(note – I’m moving my Brevet ride reports from elsewhere on the web to this new blog)
Start: May 27, 2006 4:00 am
Route: 190 miles, south into western Rhode Island and eastern Connecticut
Time Limit: 20 hours
Finish Time: 14h14min
We started out at 4am, pedaling away in the dark and fog. My dyno lights worked fantastic, and I added a tiny LED on my helmet.
Navigating from a cue sheet on unfamiliar roads at night was a challenge. I stayed with the lead group through the first 45 minutes. Riding in a group (about 40 riders did the ride) in the dark was fun – a sea of red LED taillights off into the distance.
The morning was cool – and I watched the light change as the sun came up. I was nearly pegged by a mini van somewhere in Mass – I saw my reflection in the drivers glasses – and had to shout obscenities before he stopped. (He started pulling out from a stop sign!) I veered and skidded… but survived – adding a jolt of adrenaline to my morning.
I rolled into the first checkpoint feeling strong – riding my own ride, eating, drinking, etc. I like to get in and get out – before my legs stiffen up. (Some folks speed between checkpoints and then rest awhile) I caught up to some of the folks I was riding with in the pre-dawn hours, and left before them, choosing to ride alone, at my own pace. I never saw most of them again. Somewhere between checkpoint 1 and 2 we hit a bit of climbing, and I leapfrogged with 2 other riders, catching them on the descents, them passing me on the climbs. We aren’t racing – so I just stick at my pace, confident that I’ll get through.
I felt strong through the first 2 checkpoints. Climbing my way through (see attached route and profile) Mass and CT. After the second checkpoint I hit a wall – literally and physically. My lunch took awhile to digest (I ate Gu and liquid energy on the bike – and solid foods at the rest stops). My turkey sandwich didn’t sit very well – and I started a long stretch of climbing. I was pretty miserable for the first hour after lunch – struggling along just keeping moving. I was passed by 4 fixed gear riders at this point. Yes – 4 people did the ride on fixed gear bicycles – 1 gear, and no coasting. Incredible. They passed me climbing up a steep bit – and I saw them again (only briefly) later in the day.
Rolling into the 3rd checkpoint I was dying of thirst. I should have stopped and reloaded, but I wanted to wait for the control. I still felt strong – having completed 145 +/- miles, with 10,500 feet of climbing. I called Jen, in a great mood, feeling really good going into the final leg.
The last stretch was tough. We had a brief downpour – which was welcome as I had been suffering a bit in the heat. Cooled off I started looking at the clock – and I wanted to finish under 14 hours, so I knew I had to push just a bit to make it. I gambled on stopping for water – and in the end I don’t think it payed off. I made a small navigational error which added 1.5 miles (and a steep hill) to my ride – only 10 miles from the end. The last 10 miles I rode standing – my shorts had caused some serious pain on my male components – and I didn’t have any power to climb hills – even short ones – while seated.
Thanks to Tracey, Bruce, Eric and the other volunteers who made my first 300k the longest ride of my life (until the 400) and a great success and very pleasurable experience.
Jitters of night navigation and taking on another 100k beyond my previous long ride kept me on the fence about riding – but as the week before the event approached, my body and mind felt stronger than previous to the 200k.
A few things that went right:
- I planned my work schedule around the event. I managed to schedule a meeting in Boston and then crashed in a Waltham hotel to get a good nights sleep. This is in contrast to the 200k, where I drove from Western NY (work travel) to Vermont, packed the bike and gear, drove to Western Ma. (girlfriends place), got maybe 3-4 hours of sleep, then drove in the morning of to ride! A good nights sleep does wonders for my body’s morale!
- Night navigating – I’ve been out training at night and in the rain – but I know my own local routes – I was nervous about navigating with a cue sheet in the dark – on unfamiliar roads. I stayed with a group through the first few miles – getting confident and chatting a bit. As the pace picked up with the lead group I dropped off the back and enjoyed a wonderful morning. The dual Schmidt E6’s worked well, along with the Danolite LED headlamp.
- Modified position on the bike – I was way stretched out and hunched over on the 200k. (My set up seemed great up to about 60 miles, never bothered me on my local group and loop rides) My neck, shoulders, and a bit of my back were “done” after mile 80. I’ve pulled my stem in a bit
- closer, and raised my bars. The current setup was comfy for the 300k. Hoping it works well for the 400.
