December 23, 2012

The Bitter End... of 2012


I maintain quite a bit of respect for those that have raced bicycles.  When I first dabbled with racing, I learned quickly how much I think (too much), and how that tendency can get in the way of being competitive in handlebar-to-handlebar conflicts on a twisty crit course.  I have learned that, in recreational circles, I can be a decent climber... but in the context of the battle-hardened Cat.3 group on their weekend “cool-down” ride, I am no better than a child on a BMX bike.  The level of fitness that comes with hard (and balanced) training, a disciplined (and balanced) diet, and a good team foundation to keep one’s efforts honest and on-track, amazes me.  

Considering the professionals, the Cat.1s, the U.S. Pros, and the International squads --- and, yes, fresh on the heels of writing an ethnography on the culture of doping in professional cycling, I am well aware of where some of the talent allegedly originates --- they deliver downright awe-inspiring performances.  I think, side-stepping the potential for unending discussion here, it’s unfortunate many professionals felt placed in a choice-less position regarding performance enhancing drugs - from where I’m sitting, none of them needed the help.  

It’s what they do, not necessarily how they do it, that amazes.  It’s not always about the GC guys.  I find it especially entertaining watching the exploits of the breakaway groups on long stage races.  They are riding distances often approaching or in excess-of 200 kilometers, just as I do each month; yet, witnessing the ferocity with which they can STILL manage to attack, and answer attacks, and the average speeds they achieve after 100 miles, 120 miles... it is remarkable!  Yeah, they’re supported, yeah they don’t have to stop... yeah, yeah, yeah.... but, I remember approaching the 200k with similar vigor -- but dissimilar results -- and I wonder if it’s possible again.  

After a long time of foolishly messing about with things that weren't broken, I finally feel like I’m back at a neutral position, perhaps able to stop “soft-pedaling” in fear of injury, and just start punishing the pedals again.  Why not?  I’m certainly not dead, and I’m definitely not too old.   I’m happy with my performances, from a finishing standpoint, but, my complaints lately seem to involve the last 30 miles of every ride, and its high time I did a thing or two about it.  Do what?  Heck, I dunno -- but, training smarter -- and eating better... ALL the time....certainly can’t hurt.  And maybe shutting the brain off a little -- all this “what to wear, what to pack, where to put it, what to eat.....etc, ad nauseum” .... I’m tired of worrying so much, and yet, I can’t seem to help it.  I’d just love, though I know it will take more than just thinking-about-it, to cross the finish at the next 200k with gas in the tank and spirit in the legs:  mainly I’d like to train for the “death slog” section that seems to tag along for at least a few dozen miles lately on my randonees.  This is starting to sound a LOT like New Year’s resolution stuff.

Should I complain?  No, probably not... but, that’s me, defined: whatever the pursuit, I tend to get restless in the face of apparent complacency.  Whatever the pursuit, “it” likely won’t EVER be “good enough.”  The whole point of this is self-discovery, pushing my limits, and coming away just a little bit stronger than I had been the day before... and often my excuses materialize around accessory concerns.  Point of fact, I should concern myself with riding more, rather than trying to figure out which new bag, saddle or shorts might “solve the ‘problem’.”  Therein lay the therapy within these pages - which, while it might seem boorish to the reader, it’ll definitely help me in the future, when, invariably, I will return to these pages looking for reasons why I rearranged things that had worked just fine in the past.

So, that over-with, and this semester over-with, on to the last ride!  It hasn't been even three weeks yet, but it feels like it’s been forever already... so, to the best of my recollection, here goes:  The December 200k!

December in Kansas... one never knows, and for a while the forecast seemed to promise rain - but, we ended up largely dry.  I had carried along my rain jacket, just to be sure -- it’s a forecast changer.  If I carry it, it won’t rain, you see.  

