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  1. #1
    Senior Member Neist's Avatar
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    Starting to train for Radonneuring?

    Alright, Ive decided that I want to get into Radonneuring. More specifically getting into it next season.

    Ive been riding for years, but its mostly just little jaunts around town or commuting to work more recently. Ive honestly never put in more miles than maybe 30-35. Ive never really done any serious road cycling either, in fact, I dont even own a road bike. The bike I'm currently riding (and actually recently purchased) is a single speed track back with slack road geometry (about 73/73 geometry).

    Now, I'm not entirely sure what sort of physical conditioning I need for one of these rides. I used to do long distance and cross country in high school (I'm only 23). I know mentally I can take the endurance because in running you end up training your endurance to the point of hurting yourself if your not careful, which is actually why I started cycling more because my knees just about blew out. Physically, however, I'm not sure what the best way to approach training will be.

    For one, I will be riding single speed if I do any events. I dont have a computer, but the longer rides I have done Ive easily been able to maintain a pace of around 16-18mph (judging by timing the distance traveled). At best, I probably consider myself in 'okay shape'. From commuting I may put on.. 2000 miles a year before extra rides that I do, and I try to do at least 10-15 a day just for the sake of health.

    All of this background then leads me to my question. Given that I keep up my current riding routines, what would be a good way to preparing myself for a mounstrous 200k ride? I'm definitely going to get some centuries in before the end of the year to see how I fare (actually doing about 45 miles coming up in a few weeks). My initial impression is that I should get really really really comfortable riding my bike, even if its at a leisurely pace. But also, should I try do any more a-typical training like club rides if I can very easily maintain a speed of 15mph? Should I aim to adapt lower speeds in training to get used to the pace I'll be moving at, and for that fact, whats a decent speed on these rides required to finish, granted I just dont ride through everything (I plan to take some breaks, but probably not overly long ones).

    Sorry for all the questions :X Thanks!
    Quote Originally Posted by soze
    I would use something in addition to the U-lock. Like a guy named Tony with a baseball bat.

  2. #2
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    Brevets are not speed contests, though there is a minimum required speed. Generally, you need to be able to maintain an average speed of about 9.5 mph along the route. However, this includes all stops for any reason (rest breaks, flat repair, sleep, etc.) so your average speed while riding needs to be higher than this.

    The best thing to do at this point is to train to ride centuries. If you can master century rides without a lot of difficulty, then you will be well positioned to move up to 200K and beyond. See utracycling.com for some good training articles for riding centuries and double centuries.

    You obviously have the additional handicap of a singlespeed. Out of curiosity, how hilly is it where you live? My experience is that brevet routes do not shy away from hills so you better include some in your training.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Neist's Avatar
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    Wow, thats decently slow. I have a hard time not maintaining less than 15mph or so. Thats something I'll have to work at.

    I live in mid-Oklahoma, and where I live is hilly, but not overly hilly. Also speaking, its not overly flat either. I ride very low GI for Single Speed though (about 63, which is a 70rpm spin just to maintain 13.1 mph), so I on hills I dont exactly have to muscle through them too much. Will probably do some strength training on 73 GI or so to get some "fake hills" in.

    Theres actually a couple very good routes around here with very rolling hills with steep climbs for no more a couple hundred feet, then drops down and repeats (theres actually a non race ride through them in july).

    Actually the Brevet routes I'm going to be doing will probably be in Texas, so it should be reasonably flat I imagine.

    Thanks a lot for the reply!
    Quote Originally Posted by soze
    I would use something in addition to the U-lock. Like a guy named Tony with a baseball bat.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by supcom
    You obviously have the additional handicap of a singlespeed. Out of curiosity, how hilly is it where you live? My experience is that brevet routes do not shy away from hills so you better include some in your training.
    Both of the New England brevet series (Boston and the Berkshires) use "3000 ft. of climbing per 100km" as their rough rule of thumb for route planning. Boston-Montreal-Boston has about 30,000 feet of climbing (or roughly 2500 ft. per 100km). A few of the other supers (Gold Rush, VanIsle) have similar amounts, and even the "flatter" rides like Last Chance and PBP swap climbing for vicious headwinds. So it's worth training with those amounts in mind.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neist
    Actually the Brevet routes I'm going to be doing will probably be in Texas, so it should be reasonably flat I imagine.
    If the routes are not too far, and if the clubs have their old cue sheets posted, download them and try out portions of the route for your training.

