Randonneuring Stories
Westfield 200k Brevet Report 2003
400k Brevet Report 2002
"Rando" Starring Sylvester Stallone...
A First 200km

Westfield 200k Brevet Report 2003

Jenn Barber March 2003
Email to various listservs regarding the 22 Mar 200km

Yesterday Don Podolski inaugurated the New England brevet season with his 200km from Westfield MA. Next week Diane Goodwin holds her 200 in NJ and the following week is Tracey Ingle's Boston 200. The flood gates have opened.

I decided to ride Don's series this year since 1) his series is closest to me at 3.5 hours from Syracuse, 2) none of his rides conflict with mine. So at 8:15 Friday night I loaded up the car and headed to Carl Weissgerber's house in Manlius to pick up his daughter Tracey and her friend Christina who were traveling from Kingston ONT to ride with me.

We got to the start with 15 minutes to go before the ride start. Tracey and Christina checked in while I got my bike ready. Meanwhile 7:00 had hit and everyone had left the lot. We saddled up around 7:20 and headed out in the fog. The weather was much warmer that it had been here. I was comfortable in my long tights, a long sleeve jersey and a wind vest. No booties or head-band for me.

The route Don put together is a figure 8 with the start, middle control and end at the shop. We headed north 33 miles for the first leg of the journey. The roads in MA don't have the shoulders we have here and have far more potholes than any road in our area. It was a trick dodging the holes and the cars in the fog, but it kept us on our toes. We started to pass people after about 45 minutes of riding, not because we were going particularly fast, but because people started getting punctures. First we passed the fellow we followed to the ride on the highway, then we came across Sally whom I had ridded with in NJ last year. A bit further up the road I came across Bernie and Chuck, my riding partners from my 300 and 400 last year. This was Chuck's second flat. Apparently our detour around some construction via a bike path was the culprit - MA uses recycled glass to pave their bike paths. Tra, Chris and I were lucky though, not a flat among us as we got to the first control around 10. Right on pace.

The fog was lifting as we headed out on the second leg back to the bike shop. This was a fairly uneventful leg (read quite enjoyable) in which the three of us were in high spirits and were having a grand time ribbing each other and joking around. The locals were starting to come out for their jogs and to work on houses and play in their yards. We had plenty of "Hi theres" and "Go get 'em they're just ahead of yous" from those we passed along the way. With all of the encouragement we ended up making the next control at high noon with the sun shining and the temperature climbing into the 60s. A quick change of socks to get rid of the damp, and a strip down to arm and leg warmers and we were off again.

Bernie had caught up with us by this point. Apparently Chuck had told him to go along when he had gotten his third flat of the morning. He asked if he could ride with us since we seemed to be going about his speed. He was welcomed with open arms and so now it was a cheery group of four heading for the southern control in CT. The third leg was about 3 miles shorter than each of the previous 2 legs, but it made up for it in climbing. We spent at least the first 15 miles climbing up, dropping just a bit and repeating. It was tiring work. About 4-5 miles out of the shop we came across a large section of road that was flooded. I decided I was game and headed through it. Oops the water came up to my hubs. As I got thought I heard Tracey yelling across the lake "Good thing you changed your socks." They all went around. Soon after we came across a fellow named Al who got to chatting with Christina. Another friend was found and now the five of us made our merry way over hill and dale.

As we were riding along I was navigating and I came across a strange cue. Since Bernie was familiar with the area I climbed up to him and read them aloud: STRAIGHT at crossroads, RIGHT Day Rd, Granby Oak, STRAIGHT across 20. I was wondering what we were supposed to do on this Granby Oak road. Bernie shrugged and we decided we deal with it when we got there. Not that we had a working computer among us. Christina's told time, mine only was reading out speed intermittently, and Tracey's gave distance - in KM (so we spent the day converting in our heads). I don't think Bernie remembered is, and Al was busy chatting so I never even found out if he had one. Well the five blind mice kept riding and got to Rt 20. Bernie and I were scratching our heads at this point wondering how we had missed the cue and that's when the little light went on in my head. It turn out that the cue was a landmark not a turn and it was the tree at the top of the hill that had caused me to shout "HOLY S--- THAT'S THE COOLEST TREE I'VE EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE!!!!" The old oak would have made a fine home for Pooh Bear. The trunk must have been 10 or more feet in diameter. And lying on, not sitting or straddling, one of the branches was a 15-16 year old kid. It was fantastic.

