Monday, April 16, 2007

Strathmore 200K - 14 April Full Report

I woke up on the day of my first brevet at 6am sharp. Made some scrambled eggs, bacon & tea - grabbed my gear and headed out the door by 6:30am. On my way to the start I realized I was a bit fuzzy on the geography of north Calgary. As I live downtown and never venture to the far north I got a bit concerned I was not heading to the right spot. Giving myself a full hour to get there made me less worried as I had time to take a couple wrong turns. Eventually I found the start and there were a couple friendly rando types to greet me.

My funny bike drew a few humorous comments and a fair number of riders piled into the A&W. In total 13 riders started - which was more than I expected. Ken Myhre gave a quick briefing. I realized I didn't have a route sheet which was, apparently available on the net. [I did find it after the ride when I looked very carefully at the AB Rando website] One of the other riders very generously gave me his as he had been on this route many times. We had a group start at 8:30am and were off.

I was with the lead group for the first dozen kms out of town. I dropped back to chat with another rider and looked up the road to see them taking off. I couldn't bridge the gap so I rode with my new friend to the first control at Crossfield [36km]. As I arrived I watched the lead group head down the road. I left the control alone and quickly passed a rider dealing with a flat. He was okay so I continued on. Leaving the first control I had to head south a few KMs before turning east. During this short leg I got a taste of the wind that was going to kick my butt later in the ride. I also got a bit lost due to unmarked streets, but the handy laminated route sheet saved the day and proved valuable during the whole ride.

I had a nice tailwind to the second control in Bieseker [77km]. On the way I passed another rider who had stopped for a bathroom break. I was making good time to this point with an on bike avg of 28kph. As I got to the Bieseker control I watched the lead group leave. This would be the last time I saw any of them. The rider I had just passed came in shortly after me and introduced himself as Dan [the pic above is of Dan at the finish]. We left together after a quick reload of water and a cliffbar.

The next 64kms to the Strathmore control were generally south and into a stiff headwind. Most of my riding has been distances of up to 100kms. I have done a few rides longer than that, but very few and my longest ever ride has been something like 130kms. As we passed the 100km point my body was in new territory on a recumbent and the lack of early season riding started to become apparent. I felt like my top end was gone and although, I felt fine cruising along at 15-16kph, I couldn't accelerate or hold any higher speeds. I told Dan not to wait for me, but he insisted on sticking with me even though he could have easily launched off into the distance. He had started randoneering in '87 and wasn't in a hurry this early in the season. During this leg we were passed by the only three riders still behind us. When we got to the Strathmore control. I needed a break and ate a burger & fries at the A&W. Dan wouldn't leave without me so he hung around the extra 10mins it took me to get my sh*t together and head out on the final leg.

The wind was particularly brutal along the Trans-Canada Highway heading back to the start point of the ride. I knew I was going to make it well within the time window for the final control, but I also knew it was going to be a painful slog. At this point I was in totally new ground distance-wise and my muscles were clearly alarmed that I hadn't stopped at the unusual 100km point. During these last 62kms we had one short 12km section heading north where I was averaging 35kph and hitting over 40kph easily. It really boosted my morale to see my speedo read so high. We eventually rolled into the final control with 9:44hrs on the clock. Dan could have easily been there an hour earlier, but he showed some great rando spirit in looking after the newbie.

Overall I had a lot of fun on my first brevet. The rolling prairie grassland scenery is quite lovely and the route was well chosen to avoid a lot of traffic. Everyone was friendly and besides a few jokes about my bent no one seemed to really care what I was riding. The weather cooperated nicely with overcast skies and cool to warm temps [5-10 deg C]. I had no mechanical problems or flats.

Of the 13 riders who started the brevet 12 finished. There was one DNF due to a crash and resulting broken collar bone...=-( The earliest finishers came in around 8hrs.

I had several PRs on this ride:
- PR for most consecutive days alive
- first metric century in 2007
- first imperial century ever
- first brevet ever
- longest distance ever bicycled

Things I learned on this ride:
- AB rando types seem to ride race bikes with minimal extra gear [this might change with the longer brevets]
- control stops were very brief. If I want to stay with the lead riders I have get more organized and efficient
- I don't have a great way of carrying and viewing route sheets [might go the GPS route]
- my homemade route sheet worn around my neck was very helpful, but it was a bit difficult to decipher some times
- I don't enjoy the taste of sustained energy, even when masked with koolaid
- I ended up with a sore tendon in my right leg, talking to my chiropractor friend I have to look at that cleat and see if my knee alignment is off
- I had no other ergonomic issues with my bent and could have kept going
- I need to get in more riding, especially distances of 150kms+

Anyways I am stoked to get my first 200K done. I'll plan on riding one or two more 200K brevets before I take on a 300K. I'm glad PBP Isn't on my radar so that I have no stressful deadlines to deal with and can ride brevets when it makes sense for me to.


Jerome said...

Hey, I'm not sure if it's too late or not, but when are you coming into Strathmore? I'd love to meet you guys as you are coming in. Maybe too late, but we'll see. I also appreciate your blog as I trying to learn as much as possible about bent bikes. I'll be moving about 24 miles outside of Strathmore but still want to ride my bike to work everyday and I'm wondering if a bent would be the way to go? Good luck and happy and safe riding to you!


Vik said...

Hey Jerome,

The ride was Saturday. I'm glad you like the blog. A bent would be great for a 24km commute especially if we are talking rural roads. It will be fast and comfortable.

You can email me at threeohm at gmail dot com if you want to talk bents and figure what would be a good model.