Minnesota 200K brevet

Discussion in 'rec.bicycles.rides archive' started by Tim McNamara, May 16, 2004.

  1. Tim McNamara

    Tim McNamara Guest

    The first brevet of the season here in Minnesota was held on
    Saturday May 15th. We're probably one of the latest
    scheduled 200K brevets in the US, I suspect. Heck, Seattle
    did theirs in, what, January or something? Trying to do a
    200 K around here in January would probably lead to an
    unacceptably high mortality rate and/or civil commitment.

    The hosts of the brevet series in Minnesota- for many years-
    are the Rochester Active Sports Club in Rochester MN. The
    routes meander through southern Minnesota into northeastern
    Iowa. The 200K route serves as the base for the 300K, the
    300K as the base for the 400K and in turn most of the 400K
    serves as the base for the 600K. Martin is the organizer for
    the brevet series. He does such a good job of marking the
    course that it is possible to complete all of the brevets
    without looking at the map or cue sheet once. The terrain is
    rolling, fairly similar to much of the terrain between San-Quentin-en-
    Yvelines and Loudeac; northeastern Iowa, known as the
    "driftless area" is very rolling with practically no flat
    riding at all. The 600K has over 18000 feet (over 5600
    meters) of climbing.

    Start-time temperature was about 40 deg F with an expected
    high of 64. The possibility of rain was predicted for late
    afternoon, after 4:00 PM. This offered some incentive for
    riding reasonably expeditiously. About 15 people turned up
    for the ride, which is about half of the number that turned
    out last year to try to qualify for PBP. There were some
    returning faces and several new ones. The bikes were, as
    usual, mainly race bikes with perhaps some racks clamped on
    to carry a truck bag. Few had fenders. Since the weather was
    predicted to be dry for the time I'd be riding, I opted to
    ride my Ritchey road bike (fillet brazed steel, Campy Chorus
    9sp with Superbe brake calipers, MA2 rims and 700 x 28 Conti
    Ultra 2000s, Brooks Pro, and the most comfortable big-guy
    drop bars ever made, the Nitto 175s). If rain had been
    likely, I'd have ridden my Katakura Silk Road with a mongrel
    mix of parts and fenders. My goal was a sub-eight hour ride.

    We rolled out of the WallyWorld parking lot at 8:02 into a
    light southeast wind. The ride starts with a bit of a climb,
    so right away the groups sorted out. I was with the front
    group of 6. Over the rolling terrain I realized these guys
    were going faster than I wanted to over the rollers without
    a warmup, so I let 'em go. Even though this is the shortest
    brevet, it's still a long day on the bike. It was a
    beautiful morning with a crisp blue sky showing off the
    spring green to good advantage. About 6 miles into the ride,
    a wild turkey ran across the road in front of me.

    I was enjoying riding with solitude, in between the front
    group and the rearguard, for almost all of the first two
    hours. I saw a single rider ahead of me and was slowly
    catching up to him. I saw no reason to hurry, as it was such
    a nice day and I was enjoying the quiet. On the other hand
    the wind was slowly picking up, so eventually it would be
    nice to have some help. Just after Salem Corners I caught
    him, and a few minutes later we were joined from behind by
    another rider and then another, making a group of four.
    Thomas, who had also decided to drop off the lead group, was
    stronger than me up the hills whereas I tended to be a bit
    quicker on the flat (such as it was). Mitch, an
    ultramarathon runner, had just taken up cycling last year
    and found he was lacking in confidence in group riding (no
    lack of skills, he rode just fine). Tom was new to brevets
    and the idea of PBP, and was along to test the waters.

