I'll admit that I've been pondering that long distance flavor of bicycling called randonneuring. So when Bill "Big Oak" Lambert stopped in the DFW area as a part of his vacation travels, it was an excellent opportunity to pester him with questions.
After dinner Bill and Alex followed me back to my place way up north to spend the night. They must have been rather tired after a long day on the road, but they were charming conversationalists. Topics tended to not stray too far from dogs or bicycles, and that works pretty good in our house. Although Bill is a relatively new randonneur, he has already completed some impressive brevets. When I pressed him for suggestions, he responded with a kind of "aw shucks" answer that makes me believe I can do it too. He's inspirational like that.
So I went out for a little while this afternoon riding the Quickbeam in the 18-22mph wind, and I wondered if I could actually complete a 200k ride. If I can find more time to ride, I might just try to find out.
Thanks, Bill and Alex, for stopping by, and safe travels on your return home. Y'all come back soon.
He would have been 100 years old in July, but he died last Tuesday. When we went to see him in the hospital on Sunday, he was heavily medicated and too weak to get out of bed. My brother and I were on each side of him when he asked us to help him sit up. He gripped our hands with a surprising grip like he once gripped his carpenter's hammer. After we did so, we asked him what he wanted.
"I want to go home."
Because he'd previously indicated that he was ready to leave this world, we weren't sure if he was talking about an eternal home with God, or his home of approximately 60 years in rural northwest Alabama.
Either way, I've always associated his land with him. It seemed when I was with him, it was always at the little white church just down the road, or this beautiful place. We walked, hunted, and worked on this land. And when my grandmother was still alive, we feasted like kings on it's produce.
There is a spring behind the house, beyond the barn and down the hill. The spring trickles out of the ground, meanders down a series of moss-covered rocky steps, and blends with the sounds of the breeze blown forest leaves like an orchestra.
As children, my brother, my cousins, and I played in the creek, the chicken houses, and the barn.
As adults, we reunited and reminisced. And when my grandaddy was too old to join us there, we went down to the spring to meditate. We were thankful that God had given him to us, and knew it was almost time to give him back.
So I said one last goodbye to my grandaddy this week, and to this place of peace. As satisfying as this home has been for him, I know that his new one, beyond all imagination, greatly surpasses.
It wasn't an epic ride. It was far too short for that. But it did have its challenges. There were opportunities to grunt up the steeper climbs with my windbreaker flapping and popping in the headwind like a flag straining to free itself from the pole. My glasses beaded up with rain drops that eventually dripped off the tip of my nose, tickling the tip as with a feather. As the puddle splashes soaked my feet, I fought to control the steering, zigzagging down those unpaved roads that had turned into muddy bogs. I was reminded of epic rides I've read about, but this wasn't one of them.
On rides like this I think about folks like Jan Heine, Kent Peterson, and of course Bill "Big Oak" Lambert. I think about their epic, long distance adventure rides, imagine myself being a fit randonneur, fast and never tiring. Like many of my racer wannabe cycling colleagues, I pretend. When I push off into the cold rain alone, I think to myself, "Ha! I was the only one hard-core enough to start today". When I turn to enjoy a tailwind, my legs turn fixed gear RPMs like a revved-up race motorcycle, and my breathing is rhythmic and easy. I imagine myself several hundred kilometers into a brevet with strength to spare.
But it isn't epic, and I'm not a well-trained endurance athlete. I'm only out for a solo Saturday morning ride. So when I get soaked and hungry, I simply roll back into my driveway, peel off my wet clothes, and have my lunch.
In the comments section of a prior post, I replied to GravelDoc's observation that me and the QB are "hitting it off rather well" by saying that we are a good personality match. There is a connection with this bike that is difficult to describe in any other way.
I recently made a few minor refinements to make that observation even more accurate. The bright yellow bar tape was just a little too flashy for our personality, so shellac was applied to subdue things. The goal was to match the leather trim on my Carradice bag. QB and I aren't glamorous, but we do have a certain appreciation for aesthetics.
(rural and unsophisticated)
I switched bottle cages, moved the frame pump back to A. Homer Hilsen, and replaced the pedals. All these changes were made for a combination of functional (primarily) and aesthetic reasons.
Now if I can get the boys at Trinity bicycles to get me a water bottle in QB orange, we'll be ready for guests.