BC Rando 400K…

25 05 2013
Mike in control...

Mike in control…

I helped Mike and Steve run the Hell Week 400K last Thursday. The weather was awesome and the riders put in strong performances which made running controls easy. We enjoyed some lovely sunshine running a control near the Denman Island Ferry and then retreated to the Best Western Hotel in Chemainus where we watched the NHL play offs while waiting for riders to come in for a 280K control plus the final control. Luxury hotel rando volunteering. ;)

I posted some photos to Flikr here.

The start...

The start…

Folks familiar with the BC Rando Club’s Hell Week will notice far too much smiling in these photos. Sadly the excellent weather meant that the legendary level of suffering for this week long Super Randonneur series has not materialized.

Eric on the move...

Eric on the move…

I offered to blast riders with cold water from a garden hose at the 280km control so they could get more suffering value out of their ride, but nobody took me up on it! ;)

Ken doesn't look like hell at 280kms...

Ken doesn’t look like hell at 280kms…





Victoria Populaire 50K…

28 03 2013
Team Raspberry Rocket mid-ride...

Team Raspberry Rocket mid-ride…

Sharon and I tackled the BC Randonneurs Victoria Populaire last Sunday on our Bike Friday Tandem Traveller XL. We decided on the 50K route because Sharon is scheduled for knee surgery this spring and we didn’t want to push things too hard and cause her any issues. With the ride to and from the event we racked up 70kms.

Click on map for more details...

Click on map for more details…

The event was well run as per the usual high standards of the BC Rando Club. It was a cold, but dry day with around 100 smiling riders. The course is easy to follow and has some nice scenery with enough hills to be interesting, but not punishing.

Ride pin...

Ride pin…

We racked up 50.85kms in 2:55 and finished with a Bike Friday Pocket Llama and a Cruz Bike recumbent. That seemed fitting. We had a great day out on the bike and we’ll be back next year to tackle the 100km course once Sharon has new bionic knee… ;)

Our beast of burden...

Our beast of burden…

Our Bike Friday tandem continues to impress with its ease of use and solid performance.  =)





BC Rando Recruitment Poster…

21 03 2013
BC Randos need a few good cyclists... ;)

BC Randos need a few good cyclists… ;)





At the start of the Chili 200K…

4 03 2013
Bikes arriving at the start...

Bikes arriving at the start…

Brynne manning the registration...

Brynne manning the registration…

There is always paperwork to complete...

There is always paperwork to complete…

High visibility...

High visibility…

Control card...

Control card…

Croy HQ getting busy...

Croy HQ getting busy…

Mike pumping up morale...

Mike pumping up morale…

Guido, Jim and Phil...

Guido, Jim and Phil…

One less car...

One less car…

Eager to start...

Eager to start…

Lots of neon...

Lots of neon…

Excellent turnout...

Excellent turnout…

Mike giving out last minute instructions...

Mike giving out last minute instructions…

and they are off...

and they are off…

happy to be rolling...

Happy to be rolling…

ch26

Heading north on Milgrove…

They keep coming...

They keep coming…

and coming...

and coming…

and coming...

and coming…

and coming...

and coming…

and the last of the pack...

and the last of the pack…

My bike feeling lonely at the start...

My bike feeling lonely at the start…

Steve showing off the 200K pin...

Steve showing off the 200K pin…





Crouching Rat 300K…

30 04 2012

300K Map - click for larger...

I rode the BC Randonneurs Crouching Rat 300K on Saturday. I’m uber busy at the moment so no detailled ride report will be forthcoming.

Photo: Eric Fergusson...

Ride Stats:

  • Distance = 301kms
  • Event Time = 17:10hrs
  • Off Bike Time = 2:23hrs
  • Ride Time = 14:47hrs
  • Elevation Gain = 2377m

Busy start...

Ride Links:

Tobin - the Patient Randonneur...

The Good:

  • well organized and executed event
  • started/finished at a bakery with excellent espresso and tasty beer [in that order]
  • varied route with lots of different terrain/scenery
  • Tobin [shown above] hung out with me for most of the ride even though he was capable of a faster time
  • friendly faces and treats at most controls [salted pretzels are my new favourite next to chocolate milk!]
  • got to see a lot of familiar BC Rando Club faces
  • traffic was quite polite/courteous
  • 2 different old men on mountain bikes who decided to race us at various points on the course!
  • chose the right clothing for the day so I was comfortable with minimal fuss
  • wasn’t nearly as destroyed as the 2011 Hatzic Hills 300K
  • ~20kms of gravel to switch things up a bit…=-)

Mr. Lazy...

The Bad:

  • my front derailleur wouldn’t shift to the small ring [there were some uber steep slopes I would have used it on!]
  • lots of steep climbs all packed into the first 150kms left me pretty worn out on the 2nd half
  • 2nd half of the ride started with a long stretch of highway riding into a noticeable headwind – demoralizing!
  • GPS refused to navigate us along the route I had programmed for the last 60kms to the finish [when riding in the dark in the city turn by turn GPS warnings are so nice!]
  • course seemed far harder than it should have been….not sure why, but I heard that from several people who I didn’t ride with so it wasn’t just me!

Sumas Mountain Control...

The Ugly

  • we took a 5km detour off route and climbed the most heinous climb off the day only to find out we were on Old Claybourn Rd instead of Claybourn Rd!!!
  • definitely the most punishing bonus miles I’ve ever done…=-(

BC Randonneurs 300K Event Pin - 2012...

Thanks to Chris Cullum who organized the ride as well as his intrepid band of volunteers who staffed the controls! Another fine BC Randonneur Club event in the books…=-)





Volunteer Bling…

26 04 2012

My 2011 BC Randonneur Volunteer Pin...

I’m no uber volunteer. There are folks in the BC Randonneurs that put in a million more hours to support the club, but I feel like if you want to see rides happen you have to be willing to put in some effort to make that happen. Start with helping out at one ride and see what happens. You’ll likely enjoy it a lot. Then see if you can fit in supporting a second ride. Every little bit helps and if everyone shares the work it all gets done easily without burning out a few generous folks.

Sure that means maybe you don’t ride every event that you might like to, but that’s life. You have to put something in to get something out.

I’m never going to win a volunteer of the year award, but you’ll always see me helping out on the other side of the table at a few rides.





Hills Are Alive 300K…

22 04 2012

Who is in Control here?

I had the pleasure of volunteering at the BC Randonneurs Hills Are Alive 300K brevet yesterday. When the alarm went off at 0430hrs I panicked for a second realizing my bike wasn’t ready for the ride…until I remembered I just had to help out at the event….not ride it! The 0630hrs start was well staffed so I mostly took photos and did my best imitation of a Rando Cheerleader.

Team Croy ready to rumble...

Once all the riders were off I grabbed the stuff I would need to staff a control at ~222kms along the route from our fearless ride leader Mark. I debated getting a nap in, but decided to be productive so I fixed our BBQ after breakfast. Then it was time to head to the control for a 1300hrs opening time. I stopped at the grocery store to stock up on a few items I always like to see when I pull up to a Rando Buffet [chocolate milk, chocolate bars, peperoni sticks, chips, coke, etc...]. Sadly while at the grocery store I forgot to buy any real food for myself…an error that came back to haunt me as the clock ticked past 2100hrs in the evening.

Mark gives the riders a few pointers before they head out...

Another volunteer, Patrick, showed up right at 1pm to lend a hand. As it turned out our first customer wasn’t until nearly 1600hrs so it was good to have some company to kill time.

Steve M shot the video above while he was volunteering on the ride.

Lee, Jim & Phil - far too cheerful at ~120kms...

My second mistake after not bringing any food was to forget my laptop. The Ottawa Senators were playing hockey at 5pm and we were getting a strong WiFi signal from a nearby house. I’m such an amateur sometimes! Luckily we could follow the score on my phone and we won. Go Canada!

The big picture...

The main pack came through between 1730-1900hrs and we did good business at our control. Boost and chocolate milk were very popular as were chips and brownies. Not much interest in cookies, fruit or muffins.

Happy customers...

After our control was the last 80kms which has some very tough climbs that have to be pumped out with very tired legs. Our stop was mostly a morale and resupply stop to keep the riders stoked for the last effort.

Guido gets back in the saddle...

The weather stayed sunny all day and the temps rose to at least a warmish 12 deg C. Ideal conditions for a tough ride like this. Once the main group was through we had one last rider out on the course at night. Not ideal – especially when they are near the edge of the cut off time. He rolled in after 2100hrs just before the control closed and made the smart decision to stop riding. We packed up the control and returned the control supplies to Mark at the finish while Patrick gave our last customer a ride home.

Jeff heads back out...

All in all it was a great day to be outside supporting the ride. As the saying goes – “This shit doesn’t run itself!” and if I want to have rides to participate in I have to support the club when I can. I rolled home around 2230hrs to crack open a cold beer and then pass out.