We ended up making it to the control at 3:00pm, still riding a respectable pace allowing appropriate conversation. At this point Bernie and I were getting a bit tired. He had spend the winter training with CNN and his DVD. I was dealing with a stiff neck and a low grade sinus infection. Tracey and Al and Christina were looking and riding great. Nothing to do but keep going. Only 30 miles left to go and every mile traveled gets us closer to home. I thought we were going to have to climb back over the ridge to get home, but wonderful Don ended up routing us around it. So I spent 20 miles anticipating a horrible climb that never came. After about 10 miles a pack of guys passed us and there was no holding back Tracey and Christina. They took off to catch their quarry. Al and Bernie and I slowed up a bit and took some "scenic" breaks.

At this point in the ride I was slogging a bit because my stiff neck had developed into a full blown headache, but my legs felt great so I just hung my head and listened for Bernie calling out the road hazards. The sun dropped in the sky and as the temperature dropped I got a kick in the pants and sped up again. With less than 10 miles to go we increased the pace and headed for home. We got to the huge puddle again and this time I chose to go around, although I found out later that Tracey had braved the sea and won the second round. Bernie and Al and I got to the shop before 6 as we had planned. Another wonderful ride under our belts.

400k Brevet Report 2002

Bill Lodico June 2002
Email to Onondaga Cycling Club regarding the 22 Jun 400km

Yesterday (Saturday 6/22) at 4AM, 9 riders set out from the Elmira Holiday Inn for the OCC/CNY 400k brevet. The route took us from Elmira to Addison, north through Bath and Prattsburg to Naples, then to Geneva, Ithaca, and Owego, before returning to the start. 250 miles of fun in the sun. Or, as it turned out, in a hot, humid haze.

Well, I've had my baked ziti and my Guinness and my 10 hours of sleep and my 2 cups of coffee and my three eggs and my steak and my baked potato, and I think I'm OK.

Every time I ride a 400k, I think it's the hardest ride I've ever done, and now this year's replaces last year's 400k as the hardest ever, which replaced the one from the year before. I'm sure my 16 hour goal and the minus 16 hour pace Rick Pettet and Chuck Beer set for the first 150 miles had something to do with it -- plus the heat, plus a not very cooperative alimentary system, plus an almost total lack of sleep the night before.

The snappy pace was on from the git-go, with Rick doing his usual locomotive act on the flats and climbs (hang on if you can!), and Chuck "the Rocket" Beer dropping down into the areo bars at the slightest downhill, and notching the effort level up a notch or two in those spots where you might normally grab a little rest.

I lost track of Michelle Dulieu after Addison, where I saw her coming into the control as I was leaving. (Chuck told me later that she had done a 24 race the weekend before; pretty gutsy to take on a 400k with only a week of rest.)

The remaining 8 riders stayed more or less together into Naples, even forming a pace line behind the Rick and Chuck express for fairly long stretch out of Bath. Our rider from New Jersey hit a stone and tore a sidewall on the way into Naples; he made a repair, but was looking for a bike shop and a new tire as we left the control.

Rick and Chuck kept up the hard pace after Naples, trying to catch Mark Sheehan, who had got in and out of the control quick as a bunny. First Blaine Chamberlain, then Chris Ogden, and then Jim Black dropped back, forming another group behind us that got into the Geneva control before we left.

