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  1. #1
    okay maybe not. mmerner's Avatar
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    newbie randonneuring / brevet questions

    so I never did one before, I have questions.

    1. does one bring along a food required to ride 200/300/400k rides? Is food provided, or do you stop at stores along the way?

    2. what spare bike parts to have? how can they be handled?


    thanks.
    question everything.

  2. #2
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    First of all, have a look at my site - it's all about Randonneuring and long distance riding, and will also provide you links to several other informative sites:
    http://www.machka.net/
    http://www.machka.net/rand.htm
    http://www.machka.net/links.htm


    1. does one bring along a food required to ride 200/300/400k rides? Is food provided, or do you stop at stores along the way?

    Food is NOT provided. Brevets are not supported (or rarely supported) ... Randonneuring is supposed to be about fending for yourself, being self-sufficient .... you vs. the environment, conditions, terrain, etc.

    Bring several energy bars and that sort of thing with you - enough to take you about 100 kms. And for the rest of your nutritional intake (remember it's 250-300 calories per hour), you will stop at stores or restaurants along the way (bring cash, some small out of the way stores don't have interac yet - especially in the US).

    Depending on where you ride, and what is available for towns and services, you may have to strategically plan out your nutritional intake. That's why I advise having enough energy bars to take you 100 kms. Even up here in Canada, it is rare a person would go more than 100 kms without coming across some sort of services ... except perhaps at night. Once you get up into the 600K distance, you might want to carry a couple extra bars in case you end up in a situation which is common up here -- everything is closed all night.


    2. what spare bike parts to have? how can they be handled?

    See my packing list on my website: http://www.machka.net/packinglist.htm

    Now before you panic, that list contains everything for a 1200K randonnee plus the tour I usually do before and/or after it. So, don't look at the Camping column, or the Civvy Clothing column. And you might take only one or two items from the Technology column, and few from the Personal column.

    You will want to carry enough equipment so that you can fix a flat, do something about a broken spoke or chain, and make a few other minor repairs.

    You will carry this equipment in a bag on your bicycle ... because as I mentioned before, Randonneuring is all about being self-sufficient. You need to be able to fix your own bicycle with your own equipment. There is no sag support, no mechanics, and no sweep vehicle to check on riders.


    BTW - That whole self-sufficient thing is one of the reasons I love Randonneuring! The idea that I'm heading several hundred kilometers out into the middle of nowhere ... with few towns, few services, and no one to check up on me appeals to the adventurous side of me.

    I can hardly wait .... my first 200K of the season goes in two weeks!!

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka
    1. does one bring along a food required to ride 200/300/400k rides? Is food provided, or do you stop at stores along the way?

    Food is NOT provided. Brevets are not supported (or rarely supported) ... Randonneuring is supposed to be about fending for yourself, being self-sufficient .... you vs. the environment, conditions, terrain, etc.

    <SNIP>

    2. what spare bike parts to have? how can they be handled?

    <SNIP>

    You will carry this equipment in a bag on your bicycle ... because as I mentioned before, Randonneuring is all about being self-sufficient. You need to be able to fix your own bicycle with your own equipment. There is no sag support, no mechanics, and no sweep vehicle to check on riders.
    Mostly Machka is right but there are exceptions. Quite a few brevets in Australia are supported, mainly to avoid the 'no place to get water, let alone food, for 100 miles' problem. You'll tend to find motorcycle marshals and mechanical support on the popular 1200s (PBP, BMB, LEL and I'm sure there are others). There are a couple of popular short brevets with similar or better support. The Audax Alpine Classic in Oz has about 2000 riders and is fully supported.

    I enjoy the self-supported aspect of brevets but I figure that these long rides are difficult enough and have no problems with enjoying any support offered.

  4. #4
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LWaB
    Mostly Machka is right but there are exceptions. Quite a few brevets in Australia are supported, mainly to avoid the 'no place to get water, let alone food, for 100 miles' problem. You'll tend to find motorcycle marshals and mechanical support on the popular 1200s (PBP, BMB, LEL and I'm sure there are others). There are a couple of popular short brevets with similar or better support. The Audax Alpine Classic in Oz has about 2000 riders and is fully supported.

    I enjoy the self-supported aspect of brevets but I figure that these long rides are difficult enough and have no problems with enjoying any support offered.

    Yes, the populaires have support because they are designed to entice riders into the world of long distance cycling.

    And yes, the 1200Ks have support too (although the support on the Last Chance 1200K in Colorado/Kansas was extremely minimal, which was all right with me). I'm surprised you didn't mention the Great Southern in your list of 1200Ks. The support on that even was fabulous!! I couldn't believe it! I've done 4 complete 1200Ks now, and DNF'd on a 5th, and I'd have to say that the support on the Great Southern was the best I'd ever encountered. Have you ridden that one?

    But over here in North America, support on any other brevets/randonnees is hit and miss. Some clubs may provide a bit, but I think most don't. None of the central Canada clubs (where I've done most of my riding) provide support ... not even on the 1000K.

