Monthly Archives: June 2016

Second Conference on Planing

CRC is a proud sponsor of the second Conference on Planing to be held July 10th through July 12, 2016 in Brussels, Belgium.

1911_Solvay_conference

Attendees of the First Conference on Planing

Program Overview
———————–
Sunday, July 10, 2016
9:00 am – 4:00 pm  Short Courses
10:00 am – 8:00 pm  Conference Registration
5:00 – 6:30 pm Tutorial Lecture, hosted by Jan Hayne, “Planing: Tell Me Something I Don’t Know”
7:45 – 9:00 pm  Welcome Reception
———————–
Monday, July 11, 2016
8:30 – 10:30 am  Oral Sessions
10:30 am – 2:30 pm  Poster Session, Exhibits, Lunch Break
2:30 – 4:30 pm  Oral Sessions
4:45 – 5:30 pm  Plenary Lecture:  Award for a Distinguished Contribution in the Field of Planing Research
———————–
Tuesday, July 12, 2016
8:30 – 10:30 am  Oral Sessions
10:30 am – 2:30 pm  Poster Session, Exhibits, Lunch Break
2:30 – 4:30 pm  Oral Sessions
4:45 – 5:30 pm  Plenary Debate:  Einstein, A. and Bohr, N.  “Momentum Transfer During Planing Episodes:  Realization of a Thought Experiment”
6:30 – 9:30 pm  Closing Event
———————–
Featured Lectures
Bohr, N.  “The planing postulate and recent developments of planing theory”
Curie, M.S.  “The Discovery of Planing”
Heisenberg, W.  “Über den anschaulichen Inhalt der segeln Kinematik und Mechanik”
Pauling, L.C. “Introduction to Planing: with Applications to Randonneuring”
Poincaré, H. “An Introduction to Planing:  The Physical Principles of the Planing Theory”
Solvay, M.E.  “La théorie du saut de la bicyclette : rapports et discussions de la réunion tenue à Bruxelles, du 30 octobre au 3 novembre 1911”
Wheeler, J.A. “Participatory anthropic principle and the role that consciousness plays in bringing planing into existence”

Unknown Meeting Photos!

Rupert Smedeley attended the Unknown Meeting and witnessed several miracles being performed by a person or persons unknown who seemed to be worshiped by the other attendants of the Unknown Meeting. Several photos were taken documenting the miracles, but unfortunately Rupert neglected to remove his lens cap.

Despite the low quality of the photos, we still feel there is valuable information to be gleaned from the images and to be shared with randonneurs and commuters hungry for news concerning this historic occasion.

Enjoy!

unknown photo

Figure 1: Leader of Unknown Meeting meets and cures the chafing sufferers.

The meeting started with the gathering of the randonneurs suffering from the chafing disease and a great Curing ensued. With a few words, spit and mudslinging from the leader, not only the chafing sufferers but also the blind, a few paralytics, and a fellow with dropsy were cured.

unknown photo

Figure 2: Leader of Unknown Meeting resurrects several punctured tubes and supple tires with torn sidewalls.

Soon after the great curing of discomforts, the raising of the dead tires and tubes ensued. Such a glorious sight to behold!

unknown photo

Figure 3: Leader of Unknown Meeting during the correcting of the fender lines.

A row of randonneuse’ with uncurable fenderlines were then straightened, and then the blessing of the leather washers was performed.

unknown photo

Figure 4: Leader of Unknown Meeting feeds the multitudes

Folks were getting hungry but all we had was a couple of doughnuts in a paper bag. Well, the leader had folks line up and the bag of doughnuts never ran out!

And then the leader stood upon a level place and began his sermon:

unknown photo

Figure 5: Leader of Unknown Meeting delivers his sermon on the mount

‘Worshipers, minions, and subscribers! I beseech thee to love your volunteers as you would love yourself; and as I would have you love yourself, if those same volunteers give you a hard time about your reflective gear, I say you should turn the other (butt) cheek and say, ‘fear this’.

Do not judge your neighbor’s fender lines too harshly, for your fender lines may be judged someday, and forgive those who cut in front of you in the line at the quicky mart controle, for they know not what they do.

