A big plug for what homeyba is saying. IME he is exactly right. I'm just an average/below average specimen. My talents are that I like to ride my bike, have some feel for the kinetics of it, and have a low frontal area for my weight (I'm short). My VO2max is so low that a 7 minute mile was very fast for me in my youth, 50 years ago. But I could ride 300 miles in 24 hrs., simply by training the way homeyba says, and having the experience to be able to keep my butt in the saddle and the bike moving. I have also studied the heck out of it, use a periodized training program, keep close track of all my training markers, etc., etc. The talented can just go out and do it. The rest of us have to be a bit of a nut about it to have that level of success. My best times have been a flattish 400k in 15 hours and a mountainous 400k in 18.5 hrs., both those when over 60. Yes, those were hard rides, but also really fun. Training and riding smarter, not harder, are the keys.
1. Only count moving speed. Leave out 30 minute breaks.
2. Set "autopause" for 5-6 miles an hour, thus negating stop light hindrance.
There are people who go that fast, but a lot of times people are doping their gps.
*dons asbestos underwear*
I thought randonneuring was about the joy of the journey, not about crushing the souls of the weak and the sick.
A few words on reporting times and speeds and average speeds on long rides:
1. Time is always, without exception, total elapsed time. Any weekend warrior can ride a "five hour century" if he doesn't include his stops. In long distance events, whether it's randonneuring or ultra-distance races, the time you spent stopped counts, so in reporting on your ride, you count it, too.
2. This topic usually comes up more in the road forum than here, but there's occasionally some debate and skepticism of the speeds that the riders at the pointy end of brevets, ultra-distance rides and other long-distance events can attain. In my experience, those who question the speeds people can hit or the distances they can ride have very little familiarity with the sport and have never ridden in a lead group. Where drafting is legal, it's common to see riders cruising along at over 30mph. In a 24-hour race. I've been in these groups, and I'm hardly the fastest person around here. In Sebring in '06, those of us in the lead group lapped riders before we left the track -- we went more than 9 miles before they covered even six. I remember looking at my cyclocomputer coming out of the infamous Turn 17 and seeing I was going 32mph. There was a guy that year who rode over 500 miles. The fast riders in this sport are very, very fast.
3. "Average speed," although cyclists talk about it incessently, is largely a worthless metric. See #1, above. How fast you can go matters only in the context of how long you can keep it up and how much rest and recovery you need as a result of that effort. Back when I used to do very aggressive training rides -- rides with pros in them -- the "easiest" days were those with ridiculous averages. Everyone cranked it up to some high speed and we just cruised. The most brutal workouts -- and the best for developing better cycling fitness, in my opinion -- were those with terrible average speeds. You'd be riding along. Someone would attack. The peloton would roll in the mid-30s until the rider(s) was brought back. We'd slow way down. Someone else would attack. Rinse and repeat for 40 miles. No order. No consistently. Just chasing and chasing back on and attacking and two hours of brutal suffering. You'd get back to the parking lot and discover that you "averaged" something like 22mph but elite riders would have been shelled left and right on the ride and your lungs would be on fire. You'd circle the parking lot for a few minutes until you were confident that you had to strength to dismount and throw a leg over the top tube.
With the long distance rides, it goes from 200 to 600 and beyond and you are on your own most of the time. So you set-up a personal steady peace for your ride to make sure, you will manage it as long as it is required to reach the last control, rather than maximizing effort for first 2-3 hours and than "die".
We get a yearbook, too, that shows every member in alphabetical order and the ride(s) that he or she did in the preceding year. Finish times are listed. The RUSA website is a font of information -- you can search for any member and see the rides and times that he or she did, or for any ride and see who did it and what their finish times were. Some RBAs will identify DNF'd riders by name (mostly this occurs on 1200Ks), but the majority in my experience will not.
I've never seen randonneuring as a competitive pursuit -- other than against one's self -- nor do most of the randonneurs I've met view it that way. Rather than for fueling some competitive drive, I have found information about finish times to be useful in the aggregate to tell me something about how "tough" a route is either by seeing where the range of times fell or by seeing how riders I know and have ridden with have fared. I like to know what I'm getting into, and finish times help me plan and prepare, much like seeing the total elevation gain for a route.
All that said, anyone looking at finish times in randonneuring should be warned that they oftentimes don't tell you much about the rider who the time belongs to. My 200K times range from 6:45 to 13:10, and the 6:45 included more than an hour off the bike. I know a RAAM solo finisher who did PBP in about 88:30. I know another who qualified for the Charly Miller Society.
Just remember to mix it up. Speed work one day, hills another and recovery rides. Don't forget the goal, that's to be able to ride fast enough so that you can stop and smell the roses, take beautiful pictures and get plenty of sleep!
La Societe Andrians Hands? Cool! Sounds like a great guy. May he RIP.
Once you've done a handful of 100K rides, start upping the distance so that you will have done a century 2-3 weeks before your 200K.
Go ride a 100K this coming weekend (not an event ... not for credit ... just to ride it). It doesn't matter how long it takes you ... just do it. Then 2 weeks from now do it again, and try to do it a little bit faster. Then do it again in 2 weeks.
Work on your speed and hill climbing on shorter rides during the week.
You made the comment in another thread that your motto is "ride small, dream big". If you want to be a randonneur, it should be "ride big, dream bigger".
I've been riding 'ultras' (I really hate that term) for a little over 12 years now, as well as randonneuring. In that time I've done three 600Ks in less than 24 hours, as well as five Furnace Creek 508's and two Race Across Oregon's, where I covered more than 300 miles in 24 hours (325 minimum, 400 maximum). I ride Brevets with friends, and the ultras have all been solo non-drafting. All of these are 'total elapsed' times, not moving averages.
With practice, I believe covering 300 miles in 24 hours is something that many people can achieve. As several have pointed out it does require that you learn to properly pace and fuel yourself. I usually do an almost exclusive liquid diet, and for me 275 to 325 calories per hour is what my stomach can sustain over the long haul - YMMV.
I would encourage anyone who's thinking of doing a 24 hour (or greater) event to go for it! The sense of personal achievement you will gain from such an accomplishment is something that will stay with you forever.
There's no truth to that rumor - solo RAAM is not in my future. I know my limits, and 2 nights without sleep is all I can muster. Now team RAAM - I might consider that!
At the moment I'm just trying to get my motivation back - the end of last year was a trail of injury and illness for me, and I'm a long way from being fit enough to ride long distance at a fast pace. Things have been looking up over the last month or so though, so hopefully I'll be fit for my first double in March.
Are you planning any doubles this year? or the 508?
Although I haven't completed one as yet I am looking to enter one or more 200k rides before long, just need to find one close enough to home on a day that works for me. Failing that I'll work one out for myself... got a friend who lives 150 miles away so might use that as a test run.