Sunday, August 8, 2010

Six Years Later, in my Boxer Briefs

Santa Cruz Randonneurs Skyline 200, August 7, 2010

I already told the story here and won't repeat myself. But I want to point out that when I decided to take "bike riding more seriously" and started riding brevets in 2004, the SCR Skyline 200 was my first official brevet ever! The results from that 2004 edition are still available here; they show that I finished in a time of 9 hours 55 minutes - not too shabby given the challenging route, and given that my lungs were still in slow convalescence then.

Six years later, I came back to this route which has remained one of my favorites. I picked the RUSA jersey for the occasion, both to mark the anniversary of my first RUSA brevet, and to honor the RBA couple consisting of RUSA cofounders and past and present RUSA presidents. What would we do without them? In comparison to 2004, the number of participants had doubled, and my RUSA number was now among the lower numbers whereas it was nearly the highest six years ago - so many new faces! The weather forecast was favorable with mostly cool temperatures and no precipitation - a prediction that didn't quite come true during the first two hours, where the moisture in the air came dangerously close to a fine drizzle. But that's Santa Cruz ...

Given my ambitious plan for the next month (stay tuned!), I had to make this brevet into a hard training session, desperately hoping that this will eventually have some beneficial effect on my "engine." I also looked to it that my stops at the controls were not too lengthy - it's all part of the training for bigger events - although I tried not to make it too obvious that I was going for time. After all, brevet riding is non-competitive. And when other riders passed me effortlessly while I was huffing and puffing at close to my (whatever) threshold, and asked me how it was going, I honestly replied that I was enjoying myself. Too bad I don't have pictures from the great views from the Skyline, both east and west; or from the fast ride back south along the coast!

For a while, the friendly Brian S. kept me company, and we negotiated the traditional postcard control in San Gregorio with the infamous question about the color of the Post Office door together (for one, there are two doors, a green and a brown one; and then, some time during the last years, a rider happened upon this control alone and realized that he couldn't answer the question for reasons of color blindness).

By that time, I also noticed that my hard riding had been successful in making my legs tired, but not so successful in getting me earlier to the finish. I still don't know why.

No matter what, I tried to recall how it all felt six years ago, for comparison. I do believe I can enjoy these rides much more now that I don't have to worry about the distance any more, and that the various sources of possible discomfort on the bike have been mostly eliminated or at least greatly reduced. Another difference is that the perceived distance scale has changed: I never look at a stretch of road as "endless" any more ...

And so I arrived at the backyard finish with the satisfaction you get from a good workout. Life was good in the sun, with salty peanuts and a Pepsi (or was it a Coca Cola?). My finishing time was mysteriously a tad slower than six years ago (the route changed slightly and is probably a little longer now; or the wind was even more favorable along the coast in 2004?); but I signed in among the first half of finishers - good enough for me!

Bill (right) conducting an imaginary symphony at the finish

I had parked the car around the corner and decided to change clothes for the drive home. With traffic, it could take an hour, and I would be more comfortable replacing my sweaty clothes (even without washing myself off) by dry ones; in particular my bike shorts with their accumulated reservoir of Lantiseptic by my clean Boxer Briefs:

(Sadly, the legs are not mine. Don't know whom they belong to)

There was no traffic where the car was parked; and so I set myself up discretely on the passenger seat where I had more leg room, with the bag of dry clothes handy on the driver seat, and proceeded to do my exercise in contortionism which you can visualize if you are so inclined. It all went well - I was back in dress shirt (or close) and boxer briefs, and only needed to pull my pants over the legs and I was done. But - there were no pants in the bag! I had prepared my clothes the evening before, while I still had the pants on me - I would add them later. Well, I must have forgotten. What now? No way I would go through all the exercise again to put my Lantiseptic shorts back on!

And so I drove home in Boxer Briefs. Don't tell anybody. The apprenticeship continues.


  1. This is a very good ride report, Joseph--you are a good writer, and a good rider. I had forgotten how this was your first brevet, way back when. When one thinks of all the brevets and grand randonnees you've done since, one can only say, "You have come far, Grasshopper..."

  2. I stay tuned, dear Grasshopper!