The Alabama Randonneurs had their 300K brevet yesterday, and it started and ended at Prattville High School (Go Lions!). Much of the route came from suggestions of Jeff Feet and myself, based on our many Saturday morning rides over the years. Organizer Steve Phillips tweaked things to get the control spacing right and conform to RUSA guidelines. The counter clockwise direction resulted from the lack of a decent shoulder on the northbound span of the bridge over the Alabama River. Clockwise would be a better direction for this ride. We had 4 out of area riders come over and Joe, Frank, Max, Ron and me from the local environs. Counting Steve (who did not ride due to recent surgery) there were (4) PBP finishers and (4) 1st time brevet riders. Frank has prior RUSA ride experience, up to 400K
We met in the dark at the high school and briefly shook hands. We spent more time checking out the other bikes.
Here are Maile & Gary from Wash DC area.
I packed it all, including the kitchen sink. Next time, I pack less. Here's the Saluki ready to go:
Joe got a call during the pre-ride briefing. His daughter went into labor with his 1st grand child. He headed back home to get Grandma and take her to the hospital for the happy event. I know Joe was looking forward to BOTH events, the baby and the brevet. I can understand why the brevet did not win out. Max and Ron were late arrivals. Max says that no matter how early he starts, he just can't seem to get his stuff together and get out of the house on time. He didn't get all his stuff together this time either. Water bottles were left at the house. He arranged with his wife Debbie to bring them to our 1st control, and he had his Camelbak pack which would be plenty until then. Ron pedaled up and signed in close to the start time, got his card and was off before the rest of us. We went by him a short time later, but that's typical. Ron rides at a very steady pace and tarries almost not at all at rest stops. We often leap frog each other on rides, as we ride more quickly, but stop longer to rest.
The ride to Hope Hull was very pleasant. The winds were not strong at 1st and were from the side. The Cat 5 climb up Wetumpka St got us warmed up (46F at the start) nicely, and there were only highway overpasses after that for quite a while. The early sun made crossing the Alabama River very pretty.
The leaves are starting to show nice color as you can see. We made good time to the 1st control. Everyone was able to get there under the time limit, including Max who picked up a safety pin and punctured his Gatorskin tire. He SAYS he yelled at us to stop, but neither Frank nor I heard him. We waited for him at the control and re connected. Here I am getting my card signed. "My name is Armstrong, Lance Armstrong.." She wasn't buying it though.
Here are some riders snacking before leaving.
I was the 1st to ditch my jacket. I was also the only one (I think) wearing wool. The clothing all worked out really well for me today. Up top was a short sleeve wool tee under a long sleeve wool jersey. Below were wicking briefs (non padded) an unpadded pair of wool shorts and a wooly warm unpadded tights. Cap was a Synaptic Cycles woolie. Gloves were wool blend Giros and thick wool socks inside (and here was a wow discovery for the day) Keen shoes (Kelona model, a street shoe) on Grip King platform pedals. The shoes are light weight, ergonomic with a big toe box and airspace for good circulation. No wet socks, hotspots, etc. Loved it. At the start, a Showers Pass yellow jacket was on top, but it went in the saddle bag at this 1st stop.
At Hope Hull, a few miles south of the control, we turned east, and into the wind. It blew harder than we were expecting. Some of the blasts coming off cleared farm fields were like climbing tough hills. Frank separated out ahead of Max and I, and eventually there was some space between me and Max as well. Both of them were were good riding company and it was just my weaker legs at work. Here you can see Max close by, and Frank accelerating away. Below that, a picture proving I was at least enjoying the ride. It also shows another great find of the day. For $6, I got a DOT spec reflective vest at the local industrial supply store. Light, comfy and VERY visible. They also had good over-glasses sunshade/safety glasses there.
We slogged into the wind for about 34 miles. There were some breaks when we ran north or south and only had it as a side wind. On one of these cross wind legs, we passed a huge arts and crafts show in the village of Pike Road.
Eventually, we reached our lunch stop at the John Hall Store in Cecil, 70 miles out. It was crowded inside as they run a smoker all morning in order to have BBQ to sell at lunch.
The locals are mostly farmers and I was behind a father and son, wearing real spurs, who obviously did that kind of work for a living, and were not just still in Halloween costume.
Frank had a BBQ sandwich for lunch followed by a slice of pizza for dessert. He wonders why with this purple Under Armor shirt and his yellow Sam Allen belt on people were honking and yelling at him today.
I tanked up on Powerade Zero and we waited for Max. Seems that they forgot his order. Of course that was after he was sure he forgot his wallet, until Frank said "Look in your Camelbak. " Sure enough, there it was. He ate something, I don't remember what, got a refund for the unfilled order, got some fluids and we got a talk from Ride Organizer Steve that we were needing to be careful about time in controls. We were on time, but not allowing enough margin. That made me realize that I needed to let Frank and Max go on ahead of me. My total avg. pace was 10.2 mph (including stops) which is over the 9.5 mph min, but I knew with cold and hills ahead, I would probably slow down even more. My moving average was the same 13.4 mph I do on almost all my longer rides, but I needed the time off the saddle. It's just how my engine runs. Frank took off for Tallassee and I floated my plan to Max. He suggested we try for Tallassee too. We loaded up and moved on out as I did feel a little better after eating. It was into the wind again, but the wind seemed to be shifting. After 5 miles when we turned north, and INTO more wind, I told Max I was going to turn around and get a ride home. I was just going to be too slow and did not want to miss a cut off later in the evening.
I texted Sharon, and she came to get me at the store. It's a 30 minute drive from home and I was 20 mins away by bike so when I got back to the store I only waited 10 minutes for the car to show up. The 5 miles WITH the wind were sweet though. Sharon didn't mind coming to get me, which I very much appreciated.
So, I ended just under 80 miles at 13.4 moving and 10.2 total pace. 2,100' +/- of climb. Max finished his first Brevet, and I am very proud of him. He & Frank had just 20 minutes to spare, which tells me that I would have missed it for sure. Ron missed the cut off time at control #6, but decided to finish the ride anyway, and then pedal home. I'm proud of him too. Frank was expected to do fine, and he did. Way to go big guy. Congrats to Grandpa Joe and thanks to Steve for putting it together. I did not need the night stuff for the ride but the portable lithium recharger did work fine on the Garmin and also does cell phones. Well worth having and very light.