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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    North Central Florida

    600k Ride Report, In Reverse!

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    (I'm not sure why I wrote like this- maybe the reports were all just starting to seem the same. I think I might have read a book by the guy who wrote Fight Club that was written in reverse chrono. I started out like this, then didn't like it, but then SOMEONE was getting impatient for my report, so I started writing on that same draft, and it seemed ok. But if you hate it, just scroll to the bottom and read up. And thanks to everyone for all the encouragement and faith- it helped more than you could ever know. Nanci)

    Sunday, 7:00 PM: I'm soaking in a hot bath, with a chilled glass of Menage a
    Trois wine, (Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio) anticipating a home-cooked
    meal of chicken tacos and a big glass of milk, followed by a well-deserved sleep, _with_ ice packs! I feel well enough to know I won't be calling in the next day.

    One hour earlier: I'm taking apart and unpacking my bike piece by piece
    so I can load it onto the rack for the trip home. I have somehow managed to
    lose BF's alarm clock, but am too tired to care. As I survey the things I
    didn't really need, I am proud that they are few. I have learned how to leave
    the non-essentials behind.

    One hour earlier: I cruise into the parking lot of the Rush Lake Motel,
    mile 374, and spot the RUSA Banner outside a room with an open door. As I
    glide to my final halt, I surprise Meegan, wife of RBA Jim, who says "I thought
    I heard someone out here!" "I'm HOME!" I exclaim. I dismount, lean Lava up
    against the wall, and head in to get the final stamp on my brevet card. As I
    linger over a cold Coke, Meegan tells me how proud she is of me for completing
    the series, and asks if I am going to Boston-Montreal-Boston, since I am now
    qualified. ....1200k...right...Total time on the bike is 27 hours. Total time counting sleep, lunch, stops, etc: 37 hours. The limit was 40. Not so bad! I learn that Buzee was about 45 minutes behind me all day, and that Skip never showed up.

    One hour earlier: Finally into home territory! My undercarriage pain has
    subsided as long as I do nothing to aggravate it. I feel a burst of energy as
    I ride familiar streets where I know every turn by heart. I have lots of
    energy now! I can do standing sprints! I sprint through a traffic light at 24mph!

    One hour earlier: I am desperate to pee. I am falling asleep. I am
    boiling hot. I haven't seen shade in a lifetime. I search for suitable cover for a pee stop, but can't find anything. I pull over on a bridge, walk my bike behind the guard rail, sit in the shade, and drink my last Amp. Then I spray aerosol cooling mist sunscreen all over. Whoever invented that was a genius. After a brief rest, I head out yet again. And in a couple miles spot a likely-looking rusty gate, where I park my bike and crawl through into the underbrush for a much-needed pee break.

    One hour earlier: I make my last convenience store stop and get more
    Gatorade, then pedal on. Soon I am having major undercarriage pain. The Udder
    Balm I applied at the last stop isn't helping. I spend the next several miles
    alternately standing, screaming obscenities, grabbing at my crotch and
    wrenching my shorts about in a futile attempt to make things not hurt, while my
    bike swerves wildly. Repeat as necessary. Luckily, the rude Melrose drivers
    are not in evidence on this shadeless road.

    One hour earlier: I arrive at the second to last Control with plenty of
    time to spare. I replenish my supply of Gatorade, and add a spare bottle. I
    buy a can of Amp in case I get sleepy. I spend some time sprawled on the curb,
    hot, tired. My lunch consists of a can of Pringles and a sweet tea. Food is
    completely unappealing, and I have no appetite at all. But look at the bright
    side: only 100k to go! Four more hours, plus a couple breaks. I can do this!
    Really, there was never any doubt in my mind that I could, as long as my knee
    held out. That isn't to say there haven't been moments of wondering _why_ I am
    doing it!

