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2019 Randonnees

Old 06-20-19, 09:04 PM
  #201  
atwl77
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Starting a tough 600k tomorrow morning. 618km with 9400m elevation gain (or at least as reported by RideWithGPS, which tends to overestimate things... but I still expect over 7000m). Trying hard not to think too much about it and concentrate on making sure I have everything packed! 😅
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Old 06-24-19, 03:16 AM
  #202  
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I just got back from the NoVa1000k. Lots of climbing. I spent a couple of hours getting another rider medical attention, I have never been as scared for the well-being of another person as when I found him lying astride his bike in the middle of the road. It was a bit of a surprise since we had been riding together minutes before.
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Old 06-24-19, 05:33 AM
  #203  
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
I just got back from the NoVa1000k. Lots of climbing. I spent a couple of hours getting another rider medical attention, I have never been as scared for the well-being of another person as when I found him lying astride his bike in the middle of the road. It was a bit of a surprise since we had been riding together minutes before.
Damn that's scary. Have you heard how he is doing? Did you call 911?

I did another 600 this weekend, about 4100m of climbing. I had a good time, rode it very casually almost like a tour, always had a good time cushion. Got almost 4 hours of sleep too. Weather was perfect summer, except for 6 hours of headwinds on Saturday afternoon.
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Old 06-24-19, 07:33 AM
  #204  
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Yikes! What happened, is he alright?
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Old 06-24-19, 09:22 AM
  #205  
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The BRM600 Big Hills Challenge 2.0 that I rode over the weekend was touted as Malaysia’s toughest BRM to date, as a follow-up to another Big Hills Challenge on the same month last year, but with more elevation than before. Preparing the route on RideWithGPS gave a total of 9464m (51050ft) of elevation gain, but post-ride my Garmin Edge 1030 recorded just 6765m (22195ft).




For this ride we got a 1-hour extension due to the difficulty of the route, making it a 41-hour ride that starts at 4:00am Saturday and ending at 9:00pm Sunday.

My plan was to treat this ride as PBP training. There’s cold temperatures up there in the high altitude mountain ranges, as well as all that tough elevation to get over. But it turns out I got more than I bargained for – rain, a puncture in the dark, and massive sleep deprivation. More on that later.

We had a total of 142 riders, although this was a mixed event consisting of a BRM200 and a BRM600. Riders doing BRM200 would reach the first control at 100km and then turn back; even that alone was about 3700m of elevation (12139ft), based on the Strava records of the participants whom I follow.



Long climb in the dark


We started as early as 4 a.m. in the morning, so it was a cold and dark start. Halfway up the first climb, we encountered a bit of light rain. Not enough to warrant stopping to break out the rain coat, but enough to make it feel cold. Peak elevation is approx. 1500m (4921ft); I paced myself to avoid going into the red and stay comfortably in the Z3-Z4 range… but it seems like everyone else had a different idea and most of the riders quickly passed me. On the other hand, I managed to get to the top at a steady pace without needing to rest (except one photo opportunity near the peak), while I passed a couple of people who did need to rest.



Sadly, view near the top isn't as nice as past years


Had a short break at the only petrol station at the top. Instant cup noodles to keep warm. After that, had a very enjoyable descent. Getting a nice 60-70kph (37-44mph) roll to the bottom, which was also a nice test of cold tolerance… though the lowest recorded temperature on my Garmin was just 13C (55.4F), and I’m guessing it can be colder on a cold night in France.



Long descent


Rolling all the way down would just be about 87km, then another 13km of rolling hills to the first control. This was the annoying kind of rolling terrain where you can go stupid fast down a descent, but still not have enough momentum to get you anywhere near the peak of the next ride, so the good ol’ strategy of powering up over the crest often does not apply here.

After the first checkpoint, is another 57km of similar, annoying roads to the second checkpoint. During this time the sun had risen and now we’re dealing with afternoon temperatures. I did not have my sunscreen lotion on at the time because it was still a cool and overcast sky when I left the first control, didn’t expect it to turn hot so soon. Anyway, it was just a little under 2 hours under the sun, but apparently that was enough to screw with my nutrition. I ordered a plate of chicken rice at the restaurant near the second control but couldn’t even finish half the plate.

But fortunately I had my supply of sweets that I picked up from petrol stations along the way – gummy bears, sugar-coated gummy sweets, dried mangoes; those helped keep me going even though I couldn’t finish proper meals.



Cows along the way



Ominous clouds


Ride to the third control at 274.4km was mostly an exercise in patience. It’s practically a long 114km stretch, mostly light rolling and only flatting out around the last 30km or so. Ominous clouds were also coming up and, as predicted, we experienced heavy rains along the last 30+ km of the route. Had to stop to break out the rain jackets and then lost momentum along this stretch since the rain, along with night riding, impaired visibility so we had to take it slow.

