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  1. #1
    I like beans eippo1's Avatar
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    600 km Brevet outlandish?

    Hey all,
    I've been riding/ racing for about 10 years now and have done centuries here and there and usually do many 60+ road races per year. I was thinking about doing the 600 km Boston-Bennington-Boston brevet in July and was wondering how feasible that would be since I've never done any distance above 125 mi at a time. I would like to do this because it sounds like fun and would be a great warm up for the Green Mtn Stage Race.
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    Senior Member Cadillac's Avatar
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    600 km

    Lots of people have done 600 km brevets.
    However racing is a little different from long distance riding.
    You have 40 hours to complete the ride which means an average of 15km/hr (about 9 mph).
    That includes all your stops too.
    As a racer, you may find that after 200 km your energy is spent. Thus you need to properly pace yourself.
    Of course, you will learn that as you complete the required 200km, 300km, and 400km preliminary rides.
    Have fun. Most people enjoy the ride.
    "Weary with toil, I haste me to my bed,
    The dear repose for limbs with travel tired;
    But then begins a journey in my head,
    To work my mind, when body's work's expired"
    -- Shakespeare Sonnet XXVII
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  3. #3
    I like beans eippo1's Avatar
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    Well that's kind of the interesting thing. I have stuff going on for all the preliminary rides, so I'll be doing all the long distance training on my own. Should I mock up a 200 and 400 km ride for myself?
    You got it buddy: the large print giveth, and the small print taketh away

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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by eippo1 View Post
    Hey all,
    I've been riding/ racing for about 10 years now and have done centuries here and there and usually do many 60+ road races per year. I was thinking about doing the 600 km Boston-Bennington-Boston brevet in July and was wondering how feasible that would be since I've never done any distance above 125 mi at a time. I would like to do this because it sounds like fun and would be a great warm up for the Green Mtn Stage Race.
    Eippo, I started doing brevets two years ago and my longest ride before then was also 'only' 200k. In my first year of doing brevets, I was able to successfully complete the 600k, so background wise, I think you're at a reasonable point. I should also say that while I and a few others have successfully ridden a 600k in their first year, I knew a lot of rather good, well prepared riders who did not make it that far. So, it's certainly not a lay-up by any means.

    Since you won't be doing the preliminary brevets (200k, 300k or 400k) before tackling the 600k you should definitely, definitely plan on mocking up your own rides beforehand. Ride them in randonneuring fashion: which is to say -- no support, everything you need is with you on your bike. Buy your food and water along the way.

    Don't set up your training rides to be short loop courses. Make it one big out and back or one entire loop. That way, you can't rely on having support stop every time you finish the loop. Feel free to poke around the Boston Brevet website for cue sheets to use. I believe that Bruce has posted at least ten years worth of cue sheets.

    If you're planning on taking advantage of the sleep controle, then include two back-to-back century days in your training regimen to simulate the stress of having to get back on the bike after a hard day of riding. If you've done a lot of stage riding, then this should be familiar. If you are not planning on sleeping, then include at least one 400k on your training plan that starts at 8pm and requires all-night riding. If you aren't accustomed to night riding, then do at least two long-ish rides with four or more hours in the dark. Bonus points if you do it in bad weather.

    As far as general advice on the Boston-Bennington-600k. It's about 18,000 to 20,000 feet of climbing --- large chunks of that come in the Brattleboro to Sandgate section, where you're crossing over the Green Mountains; but Gardner-Brattleboro also throws a lot of steep rollers at you. You only get one really gonzo climb, which is this 32 mile, 1800 ft. climb from Brattleboro to the Stratton ski resort before descending into Manchester, and a few short but nasty 10%+ grades, but the rest of its heavy rollers in between.

    (edit: just for clarification -- the 1800 ft. climb between Brattleboro and Manchester is the only terrain feature that is mountainous in any respect, but since it's an out-and-back you will have to do that climb twice. Generally, I found the return version of this climb to be shorter, but steeper than the outbound version. The return leg between Brattleboro and Gardner also feels much harder than the outbound version. If you can get to the top of Jacob's Hill without walking at the 310 mile mark, then you'll probably be well warmed up for any kind of mountain stage race. Also, for more narrative descriptions of the route, refer to the following:

    John McClellan's 2006 preview description
    Jake Kassen's 2007 report -- the 2007 route is slightly different from 2006/2008 version. Specifically, the sleep control is back to Sandgate instead of Brattleboro
    my own 2006 ride report
    Last edited by spokenword; 04-27-08 at 10:52 AM. Reason: added information

  5. #5
    Senior Member the spin guru's Avatar
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    I was under the impression you had to do the 200k, 300k and 400k rides before you are able to tackle a 600k ride. That at least are the suggested rules with B.C Randonneurs. Either way follow the advice of the people that have given it. Out and back loops are a great way to train for very long rides.