    One hour earlier: I am somewhere east of Gainesville. There have been a
    lot of lakes nearby. I really don't know where I am, geographically, though I
    am not lost on the cue sheet. It's starting to get hot. BF calls while I am
    at a stop light. He says I can _have_ riding in hot weather. I say, "Well,
    I'd rather be hot than cold. If I never ride at night again, it will be too

    Night vs day- there are advantages and disadvantages to each. Night is cool,
    and there is less traffic. It's harder to see, though; potholes, trash that
    might cause a flat, the road itself if there isn't a fog line. And there are
    always strange scary rustlings and shadowy shapes darting across the road.
    It's worse when I'm by myself. It's easier to miss a turn. Day, though- it
    can sure get hot! Drivers can see us, but that doesn't mean they care. I _do_
    like being able to see the scenery. I think my favorite time is from dawn
    until late morning. I got to enjoy that time twice on this ride!

    One hour earlier: 300 miles!!! I am so excited! This important
    remarkable mileage "first" falls at the end of the Gainesville-Hawthorne paved
    trail. I stop to take off my knickers and shoes, have a drink, call some
    friends excitedly. I even take a picture of me standing by my bike. I hope
    that Buzzee will catch up during all this dilly-dallying, but there is not sign
    of him. Off I go, into Hawthorne.

    30 minutes earlier: I'm on the trail, the Gainesville-Hawthorne paved trail,
    the first place I ever rode 30 miles straight. It was on a mountain bike, my
    first real MTB, a nice Mongoose (not the discount store variety) with MTB
    tires. It seemed _so far_ at the time, like there was some question of us not
    even being able to ride that far in one day. As I pass other riders on the
    trail, none of whom wave back, I think, if only they knew the miles I've been.

    One hour earlier: I stop at the last store for a while, and have a nice
    conversation with some gentlemen sitting on a bench outside. Everyone I meet
    is _so_ interested in the ride. I buy more Gatorade and refill. Heading out,
    I immediately miss my turn, but immediately catch the error, only costing me
    100 feet of bonus mileage. (The record for this particular ride will turn out
    to be a guy with a total of _40_ bonus miles, plus a lost computer, plus two
    flats, mostly all before lunch yesterday!) I head down a pretty country road.
    It's a nice day for a bike ride! Soon I pass an animal, in a pasture, but I'm
    not sure what it is. It's gray, with a head sort of like a cow, but not
    really. Some sort of antelope? An exotic wild cattle breed? Who knows?
    There are also lots and lots of llamas, many with babies.

    09:20*: I arrive at the first Control, the McIntosh Grocery, mile 27. I know
    I should eat, but nothing appeals to me. I purchase a bottle of choc milk, and
    ask the clerk to stamp my brevet card. The Control closes at 9:00. Wait!
    It's 9:20!! I experience momentary heart failure. But wait, the time change!
    Which time is the store clock on? I have a hard time converting the current
    Daylight Savings Time to Standard Time which is what the ride is running on.
    Finally my brain cooperates and I figure out that the store is on EDST, 09:20,
    which is 08:20 EST, the time the ride is on. I have 40 minutes to spare. Whew. I am kind of horrified, though, that I didn't know what time the Control closed when
    I left this morning, when I hung out 30 exta minutes hoping to pick up some
    company, when I agreed to leave at 6:00 AM rather than the 4:00, or even 5:00
    which I had originally planned on...*My real arrival time is 08:20.

    One hour earlier: I turn left onto CR 320, heading to McIntosh. This is one
    of the most beautiful roads I have ridden on. It's cool, and misty, and there
    is no traffic at all. Up ahead I see two large wild turkeys in a meadow. The
    road is heavily shaded and I pass elegant horse farms by the dozen.

    6:30 AM One hour earlier: I depart from Rush Lake Motel. Getting on the bike
    again isn't nearly as bad as I anticipated. Of course I am wearing padded
    knickers over my bike shorts! I have removed my headlights to save weight,
    since it is daylight. It's cool- 55F? and overcast, so I decide to bring a
    rain jacket just in case. Almost immediately I experience a totally new pain-
    my right Achilles tendon. I have never felt that before, ever, in any athletic
    endeavor. But it doesn't get worse, and I warm out of it in the first hour.

