View Full Version : 400k report: not as long as the ride

04-15-2007, 05:57 PM
Yesterday I did the 400k in the brevet series I have been doing (200, 300, 400 and 600k). The ride worked out to 250.1 miles.

All week, we've been looking at the forecast, which was BAD. I stayed Friday night with SK and Bubba and they fed me well! Woke up on Saturday morning and looked out the window - rain. I got up and SK was at the computer looking at the forecast which looked to be improving. Nonetheless, we debated the relative merits of slitting your wrists vertically or horizontally. :cool:

The ride started at 6 am, in the dark and in the rain. In general, one of the high points of this ride was how well my new wheels with Schmidt generator hub and E6 lights have performed. I have been riding in the dark, maybe once a week, trying to get comfortable with that as that was something I knew I wanted to work on after my 600k last year. The lights have no battery - power comes from the wheel turning. This means that the slower you go, the more dim your lights are, so when I climb anything where I am going less than about 6 mph, I switch one light off and have one light working - generally enough to see on a climb.

The route was a great one, over a lot of roads I have ridden at one time or another. We started out through flat farmlands for about 50 miles. I had dropped something in the initial group departure, so I had to stop about a mile into the ride and by the time I got rolling again, I was alone - and last. Oh well. I gradually caught and passed a lot of riders in the first 50 miles. As you pass people, you try to figure out if maybe you want to ride with them. I rode with one very nice guy for a while. He's done a lot of brevets, but then he started saying things like "I did that Mt. Tam double - I started at 4:30 and didn't finish til midnight." And I was thinking crikey how can I ride with this guy? I'll never get done! So I politely distanced myself at the rollers down Pleasant's Valley Rd.

And it was still raining.

As I rode mostly by myself for the first half of the ride, I started thinking about other times I had been on these roads. Much of the ride is the route of the Knoxville Double Century I did in 2005, and I thought about the group of friends who had been on that ride with me and Mike. As we started climbing out of the valley up Wooden Valley and Wildcat Cyn roads, I thought about a Death Ride training ride I had done up here in 2002 and the friends I had ridden with then.

Control #1 was at 67 miles in a school. Unlike any other brevet I have ever been on, the Davis Bike club had fantastic support - fully stocked rest stops and SAG cars on the course. In particular, I kept seeing the wonderful red van of Lee Mitchell who would blare music at you on his loudspeaker and sometimes stick his head out the window. He was very motivating.

And it was still raining.

There was a little climb out of Moscowite to Sage Canyon. As I climbed the hill, stuffing sport beans in my mouth, I noticed a beautiful red salamander slowly crossing the road. I picked him up and tossed him into the grass. I hope he didn't make another attempt. Miles 74 - 85 saw a great swoopy descent and some rollers down Sage Canyon and Lake Hennessey. Then I turned onto the Silverado Trail and they turned off the rain and turned on the headwind.

It took a lot longer than it should have to go the 20 miles to the next control. The headwind was crazy. My friends Fred and Mike have been doing bikus with their TNT group - I was so number from the wind I tried making some up.

This headwind is strong
I hope it's still there when I
reach the turn-around

Get on the wheel now
I've drafted you for a half
mile. I'm willing to pull

These guys referred to in the second biku just would not work with me. So I was alone. Control #2 in Calistoga featured hot food (instant lunch in a cup) and a chance to change out of very wet socks and gloves and spend some time in bare feet. There was patchy blue sky!!

Veronica was going to meet me in Geyserville and ride the second half with me. I was going to be a lot later than expected, so I called her. She seemed in very good spirits and was a good sport.

I love the ride between Calistoga and Geyserville. SK, Bubba, Jo, TH and I had ridden this in the 200k. There's a lot of swoopy, foresty stuff, and then open rolling hills. Again, I imagined riding this stretch of road with my friends.

Still the wind was stiff. 7 miles from the turn around point I was becoming disheartened. I was working so hard to go 13 mph into this wind. Then here comes Lee Mitchell in his SAG van, music blaring, and he sticks his head out the window and smiles at me. That kept me going.

