Our vet tells us that if given a choice, our cat Purrl Grey "would opt for a life of obesity." I think Purrl Grey has a lot in common with a lot of people. I suspect that if I didn't ride all the kilometers I do and stuck to my "not a nutritional role model" ways, I would probably be as round as one of Tarik's cats. Fortunately, I've fallen in with a group of folks whose ideas of fun include mapping out routes and riding lots of kilometers in all kinds of weather.
This morning I wake up early and find that the cat has broken her diet by breaking into my son Eric's stash of powdered sugar mini-donuts. Purrl loves donuts. I swear at the cat, clean powdered sugar and donut crumbs off the floor, secure the remainder of the donuts and look out the kitchen window at the rain. It's a good day to ride.
I leave home a bit after 6:00 AM and ride the 30 kilometers up to the Redhook brewery in Woodinville. It's about 40 degrees so I'm layered in wool and all three garments I wrote about in an article titled Good Gear for Bad Times.
In most crowds, I would be the most dorkily dressed fellow, but with the randonneurs, I blend right in. The SIR 100K Populaire ride is our most popular event (hmm... it's our shortest ride and it begins and ends at a brewery) and today we have well over 100 riders. The crew manning the check-in and the various checkpoints all pre-rode the course on various days. Eric has designed a new course that is exactly 100 kilometers long and he'd managed to find enough hills and quiet roads and even promises us a bit of an unpaved horse trail. Earlier in the week Mark and Narayan got to trudge through snow on their pre-ride but everybody seems in good spirits today. Peter and Max have coffee and muffins for everyone and we all check out each other's bikes and gear before we all take off precisely at 9:00 AM.
The ride is fabulous. The cue sheet is perfect, the organizers are perfectly organized and despite the gray conditions everyone I see is smiling. Even Dave Reed, whose fixed gear decides to toss its chain a few times is upbeat. And my pal Ken Krichman, who is never happy unless he's got something to grumble about, is happy to grumble about how the gearing on his three-speed Kogswell should maybe be a bit lower. Not that the gearing seems to slow him down at all, he motors on faster than many folks carrying far fewer years and far more gears.
Albert informs me that his Captain America tights get him more respect from the redneck pickup crowd. The theory is that good ol' boys may not think twice about harassing a cyclist, but the stars and stripes will make them pause. It's an interesting notion and Albert is sure the tights are effective. The tights are a bolder fashion statement than I'm willing to make and I saw what happened to Peter Fonda and his bike at the end of Easy Rider, so I think I'll stick with my existing (slightly) more sedate wardrobe.
The great thing about a club like the Seattle International Randonneurs is something I've come to think of as the power of positive peers. Alone, we might, like my cat, opt for a sedentary, donut scarfing life. But together, we ride.
And if you ride enough kilometers, you get to scarf a lot of donuts.