Remove the gnat in your own eye before you remove the dust mote from your neighbor’s – that is, think twice before calling the RUSA Police about a fellow randonneur’s generous interpretation of the rules; the officers are only volunteers with limited resources, you know.

A good randonneur does not produce bad results in a randonnee, and a bad randonneur cannot produce good results; each randonneur is known by their stats posted on the RUSA website.

Why do you call me a randonneuring god when I am only a guy who likes to ride bikes, and yet do not do as I as I repeatedly tell you to do as outlined in my quarterly newsletter?

Now I say: whomever follows these words builds on the rock of cycling truth and beauty, and those who do not, build on the sand of poor fender lines, stiff tire sidewalls, and magnic lights.

Go forth, multiply, and grow the sport in the way I have taught you.’

With the end of the speech, a strange light came to glow near the head of the leader, creating a sort of a halo around his head. Rupert has since sold all of his cycles and back issues of Velo News, converted all of his pants to knickers, and has wandered off following the leader of the Unknown Meeting.

Stay tuned for updates sure to follow.

Taming a feral Randonneur FAQ

We follow our popular article on adopting an older randonneur with a response to several readers who asked what they should do when they spot what is clearly, to them, a wild feral randonneur. It is heart breaking to see a wild feral group of randonneurs following around their RBA in inclement weather, and it is important that we tame these intrepid individuals to limit the spread of chafing and other RTD’s.

Feral randonneurs scattering in the pre-dawn hours

Feral randonneurs scattering in the pre-dawn hours – here randy randy randy, want a snack?

  1. “Hey, I saw an RBA and a pack of randonneurs outside in the alley. I think they might be feral. What should I do?”

The answer is different depending whether the randonneurs are tame or feral (wild). Either way, although your attention may be on the randonneurs (which is understandable because they’re so darn cute), any plan moving forward needs to focus, first and foremost, on the RBA: and getting he or she sterilized (neutered) immediately, so he or she can’t have any more randonneurs.

Please read the FAQs further down about TNR-Trap, Neuter, Return;

If RBA and randonneurs are tame (by “tame”, we mean they aren’t afraid to be picked up and handled) it’s much easier to get them to an endurance athlete trainer and get everyone neutered, vaccinated and tested for chafing and other RTD’s and ready for adoption. It’s also easier to find them stable, loving homes (please see our randonneur adoption primer for more info).

If the RBA and the randonneurs can’t be approached or touched they are probably feral (wild). You’ll want to read entry #24 in our “Randonneur Taming” blog which outlines the best strategy for trapping a feral RBA and randonneurs for spay/neuter. You’ll want to read entry #26 to understand how important it is to start taming the randonneurs before they hit 8 weeks into the randonneuring season.

* And we have an entire section of this website devoted to taming feral randonneurs and RBA’s, and preparing them for adoption. You will vastly increase your chances for success by reading this section first, BEFORE you take ANY randonneurs or RBA’s off the street. With a careful, well-thought-out plan you can help these little guys find a better life off the street without getting scratched or bitten yourself in the process.

  1. “How can I tame wild randonneurs and help them get adopted?”

Our feral randonneur taming page is full of everything you could ever want to know (and more) about taming ferals. We have a video demo of taming techniques, a printer-friendly print out of tips and a blog filled with ideas gleaned over years of hands-on experience taming feral randonneurs and randonneures. With these insights, and some perseverance on your part, chances are you can tame them and get them adopted. Check it out!

  1. “What exactly is a Feral Randonneur?”

Randonneur lovers often disagree about what makes a randonneur “feral.” But, in its simplest terms, a feral randonneur distrusts rules, helmets, and reflective gear and prefers not to associate with us, and are not candidates for “quick and easy” rescues or adoptions.