Ed on the move...

Hills Are Alive 300K links:

Click to enlarge...





100K Un-Populaire!

17 04 2012

Sharon's first 100K ride ever!

Sharon completed her first ever 100km ride on Sunday. We set out from home on a rough approximation of the BC Randonneurs 100K Populaire route. Skipping the start at the University of Victoria we headed for the Mohka House coffee shop to get fuelled up. We then followed the 100K Vic Pop route along the south end of the peninsula to Mattick’s Farm where we stopped for a bathroom break. Cruising up to Sidney we stopped for a bite of lunch before looping around the top of the Saanich Peninsula and dropping down towards home. We got a bit “creative” with the route so we could reach 100kms without heading to the official ride end point at the university.

Ride data - click for bigger...

Although the GPS data above is a bit less than 100kms we did ride the full distance. We just started and stopped recording data on the bike path near our house so as not to give away the exact location of the Lazy Rando HQ!…=-) Overall the ride was fun and a big accomplishment for Sharon. Riding 100kms opens a lot of doors for seeing cool things in our area and makes a reasonable daily ride on a bike tour.

Sharon wondering when I'll put a Brooks saddle on the tandem for her?

We need to tweak the back end of the tandem for Sharon’s long distance comfort. She wants to move the Brooks saddle from her commuter bike to the tandem and then she’ll break in another Brooks on the commuter 10kms at a time. The straight bars and bar ends worked, but we’ll do some scheming to see what other bar options we can come up with that may work better for her. In general our Bike Friday tandem worked awesome for us and was a fun bike to pedal while enjoying the scenery of our island home.

Garmin Forerunner 310XT...

I threw a Garmin fitness GPS on Sharon’s bars so she could keep track of our ride stats. It’s a handy unit because I can install it on any bike in about 10 seconds and I don’t have to bother with a bike computer the other 95% of the time when I don’t care how far or fast I went.

Garmin Etrex Vista Cx...

I had the 100K Vic Pop route loaded into my Garmin mapping GPS up front on my bars to navigate us.

Rando Beer!

The weather was great. It started off cloudy and cool, but ened up sunny and warm as the day progressed. Nice day to be out on a bike…=-)





My Rando Load…

12 04 2012

Clothing...

For the gearheads out there I thought I would share the state of the art in terms of my rando gear. It occurred to me as the recent 200K approached that I should streamline my kit down to the bare essentials, but I decided to stick with a general purpose load that would see me through pretty much any spring brevet on Vancouver Island.

Clothing:

  • wool long sleeve jersey
  • wind vest
  • wool 3/4 tights
  • wool leg warmers under tights [double layer over knees]
  • wool socks
  • SPD shoes
  • fleece gloves
  • ear warmer
  • helmet
  • rain jacket [in bar bag]
  • rain over gloves [in bar bag]
  • rain chaps [in bar bag]
  • rain shoe covers [in bar bag]
  • full finger bike gloves [in bar bag]
  • buff neck warmer [in vest pocket]
  • sunglasses [worn or in vest pocket]

For summer rides I would shift towards wool short sleeve jersey + arm warmers and wool shorts. I’d also skip the fleece gloves. I haven’t done any uber long rides [600K+], but if I did I would probably want a spare set of jersey/shorts/socks/gloves around the mid-point. Ideally in a drop bag so I don’t have to carry them.

I like wool for long events as it adapts to varying temps well and is warmer/comfier wet than synthetics. It also doesn’t get smelly as fast! I’ve had good luck with Ibex & Woolistics products.

Rain chaps are not as protective as rain pants, but vent better and are easier to use. I’m not likely to start a ride with all day rain forecast, but if I did I would likely get some rain pants. I would also add a waterproof helmet cover.

My Boulder All Road 650B rando bike...

Bike:

  • Boulder All Road 650B low trail rando bike
  • Grand Bois 42mm Hertres 650B tires
  • 48/36/26 x 11-32 gearing [I use only 36T front ring 99% of the time]
  • Honjo full fenders with mudflaps
  • SON dynohub + Edelux light + Planet Bike Superflash rear light
  • Selle Anatomica saddle
  • Nitto Noodle bars
  • Berthoud bar bag on a Nitto rack and Berthoud seatbag
  • frame pump + bell
  • Garmin Etrex Vista CX GPS
  • Cateye Strada bike computer
  • 2 water bottles

Berthoud bar bag on Nitto rack...

Gear:

  • Petzel e+lite [clipped to helmet visor]
  • multi tool
  • tire levers [seat bag]
  • patch kit [seat bag]
  • 2 spare tubes [seat bag]
  • 1 spare tire [seat bag]
  • 2 fibre-fix emergency spokes [seat bag]
  • chain tool & spare quick link [seat bag]
  • spare set of batteries for GPS
  • pen and ziplock bag for control card
  • camera
  • cellphone
  • credit card + $20
  • ID + health insurance info

View of Berthoud seatbag...

Food:

  • dilute Kool Aid in 2 water bottles [resupply along route with water + Gatorade mix]
  • 2 sandwiches
  • 2-3 packs of shot blocks energy chews
  • 2-3 energy bars
  • carry $20 + credit card for food along route
  • eat at each control and grab water

If there are few controls and little resupply along route I will pack more water and food.

Lazy on the move...

This isn’t the most minimal nor the most excessive amount of rando gear folks carry. I think it strikes a good balance of being versatile and dealing with likely situations without needlessly weighing me down. It also handy to carry the same basic load on all brevets so you can just grab your bike and know you have what you need.





Victoria Populaire – 70K!

26 03 2012

Team 20" at the end of the ride...

Sharon and I rode the 50K route at the BC Randonneurs Victoria Populaire Sunday. Add in ~20kms riding to/from the event and we rode farther than ever before on the tandem. Sharon also rode her longest ever distance on a bicycle. Obviously 70kms is not going to impress folks that ride 1200km events, but considering Sharon didn’t ride a bike when I met her this is a great achievement. Even better Sharon’s talking about riding the 100km route on our own this spring. Our distance riding progress may be slow, but it’s steady…=-)

50K Route Map - click for bigger version...

We met up with Aaron and Laura at the start. They were riding Dahon folding bikes so we were all rolling on 20″ wheels. We were joined by Brian and Mike on their big wheel bikes. The day was sunny and there were something like ~140 riders joining us on the course. The organizers did a great job staffing the controls and the route was well chosen for pleasant cycling.

Rider organizer Dave M giving the troops last minute instructions...

We let the majority of riders start in front of us so we could enjoy a relaxed pace around the course. I had my gps running as well as the course cue sheets. Between the two we managed a first ever zero bonus KM event by staying on course the whole time!

The intrepid members of our 50K posse at control #2...

The tandem proved comfortable for this distance and we had no issues cranking up even the steeper climbs on the course. I’m more and more impressed with our Raspberry Rocket on every new adventure. Thanks Bike Friday!

Sharon taking a breather along the route and enjoying the views...

Thanks to the BC Randonneurs for putting on a great ride for those riders not quite ready for a 200K brevet. Thanks also to Aaron, Laura, Sharon, Brian and Mike for riding with us…=-)

Mr.Lazy happy they have cookies at the control!

Victoria Populaire 2012 photos:





Victoria Populaire…

24 03 2012

Click on image for details...

We’ll be riding the Victoria Populaire tomorrow. You should as well if you live within striking distance of our fine city. Post ride we’ll be headed out for beer and snacks at a pub.





2012 BC Rando Schedule…

31 10 2011

My Boulder Bicycle All Road...

The BC Randonneurs have released their 2012 schedule. It looks great with quite a few shorter summer rides which makes me happy. I always found it funny that my rando season essentially wrapped up just as the weather started being nice. With 200km and 300km events in the summer I hope to get a few more rides in and enjoy Vancouver Island at the peak of its cycling season.

My goals this year are modest:

  • Victoria Populaire – 25 March [with Sharon on our Bike Friday tandem 50km route for sure and if Sharon's up for it we'll do the 100km ride]
  • Van Isle 200K – 7 Apr
  • Van Isle 300K – 21 Apr
  • one 200K in the summer
  • volunteer at 1 or 2 events

Yup – not an overwhelming set of goals. No new distances and not too many events. I plan on defending my 2011 Lantern Rouge Championship Cup.

You may be wondering why so few rides and nothing more than 300K? Well in the past when I have set more ambitious targets and not achieved them it felt like failure even though I have yet to DNF a brevet. I’m old enough to know that if I don’t do something after 2 or 3 tries than it’s because I don’t want to do it or I can’t do it. I know I can ride a 400K for example, but I haven’t made that happen which leads me to believe that despite wanting to achieve the goal of completing a 400K I don’t want to ride 400K if that makes any sense!