Finally reaching the Control, there was Veronica! I re-filled bottles, had a coke and we were on our way. It was 4 pm! I had planned to get there by 2!!! Two hours behind my planned time line. I rushed to get us out of the control so we could take advantage of the wind which would now be at our backs - and boy was it! It took us 45 minutes less to get back to Calistoga than it had taken me to get from Calistoga to the turn around!!

It was great to have someone to ride with after a whole day of mostly riding with imaginary friends - well, not imaginary, but the friends I had been thinking about having done past rides on the course with. V and I chatted and had a great fast ride into Caistoga. More food and drink loaded up and we started down Silverado.

Leaving Calistoga, we met up with Reid and Bill, whom I'd ridden part of the 300k with a couple of weeks ago. We formed a very efficient paceline the 17 miles down Silverado. Those were some good miles! (During those miles, and while I was at the head of the paceline we did drop the current RUSA president who had come down from Seattle and was riding the course. He hadn't been part of our group - we caught him and rode with him for a bit then dropped him. I'm not proud of it, but he was with a friend and they were on single speeds so there's no way they'd be able to stick with a fast group on a flat road.)

Then we climbed Sage Canyon again (mile 175) and it became apparent that it was starting to rain. Again.

At some point it also started to become dark enough that we needed to stop, switch on tail lights and put on our reflective gear. The beauty of my front lights is you can just switch them on and off on the bike. The tail lights are a little harder to reach!

We had to climb Cardiac before the next control at mile 200. Cardiac is a great climb, but neither V nor I could really visualize it and it was hard to know when it would be over and we couldn't see very far ahead of us. At one point we saw a CHP car with its lights flashing stopped in the road, a ways above us. We agreed that couldn't be good, but then we realized that there had been a lot of rock and mud slide because of the rains and I think he saw us and was trying to make sure that he slowed oncoming traffic while we got around the mudslide. That made up for the CalTrans truck that twice passed me with a bulldozer blade which almost hit me in the morning. :cool:

I did remember that Cardiac is a double summit, and coming down the second descent at some point there would be the dam and the control. The descent was a little tough in the dark and it seemed very misty - though that could have been my glasses. :rolleyes:

The control was pereched in the parking lot of the Monticello Dam. It was blustery and cold. The control staff was incredibly helpful - parked our bikes, gave us water, more hot soup, peach cobbler, oreos and accessorized me with the large size Hefty Trash bag. This thing made me the subject of some (SOME!?!?) mockery from V but boy I was pretty tasty warm for the rest of the ride. Although the thing did catch on my seat when I would stand and sit back down, so I have to do some alterations on the bike.

We had 20 miles of downhill and rollers before the mini mart Control where I had to buy something and get a receipt. (Brevets require you to pass through various controls. Usually they are stores where you buy something and get a receipt noting the time you were there. The Davis one was unusual for me in that all the controls but one had staff signing your card for you. I only went to one store the entire time.)

After this control there was only 30 miles to the finish. Most of it was going to be flat. It started out with a bit of a climb. :rolleyes: By about the last 15 miles, I was fading. I knew I would finish, but I was just tired. It wasn't nearly as bad as I'd been on the 600k where the last 110 miles took me 11 hours, but it was tough. V was very patient and kept chatting at me which helped keep me awake. The last 30 miles took us about 2 1/2 hours.

We finished at 1:45 am. SK and Thom were there to greet us at the control. We came back to SK's and I learned that hot cocoa with peppermint schnapps is a great recovery drink!! :D

In the end, the ride took just about as long as I thought it would - but in a very different way than I thought. I projected it would take around 20 hours, and that the first half would take 8 and the second 10 -12. In actuality the first half took 10 hours and the second took 9 h. 45 minutes. To have a negative split on a ride of that length just shows how much of a factor weather was. (Ride time was about 17h 40 min, so I was decently efficient at rest stops).

