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  1. #1
    Senior Member pasopia's Avatar
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    Touring bike for randonneuring? plus other beginner questions

    I am doing my first brevet series this year and I have some questions. I'll be doing a 200, 300, 400, 600 in NJ and a 1000 in PA. I plan to use my Surly LHT, that is built up as a touring rig. This is my only bike suitable for long rides. I have toured on it and done a number of centuries, loaded and unloaded.

    Should I be worried about this rig being to slow for randonneuring? I am a little nervous about it because I have never done a timed event before, and I have never really paid too close attention to speed. That being said, in the organized rides I have done I have found myself to be a pretty fast rider. I am strong climber as well.

    Would a lighter set of wheels make a noticeable difference? My current wheel set has LX hubs, salsa delgado rims and 30mm marathon racer tires. I was thinking of building up a lighter wheel set with open pro rims, and a lighter tire. Is this being silly, or will I actually notice a performance increase?

    Would building up something like a soma smoothie be a big jump in performance? I am not really looking to build a new bike, but I would consider it. I would only be able to get a new frame in the $400 range, so no ti or carbon.

    Sorry for the ramble, the first event is coming up and I want to be ready.
    I'm not so concerned about the 200k and the 300k, but I don't want to make the 1000k harder for myself than it needs to be. Any advice from the vets would be greatly appreciated.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pasopia View Post
    I am doing my first brevet series this year and I have some questions. I'll be doing a 200, 300, 400, 600 in NJ and a 1000 in PA. I plan to use my Surly LHT, that is built up as a touring rig. This is my only bike suitable for long rides. I have toured on it and done a number of centuries, loaded and unloaded.

    Should I be worried about this rig being to slow for randonneuring? I am a little nervous about it because I have never done a timed event before, and I have never really paid too close attention to speed. That being said, in the organized rides I have done I have found myself to be a pretty fast rider. I am strong climber as well.

    Would a lighter set of wheels make a noticeable difference? My current wheel set has LX hubs, salsa delgado rims and 30mm marathon racer tires. I was thinking of building up a lighter wheel set with open pro rims, and a lighter tire. Is this being silly, or will I actually notice a performance increase?

    Would building up something like a soma smoothie be a big jump in performance? I am not really looking to build a new bike, but I would consider it. I would only be able to get a new frame in the $400 range, so no ti or carbon.

    Sorry for the ramble, the first event is coming up and I want to be ready.
    I'm not so concerned about the 200k and the 300k, but I don't want to make the 1000k harder for myself than it needs to be. Any advice from the vets would be greatly appreciated.
    Take it from me, using a touring bike for randonnees is no problem. Yes, a narrower pair of tyres, and maybe a lighter set of wheels (with a minimum spoke count of 32H) will make you a bit faster. I wouldn't recommend going any narrower than 25C in tyre width, however, and run the tyres at the lower range of pressure to help preserve your hands and butt from road vibration.

    A real jump in performance comes not so much in the bike, but in the engine... you! However, if you are already a good climber and consider yourself to be a reasonably fast rider on the bike you have, and -- most importantly of all -- that bike is comfortable for you to ride long distances, don't sweat the issue. Just go do the series.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pasopia View Post
    I am doing my first brevet series this year and I have some questions. I'll be doing a 200, 300, 400, 600 in NJ and a 1000 in PA. I plan to use my Surly LHT, that is built up as a touring rig. This is my only bike suitable for long rides. I have toured on it and done a number of centuries, loaded and unloaded.

    Should I be worried about this rig being to slow for randonneuring?
    My first year of randonneuring was ridden on a Trek 520 -- similar to your LHT. I used that bike for 200 - 600k brevets. Finishing within time restrictions was not a problem, and I was completing my rides with several hours of buffer left over. I wasn't finishing in the top half of riders, but that wasn't my goal. I am not a terribly great climber and I suspect that I still wouldn't finish in the top half if I was riding a sub 20-lb. road bike, either.

    If you need to prove to yourself that your rig is fast enough, go out and do a relatively hilly century. It doesn't necessarily have to adhere to the '3000 ft. of climbing per 100k' rule of thumb but if you can build a route that approximates that, then all the better. If you can ride that century with a total time of 11 hours or less, then you'll be fine.

