I will be offline for a few weeks while I’m away participating in Paris-Brest-Paris for the second time.
If you are curious about randonnering, a form of ultra distance cycling w/roots in France, here’s an NPR report on the history of the sport (w/a soundbite at the end by me). I’ll post a gallery when I get back, emphasizing custom bikes, canvas bike bags, roadside eats and wool jerseys.
While I don’t need another bicycle I’ve been air shopping for Alex Singers and Rene Herse randonnee frames via ebay. Here’s a beautiful 1975 randonneuring bike from the Rene Herse workshop. If you’re a pure road cyclist and you’ve never seen a Rene Herse, check out all the bike’s unique, rando specific features: custom front rack, integrated lighting system, polished mafac racer brakes, full metal fenders, maxicar hubs, etc. In the event of a zombie apocalypse, a Rene Herse randonnee would make the perfect getaway rig.
Thanks to flickr contact Paris-Roubaix for posting these photos of Nancy Neiman, the U.S. National Cycling Champion in 1953, 1954, 1956 and 1957. Neiman was the first American woman to ride a stage race in Europe. I don’t follow contemporary cycling because the athletic garb and bikes are so alien to me. I much prefer the era of amateur cycling in the 1950s documented in these photographs. I love how Neiman looks like an everyday person (the girl next door!) and her steel track bike resembles something I would ride today. Here’s a 1957 photograph of Nancy in her U.S. National Champion’s jersey. She’s riding a French Rochet Special bike fitted with a Stronglight cottered steel chainset and Lyotard Marcel Berthet pista platform pedals.
I just got back from the 17th edition of Paris Brest Paris, an ultra distance cycling event held every four years in France. I always say that I record and erase my memory of rides longer than 600k. I can confirm via official records that I successfully covered the 1200k course in a time of 86 hours and 55 minutes. My primary setback was a series of intense drowsy spells that left me convinced that I was pedaling in my sleep, but overall I felt strong.
First night. 1200k to go
Scenic views and slumbering cyclists
During PBP, I did my best take photos of my practiced obsessions: people, bicycles and food. Snaps of the scenic countryside are in short supply. For interested parties, here is visual evidence of my participation in Paris Brest Paris with some fragmentary notations
Maya selling kerchiefs on bike inspection day. She organized some of the first randonneuring events in Japan.
Food is one of the great motivators in cycling. On PBP, you can forage from Boulangeries on the course for your primary fuel (for me, pain au chocolat and jambon sandwiches). Jeff’s strawberry tart was a visual highlight of one boulangerie which we liked as much for the free coffee. Fatigue and the need for forward movement often drove us to save time by eating at the official PBP controls. My photos reflect the matter of fact nature of this food.
OK, if you want to really learn the Carhartt ropes you should be over at 10engines right now (above image lifted from there). James has an almost worrisomely complete Optic.
Just got a few lovely deadstock lids, see above, from another Carhartt wunderkind, Jason of Wilderness Workshop. Reminded me to put up a couple of my old favorites.
Bequested double-front work pants, new in the 1980s, handed down from one CnT generation to the next. I got ’em for a few years and added quite a few scars and patches. Above: raising frame on an AT privy in 2006 with friend Ira.
One of my favorites. Centennial edition chore coat, blanket-lined. Thrifted a long time ago, in a thrift store far far away.
The fit got baggy in the mid-1990s and then it all went offshore… such a shame. Britches of choice for the lacrosse and hockey frats back in college, for better or worse. Love that sturdy dry duck.
Tomorrow, I (Lesli) leave for France for Paris-Brest-Paris,”the most famous long-distance randonnée.” During the ride (which covers 12oo kilometers in 90 hours), I will be off the grid and out of communication with Archival readers. In lieu of a live broadcast, I’m providing some placeholder photographs documenting my experience.
Arrival at Brest
On the train
Lining up for the August 21st start (8 p.m.)
Traveling along a road in France
Overnight control in Loudeac
At the finish (August 25th).
Interested parties can track my progress via the Official Paris-Brest-Paris site. The Vanilla and I are registered as US frame number 4641. Eight riders from my club, the Oregon Randonneurs, will be making the trip. After PBP, I will be spending a week in Paris recovering from the ride and shopping from the present.
As prep for the night start of Paris-Brest-Paris, a small group of Oregon Randonneurs decided to do an all-night 200k on Friday. Friends Susan, Theo, Marcello, Bill and I headed out from Hillsboro, Oregon at 9 p.m. for a sub 24 hour brevet. Our route would take us out to Dallas, Oregon (about 65 miles away) and back again in under 9 hours and 55 minutes. After a few hours in the dark, my brain starts rattling around like a ball bearing in a spray paint can. I take photos to keep myself awake and as evidence of my participation. Here a few snaps:
Of course we’re all about shopping from the past, but the magic happens when an opportunity comes around to shop successfully from the present. Somewhere in between Danny, Champion of the World, Lady Chatterley’s Lover and The Rules of the Game, I became entranced with the conflict of the gamekeeper and the poacher.
Ever since it came online, I’ve been totally stuck on Frank Leder’s POACHERS series. He’s really killing it with some of the details in this collection. Check out POACHERS at his splash page, but make sure to get into the archives, too. Hinterland: Fleisch and Hinterland: Vagabund are some of my favorites, but honestly, it’s all good.
There’s so much hunting clothing in the city that it’s refreshing to take inspiration from the poachers, who wear their city clothing in the country. When the apocalypse comes, we’ll no doubt have forgotten our Tin Cloth and Bean Boots at home. So join the Archival Clothing team on the south side of Eugene’s Spencer’s Butte: we’ll be the people bagging deer while clad in tattered tweeds and leaky brogues.
On Sunday, I participated in the second Eugene Tweed ride of 2009 (disclosure: I was not present for Tweed Ride #1 which took place, according to this blog report, in slanting rain). By comparison with the original London Tweed Run, the Eugene version lacked eccentric Brits in matching plus fours and cycling brogues. However, our ride, 15-ish, strong, sported a surprisingly deep range of tweed themed outfits. Several folks even created their own refab knickers from found, thrift store woolens (most notably, this pair of donegal tweed trousers).
There was also an admirable roster of bicycles on the ride including a Kogswell porteur, a pair of Winter customs, a Velo-Orange (mine), Sara’s refurbished Bottecchia, vintage Raleighs and Schwinns, modern-brand uprights and a supporting cast of child bikes and cargo trailers. The optical center of the ride was this custom, wooden trunk-trailer which transported our tea and picnic provisions: