How far is far?

This is not Miles, just some guy into randonneuring

I was reading a new post on my friend Miles blog in which he talks of the difficulties he’s had building a randonneuring community in Southern Illinois.  I can’t think of one way in which he could have done more to make this happen, he writes, ” I’ve exhausted most of my money and all of my ideas.”  If anyone deserves to have succeed in this its Miles.

It reminded me of this guy I went to High School with, Hugh DeNeal, he started this band called the Woodbox Gang which makes a very strange form of “dark bluegrass.”  I really like it but most people probably wouldn’t even get past the first few seconds.  Hugh put tons of effort into this band, toured the United States, made albums, marketed, basically put his heart, soul and wallet into it, but wasn’t able to make enough money to live on.  

The story took a turn for the worse when he dived into Hi Yield Internet Investment Programs to try to make ends meet and basically lost a lot of people’s money.  He’s been in prison for a few years now and should be released soon.   

So anyway, one thing struck out at me when I was reading Mile’s blog post,

Even on the 300 kilometer brevet last month, not a long distance at all, I had an “off the bike moment”.  After about 150 miles I was sitting on a paved driveway, feeling sorry for myself, and daydreaming about quitting.  I finally got back on my bike and finished.  Getting back on the bike is the only way to finish.

Miles thinks a 300KM, (186 mile ride) is not a long distance at all, of course to be fair the context of this is in the world of randonneuring where a long distance is 600KM or the famed 1200KM that he begins his post talking about.   I like to think of myself as a decent cyclist and I’ve never ridden past about a 108 miles, when I finished 102 miles a couple of weeks ago I was super glad to get off my bike. 

To be strong enough to ride 180 miles in one go is an ability that I, and a vast majority of cyclists don’t possess, and probably don’t care to possess.  Just like the Woodbox gang had a difficult time finding an audience for their particular blend of bluegrass, Miles has had trouble finding participants for Southern Illinois randonneuring.  It’s a shame, but there is always hope, as he says the only way to finish is get back on the bike. 


About Matt Gholson

Cycling, school teaching, husband.
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2 Responses to How far is far?

  1. Steve says:

    Randonneuring is definitely not for the faint of heart, is it? A quick check of the DC Randonneurs website tells me they have 216 members. That’s one club member for every 25,000 people in the greater DC area.

    I don’t know the population of Southern Illinois, but one website told me it was about 288,000. If the interest in randonneuring among the general population is exactly the same as DC, then there are about 11 potential club members in your region. That’s a small number of people to find and generate interest in forming a club. It’s going to take a person with great passion and perserverence. From what I can see, Miles is the man for the job.

  2. I’m pretty impressed with your cycling improvement this year, Matt. It wasn’t that long ago that you rode neither fast nor far. Now, however, after a ;year of measuring both with computerized gadgets, you have improved both metrics incredibly. Add to that the gentle leadership with which you’ve encouraged and fostered a love of cycling in your wife and you’ve achieved a trifecta.

    My discouragement isn’t with the cyclists of our area. I’ve tried to transplant randonneuring into our Southern Illinois soil, noting that it seems to grow and flower elsewhere. It’s not the plant, nor the soil, I’m afraid, it must be my gardening technique. That’s disappointing to me.

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