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    Quote Originally Posted by the spin guru View Post
    I was under the impression you had to do the 200k, 300k and 400k rides before you are able to tackle a 600k ride. That at least are the suggested rules with B.C Randonneurs. Either way follow the advice of the people that have given it. Out and back loops are a great way to train for very long rides.
    It is certainly recommended that one do the preliminaries before tackling the 600k, especially if you are not used to doing endurance events with night riding, but it isn't required. At least, not in the Boston series.

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    Thanks for all the advice, guys. I will definitely take it all to heart and do some back to back centuries. I esp. appreciate your route advice and the links. I was actually wondering about that area b/c I've driven through there on the way to a race in NY state. I've done a fair amt. of night riding but nothing over 2 hours.
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    Riding through the night is a BIG challenge. My only experience with it is the two 400k events I have ridden this season and the most challenging aspect was riding through the night, especially after starting at 6am and riding all day. I'd make sure you try it, if anything to test your lighting and equipment.

  9. #9
    Senior Member The Octopus's Avatar
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    Good advice above. I'll add:

    (1) Since you're new to randonneuring, find some kind folks at the start or in the first few miles of the ride who are riding a reasonable pace and stick with them. Ask questions. Do what they do. Anyone wearing a PBP jersey would be a good candidate for ride-mate. It's a different style of riding, so advice from experienced folks will shorten up your learning curve.

    (2) I strongly recommend against riding through the night especially since you're going to tripple your long ride to date. It's just not that fun and if you're a fast guy (which you are, as a racer) there's just no good reason to do it. In my experience, the only folks who ride through the night are those looking for fast times and those who are slow to the point that they have no choice because they're running up against control closing times (or those wo want the experience for its' own sake; it does have its charms, but at a rather steep price, especially for someone who has never done it). I'd recommend treating your first 600K like a 400K followed by a 200K the next day. Build up enough time cushion during the first 400K so that you can get a motel room at that point, shower, and get some sleep. At a very reasonable pace (meaning rolling average of 14-15mph) and if you keep your other stops short and business-like, it's possible to build up enough of a time cushion for 5 hours' off the bike at night and still finish with a time of 34-36 hours on a course with 20-22K feet of climbing. YMMV.

    (3) If you don't have good lights, get some. Or definitely find someone to ride at night with who is running some powerful beams....

    (4) Good luck!

  10. #10
    I like beans eippo1's Avatar
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    Okay, I'll plan on riding a 400 to get a feel for riding at night and then plan for getting some sleep on the 600. This is all really great advice - I appreciate your help all. Good news is that one of my friends is giving me his old Miyata tourer because he never uses it anymore. I wasn't sure how I was going to do it on my aluminum bikes.
    You got it buddy: the large print giveth, and the small print taketh away

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  11. #11
    littlecircles bmike's Avatar
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    As a racer type you should be fine with the time limits - the overall fatigue of riding back to back long rides may get to you a bit. Assuming your bike fits and you are comfy for long stretches you should be able to finish - remember you don't need to be first or last across the line - just within the time limits.

    Here's my DNF ride report on the 05 version of the ride. I rode most of the first long day with spokenword.

    I DNFd for reasons of fit and eventual dehydration and exhaustion. I made a mistake in getting my cleats adjusted with shims for knee wobble between the 400 and 600 and I didn't get enough long rides in to be sure the fit was correct - so I had some serious knee pain in the middle of the night. I also failed to properly hydrate and eat in the heat going over the green mountains. I had planned to ride through the night as I didn't want to deal with the heat in the mountains the following day - I also had the option of sleeping in my own bed (just off the course in S. VT) for a long nap...

    Remember that a brevet is not like a road race - you have no need to hang onto the lead group or work hard for anyone else - ride your own ride. If you happen to find people you like going your pace its good fun and quite sociable - but if you need to find a cafe for lunch or a farm stand for melon - be sure to stop and listen to your body.

