Sunday, January 10, 2010

Et c'est reparti pour 2010!

San Diego Randonneurs 200k - January 9, 2010

You don't need to read French to understand that the title means something like "Full steam ahead into 2010." I shunned the more literal translation "Here we go again ..." because the thought of my readers articulating these words made me cringe (and also because of this). And in addition to the implied full steam, the title also had to convey the idea of a restart.

It is a restart, because I had stopped to maintain my conditioning for bike riding since the previous post. It was a busy time, and I have a list of additional more or less easily refutable excuses. But when I read on one of my preferred randonneuring blogs that we randonneurs probably should be concerned about balance (vs. obsession), I decided to convert my excuses into demonstrations of how balanced I am.

Waiting for the sausages and the german potato salad ...

The randonneur apprentice's idea of balance

As a side effect of all those social achievements, the balance (now it's the French word for bathroom scale) showed that I had gained upwards of eight pounds by the beginning of the New Year. This should provide enough sustained energy (insider joke) for many long brevets!

I decided to put the hypothesis to a test on the San Diego 200k "Rainbow" brevet. It's one of my favorites; but because of the long drive down South, I have done it only once before, in 2007. That's when I had met Kelly for the first time - three years ago (search for him here). And rather than trying to explain myself in writing why I like this brevet so much, I urge you to watch *now* Kelly's video production of the event:

Kelly's riding buddies John M. and Joseph (called out in the trailer at the end) did get major screen time; but my point in recommending those videos is that they convey a sense of what is so rewarding about this route. This day made me happy, period!

Compared to the 2007 edition, the modified route picked some even prettier roads with additional climbing for a total of about 7000 ft:

Obviously, the units in the graph are metric again, to demonstrate where I come from. As I wrote last year already, I do like climbing regardless of how slow I am, and I still have hope to improve. Some slightly mischievous compliments from Kelly ("Ahh - Joseph improved on the climbs") at the beginning made me ride harder than I should have; and because I also didn't drink enough, I felt some ugly cramping coming up about an hour before the lunch break. Given my previous experience with riding a 200 after four weeks of pigging out, I wasn't even surprised and readily explained it away to my ride companions as "I wish I hadn't been drinking so much over the holidays." On the other hand, when I chatted with Greg O. (who offered us a wonderfully generous lunch break control - thank you again!) and mentioned with whom I was riding, he said "Oh, but they are riding you into the ground!" I reported the quote immediately to Kelly and John M. in terms of a compliment, with the hidden agenda of making them wait for me on the way back when I couldn't hold their wheels, and to get a free pass when we would paceline into the headwind on the way out to Oceanside.

I understood that Kelly and John M. could have finished easily in less than nine hours without me; but they didn't let me feel it, and we enjoyed all together the pleasant tailwind along the coast to the finish. They let me set the pace on the Torrey Pines climb (up to 6% for about 1.5 miles) so I didn't feel handicapped, and I did my best. We arrived at the finish not far from the 60th percentile, which represented a marked improvement for me personally: the New Year is starting out well!

After some heartwarming socializing at the finish control in the Doyle Community Park, I had a trouble-free 2-hour drive back to Westwood/LA to wife and daughter where something smoothly nourishing waited for me (thanks for the recommendation, John C.!):

For another ride report with many nice pictures, see here.
Jun Sato posted his photos here.


The following day provided another major satisfaction: Fabienne and I saddled up for a most enjoyable 25-mile ride from Marina Del Rey through the Dockweiler State Beach to Hermosa Beach and back:

(from )

Granted, the bike path was occasionally a little crowded, but that was nothing in comparison to the great views and the sunny day with perfect temperatures: as sensitive to low temperatures as I have become over time, even I felt warm in shorts and short sleeves - on a January 10th.