I've made a goal for myself for 2010 to earn the R-12 award. What is an R-12 you ask? RUSA (the governing body for randonneuring in the US) defines it thusly:
The R-12 Award is earned by riding a 200km (or longer) randonneuring event in each of 12 consecutive months. The counting sequence can commence during any month of the year but must continue uninterrupted for another 11 months.Organized randonneuring events are most commonly called "brevets". Again, the RUSA definition:
This is a French word for which we have no direct translation for its cycling usage. In general, it means a "patent", "certificate", or "diploma". For the randonneur, the randonnée they have entered is often called a "brevet". This is typically a challenging 200, 300, 400, 600, 1000 or 1200 kilometer ride, each with a specific time limit. The randonneur carries a brevet card, which is signed and stamped at each checkpoint along the way to prove they have covered the distance successfully. (Losing the card, or missing a required checkpoint is a very bad thing to do!) Also, pronounce the word correctly: "brevet" rhymes with "say" or "Chevrolet", not "get" or "let".A permanent is like a brevet but you can ride it any time, either by yourself or with others, choosing from a list of pre-approved routes. Since this was my first official permanent attempt I decided to go it alone, mostly to ensure that I didn't drag someone else along while I fumbled my way through the particulars of riding such an event. That, and I'm really out of shape, so I thought I'd be pretty slow.
My brevet card for the ride:
The weather in Seattle in January is usually pretty predictable, in that it's almost guaranteed to be shitty and rainy. I'd checked the weather report the night before and it called for rain pretty much all day. I brought my rain gear along on the ride, prepared to spend a day riding through the rain, only to find that the weather was gorgeous all day long. So gorgeous in fact, that later in the afternoon I saw people in shorts and t-shirts, and people driving convertibles with the tops down. Not a drop of precipitation to be found anywhere.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. The day started around 5:30 am, when I got up after having had a horrible night's sleep. How's that for some extra randonneur training? This permanent started pretty close to my house, so I rolled down to the lake, and warmed up on the short jaunt up to Leschi. It was still dark when I left the first control, the Starbucks on Lake Washginton Blvd, but the skies were beginning to lighten, and I didn't have to use my headlight for too long before the sun poked up.
The sun was coming up in earnest by the time I reached the Cedar River trail. The trail takes you all the way from Renton proper into S.E. King County, near Maple Valley, at times following the Cedar River for which it's named.
One of my favorite sections of the ride was this one-lane bridge, that I came upon almost out of nowhere. The stoplights at each end control which direction of traffic gets to use the bridge at any given time.
Even though there was literally no traffic the entire time I was on or near this bridge, there were generous sidewalks on either side. Nice.
The bridge takes you over the Green River Gorge, which was way more beautiful than my cheap digital camera and my poor photographic skills can capture. This area, nestled well outside Seattle, in the middle of farmland, was one of the most picturesque parts of King County that I've seen yet, and that's saying a lot, considering the scenery that the county has to offer.
I saw great views of Mount Rainier and the Cascade foothills, as I wound my way through Auburn, Black Diamond, Cumberland, Issaquah, Samammish, and all the other towns and cites on my way through the 204K route. The route itself was pretty flat, but there were a few climbs to keep things honest. I did pretty well keeping up on food and hydration throughout the day, remembering to eat before I got hungry and drink before I got thirsty. I hadn't been on a ride this long in quite some time, but it actually felt pretty good to be in the saddle all day. I'm sure the weather and topography had a lot to do with that.
The last control was at the same Starbucks I'd started from. By the time I got there, the sky looked a lot like it had when I left.
Total distance on the day: 219.4 km (136.3 miles)
Average speed: 25.0 kph (15.5 mph)
Total time spent riding: 8:29:27
My official time for the entire permanent was 10 hours, and 6 minutes, which I think is just about average for SIR riders on this particular route. Not that these things are races or anything, it's just good to know that I'm somewhere in the right neighborhood in terms of my time. I definitely could have spent less time at the controls, but I'm sure I'll get my routine smoothed out as I continue to do more brevets and permanents.
So, I'm now 1/12th of the way to accomplishing my R-12 goal. I'm really looking forward to my next permanent, and the beginning of the brevet season in late February/early March.