Category Archives: Randonneuring

Three uses of a shirt

A MAN ON THE PORCH was giving me the staredown. The Cornwall County Market makes great breakfast burritos with tater tots in them and I remembered (incorrectly, it turned out) that it had an ATM. The staring man was older than me by maybe five years, and presented as tough guy, beefy biker subtype, with a tuft of white goat beard, a black shirt with some design on it or other, and a baseball cap. I recall something on his head, anyway; I think it was a baseball cap. But I don’t know what the cap or the shirt said, because where I was looking, as I came up the steps onto the porch, was straight back into his eyes, So they’re the main thing in my memory.

Part of avoiding conflict is breaking eye contact — not just so the other person won’t escalate, but so I won’t. In adulthood, I’ve expended some energy unlearning this habit. So I looked back at him and went in the store.

Then just as part of my brain was asking, “What’s with that guy?” another part shot over the answer: “You’re wearing your Women’s March t-shirt.”

I was pretty scruffy myself that afternoon; I’d ridden the Batsto 200K on totally the wrong bike the day before, and I was sunburned and favoring my left knee. My own beard was an island of darker gray stubble a little longer than the lighter gray stubble on the rest of my face. Old jeans and black t-shirt. If not for what the shirt said, I could have passed for one of the staring man’s people.

But it’s those teeny differences that are the real betrayals. When your own people turn on you, that stings more than the Other doing it. I had just pulled in to get cash, but now with the ding of a magic wand, I was in enemy territory.

I realized, even at the moment, that I really wasn’t. I’ve been in enemy territory, and this wasn’t it; this was just some bigoted asshole sitting with a sandwich, marking my passage. But you never know who else is on an asshole’s side; this was rural Connecticut, not Stamford, and in an instant, I’d become aware I was a limping Jew in a Women’s March shirt.

The kid at the counter told me there was no ATM, but there was a bank over there. So I limped back out (not badly, just some stiffening up during the hour’s drive) and drove over there for some money because last year, the Tri State Mini Maker Faire — where I was headed — had a booth with Mexican food made by Mexicans. For an Angeleno in the land of Irish Catholics, this is a kind of a big deal, and I didn’t recall that they took debit cards.

I don’t feel a need to retell, here, at length, the whole story of my family being terrorized by white supremacists when I was a kid — crosses burned into the lawn, swastikas on the house, my mom crouching under the mail slot with a kitchen knife, the house broken into, me staying up at night to take shifts on guard — but chances are good you don’t see that bigoted asshole on the porch the same way I do. You might even want to teach me that I can’t possibly know he’s a bigoted asshole.

That’s Use of a Shirt #1.

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My friend Kelly didn’t run the Mini Maker Faire this year, but I still wanted to support it, since it’s awesome. The blacksmith was out front again, guiding more kids in the forging of iron coathooks, and this year there was a crepe stand in the building lobby.

“I like your shirt,” said the woman spreading batter on a couple of crepe griddles with one of those crepe rakes that looks like a kid’s wooden propellor toy. “Is that from the Hartford march?”

“No, DC,” I said. “The big one, in 2016. I mean 2017. That January, after—”

I don’t remember the rest of the conversation, and I still had brevet brain, so putting together sentences good was somewhat beyond me, but No longer in enemy territory, my body reported. Thought you’d like to know. Releasing tension now.

Already knew that, my brain retorted, but the body has its own defense readiness system and doesn’t care what the brain knows.

That’s Use of a Shirt #2.

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The family from Avocado Cafe was in the parking lot near the Physics Bus again with burritos, guacamole, and hot sauce corresponding to the three standard degrees of the Connecticut hot sauce scale. Reminder to Angeleno: Keep some actual hot sauce in the glove box. It was still good guacamole, though.

This is not a Use of a Shirt; it’s a plug for Avocado Cafe in Millerton. I was not paid for this endorsement.

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We were driving back from dropping some kids with their mom after the Faire when we saw a twentysomething guy on the side of the road with his car doors open and a couple of big black manicured poodles lolloping around on the highway. That is to say, I glanced, barely noticed, and would have kept going because nothing seemed wrong to me, but Kelly, being a devout and diligent asker-if-people-are-all-right, slowed, so I rolled down my window and rose to her example.

The guy had black hair and black scruff, red sneakers, and the kind of kippah you wear all the time, not the kind you take out of a box at the front door of the synagogue. “I’m trying to help these dogs,” he said. He’d seen them out on the highway, where they clearly shouldn’t be, and he’d called the number on their tags, but it didn’t work.

