Saturday, April 25, 2015

Is Cycling a Sport?

A medal awarded for successfully completing a 200K brevet.

Are cyclists athletes? Bike Snob, perhaps my favorite cycling blogger, thinks not:
"...on giving Freds the athlete thing, absolutely not.  I refuse to call them athletes ... They're (though I really should say "we're," since I too am a Fred) are not really athletes.  What they're doing is working out, or exercising.  They're athletes like the people you see sweating away in the window at Equinox are athletes.  If a cyclist who's participating in an amateur bike race is an athlete then when I'm defrosting a Trader Joe's pizza I'm a chef."

To clarify, Bike Snob uses the word "Fred" a bit differently than others in the cycling community. Most people use the word "Fred" to refer to a particularly unskilled cyclist or a cyclist who owns much more expensive equipment than is justified by their skill level. Bike Snob uses the word Fred to refer to almost all amateur bicycle racers, perhaps because he believes one or both of the previous definitions apply to them, or perhaps just to be funny. Is Bike Snob correct, do amateur bicycle racers fail to qualify as athletes? To decide what I thought about the issue, I read the Wikipedia Page on Athlete. Wikipedia says that an athlete is a participant in a sport. By this definition, all bicycle racers are athletes. Bike Snob, on the other hand, uses the definition from Merriam Webster:

athlete noun ath·lete \ˈath-ˌlēt, ÷ˈa-thə-ˌlēt\ : a person who is trained in or good at sports, games, or exercises that require physical skill and strength

Depending on what standards one chooses to use for "trained in" and "good at", one can define athlete in a wide range of different ways. Even discounting humorous usage, Bike Snob is as entitled to his definition of "athlete" as anyone else is to theirs. For reasons that may become apparent below, I choose to use a broader definition of the word athlete which essentially ignores judgements as to degree of training and skill level, and by my definition, amateur bicycle racers are athletes. How about other cyclists? For me, that depends on if cycling other than racing is a sport, which brings me to the title of this post.

As much as I enjoy Bike Snob, I really don't care if his definition of athlete and mine are the same or not. What I do care about is coming up with definitions of words (e.g. athlete) that I feel comfortable defending and which work well in the context of my blog. But why? There are two reasons:
  1. One of the reasons I enjoy writing for this blog is that it allows me to practice my writing skills. This includes the precise use of words. 
  2. I have been struggling with defining what kind of cycling I would like to do. Should I try to be a randonneur? A club cyclist? Are there other alternatives? Of course, I do not need to define things to do them, but I do believe that finding the words that accurately describe these different kinds of cycling helps me to think about them more productively.
Resolving the definition "athlete" to my satisfaction was relatively straightforward; an athlete is any participant in a sport. Defining the word "sport" proved to be much more interesting.

Summarizing the many definitions that have been given for "sport", there appear to be two to three components that are used to classify an activity as a sport. First, a sport is physical. Second, a sport involves competition. And perhaps third, a sport is done for the fun of the activity, not for some other reason. Clearly, amateur bicycle racing is a sport; it is physical, it involves competition, and it is done for the fun of it. Does the third criterion mean that professional bicycle racing is not a sport, since it is done primarily for the money rather than fun? My intuition says that professional bicycle racing is a sport; a professional sport. In general, I think a professional sport is defined as the professionalization of a physical competition which, in a non-professional setting, is done for fun.

How about downhill bicycle racing? This is not a competition about which rider is physically stronger and although based on speed, the speed is provided by gravity, not rider muscle. I have never participated in downhill bicycle racing or anything like it so I do not speak from knowledge, much less experience, but I will nonetheless opine that downhill bicycle racing is a sport. The physical aspect of sport does not consist of strength only, but includes physical skill, dexterity, etc., clearly the factors that determine which downhill racer will win.

At this point, I would briefly diverge and note there is considerable support for definitions of sport that do not meet the physical criterion. SportAccord, a major international association of sports associations includes five mental sports, including chess. Automobile racing is often considered a sport. I do not deny that the physical demands on racing car drivers is considerable, but I do not believe that the drivers' physical condition is what typically determines the outcome of a race; rather, that outcome is determined by the automobile. While I would never quarrel with fans or participants of these competitions over these definitions of "sport", for myself, I feel more comfortable retaining the "physical" part of the sport definition. Fortunately, this question does not affect what I write for this blog, since all forms of cycling are clearly physical.

