RANDOUNEER, BREVET-these strange sounding words constitute a small subset of the cycling world populated by a group that enjoy riding at night and sleep deprivation—who dream of qualifying to ride 745 miles around France. To do so they have to complete a series of 125, 185, 250 and 375 mile brevets with minimal support in the same year. There are certain rules the randoundeer’s follow, at night they need reflective ankle bands and a reflective school crossing sash, tail light CAN’T blink, and they can only use a Brooks Saddle (I might have made the last one up but am not sure.)
I did the 300km (185 mile) brevet with Don and California Mike a few years back when they qualified to ride around France at night. Compared to some “official” doubles, it brevet is a great ride—an out an back on the best part of the Davis Double, supported better than many doubles offered in the Southland, more climbing, and about a third of the price. The first and last 30 miles are a flat tour of the ag land around Davis, 55 of the middle miles are rollers through the Pope Valley (much faster heading north than on the return,) and 20 miles of up (and down) hill leaving Davis to the Pope Valley via the Cardiac Climb and later a very serious Cobb Mountain climb.
When I did this brevet the first time I overpacked—not realizing that “self supported” to the wonderful Davis bike club meant three well stocked rest stops along the way and ample places to stragetically stop another three times (6 rest stops on this route would be perfect.) And while 10% of the crowd were on bikes with huge saddle/ handlebar bags that looked like they were going cross county on a mule—you really didn’t need to 'pack the camping gear.' But I figured it was supposed to be a brevet, and a heavier bike would be good training for the Alta Alpina Double, so I :
-Took my steel bike with rack and heavy wheels (+5 lbs over ti bike w race wheels)
-Added a brevet bag filled with lights, food, drink mix, extra tube/ CO2 (+2 lbs)
-Added extra water bottle (+2 lbs) (Had choice of putting camera holder, new water bottle bike stereo or water bottle in handelbar cage.)
I’m glad I got the training in with the heavy setup and once again its apparent that Mr. Rivendell is full of crap when he writes that bike weight doesn’t matter, as the heavy bike is like accelerating a truck. (But to give Mr. Rivendell his due—the bike rack I use was invented by them, they have good products but the leader has a strange attitude.)
So my setup was 9 pounds more than my usual doubles setup, not counting the cool weather clothes I started with. Of course whatever I took paled in comparison with Dr. Dave lugging his recumbent and steamer trunk over the climbs.
Jack and Dr. Dave, the other two dedicated double nuts in my Diablo Cyclist bonus mile group, were in, though Dave had hurt himself last week on our 120 miler and might not go up Cobb Mountain on the ‘bent. Unfortunately other folks in our bonus mile group had been dropping like flies last week and passed on this event when I had hoped we'd have a small crowd.
Nature break at Lake Solano after 30 miles, many in Group 3 had the same idea.
The start has 75-100 people, which was about ¼ of what it is in a P-B-P qualifying year. Last week, when we started in 37 degrees, I wished for 15 more—this week I did get about half of what I wanted. Around 45, though in the fields around Davis it definitely dipped down—san toe warmers, heavy gloves, and wool socks of last week my extremities were colder. Mass start at 7:00 that took awhile to sort out. Not a timed double so no intent to hammer the ride but chance we could finish right at sundown if we hustled—two years ago we had about 3/4 hour of night riding, but that was with Mike having tire trouble, and Jack wouldn’t let us take many impromptu rest stops like Don had.
So being attentive, every time a subgroup on the road started backing up, I made a leap forward to the next subgroup. We could have worked hard at the beginning to latch on to the first group out, but the second was going at a nice 20-21 mph clip driven by two tandems. Eventually we settled into a 19mph pace and I was sure the 3rd group on the road would catch up to us, but looking back you couldn’t see anyone. Riding at 19mph without doing any pulling was nice and easy, but not doing any work didn’t help the frostbite settling in.
After a dozen miles Dave pulled off to water the local agriculture, but being on the ‘bent and with the road perfectly flat, he’d easily get back to us. Jack and I decided we’d wait until Lake Solano Park at mile 30 to stop and use park facilities, which might have been a mistake as the park bathrooms are well off the road—but after taking care of business and downing some food, a large part of the 3rd group pulled in with the same idea.
Upon leaving the rollers we started the lead in to the Cardiac Climb where we passed a few solo riders—the earlier pack riding usually breaks up here on the Davis Double. Luckily this section was definitely warmer. But no Dr. Dave—who we expected to see after any turn thought we had stopped at Lake Solano for minimally 10 minutes. We keep going and near the top if the climb is Dr. Dave leading a group of riders on wedge bikes up the hill. I had to take off the full fingered gloves and dig out the camera to get this shot—and as we wouldn’t stop I had to ride gloveless for another 25 miles to the first rest stop/ control, but it was worth it.
