We’ve got another ride in the brevet series completed, now we look forward to the 400K. Some randonneurs say that the 400K is the toughest ride of the series. On the 400K, riders are forced to ride in the dark. Most of the time riders will ride the 400K straight through. I always have, but last season some riders grabbed a nap during the 400K. Riding in the dark requires proper equipment. On the 400K, riders will get more spaced out along the route. It can be tough riding alone in the wee hours of the morning. I often recommend that riders who have not ridden in the dark should first attempt a 24 hour team flèche . The distance is nearly the same, the pace can be a little slower, and riders can motivate and keep others riders awake. I’ve been part of several interesting conversations in the middle of the night, mixed in with some singing here and there. Good luck to the riders attempting Ohio’s Fleche this year. David Buzzee does an excellent job of arranging for, and checking the routes, making sure that they comply with RUSA rules. May 6th and 7th is fast approaching, consider joining or forming a team. The rules are slightly different than the usual brevet. Check out the RUSA website for more information.
This year’s 300K provided some interesting challenges. It was colder than expected and that caught some riders off guard. There was also a “cyclocross” section on the bike trail portion of the ride. Barricades around the repair of a bridge forced riders to “port” their bikes around and over the huge blocks of concrete. Remember that it’s not a “great ride” unless there are stories. This ride had plenty. Being in Amish/Mennonite country, many riders encountered many buggies. Sightings of very young children driving teams of huge draft horses made for some interesting stories. Hazards and obstacles on the route bring up another opportunity to understand some of the rules of randonneuring. If riders encounter a section of the route that requires them to dismount their bikes, that section can simply be ridden around, leaving the course where necessary. I’ve walked around barriers, crossed creeks walking on guard rails, and had cases where the road has completely washed away. It happens. While it might require “bonus miles”, it also provides some pretty interesting or funny stories after the ride. If this happens, call the RBA and inform him of your plans. He or she may be able to supply you with a simple remedy and can warn slower riders of the problem. Rider safety is paramount. Those of you that ride with GPS can usually identify an alternative route, those without GPS can usually find an alternative by going back to the last intersection.
Speaking of calling the RBA, please do so if you choose to abandon. Some days riders just don’t have what they need to complete the brevet. I carry tools, water bottles, and a limited amount of spare parts when I am driving out on the course during the ride. If you can, get to the next control. Get the necessary nutrition and fluids, make any repairs, rest a bit, and then consider whether you can continue or not. If not, perhaps a SAG to the finish can be arranged. A little additional time off the bike may be all that you need along with some proper nutrition. I want you to finish but, more importantly, I want you to be safe. There are other brevets of the same length in the neighboring states. You might meet some interesting new friends, and have a chance to make corrections to problems that forced you to abandon. I have abandoned on some brevets, but enjoyed the opportunity to make up the distance on another region’s brevets. Come on folks, it is just a bike ride. At the end of each brevet, I always jot down a few notes on what worked, what did not work, and where I need to make some changes in my preparation. Be safe out on the roads, and we look forward to seeing you at the flèche or the 400K.