In the examples of automobile racing or chess, the main thing they have in common with sports like running or football is competition. What then do we make of a bicycling activity like randonneuring, which claims to be so fiercely non-competitive that the finishers in an event are listed not in the order of finish, but alphabetically? Can you imagine the gold, silver, and bronze metals in olympic randonneuring going to those whose last names happen to occur near the start of the phone book? And yet, I am going to claim that in my mind at least, randonneuring is a sport. For those that don't know, randonneuring is a cycling activity in which riders attempt to finish long bike rides, most commonly 200, 300, 400, 600, or 1200 kilometers in length, within fixed, fairly generous time limits (13.5, 20, 27, 40, or 90 hours, respectively.) It is definitely physical and definitely done for the fun of it, and I claim that although riders are not competing against each other, they are competing against themselves to see if they can complete the distance. Randonneuring even awards medals, as seen in the photo at the top of this post.

How about bicycle commuting? Of course, there are cases where a racer or a randonneur commutes to work by bicycle to get some extra training miles in, in which case I claim that the main thing is the racing or the randonneuring, but how about someone whose main reason for bicycle commuting is to get to work? In my mind, that may be very admirable and wise, but it is not a sport. It is physical, but even stretching a point, there is no competition, and as I have set up the scenario, the motivation is not to have fun (as fun as the commute might happen to be) but to get to work.

Now for some harder cases: club riding, charity riding, and bicycle touring. The attribute of a sport that seems to be missing in these three cases is the element of competition, arguably the most defining characteristic of a sport. In preparation to diving into these questions, let me once again branch outside of cycling. This next quote comes from the Wikipedia page on Competition:
"Athletes, besides competing against other humans, also compete against nature in sports such as whitewater kayaking or mountaineering, where the goal is to reach a destination, with only natural barriers impeding the process."
Let me pair this with a quote from a tweet from the Adventure Cycling Association, a promotor of bicycle touring, about one of their tours:
"First (short) day on the #transamtrail with @thejchap up to afton before the assault on skyline drive tomorrow #mikeheadswest"
Anyone who has done serious bicycle touring knows it can be a challenge, but is it a competition? Although I definitely agree there is room for difference of opinion here, my intuition and experience says yes. In the second quote, I see competition against "skyline drive."

Charity riding is like touring in that one competes against the course, and in addition, most charity rides have variable distances, so one competes against oneself in terms of "I rode 40 miles last year, can I ride 60 this year?" Interestingly, club riding was the most difficult for me to classify. Because of the bikes used, clothing worn, and general attitude of the rides, it is looks a lot like bicycle racing, and so looks much like a sport. But is it? Some clubs are USA Cycling-affiliated racing clubs, so that club rides are training rides for the sport of bicycle racing, but many such clubs are not so affiliated and their members never participate in a race. One might argue that, like touring or charity riding, riders compete against the course or themselves, but since club rides tend to cover the same courses week after week, year after year, where's the competition? Is it the sprinting for city limit signs? Is it having trouble keeping up with a fellow rider one week, but leaving them in the dust the following week? Upon reflection, I think it is these things and more. In my mind, club riding is definitely a sport. What do you think?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Ken Kifer Revisited

