We had a little informal long distance ride this past weekend. A few local clubmembers and I got together to pursue a 71 mile ride on a registered "Populaire," a route approved and registered with the RUSA. I'm not a member of the Rusa (Randonneurs of USA), but have always been told I would like the style of riding. Most important, it is a non-competitive style of riding in which riders document riding certain distances within specified time period. The pleasure of the self-contained ride and accomplishment are the reward for these riders. Most ride a series of Brevets throughout a season, each longer than the last, culminating in the completion of a "Randonee'," a continuous 1200km (745mile) ride ridden night and day to completion. That all sounds like work to me, but a 71 mile ride around the country on a Saturday sounds like my kind of day.
I downloaded the map, printed the cue sheet for the ride and set out at the exact necessary time with the others. It was a charming and casual pace for a club ride, and we soon separated across the country roads keeping our own pace. I had forgotten my camera so I won't beguile you with picturesque reminders of the change from winter to spring. There was idyllic grey/white imagery of empty fields for miles with clouds and barren trees framing the cuteness of pig farms. That was about it. But the weather was great, the temperatures moderate and it was all in all an enjoyable day for riding.
I managed to miss a turn, which took me on a scenic tour of the thawing riverside 10-15 miles out of my way before I returned to retrace my steps, abandon my manhood and admit I made a mistake. There it was,
a sign, not like this, much larger and green that I rode past with out noticing.
I'd like to say I was just distracted by the frolicking wood nymphs nearby,
but I have no real good excuse.
(gratuitous photo of a girl and bike)
I sent everybody a text message and decided to alter my route since I had lost enough time that I would never catch up and see them if I tried to pursue. I wasn't trying to validate anything, so it was just an unscheduled side trip. I managed to cut my ride in the right place and time and hookup with the other guys 15 miles for our start and it was the only chance I had had to find the
longest covered bridge in the state of Michigan.
We arrived back at the start and everybody fell well within the required times without any incident. I completed about 60 miles or so within 5 hours which is all I ever expect to do.
Anytime we get away with this in March, is a good day.