  4. #4
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    Very few DNFs on brevets come from running out of time. The vast majority of DNFs are from fatigue and pain. Bike fit and comfort are far more important than any slight increase in speed up hills due to a lighter bike. Your Surly should be fine for brevets.

    You might consider a set of Grand Bois 30mm tires to improve your rolling resistance and comfort. Keep your tire pressure moderate. Narrow, high pressure tires increase hand numbness.

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    Senior Member Goonster's Avatar
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    If you're comfortable on unloaded centuries, don't mess with the bike.

    Consider switching to 28 or 32 mm Paselas, or the Grand Bois tires if you want to spend that kind of cash.

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    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    I generally agree with Rowan in that you will get the best performance gains from training.

    That said, based on my experiences with the Surly Cross-Check, I expect the LHT will be a little bit slower than a standard road bike -- 5% ? Over 200 miles that might cost you 30 minutes. Discomfort may cost you the same amount of time though.

    I believe (but have not yet proven) that it is mostly the wheels. I do know that my CC rides much faster with 28c, 115psi, slicks than with 32c, low psi, treaded tires, but am still using the stock (and rather heavy) wheels.

    Separately: you'll also benefit tremendously from drafting, at least part of the time. Probably not a great plan when the sleep deprivation kicks in , but prior to that it's a huge aerodynamic advantage.

    If drafting is not an option, consider aero bars (assuming they are allowed in your events). They'll improve your aerodynamics and give you a big positional change option. Do NOT use aero bars in an event until you've used them for a while and know how they alter your handling.

  7. #7
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe View Post
    I believe (but have not yet proven) that it is mostly the wheels. I do know that my CC rides much faster with 28c, 115psi, slicks than with 32c, low psi, treaded tires, but am still using the stock (and rather heavy) wheels.
    I've seen a lot of discussion about distance riding and wheel weight. Where do you look to save the most weight in a wheel?
    The rims and tires, because they're the easiest rotating mass to cut back weight on?
    The spokes?
    The hubs?
    At what point do you get worried about crossing the line between durability and weight?

    In looking at pix of everyone's distance bikes, it seems that there's as much difference as possible: Some people preferring high pressure 25c tires on low-spoke count rims, to others riding 35c tires on 36 spoke rims.
    "I feel like my world was classier before I found cyclocross."
    - Mandi M.

  8. #8
    Senior Member pasopia's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone, this is all very helpful.

    The LHT is very very comfortable, so I will stick with it. Maybe I will give the Grand Bois tires a try, as I am up for a new set. I am a little worried about flat protection though. The marathon racers I have are fairly light and have been excellent in this category. Maybe I'll give aero bars a try as well.

    CliftonGK1's question is something I am trying to figure out as well. Its hard for me tell what kind of difference 100g in each rim will make in my ride, as all my tests have been far from scientific. I have always gone for durability, coming from a touring and commuting background.

  9. #9
    **** that mattm's Avatar
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    in relation to tire widths and spoke counts, here's some interesting data on PBP finishers last year (from Bicycle Quarterly) [pdf article link]

    From their data:

    Tire size:
    36% used 24-25mm
    35% used 22-23mm
    23% used 26-28mm
    5% used > 28mm
    1% used < 21 mm

    spoke counts:
    40% used 32 spokes
    25% used 36 spokes
    12% used 24 spokes
    10% used 20 spokes
    7% used 28 spokes
    4% used > 40 spokes
    2% used 16 spokes

    anyway i think your LHT makes for a great rando rig, best of luck!

  10. #10
    Senior Member flyingcadet's Avatar
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    Pasopia, Sounds like you have a great machine for the rando.

    while I haven't done any brevets yet, I'm training for them. I'm riding with 27" by 1 1/4" tires, which are definetly are bigger than 28c tires. my training rides for Randos are currently 71 miles long while averaging 13 mph total time, and about 16 mph ride time. At that rate, I should be able to do a 200k in about 9.6 hours. Since a brevet's cut-off time is typically around 13 hours for 200k, I will have plenty of time to spare as long as I don't get slower than 10 mph average speed.

