The Lone Star Randonneurs have a traditional New Years Day 200k. I rode this one as my first brevet. I rode fairly often in 2006, but my longest ride was only 76m, so I was a bit worried about the distance but figured I could make it. I made a goal of finishing in 10hours, but since I didn't have any recent experience at this distance, it wasn't a real scientific goal. There were about 35 riders at the start. It was cold at the start (about 32) and warmed up to about 54 during the day and there was a slight wind (maybe 10mph). The course was fairly flat (this is north Texas) with a few rolling hills. Those of you from the mountain states would probably call it very flat.
The ride started at 7am. The sun was just coming up, and I started with my taillights on, but no headlight. I don't have any recent night riding experience, so I had recently bought a Cateye 530, but just installed it the night before the ride and didn't really test it.
I started with a fairly fast group (too fast for me), and finished the first 50m in about 3hours including the first control. I didn't notice it much at the time, but we had a tail wind on this leg. After about mile 40 I rode by myself. I didn't really think about it before then, but once I got dropped by that group I had to start reading the cue sheet. The ride had a lot of turns (I think 92), and I hadn't practiced reading the cue sheet while riding.
I reached the second control at mile 64 in 4hrs 16m. At this point I was feeling pretty good, and thought that I might make my goal of 10 hours. I ate lunch at this control and then got back on the bike for what turned out to be the hardest leg. We turned into the wind and it killed my average speed. The leg from mile 64 to 82 was the worst. There were a few more hills and the head wind made it a tough stretch. Once I finished that leg, though I knew that I would complete the brevet. My pace was down, but I kept plodding along, knowing that I could finish. I ended up finishing the 127.2 miles in 10:38. Missed my goal, but brevets are really pass/fail, and I beat the 13:30 standard and got my medal.
-Practice under the ride conditions (ie with lights and reading a cue sheet)
-Print the cue sheet big enough so that you can read it while you are riding and position it correctly. I had it over the stem, but it would be easier to read if I could get it in front of the handlebars. I am going to experiment some more with this.
-Put new batteries in your lights before the ride. Batteries are cheap. I had to turn the rear flasher on near the end, and didn't realize that it died before I finished. I just barely finished before I would have needed my headlight. I noticed as I was putting my bike away that it was pointing up into the air. One flat, and I would have been riding in the dark, and would have had to fix the lights.
-There aren't any pit stops on brevets, and stores are far between once you get in the country. Once it starts getting warmer I will have to carefully plan how much water I take, and where I can get more.
All in all it was a great experience. It was a friendly group, and the ride was well organized. The cue sheet was clear and without mistakes. After the ride the organizer had a small party with traditional New Years black eyed peas. I would highly encourage the Texans to try a ride with the Lone Star Rando group. Or you Northeners who would like to get some brevets in before spring. They have a 200/300 on Jan 20. I think that I might do the 200 again and try the 300 in Feb.