So my way around that is to stick with goals I know I will achieve and enjoy. When May 12th rolls around and the Van Isle 400K is being held if I’m up for it I can always jump on my bike and ride it and if not I haven’t failed to meet a goal and I can spend that weekend kiteboarding or MTBing or whatever I’m passionate about at the time.

I’m rando-lite and proud of it!…=-)





Edinburgh Preston Edinburgh 600km

6 07 2011

Another great rando video…=-)





Brynne’s Rando/Commuter…

8 06 2011

Freshly installed Velo Orange metal fenders...

Mike C swung by with his lovely wife Brynne’s rando/commuter rig for some fender love. We installed a set of Velo Orange smooth metal fenders on her Soma Double Cross.

Beautifully smoooooth....=-)

Like my previous VO fender installs they went on pretty easily. We had to scrounge some scrap metal and DIY a rear bracket to get the rear fender low enough on the wheel for a nice fender line. The front fender went on pretty well, but next time I have a moment I’ll DIY up a bracket to lower it down a just a tad.

Next up some mudflaps!

I’d also like to fabricate some mudflaps and get them installed when I get a chance. Mike was mentioning that this bike will be seeing some other upgrades like: a new dynolight, new stem and new bars. This a pretty sweet ride and with a bit of new bling will be even nicer…=-)





Ripple Rock 600K Start

29 05 2011

Mike C gives the riders a pre-start briefing...

I helped out at the start of this weekend’s BC Randonneur Vancouver Island 600K. 

A bent and a bunch of cool rando DFs...

I saw my first Vancouver Island rando recumbent. A Barcroft being ridden by Luke Galley. There were also 3 Berg custom bicycles in the pack.

Socializing at the start...

I showed up at the start to see the riders off and then ran a secret control early on in the ride. That allowed me to be useful and still get away to Nitnaht Lake to kiteboard this weekend.

Luke's Barcroft rando bent...

The weather looked great for the start. I hope the riders have a fun weekend on the road.

Riders' eye view of the start...

This is my second 600K of the year – without actually riding a bike! Next year I’ll have to enter the event…=-)

Rando-fied Kuwahara...

I’m planning on heading over to the finish to see the riders come in when I’m back from Nitnaht Sunday.





The remains of the rando year?

21 05 2011

My gang colours...

Back at the start of March I plotted out a brevet schedule for 2011. So far I’m mostly on track except that I replaced one 300K with a different one and I missed the Highway to Hell 400K. My goal for this year was to ride a 200K, 300K & 400K on my new upright rando bike. Keeping in mind all my previous brevets were on a recumbent so even a 200K is new territory on DF [diamond frame]. I’m pretty happy with how things are going so far. I’m comfortable on my bike. I’m navigating the courses well enough. My equipment is reliable and performing well. My fitness sucks, but I know what the solution to that problem is even if I don’t want to utter the “T” word at the moment.

Looking forward my plan is to ride the following:

  • Nanimo Populaire 100K – 25 June
  • Make Up Brevet 400K – 16 July
  • Fall Islander 200K – Sept 11
One fly in the ointment is the likelihood I’ll have to travel to Ontario for work most of July. So I may miss the 16 July 400K. I won’t know until July comes around so I’ll just keep planning on riding it and see what happens. If I can’t participate my back up plan is to drive to Port Hardy at the north end of Vancouver Island and ride the ~450kms back home with a hotel sleep stop in the middle. Not a 400K brevet, but I wanted to tour the island anyways and it will give me a handle on riding a 400K so that next year I can keep my progress rolling and try my hand at a 600K.




Hatzic Hills 300K…

4 05 2011

A few of the 47 riders at the start...

Let me start by saying we achieved our goals:

  1. getting a hotel room without an insect infestation
  2. not crashing
  3. completing the ride within the time limits
  4. having fun most of the time
On the other hand I think we found the limits of our un-training program at about 200K. One of the reasons we decided to ride the Lower Mainland 300K was to give ourselves more time to prepare. Unfortunately we didn’t really take advantage of that time for training. So last Friday as I got ready for the trip to the mainland I wasn’t sure how things would go. Sharon came along to keep us company and to visit some friends while we were off on the ride. The ferry and drive to our hotel near the start in Burnaby took longer than expected so our sleep time shrank to less than 5hrs. I hadn’t slept well the night before so I wasn’t happy when the alarm went off! On the plus side Sharon had booked the hotel and it was insect free which meant we could at least enjoy the limited amount of sleep we managed to get.

Deirdre & Bob - Ride Organizers and David K registering riders - photo: Colin F......

I took a quick shower to wake up and started to wonder if I had packed the QR part of my front bag’s decaleur. It turns out I forgot the safety pin that secures it, but I brought the critical bit that holds the bag on and I managed to DIY a retention clip out of a thin key chain ring. Note to self pack the bike completely rigged so that I can’t forget stuff like this again and carry a spare safety pin in the bag if I lose one while on the ride. Panic averted we rode the very short distance to the end point at the Knight and Day 24hrs Restaurant for breakfast. I was feeling pretty grim while eating and wasn’t able to finish as much of my food as I would have liked. I was hoping that the sunrise would lift my spirits.

Control #1 at ~38km...

We rolled over to the start control and were met by a wide array of cool bikes and brightly dressed BC randonneurs. That already made me feel better. Besides the usual array of rando rigs I saw a Moulton and a Bachetta recumbent. With the sun rising and our cue sheets/control cards in hand we rolled out with the other 45 riders for the ~40km trek to the first control. Most of this leg of the ride was through urban jungle which is something I’m not used to living in Victoria. We rolled along at a brisk clip with the main group. At one point a section of 2″ x 6″ wood appeared suddenly into view too quickly for me to avoid it so my front tire took a glancing blow. At first I wasn’t sure if I was going down, but was sure glad when I didn’t and then glad I didn’t flat. Riding in a group has benefits in terms of drafting, but the downside is how hard it is to see debris/pot holes. We arrived at the first control quickly and Aaron was the voice of reason suggesting we let the main group go and ride our own pace from here on in.

Team Rando Tractor in the middle at Control #1 - photo: Dan McGuire...

The next leg was about another 40kms and quickly became more rural and had far less traffic on it. We had a lot of fun rolling along through this section of the lower mainland. Temperatures stayed cool and so far the sun hadn’t really made an appearance as promised by the weather forecast. OTOH it wasn’t raining so that was okay with us! There was some really great climbing and descending narrow windy country roads just past the dam we crossed over. The last bit of riding before the control was a series of rollers that took us steadily uphill to the welcome sight of the BC randonneurs control sign.  The ride organizers [Deirdre and Bob] had some hearty soup on the go and some chairs for us to rest on inside. It’s amazing what a bit of food, a bit of comfort and a splash of water/soap on your face does for your energy levels.

Aaron still smiling @ Control #2...

Leaving Control #2 we rolled downhill most of the way to HWY 7. That was fun, but knowing we had to come back to the same spot after the long run out to Control #3 at the Johnson Slough Rest Area made me not so stoked for the return trip! No point worrying about that now right? The sun had come out. We had some nice downhills and then a tailwind on HWY 7 so all was good. We spent most of our afternoon riding eastbound on HWY 7 and then returning back on the same route in the early evening. That made navigation pretty easy, but it also meant riding next to a lot of traffic on a road with average to poor shoulders. I was very happy to have wider tires on my bike as we hammered over cracks and potholes when we couldn’t ride in the traffic lane. Not my favourite part of the ride for sure, but it would have been better had there not been a bunch of assholes on Harley Davidson motocycles who purposely buzzed super close to us with their deafeningly loud bikes for no apparent reason other than to affirm that they were indeed assholes. I’ve been a motorcyclist for decades of my life and I know there is no reason you need to ride at the edge of the white line cruising the highway – especially when you see a group of cyclists riding on the narrow shoulder dodging debris and pot holes. Well unless you want to be an asshole! The first time they did it was unpleasant and a bit scary as each bike got closer and closer to us - literally less than a foot away from our elbows. The second time a bit later they forced us to ride through a big swath of wood debris that ripped Aaron’s front fender out of the fork crown. Before we get to the fender I will say there were lots of other motorcyclists out on HWY 7 that day who were riding Japanese bikes that were reasonably quiet and kept a safe distance from us. To those bikers I say thanks!

Front fender carnage...