Terry, Glen and I met once again at the Princeton Roundabout start line in Shawnee, ready for action in the not-too-cold morning air.  It was going to be a GREAT day, with highs possibly reaching 50 degrees, but nothing more.... “perfect”, really ... not too warm, either, so layering and clothing issues wouldn't be a concern.  After some revelations on why I’d been riding around without a lot of powdered energy drink came up and smacked me in the chops recently, I started the day’s packing with the hope to eat more c-store fare... but, as it goes, I ended up carrying enough powder to handle the entire 200k.  Sometimes I need to ease into these things.  

Adding to the mental noise of packing the extras, my handlebar bag - which enjoyed exactly 2 rides before the mount started coming apart - wasn't along for this one, so I pulled out an old, giant saddlebag to stand in.  It’s one of those old “banana bag” style waxed canvas things -- huge, but not Carradice huge -- and it immediately became apparent why I’d stopped using it previously:  it’s a weird shape.  I ultimately managed to get everything I needed to carry squeezed into it, but yikes.  It struck me a few times that installing it might have been a step backward... but, we’ll see.  One thing I can say, set against the classic lines and steel tubing of the Kogs, it does look rather good.  The ultimate question will remain:  “does it save time at the controls?”  So far, without having to mess with toe-straps on the rear rack, it’s a hesitant “yes.”... but I think the handlebar bag saved even more time.  Perhaps there’s a fix for that yet.  But, there’s me worrying again... and really, I don’t need to start that malarkey until after the next 400k.

On food -- I've got some things to start messing with in training.  I haven’t yet tried some of the “leave the powder at home” tricks - like making your own sports drink while managing to avoid the Gatorade... the goal is effectively the same calorie and carb profile as Carboplex(Gain) - albeit not pure maltodextrin - by mixing together some random ingredients that can be found in any grocery store or gas station in the world, more or less.  Things like sugar packets and orange juice... the thought of which kinda makes me puke in my mouth a little, but, never know until I try, right?  That’s just one method designed to free the randonneur from having to carry around, in my case, what amounted to ten 80-gram baggies of CarboGain for an average 200km.  I can’t fault the stuff itself -- heck, it WORKS, and works well... but, I simply can’t carry 8 pounds of it on a supposed 1,200km ride.  I've managed to ride a LOT without worrying about how to pack nutrition, and I want to get back to that stage.  PB Crackers, Fig newtons, Powerbars, pizza, cheesy-potato bites, juices and good-ole water have carried me, and many others (including racers) across the miles... and that’s simply what I’m trying to get back to.  I’m stopping every 20 miles at a c-store anyways... might as well shop.  I don’t think the powdered stuff saves time... whether I’m buying something or mixing what I brought along, I have to use the restroom and get water, and dismount, and get my card signed... in ANY case, I’m stopping, and it’ll probably be 15 minutes no matter what I’m doing.  Finally, 300 calories per bottle works work great ... if I knew I was actually burning that many calories.  What I need to do reminds me of what the ‘Bird had done, back in the day.... and I know I've probably told the story before:

Somewhere along 199th Street, early 2002....

“How many miles have we gone?” he asked, finally coasting after what seemed like an eternity of hard tempo work.

“mmmm, 26.5...,” I replied, clicking through the views on my cycloputer.  “Why?”

“‘cause that’s exactly how long a PB&J sandwich lasts.”

It’s struck me that, yes - while I've managed to run into what FEELS like a bonk here and there, the truth is I probably have no idea what a bonk feels like.  Within a controlled environment, I need to rediscover how many miles that PB&J will get ME.  This also typified my general eating style, on AND off the bike:  I've been so nervous about running out of food that part of my fatigue and digestive discomfort might have to do with me taking in too MUCH.  How do I know unless I mess with it in training?  For this latest 200k, it would be no exception.  Plenty of powder, plenty of stops, and no danger of running out of anything might be called “preparedness”, but if the pangs of hunger NEVER appear, maybe THAT’S why I have trouble choking down real food at the controls.  Something tells me that if I was actually hungry, eating real food wouldn't be a problem.  It’s time to let some of the nervousness go, and re-find my limits.  I'd previously though I'd been on some kind of caloric deficit on many rides... but deficit compared to what?  If I've become more efficient while riding long distances, but have never adjusted my intake, how efficient am I, really?  I’m not suggesting knocking off a 200k on just 4 PB&Js and plain water.... but, hell.... could I?  Do I really know my limits?  This is why they call it “training”... and if 600km is the goal, it’s time to find out what’s what.

