By John Kydd
I’m a new rider. I just did my first 300 and 400 so I am your guide to clueless riding. I don’t have any Rando buddies save for the fact that my little sister rode many years ago.
Here are my “newbie” observations.
1. These are good people. They watch out for each other and you if you can keep with their pace. Find a group that goes at a pace that is comfortable for you. Introduce yourself and see if it’s reciprocated. Then you’ve got some one to talk with. Figure out what they eat at rest stops and buy stuff to share.
2. Try to be quick at the stops ( I am not quick). Do what you need to do and then you can relax and not slow the group down when they decide to leave.
3. If you flat or something else just take it on and fix it. Pick up the next group that comes by so you are not stuck out there alone. Be sure to program in the brevet director’s phone number into your phone speed dial in case you can’t fix the problem. If you are outside of cell reception then try to get to the next rest stop or wait for another rider. Be sure to pack a space blanket. Hypothermia is no fun.
4. Read the RUSA Handbook articles. They are fantastic: one hundred seventy four pages of wisdom and experience. Skip around and sample the articles you like the most until you get to all of them..
5. Consider joining the Seattle Randonnneurs mailing list at firstname.lastname@example.org – There is a ton of great information and you can meet the interesting writing personality of many of the riders.
6. If you have not ridden in pace lines and such then try your best to hold your line. Avoid sudden moves (particularly braking) until you alert the people behind you by shouting “slowing” or “stopping” before you do so. If I start to ride wobbily then I head to back of the group so I do not put anyone else at risk.
7. Don’t worry about getting dropped by your group. It happens. It is not intentional as folks just ride their pace. Slow down, fuel up and a another group will meet you or you can wait at the next rest stop.
8. Garmin’s are not enough. On the Crystal 300 I would have ended up in Tukwila if I followed my Garmin. I later figured out that my Garmin confused the route out with the route back when the same road was used. Go figure. Or maybe it was aliens. I pulled out my cue cards and used them to find my way back to one of those wise riders (Hugh Kimball) who was kind enough to rescue me (from myself).
9. If you have not ridden the route then study it. I relied on my Garmin the first time: big mistake. Highlight the controls and other important stops.
10. Have fun. Enjoy the beauty, the stories and all the mordant comments as the miles pile on, Fun means not having to impress or win. Fun also means safe. If you are nodding off then it’s time for a quick nap. No shame in that. Fun is not riding yourself senseless but listening to body instead of ego. Fun is taking good care of you so you make it home intact where that cold beer has been waiting for hours just to greet you.