I'm thinking about trying my first brevet next Saturday; a 200km in Wisconsin run by Great Lakes Randoneurs. Any advice would be appreciated. I'm in pretty good shape, have ridden a century and some long-ish club rides in the Colorado hills in the past. This one starts at 7, any reason to plan for lights? I would think I could finish up before sundown. (I only have a TrailRat with 2 1/2 hours of battery, and I'd hate to lug that anchor around all day. I also have a little AA LED bar mount, but doubt I'd be able to see by it.)
SOMA Grand Randonneur, Gunnar Sport converted to 650B, Rivendell Rambouillet, '82 Trek 728, '84 Trek 610, '85 Trek 500, C'Dale F600, Burley Duet, Lotus Legend
What time's sundown and how fast do you ride? Starting at 7, you have until 8:30 to finish. Out here, that means a half hour of riding in the dark, this time of year. If you can beat sunset, no problem, but if you came in in the dark without proper lighting, you'd be disqualified.
It's always hard to say just how quickly you'll finish any given brevet. Weather, mechanical problems, potential and unforeseen physical problems can delay you beyond what you expect. It's always best to go out "prepared" for anything. That said, most riders tend to finish 200k rides in the 9-10 hour range, so you'll more than likely finish it before dark. This is based on my experience riding here in TN and the Southeast, and from the posted finishing times from area brevets.
When is sunset in your area? Up here, your 8:30 pm time limit would get you in before dark.
However, if I were you, I'd bring a red rear blinkie light or two, even if you figure you'll be in well before sunset. They come in handy if it is heavily overcast or foggy, and also during twilight, to help you be more visible. If you think you might be cutting it close, you might also consider an item or two of reflective gear, like leg bands or something.
Sunset is around 7:30, I'm pretty sure I should beat that barring anything really unforeseen. My bike has a red blinky on the back, which I usually leave on whenever I ride (day or night). I will probably also put my AA powered white LED on the front, but I will leave the TrailRat headlight at home.
Surly Krampus, Surly Straggler, Pivot Mach 6, Bike Friday Tikit, Bike Friday Tandem, Santa Cruz Nomad
Just check the club rules. If I'm not mistaken the BC Rando club requires lights on every ride. Your club may require certain minimum safety gear/lights as well. Other than that have fun if you can ride a century you can ride a 200K.
Be sure to study the route beforehand, if possible. My 1st brevet resulted in a DNQ because we got lost and missed one of the control cutoff times. We made it in time overall, but being late to one control will ruin the whole thing.. (if you're going for an "official" finish that is)
Also, if you're thinking about doing any longer brevets, definitely look into getting a dynohub.
(1) A cheap, small LED light just so you're legal (and can be seen, of course!) should you get caught out at night is a good idea. If you find yourself consistently riding 200Ks (and 300Ks, for that matter), well within daylight, then you can dispense with the headlight if doing so is permitted by club rules.
(2) Ride conservatively. Brevets are a different kind of riding. And if you're used to centuries but nothing much longer your body might go through a, "You mean I'm not done yet!?" phase at mile 110 that can be a bit tough psychologically. So make sure you have plenty in the tank, both physically and mentally, do deal with that feeling should it strike you.