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  1. #1
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Rainbows, Apples, and a Fatherís Day Present - My 600K!

    The Story with Photos is Here:

    http://www.machka.net/2006/2006_600_Fairmont.htm



    Highlights

    - weather: you name it, I experienced it!

    - wildlife: saw a lot! There was a little red fox, a large coyote, numerous deer, elk, mountain goats (including babies), one bighorn sheep with crooked horns ... and fresh bear droppings.

    - hills: there were roughly a million of them. I think a grand total of about 1/10th of the route could be deemed flat.

    - sleep: got 2.5 hours at the 340-km point.

    - digestive issues: had some trouble around the 240-km point, but nothing serious and I recovered.

    - comments on other bodily parts: my face is BURNED, my eyes are red and burning, my sitbones and hands are in pain (that's from a 30 km section of extremely bad road), and the rest of my muscles are a little stiff and sore. I can't explain it, but the upper body soreness, numbness, etc. I was having on my 200K, 300K, and 400K did not occur this time.

    - mechanicals: two flats

    - complete: the fact that I completed a 600K!! I DNF'd my last two.

    - time: 37:35 total time; approx. 32:00 riding time.


    And the most special highlight of all ..... my father and the amount of support he provided!! He told me as we drove out of Calgary, that was his Fatherís Day present to me!!

  2. #2
    100% USDA certified the beef's Avatar
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    I saw your post about it in the longest ride thread, and I'm very impressed! You inspire me. How'd you manage to finish the second half on 2.5 hours of sleep??! I'm making it my goal to someday be able to do something like this, someday.

  3. #3
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by the beef
    I saw your post about it in the longest ride thread, and I'm very impressed! You inspire me. How'd you manage to finish the second half on 2.5 hours of sleep??! I'm making it my goal to someday be able to do something like this, someday.

    Well ... I had two cups of coffee throughout the second day.


    Actually, the answer to the question is: "I don't know for sure". Before I started Randonneuring, I loved my sleep and was barely functional without it. Since I've been Randonneuring, I've found I can get away with very little ... as long as I get some more later. For example, on the Last Chance 1200K, I got about 4.5 hours of sleep in the 90 hours I was out there.

    I'm guessing, but I think there are two things that help:

    1) I believe that the human body can train itself to get by on less sleep. When I've been in classes all winter where perhaps once or twice a week, I pull all-nighters, or close to it, I seem to have an easier time the following summer cycling on little to no sleep. But when I've had a year where I've just been working and have been getting good night's sleeps regularly, when Randonneuring season rolls around I struggle with the sleep aspect.

    2) The human body's REM cycle is 90 minutes long. So, if you can get 1.5 hours of sleep, or 3 hours of sleep, or 4.5 hours of sleep, you'll go through complete REM cycles and will wake refreshed at the end of them. If, however, you can't afford to do that, the recommendation is to sleep 30 minutes or less at a time, so that you don't fall into a really deep sleep. From my own experience, I've found that if I sleep 1 hour, I wake up feeling horrible. But if I can get 1.5 or 3 hours, I'm fine ... and I usually try to aim for that.

    In this case I was lying in bed for 2.5 hours, but I slept very, very restlessly and was looking at the clock about every 20 minutes, so I don't believe I fell into the REM cycle at any point during the night. So, when the alarm went off, I was fine to go again.


    And if you are interested, check out my links for Randonneuring, or other long distance cycling events in your area: http://www.machka.net/links.htm

  4. #4
    S.D.M.F. BlessedHellride's Avatar
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    Thanks for your posts! You are truly an inspiration. I can't imagine the mental strength it takes to do that.
    The scenery where you go is beautiful!
    "you can never get too low when you're so damn high, on the blessed hellride"

  5. #5
    Wheee LilSprocket's Avatar
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    Awesome! Lovely! Thanks for sharing
    If you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to be a horrible warning.
    http://www.myspace.com/qwtrailbuilders
    rip sydney

  6. #6
    littlecircles bmike's Avatar
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    Well done!
    Congrats!

    So, I guess you'll be heading my way for BMB?

