Earlier this year during the winter when the thought of “spring-time” riding seem relatively sublime, I made the decision to give randonneuring a try. Luckily, the Boston Brevet Series is local, so I signed up. Saturday was the first event of the year, the 107K Populaire. I watched throughout the week as the forecast for Saturday got progressively worse. On waking Saturday at 6 or so, it was pouring and miserable; this was going to be a wet day on the bike (thank goodness for my new and improved fenders). Things were still looking pretty rotten even as I arrived at the parking lot in Bedford, MA, and everyone seemed to express silent acknowledgement of this reality by staying in their cars for as long possible before the ride began.
By some stroke of luck, the weather turned around just at the right time. About 20 or so riders finally appeared. Everyone was thrilled to get started with the first event of the season despite the raw conditions. Just as the organizer Tracy Ingle concluded her ride explanation, the rain slowed to a light drizzle and it almost started to feel nice outside.
We rolled out promptly at 8AM heading for the turn-around in Sterling MA. I joined a group of riders moving quickly along as we pedaled over the first decent hill into Lincoln. Several miles down the road, the group broke up a bit as a few of us stopped to flip cue sheets and take a drink. We then worked our way over some long and steep hills through some orchards and farms in Bolton. We arrived shortly thereafter at the checkpoint in Sterling where a nice spread of goodies awaited us. The sun was starting to come out and the air was getting a little warmer. I happily shed a few layers and enjoyed a sesame bagel covered with peanut butter and Nutella, delicious.
No sooner had I finished the last bite of the bagel, than did a few of my companions from earlier start buzzing about heading out. About five of us grouped up for the ride back. I’ll stop and talk about bikes here. The variety of bikes present, something I had been curious about, was pretty wide - a few minimalist roadies, some touring bikes, a 3-speed, some classic-style randonneur rigs, and a handful of fixed-gears. Excellent, I thought, riding fixed (46x17) wasn’t going to cause a stir in this crowd (no silly remarks like, "it must be hard going up hill on that..."), and it didn't at all. So, the little group I joined was zooming along and I was definitely not up to spinning the cranks fast enough for that pace... it was fast. Whatever, it’s not a race. I was happy to ease off considerably and take my sweet time enjoying the sunny morning and scenery. The last 30 miles flew by. Eventually, another rider and I made our way up the last little hill before the final turn. We agreed that it turned out to be a terrific ride.
People were milling around a bit after the ride chatting about this ride, other rides, bikes, but most of all about food. Cyclists like food, a lot. Talking about food is almost as good as eating it. Everyone seemed to have a food philosophy. I personally like Dunkin Donuts breakfast sandwiches – lots of calories, delicious, and readily available everywhere around here (but I didn’t stop for one this day). Everyone shared their food favorites. At any rate, it was nice conclusion to a good of day riding, and I look forward to coming back for the 200K in May.