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Moss Beach 200K Brevet – March 12, 2011

Right, then…

So, in one fell swoop I managed to meet two of my goals this year:  Do a century ride and do a Brevet of at least 200K.

Admittedly, I was a bit concerned going in to this.  While this is something I wanted to do, actually signing up was one of those “wild hair up ass” moments.  In short, I saw that I was running out of time and signed up without really thinking about it.  So at the beginning of 2011, I knew that I would not be riding the Gray Whale 200K as I would be out of town.  Also, I hadn’t trained for it.  For that matter, I hadn’t trained for this one, really, either.  I mean, yes, I’ve been exceeding my goal of riding 60 miles/week, but I’m not sure if that counts as training for a 200K ride.  So, again, I was concerned, but optimistic.

Optimistic until I mentioned this to a co-worker who told me that there was going to be shitty weather and headwinds both ways and I was going to hate life the entire time.  That was almost enough to get me to bag out until the summer when SF Randonneurs had something scheduled for August.  What it got down to was the weather.  Up to 10 days before, I had been checking the weather for Saturday.  Initially it started out as cloudy, but then upgraded to partially cloudy; the wind was reported from the south, then the north then the west.  The closer we got, the more confident that it would be livable weather, so I made plans to head over the hill.

Then the earthquake and subsequent Tsunami hit Japan.  Now it’s odd that something that happens 6-ish thousand miles away should affect me, but this does as it sent waves to the California coast.  Not knowing what to expect, we all hunkered down.  In the end, it seems that the worst damage by far was not with the coastline or Pacific Coast Highway…but the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor.  When I called the hotel on Friday afternoon, they informed me that things were more or less normal, so off I went.

With a combination of nervousness, being teetotal and marathon experience, I started fueling up on Thursday night.  To be quite honest, I don’t know if it helped at all, but I think it made me feel like I was doing something to prepare, especially since I had been backing off on my riding to save my legs.

The Universe must have wanted me to ride this ride.  Not only did I get a surprisingly good nights sleep, the weather was about as good as I could have asked for.  When we all met at the Lighthouse at 6:20 or so, it was in the high 40’s; at its peak it was in the low 60’s.  There were some clouds, but it was mostly clear and sunny.  There was some headwind about hour before I hit Moss Beach, but it wasn’t debilitating – just enough for me to realize that it wasn’t apparent wind.  Also, my clothing selection was spot on – bibs, leg/arm warmers, jersey, beany, wind/rain jacket and gloves were on for over 100 miles with little issue.  About 20 to 25 miles from the end, I finally took off the jacket and beany as I was getting a little overheated.

The ride itself was great.  I didn’t measure, but I’d say it was about 50% PCH and 50% inland farm roads (going north, Gazos Creek, Cloverdale, Stage Rd; going south, Stage Rd, La Honda/84, Pescadero, Butano Cut off, back down to Cloverdale and Gazos Creek to PCH).  Yes, hills were present, but nothing that was insurmountable.  Besides, I have 28 x 32 gearing going on, so while I was slow, it was a matter of grabbing the bar ends and keeping the cranks turning.  All this on a 35 lb bike, by the way.

Interesting surprise:  I figured that after the last big hill (Haskins Hill – about 2 miles at 10% grade) it would be cake on the way back in.  That last 25 miles still took effort – I think there was a wind shift at some point, so there was headwind; also, I had forgotten the hills on PCH that I rode just that morning.

So, I’m tooling down PCH into Santa Cruz when I spot King St – my turn that takes me off of PCH and to the end.  Bing bing bing, I’m sitting down at a folding table, signing my card, signing in on the roster and being applauded for completing my first Brevet.

In the end, I rode 128 miles in over 10:37; just under 3 hours left, if I needed it.  This, mind you, included the control stops.  According to the bike computer, it was actually 9:37 spent in the saddle.  After saying my goodbyes, I spun back down to the lighthouse to where the truck was parked, loaded up and called it a day.

Today, I am a bit tired, a bit stiff and a bit store…and I feel great!

Being one for process improvement, here are my thoughts for my next Brevet (either another 200K or – gasp – a 300K)

  1. Train (which, translated, means keep riding long distances)
  2. Do not rely on sandwiches at the control points; pack my own, or find a subway
  3. Spend a little more time in the controls resting and stretching
  4. No need to bring a lock; there were enough folks around that the bike was safe
  5. I do wonder if I over-fueled before the ride.  I mean, I don’t think there was a long-term detrimental effect; I just don’t know if there was any benefit, other than giving my mind something to do.

Things that worked:

  1. Fig Newtons – about 1 every 20 minutes – is a good ratio
  2. Try to eat 400 to 600 calories at the 4-ish hour mark
  3. For these temps, 2 20 oz bottles of water was fine.  I’d use one by the time I reach a control, then refill.  No Camelbak needed.
  4. I drank 2 20 oz bottles of Cyto-Max (brought mix and poured it into a water bottle) in addition to one 20 oz bottle of Gatorade
  5. Snickers always satisfies
  6. 2 bananas = no cramps (the Cyto-Max probably helped)
  7. I think the Dawes is going to be my Rando rig.

200K.  Ye gods.

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A quiet evening at home

Right, then…

The ‘mates are out of the house and all is quiet.  I thought it’d be a good time to catch up on this.