Back on the ride, Glen, Terry and I were enjoying the grunter of a climb, Col de 435, up towards Shawnee Mission Park, and feeling good.  A slight tailwind is a great way to start a long ride, and soon we were over the climb and past the park, well on our way.  The Princeton Roundabout is a great ride, scenic & exciting.  A rarity, we managed to roll from the start line to Kill Creek Road without putting a foot down... usually at least one stoplight at K-7 catches us, but this time we made it on all greens!    Feeling good, and soaking in the scenery and “new” pavement.... errr, gravel?.... on Cedar Creek Road, we advanced past the quiet houses and climbed the many hills heading west toward Clearview City, and on to Eudora... the first control.

The morning school rush in full effect, and commuters popping into and out of the Kwik Shop near K-10 always makes for a good time when dressed head-to-toe in cycling gear, shivering from the cold, wet morning air.  My “giant” seatbag reminded me how strangely shaped and cramped its designers had rendered it.  I missed my toe straps and slender seatbag with all the pockets immediately -- but, hey, this is why we try these things.  Sometimes I need that reminder.  Better or worse, and everything packed, we three loaded up on water and food, and fought traffic to get back onto the route, over K-10, and to points south.  This included one of my favorite parts of any rando route around here:  As soon as we rolled over the top of the K-10 bridge, and onto a more downhill pitch, we enter a school zone where traffic is limited to 30mph, and then 25mph.  When the wind is kind, it’s not difficult to keep up with traffic here - and today proved fun while we hacked it up, keeping pace with cars and buses and not getting in anyone’s way.  Clear of the city limits at top speed, we made our way south.

Glen and I chatted it up on DG-1061, talking about rando and food and training - stuff that’s gotten me thinking (case in point, many of the paragraphs above).  We marveled at the sight of a large structure -- one I still need to stop and take a photo of, but traffic never fails to put that possibility out of my mind, so Google Street View (tm) to the rescue -- near 1000 Rd.  I cannot find an article linking this image to its name, but I believe this is the building which used to house a Sinclair Gas oil pumping station; built in 1923 and operated until 1940, though I can’t find much else written about the structure, save for small mentions contained within a Eudora history webpage.  It’s a remarkably strong-looking building, reminiscent of structures one would see at an old military installation - yet, it’s sitting out by itself, in a field alongside the county highway.  It makes me wonder if the contractors who built the Sunflower Army Ammunition plant - not too far to the east - had been involved, somehow, or, if the building had served that very facility at some point.  As barns and silos from the same time period sit in disrepair, this concrete and masonry building stands fast against the prairie elements - and probably will for another 100 years.

We climbed up the rise where DG-1061 meets DG-460 and proceeded west, along another of my favorite stretches of road.  As much as I have tried this year to avoid repeating routes, I have to appreciate the Princeton loop.  It strings together a lot of my usual training routes and favorite strips of pavement, and it’s nice to hit the road without having to study the cue sheet every 50 yards.  If this post becomes something of a retrospective, however, it should be said that 2012 stands as one of my most interesting years.  I’ve managed to try more new rando routes than ever before, I’ve designed (though they aren’t approved yet) more new routes this year than in any other, I crewed and officiated on a KS cross-state record attempt, and I crew-chiefed for solo-RAAM - an amazing experience that (seriously) is still sorting itself out in my head - and while I haven’t been able to commute as much, as reflected in my lowest annual mileage since I began keeping track in 1998, it’s definitely been a landmark year for cycling, personally.  At the time, riding along with Glen on DG-460, overlooking the massive Vinland Valley, it hadn’t occurred to me I was riding the last 200k of 2012, but I think riding the Princeton route capped it off nicely, especially as events would unfold later in the day.