    My rookie mistake was assuming that my standard training routes would prepare me for brevet riding so long as I got the miles in at a good speed. I was not prepared for the hilliness of the 200K route and suffered for it. Now, I go out of my way to find hills and swap in segments from the old brevet cues.

    Train for emergency repairs -- beyond the basics of fixing flats, learn to deal with broken spokes and broken chains. Train to do repairs at night and in the rain. Train for night riding. Train for night riding in unfamiliar terrain that forces you to read a cue sheet by headlamp. Learn how to eat on your bike. Learn what you like to eat on your bike. An acceptable diet on a 40 mile ride is different from one that gets you through a century, which is also different from what might get you through a 300km brevet.

    For a 200K, it's best to train yourself into being a good century rider who can repair their own ride. All the other stuff abot night riding and proper nutrition starts becoming more important when you start getting into 300 and 400 lengths.

  6. #6
    Senior Member The Octopus's Avatar
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    Excellent!

    I, too, came into randonneuring from just riding a lot. I'd commuted for years and would occassionally do longer rides on the weekends, but nothing longer than 60 miles, which totally wiped me out (think 4 hour nap on the couch afterward).

    When I moved to Ohio and had to give up skiing and hiking (at least locally), my riding took off in a big way. I gradually started doing long(er) rides on the weekends and, during the summer, got in a ride or two after work each week. After a few months, I found myself riding centuries and then back-to-back centuries. I met the RBA (regional brevet administrator) on a century ride and he suggested I check out randonneuring, which I'd never heard of. So glad I met him! My 10th brevet in the two years I've been doing this is coming up this weekend!

    What seems to work best for me is just spending a lot of time on the bike under a lot of different circumstances -- I mean riding different terrain, distances, weather conditions, road surfaces, urban riding, etc. You'll be surprised how much being on the bike every day, even if it's a short ride (my commute is 9 miles RT) helps you when it comes to getting into long-distance riding. You'll have a degree of comfort and trust in your bike that most others will envy.

    I'd suggest slowly ramping up the distance over time. Increase your long ride by something like 5 or 10 miles a week, tops. From purely a training perspective, I'd recommend not bothering doing much riding beyond 100 miles. I think the training benefits are marginal and the recovery time is significant. Anything longer than 100 miles, in my book, is the "event" being trained for. I'll make an exception to this rule for training for RAAM, but that's another thread! My experience was that, once I got to the point where I could ride a century in any terrain as if it were no big deal then I was in plenty good enough shape, physically, to complete a full brevet series. Doing that much riding, especially under varried circumstances, will also toughen you up mentally. And it'll reveal any problems that you have with your bike, fit-wise or with gearing (since you're riding SS).

    The time cut-offs for randonneuring are quite generous:

    13.5 hours for a 200K
    20 hours for a 300K
    27 hours for a 400K
    40 hours for a 600K

    Very generally speaking, if you can keep moving forward, you're going to make the time cut-offs. The speeds that you're talking about above are plenty fast enough to be a very successful randonneur. Most randonneurs probably never ride that fast.

    If you want to work on increasing your speed, for whatever reason, the best way to do this is to find faster people to ride with. Clubs are a good place to start. In my area, there are also a lot of informal rides that you can get plugged into pretty easily once you start to get to know folks in the community. I usually do one or two very fast rides of about 40 miles on flat or rolling terrain during the week. I do longer rides in hillier terrain at slower speeds on the weekends.

  7. #7
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    First ... at this point, don't worry about the speed, worry about getting more saddle time in. Ride lots.

    If your longest distance is 35 miles, you'll want to gradually increase that over the next couple months.