    ..and - I need to remember to stop and snap photos en route. I've been so focused on "keeping moving" that I rarely stop and enjoy the scenery!

    Great ride report!

  7. #7
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmike
    Well done!
    Congrats!

    So, I guess you'll be heading my way for BMB?

    ..and - I need to remember to stop and snap photos en route. I've been so focused on "keeping moving" that I rarely stop and enjoy the scenery!

    Great ride report!

    Yes, I'll be applying for the BMB as soon as I get my certification number.

    I tend to take a lot of photos on my rides partly because I'm out there alone and that's something to keep me busy/amused. But in general, I look at these rides as an excellent way to see a lot of country-side in a short period of time. I'm much happier when I can stop and enjoy the scenery.

  8. #8
    Giving you the business. Cypress's Avatar
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    I was skipping through the reading and saw "Highway 93", then I remembered that you are in Canadia and the Canadian stretch of 93 is waaaay way better than the US 93.
    Quote Originally Posted by Moderator
    Dear Cypress,

    You have received an infraction at Bike Forums.

  9. #9
    littlecircles bmike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka
    Yes, I'll be applying for the BMB as soon as I get my certification number.

    I tend to take a lot of photos on my rides partly because I'm out there alone and that's something to keep me busy/amused. But in general, I look at these rides as an excellent way to see a lot of country-side in a short period of time. I'm much happier when I can stop and enjoy the scenery.

    Ride those hills!
    The 400k I just finished followed some of the BMB route, and the 600k will do the same.
    I think the route is chosen simply by finding roads that go up!

  10. #10
    Senior Member The Octopus's Avatar
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    Congrats! Great report and photos, as always!

    Our 600K is coming up next weekend; can't wait!

  11. #11
    Team BYRDS Katrogen's Avatar
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    Machka you are so inspiring! Its neat in your 'documentary' (lack of a more suitable word) of your adventure, I really notice that you let yourself get exposed to the happenings of the world. In that you become so attentive to the environment, the terrain, the colors, the weather! Its got to be a great enlightenment. Time with your dad, yourself, your bike and nature.

    Great report. I'm doing a 300 mile ride from Boise to Stanley, Idaho. I'm excited to see mountains, pines, unpredictable weather, long hills. Perfect place to ride is up in the northern mountains. I'm sure you know that!

    Good job. Thanks for sharing.

  12. #12
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmike
    Ride those hills!
    The 400k I just finished followed some of the BMB route, and the 600k will do the same.
    I think the route is chosen simply by finding roads that go up!

    That is NOT what I wanted to hear.


    But it is what I've heard to be true from many sources.

    I'm not good at climbing OR descending. I have started to get more comfortable with both, and I am riding up some stuff I would have walked in the past, but I've still got a long way to go to feel happy about climbing. That one hill I walked on the 600K ... I would have ridden it ... I really think I could have ... except that the shoulder was horrible (gravel, large rocks, broken glass, other debris), and the traffic was bumper to bumper all the way up, and just flying! I'd have flatted if I rode on the shoulder, and I'd have been mowed down if I had ridden in a lane.

    BTW - How's the traffic on the BMB route?

  13. #13
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Katrogen
    Machka you are so inspiring! Its neat in your 'documentary' (lack of a more suitable word) of your adventure, I really notice that you let yourself get exposed to the happenings of the world. In that you become so attentive to the environment, the terrain, the colors, the weather! Its got to be a great enlightenment. Time with your dad, yourself, your bike and nature.

    Great report. I'm doing a 300 mile ride from Boise to Stanley, Idaho. I'm excited to see mountains, pines, unpredictable weather, long hills. Perfect place to ride is up in the northern mountains. I'm sure you know that!

    Good job. Thanks for sharing.
    I love being outside - seeing and experiencing nature. And weather absolutely fascinates me. I've even started a collection of cloud photos!!

    I get cranky when I have to spend too much time cooped up inside, and especially if I have to spend too much time in my "dungeon" - the two-room place where I live now with no windows!!. I absolutely treasure every moment I can be outside.