I'm not sure it was the smartest thing I ever did in my life, but I managed to hang on to Chuck and Rick the whole way. I had started forcing fluids and food early on, with a goal to avoiding dehydration and sugar bonk; and my stomach, which normally will happily take on almost any task I ask of it so long as it doesn't involve fasting, rebelled -- which made it harder to accomplish either goal. So I focused on conserving my dwindling resources, doing almost no work at the front and pretty much saving what strength I had just to hang on. I got a lot of low cost miles in full draft mode, but had to make some strong efforts to keep up on the climbs.

Mark was having a little more trouble than I keeping up on the hills, and took the alternative approach of maintaining a very solid solo pace, and getting into and out of the controls and food stops quick as a bunny. So he fell off the back before we got to Naples (mile 81), got ahead of us at the control, then we caught him and he joined us for a while, then the process repeated at Geneva (mile 121). When we caught him somewhere before Sampson State Park he said, "You guys are catching me only because you're in a group. There isn't one of you who could do it on your own."

I don't know he was right with respect to Rick or Chuck, but certainly he was right with respect to me. I started the day barely hanging on and finished it in the same way. Physically I was only just competent. Mentally, there were stretches when I don't think I was even that.

As we approached Trumansburg, we were starting to have trouble. Chuck was dropping into aero a little less often, and Rick had to stop and remove the insoles from his shoes because his feet were swelling. My feet hurt, my butt hurt, and I'm not sure anything I said made any sense.

In Trumansburg (mile 160) we stopped at the P&C (Mark rolling in shortly after us) and we ate and drank and sat around for a while (and I massaged my feet) and we let the 16 hour goal slip away. Rick and Chuck eased up a little from there on and the pace slowed enough for Mark to stay on -- and a good thing for me, too, because I was crumbling rather badly.

Things went smoothly until we approached Owego, when Rick's rear wheel blew a spoke and developed a wiggle -- which was actually a blessing in disguise from my point of view, since his worry about knocking the wheel further out of true forced him to restrain his uphill bursts. And then Mark's bike developed the dreaded rhythmic hissing sound that signals a flat tire. The three of us rode on at a relatively easy pace toward the Owego control while Mark changed tubes, making a brief stop for Rick to get water. Mark was just about caught up to us when I made a wrong turn at the light just before the ramp over the river, taking Chuck and Rick with me, and Mark zipped on by us. So we wound up having to chase him once again.

We had wanted to finish before dark, and we missed by about 45 minutes, stopping in Chemung at the Dandee mini mart to put on vests, etc., where we were treated to the unearthly roar of the race cars at the speedway across the street.

Riding at night on our roads, in the condition some of them are in, is no picnic. The stretch on CR 60 from the Dandee to CR 8 was especially bad, but there was plenty of bad stuff on NY 427 and Maple Av as well, especially once we got in town. I was very happy I had the NightRider 15 watt set up for lighting. Holes and cracks you instinctively miss and don't even notice in the day time lurch up out of the darkness scary fast. So I guess I paid back some of the debt for my hours of wheelsucking by providing the group with a big light for the last 13 miles of the ride.

Our group of four rolled into the control at 9:45, much the worse for wear. I have it that Blaine got home around midnight, so my guess is that he and Chris and Jim must have made it in sometime around eleven assuming they stuck together. I'm wondering what adventures they had and if the extra time they took made the ride more pleasant than it was for me. I'll be checking the results for the other riders to see how Michelle and our New Jersey breveteer did.

(Thanks to Jenn Barber for organizing the brevet and to OCC for supporting the brevet series, and thanks especially to Bill Stiteler for taking on the the brevet-day work and to Susanne Lodico rising in the wee hours of the morning to help with registration and control packet distribution.)

"Rando" Starring Sylvester Stallone...

