Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Long, loonger, looongest: an SR series in 5 chapters


it's been nearly a year without a drink and I feel i'm ready to go at the series.
off we go on the 200k with nary a problem. take a nice lunch, and still cruise in at 5 o'clock.
great! feels good, can't wait for the 300. start a tick late, chase the group, catch 'em in snow camp. problem-hydration-behind-90 degrees-ouch. off the back to siler, limp to seagrove. drink 2 of everything Dean has, eat one of everything. fade to zero on way back to siler. quit..don't even think about the 4 or 600. back to permanents and a better nutritional lifestyle. no HFCS, fried food, red meat, ice cream (damn!), carbs! yada yada yada....
FYI-my weight on those rides was 230lbs..


i'm ready, the serotta's ready, and those who only see me on these rides wonder where I went! Al drops the flag and off we go. all the usual suspects are there but now at 176lbs the hills are mine. riding 40+lb single speeds to work has paid off. it's a fun romp to the turn-around, and for the 1st time ever for me, i'm not seeing riders coming back before I get there. they were almost ready, so I hurried to join the 2nd wave heading back. this was a huge boost for me. the Kamm's and the tandem powered by chet and cindy stayed away.

pleasure and pain ensued as I rode with a belgian named paschal and his friend at hard tempo to old switchboard rd. I had to settle down for a bit and solo'd across chicken bridge to frosty's. buddy John Olmstead showed up and off we motored to andrew's store. every time I stopped a bike flashed by. as luck would have it Paschal was human and stopped for
water too..off we go, screaming down jack bennet, across the marsh at about 28mph, and up lystra. more riders! we pick up motorin' Mike D, Joe Ray, and Wes (who snapped a crank arm in snow camp, BTW). holy smokes hang on! avg. 20 up martha's and no time for berries at Jean's Berry Patch, it's 22-3mph across lewter shop. madness. what a hot finale! we raced the climbs, timed the lights, and came in around 2:30ish I believe. I know Mike's best time was safe! (extra controle) :o)

all in all a great time with some killer riders. fuel was good, all I bought was water and a juice at 100k. traveled pretty light on this one. 

we also welcomed 2nd generation rando Ian Hands. yup, yo!Adrian's son. signed up for the whole series. stay tuned, 'cuz he's a chip off the old block..

kudo's to Mike D for hitting 100 months of 100 milers! you are an inspirational force Mikey..


prep for this was easy: ride Dean's tarheel 200K with Bryan,Tim, John, and Maria on the weekend prior. 

it was my first ride with a new camelbak i got from super-buddy Byron who was missing the rides because of a battle with pneumonia. (glad to report he's better and back on the road)
love the pack and won't leave home without it on the 300k 'n up stuff. also discovered on this ride that my specialized tires were about done after a year of brevets. the rear had a spot worn through and went down outside steadman coming back. bought two fresh specialized all-condition pro roubaixs'-great tires! rode the old mondo pro's over 3000 miles without a flat! amazing tires! did I say that already? also was digging the wood fenders on jerry's cinnamon girl. look at this cool dude I got for mine from Cody of woody's fenders.

OK, gear is in line, let's ride! it's really a non-event for the first 100k. the normal routine the first 60-70k before a group of a dozen or so pull away just a bit on the rollers to snow camp. Bryan is on his first 300k and right on my wheel after helping annette zip-tie a rack.
we roll into control 1 as the big group leaves and control 2 5 minutes after they've left.
off to seagrove. 50k. bucolic and challenging terrain. my buddies fall off and I catch Chet and Cindy on the tandem and play tag with them and later the mighty Kamm's-Chris and Annette, for the trip to the epicenter of NC pottery. here we find the front runners gobbling hardee's and cutting up, ready to jam back. little did i know Mike D. had a moment of clarity and figured if they got goin' they could pull this brevet off in under 12hrs. they did. awesome job fellas. after sneaking my 'health food' into hardees, I talked books and tunes with Jerry for a few miles,then it was more rambling with the dynamic duo on the 2 seater for me. By 200k they'd left me but here comes John O..let's go. my goal was finish without lights in the 7 o'clock hour. we mixed up perpeteum and snacked in snow camp for the 50 miles left to go. i like catching that store-you're 11 miles closer and they have benches to sit on. we had a really nice run in and just missed the light. 8:15 finish. whew. mike d. was still there with Alan. super day after last year's DNF!

                  seriously. good. company- Mike D, Jerry, and Branson...

                             huge turnout! nearly 50 rando's for the 300..

