and perhaps some winter shoes. 🙂
Ready for Vacation,