    I think it can be nice to have support on the 1200Ks .... I actually enjoy the 1200K distance more than the 600K distance, and I think that is probably because of the support .... but it's not necessary, and can even become a hinderance (as was the case for the 1200K I DNF'd).

    However, what I like best about the support on 1200Ks is not the bag drops, or the food they provide, or sleeping accommodations, but rather the company ... the fact that there are people around who are awake and willing to talk, or give you a hand with something, or whatever. I do most of my brevets/randonnees here in central Canada solo or pretty close to it. Solo 400Ks and solo 600Ks can get very lonely after a while. Whereas on a 1200K, at least I can look forward to someone to talk to, for even a few minutes, every 75-100 kms or so!

    That 200K I've got in a couple weeks will be completely unsupported, in an area I have never ridden before, about 200kms away from where I live, and I will most likely ride it solo. I have no idea what sorts of services the towns along the route will have or anything. But that's all part of the adventure!! I'll be bringing quite a few energy bars and things, though, just in case.

  5. #5
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    GSR is 1000 miles from where I live. I'm not too fond of riding in the rain, so I haven't done BMB either.

    Solo rides are the hardest, interesting company help the miles go by. Unsupported rides are next. It makes a difference to me if someone notices whether I finish or not - not just for the ego thing (I know the crew just need to tick me off their list) but otherwise I could just be out for any old ride. Nothing wrong with that (I enjoy touring), but to me being part of a big event justifies the shiny medal, an unsupported event feels less 'valid' somehow. If the organiser doesn't make a big deal of organising it, I can't make a big deal of riding it.

    I suppose that is why PBP feels so good. It isn't only the riders or the organisers and checkpoint crews, it seems like the whole of France wants you to finish too. After all, there are prettier 1200s to ride...

    Just for interest's sake, the Alpine Classic is a hilly 200 (with shorter options) http://www.audax.org.au/alpine.htm and hit 42 degrees last year.

  6. #6
    okay maybe not. mmerner's Avatar
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    thanks. Okay now more questions.

    Water? I'd be really afraid of running out of water. Assuming there will be stores along the way. what happens if you can't find any. Get water from a lake or stream? How much water/bottles should one bring?

    Which leads me to another question. Machka, there is nothing about maps in your packing list. Are you given a map to know how to get to each control point? Does it matter how you get from point a to b?

    thanks again.
    question everything.

  7. #7
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LWaB
    GSR is 1000 miles from where I live. I'm not too fond of riding in the rain, so I haven't done BMB either.

    Solo rides are the hardest, interesting company help the miles go by. Unsupported rides are next. It makes a difference to me if someone notices whether I finish or not - not just for the ego thing (I know the crew just need to tick me off their list) but otherwise I could just be out for any old ride. Nothing wrong with that (I enjoy touring), but to me being part of a big event justifies the shiny medal, an unsupported event feels less 'valid' somehow. If the organiser doesn't make a big deal of organising it, I can't make a big deal of riding it.

    I suppose that is why PBP feels so good. It isn't only the riders or the organisers and checkpoint crews, it seems like the whole of France wants you to finish too. After all, there are prettier 1200s to ride...

    Just for interest's sake, the Alpine Classic is a hilly 200 (with shorter options) http://www.audax.org.au/alpine.htm and hit 42 degrees last year.

    The GSR is about 20,000 kms away from where I live!! You should really put that one on your schedule. Yes, it could rain or snow, but it was a good event. I'm working toward the BMB this year.

    I guess from my perspective, the unsupported rides feel more "valid" because I did the whole thing myself, without anyone "holding my hand" along the way ...... when I started Randonneuring, that was how they were run in the area where I lived then, and so I just got used to that. You'd hate the central Canada brevets! There isn't even anyone at the end to tick you off the list! You just get the girl (who could not care less) behind the counter of the Tim Hortons donut place to sign your card, and that's that. A few days later you mail the card to the organizer ... and perhaps at the end of the year dinner, or in the end of the year newsletter, your name might be mentioned as having finished that ride.

    It's sort of funny, but on the rides shorter than 1200K, I almost feel a bit miffed ... almost like cheating is going on (although I know it isn't) ... when someone's spouse or friend offers some support along the way. I'll take advantage of it, because it happens so rarely, but on those occasions I almost feel like it wasn't a "real" brevet.

    I know about the Alpine Classic .... and I heard it was really hot this year. It was really hot right through that whole area!! But I'd like to ride it one year.

  8. #8
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mmerner
    thanks. Okay now more questions.

    Water? I'd be really afraid of running out of water. Assuming there will be stores along the way. what happens if you can't find any. Get water from a lake or stream? How much water/bottles should one bring?

    Which leads me to another question. Machka, there is nothing about maps in your packing list. Are you given a map to know how to get to each control point? Does it matter how you get from point a to b?

    thanks again.

