Saturday, March 1, 2008

Brother Rich Quits The Club

Here’s a post I never thought I’d be making: My buddy Rich is out of the competition. He's no longer in the Century A Month Club.

For the first time in seven years, he has let a month slip by without doing a century. He missed February.

And so the mantle, and the burden, has passed to me.

Rich is one of the guys who got me into randonneuring. The story: as a new year’s resolution in 2002, I decided I’d do a century a year. I looked up rides online a found a century rolling out the door on January 8th or so. I decided I might as well knock it out early.

The day of the century was cold as hell. It had snowed a few days before and there were still traces of snow in the shaded ditches. I should have been suspicious of any riders that would show up for that event. As it turned out there were six of us. Most of the guys were randonneurs. Who else? Honestly, I’d never heard of randonneuring, I’d never heard of Paris Brest Paris. I thought it was foolhardy to attempt 200 miles in a day.

Here’s the picture from that day. Rich is holding a winning lotto ticket. The ride was called the Lotto Century. At the time, North Carolina did not have a lottery, so we rode up to Virginia to buy em.

On the way back, Rich asked me why I was along for that ride. I told him about my resolution to do a century a year.

“A century a year?” he said. “You’re supposed to do one a month.”

Rich already had 12 months in a row at that point. I thought he was a damned fool. But guess what? That Lotto Century turned out to be #1 in a streak that is now 74 months long. I guess Rich knew a kindred spirit when he saw one.

There have been others who joined the Century A Month Club for brief periods. JoeRay, Danno. But Rich and I were the only ones crazy enough to keep it up.

Until now. I never thought I’d catch Rich. He had a full year on me. But the fact is that I’ve watched his priorities change in the past year. He has the Appalachian Trail in his sights, and his bicycle training is now secondary.

I’ve enjoyed calling him up or emailing when I got a century early in the month, just to say “Got Mine.” One of my favorite cell phone calls was the traditional one I made to Rich on the Blackbeard Permanent, my annual ride to the beach. Since I’d leave out of the house at 2 or so in the morning, I’d hit the century mark at about 8 in the morning. I always made a point of pulling over and ringing Rich up. Ideally, I'd wake him.

I told Rich it was a sad day when he dropped out of the competition. I took no joy in it. It won’t be as much fun without the rivalry.

But I’m in it for the long haul. Or at least 12 more months, when I’ll pass his record of 85 months in a row. Of course, once I get there, I’ll be so close to 100 months that….you know….

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