Randonneur riders roll through GL
July 14, 2016
On a bright and windy afternoon in Grand Lake, just off Grand Ave on Shadow Mountain. Drive, Andy Albershardt shouts and waves his arms, flagging down a cyclist rolling down the road. He guides the rider to the tent set up in the front yard of a house, where his wife Andrea franticly puts together turkey sandwiches on a table packed with bananas, potato chips, crackers, cookies, small cups of baked beans, and other high-calorie snacks. The cyclist is 73-year-old Ken Bonner from Victoria, British Columbia. He dismounts his bicycle gingerly and holds out a folded piece of paper with ride checkpoints listed called a brevet card for Andy to mark, then makes his way to the tent for a sandwich and a coke. Bonner and around 35 other riders set out from Louisville, near Boulder, on July 11 on a 1,200 kilometer ride that would take them as far north as Laramie, Wyo.
The ride is called the High Country 1200, and is organized through Randonneurs USA. Randonneur riding is a long-established style of bike touring that originated in France and requires riders to complete the route in 90 hours small aid stations, called controls, dot the route.
Cindy and Hoppe Southway, long-time Grand Lake residents and friends of the Albershardts, agreed to let the checkpoint be set up in their front yard.
For Ken Bonner, complete the ride would mark his 51st 1,200 kilometer ride. Randoneé rides are not a race in the classic sense, but the riders do have a destination with places to stay each night and are required to reach the start-finish line in Louisville by Thursday at 10 p.m. to earn an official finish. Riders average between 2 and 4 hours of sleep per night over the course of the ride. Albershardt had started the race with the other riders but dropped out after a grueling first day battling strong winds along the Front Range and into Wyoming and switched to helping his wife take care of the riders at the control stops. Albershardt was a talented bike racer in the 1980s, battling it out with cycling greats like Greg Lemond and Davis Phinney in the Coors Classic. But he moved on to Randonneur riding when he got tired of the politics and extreme competitiveness of racing. Now, he is a finisher of the famed Paris-Brest-Paris Randoneé along with many other rides around the US.
"Randoneuring is for the adults, racing is for the brats," Albershardt said with a smile.
For riders who complete the entire course, their signed and stamped brevets will be sent to France to be approved by the Randonneur Mondiaux, the international governing body for Randoneé rides.
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