8 am is pretty late for the start of a Randonneuring event, so if it were me, I'd drive there that morning.
Most of the events here start between about 4 am and 6 am. I live about 1.5 hours away by car, and I drive down for those.
My reasons for driving there the morning of the event:
-- it is less expensive - you don't have to find a room to stay in
-- it is less hassle - if you go the night before, you have to make sure you've got everything with you for that night, and also for the ride. I just find it simpler to pack for the ride. Plus there's business of checking out, trying to find some place for breakfast, and getting to the start of the ride. If you leave from home, you get everything ready the night before, you go to bed early, you wake up and have breakfast at home, and then you drive to the event.
But some people like going the night before because they feel it gives them more sleep time. So I guess it would depend on how you are with sleeping in different places.
Thanks for replying Machka, I knew you would be the first.
Wouldn't the increased amount of sleep leading up to the event by arriving the night before mean that you would be able to go longer into your ride before needing to stop to rest / sleep?
Yes, but here's the thing:
On shorter rides like the 200K, 300K, and 400K, I don't stop to sleep no matter what my night before was like. I've done the 400K on about 4 hours of sleep, and I was fine because the ride is short enough. But if I were going to do a 600K, or longer event, for those I might travel out the night before and possibly also book the room for the night I'd arrive back ... mainly in the interests of safety (i.e. not driving when you haven't slept in 36 hours), and also to allow you to sleep pretty much right up to the start of the event.
As for the increased amount of sleep, I've found that in general I get more sleep at home than I do in a hotel. At home, I pack two days before, then the day before I just go to bed shortly after I arrive home from work (6 pm - 8 pm usually), and sleep through to 3 am or whenever I have to be up. I can do that fairly easily, but I know some people can't. However, if I were to come home from work, and drive out to the hotel it would be later in the evening, then I would fuss with my equipment etc. for a while, maybe I'd want to head out and get something to eat, and then I would have to try to sleep in a strange bed ... I wouldn't get to sleep until quite a bit later in the evening. But others may handle the situation quite differently.
Thats really good to know. The 200, 300 and 400 can (should?) be done without having to sleep during the ride.
Right ... I know a lot of Randonneurs from around the world, and I don't know any of them who sleeps on the 200K and 300K. Occasionally someone will take a short 10-15 minute nap on the 400K, but that's about it.
The thing is, the time limit on the 200K is 13.5 hours, and the time limit on the 300K is 20 hours ... but most people do those two in less time unless they encounter some particularly bad weather. Well, I'm definitely awake 13.5 hours a day just normally with school and work, and I'm often awake 20 hours a day, especially now that I've returned to university. So staying awake for that time isn't at all unusual for me.
The time limit on the 400K is 27 hours. I've done quite a few 400K distances (brevets, a fleche, a 24-hour TT, etc.), but I've never taken more than 24 hours to cover it. I figure with a 24 hour event, if you get as good a night's sleep before as you can ... ride for 24 hours ... then plan to get a really good long sleep after, and you'll be fine.
In fact, on my 1000K, all my 1200Ks, and most of my 600K events, I didn't take my first sleep stop in less than 400K (24+ hours). I'm just not tired enough before that to sleep well. Too much adreniline I guess.
The 600K could go either way with sleep. I've done it straight through with no sleep (36 hours) and I've also done it with varying amounts of sleep. I'm still not sure which was better. Probably if I had to pick, I'd say that the 600K with 1.5 hours of sleep was the best ... and I think that was because of our human sleep patterns.
You see, most adult humans have a REM cycle of 90 minutes. If you can sleep multiples of 90 minutes (1.5 hours, 3 hours, 4.5 hours, etc.) you can go through complete REM cycles and can wake up at the end of them feeling relatively refreshed. If, for example, you were to wake up after 60 minutes, however, you'd likely wake up feeling all tired and groggy (and in my case, slightly nauseated for some reason). The second best choice to sleeping in multiples of 90 minutes is to not let yourself get into the deep sleep section of the REM cycle, and instead to sleep less than 30 minutes - short naps.
So when I do the longer rides, I make use of those short 10-15 minute naps, and I aim to sleep either 1.5 or 3 hours at the sleep controls. (But usually I'm actually lying down slightly longer than that to allow for dozing off and waking up time.)
That's way more information than you asked for, but maybe you'll find some of it useful.
Raleigh Aspen touring/off-road hybrid, and a Bob Yak trailer. Yak very useful for us car-free types that like to buy lots of beer.
I'll never complain of "too much info", Machka. Anything out of your mouth is pritority info as far as my Randoneurring career goes. My first brevet will be a 200k on March 3. Then there are different ones almost every weekend for a few months all around Germany. I know I'll gain lots of experience, but till then, I'm hanging on your every word. Thanks!!!