    And the wonderful thing about nature, the environment, etc. is that the way it appears changes with the time of the day, the weather, the perspective and angles. It's never exactly the same.

    It was also great to spend time with my father ... he has been very, very supportive of my long distance cycling. He does some himself, and he got me into cycling in the first place, so he has some understanding of what I'm doing and going through. Also, for 13 years, I lived 1000 miles away from my parents, and rarely saw or talked to them, so it's almost like I'm getting to know them again.


    I've driven through Idaho, from Cranbrook, BC to Moscow, Idaho!! My brother got married there. But on that drive I remember thinking that Idaho was a very pretty place and one day I might like to cycle there. I'm sure you'll enjoy your ride!!

  14. #14
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Forum moderator(s) ....... could you move this over to the new Long Distance forum?

    Thanks!!

  15. #15
    littlecircles bmike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka
    Forum moderator(s) ....... could you move this over to the new Long Distance forum?

    Thanks!!
    So we finally get a long distance forum?
    I was going to ask again...


  16. #16
    Twincities MN kuan's Avatar
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    Good support is essential. Congrats!

  17. #17
    By-Tor...or the Snow Dog? hi565's Avatar
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    Moved to Long Distance Cycling

    hi565
    Mod
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka
    That is NOT what I wanted to hear.

    But it is what I've heard to be true from many sources.

    I'm not good at climbing OR descending. I have started to get more comfortable with both, and I am riding up some stuff I would have walked in the past, but I've still got a long way to go to feel happy about climbing. That one hill I walked on the 600K ... I would have ridden it ... I really think I could have ... except that the shoulder was horrible (gravel, large rocks, broken glass, other debris), and the traffic was bumper to bumper all the way up, and just flying! I'd have flatted if I rode on the shoulder, and I'd have been mowed down if I had ridden in a lane.

    BTW - How's the traffic on the BMB route?
    Hey Machka -- so having finished Boston 600, I should note that while we hit several towns that are visited by B-M-B (Brattleboro, Ashuelot, etc.) we didn't actually ride very much of the route. Still, the organizers reassured us that the 600 was designed to be an accurate reflection of the challenges on B-M-B. So based on that, here's the little bits of wisdom that I could glean.

    One -- the three most challenging climbs are the Middlebury Gap, the suitably named Mt. Terrible, and Chemin de Covey Road. Middlebury is both steep and long, with about 1600 ft. in elevation change and some severe pitches to ascend. It's also about 400k into the ride, and you have to hit it going to and from Montreal. Terrible is a lopsided mountain, easy and gradual on the outbound approach, a murderous 10% 2-mile grade on the return; so it's tough because it surprises you on the return. Chemin de Covey is the heartbreaker, as it's a geological shelf that was created when two continental plates collided, and one was driven straight up. So, you'll climb and descend on a series of rollers, and in the distance, you'll see this granite wall that's just sitting there, waiting for you. The climb is supposedly not that hard, it's just steep but relatively short compared to Middlebury, but the time spent on the approach can be intimidating.

    Two -- The segment between Ludlow and Brattleboro is universally seen as the toughest segment, because it has Mt. Terrible in addition to a series of constant rolling hills that generally seem more difficult on the way back than on the way there. We rode a parallel route between Brattleboro and Sandgate, VT via Manchester, and it generally seemed to be all ups and downs with nothing flat in between. On the bonus side, it's also an extremely pretty segment and can provide a lot of targets for your camera.

    Three -- traffic in Massachusetts can certainly be busy, but you'll be starting in the evening, and should get through the busiest segments when everything is much quieter. Vermont and New Hampshire aren't quite as busy, but traffic will pick up around the larger cities and resort towns of Brattleboro and Killington. The roads are more intimidating at night, as vehicles tend to speed much faster on the empty roads, and one is always worried about not being visible enough, but if you can ride with someone else, that should help soothe one's fears.

    Four -- there's a relatively decent number of convenience stores and delis in Vermont, with a few 24 hour 7-11s and gas stations catering to the truckers hauling cargo between Montreal and Boston or New York. It's not, like, one every ten miles. But you can generally rely on finding something when you get into the larger towns. So, that should be a bit of blessing after riding through the empty fastness of the prairies.

