Monday, April 16, 2007

“What the hell IS randonneuring, anyway?...”

... I blurted, as we labored along Giant City Rd. The word was painted along the top tube of a friend’s loaded down bicycle and I realized that I had no clear definition of the term. I cannot recall Josh’s answer.

That was 9 days ago. In the interim, I have decided to ride the granddaddy of all randonnées, the Paris-Brest-Paris. It is the oldest bicycle event in the world.

For those disinterested in links, ‘randonnée’ is a French term which loosely translates to “ramble” or “long journey.” A randonnée not a race, but it must be completed in within the allotted time. There is no motor-vehicle support, participants ride day and night, whatever the weather and are expected to be self sufficient-- lights, tools, outerwear, etc.

PBP is 1200km in 90 hours. I’ll spare you the math: 750 miles to be completed in 3.75 days. It is listed first on Google under ‘sleepless grueling long distance bicycle ride.’

As if simply preparing for the event in August weren’t daunting enough, the first of 4 qualifying brevets --200km/13.5hr-- is this Saturday (April 21st), with another every two weeks thereafter, each increasing in distance, concluding with the 600km/40hr ride 8 weeks from today. To top it all off, they all start in Delavan, WI, near Lake Geneva.

Some fun facts about me:

· The longest distance at a stretch I have ridden this year: 60 miles. In the last 4 years: 140 miles.

· I will be using a regular ol’ touring rig—not quite the ideal machine for the task at hand.

· I am currently around 25 lbs over my fightin' weight.

So stick around, this should be interesting.