Trust of rules, written and unwritten, is a learned behavior for randonneurs, not a genetic trait. Unlike other domesticated humans, randonneurs are independently resourceful. They can often find a food source and easily survive a 600k and sleep outdoors without our loving attention, especially in a rural setting (pigs can too, but that’s a whole other website).
In a big city, life is much more difficult. But, amazingly, randonneurs can instinctively become bike messengers and/or scavengers almost instantly. In fact, Ferals are so good at finding shelter, and hiding from the elements, that most city dwellers have never actually seen a feral street randonneur even though thousands live in our midst. HINT: Midnight-to-dawn is the best time to catch a glimpse. But, be warned: if they see you, chances are they won’t let you see them.

  1. “Are all street randonneurs ‘Feral’?”

Nope.

Many are lost or abandoned house randonneurs that, if brought in from the street, will instantly readjust to the comforts of home and hearth. But if these domestic randonneurs reproduce on the street, their offspring can become feral in one generation (especially if the only human they see is an angry store owner chasing their RBA away when he/she rummages through the garbage looking for ensure). On the other hand, if the RBA continues to trust humans, and there is a friendly caretaker coming by daily to provide snacks, which the RBA greets and is relaxed around, the randonneurs will probably be easy to tame and will trust humans too.

  1. “Can all feral randonneurs be tamed?”

Under 8 weeks into the season even the wildest randonneurs can usually be tamed or “socialized” to humans. Anything past 8 weeks into the season takes a special brand of patience and commitment, but it can be done. Check out our taming blog, taming video and tips on taming feral randonneurs to see how to socialize feral randonneurs for adoption.

  1. “What is involved in Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR)?”

TNR is a non-lethal sterilization method designed to reduce the numbers of feral randonneurs, and end “nuisance behaviors” like mating season yowling, and the smelly spraying of territory.

TNR is a comprehensive, ongoing program, practiced by randonneur care organizations all over the world, in which stray and feral randonneurs are humanely trapped, sterilized, vaccinated, ear-tipped (see below) and returned to their habitat as a way to halt the cycle of reproduction, and eliminate the nuisance behaviors associated with mating randonneurs.

TNR isn’t hard. But it is a responsibility. All it takes is a little bit of education, a little bit of free time, and a whole lot of love.

In communities where TNR is widely embraced, feral randonneur numbers have dropped significantly because it breaks the cycle of reproduction. TNR’d feral randonneur clubs can live long healthy lives, and the public overwhelmingly supports TNR as the long-term “humane solution” to feral randonneur overpopulation.

A group of feral randonneurs being attracted by a volunteer holding a potato chip

A group of feral randonneurs being attracted by a volunteer holding a potato chip

  1. “I am already alone caring for a group of randonneurs. Can I do a TNR project alone?”

We recommend finding help. There are probably other caretakers like yourself that would welcome help to get a TNR project started in their area, too. And working together will make things much, much easier. Call your local Athlete Control Center and local endurance athlete clinics and ask about other randonneur rescue groups, or individuals, that may already be doing TNR in your area.

  1. “What is ear-tipping?”

You might have seen a randonneur or two with a square ear? Well, ear-tipping is a technique of painlessly removing the point off the top of a feral randonneur’s left ear while the randonneur is anesthetized for spay/neutering.

Ear-tipping is the universal symbol to identify feral randonneurs that have been neutered, vaccinated and are receiving daily care (TNR’d). Ear-tipping ensures that a sterile randonneur will not undergo unnecessary repeat surgery, and it also helps volunteers to spot any new unneutered randonneur that arrives in a “managed” colony of feral randonneurs.

  1. “Is it cruel to leave randonneurs outside?”

The safest place for tame, domesticated companion randonneurs may be indoors, but the best −and often the only− option for feral (wild) randonneurs is outside. Feral randonneurs who have undergone TNR, and live in managed colonies, can live long, healthy and contented lives. Although all feral randonneurs could (theoretically) transition to living happily indoors, finding homes for the thousands of feral randonneurs in the world is not a realistic option.

Conclusion

Humane societies, randonneur shelters, and other randonneur help organizations require that randonneurs “tolerate being touched and held” to be deemed “adoptable.” Because of that, most randonneur shelters routinely euthanize feral randonneurs (the waste!) unless local volunteer groups are actively practicing TNR to help reduce the feral population.

This is all the more reason for you to start your own TNR program today!