                                                 Chet and Cindy
                                       'two for one, and twice the fun!'

 many reports spoke of cows frolicking out here. they do. but this is a rugged stretch to ride a bicycle through. ask anyone whose done it. keep drinking and pedaling steady..

notes: my fuel was moving towards a 50/50 liquid/solid method by this ride. 
a flask of gel for each 100k (=packet ea. 15 mi.), a packet of clif blocks and gu chomps (really like the blueberry pomegranate), 2 bananas, and a tiny tuna sandwich at the halfway. i saved biker bob's cookies (thanks bob!) for a treat after lunch and late in the day with a starbucks drink. besides the coffee i bought a V8, ran about 10L of H2O thru my pack, and 3 heeds in a bottle and 1 perpeteum for the last leg. I felt strong all the way, rode home, and wasn't hungry ever. ate a light supper around 9, got up at 8 and rode a 100k with a friend. sunday night i finally ate ice cream for the first time this year. yummerz.....


if one goes back just a few years you'll find 300 and 400K's with less than 20 finishers here.
2007 is up because it's a PBP year, but still only in the 20's. there were 40 at this one. wow!
most would finish. big wow!

weather was looking good. short sleeves. 80's in the afternoon. in the mountains the numerical value would simply become HOT. WINDY. something in air. honeysuckle and other flora. burned the throat with a strange fieryness. keep sipping, randos...

same drill going out for me except for one little fact: i'd never ridden more than 300K..
can't think about that. just stick to the script. pedal, drink, eat, repeat.
somewhere between 40-50 miles the front half was starting to splinter. as mike D quoted in his write-up: one interesting thing about riding brevets is the way groups and alliances shift and reform as the day rolls on. this is not soley due to riding speed. short stops! the swiftys' are quick, organized, and all biz at all but feed controls. they skip stores. what?
yup. not sure how they do it. one thing I knew was i would go thru a LOT of fluid today.
without the pack I could not pass stores. with it I knew I was safe to push and drink too.
everyone finds their way to do this crazy sport. i'm just sharing what has turned it into a doable thing for me. sure, i still suffer at times, but not like I used too. oh wait. we aren't on the 600 yet ;-) I digress...

I share a moment or two with Bryan at snow camp, Branson and Joel leaving siler city, and then I'm alone to seagrove. every few miles there are other soloists: doc on a bike, keith, was one I remember. Amy, suffering from an injury that caused her to turn around in seagrove and RIDE back (tough girl!)Mike and the monsters were fueled and saddling up when i got there. I hated to turn down the invite, but needed to sit a few. off they went. tim, and someone else swore they'd be soft pedaling and I'd catch 'em. uh, no. I took Bryan with me into no-man's land. we rode together until the roads really headed upwards. as much as I like company, I got up and charged the climbs a bit. NOT like I did on the express a month earlier, this was different: 150k in the legs already, 250 more to go, and 20 more degrees on the thermometer. still, part of me wanted to get to troy without seeing returning riders. about 3-4 miles out, mike, annette, chris, and wes roll by looking good.
then jerry looking crisp followed by tim and Kim. I catch a couple at the store and take a good break. slurpee and a creme horn. shoes off. everyone's talking heat. wind. hills.

off we go. me and the tandem. again. i get away in the big hills. flynt hill road takes no prisoners on the way back. some get off and push. as I was returning to an acceptable heart rate I pass some riders coming in. the heat is showing but we smile and wave as we encourage each other on. This  I love about randonneuring! mutual admiration. before the tough part I see on the roadside Kim. snapped a derailleur cable. glenn replaced it with one he was carrying. good stuff. she was having a stellar ride and still came in very good.

back in seagrove, it is obvious what everyone has endured. the mountain roads treated themselves to a buffet of hardcore cyclists. took a bite out each rider, one way or another: cramps, dehydration, the "mystery pollen", plain old pain..eat, drink, and be crazy. only 150k to go! the tandem and I have another go at it, but 4 legs put it to me. the duo was shoeless in Mike O's pizzaria outside the siler city control. I joined in for a slice and stopped worrying about making snow camp by 9. thanks, Mike! 

arm warmers, sash, lights on. into the abyss. 100k alone in the dark. biker bob is in snow camp! cookies, pretzels, water. see ya later. I rolled straight to andrews store, save for a quick stop to check my headlight whick flickered right before frosty's. the young guy working was sad to inform me he had just closed, but i was cool. he said I could have a fountain drink if I wanted, so I had a Dr.Pepper. he sat down and I just couldn't slam it and run. that was a nice gesture on his part that lifted my spirits. I flew on in like I was on the 200! I gave away my goal of the midnight hour, but felt strong in the home stretch. Al met me, I sat a couple minutes, then rode on home. 19 hrs for my first 400k. i'll take it.
same nutrition as before. a few solid snacks. a chicken sandwich in seagrove going out. 
4 flasks of gel, 4 bananas, 3 cliff bars, 5 asst. drinks in stores, 4+gallons of water, 4 bottles sport drink, 1 bottle perpeteum, dozen endurolytes.

