The first of the upstate South Caroline brevets took place yesterday (3/25/06). It started just north of Spartanburg, SC and went to the top of Caesar's Head Mtn. I decided to ride my Riv Quickbeam single-speed bike (which turned out to be a mistake). This was a course that REQUIRED gears--it included many of the storied climbs in the upstate SC area--the Watershed, Camp Old Indian, Gap Creek Road, and Caesar's Head. It was advertised as having almost 13,000 feet of climbing.
The bike, equipped with a Brooks B.17 and Riv Banana Bag, was very comfortable to ride but was definitely overgeared. I started out in a 71" gear (42x16) but had to flip the rear wheel to a 63" gear (42x18). I ended up walking a couple switchbacks on Caesar's Head and some steeper portions of Gap Creek Road and the Camp Old Indian climb. If I ever try something like this again a White Industries 17/19 dual freewheel may be the ticket.
The brevet started at 7:00 am sharp. I started five minutes late because I had forgotten to put on my shoe covers. Glad I remembered, because the weather was rough. Temperature at the start was in the low 30's F. Weather reports predicted highs in the mid-50's F but I doubt it ever got much above 50 F. Conditions were varied--sun, clouds, snow flurries in North Carolina at the top of the Watershed climb, a few drops of rain, and a lot of wind. The temerature differential between the top and bottom of climbs was noticeable.
I discovered that temperature management is critical on a course like this with lots of climbs and fast descents. I wore shorts, leg warmers, a short-sleeve jersey with arm warmers under a long-sleeve jersey, and a vest. I started out with a jacket over all that but the jacket came off within five miles and was stowed away. I found that I could regulate temperature pretty well by opening and closing zippers on the vest and jerseys. The jacket did go back on for the fast seven mile descent of Caesar's Head Mtn but quickly came off again.
This was my first brevet and, I will admit, was something of a baptism of fire. I think I anticipated the clothing issues pretty well, but I still need to figure out how to attach the route sheet to my bars so I can see it easily. I ended up stopping a lot to pull out the sheet and figure where to go next. Here are the stats:
Total mileage on OD--127.87 miles
Ride time--9 hours 33 minutes
Average speed (for ride time)--13.51 mph
Total Time--10 hours 35 minutes (approx)
I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge the fine efforts of RBA Bethany Davison in putting on this brevet. It was well organized and the food provided at the turnaround was ample and varied.