She pulled forward and around, and we got out. “When you say it didn’t work—” I said, “Like—”

“Like there’s — like nothing.” He dialed again. “Like it — Oh — ” This time there was a connection. But it was a recorded message saying the call could not be completed.

There was also an address on the tags, but while the dogs were happy about the yogurt container he’d put down for them, there’d been no leap from dogs happy about yogurt to dogs getting into his car so he could take them home.

Kelly opened the back of her car and started talking to the dogs in a calm and friendly way, and I got the sense that where I was standing, just off the rear fender, was making the open hatchback less friendly, so I moved away, and after some more talking to them, patting the car interior, and putting the yogurt in there, she asked one of the dogs if it was OK for her to pick it up and then did so, setting it in the car, and then the other one jumped in.

While Jonathan followed us in his car to the address on the tags, about four miles away by highway, she said she could tell the dogs were used to women. For their part, the dogs just stood with their faces poking forward between us and watched the car ride until we got close to the address, and then they got excited and we got confused, because it was a closed skiing-goods store.

Within a few minutes, though, Jonathan had found a neighbor who knew the dogs and their owner, who was the owner of the store and had recently moved to a new home. I found her on Facebook and messaged her my number, and though she didn’t answer, cops and an animal control guy in a white pickup became involved, and it was clear things were fine.

During a brief lull while we waited for other people, Jonathan told me he’d been on the way to a social justice seder — and then there was the awkward moment where you say a word and don’t know if the other person knows what it means, so you’re like, Um, do you— but I smiled a little and he said “Member of the tribe?” and I said “Yeah,” and we both knew exactly what the awkwardness had been. His decision to stop had been based on a judgment: Social justice is good, but there are these two dogs right here. So he missed his seder to help them. I told him that was mitzvahs for like a month, plus now he could do something bad.

On our way to pick up Indian food from Great Barrington, Kelly told me again that she could tell those dogs were used to women, and had no use for men, something I could never have discerned. I told her I saw Jonathan look at my shirt when I got out of the car, and it might have made him more comfortable about the random strangers that chance had delivered to him on a rural highway.

That’s not Use of a Shirt #3. It’s still Use #2: Identifying Friendlies.

That morning, the shirt had been the next clean one on the stack in my dresser. Use of a Shirt #3 is it’s a shirt.

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Filed under Favorite, Judaism, Randonneuring, Religion, Semiotics, sexism

Pedaling on a night highway

When you’re on a rural highway late at night or in the morning after midnight, often there are no streetlamps, so all you can see is what’s in the unevenly illuminated wedge of your bike headlight, which, if it’s a generator light (mine is), gets brighter when you’re descending and dims on the climbs. The beam mostly illuminates the road immediately in front of you, and shades down to grays and beiges after that, and beyond that is black, with the occasional bright distant dot of a reflective highway sign.
 
In the few inches right in front of your headlight, rain is a scattered jumble of bright slivers. If your headlight isn’t at its brightest, the slivers will have dark dashes on them as each drop passes through a beam blinking on and off too fast to be seen when there are no raindrops. That’s how modern bike headlights “dim”; they don’t actually get dimmer like old incandescents; they just don’t illuminate as often. If you have a battery-powered light, the lengths of the dark dashes on the bright slivers change as you click to different brightness settings.
 
In heavy fog or mist, there are many more bright slivers, smaller, and a short bright cone of haze, and then the beam brushes the top of your front tire, and then the road, with the shadow from that tire, and then there are shadows and refractions from the water on the headlight lens, the dark wiggly snakes of road patches, and the glitter, which is sometimes glass or wire or other puncturing crap and sometimes the chip part of chipseal paving.
 
If you can see your own shadow, and there are no streetlamps, that means the first car in a while has just crested a rise or turned onto the highway some ways behind you. Your shadow will gradually get larger, and gain density and sharpness, and move to your right as the car approaches in the lane to your left. The road surface will become better illuminated, and pebbles and other junk outside your little beam will stand out against the relief of their own shadows; if you’re experienced at this, you’ll take the opportunity to look farther ahead for potholes or puddles.
 
All the shadows—yours, the bike’s, the gravel’s, the beer bottle’s—move together, their size changing and rotation accelerating as the car approaches. By now, you can hear the hiss and swish of the car tires and its displacement of the air. Maybe its engine, too, but that won’t necessarily become primary at any point.
 