    If you can do a century with a total time average speed of 10 mph or more, than you and your bike are fast enough.

    flyingcadet

    for info on time limits, check out Article 9 from the RUSA website: http://www.rusa.org/brvreg.html
    Have a safe ride and a happy life.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Road Rash's Avatar
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    Pasopia,

    I will be doing this years Brevet Series on a 1983 Trek 720. As a point of reference I have done 12 centuries in the last 18 months, 6 on the Trek and 6 on a Lemond Zurich (18 lbs, with lots of extra carbon bits).

    Overall my times are only about 1 to 1.5 mph different. Up to a 200k I would ride either bike depending on my mood of the day, from 300k onward I would really only consider the Trek.

    One thing to keep in mind when you show up at the 200k is that there will be a lot of riders on lighter bikes, with less baggage etc. and they are adequately prepared for a 200, but by the time the 400 comes around most of them will be doing something else. Approach each brevet as preparation for the next, and keep in mind your goal of doing all 5 brevets with the ultimate goal being the 1000.
    Road Rash

  12. #12
    Senior Member flyingcadet's Avatar
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    Road_Rash, that is a good point. I'll have to remember that.

    flyingcadet
    Have a safe ride and a happy life.

  13. #13
    Senior Member pasopia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Road Rash View Post
    Pasopia,

    I will be doing this years Brevet Series on a 1983 Trek 720. As a point of reference I have done 12 centuries in the last 18 months, 6 on the Trek and 6 on a Lemond Zurich (18 lbs, with lots of extra carbon bits).

    Overall my times are only about 1 to 1.5 mph different. Up to a 200k I would ride either bike depending on my mood of the day, from 300k onward I would really only consider the Trek.

    One thing to keep in mind when you show up at the 200k is that there will be a lot of riders on lighter bikes, with less baggage etc. and they are adequately prepared for a 200, but by the time the 400 comes around most of them will be doing something else. Approach each brevet as preparation for the next, and keep in mind your goal of doing all 5 brevets with the ultimate goal being the 1000.
    Ha, thanks, its good to hear someone make a direct comparison. I am getting really excited to do this series.

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    Yes, it is easy to get intimidated by the go-fast boys with their carbon frames, sharp geometry, ultra-low handlebars, double chainrings and low spoke counts. Road Rash is spot on, though... as the distances increase, these styles of bikes decline in percentage of starters.

    AS my own direct comparison, I used to own a Merida aluminium-framed go-fast bike with a double chainring but a generous 8sp cassette and a Chro-Mo fork. I could ride it for only centuries and even then felt as though I had been beaten up. My touring bike was much, much better for serious distance riding.

    The important thing on any randonnee is to ride your own ride. Ride at a pace that suits you. Get to know you, your bike and how you both perform together over a give terrain profile. You can make informed, intelligent changes to your set-up only after you have ridden, I think, a minimum of a 400 straight through without sleep.

    There was a comparison I read some time ago put together by a wheel maker (and I can't remember which it was), but if memory serves me correctly, the real gains in wheel specs came in using aerodynamic spokes, rather than trying to save minimal weight with lower spoke counts and less-strong wheels. The negative trade-off comes when trying to negotiate strong side winds.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

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    More on the topic of wheels for LD comfort: I swap between Reynolds Solitaire wheels with low spoke count and 30mm profile rims, to Mavic Open Pro's w/32holes and Ultegra hub. Same frame. Difference for ride comfort is night and day, even with same tires. The Open Pro's with 23c tires are beautiful for smooting out the road and when paired with a steel frame, and my opinion is that one won't want for comfort on this setup.

    The Reynolds are way better for acceleration and hills and all around faster, but you definitely sacrifice on comfort.

    My overall opinion: the wheels can make a larger effect on comfort than frame material.

    Another case in point: The gruelling 260km Paris Roubaix road race was one by Stuart O'Grady on 3-cross laced, 32h Dura Ace hubs, with a low profile aluminum rims and 27c tubulars.These wheels were paired with an ultralight carbon frame.

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    Senior Member Jawbone's Avatar
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    I'm just starting on brevets this year too and I think one of the hardest things for me to do is to ride my own pace. It's easy to fall into that "gotta keep up, gotta keep up" mode and then the ride becomes miserable. I find it helpful to approach it like golf... I'm not out to beat anyone else, I'm just out to beat the course and do the best I can.

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    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Jawbone: While I'm not an expert at the real ultra-distances, I do recommend you get an HRM with some type of alarm. That should not only help training, but during the event will remind you to stay within the heart rate range you want for the ride.



