Long Distance Competition/Ultracycling, Randonneuring and Endurance Cycling Do you enjoy centuries, double centuries, brevets, randonnees, and 24-hour time trials? Share ride reports, and exchange training, equipment, and nutrition information specific to long distance cycling. This isn't for tours, this is for endurance events cycling

Century vs. Double: what's the difference?

Old 01-13-19, 09:40 PM
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Century vs. Double: what's the difference?

I decided that 2019 - 10 years after my first century - will be the year for my first double.

To keep myself honest, I signed up for an event - it's actually 235 miles (378km), is supported, and has a very do-able 16.5 hour time limit. My longest ride thus far has been 132 miles (unsupported), and I've done a handful of unsupported sub-6 hour centuries and solo centuries.

I know many of you have a ton of experience with long-distance riding, and I'm wondering: what is the difference, to you, between a century and a double...or a 200K and 400K? What are your main considerations with regard to training, nutrition, hydration, clothing, alertness, mental toughness, or anything else I might not have thought about?
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Old 01-13-19, 09:55 PM
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I've only done one but it went well and ended up just being a century that took twice as long. I mean I did the same things I do on a century just until I hit two hundred miles. Ate, drank, sang songs and pedaled along - it was hard and I was glad to be done but like I said it went welll. Prior to the ride my longest recent ride was a 200k about a month before, my longest ever ride was 150 miles the summer before - I didn't do any special training. Just the 200k and my regular riding of up to four hours a few times a month.

The only thing I did different than a normal century was stretch several times an hour from the beginning. I can brute force a century riding with poor posture and pedaling squares but I knew that wouldn't work for 12-16 hours so I made sure that every opportunity I was stretching on the bike while coasting down a hill or fast flat section. Paid more attention to posture and position and made sure to move around hands often.

The ride also started and ended with about a half hour of darkness, I didn't do any prep and didn't need seem to need any for alertness but an additional 35 miles of riding in the dark and I most likely would have added a early evening coffee or something. Transition from day/night after a full day of riding sometimes hits me hard so I prepare now packing caffeine tabs and extra clothes.

I think if you can do a sub-6 hour century you're in pretty good shape, personally I'd bank on just doing the same stuff with the understanding it's an additional hundred miles and there may be boredom/adversity compared to a regular century. I had an MP3 player that was a godsend from mile 170 until the finish.
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Old 01-13-19, 09:58 PM
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  • Finish the first 100 hydrated, fueled, and not out of gas.
  • Have a strong will to finish. Never give up unless someone tells you you're disqualified. Even then, argue.
  • Something may not go well - mechanical or mental or weather or navigation or your stomach. Deal with it, and keep rolling.
  • Don't think about distance to the finish, instead just focus on the next stop.
  • Know that leg cramps aren't the end of the world. Ease off, maybe stop and stretch, and get moving.
  • Ride your own pace, nobody else's.
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Old 01-13-19, 10:59 PM
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One thing that helps is don't put a tight time limit on it. The 16.5 hours is doable if you're in good shape, the course isn't super hilly or windy, you don't fool around long at stops, etc. But a lot of us have done plenty of rides that went slower than that, too. (Typically, 20 hours for a 400k, for example.) Anyway, extra pressure can suck all the fun out of an event.

I'd say the rest is half mental, half pacing. If you finish a century and still feel fine, I'd say you're in a good position for this.
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Old 01-13-19, 11:07 PM
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378km in 16.5 hours? That's actually pretty tight. As comparison, for randonneuring 300km brevets are 20h and 400km brevets are 27h. Depending on how fast you can ride at moderate (e.g. zone 3) pace, time management during stops (for food, rest, refills, toilet break, etc) will be an important factor.

Since it is a supported ride, you probably don't have to worry about carrying much, just bring your usual tools and spare tubes/CO2/etc. Maybe extra spare tubes if you're using non-tubeless clinchers, and if the weather looks iffy, maybe a compact, foldable rain jacket. Spare socks if it pours early into the ride. Maybe a gilet or similar if it gets cold where you ride. But remember to bring lights and expect a bit of night riding though (at 16.5h, probably not much but just in case).

