First Brevet of the year

Hey folks, it’s been a while since I have blogged. It’s been an interesting first 4 months of the year. I looked over my last blog and my goals I set for this year. Of the six, four are already a bust. The two that remain are completing the P-12 challenge and Super Randonneur (SR) series. I have also added a new one, complete the first ever International Devils Week.

The Huron Chapter of Ontario Randonneurs, Canada, along with the Detroit Randonneurs, USA, is hosting a week long series of rides: Monday a 200k, Tuesday 300k, Thursday 400k, and Saturday 600k! It is coming up fast: it starts on Memorial Day. The 200k and 300k are both in Windsor, Ontario. The 400k Brevet starts in Port Huron, Michigan, while the final 600k starts just west of Detroit in Canton.

Well, part of this new challenge is NOT counting it towards the initial goal of getting a SR, so I still need to get a complete series of rides in for the first goal. Saturday I completed my first ride of the year in the quest for the first SR, the 200k.

I was planning on riding the Indiana 200k Brevet the previous weekend. As part of my prep work the night before, I looked at the weather report again. Mind you, the ride goes on no matter what, the only thing that cancels a ride is ice. The weather called for 100% chance of rain. I was down with that, I love riding in the rain! Crazy, I know, but what can I say… But I also saw that there was a 100% chance of thunder. I concluded that when Jesus tells us to be the light of the world, he was NOT telling us to offer ourselves up to the Randonneuring gods as human lighting rod, so I opted to bail on the ride.

It turns out that the Detroit Randonneurs had a 200k Brevet the following week (this past weekend) so I signed up and started making plans. There is only one reason I didn’t ride in the Ohio 200k earlier in the year: it was the distance it was from home. I have this strange quirk, I HATE, simply HATE paying for a hotel room when it is just me. It seems like a huge waste of money for a bed for one night when there is a perfectly good piece of ground somewhere that simply needs a tent to make a good place to rest. Thus I decided I would camp.

Only owning a 9 person tent, I borrowed a friend’s 2 person tent. I was at the camp ground with everything laid out on the ground trying to figure out how to put the tent together, in the dark! Well, some texts, some pictures, and a phone call or two and before I knew it I had a place to sleep for the night! I fell asleep quickly and slept well! I woke 15 minutes before my alarm so was able to ease into the day. In short order everything was back in the Bug and I was off to brevet.

I love it each time I camp, this time has inspired me to do more of it! I think I will start looking farther from home for Randonneur rides!

Stopped for some breakfast and headed to the start. There where 10 of us riding the 200k and another 5 riding the 300k. The weather was GREAT. The two days leading up to this I was living in constant downpour of rain 5 hours south in Cincinnati. But it was dry and sunny up in Lansing. A bit cool, it started out in the low 40’s, but otherwise everything was perfect! For this out and back route we where blessed with a wonderful 16 mph tail wind… to start…

Last year in the spring I rode the Indiana 200k. I walked away very discouraged. I went in with high expectations and was sorely disappointed with my finishing time. A bit later I hired a coach. He trained me on how to properly train and get fit. I have continued that training on my own since that time and added a power meter which has enhanced the training even more. So this year, heading out on my first Brevet, I knew I would be on the faster side of the riders.

While I tried to pace myself, I failed… I started off a few moments after others because I had to stow away my camera after the group picture, but within the first mile there where only two folks in front of me and I had not turned on the steam yet! Within about 2 miles I was side by side with Greig. We chatted for a few minutes, about 30 minute in he stopped and said he would catch up with me.

2 Corinthians 10:5
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

There is great truth in the say ‘the Devil is in the details’, because he is! I say we chatted, but truth be told, I felt like I was doing all the asking of questions and he was answering to being polite. As I rolled on solo, my mind goes where it always goes unless I keep control of it. The mind is a funny thing, while it is part of us, it isn’t, all at the same time. There is a very good reason why St. Paul instructs us to take every thought captive.

What my mind told me was: “Sam, you are bugging this nice gentleman and he stopped simply to get away from you! You wanted to ride this ride at your own pace, so simply ride!” As he stopped, I increased my speed to my solo riding pace knowing more than likely I wouldn’t see him until a Control. Of course this was all a lie, which would slowly be revealed to me over the course of the whole ride.

Having spent the vast majority of my life in Ohio, I have this very negative view of Michigan. I think it all started when I was coming of age. I living in Columbus, home of OSU Buckeyes where I learned to love football. In that era I learned why all birds fly upside down over Ohio… to save it for Michigan. Well, this is my second ride up in Michigan and it is simply beautiful! The Brevet took us from Lansing down to Ann Arbor and the whole thing was just breath taking. I am glad that the I am finally starting to learn the truth about this state! It makes me look forward to Devil’s week all the more!

As I was riding along, I had one of those moments: The light was perfect, the road dipped a bit and turned into the sun, with the trees beautifully lite. I thought to myself, “That would make a GREAT picture!” Then it hit me: Sam, you ARE a photographer with a nice camera, stop and take the picture! So I did!