Another recent saddle adjustment seems to have at least minimized the clicking in my right knee which had begun in August, which is terrific.  For the first time in months, I managed to pedal along without looking forward desperately to the next stop --- not from knee noise or pain, but from “gentleman’s discomfort.”  It had me thinking, for awhile, that I needed to accept the need to find a new saddle - but, an extra degree of tilt, and order is restored.  Glen and I climbed Baldwin Pass and made the control, with Terry only a breath behind us.  Today, an Oatmeal pie for me.... tasty, but would I pay for it?  Coffee would have been good, too - but it slipped my mind.  The temps still hovered right near the “shiver” factor... so it was time to mount up and move out.

Ohio Road - the continuation of DG-1061 which brings us into northern Franklin County, stretches out - a blanket of fog and mist filling the valley before us and rendering the horizon a fuzzy grey... breathtaking.  A train-whistle, and an eerie stillness... “it’ll be hard to see the enemy today...” I warned, and then reveled in another long, fantastic downhill to Shawnee Road, and the leg westbound to Ottawa.  The last time I was out here, I’d already begun to be pummeled by heavy, wet snow.  Today was easy.

Small victories:  for the first time in a long while on this route, I rolled right past the Casey’s in Ottawa, to continue south to Princeton, citing “it’s only six miles.”  Ataboy.  More of that, please.  Well on the way to turning “it’s only six miles” to “it’s only 60 miles” again.... the mental formula for the REALLY long rides.

More small victories:  instead of destroying myself by trying desperately to hold Glen’s wheel on US-59, I backed it off about 5%, and let him slip away.  I need to be “okay” with this, also, as ammunition for the longer stuff... keeping something in the tank requires it.  Still, I made a game of trying to ramp that 5% back up with maybe a mile to go, maybe to bridge up before the control - but I quickly thought better of it.  The discipline to ride within myself, too, is returning... though I’m not as adept at it as, say, Terry... not quite yet.  With Glen along lately, it seems I have that “rabbit” again - which is great for training - but, I also need to keep myself sharp for those times when I’ll be alone.  Looking back on the ‘07 600km brevet, that had been the case for 33 out of 38 hours... I can’t always assume I’ll have someone to talk to, let alone to try and draft.  For that “death slog” avoidance, however, I do need to get back into a regular routine of pushing my own wall - and then, perhaps my natural pace will mimic Glen’s in the last half of these rides.

Princeton - food.  Those new Clif Bar Crunch granola bars are AWESOME, and work.  Next time, buy two more for the road!

Turning briefly into a slight north wind, we made our way to John Brown Highway for the long, uninterrupted 17-mile section to Osawatomie, KS.  I love this part:  though feared by many, depending on the weather, I love the solitude, the long vistas on all sides of the road, the inquisitive cows, and the sparse traffic.  Sure, in July heat it can be downright dangerous, and if the wind is in a poor mood it can seem desperately long - but it’s a great stretch of road.  With my cap pulled low, I settled in for the hour or so expected... “just one water bottle away from the next stop.”  I chimed.  We three settled into our individual rhythms, and got to work...and in a blink, the pavement change and the hills marking the western edge of Osawatomie (and the return to Miami County) were under our tires.  Long West-East section of the day?  Check.

Casey’s, more water and powdered drink mix... it’s too easy... I ended up bringing enough of it along to fuel the day, so darn it - I was determined to use it.  The oatmeal creme pie from Baldwin City had proven to work really well - packed with calories from questionable sources, yes; but, it’d worked.  Still, taking a quick lap inside the familiar c-store, I had trouble finding anything else in the same category.  It all blurs into a colorful confusion, and I end up grabbing nothing.  Practice... practice...  I don’t want a repeat of ‘07, where I’d carried so, so much powder, only to find myself sick of it.  Practice... re-find the courage to grab, as I’d done at Baldwin City ...ANY-thing, and eat it.