Also if possible get to know the route, even if it is a supported ride you may want to be aware of any nearby conveniences (gas stations, 24-hour stores, etc) in case you get lost, support car goes missing, or whatever.
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Old 01-14-19, 01:15 AM
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Originally Posted by wipekitty View Post
I decided that 2019 - 10 years after my first century - will be the year for my first double.

To keep myself honest, I signed up for an event - it's actually 235 miles (378km), is supported, and has a very do-able 16.5 hour time limit. My longest ride thus far has been 132 miles (unsupported), and I've done a handful of unsupported sub-6 hour centuries and solo centuries.

I know many of you have a ton of experience with long-distance riding, and I'm wondering: what is the difference, to you, between a century and a double...or a 200K and 400K? What are your main considerations with regard to training, nutrition, hydration, clothing, alertness, mental toughness, or anything else I might not have thought about?
Fatigue.

Also, when evening falls after riding all day long, it often feels a whole lot colder than what you might expect.

And you will need to move quite briskly to do 378 km in 16.5 hours. A randonneuring 300K has a time limit of 20 hours, and I've done 300Ks in as little as 15 hours. A randonneuring 400K has a time limit of 27 hours, and I've done a 400K in as little as 21 hours. To do 378 km in 16.5 hours, you'll need to keep up an average speed of 23 km/h ... including breaks.

That's where fatigue can be an unknown factor. The longer you go, the more fatigued you become ... and for most people that means the slower you go. The fatigue level also often means that quick and efficient stops for food/water/toilet etc become less quick and efficient.

Last edited by Machka; 01-14-19 at 01:21 AM.
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Old 01-14-19, 02:14 AM
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Hmmm

I ride pretty slowly.

I can do pretty well for the first 100 miles or so.
By 150 miles or so, the cumulative fatigue really starts adding up.
180 miles.. Whew.

And, then bumping it over 200, and I don't think there is much left in the tank. Just staying on the bike and keeping the pedals turning.

I agree, 235 miles in 16.5 hours sounds a bit short. But, it will depend a bit on whether you are riding with riding companions, or going solo. Draft line?

Breakdowns?

How fast do you typically ride a Century ride?

Take your 100 mile time. Multiply it by 2.35 (for 235 miles), and then add a couple of hours, and you might get close.
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Old 01-14-19, 04:20 AM
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Is this by chance Ride across Wisconsin? If so that's a great ride and very well supported, I did it the first year when it was 175 miles. They even had a sag vehicle to help people fix things like broken chains etc, and gave people tires when a rider trashed one.

Either way, here's my input.

1. Make sure you have a bike with plenty of gearing for any hill on the course so you can pedal up them fairly easily staying aerobic
2. Don't go Anerobic - you will run out of matches
3. Eat before you are hungry and drink before you are thirsty - you should have a timer as a cue to do both and know how many bottles and calories / hour you need to finish. Plan some caffeine - it helps with attention!
4. Draft when you can if you are comfortable with it, but don't try to stick with a group that is riding to hard for you to easily hang with. You should be able to have a conversation without any difficulty breathing all the time.
5. Don't dilly dally at stops - get in and out, 10 minutes tops. If at all possible, skip the first one as that will be jammed up and later ones won't be as bad. If you need to rest do it on the bike, never sit down at a rest stop. Most of the time you will find there are more stops than needed, know how far you can comfortably go between stops and plan in advance which ones you will skip.
6. Get out of the saddle for 30 seconds or so every 20 minutes minimum, and deliberately rotate hand positions from tops, to hoods, to drops and back once in a while.
7. Do some upper body work like pushups and planks if you don't already. Long days over 8 hours are a lot of work for your upper body too, not just your legs.
8. Finishing a double is mostly mental - you will get to a dark place normally about 2/3rds of the way through where you are asking yourself why you are doing this, and coming up with excuses for why you should just quit - IGNORE ALL THAT! Just focus on making the next visible marker on the course, the next turn - look around and enjoy the scenery. Talk with people on the ride. DON'T QUIT! There is no try, there is only do or do not!
9. Keep pedaling, don't quit!
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Old 01-14-19, 07:27 AM
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The longer I do this, the more I realize it all comes down to eating. If your legs feel shot, it means you need to eat. On last week's 200k, my legs felt shot and crampy, and we stopped to eat. After that, I felt great, my legs felt great. I thought I had been eating enough, but apparently not. On a randonneuring 400k, we almost always have an opportunity to eat real food, but I am not sure on a double. Keep in mind that you will be riding when you normally eat lunch and dinner. You may not feel like eating at times, ignore that and eat anyway.
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Old 01-14-19, 08:07 AM
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Some good advice here as usual.