When I first returned to cycling 6 years ago, I was confused by how much cycling had changed during the 35 years I had been away. I spent a lot of time on the Internet trying to get back up to speed, and one of the more helpful sites I came across was that of Ken Kifer. I rather bonded to the author in the course of reading his site, and was heartbroken to later read that what I was looking at was not a live site, but an homage; Ken Kifer was killed by a drunk driver in 2003. Copies of Ken's site are maintain in two places:
Some compare Ken Kifer to Sheldon Brown, and the parallels are strong. Both were passionate bicycling advocates with strong opinions and a burning need to share those opinions. Both were early publishers on the World Wide Web. And sadly, both authors died before my return to cycling, Sheldon in 2008 and Ken in 2003. While these similarities clearly put them into the same category ("apples to apples"), these two historic icons of the biking community are, in my opinion, very different in detail. Many of the differences between them are subjective, so everything in the following list is just my opinion:
  • Sheldon Brown wrote an encyclopedia. Ken Kifer wrote an advice book based on his personal experiences. Without Sheldon, our ability to work with bicycles, especially older bicycles, would be much poorer. Ken Kifer's contributions are more difficult to quantitate, though perhaps no less valuable.
  • When I change my beliefs as a result of using Sheldon Brown's site, it will most likely be because my understanding of the facts have changed. If I change my beliefs as a result of using Ken Kifer's site, it will most likely because my interpretation of the facts has changed.
  • Their writing styles are very different. I claim that, given a paragraph or so of writing from either one, I could identify whether it came from Ken or Sheldon with reasonable accuracy. 
I first read Ken's site a number of years ago, so what makes me write a blog post about it now? Perhaps that is the wrong question; I have not blogged about Ken Kifer before, he is worth blogging about, and now is as good a time as any. That said, two things happened recently that caused me to write this post:
  1. I had lost track of Ken's website. Among the posters I follow on Tumblr is oldbikesbelong, a bike shop in St. Louis that specializes in restored classic bikes. A few weeks ago, one of the bikes they offered caught my eye, a Schwinn Voyager, a Japanese-built Schwinn touring bike, so I did some research. It turns out that Ken Kifer was particularly fond of this bike, so my research lead back to his site. Having re-found it, it made it possible for me to blog about it.
  2. When I looked at the site years ago, I was most interested in what Ken had to say about desirable bikes and bicycle touring and ignored a lot of the other topics he covered. Since then, I have become much more interested in training and nutrition, and so having re-found the site, read more of what Ken had to say about a wider range of topics. Coincidentally, Grant Pedersen, one of the most authoritative contemporary voices in cycling, has just published a new book on these topics1, and the contrast between Ken's opinions and Grant's opinions is striking indeed! Thus, I had more to talk about than when I first encountered the site.
Ken Kifer stopped contributing to his website 12 years ago, when he was killed. Is this site still interesting today, or is it merely an historical curiosity? I maintain it is still interesting today. It is probably not the first cycling website I would recommend to a new cyclist, but I think a connoisseur of cycling, someone who enjoys reading what the web has to offer about their chose sport, would do well to give this site a look.

I might worry that my love for Ken's site might be "just me", but there is widespread homage to Ken on the web; I am not alone. That said, it is me expressing this high opinion of Ken, and here are some of the many things I found helpful or soul satisfying on Ken's site:
  • Old bikes are worth riding, they are often better than new bikes which change as much in response to fashion as they do to technological progress.
  • On the other hand, old bikes are not always worth fixing up.
  • What makes one bike good and another less good are not always obvious differences in specifications. Characteristics which feel glaringly obvious when you ride a bike can be difficult to explain.
  • Riding long hours at low speed can be good for you.
  • Current fads in nutrition can be bad for you.
  • More cycling paths may not be the best way to make cycling practical, safe, and fun.
  • In planning how to live your life, think carefully about your definition of success. The definitions and goals that are assumed by the majority may well be tragically wrong. Specifically, keeping in close contact with nature is valuable.
I can't think of a case where Ken ever told me something I did not know, but what he did do was help me sort through my confusion and gave me moral support when I found myself marching to the beat of a different drummer. Who am I to question a cycling great like Grant Pederson? Yet, when he councils "Eat Bacon, Don't Jog2" I beg to differ, and Ken supports me in that. But all of that is beside the point. The reason I suggest you might want to read Ken's website is not very much about the content of the site, but but very much about the art; Ken's voice. Give his website a look, and if the spirit moves you, let me know what you think in the comments to this post.

1) I have read the teaser material on the book that Amazon makes available, but I have not yet read Grant's book, so will (mostly) refrain commenting on it until I have done so. That said, the teaser material, plus what Grant discusses on these topics in his previous book, "Just Ride", was enough to increase my interest in Ken's take on nutrition and exercise.

2) Firstly, this is the title of Grant's new book, and at great peril, I infer the contents from this title. If, when I read the book, I find that inference to be incorrect, I will correct myself on this blog. Secondly, I make an obvious generalization; that this book is not about bacon and jogging only, but a high fat diet and aerobic exercise more generally. For me, the title might be "Eat Steak, Don't Bicycle."

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Houston Bike Club

The home page of the Houston Bike Club website

I have been on three rides with the Houston Bike Club (HBC), my wife, two. In their ride FAQ, HBC says:

The HBC has a variety of rides. The most common are the countryside rides where we ride on country roads well outside the city. We also have EZ rides which are slow paced social rides in town. There is a group named the Dirty Dozen who ride a century (100 miles) once a month. Orientation rides are for new members and beginners.