Soon onto Pope Valley, with gentle rollers with lots of Vineyards off to the side. We stayed together well on this section—later Dr. Dave would have trouble as the rollers become steeper once in Lake County. Only mishap was when Jack forgot the Davis Double route and made a wrong turn—we quickly corrected and went back on the correct “back road” which is a crappy fast road with lots of hairpins—later I suffered on this, when it is crappy slow, on the way back.
We steamed into Pope Valley Control/ Rest Stop (mile 60, 10:52.) Funny pulling in and only a dozen cyclists around—and this would be the most crowded a rest stop would be qat all day. Fresh sandwiches being made, Hammer Products being offered. There a woman who I rode with on Sacto Doug’s Grand Fondue, Lori, recognized me—more for the doubles tye-dye jersey she had heard about from Doug than anything else. Later her tandem would save our butts near the end of the ride when I was half dead.
Cobb Mountain rest stop (mile 95, at 1:20) is one of the great rest stops, picturesque and well off the beaten path. More fresh sandwiches, fruit, Hammer products including Rice Krispie Treats (which I stupidly didn’t take) If there was a lounge chair I could easily call it a day and take a good nap here. Vest back on and back downhill, where we saw about as many riders still coming up as we had seen descending when we were climbing---we were truly in the middle of the ride. Jack submitting is music requests to Lee Mitchell who pipes out tunes when he passed. I think Lee is saying "No Doors for YOU!"
Nice back to Pope Valley again, with Jake joining us, over the same steep rollers I like and Dave—not so much. Mile 122, 3:14, and the place wasn’t hoping at all. I made a strong concentration of Perpetuem, put the tee shirt back on (which I’d alternatively regret and be thankfully for the rest of the ride as I kept getting alternatively hot and cold.)
I had another half ham ONLY (no mustard, mayo, pickles, onions, cheese……) sandwich. @590g carbs and 67g protein for 8 ¼ ride. At 50 carbs and hour I was fine, but my protein was a deficient (425/4=106g) For whatever reason I’d start feeling low on energy for the rest of the ride.
The fast gentle rollers from this morning were now much slower in parts as the road went gently up and I had nothing to keep speed going on them. When we hit the crappy desolate section I started imagining little things that were wrong—like I wasn’t clipped in properly and then couldn’t reclip in—so much so Jack and Dave came back to see where I was.
Jake had left Pope Valley before us and we caught him on the Cardiac climb, which I was happy to be on as I felt best climbing. He pulled off at one point and we continued on, where we pulled into Lake Solano campgrounds for water and to put back on warmer clothes and lights. Jake didn’t know we stopped so he rode his heart out trying to get back to us when we were behind him (a frequent occurrence on a Diablo Cyclists ride.) At Lake Solano peacock’s were wailing away—more things to now bug the shit out of me. Michael Vick should get some of these.
Though it was now cooler and we were back on the flats I was baking and had to pull off the vest. I kept hearing P-R 2001 in my head, but instead of inspiring I’d just hear “Knaven is now in trouble….Knaven is now in trouble.” Dave and Jack doing all of the pulling and I was hanging on for dear life thinking—ok just 30 miles to go, just 30 miles to go, Knaven is now in trouble.
With about 20 miles to go Lori on tandem shot by with a few single riders and Jack and Dave jumped right on—shit, I didn’t have any choice. Tandem was doing a nice 21 clip which I barely held when Dave volunteered to give them a break and went to the front and we were quickly doing 23. Next time Dave said he’d go back to the front to help out I yelled at him to stay where he was.
We came up to Jake who was trying to catch our nonexistent selves in front of him. Good timing as the tandem was out of water and with 10 miles to go they and their group pulled off and we continued on. Jack and I so happy to finally see a climb—even if it was a highway overpass. This climb must have thrown Dave as he promptly took a wrong turn—so I’m not even the Club leader in getting lost. Dave took a nicely paced pull and then Jake took over—and with the sun just setting we pulled into the finish at 7:31.
Sign in that we finished—no dinner—but not any different than a Planet Ulta double. Jack always has a big appitite when these finish, while I can barely eat, so he quickly found a taqueria across the highway where he had the Grande burrito and I had a baby taco.
Good training ride, good weather for most of the day (two days before winds of 20mph with gusts of 35mph all afternoon in Davis.) Next year should be more exciting with a large group of P-B-P qualifiers and hopefully we can get a bigger group from our Club.