A few months ago I signed Robyn and I up to Randonneurs USA. Kind of on a whim, but really some day hoping to do some really long multi-day rides.
Randonneuring is long-distance unsupported endurance cycling. This style of riding is non-competitive in nature, and self-sufficiency is paramount. When riders participate in randonneuring events, they are part of a long tradition that goes back to the beginning of the sport of cycling in France and Italy. Friendly camaraderie, not competition, is the hallmark of randonneuring.
And then a few weeks ago Peter Nagel friended me on facebook. Peter is a well known rusa member around the Austin area who happens to live in Georgetown too.
Saturday evening Peter fb message me about a ride Sunday morning. Since I was planning a 65 mile ride to Salado anyway I decided instead to meet up with Peter and do my first RUSA ride.
RUSA is an interesting organization somehow affiliated with the international version of the group (ACP) which dates back to 1891.
There is a local chapter in Austin - Hill Country Randonneurs. You can check out the links below.
RUSA events are published routes and since they are unsupported they are very well documented online. I followed the links on the Hill Country Randonneurs site http://www.hillcountryrandonneurs.com/flograngerperm.htm to download the various route sheets, maps, brevet card, etc.
There was also a link to RideWithGPS.com which had great instructions on downloading the route to my Garmin Edge 800.
In the past I have never had great success with turn-by-turn routing with the garmin. RideWithGPS had very specific instructions on how to setup your garmin for bicycle route guidance.
I decided what the heck, I’ll try one more time with garmin. At least I’ll be with Peter if I get lost. I configured the garmin according to the RideWithGPS instructions and downloaded the course to the garmin unit.
Turns out this worked perfectly!
The route started and ended just north of the Berry Creek subdivision meandered through the country side making a loop touching west to Florence and then east to Granger. I’ve ridden most of these roads many times so a lot of the route was very familiar territory.
Arriving at the Berry Creek Food Mart around 6:30 am I nervously waited for others to arrive. It was very overcast and drizzling a little. Sunrise was around 7am and with the overcast it was still pretty dark even just a little before 7am.
Just about 7am Peter comes ridding up on his bike (maybe I should have ridden my Quest to the start?). After introductions and some initial paperwork we start out. I guess other rides like to ride Saturdays instead of Sundays but today worked well for me with my current hectic work schedule.
The RUSA rules have certain safety requirements (lights, helmets, reflective gear, etc.) and certain documentation requirements which help show proof of ride performance. One of these is stopping at specific convenience stores, purchasing something and getting a timestamped receipt. Since one usually has to stop anyway (for the obvious reason) and since one usually buys a cold drink anyway when stopping - the RUSA documentation requirements are pretty much a non-issue.
I did have to carry a zip lock baggie to collect the receipts. The baggie also held my route sheet and brevet card. At one of the first stops I realized that I really should be also carrying a pen so one of my purchases was a bic ball point pen.
I have a cue sheet map container somewhere in the garage. I’ll have to dig through my stuff and get organized better for my next RUSA ride.
It was a long slightly uphill climb out of Georgetown to Florence. My heart rate stayed medium high. I had left my long sleeved shirt on at the start because the temp was about 60 degrees. That was a mistake. As soon as it was convenient I pulled over and removed the long sleeve shirt leaving just a thin short-sleeve tee shirt on.
About 9ish we rolled into Florence. The sun was starting to come out and at the stop I put on some sun screen on my face and arms. Being enclosed in the quest I did not need any sunscreen on my legs.
Here is a good picture as we roll out of Florence heading south on 195.
I had shined up the front of the quest the day before and like the reflections off the front hood.
Saturday I had also installed some new tires on the Quest - FLites. These are 50-406s and inflated to 50 psi. These tires were purchased based up on advice of quite a few others on BROL (bentrideronline.com). The tires are incredible! At 50 psi and 50mm wide they really smooth out ALL chip seal. At times I could see that I was on really bad chip seal but with these tires you can roll along in the quest at 20 mph and not be able to tell anything about the road.
They are a special order item - I highly recommend them.
These tires, combined with some pretty good quartering headwind lead to one of those magical moments in bicycling.
Five miles from Granger The road was chip-seal, but level and with a quartering headwind of 15 mph gusting to 25 mph.
For five miles I just coasted in the Quest. The front quartering headwind pushed the quest forward like a sail boat tacking in the wind. My heart rate dropped to 100 bpm and several time dropped into the 90s bpm. I just soft spun my legs to keep them moving so that I would not cramp later when I would need to start peddling again.
The headwind just pushed me along at 10 to 15 mph without any effort on my part at all!
After twenty minutes of coasting we entered into Granger. It sure is a pretty town.
As the day warmed up Peter makes a comment to me “That helmet looks hot, is it a ski helmet?"
Well no, it is not. Now that you mention it though, it does seem hot. Hmmm, looking at my ride analysis afterwards shows that in the quest leaving Granger, cycling slowly, up the hills, the temperature in the quest was pretty much a constant 97 degrees. I’d loaded my beer growler up (with water) at the beginning of the ride and had been diligent to making sure to drink lots of water throughout the ride. I guess for the rest of the summer I’ll have to wear a different helmet with more ventilation. Maybe I’ll borrow Robyn’s new helmet and give it a try.
Getting from Grange back to Georgetown turned out not to be as much fun. Lots of turns and hills. The turns just happened to be placed to make it impossible to carry the quest momentum and turn the hills into rollers.
Oh well, tough getting back, but what a beautiful, sunny, day!
Peter took a picture of me at the finish:
In all it was a fun, beautiful ride. What a great way to spend a morning.
Thanks Peter for the invite!