I did my very first randonneuring event yesterday. It was the 100km Spring Populaire put on by Seattle International Randonneurs. The weather turned out fine, with temps in the high 40s, with on-and-off sun, and zero rain (though there was a bit of water on the road here and there).
This was also my first ride for which I drove to the start. A lot of SIR events start quite a ways from my house, so I want to get used to driving to events, and this was a good bit of practice. I used my trunk rack, which hadn't been used in about eight years, and it always makes me nervous, but it worked great. I had to pick up my riding buddy beforehand, and it took longer to put the rack on than I had planned, so we ended up taking freeways to the starts instead of the surface streets I'd originally planned. This went very smoothly, and again, is good practice for me, since I don't drive on the freeway all the much.
I only messed up a couple of things. One, I make my own "gel" in a gel bottle, and I'd made one the night prior, but left it at home, so I was without gel for the entire ride. That was okay, since I had plenty of other stuff to eat, but I will want to be more careful in the future. Second, though I put my booties in the car, I neglected to put them on once we got to the parking lot in Woodinville. Like the gel, this worked out okay, since the weather was fine, but had it been quite a bit cooler, or rained, I might have had some unhappy feet. Again, I need to be more careful in the future.
The ride was really terrific. I was smiling the whole time. There were lots of people (over 100, I believe) at the start, and the whole time there were people to ride with. In fact, a group of five of use formed after the mid-ride control in Carnation, and rode the rest of the ride together. At the second secret control, about 30 km from the finish, there were Payday bars, which are my new favorite ride food (just one per ride, max). I learned that they are somewhat impervious to heat: mine didn't melt at all despite spending quite a bit of time in my jersey pocket. Their saltiness is quite welcome late in any ride.
The people on the ride were great, everyone riding very carefully and skillfully. I had a few short nice conversations with a number of folks, and generally had a great time. I didn't feel slow on hills (in fact, at times I felt the opposite) so I think maybe I am strong enough to start riding with these folks, at least for the shorter distances, and that's what I've been hoping to do for years. Hooray!