Just past the middle of October my RUSA kilometer total reached an even 9800k. Just 200k away from K-Hound status. I'd ridden so many permanents lately that I had a hankering for a regular brevet. As luck would have it the PA Randonneurs were hosting 200 and 150 kilometer rides on Saturday. There is generally a good turn-out for their rides, and, I might even know some of the riders. I informed the RBA, Tom Rosenbauer, I would be coming. Remembering how hilly the PA rides are I checked the route profile only to have my stomach tighten when I saw the elevation gain to be over 10,000 feet. Shortly after I received an e-mail from Tom confirming my entry and suggesting I bring low gears. He was not aware that I've been only riding fixed-gear this year. I felt committed to the ride but could not help being a bit nervous about it.
I undertook the drive to Quakertown early in the morning to arrive at the Weisel Youth Hostel in time for breakfast. A nice array of foods were on offer including hot oatmeal. There were a few riders milling about that I did indeed know, although most of them were doing the 150k. That option seemed very reasonable to me, but would fall short of the total I needed. I remained committed to the 200k. A regular PA rider, Johnathan, recognized me and inquired if I was riding fixed. I confirmed that I was to which he replied with just two words, "Fox Gap", referring to the 1,000 foot climb that appears at mile fifty-five. I simply shrugged admitting that I expected to struggle.
|Riders milling about at the start. Weisel Youth Hostel, Quakertown, PA|
|Crossing the Appalachian Trail|
|Information control at the top of Fox Gap|
|When not climbing there are always mountains to look at.|
|The sun on it's way down.|
Epilogue, Plans and Goals
I've done far more solo riding this year than ever before. The fixed-gear is isolating, unless riding with other fixies. I enjoy riding with others, but have learned to appreciate being alone as well. I'm not reliant on companionship to enjoy a long day on the bike. I've become proficient at controls. Managing to keep my time off the bike to a bare minimum on most rides. Due to an affliction known as ADD I've not been the best at navigation. When I ride a new route, alone, it is highly possible, even likely, I will make an error adding additional miles to the distance. Usually it is a miss-read of the cue sheet that causes this. I've since purchased a Garmin and am slowly learning how to use it. Hopefully, this will help, but it is not a simple device to use. At least not for me.
It was satisfying to reach the K-Hound level again this year. With the difference being that I have ridden only fixed-gear for every kilometer in 2012. I am planning to travel to Texas next month for a 600k hosted by the Lone Star Randonneurs, the original K-hounds. I'm much looking forward to meeting them, and riding with their group.
To finish off the year I hope to ride at least 1,000 more official kilometers which will put my all time RUSA total to 40,000, which is known as the Mondial level. A finish of the Dallas 600k will complete a second SR Series for me, this year. Two thousand more fixed-gear miles by the year end will bring my total to 14,000 for 2012. The R-12 quest is still intact with 45 consecutive months accumulated so far. The P-12 stands at 22 consecutive months. All of it is lots of motivation to keep me riding as the weather turns colder.