So as we are cruising down HWY 7 at a high rate of speed on the shoulder suddenly it looks like a logging truck got hit with a RPG and spewed large bits of bark and wood all over the place. Normally we’d just ride on the left side of the white line for a few seconds to get around it, but unfortunately some more of those morons on their insecure motorbikes swooped in for another round of harass the cyclist. So we plowed through the wood. I didn’t see Aaron behind me in my mirror so I stopped and went back. He was doing something to the front wheel of his bike and I was concerned he had gone down in the wood. The good news was he was fine and hadn’t crashed, but the bad news was some wood had jammed in his fender and sheared the fork crown mount and then jammed the whole thing forward under the fork. I’m amazed he didn’t endo, but the Rando Gods were obviously smiling on us that day! In another stroke of luck I had just upgraded my multi-tool before the ride and the new tool had the wrench size we needed to unmount the fender which was now useless.
We got Aaron’s bike rolling again and left the fender by the side of the road for retrieval on the way back down Hwy 7. We had been feeling pretty good up to that point, but somehow we never got back on top of things from then on. Luckily the route was downhill and we still had a tailwind to the Control #3 at ~150kms. Of course that meant it was uphill with a headwind on the way back! Gary B was at the far control with his travel van and new berg rando bike. I have been wanting a travel van myself and I’ve never had a Ti bike so I was envious of both fine machines! We didn’t stay long at this control as I think we both sensed our lack of training was going to make the return hard and we should start pedaling ASAP.

Team Rando Tractor hard at work on a climb - photo: Colin F...

We didn’t get far before I managed to get us onto the wrong highway and when we tried to discuss the way back on route we were both confused enough that communicating was a challenge. So we laid on the ground for a few minutes!!! before retracing our path back to Hwy 7. Gary saw us going backwards and stopped to ensure we weren’t totally lost and headed for Kamloops.
Gary told us about a cafe down the road that had good food and about his secret weapon [Coke! - the drink...] We decided to try both! After a rando burger and a coke I felt better and we did our best to fight the tailwind and uphill grade back to Control #4 at ~220kms. Not much to say about the return run back down Hwy 7 we got a bit of rain [but nothing terrible] and we didn’t have any Harley Davidsons strafing us. We took turns blocking the wind for the other guy and rotated through to keep our speed above walking pace. We were both happy and sad to reach the turn off of Hwy 7 and down the final stretch to the control. On one hand the quiet country roads were much more pleasant to ride than the edge of a busy highway and the headwind wasn’t a problem in the trees, but the terrain was uphill pretty much the whole way. We stopped at a gas station to get a Coke and snack a bit. Then we got down to the business of being Rando Tractors and chugged along the route. I think on balance I prefer uphill and scenic vs. flat and busy routes.

Bob B - photo: Dan McGuire...

When the control appeared down the road we were happy to take a break and chat with Deirdre and Bob B. We were a little suspicious that he was trying to deny us of our well deserved Lantern Rouge honours, but when he left before us we could relax secure in the knowledge we would not be denied! With only 80kms left I knew we’d make it before the time ran out. I just wasn’t sure how grim it would get before all was said and done. I kept eating and drinking as much as I could knowing that was the only thing that would stop us dead in our tracks. We had accumulated 5 bonus kms by this point and I was aware that we could ill afford any more simply due to the fact our morale couldn’t take the pummeling of extra pedaling. Before we left the control Deirdre kindly took Aaron’s rogue fender for us so he could ride without it strapped to his rack bag – thanks! We geared up for night riding with reflective gear and switched on our lights. Then we set off on the last leg of our mainland rando adventure.

Aaron close to the finish...

Aside from a couple crazy steep hills that we walked we made decent time [for us!] back towards the finish through some lovely country side with the sun setting. My GPS’s maps are old and a bunch of the route was essentially not programable, but I knew we’d appreciate having some navigational assistance on the last leg so I had her ready to roll. I still used the cue sheet as my main resource, but it was nice to get confirmation of what I thought the cue sheet was saying as there were times when my eyes and brain weren’t cooperating 100%! Getting into the city was good for morale as we knew we were close to the end and we had the back up of services if we needed to stop and eat/take a break. I never appreciate gas stations in my day to day life as much as I do on a brevet! I really like night riding so I had fun cruising through the city by headlight. Well at least until the last 15kms or so. We were both starting to lose the plot in the last few kms. I knew we’d make it, but there were a couple times when we just needed to sit down by the side of the road and not be on the bike!

Info control photo so we couldn't DNF due to brain fog!

I can assure you we were stoked to get to the information control ~7km from the finish. In our mentally challenged state we didn’t trust ourselves to correctly answer the skill testing question so we documented the mailbox sign in question with a photo and also took a photo of the nearby bike overpass to back up our claim of being there if something went wrong. We muddled along the last few kms. Deirdre drove out and met us to make sure we hadn’t fallen asleep in a ditch. It was nice to see a familiar face and know the finish was just a few turns away.

Eric F - photo: Dan McGuire...

Thanks to Deirdre and Bob for organizing a fun ride and being patient with us Rando Tractors as we chugged away slowly over the course. That is one of the benefits of being slow – you get savour the course for much longer than the fast folks!…=-)

Hatzic Hills 300K Map - click on image for full size...

Ride Stats:
  • Total Distance = 307kms
  • Time Riding = 14.4hrs
  • Total Event Time = 18.25hrs
  • Time Off the Bike = 3.9hrs
  • Climbing = ~3000m
Our lack of training was painfully obvious as this event progressed. However, I subscribe to the philosophy that training is like voting. You don’t have to do it, but if you chose not to don’t complain about the results! Having said that I did come up with a positive aspect to our slacker approach to brevets this year. By not training and riding slowly with tired bodies and foggy brains we are in fact training for future events when things go off the rails and we need to deal with adversity. We also got in a lot more night riding than other folks because we were out there for so long. Wow that almost makes it sound like a cunning plan!…=-)

Click on image for map and route info - note ride stats are not mine!

The Good:
  • I had fun [most of the time!]
  • my bike worked well
  • I was comfortable the whole time
  • wool clothing was well suited to ride temperatures
  • SON & Edelux lighting was great
  • Petzel e+Lite micro headlamp clipped to my helmet’s visor in red solid mode was good for reading cue sheet in the dark
  • it was good to have company during low points of the ride
Aaron did a great job tackling a PR for distance in challenging terrain. The hardest part of a brevet for me is the mental part and his positive attitude in the last 3rd of both events we’ve done together has been very helpful. He’s got some plans for a 650B Kogswell and/or VO Polyvalent rando rig to get his fit dialed in and make carrying stuff a bit easier. We’ve been talking about doing rando inspired light tours around Vancouver Island that will get some more miles in our legs without having to use the “T” word…=-)~

Colin & Alex Ride Volunteers - photo: Dan McGuire...

The Bad:
  • the travel & resulting lack of sleep before the event wasn’t great
  • I’ve got to take a look at what I’m eating and see if I am eating enough as I had several low points that seemed like they were diet related
  • it’s clear that we can’t count the first 150K of a 300K as a training ride for the last 150K!
  • not training means we’re slow and being slow means a harder ride simply due many extra hours on the bike

You can tell this was early on as there are riders behind us! - photo: Colin F...

Looking ahead I would like to get in a 400K this year, but I’m not sure the Vancouver Island event in two weeks is the one I want to tackle. Aaron is not interested in riding a 400K this year and without the morale boost of another Rando Tractor I’m not sure how I would feel when I hit 300K+ on the course. I’ll give it some thought and also look at events in July when my fitness will be a bit more respectable. I’ve volunteered to help out with the Van Isle 600K Mike C is and his wife Brynne are running at the end of May. That way I’ll have two 600Ks under my belt in 2011…lol…even if I didn’t actually pedal a bike during either event!

Strategy planning - photo: Colin F...

Thanks to every one involved in organizing and running the event. Also thanks to everyone we rode with/near – it was fun! I’m impressed with the BC Randonneurs they do a awesome job putting on brevets. Also special thanks to Dan McGuire and Colin Fingler for taking photos…=-)





Thanks Mike!

24 04 2011

Mike on his Soma ES...

It turns out I have a rando neighbour. Mike is a member of the BC Randonneur Club and lives about 4 blocks away from me. He was nice enough to show me around some local roads recently which was a lot of fun. The Victoria area has some great riding, but I am only just scratching the surface and haven’t really explored many of the good routes. He took me on a 60km ride out to Metchosin. Since he is faster/fitter than me I was concerned I wouldn’t be able to keep up, but Mike was considerate and found a pace that was a nice relaxing spin for him and kept it below my puke/cry threshold….=-)

Cruising the backroads of Metchosin...

I had a chance to admire his sweet Soma ES rando rig. The paint is really pretty in the sunshine and of course I am a fan of the hammered metal fenders…=-) This was dangerously close to being a “training ride”. I might have my team slacker membership revoked if I am caught doing any training!

Mike and his lovely wife Brynne have a Cannondale tandem so who knows – maybe we’ll get some double tandem trouble riding in this summer?





Eau de Hell 600K 2011

16 04 2011

Rando styling and smiling at 373km...