The first ride we did with the HBC, which my wife and I did together, was an "Orientation ride." We both found it very easy, too easy to be worth the long drive to get to it. I did the second HBC ride by myself, one of their "countryside rides." My plan was to ride with the slow group, to see if it might be something my wife could enjoy, but in my confusion, I ended up with the fast group, a group too fast for me. Both the good and the bad news was that a couple of the riders from that group stayed with me which got me home but also made me feel bad that I had "spoiled their ride". They were very friendly and gracious and never suggested I had done so, but I knew anyway. That experience was sufficiently discouraging that it was almost four years before we tried again. Recently, however, my wife has been more daring and enthusiastic about bicycling and suggested we give the HBC another try. So, a couple of weeks ago, we showed up in Columbia, Texas for their 37 mile Columbia to Fayetteville ride:

The HBC map handed out at the beginning of the ride.

By now, I have become fairly familiar with the roads this ride traversed. My second HBC ride was from New Ulm to Fayetteville, and covered many of the same roads. A few years back, my wife and I did a ride with our son and daughter-in-law that started in Columbus and went to Freisburg, a very similar route. Most recently, the last 200K brevet I rode included these roads exactly. Thus, I knew about the rolling hills on this course, but somehow I failed to put two and two together and consider what effect this might have on my wife.

We drove the hour from Houston to Columbus and showed up in plenty of time for the 8:30 am start. There were about 15 riders there from the HBC, about the same as the last time I rode with them. Although the average age of the riders might have been a bit younger than my wife and I, it would not be by much; we were definitely in the same demographic as the HBC riders. This time, I was quite careful to make sure we ended up with the slow group. As it turns out, the "slow group" is the wives; the husbands ride fast and long, the wives ride separately, slower and shorter. I can see how this division might arise organically and naturally, and I can see how it might work for this obviously tight-knit group, but it did make me feel a bit out of place in the slow group. That was somewhat ameliorated by the fact that I was obviously there to "take care of my wife", but made me wonder how this would work out in the long term. When we discussed joining the club, my wife and I wondered if we might form the nucleus of a new, even slower group. From our charity rides, we know there is a big chunk of cyclists like us, slower than the HBC, but are unaware of any clubs that are "our speed." Could the HBC become that club by including a new subgroup? Having seen how close the group is, and how well they have worked out their logistics to suit themselves, I wonder if that is possible. So, as we headed out of town, I was very curious to see if my wife would be able to keep up.

The slow group consisted of four women from the HBC and my wife and I. Normally I council my wife to start slow; I find that starting too fast can be disproportionately tiring. Given that the goal of this ride was to determine if this was the club for us, in this case, I suggested she push herself to keep with the group. At first, she was able to do that, but with each rolling hill, she found it harder, and by the time we got to Fayetteville, the other riders were almost out of sight. Once in Fayetteville (a beautiful Texas country town, complete with an antique sale on the town green), the group did not seem inclined to hang out for long, so after a bathroom break and a chance to eat the peanut butter sandwiches we had brought with us, it was time to head back. There was no hope of keeping with the group on that return trip, we were on our own from the git-go. As the ride continued, my wife became so exhausted that I began to worry about her. As we nervously traversed the narrow and heavily travelled bridge back into Columbus, I sadly concluded that the results of this "experiment" were clear; this was not the group for us, we had to keep looking to find our club.

When we got back to where we had all parked our cars, I was surprised to see that most of the group were still packing up for the drive home. In some of their literature, there was talk of a lunch at the end of their rides. I suppose it was possible that they all went to lunch as we were dragging ourselves back into town, but that seems unlikely; as slow as we were, I doubt that there was time for a lunch between when the rest of the group got back and when we did. It seems more likely that we were not as far behind as it seemed.

On the drive home, my wife was shocked and horrified by the conclusion to which I had come, vis a vis our place in the HBC. "I had fun!" she said. "I want to do this again!" Is that possible? A flatter route would have been easier, and there are many flatter routes on the HBC calendar. The ride certainly would have been easier on a tandem, should we ever get it together to purchase one. Although I have expressed pessimism about how much my wife and I can improve our cycling speed or endurance, perhaps there is some room for improvement there as well. Perhaps it is possible.