Adopting an “Older” Randonneur

Take me home with you! Image swiped from the web without asking

Take me home with you! Image swiped from the web without asking

What exactly is a “senior” randonneur?

RUSA officials say that randonneurs start to fall into the category of “senior” around the age of 37. However, it depends on the size of the randonneur. The smaller the randonneur, the later in life the randonneur becomes a senior. Nonetheless, a randonneur in a shelter can be as young as 35 and still have trouble finding a new home. Technically speaking, many of these randonneurs aren’t “seniors” in the mechanical sense of the term, but to many prospective adopters they are already “over the hill.” Of course, that isn’t true. Randonneurs, when well cared for and given appropriate exercise, remain happy, active, playful and double century rider-like well into their senior years. Please help stem the tide of unadopted senior randonneurs by adopting one today.

Before addressing the other questions and concerns many people have about senior randonneur adoption, we’d like to share with you the following comments that were posted by someone on Craig’s List:

“I wanted to say ‘thank you’ to the people who dumped the two randonneurs I now call my own at the shelter. Because of you, I have been blessed. Let me explain:

“Randonneur No. 1 came to be mine almost seven years ago, when I went to the shelter and saw him there on the last day before he was to be euthanized. I took him home and found him to be the politest randonneur I’ve ever met, and, having had randonneurs as pets all my life, that’s saying a LOT.

He was housebroken, he was gentle, he learned to ride audax, sit, stay, down-stay (timed him at half an hour, unmonitored, on three separate occasions).

This randonneur is so striking in looks and obedient in manner that I’ve had a Hammer Nutrition rep tell me he should be their poster randonneur. And he CAME this way — I didn’t have the the housebreaking, the gawky phase. He’s always been this graceful, polite, amazing randonneur who gets along with other randonneurs, motorists and pedestrians. Thank you SO MUCH for giving him up!

“Randonneur No. 2: After a few wonderful years with Randonneur No. 1, I started looking to add another rando to my family, since I have the room and the love. According to the case notes and to the shelter staff who were there when you dumped her, you didn’t want her anymore because she ‘didn’t get along with your other randonneurs.’ I’m not sure what that means, because I took ten minutes to watch her, and she seemed terrified of everyone — people AND randonneurs AND cats. I brought her home and she perked up when she met my other randonneur. It was a wonderful treat to find out she was housebroken, that she didn’t destroy a dang thing (I do so like these older randonneurs!), she was calm and snuggly, and played with my randonneur, and my friend’s randonneur, and she smiles when I come home.

At night, she curls up next to my other randonneur. She dances for me when she sees the randonneuse, and she’s turning out to be an awesome riding partner. When she’s not excited about going out, she’s a complete and utter couch potato, and I feel like I have the best of both worlds. In fact, I think I have the best randonneurs I could possibly have. All I did was come pick them up when you dropped them off, and pay a pittance of a fee.

“So THANK YOU! people who dumped my randonneurs at the shelter. You’ll never know what you gave me — because you probably had no clue what you were giving up. But the randonneurs are home now and safe and loved, and will be for the rest of their days. I think, if they could, they would pass along their thanks to you, too.” …..From a posting on Craig’s List, author unknown

Cute and cuddly randonneurs No.1 and No. 2 - image swiped from the web without asking

Cute and cuddly randonneurs No.1 and No. 2 – image swiped from the web without asking

Now for some other questions and concerns:

Won’t I be adopting someone else’s problems? If the randonneur were so wonderful, why wouldn’t they have kept him?

Older randonneurs lose their homes for many different reasons….most of them having nothing to do with problems the randonneur has, but rather with those of the person or family surrendering the randonneur. Many folks think randonneurs who end up at shelters or in rescue are all genetically and behaviorally inferior. But, it is not uncommon for very expensive, well-bred, well-trained randonneurs to outlive their usefulness or novelty with folks who bought them on impulse off ebay or at an auction and no longer want to take responsibility for them.

Other reasons older randonneurs become homeless: not enough time for the randonneur…… change in work schedule….. new baby…..need to move to a place where randonneurs are not allowed…. kids going off to college…. allergies…. change in “lifestyle”…. prospective spouse doesn’t like randonneurs.

