Mondial Award Marks Bicycling Milestone For Joe Edwards
To some, its 24,854.8 miles.
To others, 40,000 kilometers.
In geographic terms, it’s roughly the circumference around the earth.
For Joe Edwards, it’s the combined distance he’s bicycled across the United States in the last decade. Edwards is a randonneur, a practitioner of long-distance cycling. In the last 10 years, Edwards, who owns graphic design business Joe Designer in Glenwood, has pedaled 40,000 kilometers on officially sanctioned Randonneurs USA events coast to coast.
“This was not on my list of goals, it’s just one of those awards that sneaks up on you,” Edwards said. “As long you keep riding official events, you’re going to hit the goal.”
“Mondial” is the French word for global or worldwide but somewhat ironically, RUSA only counts only official rides that took place within the United States among the 40,000 kilometers. Meaning, Edwards’ rides in Sweden and Australia don’t count. Neither do commuting, charity rides or a leisurely pedals through the Loess Hills.
Last fall, Edwards, 58, surpassed the 40KM milestone on a ride from St. Joseph, Mo. to Holeton, Kan., a 130-mile roundtrip.
“This ride has a brewery at the turnaround point so we had lunch and a beer and headed back, and we celebrated a little bit at the halfway point,” Edwards said.
Two friends that consistently ride with Edwards have already joined the 40K club.
“One of the guys I ride with is probably over 80,000,” he said. “The Kansas City group has quite a few that have done it.”
An email in his inbox informed Edwards he had officially surpassed the 40,000-kilometer threshold. He knew he was close – his Kansas City-based club does a good job monitoring those things, he said – but hadn’t give the milestone much thought.
“They congratulate you, but you still have to buy the award,” Edwards joked. “But its okay. That keeps the dues low. You have the option to buy the award or not.”
Edwards chose to buy it. Perhaps as motivation for his next big goal: the Ultra R-12 Award.
The R-12 Award is earned by riding a minimum of 200-kilometers (or about 130 miles) randonneuring event in each of 12 consecutive months. The Ultra R-12 required riders to ride 200 kilometers every month for 120 consecutive months (10 years).
“I’m getting close,” he said of being 17 months short of the Ultra milestone. “And you can’t do two rides in one month and count both. It’s one per month. It takes 120 months to reach the goal no matter what.”
Edwards has long been a bike rider and after riding RAGBRAI with friends for several years he got into randoneuring, and RUSA sponsored events.
“It took us out of the Iowa area and out of our own comfort zone,” he said. “Ten years ago, a friend told me about one of the rides in Alaska and it’s 750 miles and you get 90 hours to do it. I decided right then to do it.”
Edwards first needed to qualify for the Alaska ride but that ignited the fire in him. He started riding more and taking his training more serious under the RUSA umbrella.
He still loves the ride.
Most of the time, he joked.
“I’m a little slower now because I’m getting older,” he said. “But it’s not all about racing, it’s about finishing in time. Usually, you have plenty of time to get it done.”
He still rides four days a week at varying distances. A typical month he rides more than 400 miles.
He’s done five of the 750-mile, 90-hour rides in all.
His Alaska ride was his favorite North American ride. The southern Australian coast ride, his favorite international.
A ride through southern Utah into Arizona that passed by the Grand Canyon and through five national parks was his most scenic. His ride in the Cascade Mountains in Washington state, he said, was his toughest.
“It’s obviously hilly but it had over 40,000 feet of climbing,” he said. “You’d spend a lot of time going up the mountain just to coast down and go up the next mountain.”
He doesn’t have major rides planned for the upcoming year. But he does plan to continue to stay on his Ultra R-12 course.
“I don’t have any aspirations right now,” he said. “I’m just going to keep chipping away at that goal.”