Martin Williams was organizing the Eau de Hell Week brevet series for the BC Randonneur Club out of lovely Chemainus BC. Having organized many [non-cycling] events in the past I know how much work they can be so I wanted to help out at some of the brevets this year. Clubs only work if people are willing to put effort into the organizing side of things as well as the participating side. Not having a clue what to do Martin was very generous with his time getting me pointed in the right direction and keeping me on track all night. I wasn’t as much help as someone who had more experience, but now that I have seen what’s supposed to happen I’ll be fully effective next time.

A welcome sight inside the lobby of the Best Western...

I showed up in Chemainus at 6pm on Thursday and left around n0on Friday with 2-3hrs of downtime sleeping in my truck. I’ve spent many nights awake in the military, climbing and at the odd rave, but I never fail to be amused with how bizarre things get when a bunch of sleep deprived folks get together in one spot trying to get something done. I won’t try and recall many names or events from my shift since frankly I’m a bit confused about what went down precisely! With 19 riders on the course things got spread out and we rarely had more than 4 folks in the control at any one time. That was a good thing as nobody including the staff was at 100% by 3am…=-)

I kept it simple and worked off a mental check list:

  1. sign control card [failure to do so could result in a DNF]
  2. keep an eye out for safety concerns [physical, mental & equipment]
  3. offer and facilitate food [riders should sit and rest as much as possible]
  4. be enthusiastic and supportive without affecting the rider’s game plan [ie don't suggest getting a warm hotel room and sleeping if they want to push on]
  5. helping with any logistics of getting and out of the control efficiently

Taking a well deserved break...

The ride to that point had been very challenging with extremely high winds, heavy rains and cold temperatures. From what I could see it was the cold temperatures that were really taking their toll on the riders. A few came in looking hypothermic and I was freezing just spending 10-15mins in the parking lot of the hotel. We did our best to get warm food and a warm beverage into every rider. Some riders were using the hotel for a sleep stop so they had a hot shower, changed their clothes and got some sleep. Others just had some food and pushed on quickly – hardcore!

Two more brave riders roll out into the cold...

I was very impressed with the positive attitudes most of the riders were displaying. Considering the crazy conditions they took it all in stride and were having fun sharing in the adversity. A few riders had to DNF – mostly due to the wet/cold temperatures. As I am learning it’s one thing to ride wet through a 10 deg C night and to ride wet through a 0 deg C night. Eating, resting in a warm spot, and changing out of damp clothes were key ways to deal with the situation. Having a very comfortable well stocked control just past the halfway point was very important. Martin did a great job organizing the control so that everything we needed was on hand all night and the Best Western was very generous in providing such a nice space right by the front door of the hotel.

Food and drink...drink and food...

When I offered to help Martin told me that it would be a great opportunity to meet some nice folks and learn lots about randonneuring. He was right on both accounts. The riders were very nice to deal with given their heroic efforts – not a cranky person in the bunch. Clearly this was a select group of successful riders so I paid lots of attention to their bikes, what they wore, how they managed their time and what they did at the control. I definitely have a better appreciation for the challenges of longer brevets and what to keep an eye on. I’ll want to have a hotel room and spare clothes at the mid-point of a 600K. I’ll also do my best to get in as early as I can and then sleep until dawn. I think that would have the biggest bang for my buck in terms of time vs. energy/morale levels.

Martin and 1st place rider Ian F...

Martin deserves a big thank you for his extremely dedicated efforts without which Eau de Hell Week would not be possible. All the riders who these brevets are amazing athletes - great job guys & gals. Ian’s performance on what ened up being a 670K ride for him is hard to comprehend. He was close to the finish when he realized he had made an error and earned himself 70 bonus KMs – heart breaking. He could have thrown in the towel and asked for a lift to the end, but instead he got back to the route and finished it – still first by a wide margin. He rode 1500kms+ this week in 61hrs!

I had fun helping out on this ride and if I don’t ride the Van Isle 600K in May I’ll volunteer for that ride that Mike & Brynne Croy [my neighbours as I recently found out!] are organizing.





Eau de Hell Week 600K Bikes…

15 04 2011

Santana tandem...

I pulled a 12hr volunteer shift helping to run the 373K control on the BC Randonneurs Eau de Hell Week 600K. I snapped a pic of every bike I could. Sorry about the lighting and the angles.

A lot of the bikes had Edelux dyno lights on them like this Co Motion...

Edelux...

Edelux...

Nicely equipped Talbot...

Edelux...

A carbon Trek...

Waterford...

Berg...

Coho...

There were quite a few front bags and several were Berthouds...

Coho again...

Marinoni....

Another Berg...

Mystery rando bike...

Merlin...

Another Marinoni...

A Gunnar...

Surly LHT in the middle...

Rodriguez with S&S...

Hugh Porter...

Kogswell PR....

Cannondale...

Ritchey....

C

First place rider's Cervelo...





Cowichan Lake 200K…

10 04 2011

One member of an infestation...

You might be wondering why this post does not start with a gratuitous rando bike porn shot? Let me assure you I wish it did! The start of the BC Randonneurs Tour of the Cowichan Valley 200K was in lovely Chemainus BC a little over an hour from Victoria. Aaron and I decided to drive up the night before so our morning wouldn’t start so hellishly early and so that any problems getting to the start could be resolved the night before. I was going to book a room at the Best Western, but my cheap side kicked in and I ended up booking a room at the Fuller Lake Motel for about 50% of the cost. My rationale was that we’d hardly even use the room as we were getting up at 5am so why spend the big $$ on a hotel room? I started to get a bad feeling when the BC Randonneurs Eau de Hell Week website noted that the Fuller Lake Motel was very budget.

The trip to Chemainus was uneventful [one of the few things this trip that was!]. The motel looked fine if somewhat old fashioned. Aaron and I got our stuff to the room and cracked a couple carbo loading beers. We chatted a bit about the next day’s ride. Sadly that’s when Aaron asked me – “What do we do if it’s pouring rain in the AM?” If I knew Aaron for longer and if this wasn’t his first brevet I would have told him the truth – “You are going to fake an ruptured appendix and I’ll rush you to a hospital [aka the hot tub at the Best Western!". Instead I lied and said - "We'll we've come all this way we should just start and see what happens." Typically divine retribution for one's sins is not so immediate, but that's right around the time we noticed giant flies crawling out of the cracks, from under the spare blanket, etc... Not a couple mind you - a veritable swarm. I grabbed the only hard cover book in the room and went to work using my hard earned fly slaying skills I've honed on trips to Mexico and India. I got a bit concerned when a full on whack against a hard surface with the New Testament did not kill these flies. It often took a few hard hits to finish them off - not good. I managed to fit in a couple rest breaks to sip beer, but each time a new horde would emerge! Aaron started to wonder what was behind the closed curtains. Before he could open them I screamed at him - "For the love of God don't open them!" - fearing an onslaught of biblical proportions...=-) Eventually we whittled down the flies to solo scouting incursions and we decided we best get some rest.

Getting signed in at the start...

My 5am alarm came far too early. If I ever organize a brevet and the rules allow it the start will be at 10am and will take place at a restaurant will a lovely all you can eat breakfast buffet. I’d rather sleep in and end up with a bit of night riding on a 200K than get up uber early and finish in the daylight. As you can imagine we got the hell out of the Fuller Lake Motel as fast as we could. Note to self stay at the Best Western next time! We parked the truck in Chemainus and rode to the start just as the Dancing Bean Cafe opened. I got my cue sheet and control card quickly then settled into the serious task of breakfast and tea drinking. The food, drink and service was excellent at the Dancing Bean Cafe – highly recommended should you find yourself in Chemainus.

The Dancing Bean rando party...

There were over 30 riders signed up for this event so the start was quite lively with cool bikes leaning against every available surface and all manner of cycling apparel on display. One of my favourite parts of a brevet is geeking out on other people’s bikes. Although it’s easy to get locked into a specific idea for what makes a great randonneur bike clearly lots of people are successful on many very different bikes.

Guido and his lovely Kogswell PR...

I met Guido outside the cafe and we chatted about 650B bikes. He was trying out the Pari-Moto 650B event tires I was interested in and I am looking forward to hearing from him what he thought of them. He rides a sweet 2nd generation Kogswell PR so I hooked him up with Aaron who is thinking of building a 650B rando rig based on a Kogswell PR frame.

Getting ready to rumble...

Eventually the appointed hour arrived and we rolled out a minute or two behind the main group. The first part of the ride was quite pretty with a number of PBP-style rollers. It was fun bombing down one side and getting most of the way up the next one before pedaling over the top and repeating the process. I had no problem riding low on my drops and over taking folks on the downhills. I want to attribute that to my bike’s fast rolling tires and my tight aero tuck, but it is just possible that it was due to the all you can eat Greek buffet we hit on the drive up to Chemainus the night before…=-) There was more funky riding at the start as we watched more than one group of 4 riders block a whole lane chatting obliviously with cars behind them trying to pass. I’m all for cyclists’ right to use the road, but that’s gotta involve consideration for cars and peds. Eventually we got to the middle of the ride and hung with a few groups that were going our speed. As I have said before I’m stoked to ride brevets in BC because they aren’t solo TTs!