Well, Good God, it’s been what?  about four weeks since I last posted?  Unconscionable.  OK, not that there was major things going on, but there were some things worth chatting about.

OK then, first off, the drinking.  The last post reported that I had quit drinking, and I am happy to say that I’m still quit drinking (or however you say that).  In short, still teetotal.  To be honest, it’s not like I’ve been put to any major test, but still it’s nice to know that I’ve been able to make it thus far.  I have noticed some interesting things like a mild sugar replacement (Trapper Joe’s Dark Chocolate and Clif Bars, mainly).  Also, I’ve noticed how pervasive booze is in society:  Magazine ads, billboards, television – it’s everywhere.  Further, I’ve started a list of things I can no longer do, now that I’m dry:  Scotch tasting is sort of a pointless exercise; bicycling home buzzed no longer is going to occur; body shots are also [sadly] out, though I still might be able to lick off  the salt.

I’ve also noted some automatic reactions that took me by surprise.  We had a Superbowl party for…well…The Superbowl, and I was making bratwurst in beer.  After pouring the beer in the pan, there was maybe two fingers worth left in the bottle, and I went to drink it…only to stop myself about 1/2 way up to my mouth.  It’s not that I wanted or needed the beer; it’s just that drinking the remnants is something I would have done lo these 20 years, so I went to do it again, automatically.

A few friends know now.  So far, they’re really good with it.  Then again, these are fairly introspective or relaxed folks, so I didn’t figure I’d have any hassle.  There are others, however, that have always known me to be a drinker that are not so open-minded; these are going to give me trouble.  I still don’t know how I’m going to handle my next trip to Fresno, it being it’s own reason to drink.

So, now that my most fave-rave hobby is done for, I’ve channeled that energy into bikes.  The first couple of weeks, I spent working on various bike projects:  Cleaning, repacking bearings, installing new brake levers, recabling.  The big project was turning the “other” Galaxy into a fixed gear.  This involved tearing the bike down to the frame, soaking the frame, fork, and other bits in Oxalic Acid to remove the rust, then reassembling sans shifters and derailleurs.  As the rear wheel on this was already a freewheel (vs. cassette), all I needed to do was buy a track cog (18T) and a new 1/8″ chain and I was ready to go.  Go furtively, but go, nonetheless.

The first time out was interesting.  Hell, subsequent times out are still interesting.  I’ve read that you don’t realize how much you typically coast when you’re riding:  Coming up to stops, adjusting in the saddle, looking behind you – so far, all of this has been true.  You go to stop pedaling and sure as shit, your foot is coming back around.  Tahn informed me rather succinctly:  “Keep pedaling.  You are the bike’s bitch.”  Sage words, those.

On the overall, I am happy to report that I do like riding fixed gear.  It’s still an interesting experience every time I ride.  Also – lest one thinks otherwise – the brakes are still in place, front and rear.  I’m told that I can get rid of the rear brake now (Sheldon Brown says that I never needed it in the first place) and that in time, I might remove all brakes from the bike.  I don’t know.  I mean, right now, I am able to come to a stop without brakes, but it’s a long stop.  I would not want to try and make an Oh Shit! stop relying on pedals alone.  I told Tahn that if some day I come tooling up on a fixie without brakes, I’ll be just as surprised as everyone else.  Besides, I don’t think the maintenance for brakes (or derailleurs or gears, for that matter) is really all that much to sweat.  The next change I think will be fitting it with lights and a rack so I can commute on it, when I get the urge.  That would be three commuter bikes, then.   I’ve clearly lost my shit with this bike thing.

Speaking of losing my shit, I’m down about 10 pounds since the beginning of the year.  Naturally, riding a lot helps, in addition to no more booze (or the in-situ and post-booze gorging that occurs on occasion).  I’m at around 217 or so, and I’d like to get down to 200 lbs this year.

Speaking of losing my shit, is it me, or does “Two-and-a-half Men” seem more and more like a documentary these days?

Speaking of losing my shit (this, by the way, is the real reason I was using this phrase; the prior two paragraphs were random thoughts that jumped in), I’ve signed up for the Moss Beach 200K Brevet, which is going to occur next Saturday.  200K; that’s 125 miles.  In this case, 125 somewhat hilly miles, with one big goddamn fucking hill on the front end (Hwy 1 to La Honda).  While I have been riding a lot, I haven’t been actually training, so I’m a little ambivalent about how I’ll do.  Then again, last year I rode 75 miles to Martinez and I was in not as good of shape as I am now.  Also, there’s the possibility of weather, so that might change my plans.  Mildly shitty weather I can deal with, but if there’s a pissing rainstorm then I’m going to take a pass and Santa Cruz Randonneurs can keep my $10.  I’ll get my medal another day.  I just checked weather.com and learned that it’s supposed to be 62F and Partly Cloudy which is better than Partly Sunny.  So I’ve got that going for me…which is nice.  What’s also nice is that Droo was gracious enough to offer up his services, should I decide to bag out and need a lift back to the truck.  Droo, for the record, is one of the awesome friends that did not give me any shit for quitting drinking (in fact, he was very understanding and supportive).  So again, I’m furtive:  I’m looking forward to this, but I’m a bit nervous, as well.

OK, enough of this…

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