    So, advice I can give for prep. Practice for hills and practice for rolling hills if you can. Get used to building momentum on descents that can be spent on cresting climbs. Get comfortable with spinning on your granny gear and taking your time on the rise, but also try to hammer up some of the climbs to build strength. Any hill routes that you can plot out should also be ridden in reverse so that you can get used to assessing how steep a climb will be on the return.

    Good luck, Machka. I am still 25-75 on being able to do B-M-B this year, but completing a brevet series in New England has given me new levels of respect for any randonneur who would even seriously attempt the ride.

  19. #19
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    spokenword,

    Thank you VERY, VERY much for that summary!!

    I can't tell you how relieved I feel to read all that!! See, in my mind, based on what various people have hinted or suggested or mentioned over the years, I thought that the Middlebury Gap was about 40 miles long and ranged between about 12% and 20% the whole way. In the rational part of my mind, I told myself that was impossible because I'd be at the top of Everest if I covered that distance at those grades. 2 miles at 10% is practically nothing compared to what I've been mentally preparing for!!

    I've also been given the impression that the whole ride is one long, steep uphill, which is again impossible because we start from and return to Boston. What you've described actually sounds very much like the PBP - unending, relatively steep, tall rollers.

    Pretty is very good too ... the Last Chance was not pretty and I struggled mentally with it because of boredom. It's funny how a person can have so many aches and pains etc. when they are bored as compared with a more challenging ride.

    I set off at 4 am so hopefully the traffic won't be too bad for a couple hours. And then ... I'm getting used to more heavy traffic these days.

    Having towns and stuff fairly frequently is also good ... especially at night. There is just something about riding along it pitch darkness for hours and hours and hours with absolutely nothing out there that gets a little .... lonely. And also a little frightening because you can't help think ... "what if something happens to me out here and it's still a very long way till I reach ... anything!"

    Learning how to descend is as essential for me as learning how to climb. I actually don't like descending at all ...it's scary! But I'm gradually getting more used to it.

    And thanks ... I need all the best wishes I can get!!

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka
    What you've described actually sounds very much like the PBP - unending, relatively steep, tall rollers.
    And there I was describing PBP to a local bunch as a series of gentle rollers...

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by LWaB
    And there I was describing PBP to a local bunch as a series of gentle rollers...
    yeah, keep in mind that Charlie Lamb specifically designed the BMB course to be tougher than PBP. I think that someone who's ridden PBP before certainly has advantages with respect to mental preparation, but compare the route profiles for BMB and PBP. The biggest climb, between Carhaix and Brest, is a 250 metre climb at roughly 10%. Prior to that, it's a series of 100/150ish metre rollers. Middlebury, Mt. Terrible and Chemin De Covey are each higher and steeper than the Carhaix-Brest climb. So plan for Carhaix x 2.5 (as fortunately Chemin De Covey only has to be descended on the return stretch)

    It looks like PBP has a more frequent use of rollers than BMB (note that there's an 80 km stretch on the way to and from Rouse's Point that is rather flat); but BMB has more huge climbs in between its hills.

  22. #22
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spokenword
    yeah, keep in mind that Charlie Lamb specifically designed the BMB course to be tougher than PBP. I think that someone who's ridden PBP before certainly has advantages with respect to mental preparation, but compare the route profiles for BMB and PBP. The biggest climb, between Carhaix and Brest, is a 250 metre climb at roughly 10%. Prior to that, it's a series of 100/150ish metre rollers. Middlebury, Mt. Terrible and Chemin De Covey are each higher and steeper than the Carhaix-Brest climb. So plan for Carhaix x 2.5 (as fortunately Chemin De Covey only has to be descended on the return stretch)

    It looks like PBP has a more frequent use of rollers than BMB (note that there's an 80 km stretch on the way to and from Rouse's Point that is rather flat); but BMB has more huge climbs in between its hills.
    Did you ride the PBP? I don't actually recall much of a hill between Carhaix and Brest ... in my mind it more or less flattened out there. We were climbing I know because I got a bit frustrated with the fact that I couldn't coast on a road that looked flat, but I don't recall anything steep. Even on the way back, I shot out of Brest and was in Carhaix in no time.