Bill Lodico May 2002
Email to Randonneuring community and local clubs regarding the 18 May 300km

Saturday's brevet provided enough material to write a short novel, plus a the seeds for a a couple of movies (How about "Rando" starring Sylvester Stallone as an Uzi wielding cyclist: "Take that, lousy driver; take that, nasty dog!" And maybe co-starring PeeWee Herman as a himself !!in lycra!!, but with Bruce Lee-style martial arts skills.)

Anyway, since it will be years before either novels or screenplays are available to the public, here's a brief rundown.

0400: We are ready to go in the Holiday Inn parking lot. It is dark outside. As predicted, it is pouring buckets. We wait a while, expecting the rain to let up. It doesn't. The temperature, a little above 40. Not very nice, but we are randonneurs. We are tough.

0500: We are nearly to Caton. It is still raining hard, but not quite so hard. The rain will let up. ("Life is good. Have fun now," I say to anyone who will listen, repeating a couple of zen sayings that I find particularly attractive.) Maybe it isn't raining at all. Maybe it is snowing. It is maybe a little colder, but we are warm because we have been climbing for seven miles.

0530: We are climbing to the top of Church Creek Road. There is lots of slushy snow falling. The fields are covered with it. The roads are clear, however, and you can sort of see, as long as you remember to wipe the snow off your glasses. There's about a half hour descent to Lindley, on the Tioga River. The ride down will be freezing cold, but when we get there, it will be warmer, and the snow will be rain again. Maybe the rain will stop.

0600: We are at the bottom. We are cold. We are covered with snow. My fingers so numb with cold that there is absolutely no tactile feedback. I have to look at my hand to see which part of the STI lever I am touching. I am afraid that if I push too hard and the levers lock because I'm pushing both of them, I might break a finger and not know it until I warm up. The snow has not stopped. It is not warmer. Even though we are pedalling hard as we can, I can't warm up my hands. My gloves are soaked in ice water. It is comforting to know that frostbite is not a danger, since my hands are at a nice perfectly regulated 32 degrees F. That sounds better than 0 degrees C.

0630 - 0800: Seven riders make it to the first control in Addison, 31 miles out. We are all shivering so hard we can barely drink our coffee or tea. We are all muttering about quitting and heading back, except Mark Sheehan, who is making plans to locate some plastic bags to wrap his frozen feet in and perhaps Chris Ogden, who isn't saying much, since he is concentrating on figuring out why water keeps dripping and dripping from the front of his helmet. Finally he takes the helmet off and sees that there's a half inch of snow stuck to the front of it. Mike Seeger and Ian from Great Britain are coherent enough to lay plans to return. After about an hour Mark has wrapped his feet in plastic bags is looking like he's getting ready to head on to Hornell. Rick Pettet has also wrapped his feet in plastic bags. I have stopped shivering and my hands work again. The snow has slowed, and in fact it is a drizzle now, and not snow at all. Mark leaves. Rick and I follow. Chris and Blaine are sounding like they might be along behind us. Mike and Ian are not. We don't know what's happened to Jennifer or Shelley or anyone else.

The gloves have been wrung out and are down the front of my shorts, where hopefully they won't do any damage and where they might get warm enough to dry out a bit. I embark bark barefingered, my hands protected only by the standard issue midsummer cycling glove, soaking wet. All the way to Hornell I am doing my immitation of Napoleon Bonaparte -- one hand on the bars, one looking for warmth against belly or chest under the front of my jersey. It works. My hands are almost comfortable.

1000: Hornell. The drizzle has nearly stopped. We are way behind schedule, and still wet enough to start shivering again as soon as we are in the control. But right out of Hornell we climb for miles to Howard, and if the rain doesn't start again, I'm expecting to be nearly dry by the time we reach the top. Rick wants to eat a meal, but our Maximum Leader Mark nixes that idea. He wants eggs. And the place to get them is at Donna's Cafe in Avoca. As Rick and I and Mark are getting ready to leave, Blaine and Chris arrive. We three head out, promising to hold them a table at Donna's. We shiver for a bit, then climb and climb and produce lots of body heat. What bliss. There are actually some dry spots on the road near the top. At Howard we have a 115 miles to go. I contemplate advising that if we head straight back to Elmira it's only 50 miles, but keep my mouth shut.

