cyclofiend.com - peripheral thoughts & notes

July 2024
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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!

7 Responses to “200K Brevet - Preliminary Whining”

  1. Jim G Says:
    “What am I going to eat?” FWIW, on the last 200k, I packed a BLT sammich, several ClifBars, and a couple of Gu-type powergel thingies. I ate the sandwich at the first control (the Pt. Reyes lighthouse, roughly at the halfway point), I think I ate only one of the Clifbars early on, and I ate a Gu shot as I was climbing out of Sausalito towards the Golden Gate Bridge (I was dangerously low on energy at that point). The rest of the ride, I focused on WHERE I could get coffee in the next town! From Pt. Reyes Lighthouse, I focused on yummy things from the Bovine Bakery in Pt. Reyes Station. From there, it was chowder at the Marshall Store. Then it was more coffee in Nicasio, and after that I was back in familiar roads in Fairfax. Ultimately, I packed much more food than I needed. Of course, all those stops impacted my overall time, so there’s a trade-off there of course.
  2. The Cyclofiend Says:
    Yeah, I figure the GU is last resort kinda stuff - and of course once you start on them, you have to keep chaining them until you get real calories. Cliff bars sometimes get reasonably hard to choke down on 3-4 hour rides, so I’m not sure what’ll happen on a longer outing. Those dried apricots and dates I keep foisting on you during the mixed-terrain rides are pretty palatable, and my thought is to keep eating small amounts fairly steadily. I baked a batch of cornbread this past weekend, if it didn’t tend to crumble, that might be a treat…hmmm, what is it they say? Something about a brevet being a feast interupted by cycling? Anyway, as always, your feedback is helpful! Thanks!
  3. BrettG Says:
    If you’re considering doing your first Brevet on the QB, I would say you’re more than ready! Not that it’s too hilly for the QB, but it seems like that will limit your overall speed. I wonder how many SF members ride the Brevets on a SS? In the latest BQ, Jan talks about what sort of “base” training is needed for PBP and says that some riders complete that on as little as 100 miles as week (which I can just manage to get by doing “long” commutes and dragging my son around on a trail-a-bike on the weekends). In any case, I look forward to more reports on your first Brevet. If it wasn’t for the responsibilities of two kids at home, I would definitely be there but for now my goal is to do my first S.F. Brevet series next year for my 40th birthday. Good luck!
  4. The Cyclofiend Says:
    Thanks for the optimistic reply, Brett! Right now, it’s a radically swinging balance, with Quickbeam comfort & reliability on one side and knowing how that climb to the bridge feels after only an hour or two of riding on the other…. I’m going to try some hillier rides on it and see how much the legs complain.
  5. Jim G Says:
    Cornbread! I STILL need to experiment with savory biking biscuits! Bitesize bacon and cheddar morsels, perhaps? Hmmm… My fav *portable* cycling food currently is Odwalla Bars — similar to ClifBars but softer and moister == easier to swallow. Of course, I’m not all that hungry after scarfing a huge roast-pork-with-swiss-chard and melted-mozarella sandwich at the Woodacre Deli! (Mmmm)
  6. The Cyclofiend Says:
    It’s not _that_ impressive… they were from a mix, not scratch. (That’s later this week for my Grandmother’s Sticky Buns…) And just how the heck do you eat stuff like that sandwich and still stay so skinny? ;^)
  7. Carlos Says:
    Well Jim, I rode with you last Summer/Fall, I know you are more than ready for this first event. For me it is more about getting a good night sleep the night before and taking a 2-3 days off the bike before an event. During the event I try to just ride at my pace, sometimes I find others that are riding at the same pace, if our legs start to disagree on the proper speed I just listen to mine and “stay the course” going at my own speed. Sometimes I ride alone. I’ve done two 200k(s) in two different years, oposite weather conditions but I had lots of fun both times. After the my first brevet I told myself I would not do the 300k, but the brain was weak and fast forgot, within a month I was doing the 300k. Then after that one I told myself… This will be my third year of fun. During brevets salt is my friend, I like V8 and anything spicy but I know others flavor Chocolate Milk (very sweet to me) I carry my lunch with me on the 200k. The first year it was a burrito, last year a qesadilla this year I am going with food from another Latin American country, “un Sandwich Cubano por favor, si, para llevar”.