    The worst hill for me was right near the end. I walked that one.

  23. #23
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LWaB
    And there I was describing PBP to a local bunch as a series of gentle rollers...
    Gentle rollers!!!


    As far as I'm concerned, there are three definitions of rollers:

    1) Tall rollers - like the hills on the PBP. These are hills where you shoot down one side, and can make it about 1/3 to 1/2 of the way up the next hill before you have to start pedalling.

    2) Rollers - Hills where you shoot down one side, and can make it about 1/2 to 2/3 of the way up the next hill before you have to start pedalling. The hills on the Last Chance would have been "rollers" if they had been slightly closer together - at a few points on the ride, they were close enough to qualify.

    3) Gentle or small rollers - Hills where you shoot down one side, and can make it 2/3 to ALL the way up the next hill before you have to start pedalling. There's a series of gentle rollers in Riding Mountain National Park in Manitoba. I love that road because I barely have to pedal the whole way - it's so fast!! I'll pedal a couple pedal strokes at the top of each of the little rollers which will send me shooting back down again.


    At 300K on the PBP, I came so very close to quitting because I just couldn't face another 900 kms of tall rollers. I took a bit of a break there, felt some better about things, and kept going, but those PBP hills took it right out of me.

    But then, when I rode the PBP I'd done all my training in Manitoba!!

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka
    Did you ride the PBP? I don't actually recall much of a hill between Carhaix and Brest ... in my mind it more or less flattened out there. We were climbing I know because I got a bit frustrated with the fact that I couldn't coast on a road that looked flat, but I don't recall anything steep. Even on the way back, I shot out of Brest and was in Carhaix in no time.

    The worst hill for me was right near the end. I walked that one.
    no, I'm just looking at the elevation profiles and speaking of the climb of Roc Trevezel before Brest. It's the tallest climb in the profile, and according to your ride report, it's the one that you tackled right after your nap. So perhaps that's what made it easy?

  25. #25
    littlecircles bmike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spokenword
    no, I'm just looking at the elevation profiles and speaking of the climb of Roc Trevezel before Brest. It's the tallest climb in the profile, and according to your ride report, it's the one that you tackled right after your nap. So perhaps that's what made it easy?
    I haven't ridden either, but I have ridden some of the BMB route in VT, and the 600k I DNF was designed as a primer for BMB. Aside from the length (which is the same for both), according to what I've read about both rides I think comparing BMB and PBP is like comparing apples to oranges.

    From my fuzzy memory there were very few hills on the first and last 1/3 of the 600k that meet any of Machka's description. I can't remember anywhere I was able to coast 1/2 or even 1/3 much less 1/4 of the way to the top. The terrain is so odd and unpredictable that it is very hard to get into a rhythm as suggessted by the pedaling and coasting, and from memory, most of the grades on the back roads vary in pitch - they will steepen up and flatten out (East West Road prime example) all the way to the top. I think this is why most folks comment that BMB's big climbs are easiest - they are predictable, of a known length, and will require alot of work, regardless of time of ride or at what mileage you are into the ride. The smaller grades are much more variable - how hard have you been going, how many miles do you have in your legs, when did you rest last, are you good at short and steep, or long and reasonable, etc...

    Since I didn't finish my 600k I won't be riding BMB - but I'm debating the quads or the 1000k.

    Next weekend I'm planning to do a recon of some of the VT route with a local rider who is qualified and will be going. The plan is to ride from Brat to Middlebury or even on to Burlington (girlfriend might ferry us home). This will include many of the roads I currently ride (Kimball Hill, Westminster West Road, and up to Saxtons River, Grafton, and I think we get Mt. Terrible in there) If we can get the schedule and ride to happen I'll post some photos and notes on the grades and difficulty.

    I think the last time I rode official "rollers" was when I lived in Ohio. I could find a road that went due west for miles, and the terrain would be like waves - up and over for a long time.

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