1200: Donna's Cafe, Avoca. It is tropically warm inside. Our waitress is wearing shorts and and short sleeve top. She says that she dressed that way when she looked out the window and saw it was snowing, with the idea that if you dressed for summer it might actually come. Three eggs and hash browns for me, two eggs and hashbrowns for Mark, two eggs and blueberry pancakes for Rick. I am worried about dehydrating, since I had nothing to drink but hot coffee and about four ounces of Gatorade in the last eight hours. I ask for a big glass of hot water. Our charming waitress is obliging, and the hot water goes down nicely. Rick disappears for a while, then comes back. He sits down and tells us that in the process of disrobing so he could go to the bathroom, he has dropped his helmet liner in the toilet. We look at him. His hat is on his head. "I rinsed it out as best as I could and put it back on. I have to have my hat, or I might die." Chris and Blaine arrive. We get a report that Blaine took it on the chin, literally, shortly after leaving Hornell, when he touched Chris's wheel at a stop sign and went down. He has a bump on the chin, reports feeling momentarily dazed and out of it, but otherwise seems OK. I order another big glass of hot water and Mark orders one, too. We lounge around until Chris and Blaine are ready and then all leave together.

1330 to 1600: Avoca to Penn Yan. We leave Donna's and are off again, a little shivery, but quickly warmed by the long climb over the ridge between Avoca and Prattsburg. Mark and I discuss our schedule. Originally we had planned to complete the ride in thirteen to fourteen hours, which would have put us back in Elmira by six o'clock, with two and half hours of daylight to spare. Now I'll be thrilled if we're back in Addison by six o'clock. Mark argues with me, does the math, concedes that yes, our original schedule is down the toilet. Rick as usual is in the lead, and Mark and I are trading turns keeping him company. Chris is only a couple hundred feet back and Blaine, who is not feeling well, has dropped out of sight behind us. My bike is making horrible grinding noises in low gear and Mark informs me that my small chain ring is hooking the chain on each rotation. Also, my seat post clamp is in the process of giving up the ghost, and is demonstrating the maleability of aluminum by stretching after I tighten it and letting the post sink down into the frame at the rate of about an inch an hour. But we are warm, and it isn't raining, and maybe we'll make it to Elmira before dark, or anyway not much after dark.

I have just taken over keep Rick company duty at the lead when his front tire starts making that rhythmic hissing sound that spells trouble. We stop. Mark rides by in the "I'll just ride on slow" mode. Chris rides by, after confirming we have everything we need. Blaine arrives, announces he doesn't like being last because if something happens, no one will know about it, then continues on his way. Rick is inspecting his front tire and is stupefied on seeing that he has worn the tread down to nothing and is riding in many spots on the tire cord, and in one of those spots he's worn all the way through to the tube; hence the flat. He patches the bad spot on the tire with duct tape, replaces the tube with his one spare, and refills with CO2. In the meantime I reset my seatpost and wrap some duct tape around it above the clamp to slow down the slipping. We get going again, catch Blaine just past Prattsburg and are about half way to Branchport when Rick's front tire fails again. We have no CO2 left, but we have a pump and spare, so we send Blaine on his way, expecting to catch him in a bit. Now inspection of the tire yields more bad news. There are even more spots now where the tread is worn through to the cord. We use up the rest of the duct tape, hoping that's enough to get us to Penn Yan where with luck Rick can buy another tire. The really bad news, though, is that the pump doesn't work. The north wind is howling. We are starting to get shivery. There's not a house in sight, and we realize we could die out there. In desperation we disassemble the pump, grease up the leathers with the only lubricant we've got handy, Bag Balm, and try again. It sort of works. We manage to fill up Rick's front tire to about 50 pounds of pressure. If he keeps his weight back he might yet make it to Penn Yan. I give him more bad news: "From here on," I tell him, "I'm going to have to leave you to your own devices." He has been beating himself up so badly about not checking his front tire before embarking on this adventure, that I think he's actually feeling I'm not doing quite enough to him by merely abandoning him -- I think he'd like me to hit him a few times, maybe kick him once or twice, before going on my way.