Finally, I would like to compare the different kinds of group riding experiences we have had over the years. The first group ride in which we participated was our vacation in Maine with the bicycle tour organizers, Summer Feet. We picked their easiest ride, and found that we were among the slower riders, but certainly not the slowest, and had no difficulty completing the rides in a timely fashion. When we ride the Tour de Pink or the MS150 training rides, we are again among the slower riders but not the slowest. At the beginning of the ride, it seems that everyone is passing us, but by the end of the ride, we are passing some of those same riders who had passed us earlier. I have ridden twice with my high school bicycling buddy, Paul, in Modesto California. The second time, we rode with some of his friends from the Stanislaus County Bicycle Club. They reminded me a lot of the men of the Houston Bicycle Club. They were older (like me) but rode much faster than I do. The style of riding seemed to be a series of races from rest stop to rest stop. When I ride with the Houston Randonneurs (HR), there are often times when I cannot keep up or when I am towards the back of the group, but the style of riding is very different. The second ride I did with them, we all stayed together for the first 45 miles, and it was a most enjoyable ride with lots of friendly conversation. Towards the middle of that stretch, we happened to bump into a group from the Houston Bike Club. One of their members was quite chatty and rode along with us. At one point, he suggested we all stop together and socialize, but then his face fell. "Oh that's right" he said, "you folks never stop." To me, that is the big difference. Rather than race from rest stop to rest stop, randonneurs just roll out the miles, mile after mile, with rest stops few and far between. I strongly prefer the randonneuring style of riding, which is why I am so sad I have not been able to participate in randonneuring as much as I would like.

And then there is the bikes. On my second ride with the Houston Bike Club, one of the other riders looked at my bike and commented "That's a nice touring bike you have." (In fact, it is not a touring bike at all. It is a low end, somewhat ad-hoc randonneuse.) Although the remark was friendly, I somehow felt bad. On both country rides I have been on with the HBC, most or all of the other riders were on carbon fiber racing bikes with skinny tires and narrow-range gears that probably cost 3-5 times as much as my Surly. A close friend of mine, who also favors this kind of bike and who knows me well enough to be blunt, tells me plaintively "David, you can afford a good bike! Lift mine! Lift yours! Don't you feel the difference?" He cannot conceive that there may be reasons I have the bike that I do; that I might prefer it to one like his. The Houston Randonneurs sport a much more eclectic mix of bikes than the HBC. Again, mine is probably the least expensive out there, but on a Houston Randonneurs ride, I see plenty of frames made of steel or titanium and fewer made of carbon. Gear ranges are wide, fenders are not uncommon, nor are leather saddles, and many bikes sport relatively fat tires. The charity rides we have participated in exhibit an even broader range of bikes. On these rides, the distribution of bikes seems to be bimodal, with one group of riders on the carbon fiber racing bikes, and another group riding anything and everything from mountain bikes to cruisers to classic steel framed bikes from the 1960's, 70's, and 80's.

So what are my wife and I to do? The HBC are "Roadies" as defined by Bike Snob. I am more of a "Retrogrouch", and in this matter (and this matter only), my wife follows my lead. We will always be a little self-conscious about our bikes in this group and they will always be too fast for us. Even if we get a tandem, we could only keep up with the wives, which is fine for my wife, but makes me feel like a bit of an interloper. What about my simpatico buddies in the Houston Randonneurs? Even on a tandem, even attempting only the shortest, 200K/125 mile rides, the HR is almost certainly too much for my wife. (It might be too much for me.) Charity rides are great and I suspect they will always be part of our mix, perhaps an increasing part, but they are somewhat seasonal, quite crowded (thousands of riders compared to the 10 to 15 riders on an HBC or HR ride) and tend to use the same roads over and over. We are still playing it by ear and will just have to figure this out as we go.

Friday, April 3, 2015

The No Bluebonnet Express

My wife on the left and me on the right. This picture was taken by the ride organizers
at the end of the ride.