Many thanks again to SK and Bubba for hosting and feeding me (and getting me shoes!) and to Veronica for keeping me company in the tough nighttime hours. It is really nice to have someone with you when it gets dark and also to have someone chatting with (at) you when you're starting to fade - so thank you thank you!!!

I may well remember more to add to this as I ponder over the next week or so, but I wanted to get this out there to those of you who want some light reading!!! :D

04-15-2007, 06:44 PM
Sarah! Fabulous. "Congratulations" doesn't seem to be quite enough, somehow. You've come roaring back.

04-15-2007, 06:49 PM
Well done MP!! What an epic... you are da WOMAN!

As are you Miz Veronica.

I'm gonna have to think up a fabulous jersey for you two intrepid peddlers. Something chic, something that glows in the dark, something worthy of your tenacity and strength... something that doesn't say HEFTY across the shoulders.

spazz-just-call-me-Bruth :D

04-15-2007, 07:08 PM
This ride was definitely full of ups and downs for me. Thom left me around 2 PM in Geyersville and I took pictures of riders as they came to the rest stop to pass the time.

MP and I took off around 4 and flew the thirty miles south to Calistoga. We saw this beautiful purple field of lupine. I had recently retensioned the saddle on my Rambouillet and its position wasn't quite right. I eventually figured out that the problem was coming from me sliding forward and as long as I made sure my butt stayed back all was well. I was happy when Single Speed Guy in Calistoga said he was lightening his load and getting rid of Chamois Butter. I don't usually use it, but I figured it couldn't hurt. I think SSG is the RUSA president. (?)

That pace line from Calistoga to Sage Canyon HURT. I wasn't quite redlining, but we were moving about 2 MPH faster than Thom and I had on Tuesday. I was very happy to suck every one's wheel, but did take a short pull towards the end. I'm not used to riding in a pace line, except with people I know pretty well. I wasn't sure when to eat - so didn't for an hour. I managed to grab a drink or two. MP's advice, eat when you're at the back. Good to know.

We backed off on the climb up Sage Canyon. We were treated to a gorgeous sunset over Lake Hennesey and then it began to rain. We did have a rainbow near the top of the climb.

Jackets on, lights on. I wasn't sure where we were and I was cold. We eventually got to a turn that I recognized from the Davis Double and I thought I'd start remembering the route, but everything looked so different in the dark. I was happy every time we passed a landmark I could make out. There is a fairly shallow descent just before the climb up Cardiac and I was so cold on it. I was looking forward to the climb starting so I could warm up.

The climb was good, a bit freaky because of all the rocks and mud. I warmed up, the next descent was AWFUL. It was cold and there was fog. I love to descend, but I hate to be cold and it just seemed to go on forever. Climb a little more, descend to the Dam. A little soup and some hot cocoa were nice. I couldn't stop shivering and my quads ached. I don't know if it was from the cold or pushing harder than I normally do or both. I was beginning to think we were both insane. The volunteers had a small heater that I stood as near to as I possibly could until one of the workers said she smelled something burning. No I wasn't on fire... just a little warm.

I did the section from the Dam to the 7-11 in sort of a daze, especially once we turned onto Pleasants Valley - a road I'd never been on before. It was pretty deserted and I was a playing a game where I could look at the GPS whenever a car came by. I think there were only three or four cars. But it let me know we were making progress to our destination. About the only bright spot in this section was laughing at MP's attempts to get her butt back on the saddle with her so lovely dress getting in the way. She eventually modified the dress.

At the 7-11 I called Thom and had a Red Bull. I meant to ask for a blanket for the drive home, but forgot. MP and I took off, climbed a little more, had a little downhill and then hit the flats. That's when the Red Bull kicked in! Suddenly I had vim and vigour again, which was good because I could do my job of entertaining MP as she finished her wicked long ride. Never underestimate the power of a Red Bull. :D

I am convinced that Thom is physic. My favorite blanket was in the car when we arrived in Davis.

