Wednesday, December 22, 2010

It's all about that I'm down with the ACP

This kind of distance cycling that I'm undertaking is a governed sliver under the big tent of cycling.  The sport began in Paris in the 1890's and is still governed by a single cycling organization in France: the ACP, or Audax Club Parisien.  Translating ACP to English, I've got no problem with Club or Parisien, but what's Audax?  Does it mean bicycle?  In fact it translates to the English word "bold" and shares the same root as "audacious".  So the worldwide governing body of this strictly cycling endeavors is called "The Bold Club of Paris".  Something about that strikes me as either really cool or really French.

So, there's the club of Audacious cyclists.  They are all about long distance bike rides, rides that are done essentially in one go.  It's not a race, you aren't on a team, you are on your own.  But in this structureless, get it done kind of event, there is structure everywhere.  The rides are almost exclusively in 5 different distances:  200k, 300k, 400k, 600k and 1200k.  Each distance has a specific maximum time limit.  Finish in time or you didn't do it.  Each ride goes through time check points that you must pass, in order, and on time. Finish your card and the ride organizer will send it in to the ACP in France for you.  Weeks later, the card will be returned to you authenticated and recorded in a big book in France for all-time.  It's kind of like scavenger hunt, but generally with more butt-pain. 

There's a non-competitive machismo about the whole thing.  These rides are something you are supposed to prove you can do, but the results are completely binary.  You either did it or you didn't.  There is no ranking for who did it best (the finishing list is recorded in Alphabetical Order).  It's about pushing yourself to the limits of what you and what a human being is capable of.  It's kind of audacious, to tell the truth.  Staying awake for 45 hours straight is a daunting challenge.  Riding 375 miles (600k) in 45 hours is flat out intimidating.  Audacious.

Monday, December 20, 2010 want to do WHAT???

It's coming close to Christmas time, so I find myself at a lot of gatherings with people who I know reasonably well.  I'm finding it extremely difficult to provide a concise description for what I'm doing.  What I'm realizing is that I could walk up to a randonneur or randonneuse and say "I'm gonna shoot for PBP2015", and they'd nod, smile and say "great goal...good luck with that".  At a cocktail party or a christmas gathering or on a phone call to my mom, there is no brief way to say what any of that means.  I'm just beginning to learn the jargon for myself.  I'm going to practice getting the description down to something that gets the message across without seeming like a completely stupid endeavor.

I have a buddy who told me about a man he knew, who decided he was going to walk across California.  He was retired, and he just up and decided that was what he was going to do.  It's an odd impulse, but his particular definition of walking across California struck me as truly bizarre.  He had two cars that he brought with him.  He would drive Car A some distance down the road, and then walk back to Car B.  He'd then drive Car B past Car A some distance, and walk back to Car A.  He'd eventually drive past a motel, and he'd stop and sleep.  He took trails whenever he could, but didn't camp.  He'd always take care of food and shelter by driving.  In this leapfrog pattern he'd work his way West to East across California, but he'd always be walking East to West.  When he got tired or bored, he'd go home for a few months and pick up where he left off later on.  Eventually he finished and had completed a series of a few hundred 5-10 mile strolls or hikes that formed an imaginary continuous line from the west coast of California to the eastern border.

One of the things I want to do when I describe to people my cycling goals is to avoid overwhelming them with a massive avalanche of self-absorbed pointlessness.  On one hand, yes, this is mainly about me.  I'm not doing some epic ride to raise awareness for a charity.  I'm not raising money.  There is definitely a "because it's there" aspect to what I want to do, but I hope I can be reasonably convincing to others, and to myself, that there is a "there" there (and that there is an "it", there).  We'll see how that goes......

Friday, December 17, 2010

Introducing Randobubba

Hello there, and welcome to my blog.  My name is Bill, but on the internet, more people know me as Bubba.  I've been a cyclist most of my life, but starting in 2011, I'm beginning an exploration into randonneuring.  I'll get into the details as we move forward.  I'm learning about the details right now for myself.  Suffice it to say that randonneuring is long-distance cycling.  It's not competitive, but it does have time limits.  Individual rides, or brevets, have a specific route, and start at a specific time.  People who choose to ride them have a primary goal: to finish.  These events have several specific typical distances: 200km, 300km, 400km, 600km, and 1200km.  That's ~125miles for a 'short' ride up to ~750 miles for a long one.  In 2011 I intend to do several of these rides.  In the process I expect to learn a lot about myself and what my capabilities are.  If everything goes well, this journey will lead up to doing the crown-jewel event in randonneuring: Paris-Brest-Paris in 2015.