    What Cat are you riding the GMSR? Are you riding with a team? Done it before?

    I course marshaled a few years ago - quite the ride to see the Pro 1/2 group finish atop App Gap after they'd been on the road for 110 miles. Have you been up to the course area and ridden some of the passes? Would make a great weekend trip to Waitsfield - beautiful riding up here. You could make it a 200k training weekend... here's a great route that crosses App Gap on the GMSR route.. Slightly easier in the clockwise direction.

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    I should add, in supplement of Octopus's advice, that a good chunk of the Boston randonneurs ride together from the start to Gardner. The pace is relatively speedy, and folks tend to break up after Gardner. There'll be a couple of climbs starting at Fitchburg and rolling through to Gardner which will help you sort out your strength relative to everyone else's. If you find that you like the pace, then be efficient in the control. The fast group waits for no-one and they do their best to be in, signed, and out within five minutes. If the lead pace is too hot, then feel free to tarry around Gardner and wait for another group of riders to start. In general, it helps to be polite and humble; and while everyone appreciates a strong rider who can take their turn at pulling, as bmike pointed out, being fast by itself doesn't really impress most folks. Finishing does.

  13. #13
    littlecircles bmike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spokenword View Post
    I should add, in supplement of Octopus's advice, that a good chunk of the Boston randonneurs ride together from the start to Gardner. The pace is relatively speedy, and folks tend to break up after Gardner. There'll be a couple of climbs starting at Fitchburg and rolling through to Gardner which will help you sort out your strength relative to everyone else's. If you find that you like the pace, then be efficient in the control. The fast group waits for no-one and they do their best to be in, signed, and out within five minutes. If the lead pace is too hot, then feel free to tarry around Gardner and wait for another group of riders to start. In general, it helps to be polite and humble; and while everyone appreciates a strong rider who can take their turn at pulling, as bmike pointed out, being fast by itself doesn't really impress most folks. Finishing does.

    If its the early start you'll definitely find groups sticking together to Gardner. The choppy and steep hills do sort out the fast boys and girls and pushes them to the front - but there is usually a large group that stays together to mid mornings on the BBS... at least I found this to be the case as I like riding in the group at night, on unfamiliar (for me) roads. Just be sure to follow your cue - inevitably as the group chats and rolls along at a good clip someone misses a turn... bonus miles for following along!

    Assuming the route is the same as I rode in 2005 the bit from Gardner to the NH border is pretty tough - mainly due to the road surface and a bit of dirt (if its still on the route). Once in NH its a fairly open road with wide shoulder. You'll be a bit exposed to the wind / weather as you roll to Brattleboro. You can get out of the Brat control quickly and there is a good climb on East West Road to connect you up (over a covered bridge) with the milder Rt. 30 over the mountains. There is a good general store before you start the climb up Rt. 30 where I think everyone stopped to eat and reload water in the heat (and sit around with ice on their heads, knees, etc.) Remember East West road - its worse on the way back...

    After cruising down the west side of the mountains into Manchester there is some nice riding through small towns and farmland. The ride to Bennington is OK - but if the route still crosses into NYS be wary of a-hole drivers - I'd never been harassed so much on 1 ride than the short bit in NYS on the Boston 600k.

  14. #14
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    Yah, I'm guessing the terrain is quite rough - perfect preparation for GMSR. I'm not really interested in trying to do it fast because I have no intention of burning all my matches before I hit the mountains. I could guess that would just make the last half of the ride miserable. I will hang with folks to Gardner and see if I find some people with a good, comfortable pace.
    I haven't raced the GMSR before and have only been road racing for a year now. I was previously doing longer distance triathlons before until I ruined my shoulders and can no longer swim comfortably. Plus the bike's the best part anyway. I have done some rides in that neck of the woods of VT and love the slow grinds. I'm a cat 4 and race with Boston Road Club. Funny thing is that I'm a crit racer for the most part, but love longer rides.
    As far as the heckling goes, I have a route that takes me up through Billerica and Chelmsford where I get heckled/ buzzed by motorcycles and mustangs pretty regularly, so that would be nothing new. I managed to surprise one obnoxious teenager with a well aimed squirt of my water bottle into his face.
    You got it buddy: the large print giveth, and the small print taketh away

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