    Here ... read over my "Tips for Riding a Century" article ... that'll give you a good starting point:
    http://www.machka.net/century.htm


    Second ... about the hills ... Because the PBP is HILLY, ride organizers are strongly encouraged to create hilly brevets. I don't think it is a rule, but it seems to be a suggestion that ride organizers love, and they take great delight in creating rides that go up and over anything out there that they can go up and over! So don't count on your brevets being flat! Even in Manitoba, the flattest place I've ever been ... they found hills. If you've got hills in your area, train on them a lot!! Even if the Texas brevet is relatively flat compared to your area, you'll appreciate the fact that you trained on the hills.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Neist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spokenword
    If the routes are not too far, and if the clubs have their old cue sheets posted, download them and try out portions of the route for your training.

    My rookie mistake was assuming that my standard training routes would prepare me for brevet riding so long as I got the miles in at a good speed. I was not prepared for the hilliness of the 200K route and suffered for it. Now, I go out of my way to find hills and swap in segments from the old brevet cues.

    Train for emergency repairs -- beyond the basics of fixing flats, learn to deal with broken spokes and broken chains. Train to do repairs at night and in the rain. Train for night riding. Train for night riding in unfamiliar terrain that forces you to read a cue sheet by headlamp. Learn how to eat on your bike. Learn what you like to eat on your bike. An acceptable diet on a 40 mile ride is different from one that gets you through a century, which is also different from what might get you through a 300km brevet.

    For a 200K, it's best to train yourself into being a good century rider who can repair their own ride. All the other stuff abot night riding and proper nutrition starts becoming more important when you start getting into 300 and 400 lengths.
    What great ideas! Just curious, whats typical winds like in most parts of the country? The winds around here may train me to an extent. The last few weeks of riding Ive had 18mph winds on most evenings (when I usually do my bulk of riding). I guess I better start doing some of the hillier areas around here Lets just hope I dont hit areas of headwinds + hills or I may be in trouble. haha. But even then, getting used to to climbing for long distances around here may be hard. Oklahoma is relatively flat anywhere around where I live (besides rolling hills).

    Thanks everyone for the input! I may just plan some 'mini brevet-like rides' of 40-50 miles on a weekend and head off in some direction to see how the road takes me. I read an article on the ultracycling website that recommends that you do around 1 long ride a week thats about half of your entire weeks worth of riding. Seems like a pretty decent goal to work towards right now (and would settle around 40-50 miles if I take the weekdays a little bit easier).

    At least I know I have plenty of time to train in for next season. Theres really no events till next year around here. I can just gently slope up my ride lengths and have no pressure of timelines (plus I got to break in a new Brooks, ugh).

    Everyone has been especially helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by soze
    I would use something in addition to the U-lock. Like a guy named Tony with a baseball bat.

  9. #9
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neist
    Thanks everyone for the input! I may just plan some 'mini brevet-like rides' of 40-50 miles on a weekend and head off in some direction to see how the road takes me. I read an article on the ultracycling website that recommends that you do around 1 long ride a week thats about half of your entire weeks worth of riding. Seems like a pretty decent goal to work towards right now (and would settle around 40-50 miles if I take the weekdays a little bit easier).
    The way my schedule has been going lately, my long ride each week is more like equal to the rest of my entire week's worth of riding ... and often twice or three times the distance of the rest of my entire week's worth of riding!!

    But I'd stick with what you're doing right now, for now, till you've built up your mileage a bit.

    And train into wind ... uphill ... over rough roads ... in good weather and in bad ........ The more stuff you face in your training rides, the greater chance you'll have of being able to deal with it when you encounter it on a brevet.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neist
    What great ideas!

    Everyone has been especially helpful.
    no problem . Also to add to Machka's training site, check out Pamela Blayley's pages with PBP tips as the advice is pretty handy for randoneers in general. Her site, along with Kent Petersen's and Sandiway Fong's were my regular reads during the winter when I was planning my training and considering gear.

    Also, yeah, regarding gear, the other bit of advice that you'll see everywhere is train with the gear that you will use for the brevets; and as best as you can don't do a brevet with gear that hasn't been tested. Thinking of getting a new saddle? Want to experiment with a new wheelset? Do it on your training rides if you can. When you do a brevet, especially the longer ones, you will want to do it with reliable equipment that is familiar to you. Certainly, there are faults in gear that will not show up until later in a ride. 250 miles in a saddle will reveal deficiencies in the seat that you never knew existed, but largely when you do a brevet, everything that is on your bike and person should have been with you on two or three training rides already.