    Thirty minutes earlier: I arrive at Jim and Meegan's room. She offers to make breakfast, but I'm not a breakfast person, so I drink a bottle of Endurox and eat a handful of pre-race vitimins. Skip and Buzzee are nowhere in sight. I decide to wait a bit, since it's so much more fun to ride in company.

    One hour earlier: Time to get up. I am not sleeping well, anyway. It only takes minutes to get dressed, pack up my clothes, pack my bike, and head over to the RBA's room. I take some Ibuprofen and the muscle relaxer, Skelaxin. Mix up a bottle of Endurox, and I'm out the door! Let Day Two begin!

    One hour earlier: The phone rings. I awaken from the deepest, most refreshing
    sleep of my life. It is like waking from a coma- it seems like only moments
    ago that I laid down. It is BF, who doesn't realize I am staying on Standard
    Time for the duration of the ride. He is on Daylight Savings Time, an hour
    later, and thinks I am out on my bike. Grrrrrrrrrr...I hope I can get back to

    Three hours earlier: I turn out the lights and go to sleep.

    01:00: We arrive at the RBA's room and check in. Meegan fixes me a plate of
    pasta. Real food, hot food, tastes so good! I initially thought I wouldn't
    have the energy to eat, but after a couple bites, I am momentarily refreshed.
    Skip is picked up by his wife for a good night's (short) sleep at home. "See
    you at 6:00" we say. He says not to wait if he isn't there. "Oh, you'll be
    there" I threaten. Buzzee works on his plate of pasta. I head off to my room
    for a nice hot bath. So far, so good.

    One hour earlier: Millhopper Road, the home stretch! This is the nice road with the bike lane with not many cars. Skip lives on this road, but wants to make it in to the Control 15 miles further.

    30 min earlier: At the ride sign-in, we received a small black and white photo of the I75 overpass, and a road going underneath it, and a guard rail. Hidden in the guard rail are the stickers for a Sticker Control (unmanned, but not secret). We correctly identify the secret hiding place from the photograph, and each take a sticker and place it on our brevet card in the assigned spot.

    The hours of darkness: It gets dark about 8PM. I am still using the Cateye Microhalogen $9 lights- and they are working fine! I have Lithium batteries in them. I don't know if Lithium lasts longer in a light, like it does in a camera, but the savings in weight is noticeable. So I run each light for an hour, then switch, to keep the battery burn times even. This is a brand-new set of batteries that I installed at lunch.

    There's some traffic to begin with, but it is mostly careful of us. After a while, on a different road, we no longer have a fog line, which makes it harder for me to tell where the edge of the road is. Skip is lagging. We're riding in the 12-15 mph range. We miss a turn, and, since we go on and off the same road a number of times, it takes a minute to figure out how to get back on course. We backtrack about a mile to our missed turn.

    Now there is no traffic, and no stores, but since it is cooler (I have put back on my Bolero and knickers) I am not going through the Gatorade very fast. I see a very scary dark shape run across the road. Unlike in a car, there is no illumination of it- I can't tell what it is, and it is very, very fast. Maybe a raccoon?

    I take off my glasses. I am so tired of sunscreen smears. For some reason, there are no bugs out flying. The cool air feels good.

    7:00 PM We stop at the last Store Control. There is talk of finding a restaurant for dinner, but I just want to keep going. I have two sticks of beef jerky and an Amp for dinner. Buzzee has another egg salad sandwich. I think he is a vegetarian. Everyone is tired. When we leave, I put on my reflective vest, even though it isn't dark. I am starting to get chilly.

    One hour earlier: We're out on some country road. Buzzee is ranging ahead- I'm hanging back with Skip. I see something fly out of his jersey pocket, and yell, and go back to get it. It's his brevet card. If you lose your brevet card, you are disqualified. I humorously accuse Skip of trying to ditch his card so he won't have to ride tomorrow.