So the third control was at a Marry Brown restaurant. Some of the people I was riding with stopped for dinner but I was doing the math in my head and I figured we were already on a time deficit; furthermore I doubt I could eat anything proper so they told me to go on ahead first and that’s what I did. I soloed my way to the fourth control at 408km, but this was quite an eventful journey. First mishap of the day was a puncture to the rear tire. Changing tubes in the dark and wet was no fun, and furthermore something weird happened to my CO2 inflator and I wasted one good canister as a result. Didn’t want to risk another canister and just inflated my tire with the hand pump… slowly.

I reached my planned stop, a petrol station at 358km, but by that time it was slightly past 3am in the morning. I had planned to get some sleep here but considering the time, that was out of the question. So I lay down and tried to get a short 20-minute sleep, but couldn’t get myself to doze off. Had another cup of instant noodles before setting off, but still not able to down it all.

The climb up to the fourth control wasn’t as tough as the first one, but still quite a monster. 1000m (3280ft) at the peak, in the dark, solo, and hit with a serious case of sleep deprivation. Had to stop every 10-15 minutes to just close my eyes and shake off the sleepiness. Eventually morning came, I found a small coffee shop where I ordered a hot cup of coffee and buried my head on the table and somehow managed to doze off. It wasn’t very long though, when I woke up my coffee they already served my coffee and it was still quite warm, but most important thing is that this little bit of nap managed to fix my sleep deprivation woes.



Cold and misty near the peak


Finally reached the fourth control at the peak. Cold and misty up here. This is supposedly a rest area for travelers heading across the mountain range, but the only “shop” that was open was the public toilet where you had to pay money to use. Even had a bath there, but considering the temperatures up here, I doubt most people took that option. Anyways, I took a 30-minute rest before setting off, but it started drizzling during this time. I rode down with another rider, and we ended up sticking together for the rest of the ride. This time the descent wasn’t that great though; I suspect it was my rain jacket that acted as a speed cap, keeping me stuck at 48-50kmh (30-31mph) for most of the descent.



Long bridge across the lake


We passed a nice lake, supposedly a tourist spot but not-so-nice reviews left on Google. Didn’t have much time to stop for photos though, but immediately after the lake was the third climb. This one’s not so tall – about 600m (1968ft) at the peak – but it had stretches of long and continuous 8-9% grades to deal with. Usually this is not a problem, but after all the climbing beforehand, this was starting to make my lower back hurt. Fortunately those 600m went by quickly, and then it was a pleasant roll down.

Found a small restaurant open for lunch. Got just a very small amount of rice, topped with bean sprouts and a fried egg. Surprisingly managed to down it all. After this, no more big climbs to deal with; just some moderate rolling hills all the way back to the finish. We were pretty short on time though; my ride mate kept telling me he thought we might DNF as we still had about 8.5 hours to do 180km but I thought as long as we didn’t encounter any nasty terrain or elevation, that’s still doable with a nice and steady effort with minimal rest.

Only problem is, that annoying sleep deprivation thing came up again. This time I couldn’t shake it off by trying to nod off during one of our short coffee shop breaks. Instead, I had to somehow endure it (and nearly swerve off the road at least twice, as far as I recall) but what saved me was an energy gel. I rarely use these but keep them in case of emergency, and in this case it really helped (or maybe it was a combination of the sugar and caffeine in the gel, I don’t really know).



Roadside scenery


Funny thing at 5:15pm. I called for a short 15-minute rest at a coffee shop by the side of the route. By this time we had another 60km to go, and doing some math in my head, I casually asked my ride mate: “how about we try to finish this before 8:00pm?” I wasn’t expecting much but surprisingly, he decided to go along with it.

The remaining 60km wasn’t exactly flat, easy-peasy though. A bit of rolling, some traffic, also a bunch of red lights the closer we got to the city had us accumulate some amount of stopped time. It was about 9.5km left and 19 minutes on the clock if I wanted to complete by 8:00pm (and therefore within the standard 40-hour cutoff instead of the extended 41-hour period). So I did what you guys like to call it on the forum and “droped the hamer”. It was such a crazy stunt I didn’t even think I could follow through all the way. The hardest was the standing starts from red lights at intersections, but somehow I still managed to complete it at 39h 58m, with my ride mate barely managing to complete closely behind.

