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sjbraun
11-13-2011, 01:21 PM
Yesterday, my friend Kurt and I completed our first brevet, the 200km, Mt. Lemmon Brevet.
Kurt and I started out with 18 riders, a mixed group of riders, mostly older guys, a few younger than Kurt and me. We had expected the brevet crowd to be filled with fendered, steel frames, lots of wool, Brooks saddles, and spiffy English-style saddlebags. Not so much. Kurt and I were the only guys on steel, we were the only ones sporting fenders, and Kurt's generator hub was the only one we saw. So much for the traditional aspects of randoneurring (at least in AZ, anyway.)

A group of 10-12 guys took off from the start, blasting up Twin Peaks Rd at 18 mph. We know this because Kurt hung with them (for a while.) I'm not sure if he looked back and slowed for me out of pity or if he suddenly realized that riding 18mph up Twin Peals Rd wasn't the best way to start a 132 mile day. We settled into a more reasonable pace and caught a group of six riders a short while later.

This group was filled with mostly retired guys who seem to do a lot of these events. One guy whose name I can't remember claims he rode 24,000 miles last year. His buddy was a slacker, only riding 12,000 miles. And to think, I'm pleased as punch when I break 6,000 miles for the year. I guess you can ride a lot when you don't have to work.

After the climb up Twin Peaks Rd, we worked our way across Tucson, from the northwest to east side. At this point, the ride had started out fine; we were pleased to see we were about 10 minutes ahead of the pace we rode a few weeks earlier when we previewed the first part of the course. After a quick stop at Sabino Cycles for a pair of cycling gloves, (I had foolishly packed two right hand gloves when I prepared my gear the night before,) we were off to the mountain.

Forty miles into the ride, we began the climb. We started slowly, maybe a half to a mile per hour slower than usual. We had a long day ahead of us and it seemed to me the only way to survive was to ride conservatively. For those of you who aren't familiar with Mt Lemmon, it is a 26 mile climb just outside of Tucson. Except for a few spots, itís a gradual climb from 2500ft at the base to 8175 feet at the summit. The ride starts in the low desert and finishes in pine forests.

The first five miles to Molino Basin were pleasant. One of least favorite portions of the climb occurs from miles 3-5, but yesterday, the overcast skies made even that section more interesting. But then we made the turn at Molino and headed into a wall of wind. There's not much good you can say about a headwind when your cycling, combine that with riding up a mountain and there's even lees you can say. Fortunately, within a few miles, the wind subsided. We cruised along fine until we got to the climb before Windy Point when once again we faced a 20+mph headwind. We had a brief water stop at Windy Point and continued on. We saw our first snow of the day just past Windy Point. I don't think that was the reason, but shortly after leaving Windy Point, I fell apart. No matter what I did, I couldn't get my speed above 5 mph. Let's just say that combined with my flat tire (a catastrophic failure of a slimed tube,) miles 16-19 were not fun. We rolled into Palisades (milepost 19,) where the organizer sat with sandwiches, drinks, cookies, and ibuprofen. I had serious thoughts about dropping out at that point. Given how poorly I felt the previous three miles, I wasn't sure I should go further. But after a break, a turkey wrap and coke, I was good to go. How I felt after eating suggests I was bonking before Palisade. Not sure how that happened because I thought I was eating plenty on the way up.

Shortly after we left Palisades, my rear tire started to flat, but this time the sealant worked. I limped into the summit town of Summerhaven on 30 psi in the rear. We stopped in Summerhaven long enough to pump up my tire and mail postcards, that's how you prove to the organizer that you made it to Summerhaven. We began the climb out of Summerhaven with the benefit of a tailwind, a very nice treat. The descent which is usually a blast was one of the hardest parts of the whole ride. I had my sealant plugged rear tire to consider, you don't want to flat in the apex of a curve at 40 mph. Then there was the wind. It was very strong and inconsistent, one minute it was in your face, the next it was blowing you around the road. Kurt found it amusing (not,) when a sudden gust pushed him over a full two feet. This was followed by a second equally strong gust just seconds later. Then there was the cold. I don't think the ambient temperature was that cold, but when you combine wind blowing up snow covered slopes and the wind chill generated by the speed of our descent, exposed flesh got really cold. I couldn't feel my face for most of the way down. All in all, it was the longest, slowest, and most difficult trip up and down the mountain I've ever had.