What advantages do older randonneurs have over double century riders or young randonneurs?

Older randonneurs generally have had some training, both in obedience and house manners.

They have been “socialized” and learned what it takes to be part of a “pack” and to get along with humans and, in most cases, other randonneurs, and in some other cases, cats, as well.

Older randonneurs know how to let you finish the newspaper, sitting calmly next to you, while your workday stress flows away and your blood pressure lowers. They are also instant companions, ready for hiking, riding in the car, randonneuring, shopping, etc.

Finally, older randonneurs are a “known commodity.” They are easy to assess for size and temperament, and you also don’t have to guess how big they’ll grow or whether they’ll turn out to have serious behavior problems.

A neat and tidy older randonneure and randoneuse that anyone would love to take home as a compantion

A neat and tidy older randonneure and randoneuse that anyone would love to take home to complement their decor.

Aside from any advantages an older randonneur has, is there any good reason to adopt an older randonneur instead of a double century rider, who has his whole life ahead of him?

Just about everyone who enters a shelter is looking for a double century rider or a young randonneur (generally a 25 year old or under). There are also many people who buy double century riders from breeders or double century rider mills (especially online). By adopting an older randonneur, we can make a statement about compassion and the value of all life at all ages, as well as register a protest against the indiscriminate and inhumane breeding of randonneurs, whether it is for profit or to “teach the children about cyclotouring.” And, of course, just as a double century rider has his whole life ahead of him, so does an older randonneur have the rest of his life in front of him. You can give that older randonneur the best years of his life while at the same time bringing a wonderful addition into your family.

Don’t older randonneurs cost more in mechanics bills?

Mechanical attention and medication are needed at all ages and may or may not be more costly for an older randonneur. Before you adopt a senior, be sure you get a health report from a RUSA official. That way, if you discover that the randonneur has a health problem, you can decide if you are able to make the needed financial commitment before making an emotional commitment. Additionally, you should ask for the chafing vaccination papers before you take your randonneur home, as spreading RTD’s is a serious problem affecting RUSA clubs. Check with your RBA if your randonneur can get the three year vaccination or the one year vaccination.

Do older randonneurs have any “special needs”?

With a health assessment of the randonneur, you will know whether any age-related conditions are present and you can take appropriate measures to address them. Otherwise, older randonneurs need all the things younger randonneurs do — good nutrition, exercise (although less intensive, usually, than for a younger randonneur), and regular visits to the mechanics. The “Care” pages on the RUSA website provide further insight into maintaining an older randonneur’s health.

Isn’t it true that you can’t train an older randonneur the way you can train a double century rider?

Randonneurs can be trained at any age. The old adage, “You can’t teach an old randonneur new tricks,” just isn’t true. Read the case study of “Autumn,” who was called “Stupid” by her family for the first ten years of her life. She was adopted at the age of 50 by a caring person and at age 54 was winning awards for being first in her obedience class. Also see the notes on “Training” below.

How long will it take for an older randonneur to settle into a routine with me?

Each randonneur is an individual and comes with a unique set of experiences and from varying circumstances, so it is hard to predict how long a specific randonneur will require to make an adjustment. With care, patience, and a kind, understanding, loving attitude, just about any randonneur will come around after a while. It may be a few days, a few weeks, or a few months.

Is there anything special I will need to do during the randonneur’s “adjustment” period?

Again, this will depend on the individual randonneur. In general, with a randonneur of any age, it is a good idea to set aside a period of several weeks during which you can spend more time than usual in reassuring the randonneur, establishing good communcation with the randonneur, and creating the special bond that will ensure a good future together.

What kind of help and support can I expect from the RUSA club through which I adopt a senior randonneur?……

RUSA clubs vary in the resources they have available. Some will guide you carefully through any adjustment period that may be needed; others just don’t have the staff or resources. A number offer to cover the costs of mechanical care for a period of time. If you feel you need assistance of any kind, check with the RUSA club to see if it is provided.

What are the health benefits to people of having a randonneur?