As we drop into Branchport, he's still in my rearview mirror. And in Branchport there's a store I had never noticed before. It's called Branchport Hardware, and like all hardware stores, it's sure to have lots of duct tape. It probably has pellet guns and therefore CO2 cartridges. It might even have innertubes and tires. So, with that glimmer of hope, I decide that maybe I can help after all, and besides, it's a lot more fun riding with company than alone.

We don't find tires and tubes in 700C sizes, but we do find duct tape, CO2 cartridges, a patch kit, and for my seatpost, a hose clamp, which I tighten around duct tape, making it mechanically impossible for the post to slide anymore. We take Rick's tire off, turn it inside out and give it two layers of duct tape on the inside. It weighs a ton, but maybe it will last out the ride. It will have to, because it turns out that the only place in Penn Yan that's likely to have tires closes in twenty minutes.

We're off again. Halfway to Penn Yan Rick observes, "On these long rides, my mind doesn't work right." My response: "That's because you don't eat enough." Actually my mind may not be working right either, because my standard response to almost any complaint about physical or mental infirmities is more specific: "That's because you don't eat enough eggs."

1600: Penn Yan control, about 25 minutes to spare. Jennifer and her mom are there to greet us. Jennifer seems surprisingly chipper for someone who started her day the same way we started ours. Rick asks Jennifer to call his girls to let them know he won't be home in time to take them to see Spiderman as planned. We are the last riders on the route, Jennifer tells us. There is no one else behind us, all others opting for HMS instead of times after their names. On this ride, non finishers don't get the dreaded DNF; instead they get Had More Sense. Chris and Blaine have left us a spare tube, which is very nice of them, since we are down to one plus a patch kit, and only two layers of duct tape between road and tube. Mark is about an hour ahead of us, Chris and Blaine about 45 minutes.

1700: Somewhere on the Bath road, about mile 125. A white older model T-Bird or Cougar honks behind us, which is fine. What is not so fine is that he passes maybe a foot from my left elbow. I shake my fist. The T-Bird pulls over. I grab the initiative: "How about giving me more room next time?" Response: "Excuse me, sir: F**k you." Some additional threats and harassment, purely verbal, my suggestion they give me their names and addresses so I can write them a letter explaining the rules of the road, Rick's announcement that he's got their license number, and eventually they leave us alone. We pass the time drafting several pages of the upcoming hit movie "Rando", the part where Rando himself, Uzi blazing in each hand, shoots up a white T-Bird which then explodes in a very satisfying ball of flame.

1900: Campbell. Lots of high school kids standing around, shouting obscenities at each other, they are okay to us, no problem at all, but the mere possibility of threat provokes more work on the movie. ("Please gentlemen," Rando says to a group of thugs harassing Pee Wee, "Maybe you should leave my friend alone. He sometimes loses his temper." Of course they don't leave Pee Wee alone, and there follows a scene reminiscent of the tavern scene in Leaping Dragon Pouncing Tiger (or whatever the name of that flic was) with Pee Wee visiting havoc on his adversaries, wielding only a tire pump in one hand while munching a Snickers bar and drinking Gatorade with the other. Imagine bodies flying into the dairy case. Bursting milk cartons and broken eggs all over the place.)

