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A Solo Flight and the Zen of Randonneuring
Highway to Hell 400, May 14
by Jaime Guzman

A solo flight and the zen of randonneuring

Riding close to 400K on your own clarifies one’s randonneuring priorities: why do you ride and what constitutes a "good ride". A solo flight in the H2H 400 was indeed the perfect setting for reflection.

I hesitated to ride the Highway to Hell brevet a third time, but my work schedule being what it is this was my chance to qualify for the Cascade 1200. As usual, I started with the pack until the start of the Malahat climb. What a difference a couple of years made! Two years ago it was all steel and titanium riding with five people who had a similar pace to me. This year it was mostly carbon and nobody wanted to stop.

Not me, I stopped for breakfast, second breakfast, morning espresso, lunch, second lunch, afternoon espresso, and then for Stephen and Carol’s hospitality which was splendid as always, you get the idea. Obvious to say, I was the last rider to complete the ride but I wasn't slow, in fact I made my best time on this route.

I was good on my own for about half of the ride. I enjoyed breaking dawn on the Malahat, beautiful fresh valleys, sea views and the honking sea lions near Union Bay, capped by my second wind circling Shawnigan Lake. But the other half was a struggle. The pressure of knowing I was the last rider, struggling to keep pace and motivation in the busy highway, dodging debris in the dark down the Malahat, and yes, feeling a bit lonely.

For some randonneurs, riding on your own and challenging your body for the best possible time defines randonneuring. Not for me, I can enjoy landscapes on my own only for so long, before I crave the stimulation and camaraderie of riding and chatting with other riders. For me, randonneuring is about enjoying new vistas and meeting new friends, and yes also about conquering new challenges.

Well, that is enough cheap philosophy for the day; the 400K is done and now is preparing for the 600K.

Stay well and remember: Enjoy the ride. Never quit.


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May 17, 2016