    Where I ride, most of the controls are in towns and most of the towns do have some sort of stores, restaurants, or even pop machines outside gas stations. Most controls on the shorter distances are approx 50 to 75 kms apart, so we carry enough water or other liquid to get us 50-75 kms. For me, that's my two 750 ml bottles, and if I figure it's going to take a while to get to the next control, possibly a 500 ml bottle of orange pop or ice tea tucked into my Carradice.

    Check with the ride organizer to see where your controls are located, and ask if the towns have services.

    Where I ride, sometimes the controls are not in towns - they might go through areas where services are extremely limited; or maybe they are in towns but, depending on the time of day, everything could be closed. In most small towns, everything shuts down by about 6 pm ... and if your ride spills over onto a Sunday (like the 600Ks here do), there's a good chance nothing will be open in any of the towns all day, or if something does open, it might not be till 8 am or so. Therefore, you've got the potential on some rides of riding for 12 hours or more without any services at all. (Incidentally, we have "self-signing" controls for situations like the ones mentioned above, where you sign your own card and maybe make a note of something in that town to prove that you've been there.) Your ride organizer should warn riders in advance about those situations ... and since you're new to this, it would be a good idea to ask before you do your 400K and 600K what the overnight conditions are like.

    I have a "rule" when it comes to liquid. If I come to a place where I can buy water or other beverages, and if even one of my two 750 ml bottles is half full, I stop and refill my water, and/or buy a bottle of something (for me it's usually either orange pop or ice tea) to tuck into my Carradice. Sometimes I also grab something to eat while I'm there too.

    My reason for that is because sometimes circumstances change or are unknown .... perhaps the little grocery store between two fairly widely spaced controls, which you've depended on for the past 3 years, has shut down over the winter ... perhaps the gas station/restaurant control where you've refuelled on every 300K for the past 4 years is undergoing renovations this year, and is down to selling cans of pop and bags of chips out of vending machines. Both of those happened to me, and in the first instance, I ran out of water before I got to the next control. Also, if you have arrived at a control at about 5 or 6 pm or so, and the store or restaurant is open .... but since it is so late you don't know if anything else along the way will be open ... I would strongly recommend restocking all your liquid and grabbing a few things to eat on the road.

    There's a lot of strategy that has to go into an unsupported brevet that makes the whole thing more challenging and adventurous.

    Oh, and I wouldn't drink anything out of a stream or lake ... bleck!! <<shudder>> I'm just thinking of all the diseases in those things ... e-coli runs rampant in the water of the Canadian prairies in the summer. I won't even drink water from a tap most of the time on brevets - I prefer to buy it. There is less chance I'll contract a deadly disease!

    And thanks for pointing out the missing maps on my list! Yes, I bring a map of the area for my own personal reference (in case I have to go off the route for some reason). I'll have to add that to my list! But yes, they will provide cue sheets and maps for you too (or you might have to print them off the internet yourself). Here: http://www.albertarandonneurs.ca/mapindex.htm ... you can see an example of what is available to us here in Alberta. We have to print our own cue sheets, maps, and brevet cards, but in other places I've ridden, they were handed to us at the start. And yes, it matters a lot how you get from Point A to Point B ... you have to follow a set route, and if you go off the route for some reason (like to buy food or something), you have to return to the route exactly where you left off.

    What club are you planning to ride with?

  9. #9
    Senior Member Marcello's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mmerner
    2. what spare bike parts to have? how can they be handled?
    I carry:

    Spare tube, spare folding tire, pump (Topeak Road Morph), tube patches, tire booths (flaps from USPS tyvek envelopes), multitool (Topeak Alien), Fiberfix kevlar spoke, zip ties of different length, nitrile gloves. With all this (and a bike in good working condition to start) I should be able to take care of all the most likely mechanical problems.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka
    I guess from my perspective, the unsupported rides feel more "valid" because I did the whole thing myself, without anyone "holding my hand" along the way ...... when I started Randonneuring, that was how they were run in the area where I lived then, and so I just got used to that. You'd hate the central Canada brevets! There isn't even anyone at the end to tick you off the list! You just get the girl (who could not care less) behind the counter of the Tim Hortons donut place to sign your card, and that's that. A few days later you mail the card to the organizer ... and perhaps at the end of the year dinner, or in the end of the year newsletter, your name might be mentioned as having finished that ride.
    Different strokes for (complete usual cliche), I guess. I've done quite a few of those sort of brevets in the past and will do more in the future but they just don't float my boat. I tend to ride for fun and, after you've done some challenges, the second time round they tend to be 'same old, same old'. When I organised brevets, I tended to fully support them. It softens up newbies for 'real' brevets

  11. #11
    okay maybe not. mmerner's Avatar
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    The closest club to me is The Great Lakes Randonneurs. I'll give them a try. Thanks to all for your good answers to my stupid questons.

    Quote Originally Posted by Machka
    What club are you planning to ride with?
    question everything.

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