2013 was a good year for cycling! Those who rode with me in the 2011 Bike MS Ocean to Bay Ride may recall me saying after the first day century, “I don’t recall ever finishing a century where I could say I felt good afterward, was glad I did it, or that I was looking forward to the next one.” So it’s a bit ironic that I joined RUSA, an organization which is focused on ultra-distance riding, the following year! Sixteen of my rides exceeded 100 miles in 2013! These rides include eleven 200 km rides (126-130 miles), one 300 km ride (189 miles), 124 miles during my attempt at a 400 km ride, the Tour de Cure (103 miles), the Civil War Century (104 miles), and the Sea Gull Century (101 miles). Those rides total just over 2000 miles. I rode another 3300 miles with local groups. My mileage goal in BikeJournal.com was 5000 miles. I made that goal fairly easily, even with many “bad weather” and “I don’t wanna get up” days. Can I ride more in 2014? Probably. Will I? Who knows? 😉
I had started an R12 pursuit in October 2012. However, I missed the December ride and had to start over in January. An R12 does not have to begin in January. The only requirement is that the rides be completed in 12 consecutive months. Regardless, it fit my OCD sensibilities to begin the ride in the first month of the year and finish in the twelfth. HAHA! January and February were the months I was most concerned about since they tend to be quite cold (for VA). I’m not a great cold weather rider and find it difficult to manage my clothing layers below 40 degrees on long rides. As a result, I was even more determined to make 2013 my year to complete an R12 when both months offered relatively pleasant weather. I rode fairly well in the summer heat. I may not have turned in significantly faster times, but I certainly was more comfortable and efficient.
I had planned to complete a Super Randonneur (SR) series this year. Unfortunately, my inadequate sleep management, too much riding in the days leading up to a critical ride, and simply not being trained for mountain riding all contributed to me not finishing the 400 km event in May. Sure, the rules allow riders to complete the 200, 300, 400 and 600 km rides out of sequence, meaning I could’ve attempted the scheduled 600k in June and then found a 400k later. However, I did not want to do that because I needed to know I could conquer the 400 before attempting the 600, a ride which would certainly require sleep management DURING the ride. I will make another attempt at an SR series in 2014. “Tidewater Rando” formed in 2013 and has a Regional Brevet Administrator. As a result, I will have 200, 300 and 400 km ACP events local to me in 2014. That will greatly reduce my travel burden during my pursuit. 🙂
It would be easy to attribute my good cycling season to new equipment or clothing, particularly my new bike, better tires, or my choice to wear wool in cooler weather. However, I think it’s more accurate to say SADDLE TIME was the key to my success. It’s not hard to rack up a lot of annual miles by riding frequently with local groups. Riding 25 miles just three days a week will net nearly 4000 miles in a year. However, those short rides do little to train one’s neck and bottom to endure the longer rides, especially if the shorter rides are sprinted-through in less than two hours. I think that’s why centuries are daunting to so many. Ironically, going on longer rides more frequently makes the centuries easier. I never imagined I’d see a day when I’d think “a century is just 100 miles.” But the truth is centuries and permanents are great training rides for brevets!
You may recall that I purchased a Trek Domane in 2013. The taller head tube and lower bottom bracket did wonders for an upright riding posture, the IsoSpeed seat tube is great for insulating me from road vibration, and the wheels are much stronger than what came on my Madone. The bike has transformed my riding! However, it lacks a few features I want. The most obvious shortfall is the lack of clearance for larger tires AND fenders. It has mounting points for fenders that’ll clear 25mm tires. However, it will not fit fenders with my choice of 28mm tire; the tires barely fit anyway. I also wish it had mounting points for racks and perhaps a dedicated headlight mount. I could also use a few lower steps in gearing on mountain rides. As a result, I’m test-riding another bike which I hope will serve me well on long, wet and hilly rides. It’s an aluminum bike that closely mimics my Domane’s fit and components while giving me the features I want. Aluminum is not the frame material of choice for randonneuring. But the bike has everything else I want. I believe I can mitigate the “harshness” of aluminum by riding on 32mm tires inflated appropriately for my weight (65F/85R). The bike will accommodate 35mm tires with fenders or 45mm tires without fenders. I’ll post more when I actually have the bike.
What are your cycling goals for 2014? I intend to chase a P12 goal and I want to complete an SR series. I started my P12 yesterday and was pleasantly surprised to find my R12 award and a letter from Mike Dayton in my mailbox when I returned. 🙂 I may complete another R12 during my training for the SR. But I don’t expect another R12 to be a primary goal. Depending on how I feel after a 600 km ride, I may even feel demented enough to try a 1200 km (750 mi) Grand Randonnee. We’ll see how that goes. Until then, I hope everyone had a great 2013 and is planning for an even better 2014!
Happy New Year!