A few seconds before the shadows all rotate to three o’clock and vanish, on a forested highway that curves left, you will see your giant shadow on the trees in front of you: You, your helmet, the true shape of your body, your bike. You, pedaling, 10′ tall, then 20′, on gray-green trees. The perspective rotates slightly as the car closes the distance, as though the 40′ cyclist’s labor exists on a turntable, and the dark giant and his 50′ bike and pedaling legs slide sideways to the right, along the trees, and vanish.
 
Red taillights pass you, but what you’re watching is what the car’s headlights can tell you about the road ahead, until the road curves or crests, and then the headlights aren’t telling you anything, but the taillights are still red dots, which vanish soon enough too, and you’re listening to rain patter on leaves, the wet whir of your tires, some rhythmic mechanical noise you’ve been occupying yourself trying to identify, and if you’re lucky, the gorgeous echoes of a wood thrush.

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Filed under bicycles, Bicycling, Bikes, Favorite, Randonneuring

2017 rando creed

My marriage finished going to hell in 2013. In 2016, I finally got back to the only sport I’ve ever loved, randonneuring, and came close to completing an SR series (a 200K, 300K, 400K, and 600K brevet in a calendar year), but when I realized there was no way to finish the 600K within the time limit, I ended it a hundred kilometers short.

This is my second try since 2014 marital separation. The 2016 election results laid me out right when I naturally start losing weight and building quads, in November, so I’m a little unmoored and flabby about this year’s endeavor, but today I decided what I want.

Between May and August, I will:

  • Prepare as best I can, given the limits of my schedule and my mental and physical conditions, and then ride as though I came to have fun.
  • Be the least forgiving observer of my arrival times.
  • Return under my own power if I DNF, unless prevented by mechanical failure or rigid calendar.
  • Continue an R-12, regardless of how I feel about my performance during the season.
  • Spend less time on randonneuring than on my children and the rent; moderately more than on my novel; and way more than on household upkeep. The children can eat water chestnuts and dress themselves out of the hamper.
  • Plan a midseason intermission of normal recreational cycling and picking up dropped balls, so that September doesn’t deliver as overwhelming an avalanche of deferred responsibility as it did last year.
  • Print this out and put it in my map holder and above the refrigerator, because this is all the kind of stuff you conveniently can’t quite remember when you need to.

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There’s been a line of empty sake bottles above the kitchen sink with 100K200K, 300K, and 400K written on them since last year. The 600K bottle is still in the fridge door.

So I’ll try not to have too much riding on this, and we’ll see.

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There’s always another hill

I NOTICED I WAS losing my voice around mile 75 or so, which I noticed because I was saying things like:

“T-left Millbrook.

“T-left Millbrook.

“T-left Millbrook.

“T-left.

“T-left Millbrook.

“Anyone can T-left Millbrook.

“T-left Millbrook.

“There’s a left. Are you a T-left?

“Are you Millbrook? I hope you’re Millbrook…

“Millbrook. T-left.

“Left Birch Ridge Road, Hardwick on right.

“Left Birch Ridge Road…”

This was a 208-mile, 21-hour ride, including twelve climbs that Strava wants to call category-4 and several platoons of regular old stabby little vindictive hills. Now, if you’re not a randonneur, you may be thinking wow, that’s a ride, THIS GUY IS INSANE! Which is a reaction we cherish, since we’re nuts–but if you are a randonneur, you’re thinking, Wasn’t this a 300-kilometer brevet? That’s 186 miles, not 208. And don’t you only get 20 hours for a 300K, not 21?

Correct!

Here, finally, is incontrovertible evidence that chanting “T-left Millbrook” until you lose your voice is not a viable GPS strategy:

GPS track of me riding the Princeton 300K

That’s me riding this course. (Strava geeks: the whole thing’s here.) The yellow parts are “bonus miles.” That means I strayed off the course and had to find my way back–not just to the course, but to the same point where I left it. That’s brevet rules: You must ride the entire course. You may ride as many bonus miles as you want–if you know a restaurant a block off-route, for example, you may decide to eat there–but you may not skip a millimeter of the route. So when you see this:

202 detour

which does not return along the same path by which it departed, it means I stood in a gas station at 11:30pm, did simple math several times to make sure I wasn’t screwing it up, concluded that I’d have to travel at twice my maximum speed for 30 minutes, and called in and let them know I’d be rolling in well after the cutoff. And then I just effin’ well took 202 to Summer Road, because (1) my iPhone wouldn’t show me the way back onto the course, and (2) I rode back along the wrong turn and couldn’t find it. But I was about to be over the time limit anyway, and no help for it, so there wasn’t a self-serving dilemma to wrestle with. As much.