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The route took us into Ann Arbor on Huron River road. It is one of those simply perfect cycling roads. It is covered in trees and has very minor rolling hills next to the Huron River. The hills are mostly 30~50 foot range with very wide lanes, four lane worth, but it was only a two lane road. On the way into Ann Arbor I must have seen 12 other cyclists going the other way. When the route turned off it went up to climbed this little hill into this wonderful neighborhood. The lots were heavily wooded. What I really loved seeing was how they managed their yards. In Geneiss 2:15, one of my favorite passages, it say God took man and put him in the Garnden of Eden to work it and take care of it. I really got the sense that is what these homeowners were doing was learning what was natural to the land in which they lived. Thay worked it to the true natural beauty that God intended rather then ripping everything native out and laying down a big green lawn. This was a reoccurring theme through out Ann Arbor.

I hit the turn around control at Subway. Ordered a sub, and ate. As I am wrapping up Greig walks in. One of my dark sides that Randonneuring really brings out in me is my lack of confidence in social environments with strangers. Still under the impression I am more of a pest than anything, I am polite but distance, as not to be any more of a bother than I naturally am, or at least that is what I am telling myself. Besides… he was coming in, I was about to head out. I am simply continued to go about my business. As I was finishing up repacking for the return trip, he came out. Nothing really was said, so I simply continued doing my thing.

The info control was about 8 miles into the return trip at the top of a hill. I am of the nature to stop and fill out the info control question right on the spot since the odds are I will forget the info by the next Control! I had another da moment: Man, those tulips would make a pretty picture! So I wiped out the old Sony a6000 and click another shot. As I did so, Greig passed me, he said hi as he rolled passed.

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When I got to the bottom of the hill I ran into Greig checking his cue sheet. While the route was an out-n-back route, there was about 16~17 miles of it in Ann Arbor which was a little loop. We where at the end of that loop and ready to head back on Huron River road, but… We both have the Garmin Edge 820 and it doesn’t do so well on out-n-back routes. It was telling both of us to make another loop. I was not new to this area. This part of the ride was on the first segment of both the 400k and 200k loops of the 600k I rode back in 2014. As I came up on Greig he told me his Garmin wanted him to make another loop. I laughed as I passed and said mine did too, but I wasn’t game. I turned right and headed back.

Well, I was back on this wonderful cycling road, cruising along. It had been a while since I checked to see how far back Greig was, so I was just enjoying the ride when all of a sudden as I climbed this hill a gentleman on a mountain bike and his lady friend on a road bike pass me. I think to myself: That is a GREAT way to get a workout with someone slower, ride my mountain bike! Well, I am a big boy and big boys tend to go down hill very fast, so before I knew it I am passing them again. The yoyo with other cyclists on the road gets under my skin, especially when there are only two groups. I also know that I am not going full steam, so… I turn up the steam! Once I think they got within 15 feet of me, but with each downhill I increased my lead and charged up the next hill fast enough to continue to take more of a lead!

Remember that voice I heard back when Greig initially stopped, “ride your ride”. Well that is what I thought I was doing, lie! By the end of Huron River road I noticed my right thigh was bothering me just a little and I was also burning up! I stopped to adjust my clothing and as I expected Greig passed me. A number of miles later I saw Greig stopped at another turn and I passed him. I got the next control and got what I needed to go inside. As I started to head for the door Greig show up!

As we roll out of the control a few minutes later, my thigh continued to bother me, but not too bad. With only about 27 miles to go I keep riding hard into the 16 mph head wind. But about 17 miles out the thigh changed from a not too bad to bad enough! I opted to stop riding hard into the wind and save my legs for the coming weekends (one Brevet each weekend until Devils Week). With 6 miles to go, I stopped for the final picture of the day. The clouds had really rolled in, in a very dramatic way. As I was stopped Greig passed me again.

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I had been thinking for a while Greig was ahead of me, he had passed me a while back when I made a quick stop to get some food out of my bag. But it turned out he took a wrong turn.

Well, I finally got to the finish as Greig was packing up. As I started to packing my stuff up he came over and very warmly said his good byes and told me it was good riding with me. And I heard this very loving, kind voice say, “Sam, maybe all day long you were wrong about being a pain, rather you might just have actually been a pleasure. Next time have more faith that I (Christ) truly am in you and you are truly in me.”

I learned two very important lessons, one in which I will act on and one I will need to relearn and relearn:

A) I learned I cannot ride 200k and longer rides as hard as I ride a 100~150k ride, or at least not yet. This weekend I am doing a 300k and I am going to try to pace myself better as not to fry my thigh like I did. Today, two days later I am fully recovered and 100%, so we will see.

B) I need to have more faith that Christ IS in me and I AM in him. That I am not, by default, a pain, but am someone folks actually want to hang out with. Living in a culture and loving a sport that really encourages individualism make it all that much harder, which is why it is so important to have a good community around you.

It will be interesting to see what God has in store for me in the 300k this coming weekend and the 400k next weekend. It will be a learning experience that is for sure!

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