378k in 16.5 hours is pretty fast. I'm normally just under 6 hours for 100 mile training rides, and 20-21 hours for a 400k. You just get way slower as the miles add up. I don't think I could do 378k in 16.5h solo. My only chance would be to find a fast/but-not-too-fast group and do as much wheel-sucking as possible. It's tricky because you don't want to run out of gas either. I took a 400k out too fast last year and had to stop for a nap at 300k. The guys I was riding with finished in 18h, which would still be just off the pace for your ride. I ended up finishing in 21h after a 2 hour nap on a picnic table. Good luck!
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Old 01-14-19, 09:59 AM
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I was thinking Ride Across Wisconsin as well. A friend asked me if I'd like to do it, and I'm not sure I will... but having thought about it, I looked at my Strava records etc. I have ridden distances like 225 miles several times, but only once did I manage it in 16.5 hours. And that was just about 16.5 hours, or maybe a few minutes less. I did stop to take photos a couple times, and a couple times I sat down for rest I didn't really need, so I could probably have done it in 16 hours or so... but yeah, I agree with those who suggest 16.5 hours is pretty tight.

I don't necessarily get slower toward the end of the ride; it really depends on how well I've fueled. If I am cautious starting out, and make a conscious effort to start eating early in the ride and continue to eat (and drink) regularly throughout the ride, I can maintain the same average speed all day long.

For comparison, one of the classic Randonneuring events is the fleche, which is 360 km ridden over a period of 24 hours. That is a very moderate pace... but even so, it's not always an easy ride.
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Old 01-14-19, 04:43 PM
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Thanks for the tips, everyone! It looks like I misspoke: the ride is "only" 225 miles.

Originally Posted by srode1 View Post
Is this by chance Ride across Wisconsin? If so that's a great ride and very well supported, I did it the first year when it was 175 miles. They even had a sag vehicle to help people fix things like broken chains etc, and gave people tires when a rider trashed one.
Yes...it is

Part of what sold me on this ride is that it literally starts a mile from my house. It's also incredibly flat once it gets out of the Driftless (~4300' elevation...less than most local centuries.) A few guys did it last year averaging 20.5 MPH into a headwind; while I will not be riding with that group, I suspect that a fast but not too fast group could make pretty good time!
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Old 01-14-19, 05:37 PM
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I may attempt this if I'm not able to swing PBP this year. I'll be in the gruppetto.
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Old 01-14-19, 06:07 PM
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About a hundred miles.
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Old 01-15-19, 05:03 AM
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Originally Posted by wipekitty View Post
Thanks for the tips, everyone! It looks like I misspoke: the ride is "only" 225 miles.



Yes...it is

Part of what sold me on this ride is that it literally starts a mile from my house. It's also incredibly flat once it gets out of the Driftless (~4300' elevation...less than most local centuries.) A few guys did it last year averaging 20.5 MPH into a headwind; while I will not be riding with that group, I suspect that a fast but not too fast group could make pretty good time!
The start of the ride is where you are doing most of the climbing (near Dubuque) - so don't get carried away on it or you will burn all your matches for the rest of the ride. After the half way point the state starts to flatten out. Depends on how well you do climbing, weight and all, but I would recommend an 11/28 cassette just to make that first part of the route easier. The RWGPS route is completely full of it for max grades - as I remember there were a few good 8% grades at the front, and about 50% more elevation gained than the route indicated. I just checked Strava and I had over 8000 feet of ascent at the end and that was on a 175 mile version. TSS was 490, 6400 calories burned, average speed with stops was 16.5. I struggled a bit at the end due to getting carried away with the climbs at the front because it was sooo much fun.