    One hour earlier: Riding Rough, Rougher, Roughest for the second time today has taken its toll on everyone. After one really bad section, I catch up with Buzzee and ask him if we can stop and walk around a bit. My feet are killing me from the rough roads, and Skip can barely pedal. A few minutes off the bike work wonders. Those roads seemed bad enough going through the first time, but that was early morning, and it was pretty out, and I hadn't figured out that we would be revisiting them later when I was much more tired.

    2:00 PM: We leave the lunch stop. It's nice to be riding with people! I get to know my new friends. Skip, wearing a black and yellow Wear Yellow Lance Armstrong Foundation jersey, is a multiple myeloma survivor, and has had a bone marrow transplant. He does a lot of coughing, which alarms me at first, but after several hours, I am almost used to it. This is his first brevet series, and his first attempt at 600k. Dave Buzzee is a very experienced brevet rider from Ohio. He has done this distance multiple times. He has done Paris-Brest-Paris. I am in awe of people who can do this, year after year after year. Buzzee and Skip rode to lunch together, so they are already bonded. Skip makes fun of Buzzee's singing. Buzzee has to give me a sample. I have company! I love them!!

    After about 30 minutes of riding, we come to a Secret Control. The little sticker we need is a penguin- how fitting as we ride in the 85F sunshine. As we mill about, RBA Jim pulls up in his car, to pick up the Control sign. They have to hurry back to the motel to be ready to check people in at the Control.

    1:00 PM LUNCH!! There are a lot of riders still here when I, the last rider, arrive. Lunch is at Madison Blue Springs State Park, site of many cave dives in my previous life. It seems odd to be there, not diving. Meegan and Jim have laid out a wonderful spread of food, as usual. I have a ham and provolone sandwich, and some chips. I am disappointed to not find a can of Coke, but root beer, which I never drink, tastes great! During the lunch stop, I change the batteries in my lights, and visit with riders who I have been trailing all day. I try out my new spray-on sunscreen- it seems to go on just fine. The lost computer is reunited with its owner.

    30 minutes before: Here comes a rider, going the wrong way. He's on a low-slung, extremely cool-looking recumbent. Hey, it's RBA Jim! I've never seen him on a bike, only in his role as the RBA. He rides with me for a few miles, gets a status report on my knee- (_so_ not an issue!!!) but the speedy recumbent can't slow down enough to stick with me and my weighted-down diamond frame, especially since I am still in the cautious mode. After all, on the 400k, my knee had barely begun to hurt at lunch- I still didn't trust it.

    The rest of the morning: Jim had told us of some rough roads to come. He said, "Some people say my rides are too rural. This time I think I've outdone myself." Hah, I thought. Can't be too rural for me! And too rough? Nothing could be rougher than 235A. (In fact, when we ride it later tonight, I tell my buddies that the first time I rode this road, I almost called for a ride home!) But oh, no, Rough is very bad, much worse than 235A. There are gaping potholes, some with thick asphalt patches, with zillions of criss-crossing thick lines of tar. There is no smooth path through it. And it goes on for three miles. I have to ride about 10 mph in order not to be shaken off the bike. The highlight is when I find a cyclocomputer, "sleeping" in the middle of the road. I'll give it to Jim at lunch. Then there are 2.2 miles on Rougher (yes, it is) and later 1.7 miles on Straight Even Worse, and then I get to the Control at 9:00 AM. For a special treat, there is another 1.2 miles on Rougher #2. Then it's smooth sailing up towards Madison and lunch. This trip used to seem like a long car ride!

    6:00 AM: It's light! I've been hearing the birds for a while now, and the crowing roosters, but it's always such a lift for my spirits when the sun comes up. There's a little store, too, and I stop just to stretch and resupply Gatorade. A cat comes to investigate.

    One hour earlier: I'm way out in High Springs- roads I may have driven, but never ridden. Still, it's not hard to navigate, and traffic is minimal.

    One hour earlier: Passing near my house. Everything is going well. My back miraculously doesn't hurt any more! All it needed was for me to get back on the bike. And my knee's holding out, too.

    3:00 AM Saturday: And we're off! I know the way for the first couple hours without the cue sheet. I vow to baby my knee and not care about the other riders. They pass me in a steady stream. Who cares- I am going to make it through this ride!! I will never make the mistake of going out too fast again, no matter how good it feels at the time.