2000: On top of the ridge betwen Campbell and Addison. We are closing in. For the first time since early this morning we are saying "when" we finish instead of "if" we finish. Then a large, aggressive Chesapeake retriever comes out after us, all snarls and nastiness. We're off the bikes. Only weapons we can find are some one inch stones by the side of the road. They are enough. The Chessie doesn't like projectiles, however small. (Another scene from "Rando--the Movie!" Rando's sidekick from the Afghan wars has joined them. -- Ali ben Akbar?? help me with the name! -- He is very strong, and keeps up with Rando and PeeWee and all the others on their sub twenty pound titanium marvels, even though his mild steel Kabul Roadmaster weighs nearly fifty and he always rides equipped with a full compliment of rocket launchers and grenades. Have you ever seen what a rocket launched grenade can do to an aggressive Chesapeake retriever?)

2015: Addison. We are approaching he last control on the route. Thirty two miles to go. There is still some light in the sky. In the control the sign up sheet shows Mark more than an hour ahead of us, Blaine and Chris still about 45 minutes. I buy a pack of double A's and replace the shot batteries in my CatEye headlight. I have a 15 watt Nightrider also, but I want to save that for the long descent from Caton. I drink more hot water. My hydration is working OK, and I have to visit the men's room. There I see a brevet card in a ziplock baggy sitting on top of the trash can. One of the smart people who abandoned early this morning must have tossed it there. But that was a long time ago. I pick it up, look at the name: "Blaine Chamberlain". Well, the way to heaven is paved with small kindnesses, and I perform one small kindness to get me one step closer. I decide to bring Blaine's brevet card to the final control for him. Without it he would get no credit for his part in this great adventure.

2030 Erwin. Jennifer catches up to us at Brownie's minimart. We are putting on our reflecive vests. She's impressed with our conscientiousness. "We just don't want to get killed," I tell her. I give her Blaine's brevet card. This will save him a very bad three-quarters of an hour at the finish between the time he discovers he's lost his brevet card an our arrival.

2100: More dogs. These are nasty animals that have given us trouble in the past and that are soon going to dog jail. Maybe dog heaven if the Town Justice is so inclined to order. Certainly I will encourage her in that direction. It's the last straw being attacked in dark. (Ali ben Akbar, launches two grenades, which make short work of the dogs. Then the owner, enraged, attacks PeeWee, with predictable consequences. Rando finishes off his pick up trucks with several bursts from the Uzis.)

2200: We are zipping downhill for seven wonderful, easy miles into Elmira. The 15 watt Nightrider is working beautifully. We can see wonderfully. And it isn't snowing. We aren't cold either, even though we're doing almost no work.

2229: We have arrived. Jennifer takes our brevet cards. Mark and Blaine and Chris are there. There is beer. There is a shower. My helmet disappears while I am not looking. Rick, whose mind is still not working quite right, has packed it up with his stuff. "Is it red?" he asks when I make my inquiries; then abashedly hands it over. It is easy to forgive him. He has been through a lot. This is his longest ride ever, and as he proudly shows us all after his shower, his sit bones have worn two nice round holes through his shammy. Welcome to the Bag Balm club.

Epilogue: Jennifer reports 11 riders started. She and Joe Mautz abandoned in the snowstorm half way down Church Creek Road; Mike Seager and Ian Deegan made it to the first control with the five finishers, but opted to head back by bike. Bob Cooper and Michelle Dulieu made it to Erwin, where they were picked up and taken home by Bob's wife. HMS's all. Chuck Beer got to the start at 3:45, but forgot his booties, knew he couldn't make it without them, and headed back to home in Caton to get them, figuring he could just start late from Elmira. But it was snowing there and he couldn't reach Jennifer at the Holiday Inn so he, too, took an HMS.

The five riders who managed to finish are all Diners Club Centurions and could appropriately be called Winter Rats, since they rode pretty much through the winter. Still, we never rode in anything as bad as this brevet's first two and half hours, which started with a thorough soaking and finished with a freezing. It might be a little early yet to say we survived intact.

Bill Lodico

*Had More Sense. Other candidates for appropriate acronyms: NTS for Not That Stupid; TYD Too Young to Die; NDE Not Dumb Enough.