This ride was good in a lot of ways. MP is a blast to ride with. I pushed myself harder than I usually do on a long ride. In any long ride there are always ups and downs. Things hurt, you question your sanity. Happily, I finished on an up. All HAIL the GREAT RED BULL!

Here's MP in her lovely outfit. I didn't catch the guy's name, but I thought their matching outfits were so fetching.


04-15-2007, 07:15 PM
The outfits are du-vine! Like I said before, duct tape adds that little extra...

04-15-2007, 07:24 PM
Wow, you ladies are SO COOL!!!!

(and the Hefty bag is quite lovely):D

04-15-2007, 07:27 PM
Thanks, guys!

I guess next time I will need to accessorize properly - with duct tape! Snap where are you when I need you??

04-15-2007, 07:44 PM
Congrats!:D :D :D
Maybe one day, I'll do a 400K . Like when I have a Less insane job (or a less loopy boss).
Although , I noticed that the folks in Santa Cruz are doing a 400k next month.... We'll see how my desert sojourn goes (if it does)

04-15-2007, 08:25 PM
wow, what an amazing story! (are you guys nuts?)
no really congratulations; and yes that was a great outfit. Being
toasty warm is always a plus.

04-15-2007, 08:59 PM
Brilliant, MP! :cool: And V as well. Red Bull Rulz.

04-15-2007, 09:42 PM
Wow, MP, you are seriously hardcore. Congrats on your finish, and I love the Hefty picture. ;)

V wins Best Supporting Actress for this one. What a team!

04-15-2007, 10:08 PM

Congrats to both of you!

04-15-2007, 11:07 PM
Well done MP and V. I love the ride report. :)

04-15-2007, 11:22 PM
Love the reports! Well Done!!! :D

04-16-2007, 08:42 AM
I just got an email from the guy I rode with a bit at the beginning. He finished last, at 6:15 a.m. Wow that's a tough day. I am very glad to have heard from him, though.

04-16-2007, 12:48 PM
I just got an email from the guy I rode with a bit at the beginning. He finished last, at 6:15 a.m. Wow that's a tough day. I am very glad to have heard from him, though.

Wow that is a long day. What was the finish cut off time??

04-16-2007, 01:21 PM
Wow that is a long day. What was the finish cut off time??

The ride started at 6 am on the 14th and you had to be finished by 9 am on the 15th. They give you a lot of time. I sure wouldn't want to be riding that long, though.

04-16-2007, 02:29 PM
Beyond what I dream... what a crazy amazing thing thing to do... and in such sexy outfits too (love the pic Veronica posted!)

Well done Mallio, this is way beyond what I can conceive... I am well-impressed.

04-16-2007, 02:34 PM
The ride started at 6 am on the 14th and you had to be finished by 9 am on the 15th. They give you a lot of time. I sure wouldn't want to be riding that long, though.

LOL - I agree but its nice to see that they give plenty of time for the slower riders. Im sure if I ever did the 400km brevet I would need every minute of it.

Trekhawk who thought 200kms was far enough.:o

04-16-2007, 02:39 PM
TH - Well, I think the thinking is you can take a nap during the ride and still have time to finish. I have no doubt you could do it. It's just a question of how much you want to put yourself through.

RR - thanks! Yeah, it's a nice look, huh?

04-16-2007, 03:07 PM
TH - Well, I think the thinking is you can take a nap during the ride and still have time to finish. I have no doubt you could do it. It's just a question of how much you want to put yourself through.

RR - thanks! Yeah, it's a nice look, huh?

LOL - not while your on the bike though I hope.:D
Maybe a few years into the future and thats a big maybe but at the moment Im like those old map makers unsure of what lies further afield. The big line after 200kms says "here be dragons".:D

04-16-2007, 04:09 PM
Great reports, I had fun reading them. You both have a knack for writing, making me feel like I was actually there!

Wonderful job on the ride, very cool.