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So about iPhones.

A sidebar which you should skip
if you’re not a randonneur

Google Maps often doesn’t use the same names for roads as cue sheets do. There are three ways it can vary:

  1. The cue sheet uses the official County Road or Route number, but Google Maps shows what that segment of it is named locally–so it won’t find “Rt 719,” and you don’t know you should be searching for “Climbsbury Switchback.”
  2. The opposite of that: The cue sheet says, “Pothole Way B/C Broken Spine Plummet.” B/C means becomes. The cue sheet is telling you to be alert for the name change. This is very considerate of it. Too bad, though, because Google Maps is waiting for you to type in “County Road 4857B.”
  3. The road changes names along its length, sometimes in many places. Google Maps is absolutely certain this one particular name changes in this one very precise place, and you’re not there yet, but the road sign you’re looking at believes you are. So Google Maps refuses to find the intersection, and you can’t out-stubborn a road sign. This cue sheet was created by either:
    1. Somebody who relied on Google maps instead of riding the entire route and reading every street sign, or:
    2. Somebody who knows the area intimately and uses the colloquial name for the road, which is technically correct only at its other end. You know, the town end, where everybody lives. Neither Google nor the road sign knows that only the last twelve yards of Busted Rusted Mill Road is called Turkey Bladder Hwy S, way out where where it has that little curve and ends at Flung Phone Junction. Oh, right–that little bit by the abandoned lot where the nickel Coke machine used to be–yeah, funny story about that Coke machine, but anyway, nobody calls it that.
       
      Except, you know, every GPS in the world.

Google Maps also doesn’t work well on brevets in areas without Internet access, and only today did I understand why other GPS apps would work better. Any of them will put a blue dot on the screen to show where you are, but without Internet access, Google Maps can’t draw a map behind the dot. It has to get its maps over the Internet. Other apps cache the maps in advance. After some advice from my friend Bill, I’m playing with Motion-X.

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MY OFFICIAL RESULT: Did Not Finish. DNF.

I wasn’t afraid of not finishing, though. I was afraid of not being able to.

The numbers say I was able to. The 22 bonus miles would have taken me about two hours at the end. I came in one hour overlimit.

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I BOUGHT MY Trek 1000SL in 2007, when I had two-year-old twins and the sleep deprivation was still bad enough that I couldn’t think about bikes or parts or tires. And I didn’t know much about them anyway. I had a hybrid bike. I did my first century on it. I thought I should probably get a road bike and see if it was better, like everyone said. BICYCLING magazine said the 1000SL was their pick for best entry-level road bike. That was all the information I could process. The bike shop didn’t have Midnight Blue in my size, so I bought Flame Duotone for, I think, $700.

This is the only road bike I’ve ever owned as an adult, and the only bike I’ve ever ridden a brevet on.

It’s not suited to brevets, but…“suited to?” It’s a bike, right? So isn’t it suited to whatever I want to do on a bike? We’re oversold on the idea–mostly I think we oversell ourselves on the idea–that we cannot do X without Bike Type X, or Y without Bike Type Y. Racing? You need carbon. Touring? You need steel. Expensive steel. Expensive carbon.

It’s a bike. Your legs make it go. If you can balance, you don’t fall down.

That being said…

It’s started falling apart. Things aren’t just at the “things break” stage. They’re entering the “things keep breaking” stage. And if you add that up…well, I’m slowly building a new one, as I can afford parts, and that one will be more suited.

But this is the one that let me start randonneuring, back when I didn’t know what randonneuring was, and let me keep randonneuring once I knew. And yes, it’s Monday, and I still have numb fingertips and toe tips from Saturday, and my butt is still too tender to place on another saddle today, and that is related to what bike it is. So the new build–parts sale by parts sale, as money trickles in–will have 44mm tires and low-trail geometry and front bag instead of saddlebag, and all that. You get obsessed with a specialized activity and you find out what’s better for you–and not even necessarily more expensive. So you end up with things more suited.

Still a bike, though. Just a bike. You push with your legs, it goes. Beautiful lugged steel and internal wire routing would not have minimized my bonus miles, and neither would Zipp wheels and aero bidons.

