Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Minnesota Randonneurs: Long-Distance Unsupported Riding - the Apple Valley 200K Brevet

Randonneuring is a French word for wandering or traveling. Not easy to translate into English. The tradition of long distance cycling was born in Europe and became popular after WWII when people needed to forage for food in the country and escape the bombed-out cities for a weekend. Because cars were not available, the bicycle became the vehicle of choice. Cyclists would ride 100 miles to get to the destination, then ride for fun for 100 miles and, lastly, head back home. Long distance cycling was promoted by Frenchman Paul de Vivie, nicknamed Velocio, who published a cycling rag in the early 1900s called "Le Cycliste," where he wrote about the health benefits and equipment that would allow people to enjoy the fresh air and mountain vistas by bicycle. Velocio was one of the first cyclist to understand the value of gears for cycling up hills. He used his magazine to argue in favor of dérailleurs but met considerable resistance. In the end, he would win the argument of course.

Unlike racers who fixate over every ounce on the bike randonneurs tend to be more concerned about fit than weight. They spend time refining the fit of their bike so that every  little irritating pain is eliminated because what is a minor  annoyance at 30 miles can be a ride killer at 200 miles.

Randonneuring, also called Audax riding, has a worldwide following these days and the queen event in the world is the Paris-Brest-Paris ride held every four years. In PBP, 5000 riders from around the world join together to ride the French countryside supported by large numbers of locals who cheer them on and stay up all night providing food and support along the 1200K route that riders must complete in 90 hours to officially finish the event. A few strong riders will compete to be the first to finish but they fail to understand that the event is all about the camaraderie and personal achievement of just finishing the event.

In order to qualify for PBP, riders must ride a series of 200k, 300k, 400k and 600k (that's 120, 180, 240 and 360-mile) rides sponsored by clubs around the world and sanctioned by the Audax Parisien bike club in France.

This leads us to the Apple Valley 200k/300K event on May 31, 2014,  sponsored by the Minnesota Randonneurs. Starting in Apple Valley, the event winds it's way south through the Minnesota countryside and turns to return at Zumbrota. The riders must ride unsupported, except at the three checkpoints. They can help each other but not be assisted by outside help during the ride. The ride attracted about 15 riders for the 200k distance and 19 riders for the 300k distance.  They assembled at the AmericInn in Apple Valley for the start at the crack of dawn. It was a tough ride with unstable weather bringing heat and squalls for some unlucky riders.

It is a great accomplishment to finish such an event and I congratulate all the riders who participated.
Rob Welsh gives the pre-ride info/safety speech.

Veteran randonneur Mark Olsen from Rochester, MN with his Rivendell Homer Hilson.

Doug Dyer and Bill Johnson and the rising sun at 6am
Doug Dyer's  Chris Kvale

Bill Johnson's thrift-store find, a 1975 Masi.

Cannon Falls, the location of the first check point.
The Hawk-eyed ride marshals make sure the rules are followed.

Barb Kelly, Dick Anderson and Ronald Hillberg at checkpoint one.

Kelly Hines rides into checkpoint two in Zumbrota.

Checkpoint two, about the half-way point for Doug Dyer and Bill Johnson.

Erv Berglund at checkpoint two.

David Marsh

A cheerful attitude keeps you going.

Rob Dixon, from Onalaska, WI
Noboru Tomonari arrives at checkpoint two.

Mike Achor

Keith Willard rides his Baccetta recumbent.
David Johnson powered by home-made peanut butter and honey sandwiches.

Barbara Kelly checks her time into checkpoint two.
Samantha Carroll reloads her electrolyte drink supply.
Mike studies the route to checkpoint three.
Extra fluids for Tomonari-san.

Checkpoint 3, 95 miles ridden, 31 miles to go!

Sometimes it's important to cool down your feet.

Barbara Kelly heads off on the last leg.
Everyone's a Winner!
David Poulter and Scott Weinberg congratulate each other for finishing the 300k.

 David Johnson with his completed Brevet Card!
Barbara Kelly completes her first Brevet.

No comments: