01 July 2011

It Takes Dedication to Be a Randonneur

Well, it all starts like this. It rains a lot in Seattle. It isn't so much that it rains a LOT, but it rains FREQUENTLY. We have months on end where I never seem to see dry pavement, much less dry grass. This spring has been very difficult. First it was cold and wet. Then it was warm and wet. The sun would come out for a day, then rain again. By early February, the grass was nearly knee high and I thought I should probably mow it.

Well, I should mow as soon as I got home from that ride I was doing.

I got home, and it was time to cook dinner. Then there was the matter of washing the bike clothes. Of course, the bike needed cleaning, too. By that time, the sun was setting.

"A week or so went by and it was time to do another 300k. As soon as I'm done with that, I'll mow the lawn," I thought to my self.

Well, of course you will.....

I looked at the weather forecasts and there in mid-March and thought I'd catch a break about the 19th or 20th. One day of sun and back to rain. So I put on my rain coat and went for a ride. Wet grass will burn out a lawn mower engine, right?

After having only 3 days without rain in March, the grass was growing just fine, but wasn't getting any shorter. Mimi said nary a word. She's good that way.

April came around. I really do need to get out there and mow. Remember what I said about March? Well, April was worse. Beautiful weather for riding a bike. Not such great weather for mowing a lawn. Especially a lawn that has not risen to mid-thigh high. I hate the weedeater. It makes funny noises.

There were 27 days of below normal temperatures in April. There were three days it didn't rain. I was not feeling much like working in the yard.

In the meantime, however, I'd done a really fast Seattle Randonneurs 200k and had a great time on the SIR 300k. I also had some unfinished business with the Oregon Randonneur's "Covered Bridges" 400. It rained. A lot. Non-stop. I finished. Then there was Fleche. There was also a need to keep doing 100k's with Mimi. Also, a guy has to ride his bike to work, right?

May came. I needed to get the lawn mowed. But the weather was getting a little better. It only rained 16 days in the month, but it never really got dry. When it did, I needed to get a good ride in. I had a 600k to do. It wasn't going to be easy, so I had to really keep my tush in the saddle. So I rode on the best days I could. By now, the grass was waist high and I said that I would mow as soon as I got done with the 600. And the grass grew while I was gone.

I got home from Arizona and was pretty tired. Then it rained. If you've ever tried to mow waist deep wet grass, you probably understand my dill, Emma. This was going to be a problem.

Mimi asked me if I thought we should just roto-till the back yard and then seed it over. I thought about that. After some deep consideration, I thought that would be more work than mowing. I said that I didn't think roto-tilling was the answer.

A couple more weeks went by. The temperatures warmed up. The grass was now mid-chest high. As soon as I get my July 300K done, I'll mow.

Well, I guess that was the one that did it. Mimi came home one evening and asked what I thought about renting some goats. GREAT!!! Now there's a solution. They can eat the whole doggone back yard! Blackberries, ivy, weeds, grass, plum tree, fig tree, cherry tree. Mowing, pruning and weed control all rolled into one!

So she did.

I arrived home from my evening commute on Tuesday night to a herd of five goats. There was Ginger (brown adult nanny) and Daisy (black and white nanny with one horn) and three kids. Adorable little pests, they were.

Wednesday, my friend from North Carolina arrived. We met in the north end as he was arriving in town having ridden from 10 miles east of Stevens Pass that day and fully loaded. I escorted him from Kenmore, along Lake Washington and over some of seattles more fun hills to get to I-90 and home.

As we arrived, Mimi opened the garage for us. The herd was off chewing on leaves and berries, but as we rolled into the garage, they were much more interested in what we were doing than in mowing the lawn.

I believe the goat herd wants to join the Randonneurs and do a 100k with me.

I wonder who Mimi will get to mow the lawn now?

In retrospect, it really takes a lot of dedication and devotion to commit onesself to the randonneuring lifestyle. One needs to sacrifice a lot of other things if he or she wants to really give himself to long-distance, unsuppoted endurance cycling.

I believe sacrificing one's lawn to nature is a really good place to start.

Donald Boothby
July 1, 2011

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