14 March 2011

Practicing Brevet

I am gaining a lot of experience at preparation for Brevets -- "randonneuring" (unassisted long distance cycling) events.

I download the cue sheet (and map if available), study the course in detail on Google Maps, noting the turns, copying relevant pages from my highway map books (or printing from the internet) and then trace the route in felt-tip pen highlighter.  I think about where the major climbs are, how tired I will likely be and, on the longer events, where I will want to rest or sleep.  I try to prepare my bicycle and gear well in advance, studying the weather forecast, anticipating the need to deal with a significant swing from daytime flatland sunny high temperatures to the bone chilling cold of a mountain pass at 4AM, figuring out whether sustained rain is likely and so requires different gear selection, making sure batteries are charged, lights functioning, tires and brakes in good shape, chain clean and lubed, reflective gear ready.  Recently, I've even made an extra set of the maps for Jerome on the Brevets we have ridden together.

I went through the full exercise last month for the February 26-27 Chiba 300 km Brevet.  Unfortunately, work intervened (a major tech M&A transaction with a short deadline), with meetings and calls scheduled throughout the time I would be riding, and a need to be awake and functioning during the 12 plus hour sleep/recovery period I would need following such an event.  So I gave the map set to Jerome and DNS'ed.

At least I could make it up by signing up (the last day before sign up closed!) for the March 12 Chubu 300 km Brevet.  I did the same thing again, a full preparation drill on Wednesday and Thursday evenings complete with maps and markers, gear (conveniently some of it still where I had put it for the February 26 event preparations).  Then I rode my Cervelo to work on Friday so that I could leave straight from Tokyo Station at 4:50PM, for dinner with a friend in Nagoya, a night at a business hotel and the early start from a park along the Kisogawa north of Ichinomiya City.

Then at 2:46PM Friday our office building began to sway violently to and fro as the earthquake hit Tohoku ... and you pretty much know the rest.  The trains did not run again on Friday -- and despite repeated statements that a few shinkansen would head Southwest from Tokyo, none did to my knowledge.  At least this time I will not get a DNS, as a late night email indicated the event had been cancelled (hard to hold a cycling event through the countryside/hills when the news keeps warning of aftershocks).  The Brevet has now been rescheduled for April 30.

I guess the 600 km "Attack Fukushima" Brevet that I signed up for on April 23, which is supposed to go up the coastline by the Fukushima Daiichi and Daini nuclear plants to Soma city, where many lives were lost as a result of the tsunamis -- though nothing near as bad as farther to the North -- will probably need to be re-routed in a different direction.  I fear that any trips to Fukushima in the near future would be as part of a volunteer relief/rebuilding operation, and not for my enjoyment.

It is common to refer to the "practice of law" or the "practice of medicine" in order to describe one's profession as a lawyer or doctor.  As a transactional lawyer, this becomes a bit of an inside joke when a client plans lots of transactions but never implements them, or asks us to think about all kinds of improbable eventualities.  "Practicing" law, just like practicing a musical instrument without performing.  So I guess this past month I have been "practicing Brevet".

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