It seems appropriate to start with thanks. To the extent that I am ready for the Gold Rush Randonnee that starts at 6pm tomorrow night, it is because of the support of my friends and partner.
So thank you to Jayne for all of her support, for listening to and watching me plan and work toward being ready for this ride. Special thanks to her for putting up with me and my jitters and incessant ride chatter for the past few weeks.
Thank you to Katie Raschdorf, New Jersey RBA and friend, who has helped me plan my rides, even showed up to support Chris and me when we were pre-riding the NJ 300. Her enthusiasm and faith in my riding skills means a lot. Thanks to Rich Raschdorf as well who also helped support the volunteer 300 ride.
Thank you as well to Chris Newman with whom I have ridden hundreds of miles this year…the NJ 300, the NJ 400, the NJ 600, and many permanents. She is a stronger and faster rider than I, but she graciously pedaled many miles with me and I am certainly the stronger for trying to not slow her down too much.
From Laurent Chambard through the years I have learned not only useful rando skills but a lot about how to think like a randonneur. I thank Laurent for training in rando attitude.
And still….six months of training and preparation does not guarantee that I will finish. All of the years of rando riding does not guarantee a finish next Friday. I believe I will start, but there is no guarantee that I will finish. I’m trying to live with that. I hope I will finish and think I am as prepared as I can be. But maybe my knees won’t be up for the climbing and distance combined. Maybe my head won’t be patient enough. Maybe the predicted rain at the start will throw a wrench in the works. So finishing is not guaranteed.
I guess it matters that I put myself out there to see what I can do because some part of me insists that I test my limits and not be satisfied for very long with already accomplished goals. At some point, this kind of ride will be too much for my aging body, but I don’t think I’m the kind of person who is simply going to decide that I’m too old for this now. I’m going to find out while trying that the sacrifices or pain or whatever are too much.
The possibilities for a non-finish acknowledged, I want to end with thoughts about what I hope will happen on this ride:
I hope I will start calm and strong, riding my ride and not worrying about the faster riders (well, probably virtually all of the rest of the riders) quickly disappearing up the road.
I hope that I will enjoy the first night out, when I’m riding on adrenalin, not sore or tired yet, and with a relatively clear mind. I should enjoy the fact that I have accepted and prepared for this adventure and that I have begun it.
I hope that I can settle into the the climbing that dominates the large middle section of the ride. I have tried to become a stronger climber this year and I hope that my training pays off. I hope that I climb patiently and steadily, moving forward at a pace that will allow me a little time off the bike to rest.
I hope that I still have enough strength and energy at the turn around to rejoice in making it that far, and to look forward to making my way steadily back toward the finish.
I hope to celebrate reaching the peak of the Janeville grade for the second time because after that, the ride “trends” downhill toward home.
I hope to turn onto Anderson Rd on Friday morning and coast into the finish control with a big grin on my face.
And so we will see.