    The follow-up corollary to this is that if you're planning on investing in a Brooks saddle, do so the year before you ride a brevet series. The three weeks in between your 300 and 400 is not an optimum window for breaking in your brand-new, stiff-as-hell Brooks

  11. #11
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    In the end, once you've got a base level of fitness that lets you ride a century with enough in reserve to keep going for a bit, I think the rest of randonneuring is more about mental attitude than anything else.

    This is my second year of randonneuring--two Super Randonneur series and a total of about 4500 km of brevets. So not entirely a newbie, anymore. Maybe this will all eventually become old hat, but so far, every brevet has been different, and has offered different and unique challenges. The things you learned on the previous brevet help you finish this one, but still there will be unexpected events. Things will go wrong, and you have to just trust that you'll be able to figure it out, persevere, and finish the brevet. Eventually, I expect that it won't work out and I'll "Did Not Finish", but I haven't yet, though I came very close this year owing to mechanical problems. Once you've gone through your spare innertubes, patching a flat in the pouring rain is challenging :-)

    Brevets in the Washington, DC area tend to be pretty hilly. We had about 22,000 feet of climbing on our 600K both last year and this (so nearly 6,000 feet per century). It can be windy here, too. It's not unusual for the wind to swing around the compass during the day so that you have the chance to ride into a headwind all the way 'round the loop. On the first 200K of the year, I literally got blown off the road into the ditch. During the last two years, we've had rides start where it was just above freezing, with ice on the edges of the road, to days where we rode for hours with temperatures in the 90's, in the direct sun (at least there was a tailwind on the particular day I'm thinking of) to days with torrential rain.

    As you can imagine, this puts huge stress on your equipment (as well as you, of course), so anything that can go wrong, probably will. Anything questionable should be fixed. As others have mentioned, do your equipment testing on training rides, if at all possible. But sometimes you have no choice. So then you have to go back to trusting that if you persevere, then you'll finish, and it'll all be worth it.

  12. #12
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neist
    Actually the Brevet routes I'm going to be doing will probably be in Texas, so it should be reasonably flat I imagine.
    Unless you drive all the way to Houston, you may be surprised how hilly our routes are down here. I ride with the Lone Star Randonneurs and most our routes leave from places west or southwest of Ft. Worth and run through some fairly short, but significantly steep hills. You can download a lot of the cue sheets for the rides by going to www.lonestarrandon.org. Click on the "2006 Brevet Schedule" and you can access the cue sheets from there. It helps to have a copy of TopoUSA to plug in the routes so you can see the profiles.

    I hope you'll be joining us. We have some excellent riders and everyone is very friendly and helpful.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Octopus
    I'd suggest slowly ramping up the distance over time. Increase your long ride by something like 5 or 10 miles a week, tops.
    I'll be the dissenting voice here.

    Neist, you are starting from a low base (distance-wise). If you ramp it up that slowly, your summer will be over before you get into any interesting distances. Go and do a 60 miler the next free weekend. Plan on it taking a while longer (than your average speed for shorter rides suggests) and that you'll probably be tired at the end.

    See if you actually like doing a longer ride

  14. #14
    Senior Member Neist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LWaB
    I'll be the dissenting voice here.

    Neist, you are starting from a low base (distance-wise). If you ramp it up that slowly, your summer will be over before you get into any interesting distances. Go and do a 60 miler the next free weekend. Plan on it taking a while longer (than your average speed for shorter rides suggests) and that you'll probably be tired at the end.

    See if you actually like doing a longer ride
    Planning on trying to see how far I can get the 15th. Theres a non race ride that goes up to 100k coming up mid July, and I'll probably just keep riding to see how far I can make it, then stop. Theres lots of hills though. It will probably kill me, but it I need to guage myself on hard I can take the hills.
    Quote Originally Posted by soze
    I would use something in addition to the U-lock. Like a guy named Tony with a baseball bat.

  15. #15
    littlecircles bmike's Avatar
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    The single speed is doable. 4-5 people do the Boston series fixed gear. SS / Fixed has its advantages and disadvantages for this type of riding.

    Check out Kris' blog. He rides the Boston series on a Quickbeam.

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