A generator light might have, though, since I was on low beam in pulse mode because I didn’t bring my headlight charger like I thought I had (the Garmin charger looks the same), and didn’t know how much battery time was left. And so might a front bag instead of a saddlebag, with the map case you can flip a cue sheet over in without stopping, the food you can reach without stopping, the phone you can reach without slowing in the dark so you don’t crash while fishing for it. And a frame that wider tires can fit into might mean that on longer rides, the orchestra of saddle sores doesn’t start tuning up until mile 250 instead of mile 175.

Bring on the parts sales, man.

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“YOU RIDING IN or pedaling in?” The voice came from the car that slowed beside me. Five miles from the end. Seven miles an hour. Almost one AM.

I gingerly peeled my butt off the saddle and stopped so I could answer.

“Okay, see you at the end,” he said, and left. His brake lights flared after the next light. I didn’t turn. Not turning was correct navigation. He drove on.

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THIS IS the deep part, which I thought would be the longest part, but is the shortest part.

I sold the first novel I wrote, and then sold every other novel I finished and tried to sell. I wrote all my term papers the night before, and got good grades. I never played team sports.

Brevets taught me how to fail.

I love randonneuring.

wing_96W

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Filed under Bicycling, Bikes, Favorite, Randonneuring

Sus—

Like most of us who are not dead yet, I have weaknesses and strengths. I’m bad at paperwork, for example, and dumbstruck by the jargons of medical insurance and school bureaucracy—which are their purposes, I’m pretty sure—but there are things I’m good at. Sloth and gluttony are particular talents.

Saturday, May 17, at 4:00am, the Princeton 300K began.

Annotated elevation profile, showing  mileage and target times to milestones

If I DNF, it won’t be for lack of fussiness.

I made that to print and take along with me. You can click and make it bigger. The rows of numbers across the top are hours. At top is a 20-hour ride, and if you trace your finger down from any number, that’s where I need to be at each hour to finish in 20 hours. Because the route is so hilly, the even spacing of the numbers isn’t really accurate—during some periods, I’ll be crawling up a hill at 3mph; during some much briefer periods, I’ll be descending at 40—but that’s the general overlay of a successful finish that uses every minute of the allotted 20 hours.

It also gives me a “reverse lookup” of the same information: Whenever I get to a certain place, I can look above it and see which finishing time I’m on pace for: 20 hours, 19 hours, 18 hours, 17 hours.

20 will be just fine with me.

***

With sloth and gluttony as my main strengths, and catching every single flippin’ school illness running a close third, conservation of talent dictates that edujargon and hill-climbing must remain weaknesses. We can’t all be good at everything.

I DNF’d on this ride in 2010.

***

This blog entry will go live at 9:08am on Saturday. That’s when controle 3 closes. (The red squares are controles.) At that point, if nothing’s gone wrong, I’ll have been hauling five pounds of rice cakes around New Jersey for five hours.

I’ll try to tweet my arrival time at each controle here. Hopefully when you click that, it’ll say something like CTRL 3 1307. Because if it says CTRL 3 1309, I’m already out of the game.

***

I hope the new chain catcher works.

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Breezy!

“DON’T WORRY about it. I can be the controle goy.”

Hopefully I didn’t sound flippant. It actually tickled me to do. Because it wasn’t kosher, he couldn’t buy anything to get the receipt.

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“IT’S NICE TO see you finish with some comfortable time.”

I finished in 10:39. This is only three minutes longer than the fastest 200K I’ve ever done, which was in Malibu and didn’t have headwinds, but did have a folding bike with concrete commuting tires and a wacky rear hub.

“What do you think made the difference?”

I said, “I’ve been doing a lot of commuting,” but on reflection, I think it’s more that this year, I know I can probably afford to take another shot if I DNF, so I can push harder and risk wearing myself out early.

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“YOU DID THIS one your first year.”

That was the most shocking thing all day: Someone knew that? And:

“I saw a rider going past _______ Road and I thought, that looks like Keith.”

It was! But I realized it half a block later and turned around. I think I went off-course three or four times, but my total bonus miles were less than one.

People pay attention when you don’t know they’re doing it. Weird. I always think I’m fated to fly solo.

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“NICHOLAS AND ZACHARY SAY MOOOOOOOO!”

The cows do not respond.
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Ziploc bag duct-taped to handlebars

High-tech map case

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A 30° TEMPERATURE range: 49° in the morning, 79° in the afternoon. I own two pairs of bike shoes: Clipless winter boots and clipless sandals. No normal ones, just those.

