Starting Big in 2011

Bundled for Nightfall

I skipped all parties, drinking and staying up late to ring in the New Year just so I could get up at 5am to ride the HDH200KM Brevet. Some people called me crazy, by my friends knew better, some were jealous they weren’t going to be able to ride it.

The weather for the last couple days of 2010 had been in the high 20’s to low 30’s with some scattered ice patches and a couple of flurries but no real snow in the valleys.  I was a little worried about ice on the road but only had a couple of sketchy bits.

The Brevet started at Marcello’s home in Hillsboro with sign-in, maps, cue-sheets and last minute instructions.  He would be checking on us throughout the course and be along the way with some snacks at a secret control or two. I didn’t know Marcello or his wife, but I recognized several other riders that were wearing the Oregon Randonneurs Jerseys and covet one for myself.  But for the most part, I was the stranger and didn’t talk a whole lot.

Around 20 riders turned up at the start of this 29-degree morning. Most were lit-up really well, others had a more classic Rando look to them: Steel bike, fat tires, dyno-lights, canvas handlebar bag.

7:30 ticks the clock and Marcello wishes us on our way. In contrast to bike races, nobody is in a big rush to take off so we all just kind of get rolling as if it were a social ride through town.

The first few miles were as a large group, chatting, catching up, small talk, commenting on each other’s bikes.  As the sky started to brighten, we started to get some distance between us as some wanted to go faster, others go slower, and the ocassional stop to remove an overly warm layer.  I quickly grew pretty warm but preferred it that way.

After the first 30 minutes, I was pretty much on my own, leap-frogging other riders as we took turns stopping for pee-breaks, clothing adjustments or varying energy levels.

The first of the year is so quiet.  Many people are sleeping in, nursing hang-overs, or in the case of other people in my life they were STILL partying.  Traffic was so sparse in the rural areas that I went over an hour without seeing a single car.

I eventually started pacing Cecil, whom I met on the Three-Capes 300k Brevet in 2008.  We chatted a bit, but I wanted to press on since I was feeling energetic and wanted to go faster.

There was one section where my blood sugar got a little low and caused me to flake on a turn.  It took me 2.5 miles to realize my mistake and had to turn around to correct myself.  This must have added about 20 minutes to my over-all time and just made me a little frustrated that I could have done something so dumb.

I eventually realized that some lower back pain that I was experiencing was due to my saddle height being slightly too high.  I’ve had my bike for about a month and still had to tweak the fit and do some longer rides to verify.  Lesson learned.  I lowered the saddle after 63 miles and it made an immediate difference but my knees and hips were still a little cranky and would take a few days to normalize.

Relatively Easy Elevation Gain

There wasn’t really anything extraordinary about the ride.  The course was gently rolling, only a couple of short climbs at the half-way point and sunny but cold weather.  The only part that was slightly demoralizing was the headwind on the return trip that made the 32-degree air feel closer to 18-degrees.  This made me really appreciate the extra wool layers I was wearing and for buying the Bar Mitts from River City Bicycles.  My hands NEVER got cold even though I was wearing simple wool gloves. TOTALLY worth the cost.

As night time fell upon us scattered riders, I saw less leap-frogging and eventually rode a couple of hours completely alone.  I became lost in my thoughts, followed the GPS track to make sure I didn’t make any more wrong turns, and was so happy that my dyno-hub was still giving me reliable power that battery-powered lights might have struggled with the cold.  Randonneurs LOVE dyno-lights.

By the time I was about 10 miles from the Start/Finish, I was pretty much ready to be done.  I made several errors in timing my eating so kept experiencing low energy levels, my right IT band and kneecaps were sore, and my hands just felt a little beat up from being in the same position all day.

I finally rolled into the Start/Finish at 18:51.  Marcello and his wife were comfortably waiting inside for us with chili, chocolate milk, mac & cheese and some other snacks to help us weary riders recover.

, 11 hours 51 minutes as my official finishing time.  It may not have been as I had wished, but I know in future rides I’ll do much better.   With the ~130 miles I rode on the brevet, travel to and from the MAX and home, I totaled 140 miles for the day.

What a way to start the New Year.  My next planned brevet is February 5, The Grab Bag 200/300 in Newburg.

Lessons Learned:

  • Bar Mitts are REALLY warm
  • Dyno-lights are great, but may need to upgrade hub
  • Eat MORE in cold weather
  • Tweak setup BEFORE the event
  • Pay attention to the cue-sheet and signs
  • Thermal Tights are almost too warm
  • Wool everything
  • Need Handlebar Bag
  • Take slightly less extra clothing

FSM Worshipper

Keep the rubber side down,


Categories: Life

3 replies »

  1. Good job on the brevet Tomas. I wonder if lobster style over gloves would be more comfortable for randonneuring. It looks like your bar mitts don’t allow much hand movement, which can lead to numb fingers.

    • Thanks. The lobster claws didn’t work out write as well for me as the bar mitts. My hands still got too cold and they made shifting with STI brifters too difficult. Thankfully, I’m in the hoods 90% of the time so I don’t get much of a numbness problem.

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