Trouble is gonna come.... to you....

Typical of the last ...ok, nearly EVERY time I visit the Princeton route, the last 30 miles present a massive hurdle.  I still have yet to figure out exactly what prompts it - as it certainly doesn’t happen to everyone riding with me, but - for me - it’s real.  The leg from Osawatomie to Paola is benign enough - nothing record-breaking, I manage to pedal along, without complaint, along the river and up the ridge that eventually lifts us to the east side of US-169 and the outskirts of Paola, KS.  I’ve been here more times than I can count, and it’s always been the same story in the last few kilometers to the control... that curved patch of multi-lane road leading into town just kicks my backside.  It’s not hilly...nothing remarkable, but the last 500 yards to the control... yeesh... it suddenly feels as if I’m on the final leg of a return from Boston.

At the control, I settle in.  Two laps of the giant-sized c-store here yields absolutely nothing of interest.  I run down my newly steeled checklist:  I’m looking for a cheese pizza.  Nothing.  Ok, fine.  Microwave bean burrito.  Nothing.  Oooo-k.  The vegetarian thing is rearing it’s inconvenient head again, as I pass plenty of meat-laden cold sandwiches, hot dogs on rollers, and the like.  Ugh.  There appears to be a lunch-counter/ice-cream “store-within-store” at the back, but I can’t get so much as eye contact from the girl cleaning up in the back - and the menu-board over head doesn’t look inviting anyway.  The notion of a hot pick-me-up to carry me the last 40 miles of the day evaporates.  A giant cave of a store, loaded with nothing.  Feeling the clock ticking really fast, I finally opt for a Payday bar and a Coke.  As I drop into the park bench outside the shop and unwrap my feast, I gaze longingly at the Taco Bell across the street.  Hmmm.... too late.  Time to move on.  Next time, knowing what I know, I’m getting a quick signature and receipt, and then heading across the street.  

As full of calories as I was going to get -- and still not convinced a lack of, or excess of, calories have indeed been the issue these last half-dozen Princeton runs -- I settled into a rhythm on Hedge Lane alongside Glen, talking about this and that, and watching the activity at a propane storage facility, a group of men venting, rather furiously, a large cylinder of gas from a long hose...  the gravel rocks of the parking lot underneath glowing red, and the hose emitting a roar like a jet engine, while they stood by nonchalantly chatting - as if all of this was normal.  Rather cool scene near the end of a long day in the saddle.  It was also along this stretch where we’d witness our own shadows for the first time that day, as the sun managed to break through the grey blanket above us... if only for 15 seconds or so.

Shortly after, Glen began to distance me up the road - right about the time we reached the railroad tracks near 287th street.  In fact, I’d already begun to crawl inside myself a little at this stage - and thankfully, Glen was in front of me at the time.  As he put his foot down at the stop sign, I had just reached him... and, as is sometimes customary, I began to attempt to trackstand, and advance forward at the same time Glen would have.... had it been a 4-way stop, which it wasn’t.  As a truck approached from the left... the truck which I’d assumed would be stopping next, giving us the right of way, I began to inch forward... and then realized that Glen wasn’t moving, so I stopped quickly - right as the truck whooshed through the intersection, continuing eastbound...  I’d forgotten about the “cross-traffic doesn’t stop” indications here.  Uh, wake up, dude!