*"they" say the 400k is the tuffy. all in one shot, where most sleep on the 600k. are "they" right? we'll see....

before this ride Bryan and I  did a night trainer. i had built a new schmidt wheel, put on a rack up front and discovered a cracked stem! needed a  shakeout for sure. keep an eye on your stuff so you can keep an eye on yourself when riding the brevet. "an ounce of prevention..."

the wheel spins great, and I really like the light right out front. it's a B&M IQ Fly+
                                   got it from gilbert at north road bicycle co..

                                                   late night trial run...

                               nothing like sunrise on bikes over the lake.

                       or late afternoon shadows out in the rolling hills.


600 kilometers. after going further and further into the west (which means up and up, by the 400 we're climbing over 15,000 feet) it's beach time. flat. whatever. windy. rough and bumpy. exposed. long stretches between stores, and getting out of the saddle. new challenges. new roads I'd only heard about. some of the route at both ends had been revised this year so everyone was on new pave'. 

big thanks #1: last weeks pre-riders Mike D, Jerry, Carol, Joel, and RBA Al did some great recon, had a good time, and got Al to his first SR since 2002! good for you, Al, and thanks riders for the notes about detours, clean restrooms, and food.

another record crowd:30 gutsy people gonna ride their bikes for two days. the morning started about 4 for me. I left home about 10 after 5 on my bike. got there and signed in. made a quick adjustment in drop bag strategy. there was an option for white lake (400k) or wilmington (300k). i gave jerry a ziplock with a small jug of hammer gel, and a bar to get me to up the hill out of wilmywood and sent the rest to white lake. he must be a lawyer (not) 'cuz without telling me to chose that route, he told me what a wise idea that was. ALWAYS take the advice of the experienced ones before you..mike and jerry then announced to Al and the group that they were covering him on the medal set for his SR..
fuzzy crackberry documentation of the ceremony:
we're off. most everyone knows the way since the first 10 miles or so are the same. and right around mile 7 or 8 the usual divide has occured. it's all good, everyone's got somebody to ride with. the new way out is nice, and I've ridden these roads for years. must be around 20-25 miles it begins to rain. lightly. feels good. looks like this:

it's all good as we march on, and soon enough it stops. as we dry and warm the tempo comes on and this is a ride. the first control is stay way off and we go all. the. way..
right by stores. all two of 'em. refill fluids and hit it. some are ahead already. i wait for branson and john p. warm back up, enjoy the chat. roll off those guys and solo till i find chet. solo. no tandem! it's getting hot out and we motor all the way to white lake. for me ( and many others) it's an 18mph 200k with ONE pit stop. the store in WL is a scotchman with a grill and tables. busy place. shoes off, real break. probly 25-30 minutes. major regrouping here and i'm glad. when we roll out it's chet, bryan, mark, branson, john p., and myself. tim and john o are just up the road. as we leave town and begin the 19 mile stretch down 53 chet comes off the front with plan:something he got from tony goodnight a long time ago (this was chet's 9th go at this ride!) pull a mile and get off. with 6 guys you got to sit in for 10-15 mins. and eat, drink, be merry-iserable..great plan. we picked up tim and john o. lost john p. and motored some more. tim put in some wicked turns at the front- 5 milers' at 20mph. dude's an animal. it's all good and sweaty til we're about 15 mi. from rocky point, the next control. on the left of the road are guys standing around, an SUV in a ditch, and glenn standing in the yard, his bike laying in the grass. dude 'swerved to miss him' and wreck his car. we quickly slowed and found glenn fine, shaken of course, just waiting for the sheriff. turns out branson had talked to the sheriffs of all the counties we travelled so they would be aware of our presence. awesome, big B!!

off we rolled. our next scoop was keith, just 6-7 miles out. he gladly joined our train even tho he was rockin' some form that didn't falter to the end of the day! in to rocky point. food, water, cards signed. glenn showed up as we packed and we waited for him to quickly quaff a juice and join-up. he was READY to be on a crew! next, Bryan came off. we found out in wilmington he squared a crater and flatted. adding insult to injury, he ejected a full bottle of his last sport drink and a car hit that. damn.

outside wilmington we saw the three fast 'bents. then the amazing kamm's. the florians were leaving the hotel as we got to it. wow. we were doing good! a 12 1/2 hr. 300k. .