    Quote Originally Posted by TruckerMike View Post
    The Reynolds are way better for acceleration and hills and all around faster, but you definitely sacrifice on comfort.
    Very interesting.... Right in line with my theory about why my cross bike is slower than my road bike -- both of which are around 26 lbs. Can you actually quantify the effect of the wheels, by the way?


    Quote Originally Posted by TruckerMike
    Another case in point: The gruelling 260km Paris Roubaix road race was one by Stuart O'Grady on 3-cross laced, 32h Dura Ace hubs, with a low profile aluminum rims and 27c tubulars.These wheels were paired with an ultralight carbon frame.
    Well.... Let's keep in mind that Paris-Roubaix is a completely different type of event altogether than a brevet / randonnee / audax.

    Paris-Roubaix is a professional road race, and a prestigious one at that. The riders are used to 100+ mile multi-day race. P-R is a 250km race with over 2 dozen cobblestone sections, and 5 minutes is the difference between 1st place and 22nd. O'Grady averaged 42 kph (26mph), not a common speed for a brevet.

    Plus, the riders have full support right there with them -- top-notch mechanics, spare wheels, even entire spare bikes. They can also replace a carbon frame if it's cracked at the end of the race.

    So, slightly different standards apply here.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jawbone View Post
    I'm just starting on brevets this year too and I think one of the hardest things for me to do is to ride my own pace. It's easy to fall into that "gotta keep up, gotta keep up" mode and then the ride becomes miserable. I find it helpful to approach it like golf... I'm not out to beat anyone else, I'm just out to beat the course and do the best I can.
    Jawbone -- I think that's a rather healthy perspective. The challenge is between you and the course, not you and anyone else.

    Some things that might help (depending on the number of participants in your brevet)

    -- when the brevet starts, don't start with the rabbits. Spend another minute or two looking over your gear, tightening things up, moving food to your jersey pockets, etc. Then start. Starting within a fast paceline can be a lot of fun at the start, but if it's faster than your comfort level, you'll find that the benefits in speed and energy are rapidly spent. If you start later and just catch up to a slower rider, you're more likely to find someone who can ride at your pace for the duration of the brevet.

    -- get to know your fellow riders and ID folks who are about your pace. try to make plans at the start to see if anyone is willing to ride along with you. Having company does help the miles go faster.

    -- if you do start with a pack, but feel like you're in over your head, hang with them until the first control, then hang around the control while everyone takes off. Then you can see if anyone shows up later and if they might be more your speed.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe View Post
    Well.... Let's keep in mind that Paris-Roubaix is a completely different type of event altogether than a brevet / randonnee / audax.

    Paris-Roubaix is a professional road race, and a prestigious one at that. The riders are used to 100+ mile multi-day race. P-R is a 250km race with over 2 dozen cobblestone sections, and 5 minutes is the difference between 1st place and 22nd. O'Grady averaged 42 kph (26mph), not a common speed for a brevet.
    It is also sometimes a (non-ACP homologated) randonnee, every second year. Great fun but a tough ride http://asso.nordnet.fr/vcrcyclotourisme/ and http://www.flammerouge.je/content/6_...ts/roubaix.htm

  20. #20
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LWaB View Post
    It is also sometimes a (non-ACP homologated) randonnee, every second year.
    I had no idea. Of course, now I'm wondering which qualifies as more insane: doing that ride as a pro, or as a brevet....

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe View Post
    I had no idea. Of course, now I'm wondering which qualifies as more insane: doing that ride as a pro, or as a brevet....
    Pros do it for the money, randonneurs do it for the fun...

  22. #22
    Senior Member Jawbone's Avatar
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    Spokenword... excellent suggestions. I find that it takes several km until I fall into a good rhythm anyway. I think I'd be better off starting slowly, warming up nicely, then finding my good pace instead of bolting out with the fasties and then wondering what the heck I'm doing.

    Baccia.... I have a HRM and I really find it useful.

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    Sometimes it can be worth it for a slower rider to draft the faster riders and get pulled toward that first control. But it takes real discipline and experience to know when to let them go. If you hang on too long, you blow through all the energy stores in your legs, and then you're going to have some hours of suffering and feeling like you just can't get any umph into your legs and you'll likely end up slower overall than if you'd just stuck to your own pace.

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