Definitely back awake, we continued north - and by the time we’d reached the roundabout at K-68, I was losing ground again.  Nothing really hurt, I don’t remember any discomfort... I think, all-in-all, I was just fatigued, tired.  Terry caught up... I think... I don’t remember if he had left Paola early, or caught me from behind -- but I watched as he and Glen joined forces ahead of me, as we dropped downhill to pass over Ten Mile Creek and the BNSF railroad tracks south of Hillsdale.  I paused at 255th Street, having barely pulled them back to within reach, and thought for a second about taking another break - but then decided against it.  In retrospect, I should have.  Old K.C. Road lay ahead -- sure, we were already on it, but the section between 255th to 223rd streets is usually busy with fast-moving and unsympathetic traffic.  I normally revel in the chance to ride along the alignment of an old highway (this one is old US-169), and it’s a great road... when it’s quiet... but, in the last 10 years anyways it seems to be anything but.  I’d sooner take a gravel detour, lately...Columbia Road is very close by; but, I stick to the rulebook, and the route, as usual.  I know nobody is watching, and detours like this one are not only longer, they’re honest gravel -- but, I don’t mess around when it comes to keeping my streak of 200k’s going.  If it’s not a free-route permanent, traffic is just one of those things randonneur’s must endure.  So be it, Jedi...

Alone, I dropped back inside myself - not even really aware of the jerk-truck parade whizzing past at ANYthing but the now-state-law 3 feet clearance, and certainly not at the posted 45 MPH speed limit.  White-line fever, I pedaled out the only pace I could muster - which was pretty pathetic, even for this late in a 200k.  Clearly, the Payday bar hadn’t work -- or had become too much for the stomach to process.  I watched as the now two yellowish blips up the road grew smaller and smaller, and finally rounded a bend - not to be seen again for a while.  As I made my way and finally reached Spring Hill at 223rd Street and the new highway, I turned north on Webster without so much as lifting my head, and continued north through town... looking out from under my cap to see if I could see any sign of those yellow triangles adorning my mate’s bikes.  At 215th, a long gaze toward Casey’s... “what, did they engage warp drive?”  No sign... and suddenly...

“...hey, wake up!” from my left... Glen?  No... Terry.... what... Randy?!?  I must've looked a little confused, as Randy Rasa of Kansas Cyclist and DirtBum fame (and also a RUSA member) appeared from nowhere and took a position in front of me on the road.  Out for a late fall ride on this grey day, we stopped for a bit and chatted, and I asked if he’d seen anyone ride past, but he hadn't seen Glen or Terry... but, about that time, they appeared from behind over the crown in the road.  They’d stopped back at the gas station at 223rd, where I had been aiming for Casey’s at the north end of town... but, either way, we were back together - and had picked up a 4th!  Rolling again, we stopped for my quick nature break at Casey’s, and then headed north out of town.  

Terry was on a mission, and Glen was clearly still feeling strong - the two, after we mounted back up again, started advancing up the road just as before.  With a fresh shot of Hammer Gel in my gut, and more water to hopefully balance out the Payday situation... or whatever it was... and I was off, with Randy in tow for a few miles.  It was a good brain refresher, good to catch up, and the next few miles seemed to come a little easier as we passed Spring Hill High School and absorbed a little rash of traffic on the way to Olathe.  The road widened after 167th, and I began to feel better... nothing miraculous would come from my legs, but at least I was managing a more productive pace.  Finally, for the first time since beginning to feel down at Paola, I could begin to smell the barn.  I caught a red light, and used the opportunity to down another Hammer Gel, at 151st and Ridgeview, right by Olathe Karate Academy (where I do a fair amount of off-bike cross-training -- they aren’t compensating me, nor do they know I’m including their link here, but, hey - they’re good people, and it’s a local, small business.)

Apparently, I still have a knack for reading the weather.  Ever since having left Spring Hill the sky had begun to take hints foretelling rain... maybe even snow, had it been a dozen degrees cooler.  Sure enough, as the light turned green and Randy and I continued north, the rain began.  No sign of Glen or Terry, but it hardly mattered as the route transitioned to “in-town” mode - lots of traffic from local schools releasing, and the usual crop of Friday short-timers had taken to the streets for errands and home, Randy and I navigating the thick of it.  Finally feeling a bit more push returning to the legs, we bid our farewells as Randy peeled off for home, and I proceeded to chop up the rest of Ridgeview... inside ten miles to ride.  Catch Terry?  Catch Glen?  Bah.... just ride.  Legs feeling the squeeze of 125 miles, it didn't matter how fresh I’d have felt -- I wasn’t about to pull off a miracle run on the hills of Renner, and making matters worse, the light at 119th and Renner didn’t seem interested in letting me continue north anyways.  Three full cycles, too much traffic to even consider a “dead-red” move, I sat and waited for SOMEONE to show up and trip the sensors in my favor.  Finally... let’s get to work!

