Sunday, March 16, 2014

Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe: Choosing an Early Spring Brevet

I did it. I just clicked the “pay now” button for my first brevet of the 2014 season and, boy, did it feel good. While I’ve not ridden nearly as much as I would have liked at this point in the year, I couldn’t be happier that the rubber will finally hit the road on March 29 when I clip in at the start of the MD 200K. I thought something special was in order this year to kick off the season and with the average temperature differential between New England and Maryland hovering around 10F, I’m wagering that it may just be a bit milder (and more pleasant) on this early season brevet if I drive five hours south.

I’ve sampled a range of brevet series over the years, but never I've never ridden in the MD/Capital Region. Beyond the potentially milder weather, I’m also excited to clip in with a different group of randos than I’m typically riding with. There are some familiar names on the roster and it will be exciting to put names to faces as I make the transition from social network acquaintance to real life riding companion.

This brevet also appeals to me because the start is just 15 minutes from my sister-in-law’s house and a nice visit with family before and after the ride should be a whole lot of fun. Who knows, I may even be able to convince my kids to come down with me. Hell, my daughter could even share the driving. Unfortunately, my wife needs to work on Saturday so she won’t be able to join in the excitement.

We had some lovely spring weather yesterday, but I was tied up with a family event all day and today the mercury plunged back down into the low 30s. So much for a full day of base miles! I got out for a nice hilly loop, though, which put some added spring into my legs.  I have a nice ride scheduled with a friend on Tuesday afternoon when temperatures climb back into the 40s. This winter just doesn’t want to let go, but I did pass a stand of maple trees tapped for syrup production. In fact, as I was taking the photo above, the farmer came up to say hi. When I mentioned how pleased I was to see tapped maple trees as they are a sure sign of spring, he immediately told me how glad he was to see me as he associates cyclists with the coming of spring. I guess it's all relative. 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb (We Hope).

Whenever I think of the month of March, the phrase "in like a lion, out like a lamb" enters my mind, often accompanied by memories my mother's voice. Growing up in the Northeast, March has always been a dramatic transitional month between winter and spring. This year, though, the month has not only come in like a lion, it also challenges the imagination to think that anything lamb-like is remotely around the corner. Last week, temperatures hovered in the teens and low-20s after we awakened each day in the single digits. To be honest, with a solid covering of snow and ice in every direction, it feels a lot more like January or February in these parts.

That said, the calendar tells me that in just three weeks I'll be clipping in for my first brevet of the season and while my training is a bit off, I could not be more excited. There are several 200K options on the calendar for me in that last weekend of March and I certainly hope that something more lamb-like than the current weather is in store for all of us who chose to begin the 2014 brevet season this month.

Despite the arctic visuals, during today's morning ride, I enjoyed temperatures in the balmy low-40s and actually felt the warm air fill my lungs with the hope of spring. No longer was I forced to take shallow breaths to avoid the shock of frozen air, and this alone seemed to put a direct and dramatic spring into my legs.

What are your riding plans as winter finally recedes into memory?

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Two Randonneurs Suffer in Hit and Run Accident on 200K Permanent - Please Share.

I write today with a a heavy heart about two fellow randonneurs who were tragically struck while riding a 200K permanent in Maryland last week. To makes matters worse, the assailant abandoned the riders to die on the side of the road at the site of the crash. Fortunately, emergency crews were notified and both riders were taken directly to hospitals for treatment, one by ambulance and the other by helicopter.

The investigating police department was quick to post the notice above on Facebook, which you should read and share if you have not done so already, especially if you live in the Washington DC area. While unlikely to bring the perpetrator to justice, there's always hope that someone out there may be able to connect the dots. Here is a link to a full article in The Washington Post with additional details.

Gauging from the story and from photographs posted online, the accident occurred at what appears to be a fairly common location, a bridge where the road narrows and the shoulder disappears. We've all been there before. There are steps to take, but no manner of reflective gear, lighting, hand signals and "taking the lane" will fully protect you from the negligence of a driver of a two-ton SUV.

This accident certainly stirs memories for me as I recall the long, painful road to recovery after my own particular run-in with a car. In my case, though, I was fortunate that the driver of the car that hit me did not leave the scene and took full responsibility for his actions. As a result, the medical team came to my aid quickly and his auto insurance company delivered on their commitments to my care.

Please join me in sharing the news of this terrible accident and in offering support to the victims and others who suffer from similar tragedies. I hope that our two sisters in randonnering will recover quickly and completely from this terrible crash and that they and their families get the support they need along the way.

Beyond this particular crisis, we all need to engage in whatever it takes to reduce the incidence of vehicular cycling accidents. Ride your bicycle often. Call your representative. Write a letter to your local paper. Riders of bicycles have just as much a right to use our nation's roads as do drivers of automobiles. We will not live in a civilized society until everyone acknowledges this simple fact.