Post-ride, I wanted to check on my HR data for that last 10km stretch but surprisingly it wasn’t as high as I thought it would be. Just barely over the lower range of Z5. But I also remember reading from ultra-endurance people that HR data tends to be close to useless for long distance as HR typically drops and stays low especially on day-2 onwards?

The official timings aren’t out yet, but I believe the DNF rate for this ride was pretty high. Some people I knew already abandoned at the second control, and only two out of the group I left behind at the third control opted to continue riding. I also counted at least 2 or 3 groups of riders, in their support cars, passing by on the way back to the finish. My friend back at the finishing point made an interesting observation – those who show up with support cars tend to DNF first because that is the easy way out, whereas those who don’t have support tend to push on, because no one is going to bail them out (save for an expensive Grab or similar).

Most of the pictures above are actually screengrabs as I take more video than photos during a ride. Here's the full ride video.

Last edited by atwl77; 06-24-19 at 09:27 AM.
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Old 06-24-19, 12:20 PM
  #206  
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Originally Posted by atwl77 View Post
Yikes! What happened, is he alright?
I called 911 when it became obvious that he had a bad concussion. Seems like he's okay. He has been released from the hospital. I believe he fell asleep. Of course, he could have hit a pothole wrong, I can't be sure. I was falling asleep the morning before, really points out what could happen. And it could have been far worse, the road we were on sees very little traffic.

In retrospect, I probably should have called 911 earlier, but I was busy trying to see how badly he was hurt and trying to get him out of the road if I could. He moved out of the road himself, I wasn't going to move him. Switching from the mindset of moving forward at all costs to emergency response takes a little while.
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Old 06-24-19, 03:55 PM
  #207  
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
I called 911 when it became obvious that he had a bad concussion. Seems like he's okay. He has been released from the hospital. I believe he fell asleep. Of course, he could have hit a pothole wrong, I can't be sure. I was falling asleep the morning before, really points out what could happen. And it could have been far worse, the road we were on sees very little traffic.

In retrospect, I probably should have called 911 earlier, but I was busy trying to see how badly he was hurt and trying to get him out of the road if I could. He moved out of the road himself, I wasn't going to move him. Switching from the mindset of moving forward at all costs to emergency response takes a little while.
Glad to hear he's fine. I know of a rider who crashed had a concussion two weeks ago, he didn't remember anything about the crash. It was on a group ride I wasn't a part of, but they shared a private video of the aftermath in WhatsApp.
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Old 06-30-19, 09:24 AM
  #208  
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I did a half-gravel 200k yesterday. My girlfriend came too and it was a lot fun but hard work. It was up in the Canadian Shield so there was a lot of climbing, I had over 2300m by the end of the ride. A lot of short steep hills, one after the other... on the gravel roads they can’t really blast rock out of the way so they just go over the hill instead. One of the gravel was well driven and other sections looked more like mine tailings. It was quite humid but not unbearably hot. It’s peak fly season right now so stopping in the wooded sections would result in numerous deer fly bites on top of the normal mosquitoes. At last control my phone received a tornado warning as thunderstorm clouds had been building and we ended riding through a heavy downpour with thunder and lightning a few I’m away but the storm also gave us a sweet tailwind and we were rolling close to 30kmh despite all the climbing in the legs. It was a really nice ride through some beautiful and rugged terrain. Climbing on loose sandy gravel takes more work than normal but I had enough low gears to make every climb.
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Old 06-30-19, 04:57 PM
  #209  
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Psychedelic Turtle 300K gets its name from the Turtle Creek Bridge built in 1869 as well as the ride start in Woodstock, IL.

It was a very hot and humid 300K yesterday in northern Illinois/southern Wisconsin. I've had no real opportunity to acclimate to the heat so was apprehensive as to how it would go. I brought my neck wrap (tube of fabric) so that I could fill it with ice at controls. That saved the day for me along with making sure I stayed hydrated. I used both Skratch hydration mix and Tailwind. Both products sit well with my stomach. I supplemented with GF pretzels, Indian crunchy snacks, GF crackers, some Clif blocks, Skratch energy chews and an almond butter sandwich. The only thing I bought at controls besides water was some packets of ham (Carl Buddig) and 2 cokes. I had no stomach issues and my energy levels were good all day.

Unlike my previous 300K at the end of May, I was riding with friends the entire time as well as many miles getting to know some other riders. Two of my friends dropped at mile 85 due to the heat. But my other friend stayed with me through the end. I really appreciated that in the hours after sunset. That was the best night riding I've had yet as the temps were cooler, the skies were clear, and there wasn't any crazy twisting descents in the dark. We saw fireworks, fireflies, and even bats swooping around getting the abundant bugs! I finished in 17:22 as compared to my previous 17:40 time. Much less climbing on this route, but my previous 300K was in temps that I prefer - 50s at the start and low 70s during the afternoon. Both rides had calm winds all day and no rain.