I started to count down the traffic lights.... and I basked in the glory of fresh tarmac near K-10... finally a fast downhill without having to dodge craters!  Lucky enough to have caught the green lights at the I-435 interchange near 95th street, I began the Lenexa Proving-Grounds roundabout party leading to 87th street, and... that a glimmer of safety yellow up there???  DUDE!!!!!  There wasn’t much kick left, but I suddenly felt like that guy that’s finally snapped the elastic and escaped the peloton to chase down the would-be breakaway artist...

c’mon light... c’mon light....C’MON!!

Free to fly now, no more lights for the final 2 miles or so from 87th to Midland Drive... and the finish.  I knew full well it didn't matter a smidge who would finish when... but, to have emerged from the funk, back into the game: nothing does it quite like a rabbit on the horizon.  Warbird trained... I have no thoughts, no hesitation... once I see my target, get.... it..... on!   Attaque!!  

Albeit an attack only in passion and spirit...for, in physique, it unfolds in slow motion... I shift down, stand, push, wince, then shift back up, falling into the saddle, only to spin the climb.... GADS!   But, it is done... the final climb, and now the descent to the podium..... er..... 7-Eleven, where I grab a chocolate milk.  Shaken... not stirred.


(What a ham.)  I rounded the final corner with a cheer, hoping to capture the attention of my counterparts as they had surely just arrived, but instead I managed only to startle a lady fresh from purchasing her cigarettes.  Sorry, ma’am.  Terry and Glen had been finished long enough to have disappeared from the c-store, so who knows who (or what) I’d been chasing up Renner in those final kilometers... but, hey, it got me there in fine style.  We met a few moments later, back where our cars had been parked, and reminisced on the day.  A tough patch with 30-to-go, yes... but I'd managed to fight on until the bitter end, and grab another finish. Not a bad way to wrap up 2012.  

I’m looking forward to January's ride, as I write this... the forecast temperatures look a bit forbidding, but my chin is high... only three months until Spring returns, and the spring brevet series... 90 short days... the toughest part of the randonneuring season has arrived... and, in my head at least, I am ready.

Get it on, indeed.

Songs in my Head:

All These Things That I Have Done - The Killers - For some reason, a song that I don’t know if I’d previously have admitted to liking managed to stay in my head for 125 miles, and it wasn’t a bad thing at all.  Turns out I know every verse, every nuance... so, on some level, it fits a formula that I like.  The reprise, even with its seemingly senseless repetition, peaks brilliantly - and as anthems go, it’s really well done.  With this single rolling over and over in my subconscious for 10+ hours, I left my iPod in the seatbag.  Just didn’t need it.

Roll Away Your Stone - Mumford & Sons - Honorable mention... for a mile or two, this one snuck in,  though it didn’t carry me as many miles as the track above, watching the video cements this band as perhaps one of the most important artists of the decade.  As if their studio works didn’t already capture the passion with which these gentlemen deliver a reel, this well-filmed live cut certainly does.  While the genre is certainly nothing new, these performers have brought it to a wider audience than previously thought possible, gathering fans wherever they play.  I’ve heard their songs on nearly every radio station in the city lately, proving definitively that you certainly can’t stick them in a neat demographic box.  If they aren’t included on someone-or-another’s “Best such-and-such” list in 50 years, I’d be very surprised.

As always, thanks for reading -- happy holidays, and happy new year!

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