Back at the base of the mountain, we started to warm up a bit, only to be confronted by more headwinds. Despite our previous trials and persistent headwinds, we finished the last 34 miles in just under two hours. It was dark before we finished, but our lights provided plenty of visibility. We arrived at the finish 11:35 after we started. Almost, but not quite the last ones on the course. Our total pedaling time was 9:54, for an average of 13.1 mph.

Back at Kurt's house, we celebrated with a bit of tequila and a wonderful boeuf stew (Thanks Susan!!)

I don't think I've ever been so pleased to see rain as I was this morning. It was just the excuse I needed to miss the Sunday ride. Surprisingly, my legs don't feel bad this morning, my neck doesn't hurt, and all the feeling has returned to my fingers. I guess it wasn't such a bad day after all.

For any of you intrigued by this whole brevet thing, there's a flat 200km brevet scheduled for January. I'm pretty sure I'll be skipping the next one, (I have to train for the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo mountain bike race in Feb,) but I worry about what crazy thing Kurt and I will attempt next.

godfrey1112000
11-13-2011, 02:12 PM
the climb is a beast, you are a man, sorry about the flats but it is part of the Brevet deal,


keep up the good work, the AzBrevet schedule is posted for 2012 hope I can make a few of the 200-300k's

I am glad my business called me back to Kansas City on Wednesday or I would have been out there slugging it out with you

rwsaunders
11-13-2011, 02:39 PM
You randonneurs are a crazy bunch...nice work.

soulspinner
11-13-2011, 03:32 PM
Great job :beer:

roydyates
11-13-2011, 08:11 PM
It sounds like a great ride. I think you would see more traditional rando bikes at longer distances. For 200km, any reasonably fitting bike is OK and faster/lighter is often preferable. As for slime/sealant, you're the first brevet riders I've heard that use it. Most randonneurs I know travel with approximately 1 tube for every 100km to cover. (If you're riding a 600k, and you get access to a drop bag at 400km, then you start with 4 tubes.)

sjbraun
11-13-2011, 09:16 PM
I've been commuting on the bike I rode Saturday, a Velo-Orange rando frame, so I've been using sealant to help insure I get to work on time. Saturday's flats we're the first I've had in over 1500 miles.

I'm through with Slime products. They seem to have a limited life span. True-goo products seem worthy of a trial.

fourflys
11-13-2011, 09:28 PM
awesome ride, I hope to be at that point one day...

rudetay
11-13-2011, 10:48 PM
It sounds like a great ride. I think you would see more traditional rando bikes at longer distances. For 200km, any reasonably fitting bike is OK and faster/lighter is often preferable. As for slime/sealant, you're the first brevet riders I've heard that use it. Most randonneurs I know travel with approximately 1 tube for every 100km to cover. (If you're riding a 600k, and you get access to a drop bag at 400km, then you start with 4 tubes.)

This has been discussed a few times before, but I'll rephrase it for this thread. You'll see an increase in dyno lights beyond 300k, when you need them, but the majority of riders just ride road bikes for rando events, pretty much worldwide from my experience. After all, you are just riding on the road, and most routes don't put you especially far from food or water.

1 tube for every 100k sounds like a lot. I'll generally carry two for any distance, and just whenever I flat I patch that one at the next stop that I eat at and let it dry in my bag as I ride.

m.skeen
11-13-2011, 10:51 PM
Very impressive. Congrats!

brockd15
11-14-2011, 05:49 AM
We had expected the brevet crowd to be filled with fendered, steel frames, lots of wool, Brooks saddles, and spiffy English-style saddlebags. Not so much. Kurt and I were the only guys on steel, we were the only ones sporting fenders, and Kurt's generator hub was the only one we saw. So much for the traditional aspects of randoneurring (at least in AZ, anyway.)

Glad to hear your first one went so well! Or at least well enough to finish.