turn-around at 300k: jerry had a nice set-up going with pizza, bananas, strawberries, fig bars, chips, and drinks of course. thanks so much, jerry!! since my stuff was in white lake and it was hot out I jumped in the pool after snacking. really, still in my kit!

that was refreshing. a few more guys rolled in. Bryan, john p., they stayed a bit as we got ready to go. maybe a couple more would show they could head into the night with. they did...

perhaps it was the headwinds, adrenaline, I don't know but it was actually uphill outta town. I pulled a few miles once we were in the dark and on the long drag out. we passed a few riders. cool, our bros at the motel were gonna get some company. next on front was tim, john, and keith! chet rolled up breathing a little heavy and said:'don't people slow down after dark?' no. it was grueling tempo. 18-20 much of the way. rocky point came fairly quick as a result. we saw a bunch of riders there and cheered each other on, answered questions about the turnaround and told them there was still veggie pie there when we left :-) we were back on the road fast and right back at the tempo-making. even in the fabulous night air this is a tough stretch. 40 hard miles. by half-way I think EVERYone was done. I can't remember the last time I wanted to get off a bike so bad. we settled down to 16.5-17 for the last 10 but the damage was done. mike's oasis in white lake was just the ticket. we found the blinkies on his car and pulled in! a sandwich, shower, a catnap.from about 1-3 for me. I looked up and chet was in the window. he and mike were chatting outside. our big squad had done it's work, a combo never to be seen again. a few slept til morn. as did others rolling in about time we leaving:bryan, lin, big john. lil john and tim were gone before 3. mike had espresso! for real espresso..

so we thank mike, thanks mike! super job! and head for the street. keith shows up. we hit the scotchman, ice up. talk to half drunk townies and roll about 4:30ish? it's nothing but pedaling to sunrise. tranquil in the night. love it. except for-wait up! lost something! i go back and find my camera in the road. of course the battery flew out. found. works! back to pedaling. we see a hint of light,then rain. mist. as if it weren't kinda epic already. tired. chet is chanting coffee!coffee!coffee! it is forever to steadman,  but that's where we gotta go to see an open store-40 miles. the rain breaks but the skies don't and when we leave steadman it's raining again

we only rode 20-30 min and pulled into the next store. much better store. grill. the two hobbits i was riding with had 2nd breakfast. back on the road. standard issue mileage for a bit then insane rain! jeeze it was hitting hard for a few miles. we passed john o in a church doorway. he was nursing a tender knee. he caught up in erwin. starbucks and a power bar for me. back on the road my head was cold. shoot! my helmet is at the store! 2 bonus miles. let's get to angier. done. mickey d's. john's knee says stop. the boys eat. me? coffee and another bar of some sort. chet yells out the door and it's the kamms! I figured they'd be in already, but they opted for more sleep. there might be something to that. 

i was stoked to have a carrot up the road. they had 10mins on us but after one good climb I rolled off the guys that had been my companions for a looooong time. they would be OK. I got stronger, peeled off the arm warmers. and got to it. just shy of wake co. a car rolled up and asked where I got that crazy wood fender, it's jerry! he asks how i'm feeling and scoots on. the bike on his car is sridhar's. sad to see. head down. crankin'..I jam a big hill and find tim sitting on some steps. says his tummy's bad. I say let's go, I know these roads and it's downhill around that corner for a while. i pull us to a store 'cuz my pack is dry, my sport bottle is half full and warm. in and out. off to jean's berry patch. tim says not to wait up and it's back on the old roads of all the routes so it's back to rockin'. he claws back a couple times till the big steepy on yates store. he's a tough dude. i'm on a mission, and out of the saddle as I roll to Al's. there's the kamm's. florians, jim, and iron mike d of course. 
there were only a couple DNF's when I got in. what seemed like seconds was maybe 10 minutes and there my looongtime buds-chet and keith! wow! tim was another few mins back. it was raining where I'd just been in the sun! crazy. great riding by those guys. 
seen several finishes on facebook. hope everyone else made it!!!

an overall, near out-of-body experience for me. wasn't sure how it would go honestly.
as much as one can prepare, the future really isn't predictable with so many variables and possibilities. the long rides are where cycling really gets interesting. challenging. fun..

lost track of some stuff on this one as it just became an experience of crazy dimensions.

4.5 gals of H20 in pack. 6 bottles heed, 2 perpeteum. 10-12 asst. 'other' drinks.
pizza, chips, tuna, 4-5 cliffs. a jug of hammer gel (about 6 flasks) 3 packets of chews. 4 or 5 bananas. 4 advil on the way back. 2doz endurolytes.
avg heartrate-109. calories burned-nearly 20,000.

weight on sunday night-169. by summer i'll be ready for some of that fit 'n fast stuff i hope!