I dithered for a week. Then I brought sandals and Sealskinz socks. They were perfect. And I remembered to spray my feet with sunblock in the parking lot where the Sealskinz finally got peeled off. They were the last winterizing layer to go. Jacket, skullcap, glove liners, neck gaiter—a spring brevet is a six-hour striptease and then sunburn.

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I WASN’T lanterne rouge.

I wasn’t lanterne rouge.

Don’t get cocky, kid. Princeton’s coming up. You DNF’d at Schooley Mountain last time. It’s 300K of hills.

Humility: Reinstalled.

(Wasn’t lanterne rouge.)

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I LIKE MY tires. Schwalbe Durano Plus don’t have quite the buttery road feel of Schwalbe’s pure racing tires, but they’re more puncture-resistant, and, say…85% butterfat.

I learned in 2012, on this very brevet, that when the voice asks politely if you think you ought to change your tires yet, “Nah, still some life in them” is the wrong answer. The voice is itself the answer. If it’s saying anything at all, they’re already time bombs.

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SELF-RESPECT TIPS its hat. Nod back but don’t stop pedaling. You’re not done. Eat on the bike, drink on the bike, bask on the bike.

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I SPENT CONSIDERABLE time on this brevet trying out different ways of saying, “Breezy!”

(There were 30mph headwinds all the way down the Jersey shore.)

The delivery that works best is the one that sounds like I’m very pleased. But nobody understood it. Doesn’t matter, that was the one.

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MILE 105 OF 126, I’m sitting on grass, waiting for a bonk and caffeine headache to stabilize. I have three hours in the bank and a spring-lever tea ball in three inches of water in a bidon. I don’t actually call them bidons. I call them water bottles. I make a point of enjoying the scenery. I respect the moment and pay attention. I really see. Now I don’t remember anything. I think there was a fence.

Three hours in the bank minus ten minutes sitting on grass equals this was not my best 200K finishing time ever, but was instead 3 minutes over.

I bought a bike food cookbook after I got back.

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“YOUR SHORTS ARE ripped all up the back,” said a guy in the paceline that came up behind me at a stop. His voice was raised. The headwinds were punching us all right in the kisser.

“They are? Here?”

“Yeah.”

“The funny thing is, I wore these because my other ones had a hole in them. THERE IS NO ESCAPING DESTINY!”

I got a laugh.

“Breezy!” didn’t play, though. Everyone is wrong about this. It is the proper delivery.

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Arrivée

Arrivée

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“THERE’S A 6:40 train.”

“You know how to get there?”

“I do.”

I put my helmet back on. “Let’s go.”

So we sprinted for the station. Well, I sprinted. From the outside, it probably looked like I was drafting.

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“HAVE YOU recovered?” (Two days later.)

“Besides the achy quads and intermittently firing brain cells? TOTALLY.”

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AND NUMB PINKY finger and toes, and bruised hands. I’m going to miss this bike for all the best reasons, but the new one’s going to fit.

 

wing_96W

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Filed under Bicycling, Bikes, Randonneuring, Senseless acts of beauty

Lately I’ve gotten interested in my Strava heatmap. The randonneuring doesn’t show up on it much–I can see Patrick’s Queens-Montauk route, and little pieces of George’s up in the Hudson Valley, and the entirety of the Shore By Night, and I’m proud of those–but I didn’t get the Garmin until recently, and I didn’t use the iPhone much on brevets because it always died halfway through.

What I like is my tracks all over the grid of Manhattan, and the vectors radiating from it in all directions–East into Brooklyn and Queens, Northeast into Westchester, Northwest and Southwest into New Jersey. I’m a New Yorker, and I know these streets the way only a cyclist knows them. My legs drove every revolution of every wheel. I dodged all the cabs and potholes. It was me and the street and the bike in downpours, blizzards, blasting heat and perfect breeze. I did the uphills, I did the downhills, I dodged the trucks and stole interference from buses and deked around jaywalkers, and I fixed it or walked when it broke, or I broke it, or a mechanic broke it in a way that took 30 minutes or 3 days to show up. I leaned it against delis, I hit bad joints on bridges, I dropped roadies, I got dropped by guys with butts fatter than I accept that mine could possibly be.

“This is my city” is a nonsensical, gritty line written by writers who need another edit, but fuck yeah, this is my city. I laid the streets, I built the bridges, I mapped it. I rode it. This is my city. Whatever yours is, is yours. This one’s mine.

Keith’s Strava Heatmap

my_city

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April 1, 2014 · 10:06 pm