Friday, July 20, 2007

Red lines and monkey butts

I couldn't help wondering from time to time, while struggling though the Portland to Glacier 1000k, why wasn't I doing something else? Various fun things came to mind like wind surfing, hang gliding, hiking with my Golden Retrievers, mountain biking, whatever.

It was a hard ride especially since the expected tail winds from the west did not materialize. If there was any wind, it was just a breeze from the east. And there were hills and more hills after that. Except for about 70 miles of paved trail, it was a hilly route. I guess we need to discuss the proper identification and description of rollers versus hills. There were a few miles of rollers, maybe 30 total roller miles. The rest was hills. HILLS dam it, endless friggen hills!

I was not the only one wondering why my vacation would be most everyone else’s worst nightmare. In fact, several riders claimed the PTG1000k as their farewell ride to randonneuring. There was pain and suffering and dehydration and sickness, locust, gravel and endless green wheat fields. Those damned hills climbing forever though green wheat fields!

I've done seven rides 1000k or longer and every ride was really hard. The SIR Cascade 1000k was my hardest personal challenge ever. Now that it is over, I remember it was a great experience. Every ride has been just like that. It feels great once it is over but not so much as the road wear builds during the ride. It isn't just the sense of accomplishment that makes good memories. I’ll always remember Jon Beilby's stories about white whales and monkey butts.

Everyone has reasons for randonneuring and I really had a hard time thinking of what mine were for some really long, lonely hours and Montana length miles. So now, a few weeks later, the best part looking back, is meeting fellow randonneurs and riding together for a while, sharing the route, the time, space, suffering, stories and tall tales. Sharing a significant challenge and working through it creates a sense of kinship and lasting memories like nothing else can.

Update: Jon Beilby has some memories over at Pass Hunting.

Late Night Music Club with The Pretenders