Even with the climbing our avg speed on the first 50kms was close to 25kph so we ate up the distance fast and were happy to see the first control so we could use the bathroom and adjust gear that is never quite right off the start. Chatting with organizers of the previous weekend’s 200K I mentioned that my fitness wasn’t great and that I’d have to work on not being lantern rouge [last rider]. I was to regret those words later!

Aaron enjoying a few minutes off the bike at the first control...

I was a bit concerned we might be going out too hard so I kept a close eye on my effort levels and everything seemed quite moderate so I figured we might as well take advantage of the good form while we had it. Refreshed we hit the road again and continued to pedal well. The forecast was similar to the previous weekend’s 200K so I scanned the sky occasionally to see if the rain was about to fall. I hoped we could at least get to 100kms before the rain started. Mentally everything is easier to deal with after halfway in a ride. So far so good. The sky was overcast, but it wasn’t looking evil at this point. Happily my GPS was working well and the routing had been perfect so far. I still overshot one turn by 20m as I confirmed the directions, but we were back on course with only a couple seconds lost. Since Aaron hadn’t ridden this distance before I warned him that the 3rd  50km section was going to be the hard one and that once at the last control we’d have no problems blasting home with the smell of hot food and beer on the wind. I was to later regret how accurate these words were!

RIP my lovely Marmot glove - thanks for saving my skin!

The roads we were on were quite nice with low traffic and although they were rolling there had only been two steep sustained climbs so far and only one of them was really hard. One problem in sections of the route was broken rough pavement. Sadly at around 70kms I found my front tire in a 1.5″ deep rut and although I tried to get it out I ended up on the pavement at ~27kph. I scanned for body and bike damage quickly and after banging my left brake lever back into position I was back pedaling away. I was probably in a bit of shock as the riders who were less than 1 minute behind us didn’t have time to totally close the gap. As I rode I reinstalled my rearview mirror which had popped of, but didn’t break – sweet. I examined my body and bike a bit more as I rode and the damage seemed limited to a torn glove, slightly sore elbow and some grinding damage to my brake lever, left pedal, rear QR and rear fender. I was very happy that my expensive Ibex wool clothing and my favourite out of production MEC wool jersey seemed unscathed despited landing on them and sliding.

Brake lever grindage!

After a bit more riding we stopped to pee and refuel. I noticed that my rear fender and brake needed readjusting. The left brake had scored the tire’s casing slightly. Not fatally damaging it, but I’ll pull that tire to carry as a spare and put the spare I’ve got in my bar bag on the bike. I also started to have a mystery bonk about this time. I say mystery because I was eating lots and drinking well so far. I had food from every food group so there was not likely some critical deficiency. The last 10kms to the 2nd control took me a while and were quite painful. I managed to go 1km off route for a total of 2 bonus kms even though my GPS and cue sheet were accurate – LMAO – deep in the bonk I was lucky to figure it out that soon!

Aaron leaving the 2nd control...

Eventually we rolled into the 2nd control and I did what I thought was the smart thing – I sat down and ate a little bit of everything I had with me and some of the control food for good measure. I drank 3/4 of a water bottle and rested a few extra minutes to recover. This should have worked for a typical bonk. I realized shortly after leaving the control that things had not improved much. As we headed down the out and back section to the 3rd control I got slower and slower. More to the point I could barely climb a hill – any hill. *sigh* I kept pedaling, but as I was being passed from behind by everyone who we had passed earlier in the day and then passed the other way by the uber fast rando who were several hours faster than us it was hard to take. I’ll be the first to admit I have a healthy ego. I keep it in check with modest goals – such as being middle of the pack. But, c’mon throw me a bone here it was looking like a DNF was in my future. One one steepish climb I had to stop twice to rest. *sigh* I kept drinking and eating hoping to miraculously recover, but I had been deep in the bonk for a couple hours so I figured that was that. I had a 200K completed this year so I started to plan on giving Aaron my GPS and letting him ride to the 3rd control alone while I either limped straight back to Chemainus or took a nap in the woods! The only thing stopping me was the fact I had never DNF’d a brevet and while it was bound to happen someday I did relish the idea of today being that day.

My Rando Burger...

After what seemed like an eternity we got to Cowichan Lake and I told Aaron I needed to stop. We rolled into a restaurant and since doing the smart thing [eating and drinking lightly] hadn’t improved my bonk I decided it was time for drastic action. So I ordered a Rando Recovery Burger and Fries. I took off my bike shoes and washed up in the bathroom. We could see everyone else in the ride bomb past us to the last control and then come back on their way to the finish. I didn’t care. Being second last wasn’t going to matter much so I might as well be dead last and get the Lantern Rouge merit badge. We had stopped for about 40mins and it was getting cold and threatening to rain as we mounted the bikes for the run to the next control.

Pedal chewage...

I knew that the first significant [to me] climb was going to tell the tale of DNF or Lantern Rouge. Happily I felt okay if still weak on the first climb. We as rolled along a few scattered rain drops fell, but nothing I’d call rain. Thank God. I was feeling better, but I’m not sure my morale could have survived a freezing cold deluge in its fragile state. Eventually we got to the last control and were greeted by friendly faces. I suspect they were going to pack up and start looking in the ditches along the route since we went MIA for a long time between controls.

The Tres Amigos de Lantern Rouge...

There was an Alberta rider, Al, at the control so we rode back in together. My form improved back to where it should be and I saw speed of 25kph+ on the bike computer again. Happiness does not describe it!…=-) Especially since the route back to the main highway was filled with the same PBP-style rollers. They are fun when you are a at a reasonable energy level, but they are hard to take during the bonk because they seem like endless punishment. As predicted the last 50kms home went smoothly. The near-rain came back a couple times, but it never actually rained on us. Thank the Rando Gods! My GPS had a couple satellite reception issues on the last few KMs, but after a flawless day to that point I was willing to overlook a minor glitch on a part of the route I was familiar with. We rolled up to the Dancing Bean Cafe and were happy to learn they served beer!

Some of the fine brevet staff - thanks for a great event!

Ride Stats:

  • avg speed on bike 22.6kph
  • total KMs ridden = 207.5kms
  • total ride time = 11:28hrs
  • time off bike = 2:22hrs
  • number of crashes = 1
  • number of times I wanted to throw GPS in ditch = 0
  • number of times I wanted to crawl into the woods and nap = 4

Fender scrapage...

The bad:

  • don’t stay at the fly motel next time!
  • don’t crash!
  • don’t bonk!
  • SA saddle sag syndrome continues [2 hits of the 6mm hex key req'd this ride]

Photo: Martin Williams...

The Good:

  • great route with beautiful scenery
  • it didn’t rain
  • in fact the sun came out several times!
  • bike worked well and was comfortable
  • rode a strong first 100K
  • well run controls at nice spots
  • fun to ride with lots of other randos
  • didn’t DNF
  • learned there is a ton of time to overcome from a problem and still finish successfully
  • Aaron was fun to ride with and put in a great effort – congrats on your first brevet!
  • no serious damage to bike or body after crash
  • beer served at finish

Elevation Profile in green - click on image for full size...

Lessons Learned

I learned something very important on this ride and that is to keep rolling no matter what. In the depths of my bonk despair I felt so bad and was so confused I figured I couldn’t finish the ride. As it was even with bonk and long rest breaks we had an extra 2hrs we didn’t use. I also learned that when the typical things aren’t working try something out of the box – like eating a burger and fries. When things are grim what do you have to lose?

Speaking of bonk folks have put forward a number of theories regarding why I would bonk when eating and drinking adequately. The two most plausible theories were that after crash my body produced a lot of adrenalin [hence jumping back on the bike and rolling away 30 seconds later] and that when that wears off there is some sort of post-adrenalin crash. The other theory was an electrolyte problem and that I didn’t eat the correct foods to resolve it. There is no real way to tell for sure and I don’t plan on crashing again to test out the theory!…=-) I do have some electrolyte pills I’ll start taking at every control to see if they help.

This was my first crash on a road bike ever. Given the many years of riding and thousands of KMs I’ve ridden I don’t think there is anything to learn from this other than occasionally shit happens. I’ll have to buy myself a new pair of gloves, but my head didn’t touch the ground so my helmet is in perfect condition.

I also learned that it’s smart for the older weaker rider to have both the GPS and the cue sheet. That way any stronger companions are less likely to leave them! Hahaha…I’m only partially joking…=-)

 

The route - click on image for full size...

Up Next

  • check bike over carefully to ensure there isn’t any other crash damage
  • swap in new spare tire
  • put fresh batteries in rear light
  • volunteer at the Eau de Hell Week 400K
  • ride parts of Hills are Alive 300K route close to Victoria for some training KMs
  • do some hill climbing at the observatory
  • my next ride is the Lower Mainland 300K on 30 Apr.