I think what you're seeing here is the non-rando rider's romanticized view of the (popular these days) randonneur bike clashing with the real-world rando bike. In my experience, Brooks are common, almost nobody has fenders (but this is Texas), and almost everyone rides modern road bikes. The only time I remember seeing any fancy English-style bags were on the same bike that had fenders. Zipps and carbon are far more common than steel and fenders.

Dyno hubs are common, but more for longer distances where they're needed. I, and many others I've seen, have a dyno wheel/light that comes out when needed but stays home if not.

palincss
11-14-2011, 07:22 AM
What you see depends on where you are. Looking at photos (http://www.flickr.com/photos/wabeck/sets/72157627993903523/) from DC Randonneurs' 200km brevet in Centreville, MD this past Saturday, you will see many bikes with fenders, a fair number with handlebar bags, at least one Carradice and many steel frames. You will also see racing bikes, tandems and even at least one recumbent.

You'll also see lots of wool, including quite a few of the red wool DC Randonneurs jerseys. If the roads had been wet or if it had been raining, you would also have seen a very high percentage of those fendered bikes wearing foot-long "Buddy Flaps." I can't recall seeing any Zipp wheels. And there were many generator hubs, even some on bikes belonging to riders who were certain they would finish before sundown.

bambam
11-14-2011, 09:41 AM
Great write up. Like the climb profile as well. Struggling can be a part of brevets but perseverance makes it more memorable.
I got started in Brevets years ago when I saw a rider wearing a PBP 2003 jersey. After talking with him I decided that sounds like fun and I gave it a try. I had rode my first 14 centuries the year before and felt like that I could make 200k and increase from there. Its and interesting world in brevets. It can be what you want it to be. The journey, personal best times, whatever. It not about the type of bike either, its the comfort and what you can tolerate for the distance you need to go. Have fun with it and you will learn what to bring and when the more experience you get. Good luck on the 24 hr mtn bike race. That sound like fun to.
Ride Safe,
BamBam

AngryScientist
11-14-2011, 10:05 AM
first off: nice work, looks like a challenging route, and good on you for finishing strong.

i don't quite get the slime thing though to be honest. why not just carry a few spare tubes and change them when you flat? it takes all of 5-6 minutes to change a tube, and you know you've got a fresh, good tube in your tire. that way you ride confidently up and down. the slime crap seems to just make for a heavier wheel, that isn't much more reliable at all.

dave thompson
11-14-2011, 10:16 AM
.

tiretrax
11-14-2011, 10:50 AM
Glad to hear your first one went so well! Or at least well enough to finish.

I think what you're seeing here is the non-rando rider's romanticized view of the (popular these days) randonneur bike clashing with the real-world rando bike. In my experience, Brooks are common, almost nobody has fenders (but this is Texas), and almost everyone rides modern road bikes. The only time I remember seeing any fancy English-style bags were on the same bike that had fenders. Zipps and carbon are far more common than steel and fenders.

Dyno hubs are common, but more for longer distances where they're needed. I, and many others I've seen, have a dyno wheel/light that comes out when needed but stays home if not.

Which randos are you riding in TX? I've seen both traditional and modern. Not so much wool, however, except on the Tweed Ride.

brockd15
11-14-2011, 12:33 PM
LSR and the Houston group.

roydyates
11-14-2011, 11:25 PM
This has been discussed a few times before, but I'll rephrase it for this thread. You'll see an increase in dyno lights beyond 300k, when you need them, but the majority of riders just ride road bikes for rando events, pretty much worldwide from my experience. After all, you are just riding on the road, and most routes don't put you especially far from food or water.

1 tube for every 100k sounds like a lot. I'll generally carry two for any distance, and just whenever I flat I patch that one at the next stop that I eat at and let it dry in my bag as I ride.

1tube/100km seems excessive, but I've been on a 200km with 3 flats and a fleche with 4 flats. Also, it's embarrassing to admit, but I lack the skills to patch a skinny (20-28mm) tube. :)

I think flats/100km depends a lot on where you ride. Here in NJ and PA, the roads have plenty of debris. By comparison, I rode PBP with zero flats. In fact, in an informal survey of a dozen or so friends who rode PBP, nobody got a flat. The roads in France were VERY clean.