cyclofiend.com - peripheral thoughts & notes

December 2006
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200K Brevet - Preliminary Whining
Filed under: brevets
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 5:56 pm

Dang, I’ve gone and done it now… Or, perhaps more precisely, I’m gonna go and do it now (as I haven’t actually mailed the entry fee, but it’s all filled out and ready)…

Ever since reading about randonneuring and brevets, it’s been tickling that “hmmmmm…” button behind my left ear. There’s some abnormal kink or fold in the grey matter there that tends to make things like racing singlespeed cyclocross seem reasonably rational, and now it’s fixed itself on the idea that riding 200K (or more…much, much more…) should be a fun way to spend the day.  Even after reading about brevets such as this one (which, curiously enough, is the one I’m now planning on putting myself through).

My schedule has managed to leave a gap in things such that San Francisco Randonneurs 200K on January 27 is a reasonably free day.  However, this means that there’s roughly a 6 week prep time, with a few time-sucking tasks between now and then. This has created a broad and all-encompassing things about which I can now fret, obsess and whine.  I’ve created a new category tag for “brevets”, so you can skip these as they become slightly redundant and moderately, well, fretty, obsessive and whiney…

In no particular order:

What will I ride? 
Oddly enough (and I’m blaming that folded kink-thing behind my left ear for this twisted thought…), the Quickbeam sort of rockets to the top of the list. This has nothing to do with the fact that LOTR was on the television the other night.  It does seem to be my most comfortable bicycle, and there is little to go wrong with it.  Plus, I have a front rack for it, and with a minimum of futzing, should be able to get a set of fenders mounted on it. That leaves the little issue of the motor…

If not the Quickbeam, there are a couple of weird scenarios which include trying to see if my Zeus 650B wheelset will fit in either the Dawes or the open-wheeled racer.  I doubt the latter, and the former is not without issues either. The Zeus itself is not really in the running, as it gets a little clacky now and again just going to work and out on errands.  Plus, I’m not really sure I’ve got myself positioned correctly on that bicycle.   The open-wheeled racer might work, but at a minimum need a new set of handlebars, as the Noodles have pretty much ruined me for using anything else.  Then I’d just have to swage some sort of fendering into the frame and hange some reasonably sized luggage off the rig.

Way back when Carlos knew he might have a live one on the brevet lure and asked what bike I might use for such an endeavour, I had originally thought about adapting the Poprad.  That might make the most sense, but for stated and unstated reasons, that build might not come together.  Still, it’s got rugged wheels (which I could use on the o-w r) and plenty of clearance for fendering.

What the hell am I thinking?
I’ve never ridden a formal century, which to the sane side (ok, “small section”) of my brain would be the logical first step. This ride has a 13.5 hour cutoff, and that means a relatively long day in the saddle - but it also means that worse case, I need to average 15 kph - but of course, that includes breaks, getting lost, eating and whimpering in a fetal position by the side of the roadway.    The mixed-terrain rides have probably been a good indicator effort needed to cover the  route, so I reckon the biggest challenge will be staying comfortable and focused.

What the hell am I thinking? Pt duex
6 freaking weeks?  How am I going to lay down a decent base in six freaking weeks? My chamois-end isn’t ready for that kind of commitment! What am I going to eat?  I can’t live on GU for 10-12 hours without seriously paying the price, and the thought of clam chowder puts me off right now, let alone when combined with heavy, continued exertion… I’ll look like a friggin’ deli delivery bike with rolled up sandwiches and dried fruits in the bag.

This one’s actually pretty easy, I suppose.  I’ve got the NiteRider single beam with a Nimh battery that doesn’t weight too much at all. I run it at 15 watts (full power) for an hour and it’s got more than 1/2 power left, according to the “fuel gauge”.  So, I can run it on low power in the morning, and then crank it up late in the day if necessary.  Combine that with my LED front for backup, and my taillight with fresh batteries, and that should do it. Buy a couple of ankle flectors and a pair of wheel illuminators, and that’ll cover me for this one. Or I could just get the full on light show enabled - just don’t know if I’ll have time to do all the soldering.  I do, however, forsee a future in which I’m obsessing about generator lighting systems…

Bless those who scheduled this brevet in the end of January.  Weather at that time of year in this area tends to be rainy, rainy, rainy, or clear and cold (the way this winter is setting up, I’m suspecting the latter).  Of course, it can be amorphously overcast, but that tends to warm things up a bit, and the roads (and cattle guards) stay dry.

Buck Up and Stop Yer Whinin’ Already!
Well, I do sorta have a home court advantage, or more specifically, home court familiarity.  With the exception of the road out to the Pt Reyes Lighthouse, I think I’ve done parts of most of the course at some time.  And, being a reasonably locally-based person, I’ve at least driven over all of the roads.  This will at least give a decent fix on where I am and how far I need to go at most places on the route.

Son of Buck Up and Stop Yer Whinin’ Already!
Honestly, you’d think you are starting at Tierra del Fuego or something… there’s a chunk of these riders who are trying to qualify for Paris-Brest-Paris, which covers 1200 km in 90 hours.

But, but, but, but, I’m not Whining!
I’m obsessing, there’s a difference.  Here’s the thing - in all endeavours, there’s a limit to those things which you can control, and as I’m too fond of saying, there will be things which go wrong. When they go wrong, you have to rely on the framework of what you planned to hold things together enough to prevent catastrophic failure. Now, I do realize that “catastrophic failure” in this case is just a phone call to my wife to come pick me up, so it isn’t that I’m saving drowning kittens or anything.  But, it would be a heckuva thing to be out in the middle of the route and figure out that I didn’t bring the right sized wrench to tighten down some vital bit of the drivetrain, as a gross example. 

And, I did manage to get out this morning and nab a decent chunk of mileage without extreme duress.  That was actually quite helpful, mentally speaking.  Well, it will be an adventure!