Photo: BC Rando Eau de Hell Week site...

The photo above is from the BC Randonneurs Eau de Hell Week page – probably taken by Martin Williams, but I’m not 100% about that. It shows the hardy randos that took off this AM in a persistent all day rain for a 300K the day after they finished the 200K I am posting about. Yes – not only did they ride the 200K they are following that up with a 300K, 400K and 600K – totally hardcore! I’ll be volunteering for the 400K on Tuesday setting up a control somewhere on the route and greeting the brave randos that are qualifying for PBP in one week. A couple people asked me if I was riding today’s 300K – I assume just to be nice since there couldn’t be a whole lot of doubt in anyone’s mind that I was well and truly knackered! If I can start 2012 with better preparation I’ve had a crazy idea that I might ride the 200K, volunteer on the 300K and then ride the 400K. Two brevets in one week would be pretty rocking in my books…=-)

Good luck to everyone volunteering and riding Eau de Hell Week – it will be a marathon effort for everyone, but you’ve got lots to be proud of at the finish…=-)





The Hills are Alive 300K…

7 04 2011

Ready to roll...

Update: I’ve decided not to participate in this ride. Sharon wasn’t happy that I was going to spend the Saturday of her 4 day Easter Weekend riding my bike which would screw up any plans to leave town for the holiday weekend. Add to that the Easter holiday road traffic and my general level of unpreparedness for a brutal brevet it seemed like a reasonable issue to concede on. Sharon’s work schedule doesn’t have the same flexibility mine does so 4 days off in a row without taking vacation time is understandably a big deal for her. So instead I’ll spend the long weekend surfing at Tofino – *sigh* the sacrifices I make. I’ll ride the BC Randonneurs lower mainland Hatzic Hills 300K on 30 April which gives me an extra week to prepare and I figure the course can’t be any harder than the Hills are Alive! As a bonus Sharon wants to visits friends in Vancouver so she’ll come along and feel like she is part of the rando support team…;-)~

I’m thinking of riding the Hills are Alive 300K on 23 Apr with the BC Rando Club.  The name sounded a bit ominous…lol…, but then I read Raymond Parker’s blog post about it and I’m not sure if I am better of knowing what’s in store or just doing the ride blind?  One thing I really like about this ride is that it starts a 5 min bike ride from my house so I’ll be able to ride it door to door – that’s a first for me!

I put a bug in Aaron’s ear about this brevet so hopefully I’ll have some company. Suffering isn’t half as much fun alone…=-)

Aaron is smilling thinking about all that climbing!





BC Randonneurs Spring Islander 200K

3 04 2011

My bike at the start...

I got up at 5am yesterday to get to the BC Randonneurs Spring Islander 200K start for 630hrs. My stuff was already packed and my clothes laid out so all I needed to do was ingest some food and as much tea as I could manage before riding off into what was left of the night. Things began poorly when I managed to reset my bike computer halfway to the start. I lost everything, but the only bit of info I really cared about was how far one revolution of my front tire was in mm. Luckily I had that in my head and I then only had to relearn how to program the damn computer in dark with time ticking away before the ride started. After much trial and error I figured out what the 3 unmarked tiny buttons under the computer did and got myself back in motion. I verified I had the right roll out value by comparing my GPS speed to my bike computer – all was good. Thanks the Rando Gods I started early.

It was nice to see a whole pile of rando rigs parked outside the Mohka House coffee shop and even better to get myself another cup of hot tea after registering for the ride.

Signing in...

I got to meet the famous Ken Bonner uber-rando in person after reading about his exploits online and exchanging a few emails with him. Naturally that was the last time I saw him on the ride…=-) I also got to meet a few folks from the previous weekend’s Victoria Populaire.

Just before the 7am start...

We set off in a big group at 7am. I hung back to stay away from any funky riding and to warm up the legs. My GPS was programmed in 3 legs both to accomodate its pathetic number of route points and because it didn’t like the MUPs that formed a big part of today’s ride. The first leg got us to the Galloping Goose MUP for the long ~50km run to Sooke BC. I had folks to follow through the many turns in southern Victoria, but it was good to see the GPS working as it should. I love early morning riding on quiet streets. Everything is peaceful and the drivers that are up seem to be the kinder gentler variety.

The previous day had seen heavy all day rain so I was happy to have dry cool conditions to start the ride and clear skies. We passed the turn off to my house and I thought briefly about my warm bed! Although I am lazy by nature riding a bike on a nice morning with some fine folks is a worthy adventure to get me out of bed and rolling along.

Unlike the populaire the group’s bike handling skills was much better and nobody did anything funky as we rode up the Goose and out of Victoria. There were lots of cool bikes to look at some I did some geeking out and compared various setups to my own bike. The  Galloping Goose MUP is great, but it has three problems:

  1. a ton of bollards [posts] at each road crossing to stop vehicles from driving down the MUP. Problem is they are 3′ high so if you aren’t the first cyclist in a group they are blocked from your view until the last second.
  2. a ton of road crossings early on. In fact I really divide the Goose into 3 sections 1) downtown to just north of my place [no road crossings], 2) from the junction of the Lockside Trail to about 25km from Sooke [many crossings] and 3) the last 25kms into Sooke [no crossings]. The first and last sections are super fun to ride while the middle section varies between tedious and dangerous.
  3. just north of my place the Goose turns to dirt/gravel for the 40kms or so run to Sooke and offers 3-4 very steep gullies that have to be bombed down [usually onto a wooden deck bridge] and then climbed back out. I don’t mind the dirt on 42mm tires, but the gullies need some care and an honest assessment of your bike handling skills.

First control in Sooke - the Rock Beach Grill...

We had a little drama on the Goose when a rider who was scanning for cars as he approached a road crossing didn’t see a bollard until he was on top of it. He managed to throw his bike sideways out of harms way, but I was right behind him and it looked to me like he hit the post square in the “man bits”….8-(. The impact stopped him dead and I skidded to a stop figuring we needed to arrange for evacuation, but he climbed right back aboard his bike and carried on. I was impressed!

I really enjoyed the ride out to Sooke on the dirt. My tires gripped the damp soil well and my fenders protected me from splashes when we rode through puddles. I also learned that my fat rubber threw up a lot of water when riding through really deep water so it was best to level off pedals or the lower foot would get wet. We cruised along quite fast on what I would later realize was a slight downhill most of the way. The sun was out. There was no traffic on the MUP. Not much more you could ask for really…=-)

I had turned my GPS off for this part of ride as it wouldn’t route me along the MUP, but I turned it on as we got to Sooke and I recalled a bit of confusing road crossings from the pre-ride report. Together this stopped our band of 4 riders from taking the wrong turn and I became the defacto navigator through the many turns on the way to the first control. I had another bike computer “glitch” at this point. The whole computer is a button and I must have touched it as I rode because it switched from Trip 1 Distance to ODO. since I had just reset the computer on the way to the start the difference was only 2kms which didn’t look wrong, but totally screwed up my cue sheet directions. Since the GPS was on target I followed it and realized what my problem was after about 10mins of confusion.

We rolled up to the first control, the Rock Beach Grill, where they kindly signed our control cards. I hadn’t eaten anything to this point in the ride [~65km] so I drank a chocolate milk, ate part of a sandwich and gobbled carbo blocks. Two of our group left early while I waited for Geoff [the guy sitting in photo above]. I felt a bit bad for Geoff as he was the stronger rider, but I had a GPS and cue sheet on my bar bag so we both had something to offer and we ended up riding all the way to the finish together.

Geoff gets a flat...

Although the ride back down the Goose was slightly uphill most of the way and there was more civilian traffic on the MUP it was still very enjoyable. The skies were clear and I preferred riding with just one other person so we could stop and adjust pace as needed without feeling like you were screwing up the group’s pace too much. Geoff got a flat and I was able to contribute my frame pump to get his tire back up to pressure. I also used the opportunity to eat, drink and take a bathroom break. I was fairly good on this ride in terms of eating at every stop even when I didn’t feel like it as well as using each stop for as many things as possible.

We rode this leg without GPS for the same reason as above. When we got back to Victoria we turned north on the Lochside Trail [another populaire MUP that heads to Sidney BC]. The rain started at this point and lasted for ~30mins. I pulled out just my rain jacket and stayed warm and comfortable. When the showers ended I threw it back in my bag and the rest of me [wool & fleece] dried out quickly in the sun and moving air. Sadly our most excellent adventure took a wrong turn on the way to Sidney – literally! I hit a low spot in my energy cycle and was trying to catch up to Geoff. In my haste I assumed we rode the Lochside Trail all the way to Sidney when in fact we rode the Lockside Trail almost all the way to Sidney. We realized our error when we saw the dreaded “turn right onto Lochside Trail” at the distance on my bike computer – seeing as we were already on the Lochside Trail something had gone wrong. We retraced our steps and 8kms of bonus riding later we were back on track. Now 8kms isn’t fatal for bonus distance, but that’s about 30mins of ride time including the figuring out what went wrong bit and 30mins at the end of a long ride is hard on the morale.