    One hour earlier: Wake up! I take a pre-race pack of vitamins, as well as the max dose of Ibuprofen and Skelaxin, which I plan to continue for the entire ride. I have a yogurt drink for breakfast. I am too wound up to eat. I am not a breakfast eater anyway. Takes only minutes to pack up the bike and head out the door. People gather in a parking garage. There are a lot of riders- maybe 25. And yes, two more women! As usual, it's a mix of familiar faces from previous rides, with some new people who have done the preceeding rides in other places. I have a couple slices of Meegan's delicious banana bread, and make last minute adjustments.

    9:00 PM Friday: Time to go to bed! I'm excited about the ride, and want to get as much sleep as I can before my 2AM wake up. The motel room bed feels good on my back, which has been in an unrelenting spasm since the previous Saturday. Massage, Ibuprofen, muscle relaxers all have not helped. I am worried that it might get worse when I ride.

    6:00 PM Friday: I arrive at the Rush Lake Motel in Gainesville, and bring my stuff into my room. I am pleasantly surprised by how nice the room is- it even has a small patio looking out onto a green swamp, filled with singing frogs and some wading birds. Then I take Lava down to the pool for inspection. RBA Jim wonders what I have in my panniers- are they heavy? Just some warm clothes, that kind of thing. For once I have a few minutes to sit and talk with Jim and wife Meegan, and a couple other riders. Then it's off to dinner with friends.

    4:00 PM Friday: I leave work, drive across the street, and check into the Rush Lake Motel- the first time I've stayed at the brevet host hotel. I've decided I'd rather get an extra hour of sleep, or more, Friday night. It's worth the $40. Then I head home to pack up my bike and pick up all my things- coolers of food and drinks, four different outfits, my big trunk bag for the bike, which is mostly already packed. All my rain gear and cold weather gear and helmet, shoes, etc. live in the truck. (And a good thing! One rider had to go home Saturday right before the ride began, because he forgot his shoes...)

    Three weeks earlier: I begin the 400k ride with confidence, and finish with my tail between my legs. Have to rest up and recover and heal in time to redeem myself on the 600k. Oh, there is no question I am doing the 600k.

    Five weeks earlier: I finish the 300k ride with energy to spare! This is so much fun! I'll try the next one in the series, the 400k, for sure.

    Three weeks earlier: I finish the 200k, the toughest ride of my life. How could I have thought that a mere 20 miles further than my farthest ride ever could be a piece of cake? Let me tell you, it was not! I hate brevets! (But the next day, there I am, checking out the info for the 300k and joining Randonneurs USA...)

    Some time in January: I'm reading a ride calendar, and notice the 200k brevet coming up soon. Hey, I had so much fun in my two previous Centuries, I am anxious for another long ride. It's only 24 miles farther- how bad could it be? I have to look on the Internet to find out what a brevet is. I need a calculator to figure out the strange distances: 200k= 124 miles. 300k= 186 miles. 400k= 248 miles. 600k= 374 miles. Are these people CRAZY? Well, at least I can do the 200k and see what it's like.
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    Last edited by Nanci; 04-08-2006 at 02:18 PM.
    "...I'm like the cycling version of the guy in Flowers for Algernon." Mike Magnuson

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2005

    You are a hero.

    Dear Nanci,

    Thanks so much for the race report! I did scroll to the bottom and read it backwards. I also read magazines backwards, so it was fine with me!

    I admire you, and am grateful for this glimpse into what you've done. You inspire and encourage me. I'm kind of teary as I write this. I spent so many years telling myself that I couldn't do this, I couldn't do that....no more.

    You, Denise R.M., Denise G., Corsair, SK, V, and all the other ladies here fill my heart with hope, and make me sing on my bike.

    In fact, I'm off to ride right now!!!

    Congratulations on your most excellent adventure. L.
    Run like a dachshund! Ride like a superhero! Swim like a three-legged cat!
    TE Bianchi Girls Rock

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2005

    Thumbs up You go girl!!!!

