“A randonée is not a race.”

Yesterday, I did this.

Breaking News - Chuck Norris takes up cyclingLet me provide a translation.

This event is a randonnée, which is a waymarked ride rather than a race. This randonée had three different lengths for three levels of mountain-bikers.

(1) Fit,
(2) Super-Fit, aka Jens Voigt,
and (3) Chuck Norris.

It’s called a “Benefitsride” because a cyclist who is not in great shape should check his or her level of health benefits before attempting to ride the route.

From the website for the randonnée, we find the sentence:

Den 10/10/10 as nees eisen Benefitsride, déi Randonnée wou den Erléis integral fir e gudden Zweck gespend gëtt.

My loose translation of this as follows:

Will should stay home on 10/10/10, lest the consequences of his unhealthy lifestyle become apparent when he is about 8km into the ride and looking up a series of switchbacks consisting of uneven rocks.

Also from the website, we find this, in Luxembourgish:

Déi lescht Joëren waren et ëmmer Don’en a Form vun Mountainbike + Equipement fir divers Kannerheemer.

Which means:

People here don’t just go out for a spin on their mountain bikes, and they think that the ravines around Luxembourg are gentle and easy, so you better have done more than once-a-week rides since August.

Well, I didn’t cycle more than once a week, every Sunday, this summer.

And I nearly died.

First, my lungs and my heart said, “Enough!” There may documentation of my distress, as a few cruel photographers were stationed along the course.

Just after I talked my cardio-vascular system back on board, my legs said, “You think we can keep pumping away like this? Not without some serious pain, buddy.”

Meanwhile, I learned how to translate “Passing on your left” in at least five languages.

By the 20km mark, my legs and arms were limp,
my brain was dangerously oxygen-deprived,
and most of my fellow cyclists were scooting off to the 45km and 60km loops.

It was a great time, in the sense that I didn’t require the rescue helicopter.

(Not that I didn’t think, “This would be a convenient place to set down,” when I reached the top of one hill.)

But seriously, my two loyal and generous companions kept me going until the end. I did appreciate the challenge and, once in a while, I marveled at the autumnal colors of the lovely sunny morning, deep in the woods outside Luxembourg-Ville.

Plus, I felt like I earned the new machine that I’d bought the day before, a Trek 8000 that looks just like this:

The bike wasn’t ready to ride quite yet, so this was my last adventure on my ancient Stumpjumper (1994). Here’s a good photo of someone else’s trusty old steed. Mine has a Specialized-branded Rockshox front fork. It carried me up and down trails in old coal mines in east-central Illinois, prairies in southeastern Wisconsin, the Wicklow Mountains of Ireland, and the forests of Luxembourg.

After years on forgiving steel with gentle cantilever brakes, I’m going to acquaint myself with an efficient aluminum frame and touchy disc brakes.
Steel is real

I’m also going to get into shape, so I can have some unbridled fun on my next randonnée — and live up to the potential of my new machine.

8 Comments to ““A randonée is not a race.””

  1. Tom said...
    11 October 2010

    I hope you enjoyed riding as much as i did reading your blog post.
    Don’t hesitate to contact us to improve your cycling skills.

  2. The Expatresse said...
    11 October 2010

    Oh, chapeau! That is great. It was a gorgeous day to be out.

    I could handle the 30km, but not sure I could do lots and lots of ups and downs. I am certainly not VTT material.

    Again, very impressed!

  3. Dave said...
    12 October 2010

    Very Impressive, Will! The worst hill I encountered this weekend was the slight incline from Hunt Club to O’Plaine.

    Next year, that Trek 8000 will get you through the 45k, I’m sure. Looks like a beautiful ride.

  4. Dave said...
    13 October 2010

    Also, I forgot to mention… An important trick I learned from Jens Voigt, as told by Bob Roll. When you legs are screaming they want to stop and pullover, just look down and say, “Shut up, Legs!:


  5. Paul Eaton said...
    15 October 2010

    Hi, It was a fantastic day, unbelievable weather and scenery. I am a regular cyclist and did the 60k circuit. I discovered some of the best new trails I have seen in Luxembourg especially in the forest above Mersch. Quite often at this time of the year the randonnées are hellish adventures trudging through gloopy mud where even the flat sections sap away the energy.

  6. Laurie said...
    15 October 2010

    And upon your return to the States, you will be in shape to add townie bars to the circuit… I told my legs to shut up a couple of times — they said “Have another Bud!”



  7. Will said...
    15 October 2010

    Thanks for the comments, everybody — especially my fellow randonneurs.

    I agree with Paul Eaton’s comment, that the route covered some very good trails. It was a new area for me and my companions, too. Plus, it’s close to my house, so I look forward to re-discovering those trails for months to come.

    I now hear Jens saying, “Shut up legs!” every time I cycle uphill. I love that guy. Dave, after following your link, I spent about a half-hour watching YouTube clips of him.

    Laurie, the Tour of Lake Geneva sounds like a fun event and worthy memorial.

  8. Dave said...
    22 October 2010

    This is a comment on the tumblr feed- I am LOVIN’ the Alpe d’ Huez on the second to last day of the tour. AWESOME.