Newsletter - 2011 Archive

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by Gary Baker

When I first started riding brevets I was determined NEVER to DNF. As a newbie I had no idea of what could be so awful it could force me to quit. Besides there was an ego to satisfy. It was not long before I encountered problems or issues that a more rationale approach would have
dictated that I stop, call it a day. Usually I didn't and I paid the price, often not being able to ride again for days or even weeks.

My plans for this past Hell Week was to start all the rides with every intention of successfully completing them. If I didn't, the ride simply became a training ride with the added bonus that I'd have the opportunity to question what went wrong and then try and come up with a solution to insure that particular problem NEVER happened again. For example.

The 200km went well. However, I DNF'd at the 50 km point of the 300 when I flatted and two brand new tubes failed to hold air. By the time I figured out what was happening and determined that it would take over an hour ( by taxi) to get back to the hotel to get other tubes and return to where I stopped to resume the ride the probability of making the next control would have been near impossible ( particularly into a strong headwind for 20km and approx. 20km of climbing). I called it a day and headed for the hot tub.

In the past I took new tubes, folded them tightly, wrapped them in plastic, and taped them to the bike. Now I will add a new step to this process. I'll inflate them first to insure they hold air.

I rode the 400, which again went well, almost. Towards the end I begin to experience considerable nether region discomfort. This in not a problem I've had in years. What gives? Well I did some serious damage, sufficiently so that the prudent decision was not to ride the 600km. I'm
sure I could have toughed it out, but I would not have been likely to ride for weeks if I aggravated this existing problem. So what caused this? I'm not sure, but I have several theories that I'll explore on future training rides, once I feel I can resume riding ( which will likely be tomorrow.....<;)

One of the compelling reasons I love this sport is the element of "surprises". Whether it is on a 200 or a 1200 you never know what is going to happen. Once you think you have it all figured out something totally new, strange, and unforeseen happens. Much of the fun is facing these on the road challenges. Most can be overcome, some can't. The ability and strength to push on in the face of adversity is a hallmark of Randonneurs but knowing when to say 'uncle' takes even more strength and personal courage. I think the latter is a skill that is only learned as you exercise the former. What is that line about knowing when to fold um?


April 17, 2011