    Thanks for the ride report!!

    Great job!!!

    PS - I think you have the same shoes I do - Sidi Rampas?? I *love* mine.
    Most days in life don't stand out, But life's about those days that will...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Awesome job Nanci! How amazing what our mind and bodies can do when we just believe in ourselves. So what is your next ride????

    Congrats on a job well done
    “Minds are like parachutes...they only function when they are open. - Thomas Dewar"

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2004

    You Rock!

    Nanci, as always, you are an inspiration. I've learned I can do anything I set my mind to and that chocolate milk is the BEST riding food ever! Thanks for sharing the journey with us!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    The Red Stick
    Thanks so much for sharing your report with us! I feel like I was there (almost). You are an inspiration to us all! Way to go!

    Lise - I'm glad I'm not the only one that read magazines backwards.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Vancouver, BC
    Wow! Nanci you're amazing, bravo!!!!

    I just love your stories (and I read it as it was written).

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Concord, CA USA
    Nanci, you are amazing, inspiring, and ... I need to find a thesarus for more superlatives! Thank you for sharing your most excellent adventure.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    I read from the bottom up :-) And you're goin' to work tomorrow :-) :-)(Which is one of the things I like about cycling - the recovery is so much faster than other exertions! What else could you do for 27 hours and get up the next day and keep going!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Miami, FL
    N -

    Absolutely amazing journey you shared with us. Bravo girl!! You're an inspiration.

    Lava's lookin' mighty fine - she's doin' her sister proud


  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    North Central Florida
    My next ride is TOSRV South, April 22 and 23- 100 miles each day. I was talking to a guy today, though, who's done it several times. He says "Don't think of it as two 100 mile rides, think of it as six 35 mile rides with a gourmet meal in between each one!" Sounds great, huh?

    This is where I will be trying out the ultralight tent for the first time.

    Then two weeks after that, 3 State 3 Mountain! I can't wait. I even ordered the ride jersey for that one- my first!

    I did my recovery ride today, though I really felt ok yesterday, and pretty ok Thursday. 36 miles in STRONG wind. I didn't complain. I feel like I can handle anything for a few hours, now- as long as I don't have to be out in it for 37 hours!

    Yes, those are the Sidi Rampas. I love them. I have the road version, too, which are just as comfy, but I don't really get along with road shoes, I guess.

    "...I'm like the cycling version of the guy in Flowers for Algernon." Mike Magnuson

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Quote Originally Posted by aka_kim
    Nanci, you are amazing, inspiring, and ... I need to find a thesarus for more superlatives!
    Refreshingly mindboggling.

    Fantastic job!

    So are you thinking about the 1200? You could do it!

    Discipline is remembering what you want.


  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Quote Originally Posted by Nanci
    Yes, those are the Sidi Rampas. I love them. I have the road version, too, which are just as comfy, but I don't really get along with road shoes, I guess.Nanci
    I tried the road shoe thing. People probably laugh at me in my mountain shoes on a road bike, but they would laugh harder if they saw me fall on my rear (which is what I did *every time* I tried to walk in road shoes...) Heck - they probably laugh anyway at me trying to haul my slow rear end up hills.

    Who cares?! They work for me
    Most days in life don't stand out, But life's about those days that will...

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Portland, OR
    Very inspiring. You go girl!!

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Marin County CA
    Fantastic!! what a great report! you should be so proud of how far you've come - literally and figuratively. from your first centuries last your to 600k now... inspiring.

    I think I was one of the "someones" who was nagging you for your report - and it was totally worth it!!! I would love to see a specific list of what you bring with you. I am still waiting to see a route (not to mention a weather report) before I make my decision.

    When it's easy, ride hard; when it's hard, ride easy.

    2011 Volagi Liscio
    2010 Pegoretti Love #3 "Manovelo"
    2011 Mercian Vincitore Special
    2003 Eddy Merckx Team SC - stolen
    2001 Colnago Ovalmaster Stars and Stripes



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