You should have a blast with it. You get to ride with a bunch of the Trek racing team riders, get your picture taken with Jens (if he shows up) at the start if you want. I got my mug signed by him at the finish too. The rest stops are really well stocked. One dairy farmer that supported the ride had chocolate milk for everyone! I have never seen the level of support on a ride like this before, it is really top shelf - you will feel like you are a pro on the tour.

On Edit : I see it's not starting at Dubuque anymore, but i'm guessing the state is still hillier on the West side than East so the climbing tip still applies, and I still wouldn't believe the predicted climbing - its been off by a factor of 2 on most rides I have done this long.

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Old 01-15-19, 07:17 AM
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Originally Posted by wipekitty View Post
Thanks for the tips, everyone! It looks like I misspoke: the ride is "only" 225 miles.

Yes...it is

Part of what sold me on this ride is that it literally starts a mile from my house. It's also incredibly flat once it gets out of the Driftless (~4300' elevation...less than most local centuries.) A few guys did it last year averaging 20.5 MPH into a headwind; while I will not be riding with that group, I suspect that a fast but not too fast group could make pretty good time!
That is a plus to have the start close.

I try to avoid riding a century ride to get to the start of a century ride.

Headwinds in the flat open areas can be a major drag.
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Old 01-15-19, 08:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Brian25 View Post
About a hundred miles.
Thank you for saving me the time posting this ^^^ LOL

Originally Posted by downtube42 View Post
  • Finish the first 100 hydrated, fueled, and not out of gas.
  • Have a strong will to finish. Never give up unless someone tells you you're disqualified. Even then, argue.
  • Something may not go well - mechanical or mental or weather or navigation or your stomach. Deal with it, and keep rolling.
  • Don't think about distance to the finish, instead just focus on the next stop.
  • Know that leg cramps aren't the end of the world. Ease off, maybe stop and stretch, and get moving.
  • Ride your own pace, nobody else's.
Lots of good advice in this thread. This ^^^ mirrors my advice.

Brief story about my 240-mile gravel race last August (The DAMn):

Prior to The DAMn, my longest single day ride was 150 miles, and I've done a hand full of 140-mile rides. This includes a solo unsupported 140-mile ride on a fatbike, so I felt like my body had the strength/endurance.

With the OP having 16.5 hours, they won't likely deal with some of the night time issues. But as Machka points out the transition to sunset/dark, this is the challenge I was worried about (and might have been self-realized) but that's when I started having mental issues. Luckily, we started at midnight, so we were on the last few miles when dusk set in.

Talking about time, it took me 17.5 hours to ride the 240 miles on mostly flat gravel roads. But with stops and breaks, it took me nearly 21 hours to get to the finish line. In other words, to make the 16.5 hour cut off, keep your breaks as brief as possible. I was riding with two other riders that had the same support driver (my wife). Our group picked up a forth rider (Brad) that was fighting with exhaustion, he couldn't keep himself awake (this is not likely an issue for the OP). We slowed and stopped a ton for Brad until he dropped out at check point 3 -many riders abandoned at check point 3 (185 miles). There were lots of riders fighting with mental games. In hindsight, staying with a group was a big help in the long run, I did much of the pace setting for our group and frequently needed to slow my pace. But having people to talk with kept me focused and kept me from falling into the pitfalls of my own fears/demons. Plus, the course is cue sheet only, so help staying on course was huge (I had 0 bounce miles!).

One additional point, roll out with a calm pace, do not get drawn into the fast groups at the start. It's too easy to dig a hole and never get out of it. For The DAMn this was actually easy keep the pace mellow, we started at midnight in the fog. These conditions kept me and my group at a very manageable pace until the sun rose and burned off the fog

(OK 'brief' might have been a lie)

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Old 01-15-19, 08:56 AM
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Is there transportation back to LaCrosse on Sunday? From the schedule it looks like you have to drive to Green Bay and take the bus back to LaCrosse so you have a car at the finish.
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Old 01-15-19, 10:36 AM
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Originally Posted by kingston View Post
Is there transportation back to LaCrosse on Sunday? From the schedule it looks like you have to drive to Green Bay and take the bus back to LaCrosse so you have a car at the finish.
At this point, there is not transportation back.