A First 200km

Edward Roberts Oct 2001
Email to Christa Borras regarding his first ever brevet experience


I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed (and suffered through) my first 200km brevet.

I thought I had trained properly to make this ride 'easy & fun'... boy was I wrong about the easy part!!! The double century I had completed in late August was a 'cake walk' compared this 200km brevet. My first clue that this ride was going to be quite different than what I had expected came during the first 10 minutes when my heart rate rocketed and stayed at 152bpm (as compared to my target 132bpm)... this while I tried to keep up with the pack. Realizing I couldn't keep this pace, I came to my senses, dropped down to a more manageable heart rate and watched as the last rider left my sight.

My second clue on how difficult this ride was came about at the 40 mile mark. At this point, my legs felt worse than when I had completed my double century... they were already 'burning' on my ascent up the hills! Only 40 miles completed... over 80 miles to go... feeling real bad... I questioned myself on being able to complete the ride. I got lost at this point (around mile 41), which was very, very demoralizing. I had my first real doubt (of many to come) as too whether I could complete the ride. I asked myself if I should just turn around now and save myself from additional pain in continuing a ride that I couldn't complete. But... I somehow reasoned that if I could complete 20 more miles and get to the half way point then I would have to finish... I hadn't planned a backup, so once I got to Madison I knew the only way back to Warrenton was on my bike... so I continued the ride.

Madison was a welcome sight, but the next 60+ miles were pure agony. Every hill was beginning to feel like a mountain that I wouldn't be able climbe. Even the fairly flat portions of the ride were becoming a real challenge. I must have decided to quit about 10-15 times during this portion of the ride, but I continually set small goals (e.g. reaching the next turn on the cue sheet, completing another 10 miles, etc.) to take my mind off of my pain & thoughts of quitting.

The doubts & severe pain continued until I reached the 120 mile mark (well the pain actually continued). I knew for the first time I could complete the ride (or at least I thought I knew). As I 'clicked' off mile 121, 122, etc. my spirits were soaring... I was almost done!!! WRONG. When I came to a stop sign at mile 126 that wasn't on the cue sheet my heart dropped!!! No Howard Johnson in sight... actually nothing in sight but a few houses & churches. I went to one of the houses to get directions to the Howard Johnson and was devastated to find that I had taken a wrong turn and still had another 7 or 8 miles to go. NO WAY I thought... she had to be wrong... DAMMIT there had to be another Howard Johnson motel and had to be hidden somewhere right here in the woods (the funny thing is that I really believed this for several minutes!!!). I decided to go across the road to a church and get 'better information' from the people in the parking lot. Anyway to make a long story short, two women in the church parking lot confirmed my mistake. I WAS DEVASTATED... I expressed my feelings aloud to the women... you must be wrong... 8 more miles... I'll never make it... I can't do it. Trying to reclaim my 'dignity', I apologized to the women for my reaction and started out for home. I started retracing my mistake (boy did that really hurt mentally) and was startled when a van pulled up beside me and rolled down the windows... it was the two women from the church. They said to me ... "we never offer rides to anyone we don't know, but you look so 'bad' we decided to make an exception...". Well I thanked the women & explained to them that the rules of the ride prohibited me from accepting their offer, but their kindness was refreshing and helped my spirits for the rest of the ride.

Anyway... I rode back to where I had made my mistake, corrected it and completed the ride.

The next day I reflected a bit on the ride. I realized this was the first ride that I actually felt very, very proud about. It was far tougher than any of my previous rides. It included some of the most severe 'personal battles' I had encountered (i.e. convincing myself not to quit). I had taken minimal rest (less than a combined hour for lunch, drinks, rest rooms', etc.). I was really very proud about the whole thing. I realize that 11 hours 23 minutes won't 'win' any races, but I sure felt like a champion that day!

Sorry for the ramblings, but I wanted to let you know how much fun I had.

a champion that day!

Sorry for the ramblings, but I wanted to let you know how much fun I had.