Bonus was meeting up with 2 of my other friends at a control that both the 300K and the 600K route shared. They are still out there and did have to deal with a line of storms that came through this afternoon. Lots of high winds, lightening, and rain. Hope everyone is safe.
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Old 07-01-19, 05:28 AM
  #210  
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Congrats on the 300k! I saw the 600k riders had to deal with a power outage, that must have been fun.

I recently found that I need to ride a 300k this year to earn the elusive unltramega randonneur award (10 SR series). Turns out there aren't too many that are suitable. I was disappointed to see that the DC randos aren't running their fall series. Maybe I'll have to wait for next year. There is one the first weekend of August, not sure I want to do that one.

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Old 07-01-19, 05:36 AM
  #211  
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
Congrats on the 300k! I saw the 600k riders had to deal with a power outage, that must have been fun.
The pictures that were posted this morning appear to show that the power did come back on before the last of the 600K riders finished. @83cannondale needed this 600K to be able to ride PBP. I was thrilled to see that he finished in time. Hope he pops in after he recovers to give us an update on his experience. I did see him and another friend on Saturday as the 300K and 600K shared a control. They were both looking good at that time.

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Old 07-02-19, 01:57 PM
  #212  
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Things I am glad happened before PBP: the clamp that holds my saddle to the seatpost shattered 77 miles into the NER 600k (which I was doing just for fun, so no big deal). It's getting a replacement, and possibly a replacement saddle (though I'll hang onto the old one; the rails *look* fine). Saddle and seatpost both had ~10k miles on them (same as the bike itself).

New seatpost definitely going to be one that doesn't clamp the saddle on with little flanges (instead of the usual metal-sandwich over the rails with bolts), because this was definitely metal fatigue.
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Old 07-22-19, 03:35 AM
  #213  
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Completed a 200k on Sunday, this being the last brevet I'm doing before PBP. Very nice weather for a change, remained cool and overcast for most of the day except for a few sunny stretches. Mostly quiet rural roads, but also lots of rolling with very few flat sections -- kind of a short PBP simulation, I suppose. It's interesting to see all the kinds of bikes that people bring to these shorter brevets; this time around I saw a couple of foldies, one tandem, and one fat bike.

Most notable incident of this ride was being nearly chased by a herd of (bisons? oxens?). We were on a short climb when I noticed them on the other side of the road, separated by metal rails. At first I only thought it was odd how they kept looking at us, then they started to move and sped up to a run towards a gap in the fence behind us, so I thought "oh maybe they're just scared and waiting for us to pass before they cross the road or something."

And then once they got onto the road they started moving uphill -- in our direction. lol. 1-minute interval time, haha. But it seems they didn't really give chase (or if they did, maybe we outran them or they gave up very soon???). What an interesting experience, a lot more unique than being chased by dogs.
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Old 07-22-19, 05:47 AM
  #214  
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my experience with cows is that they can be really curious. I don't think I have been chased by one on a bike though.

We did back to back 200k rides last week. It was really hot and the first 200k had a lot of climbing in the middle section. I cramped pretty badly and didn't think I would finish the first day, but fortunately the course levels out at the end and I limped home. The second day was even hotter. I didn't have any trouble with cramping, I think because there weren't any steep hills. But there was a headwind for 3/4 of the ride, and I got really slow because of the heat. Fortunately, someone gave me water when I asked about stores. When I did get to a store, I bought a bag of ice and that made things a lot better. Also, one of the locals pointed out they had ice cream in the back so I got a giant serving, which was the small size. Don't order a large ice cream cone in Central Pennsylvania, you will not finish it.

I plan on riding a couple of 100k rides a week until I leave for France.
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Old 07-22-19, 07:22 AM
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Yeah, most of my encounter with cows have been pretty much docile. They'll be by the side of the road, just doing their own thing and not bothering us. Two notable incidents though:

One time on a climb I saw a lone, black male cow up ahead by the side of the road. It gave me bad vibes, I just tried to avoid eye contact and just keep going. Further ahead our ride leader had stopped to wait for the rest of the stragglers to pass, he also said he sensed bad vibes from that cow and was waiting to make sure everyone made it up.

Another time, I was with a fast group doing a pretty fast paceline at over 40kmh when we passed a herd of cows. Apparently one of the younger ones got spooked and ran across the road, right through the peloton but surprisingly no one crashed. I didn't even realize what happened until I was looking through my bike footage later on, since the incident happened behind me.
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