- Access to Food – The 200k had me reaching into my jersey pockets each time I would want a bite on the bike. I added a “bento box” style of bag to my top tube. It holds a bunch of Gu packets and a clif bar – it worked very well – no more reaching around back, searching through a
- pocket that I cannot see. Undo the velcro flap, peek inside, and grab what I want… (expired packs still drop into the jersey pocket)
- Food – Between stops I relied primarily on Gu, Perpetuem, and HEED. I started the ride with no real breakfast – so some fruit, a Clif bar, and a bottle full of Perpetuem got me through the morning. The Perpetuem seemed to sit in my stomach – and as the day warmed I switched my second bottle to HEED at the second checkpoint. I ate fruit and solid food at the controls – watermelon, bananas, a turkey sandwich, some beef jerkey (never tried that before – but I was craving it as soon as I saw it!). Later in the ride I’d stuff some treats in a pocket for later – usually pretzels and a cookie or two to break up the Gu monotony.
Things I think I can do better:
- Routine – I got a 10 minute late start out of the parking lot as I had to grab my ankle bands and couldn’t decide on arm warmers or jacket. I now have a checklist that will reside in my gear bag – I’ll run through this prior to locking my car, rolling to the start line, and realizing I’m missing something as we head out of the lot!
- Control Routine – I’ve tried to commit to memory a control list – I did things different at each control – and I was always concerned I had forgotten something. Key for me was feeling scattered as I rolled in thinking about food and drink. The next time out I’ll stick to a routine – including clearing the odometer, flipping my cue sheet, setting my stopwatch, getting my card signed, then diving into food, water, etc.
- Resetting my odometer – I missed this on the last control – and about 2 miles in I realized my cue sheet didn’t seem to agree with my computer. I did mental math the final leg – which may have kept me sharp – but in the end just frustrated me.
- Navigation – Never chase / follow another cyclist, unless you know they are on the ride! I missed the (ahem, arrowed) turn onto 117 as I followed a cyclist with a rear rack and bag for about 3/4 mile! A small error – but one that could have turned ugly had a kept going,
- Water / Fluids – I had easy access to food on the go – and while I carried 2 bottles on the bike, I realized that depending on temperatures, this won’t get me through 50-60 miles. I resisted (foolishly) stopping at a convenience store to refill on several occasions, thinking I would push through. I think this hurt me in the last 15 miles – I was tired and dehydrated – had I stopped for 5 minutes as I ran low on liquids, I probably would have finished feeling slightly more relaxed and possibly in a slightly better time.
- Shorts can hurt – I do love my Ibex cycling shorts and tights. I now know I do NOT love them for long rides. After about 120 miles I discovered a very unfriendly seam location on the front side of my shorts. The joint between panels and the pad just happens to be where the top of my male anatomy likes to comfortably sit. This caused some serious pain on the last leg – and I rode the last 10 miles standing as I couldn’t sit and let this rub further. I’m questing for new shorts for loooong rides.
- Watch the shoulder! – I took a nature break somewhere in RI along a busy stretch of road. Being on a shoulder only a few inches wide, I decided to leave the road (at slow speed) before I unclipped both feet. This proved humorous, as my front wheel dove into sand, and I fell to the
- clipped in side of the bike. A knee twinge and bruised ego resulted, and my sunscreen and sweat covered legs were now breaded in sand. Note to self – do not leave terra firma until on 2 feet!
- Cars and accidents – I witnessed a slow motion car wreck on the final leg of the 200k. I was nearly hit by a minivan (even though I shouted, I saw my reflection in the drivers glasses, and I was lit up like a christmas tree) in the dawn hour of the 300k – skidding to a stop and almost losing the bike from under me. Later in the day I stopped at a light in CT and watched a small car plow through a red light – with oncoming pickup trucks squealing their brakes and skidding a bit. With less than 20 miles to go I snaked through broken glass and the line of cars as police directed traffic around an accident on Mass Rt. 30. Is this normal? Seems I get to see all the best and the worst the driving world has to offer as I enjoy a day on the bicycle!
Looking forward to the 400k. Will modify my tactics a bit, and stay clear of sand, minivans, and cars.