Keith Snyder
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This Saturday is the New Jersey Randonneurs' Princeton 300K, the second small step toward my year's goal of an SR Series.

As much as I'd prefer a Super Randonneur cape ("No capes!"), what I'll get from RUSA if I manage the whole series is a little medal and some bragging rights. It'll also help qualify me for next year's Paris-Brest-Paris 1200K, about which I decided that if I can't afford a week in France, I'll spend the same days riding from here to Montreal and back.

My last post, the one I took down because it was too personal, and now I understand why people start anonymous blogs, alluded to some problems--a plethora of problems, a veritable cornucopia of conundrums--over the last six months. One of the major categories of problem was financial: As much as we all act publicly like nothing's up, graphics freelancers in NYC got hit early and hard, and we'll recover last. There are several punchlines to this oh-so-hilarious-seriously-you'll-sooo-laaaaaaaugh joke, but the one that's relevant to my SR Series attempt is the one where I can't afford a hotel room in Princeton this weekend so I can get a decent night's sleep before the 4am start time. In fact, until this month's work results in some checks next month, I can't quite afford food and drink along the event route. Train fare out there and back is going to eat up everything I've got left.

Since I'm not about to reconsider my goals just because of some stupid economic downturn, this one's taking some extra planning. My saddlebag is pretty capacious, but it's also packed with spare tubes, pump, chain tool, Bag Balm (don't ask), baby wipes (really, don't ask), and other stuff that we non-racer types bring along on brevets. (The racer types just bring a spare tube, a CO2 cartridge, and their whippetlike bodies and, I guess, can afford a second attempt if something breaks on this one.)

Randonneuring is about self-sufficiency as much as it's about mileage, scenery, and sleep deprivation, and it's a sport with a history. Some of the miles on my recent 200K were passed learning about the links between early bicycling and the French literary scene from a more experienced randonneur, with whom I agreed last year, when rolling up to a 400K after taking a ferry to New Jersey and riding to the starting line, that arriving at a brevet on a bike instead of unhooking it from a car rack has a certain purity to it.

To a much greater degree than in racing, style counts.

Anyway, back to the food issue. I didn't intend to spend $45 of my last $80 last weekend on a training ride, but when it's 90°F and you're doing 90 miles, including a lot of climbing, the whole "I love bicycling in an economic downturn because it's FREE!" thing goes to hell. Hydration and caloric intake ended up costing $0.50/mile, and there was no avoiding it. I forgot what it's like to ride in heat. The choice was spend or keel over, so I spent and didn't keel over.

Last year I relied mostly on Hammer Nutrition Perpetuem to get me through my first brevets. To a great extent, this was because I'm wary of the family hypoglycemia-ish weirdness, and partly it's also that I found Perpetuem is the only powder that doesn't leave me feeling hung over the next day. But since then, watching the habits of other randonneurs (or anyway, the ones who aren't all about the carbon bikes, GPS navigation, and expensive sports drinks), and adding up comparative costs, I've been experimenting with relying more on actual food. It seems to work; my training rides have been food- and tea-driven this year, and while I still need to systematically iron out the gaps between salami sandwiches in a way that will guarantee no lapse of intake on brevets, I'm making it official: This Saturday will be all-food (specifically food we already own) and all self-sufficient, and that means...

Dunno. Sandwiches, I guess. No mayo, because they have to last more than a day in unknown temperatures. And for drinks...again, not sure. Maybe carry orange juice concentrate in a bike bottle and reconstitute it along the way from water faucets? I've got a few scoops of Perpetuem left from last year, too. I could use that up while I'm at it. A few tea bags and that may be it. The saddlebag has a couple of loops on it that I can hook a plastic bag through, so that'll be where the food goes.

Anyway, if you've got ideas, share 'em. I've been prepping the bike today and yesterday, and tomorrow I'll prep the rider's fuel supply. Then it's a few hours of sleep, out the door at midnight and onto a 1:41am train to Princeton. The event starts at 4am. I'll try to post pics.

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