Happily we had our next control just ahead in Sidney [~140kms] and we stopped at Serious Coffee for a snack and some fluids. We ran into a few fellow riders there so our detour hadn’t put us too far back in the pack. Most longer rides in the Victoria area end up at Sidney simply because we live on a peninsula so there are a limited number of roads to use and Sidney is a nice place to stop and resupply. I like Sidney for two reasons 1) the resupplying and 2) the fact it generally means we are turning back towards home. Psychologically it’s great for morale to know you are done riding away from home and now every pedal stroke is taking you closer to a shower, a hot meal and your loved ones! As a bonus the ride from Sidney was along the scenic westside of the Saanich Peninsula.

Geoff and I at the secret control...

I’ll break the ride down the peninsula into two parts:

  1. the fun warm ramble part [~30kms]
  2. the cold deluge death march part [~40kms]

The observant reader will have noticed that if the Sidney control was at around 140kms and the ride was 200kms long than the rest of the ride should have been 60kms. Very true – well this is where the 8 bonus kms come into play and the fact that the route was actually 202kms. Again in general an extra 10kms is not a big deal, but when you are in death march mode 10kms is like F-O-R-E-V-E-R!

So we had a fun warm ramble through some nice quiet rural neighbourhoods. We ran into the secret control [photo above] and had a snack. Then just as civilization started to build again we took a short break so I could buy fresh batteries for my GPS and Geoff could scavenge some oil for his squeaky chain from some empty oil cans at a gas station. My GPS had started the day at 75% charge. With a 24hrs operating time and having shut it off for at least 4 of the previous 8hrs there should have been lots of power left, but once again my GPS lets the team down – sadly not for the last time on this ride.

I was getting a bit tired at this point, but my constant eating seemed to be working to make me feel much better than the end of the 100K populaire. I guess the Rando Gods figured I needed a challenge – so they made it rain – a lot.

I hate both battery powered devices...

I will admit I made a bad choice that could have made this last leg less heinous, but for the love of God can I not get this GPS to actually follow the route I want to ride?…=-(

I should have put my rain gear on at the start of the deluge, but I was trying to be optimistic and wanted to believe it would be short lived like the rain earlier in the day. I also hoped that my wool clothing would do the trick for the short run to the finish – of course I had conveniently forgotten our bonus mileage. So I got soaked and then cold and then soaked some more. At that point I figure what was the point in putting on rain gear as I couldn’t get any wetter? Well it would have kept me warm for one thing.

Adding to the horror was the fact that our bonus mileage meant that I had to do some math every time I read the cue sheet. Not a big deal except for the fact I was cold, tired and the plastic covering the cue sheet was nearly impossible to read in the heavy rain. At least I had my GPS to fall back on right? Wrong – this is about the point when my GPS decided to go it’s own way on a route that wasn’t even close to the one I needed to stay on. *sigh*

Luckily I didn’t pass one of those e-waste depots or I would have dropped off both my bike computer and GPS!

Defeat wasn’t in our vocabulary so we marched on. Pathetically looking for street names that seemed correct. Geoff knew the area we were in and was able to figure out our route based on street names I yelled out between sobs. Luckily with the heavy rain he couldn’t see my tears…=-)

Finally the GPS decided it wanted to help out again and got us through a section of really heavy rain that I could barely keep pedaling through I was so cold and morale was pitifully low.

It was at this point a couple catches up to us. Sees I have a GPS and the wife says to the husband “…ah he has a GPS hopefully he’s on the correct route..” So she rides up to me and asks in a critical tone “…do you know where you are going?…” If I had had a bit more energy I would have replied sarcastically “…no we are just taking random turns until we get to 200kms and then we’ll ride to the finish and get our cards signed!..” If you want to follow someone on a brevet and use their navigational skills/equipment have the good manners to either get behind them and shut up or go your own way. It is pretty much a given that people are following what they think is the correct route and if they aren’t they don’t know it – so there is little point is asking. Besides if you are so confused you can’t tell if you are on the route or not what difference does it make – your not going to get more lost…=-)~

I needed to stop and eat something so we let the couple head on down the road and navigate the route for themselves.

The rain stopped for the last 10kms which was nice so I guess things were getting too easy again. No problem – my GPS went off on an erroneous detour so we were back to the wet cue sheet. The run to the finish was both happy knowing we’d be warm soon and crazy hard because of our long day in the saddle. We passed very close to Geoff’s home which was severely tempting, but we managed to resist. Finally we spotted the Mohka House a few blocks away and zoomed to the finish! I go to the Mohka House a fair bit, but I’ve never been so darn happy to see it…=-)

Route Map - click image for cue sheet...

Ride Stats:

  • distance ridden 210kms
  • time on the bike 9:07hrs
  • total ride time 10:28hrs
  • time off bike 1:21hrs
  • avg speed on bike 23kph
  • number of times I nearly threw GPS into ditch = 2

Luckily I checked my bike computer right after the ride as somehow it got reset between Mohka House and home. Cateye seriously what was wrong with actual buttons on a bike computer? I never lost data or reset my older Cateye units and I was never too tired on a ride to operate a button!

The Good:

  • I am eating well
  • I felt better at end of 200K than at end of previous 100K
  • I’m learning to read a cue sheet well
  • Planet Bike Superflash handled extended heavy rain fine
  • bike is working well
  • slightly lower bars with slight rotation up is very comfy as are new brake lever hoods
  • new mirror position is better [glad I tried it]
  • brand new SA saddle was comfortable
  • nice to have company on ride
  • beautiful route
  • ham & turkey sandwich I packed was rocking
  • cinnamon bun I packed was even more rocking!

The Bad

  • SA saddle needed 2 tension adjustments during ride [I think frame is bending]
  • GPS routing poorly
  • need to pay closer attention to cue sheet to avoid bonus kms
  • I need to get a grip and put on my rain gear earlier
  • Cateye Bike computer one touch button sucks [I may install older version with actual buttons]

Photo - Jim Runkel...click on image for more...

Up Next

  • Tour de Cowichan Valley 200K April 9
  • clean and lube chain
  • look at GPS route to see if problems were my fault of GPS’ fault
  • research another GPS!
  • start with fresh GPS batteries and bring an extra set
  • dig out an older Cateye bike computer and consider swapping it in

Update 1: I checked the GPS track provided on the BC Rando ride page and it was not correct which means the GPS was doing the right thing when it was sending me off route. I’ll need to do a turn by turn verification of any GPS info provided for a ride as the cue sheet is understood to be the only “legal” document when it comes to determining what the actual route is. My bad!

Update 2: There are some photos from the ride here, the ride results here and organizer’s ride report here.

Update 3: my GPS isn’t the only one doing goofy things!

Photo: Jim Runkel...click on image for more...

Photo: Jim Runkel

Congrats to Nathan [above] and Jessie [below] for great first rides…=-) Read the ride report for more details.

Photo: Jim Runkel





Spring Islander 200K Pre-Ride Report

2 04 2011

Photo: Jim Runkel

If all goes well I should be riding the BC Randonneurs Spring Islander 200K today. Take a peep at the Pre-Ride Report for some photos and the ride page for more detailled info.

Spring 200K Route Overview...





Victoria Spring Islander 200K

21 03 2011

Route for 2 April 2011 200K around Victoria BC...

The route for the 2 Apr 2011 Spring Islander 200K wasn’t posted on the BC Rando website, but Phillip [one of the ride organizers] pointed me to this GPS route on Bikely.I’m just bookmarking it on my blog so I can find it easily when I want to program my GPS prior to the ride.





2011 Brevet Schedule…

4 03 2011

BC Rando Club Jersey...

Here is my tentative brevet schedule for 2011:

  • 27 March – 100K Victoria Populaire
  • 2 April – Victoria 200K
  • 9 April – Tour of the Cowichan Valley 200K
  • 23 April – Hills are Alive 300K
  • 14 May – Highway to Hell 400K
  • 25 June – Nanimo Populaire 100K
  • 11 Sept – Fall Isle-Lander 200K

All these rides are on Vancouver Island with the BC Ranndoneurs.

If you are a hardcore randonneur you may be wondering where the rest of my list is? Well I’m weak and lazy so this is all there is! If things go well I may add a 600K next year, a 1000K the year after, a 1200k the year after that culminating in PBP 2015. Talk about a long range plan!

Ultimately my goal is to have fun on my bike. I’m not going to set speed or distance records in the rando world so I may as well just have a good time…=-)