Finishing the 2013 Little Egypt 400

 Posted by on October 17, 2017
Oct 172017

It was raining Friday afternoon when I arrived in Marion Illinois, and the rain continued through the night. The 2013 spring in southern Illinois had been wet; wet enough to raise the Mississippi River and its tributaries to flood stage.

Steve Meredith, RUSA #8511, and I started the Little Egyptian 400 km brevet at 06:00 Saturday – in the rain. The first stop was at mile 38 in Dongola, IL. At a Dollar General store Steve purchased a second pair of gloves to wear, while I found another pair of wool blend socks. I had a dry pair of pure wool socks packed deep in my bag, but I wanted to save them for our night riding.

Although the rain had eased by the time we reached the information control in McClure, Steve, riding ahead of me, discovered that the next section of the route was flooded due to Friday night’s rain. A local resident informed him that the area had received perhaps 3” of rain in the past 24 hours, on top of the saturated soil. She told Steve that we could get around the flooded road by riding along the levee. The road proved to be slightly challenging due its coarse gravel surface, but Steve and I navigated our way across the levee to State Highway 3 and on to the next control at Olive Branch. Continue reading »

2017 London-Edinburgh-London

 Posted by on September 14, 2017
Sep 142017

These post LEL days, we have reminisced about our cycling journey. LEL was one of the hardest challenges Steve and I have ever encountered in our life. The journey forced us to push ourselves beyond what we ever thought we could accomplish. The challenges were so much more than purely physical, by testing our mental and emotional strength to the max as well. We went through extreme highs and lows and every feeling in between on this ride. This post only highlights just a few beautiful moments and not so beautiful moments we experienced on our whole journey. A later post will encompass the entire ride in great detail from registration to crossing the finish line, well at the least the sections that are not a blur!

We ascending Yad Moss for the first time as the night sky moved in approximately over 300 miles in to the ride on the start of the second night. The moonlight illuminated the valley below in a way that makes it difficult to explain in words. The colors that were there but not really there because of the darkness and shadows. The way the light creep in and out and around the ever changing curves of the mountain and around the sheep and cattle that were laying down slowly ruminating their previous meal was absolutely mesmerizing. The faint flickering lights were barely visible in the stone homes below. Our pedal strokes made the only sound that disturbed the stillness all around. It felt like we were the only ones moving in a world froze in time until you could just barely make out a faint red taillight disappearing into the distant above.

Climbing out of the Devil’s Beef tub was my second favorite moment. Despite the rain the gorgeous hillside full of sheep could put a smile on anyone’s face. The small streams twisting around and down the hill were straight out of a painting and nothing I ever thought I would experience in life. The rain never lasted long and when it subsided it always ended with a rainbow, sometimes a double rainbow. We meet a few people on the climb up and everyone’s attitude were high knowing we were over halfway finished with the ride.

The third beautiful moment was climbing in and out of the River valley just past Innerleithen. Each hill we climbed the evening sky slowly approached until all you could see where faint flickering taillights of other cyclists zigzagging up into an abyss above. There was no traffic and the only sounds audible were the fly wheels buzz and the occasional moo or ba. In fact, there were no houses and no business, we were riding in some of the sparest populated areas in the UK. On one particular descent, two highland cattle greeted us in the road and at the same time we asked each other, did you see the cattle? Sleep deprivation can lead to hallucinations and we both thought we were hallucinating! Continue reading »

Apr 042017

Recently, I told you a short story about my encounter with a little French boy during my participation in Paris-Brest-Paris 1995. I consider it to be my favorite of all of my experiences of the three PBP events I’ve participated in. Now, I want to tell you about what I think to be the most important. It happened during my first participation of Paris-Brest-Paris in 1991.

I arrived, with my friends, at the start of PBP in St. Quentin En Yvelines about 7:00p.m. Monday night. Our ride did not begin until 10:00 p.m. but we wanted to get there early to see the fastest riders in the 80 hour start. Already, there were hundreds of people along the route wanting to do the same. We had heard it was like the beginning of the Tour De France where the group takes off racing at speeds of 24m.p.h., or more,  through the outskirts of Paris. Their goal is to be the fastest finisher. We were not disappointed.

The ride started immediately at 8:00 p.m. consisting of about seven hundred of the best endurance riders in the world. The gun sounded and the peloton seemed slow to pick up speed. Then, all of a sudden, they took off. They circled around a rondpont, made a right turn, and were off like a rocket. I had never seen riders ride so fast! This was all happening among cheers of “Bonne Route!”, “Bon Chance!”,  “Bon Courage!” and “Allez à Brest!”

In no time they were out of sight.

My friend, Charlie Martin from Berea, Ohio (a PBP ancien) looked at me and wisely said, “You know, our start will be exactly the same.” Continue reading »

Apr 042017

Jill/ Randy,

We have talked about the gracious French people and their kindness. This is especially true for Paris-Brest-Paris. Hundreds of family, friends, and fans line the street at the start of PBP to cheer the riders on to Brest. There are many words of encouragement. You hear a lot of “Bon chance!”, “Bonne route!”, and “Bon courage!” at the start and all along the way. You’ll also hear “Allez Allez!” (Go! Go!).

This is about an incident at Paris-Brest-Paris 1995 concerning my encounter with a little French boy. I had ridden Paris-Brest-Paris in 1991 but I consider this happening my most memorable of the three PBPs I’ve experienced.

Paris-Brest-Paris is a long distance race/tour covering 1200 kilometers (750 miles) in less than 90 hours. It goes from the outskirts of Paris, across the hilly French countryside, to the coastal town of Brest on the Atlantic and back. There are contrôles every 80 to 100 kilometers that you have to check into and have your brevet card stamped. They stamp your time of arrival and initial it to verify you are on the route and following the rules. There are secret contrôles on the route to make sure you aren’t cheating. There are time windows for each contrôle and you must arrive within that window. If you are too early you wait until the contrôle opens. If you are too late, you are disqualified and must find your own way back to Paris. Continue reading »

2017 Gainesville 300

 Posted by on February 4, 2017
Feb 042017

Five AM, sky is probably overcast but at this hour who can tell? RBA Jim Wilson gives his pre-ride instructions, cautions and weak jokes about the weather being unFlorida-like, then sends us off. Predawn Gainesville is quiet and the streets strangely empty for what is normally a traffic-clogged agglomeration of too many cars and motor-scooters. Gainesville Florida is the home of the University of Florida with well over 50,000 students on the main campus. But at this time on Saturday morning the students, staff and faculty have left the streets to a band of 18 cyclists headed towards Georgia for a 195-mile ride. Many of the other riders are from South Carolina, Georgia or North Carolina. I’m the only one from a Northern state, having driven down to escape the weather in Columbus. In February, any rider would welcome the chance to ride all day in 75-degree sunshine. Cruel trick! Somehow the weather patterns reversed themselves. At the start of the ride the temp was 54 degrees; it dropped steadily during the ride to a low in the mid-forties. The sky was indeed overcast – the sun shone for no more than 5 minutes all day. At least the wind was reasonable, barely ten mph westerly. We headed west (of course!) and as the wind shifted to the north, so did the bike route. What was I doing here? Well, in for a dime, in for a dollar so I kept moving. Continue reading »