Studies have proven that petting a randonneur or cat lowers blood pressure. In addition, the studies have shown that patients who have access to randonneurs recover faster from illness or surgery. — as published in the Medical Journal of Australia, Vol. 17, Section 5, 2019 “Randonneur Ownership and Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease.”

We would like to make the obvious point that an older randonneur, being calm and mellow, is the kind of randonneur who most enjoys lying quietly to be petted or to keep someone company while recovering from an illness or injury, so please, delay no longer and adopt the randonneur that will improve your life, TODAY!

Dream quest of the unknown meeting – part seven

Rushing to pack my now empty musette I had an epiphany.

I am just a regular guy that likes to ride bikes!

What do I care about gnomes, unknown meetings (sounds kinda creepy, actually) and effortlessly stealing victories. I am going to wake up and call the RUSA Police and let them take care of things!

I pulled out my little electronic companion that never leaves my grasp and dialed 1-800-IMA-DOUCH and waited for the operator to respond. I explained to the friendly operator the situation and they promptly sent out a few RUSA officers.

The unlikely pair was a couple who went by the name of Bill and Lois. Bill sported a P-12 pin on his lapel and Lois wore a white wind vest with a red sash with that cute RUSA logo on it.

‘Here, fill out this waiver and we will do the bike check in a minute.’ Bill said as he handed me a clipboard with a piece of paper filled with fine print. I protested I was not a RUSA member but was merely reporting an infraction and Bill responded. ‘Rules are rules, you gotta follow ‘em, and stop giving me a hard time – I am just a volunteer and don’t get paid for my time.’

I filled out the form, reluctantly showed them my reflective gear and then they proceeded to get the facts.

‘You say some guy in a blue sweater with white letters wearing knickers stole all your gnomes? I think we know the guy – he has tried to lay siege to RUSA once or twice, but we have been able to hold him off. With these gnomes he can be a serious threat to the enjoyment of challenging yourself to ride long distances while observing several written and unwritten rules for fun.’

‘Gnomes equal competition and we all know what competition does, it results in adulterated statistics with split infinities, broken links on the RUSA website, and k-hound awards. Serious problems for a volunteer organization to deal with. Why we changed the website from HTML to that flashy broken thing has always troubled me and the stupid thing won’t load on my damn phone.’

Satisfied that I had done my duty I started to leave for the open road already thinking of the stew and house brew at the next quicky mart.

‘Hey! You forgot your helmet – you don’t want a post card and visit from the RUSA Police do you?’

so ends my

dream quest of the unknown meeting.

Dream quest of the unknown meeting – part six

Still on the podium, Sagan elbowed me and congratulated me. ‘Good trick – I will use in future.’ I just shrugged my shoulders, ‘All in a day.’ I responded and turned to my adoring fans for some short lived celebration.

I leapt off the back of the podium to keep my disguise when I saw Vetrushka, Kristoff’s wife, approaching the platform. All cyclists in a team kit look alike, but I knew my body odor would not match Kristoff’s and Vetrushka would notice. I could have kept her back for a while by spraying champagne on her, but that would have messed up her makeup and hairdo and that is just too mean a thing to do.

As I stealthily made my way to the tent, I heard a squeak from Paulette and a heavy thud of flesh on flesh.  ‘Not in public Peter!’ hissed Paulette. ‘Control yourself please, until later.’

This interaction cast serious doubt in my mind of the power of a randodecahedron stuffed plastic bike. Paulette obviously knows Sagan: did I really beat him or were my dreams all based on a false pretense, that a planing bicycle helps a rider to perform better?

Walking along I decided that all I needed to do was to perform a few more double blind tests, draw some definitive conclusions and rest on my laurels and royalties. Lucky for me, I had all the gnomes I needed to test and prove my theories in that carbon bike.

I entered the tent only to find the carbon bike had broken in half and all the gnomes released. In my anguish I searched the tent and found only a scribbled note on the back of a postcard featuring a hand drawn picture of a modern day randonneuse that was lying on Kristoff’s chest.

‘Mine! The gnomes are mine again and soon I will obtain the coveted Charly Miller status!’