There's a lot of La Crosse area riders, so I can probably pay off someone who is coming for spouse collection anyway. If not, it may be a one-way car rental, or maybe I'll just ride back!
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Old 01-16-19, 05:09 PM
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Iím doing RAW, maybe I can help. Driving now.
Will pm.
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Old 01-16-19, 09:58 PM
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Do not pop over the little bumps. Sit and spin everything easily, but stand and pedal for maybe 1 minute every 10 minutes, by the clock. I also drink and eat by the clock. It's easy to get behind and once you're behind, well that's not good.

There's lots of flat and conveniently, almost no climbing. Get comfortable being down in a good aero position for long periods. Really train for that. First 3 riders in a paceline should be in the drops. Hydration is always a big issue for me on the long ones. I use a Camelbak and make sure I pee about every 50 miles. I try not to stop any oftener than that. If I don't pee when I come in, I stay and guzzle water and electrolytes until I do. I eat to hunger, take Endurolytes and try to drink to thirst. If I'm not peeing, I take more Endurolytes. I check my pump, have at least 2 tubes, a patch kit, and a spare tire. As usual, make the stops as short as possible. Do your eating and drinking on the bike. Don't go too hard and then need to rest. If you use a HRM, maybe cap effort at 92% of LTHR, a PM maybe at 75% of FTP. Never go over your cap - just let them go. You'll probably see them again. If my HR seems to drop, I eat. If it seems to go up, I drink. Take 2 pair of gloves, trade them out. Make a ride plan and try to ride to it, OTOH be prepared to abandon it instantly if things don't go to plan.
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Old 01-17-19, 12:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
If my HR seems to drop, I eat. If it seems to go up, I drink.
I haven't heard of this before, could you elaborate?
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Old 01-17-19, 10:40 AM
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Originally Posted by atwl77 View Post
I haven't heard of this before, could you elaborate?
Sure.

On a long ride, if your HR goes down below where it normally is for your RPE or power, the probable cause is low blood sugar. The fix is to eat something, preferably something fast acting, like a squirt of Hammer Gel or a Shot Blok. I don't use packaged gels because of the packaging.

If your HR goes up beyond where is should be for your RPE, especially if it's up quite a bit, the probable cause is dehydration. When you get dehydrated, your blood volume drops which causes your HR to go up to compensate. The fix is to drink. My usual fix is to drink 3-5 swallows every 5 minutes. If things have gotten so far that your forearms are dry, you need to get in the shade while you drink ASAP, you're on the verge of a medical emergency.
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Old 01-17-19, 08:21 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
Sure.

On a long ride, if your HR goes down below where it normally is for your RPE or power, the probable cause is low blood sugar. The fix is to eat something, preferably something fast acting, like a squirt of Hammer Gel or a Shot Blok. I don't use packaged gels because of the packaging.

If your HR goes up beyond where is should be for your RPE, especially if it's up quite a bit, the probable cause is dehydration. When you get dehydrated, your blood volume drops which causes your HR to go up to compensate. The fix is to drink. My usual fix is to drink 3-5 swallows every 5 minutes. If things have gotten so far that your forearms are dry, you need to get in the shade while you drink ASAP, you're on the verge of a medical emergency.
Thanks. That makes sense, especially once you frame it in reference to RPE.
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Old 01-17-19, 08:52 PM
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Originally Posted by wipekitty View Post
At this point, there is not transportation back.

There's a lot of La Crosse area riders, so I can probably pay off someone who is coming for spouse collection anyway. If not, it may be a one-way car rental, or maybe I'll just ride back!
I did that for the Reach the Beach ride, years ago.

Got up early, and rode about 30 miles from my house to the start (Monroe). Then about 150 miles to the beach (Lincoln City), carrying my camping gear. Maybe 180 miles total. I was EXHAUSTED when I crossed that finish line. Banquet of some sort that night, then camped for the night and rode the trip in reverse back the next day. Except, for some reason I didn't quite have the reverse course, and I took lots of shortcuts, so the return trip probably was less than 150 miles total, and not nearly as exhausting (fewer hills).

I still have a lot of problems with what I call the "Morning After" rides. One hard day, and the next day I'm pretty burnt out.

I don't camp a lot (one of the reasons I do a fair number of 150+ mile rides). But, I'm working on getting lighter/better road camping gear.
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