Traditionally, the spring 200k brevet out of Morrisville would mark the kick-off to North Carolina's randonneuring season. There we'd be, shivering in the pre-dawn coolness, a little nervous about the first long ride of the year, but excited to be back on our well worn brevet course, reconnecting with the many friends we'd shared so many miles and memories with. If Al's 200K happened to coincide with a PBP year, the stakes would seem a bit higher, and each successive brevet in the full series would carry great import. We'd live in constant anticipation of the big ride in June, the 600K, the last hurdle to qualifying for Paris. We'd breathe a deep sigh of contentment once we signed that final brevet card. We were in! Call the airlines, book the hotel, Paris, ici nous arrivons.
Those PBP-qualifying jitters are now gone. North Carolina's brevet season is a perpetual plant, running year-round, with a host of events offered by NC RBA Tony Goodnight and an ever growing lists of permanents. Several of us have already completed a full series, riding Tony's winter events, mostly in eastern North Carolina.
Also gone is the long wait to officially register. PBP's quota system and a new preregistration have changed all that. On the day that I rode what would normally be the first event of the year, I was also able to pre-register for PBP 11. Within minutes of signing on to the PBP website, I had a reserved spot and had received e-mails from France and from Mark Thomas, RUSA's brevet coordinator. I'm in.
I was among the many American riders who signed up moments after the ticket window opened. RUSA has a allotment of 719 slots of the total field of 6,000 riders. As of this writing (11 a.m. Eastern time) 80 U.S. riders had preregistered. It looks like there will be plenty of slots available for riders who rode shorter distances in 2010. I've talked to several local riders who simply don't want to spend the money it takes to go to France. Instead, they'll travel to one of several alternative 1200Ks being held this year in the U.S., including events in Texas, Colorado and Alaska.
Yesterday's ride was more of a training ride than a qualifier. I was delighted to fall back on one tradition -- riding with friends Wes and JoeRay as we pushed a rich pace. I was wary of the forecast -- west winds building to 30 mph in the afternoon. Al's 200K is an out-and-back that primarily heads west to Siler City before retracing its steps. If we could get to the turnaround before the winds really kicked up, we'd avoid most of the painful headwinds and have a nice push home. And that strategy paid off with a much faster return trip. I rode with Joe and Wes and Chris B, a racer from North Raleigh who eventually rode away from us. Annette joined us in Snow Camp (after waiting a full 15 seconds for her own Chris). Annette was in exceptional form and played the taskmaster on the final 45 miles, cajoling us to look sharp! no loafing! No amount of cajoling could save me from the leg cramps that hit 10 miles from the end. I fell off the back and loafed it home at an easy pace.
Thanks to Al and all for another great day on the bikes.
Up next: a mountainous fleche ride and another 300K.
A few shots from yesterday:
|Annette's Chris -- see ya at the finish line...|
|Peace, Love & Ian...|
|Joe Ray / HDR double exposure|