    We rode together into the first controle in Stewartville
    MN, at about
    10:10. The leaders had been through about 20 minutes
    earlier. We didn't rush the controle, and as we were
    leaving the organizer rolled up, having been delayed
    by some administrative stuff. He hassled us good
    naturedly about dawdling. We left and rolled onto
    the least interesting stretch of the ride, a long
    easterly, pretty flat run to Chatfield. This stretch
    goes on for a bit over an hour, I guess. We tried a
    paceline that didn't work so well, due to Mitch's
    lack of confidence and my tendency to push it along
    the flat bits to make up for my slow climbing. In
    short, we lost Mitch and then I managed to drop the
    other two until I noticed I had rolled away from
    them. Oops!

    A fast, rough downhill presages Chatfield. The route goes
    therough the "Chosen Valley" which is very pretty and
    offered a nice view of what appeared to be a sharp-shinned
    hawk hovering over a field. We again didn't rush the
    controle, and spent some time getting rid of extra layers as
    the temperature was now near 60 deg F. Martin rolled in
    after us and was out of the controle in about two minutes.

    From Chatfield, the next controle is Wykoff which is also
    the turnaround. The ride from Chatfield to Wykoff is a
    lovely valley on a relatively quiet road, which finishes
    with a nice climb up to the plains of southern Minnesota.
    Thomas and I caught up with Martin and rode into Wykoff with
    him. At the controle, after further adjustment of clothing
    for the temperature, Martin, Mitch and I took off. Thomas
    and Tom decided to rest a bit at the controle. We lost Mitch
    again between Wykoff and Chatfield, and I decided to stick
    with Martin. He has done four PBPs and many brevets, so I
    figured I could learn a lot from tagging along with him. I
    was right- I learned a lot about pacing, efficient
    management of controles, etc. Martin, being shorter, much
    lighter and a more natural athlete than I am, dropped me on
    the larger hills and I'd have to catch up on the flats and
    descents. His enthusiasm for riding was infectious. He also
    admitted the possibility that he might not stick to his plan
    to do no more PBPs...

    As the day went on, clouds moved in until the skies were
    mostly overcast. The winds picked up, shifting to the
    southwest so that we had a quartering headwind much of the
    time. Mammatus (sp?) clouds were evident, suggesting the
    possibility of real weather. However, this was mostly
    ignored as I asked Martin questions and heard some of his
    stories about PBP (three times on his regular bike and once
    on a tandem). The controle at Stewartville appeared and
    Martin showed me a way around a rather inconvenient busy
    intersection and road. We were about 45 minutes behind the
    leaders at that point, and calculated that the last rider
    was about two hours behind us. From there we expected to be
    back to Rochester a little after 4:00 PM. A few miles out of
    Stewartville our route turned so that we had a tailwind
    again, which was quite enjoyable- and much appreciated as
    the fact that my longest ride this year before the brevet
    had been 65 miles was becoming evident. The next controle
    was Byron, at which point it was 12 miles to the end,
    including the hill near Oxbow Park, a tough and fairly long
    hill that's not so much fun at the end of a brevet (and is
    much worse on the 300K and 400K, in particular).

    Soon WallyWorld was in sight. We got our cards stamped and
    went back to our cars. Clock time was 8:35 to complete the
    200K with about 4000 feet total climbing. This compares to
    last year's 200K of (I think)
    11:32 when I was having a lot of knee pain from riding too-
    long cranks. Thanks to tagging along with Martin, my
    total time at controles was about 38 minutes- a vast
    improvement over last year! We had a bite to eat at a
    nearby restaurant before getting in the car to drive the
    90 minutes back to St. Paul, a few sprinkles starting to
    fall just as I pulled up in front of the house.

    My wife's adventure for the day had been her first fly
    fishing lesson. She caught four trout on a stream in Wisconsin-
    one of which she caught on her second cast-so we both had a
    really nice day. Pizzas from Punch Woodfire Pizza in St.
    Paul (the best pizza for about 400 miles in any direction)
    and a bottle of red to celebrate!

  2. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    "Tim McNamara" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > The first brevet of the season here in Minnesota was held
    > on Saturday May 15th.

    <SNIP of all ride details>

    That was great to read. Thanks for the report.