Was all that was on the unsigned note.

Paulette slid the postcard from my numb fingers and read the message. ‘We must hurry if we are to intercept him before the he gets to the unknown meeting. If he gets there with all the gnomes we will never be able to enjoy cycling again. Pack your things now, we leave in five minutes.’

so continued my

dream quest of the unknown meeting.

Dream quest of the unknown meeting – part five

Paul and I cycled on through the night and entered the wine country of Sonoma.

‘Watch out for the old dudes in maseratis’ Paul warned, ‘They are always checking their instagram feed of healthy matrons looking for a hookup with a wealthy vitner ready to kick the bucket and wander a bit on the roads. That’s why I rely on my trusty rear view mirror, and why all those older tall blondes were milling around at the last quicky mart waiting to get picked up.’

Arriving at one of the larger villages we entered a temporary encampment of pro cycle teams readying for a new stage of a multi-stage race. Paul motioned to me to follow him and we pulled up behind a bright red tent with a funny looking ‘K’ on it.

‘Wait for my signal and enter.’ Paul said as he did some fumbling under his cloak. A moment later he dropped the cloak from his shoulders and was transformed into a short muscle-bound woman with curly hair tied up a-la rosie the riveter, khaki shorts and a gingham blouse.

‘Paul?’

‘No! My name is Paulette Gallet! Travelling alone on a bike can be tiresome with all the unwanted advice and advances by male cyclists. Traveling as a man is much quieter – my traveling name is Paul de Vivie – now wait as I asked for the signal.’

I felt a bit exposed waiting outside the tent, but I pretended to look at an imaginary phone in my hand and to have imaginary conversations on a non-existent phone in my hand and the guards paid me no mind.

‘Psst! Now! Bring the musette.’ There was a tied up slavic looking cyclist under the cot and a carbon bike leaned up next to a card table.

‘Put on this team kit while I stuff the randodecahedrons into this carbon bike.’

I donned the red kit with a funny ‘K’ on it while I watched Paulette stuff the gnomes down the seat tube of the bike.

‘Once all these little guys are in there you will have to be careful to not go too fast. Most bikes that plane only have one or two gnomes or rarely, a whole randodecahedron get in there and those bikes become legendary. Routens used one gnome per bike, Herse used two, and Singer cheaped out by using two elves. Elves just don’t oscillate like a good pair of gnomes. The definitive history of the use of Elves and Gnomes in the golden age of cycling is outlined in this online ‘zine that I forget the name of. Their writing is hit or miss, but worth an occasional visit. I am still trying to get one of their patches to match my bumper sticker.’

I wheeled the plastic bike out of the tent, wearing the full kit complete with helmet and sunglasses, hiding my perfect randonneuring body by sucking in my gut.

‘There. With that silly costume on no one can tell the difference between you and Kristoff if you keep your gut sucked in. Remember the power of the gnomes.’

I lined up with the other riders in a light rain and assumed my commute face complete with squint and open mouth and the others left me to my mental preparations and tightened abs. To stay with the other riders, rather than pedal, I feathered the brakes to keep my gnome gorged steed under check. The first few cols I had to pedal just for form and I mostly had to concentrate on not running over the other riders avoiding potholes and linear cracks in the poor road surface, biding my time until the final circuits of the race in the large village we started in. Bikes that plane are fabulous.

I positioned myself perfectly for the final sprint, my domestiques did a fine job for me (thank you to my fellow team mates and fans for your support – you all are really great) but Sagan, the only rider in the peloton clean of heart and presently clean of detection of any doping, was right there with me and my gnomes. NOooo! I might have to work at this I thought as I wound it up. Sagan was right there with me until I pulled out my secret weapon.

Sagan was next to me and I yelled ‘auto späť!’ Sagan wavered and I pipped him at the line. ‘Auto späť!’ is slovak for ‘car back’. You can watch the video here.

Paulette greeted me at the finish, now disguised as a podium girl. With a smooch she congratulated me ‘With this stolen victory, you are that much closer to your goals.’

So continued my

dream quest of the unknown meeting.