As the regular reader of this blog knows, I have been wondering if I should replace randonneuring with something else as my Fun Bike Ride®. I will not get enough exercise if all I do is fun rides, my morning laps at the Rice Bike Track are a boring necessity, but I do want to get in as many fun rides as possible. Mostly, these rides are their own reward, but in addition, they provide the motivation to keep me going on my daily exercise routine. I am very glad that I participated in 200K brevets in 2012 and 2013, I found them exciting, motivating, and fun. I particularly enjoyed getting to know a few of the Texas randonneurs. I haven't officially abandoned randonneuring, and in fact I really thought I might be attempting a 200K brevet with the Houston Randonneurs this April. I was particularly looking forward to trying a different way to prepare for this ride. However, it seems unlikely I will make this attempt, and I am not sure when I might next consider another one. Some of the reasons for that decision are a concern that a 200K ride might be just a bit too much for my aged body, a sense of "been there, done that" combined with a belief that a 200K brevet is probably the maximum I can do, and the responsibility of caring for my aging Dad. All of that said, probably the biggest single thing that is preventing me from attempting a brevet this April is my wife's increasing enthusiasm for cycling. If I attempt a brevet, that is a weekend I don't ride with her. So, probably no brevet (by myself1) in April, but two exceptionally fun rides with my wife in March; the Blue Bonnet Express, described here, and a ride with the Houston Bicycle Club which I will describe in a future post.

The Bluebonnet Express is one of the oldest bike rides in the Houston area; this year's event was the 26th running. It is organized by Houston's Northwest Cycling Club. The MS150, a charity ride supporting the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation, is probably the premier cycling event on the Houston cycling calendar. The Bluebonnet express is one of a series of recommended training rides for the MS150, and so attracted 2,600 riders. The MS150 is held in April, and there are 38 training rides, one or two each weekend, starting the previous October. This cycle of training rides has taken on a life of its own, such that 4 of the "training" rides are held after the MS150! From my perspective, these training rides make excellent fun rides on their own.

The Bluebonnet Express offers routes varying from 25 to 75 miles in length. The map above shows the longer routes. We opted for the 45 mile distance. This ride takes place in the same part of Texas as the Tour de Pink; the roads in red are shared between these two rides.

So what did we think of the Bluebonnet Express? In summary, we loved it! We definitely plan to include MS150 training rides in our future schedule. In case it is not obvious, a bluebonnet is a wildflower, the state flower of Texas. The emergence of bluebonnets each spring is a big event. Many families take their annual family portrait midst the bluebonnets. When the first bluebonnets emerge depends on the weather that year and on microclimate; bluebonnets will emerge at different times in different parts of the state. Thus, when planning an annual bike ride, there is an element of chance; one cannot know of certain that the bluebonnets will be out on the day of the ride. We were hopeful, because a week or so before the ride, bluebonnets started appearing around Houston. Sadly, the ride was located in a cooler microclimate and on the day of the ride, nary a bluebonnet was to be seen. Nonetheless, the weather was just about perfect, the organizers and fellow riders were fun and friendly, and the rest stops sponsored by the Kroger grocery store chain provided welcome bathrooms, drinks, and snacks. As I have mentioned before, my wife and I are somewhat nervous riders, so the security in numbers from all the other riders along with the police support at busy intersections made the ride a lot more fun for us. We also enjoyed being introduced to some beautiful, quiet country roads that were new to us. This ride as about twice the number of participants as the Tour de Pink, the charity ride we have participated in four times before, and the difference was noticeable. There were so many riders that in spots (especially at the start) the roads were more crowded than we might have wished:

The tables offering food and drinks are hidden behind the crowd.

My wife bicycles to work, I ride in with her and do a training ride, and then each weekend we try to do one or two fun rides. In the past, most of these have used three or four standard routes, which I confess was starting to get boring. Each year, we have participated in the Tour de Pink. For my wife to be able to complete the 63 miles or that ride, we have to do some targeted training. For the Bluebonnet express, we did no training at all, deciding to go at the last minute. We were definitely tired by the end, and this was our only ride of the weekend, but our ability to complete it was never in question. The weekend after this ride, we went on a Houston Bicycle Club Ride, a very different (but also good) experience and the subject of a future post. One disadvantage of both of these rides is that it is about an hour by car to get to the start, meaning that it is more of a production to participate and that we have to get out of bed earlier than we might like. Going forward, we will have to decide on a mix of the same old/same old local rides, club rides like the Houston Bike Club ride, and charity rides like the Bluebonnet Express. I am very curious to see what we end up doing.

1) An interesting question is if my wife and I could complete a 200K brevet on a tandem. (She probably could not complete one on a solo bike.)