Spartanburg, SC 300K Brevet Ride Report
4/14/06

After completing the Spartanburg--Caesar's Head--Spartanburg 200K brevet
on March 25th on my Rivendell Quickbeam, I decided to try the 300K event
three weeks later. The weather, however, could not have been more
different. Three weeks earlier we started with the temperature around
30 F, a mixture of clouds and sun (with snow flurries at the top of the
Greenville Watershed climb) and a high of around 48 F. On Saturday we
started with temperature in the low 70's F and a predicted high of
around 90 F, with lots of sun and wind.

The alarm clock went off way too early, as I had over an hour drive to
reach the starting point just north of Spartanburg. Then, eight miles
from home I realized that I had left the water bottles in the
fridge--not good! So, I turned around and went home, got the bottles,
and then hustled to the start site. I arrived five minutes before the
scheduled start time of 6:30 am, which meant that I finally departed
about fifteen minutes late after preparing the bike and slathering on
some sunscreen.

Turnout for the 300K was considerably less than for the 200K, despite
(or maybe because of) the much warmer weather. Around 50 participated
in the 200K, while only around 15 showed up for the 300.

It was still dark enough that lights were needed for the first few
miles. The course started fairly flat but quickly got "lumpy," as the
English say, once I crossed into Greenville County. The remainder of
the course to the turnaround in Pendleton, SC was the rolling terrain
typical of this portion of the state. Advertised climbing was almost
14,000 feet (actual was probably a bit less due to a last minute change
in route), and the changes in elevation definitely took their toll as
the day rolled on.

Because I had started late, most of the other riders were well ahead of
me. I met up with a few along the way but our preferred paces and need
to stop for fuel did not coincide, so most of the ride was solo. The
turnaround was at Nettles Park in Pendleton, where the brevet organizers
had food and drinks waiting for us. I arrived there around 1:35 PM, and
stayed for about 30 minutes. The can of V8 juice provided was a real
boon, as it helped replace lost electrolytes.

On the way back, I started to notice that I was laboring on hills that
previously had posed no problem, and nausea was starting to become an
issue as well. Clearly the heat and sun were taking their toll, despite
my efforts to drink enough liquid. Finally, at mile 120 I stopped and
flipped the rear wheel on my Rivendell Quickbeam single-speed bike from
a 17t cog to an 18t cog. With the single 42t front chainring this
reduced the "gear inches" from 67 to 63 and it made a big difference.
While I could not go as fast on the flats, the hills were no longer a
problem. If the weather had been more moderate I probably could have
completed the ride on the 17t cog with no problem, but on a ride of this
length you do what you have to do to complete it. The Quickbeam bicycle
itself performed flawlessly. The Pasela TG 28mm tires resisted road
hazards, and I'm also quite happy with the Crank Brothers Candy
pedals--easy in, easy out and no hot spots. Now if we can just do
something about the crummy motor . . .

As the sun and temperature went down, my energy returned and I began to
pick up the pace once again. By the time I got to the climb on Dividing
Waters Road near Camp Old Indian it was getting dark and descending on
the other side was an "interesting" experience. There was just enough
ambient light left for it to be reasonably safe with the Cateye EL500
LED headlamp I used, but I realized that it would soon be pitch dark. I
quickly discovered that the one headlight really doesn't illuminate well
enough to enable one to avoid potholes and rough sections of pavement,
so the remaining portion of the ride was jarring at times. The Cateye
EL500 LED light is a remarkably clever piece of equipment, but two of
them would have been much better. I now know why serious randonneurs
often use Schmidt Dynohub generators with multiple headlamps.

I finally arrived back in Spartanburg at the final control at around
10:25 PM. I turned in my brevet card and sat down to drink a bit of
Coke to fuel the drive back to Due West. Another rider there told me
about his experience doing the Paris-Brest-Paris 1200K event in 2003,
but I think 300K is plenty long for me. The statistics (some approximate):

Mileage: 192.57 miles on OD
Ride Time: 12:42
Avg Speed for ride time: 15.26 mph
Total elapsed time (including late start): 15:55

Special thanks are due to Regional Brevet Administrator Bethany Davison
and her helpers who provided yet another very well-run brevet event.

Dr. Bill