Over the weekend of October 11-14, SRCC members Neil Martin and Kamran Asmoudah took part in a very long ride. Neil filed this report about it...
1,000-km Central Florida Brevet - Ride Report
On Monday, my friend Kamran and I completed a new challenge: a 1,000-km ride in Central Florida (620 miles).
Part way through the Santa Rosa Brevet series earlier this year, Kamran and I decided to aim for Paris-Brest-Paris (PBP) in 2015. There are 5000 entries worldwide, and there is currently a lot of confusion about how they will allocate the number of entry spots per country. One thing is clear: the more long brevets you ride the higher your chance of entry into PBP. Now that we have successfully completed a 1000-km ride, Kamran and I have the top registration priority for PBP, which essentially guarantees us a spot, provided that we complete the 2015 qualification rides.
Oh, and the other reason was to get some experience doing a longer ride than 600 km! (PBP is 1200 km.)
All sanctioned brevets have time limits and the French organization has set a time limit of 75 hours for a 1000-km Brevet. This is pretty generous from an average speed standpoint, but you do need to figure out when to get some rest and sleep. What made the Florida 1000-km very attractive is that it was set up as a “cloverleaf” ride: basically three big loops over three days that allow riders to return to the same hotel every night and get a shower and rest before setting out on the next day. Most long Brevets like PBP are simple out-and back-rides which require sleeping on the side of the road or trying to organize accommodation along the way. Brevets are also self-supported. No SAG help permitted, but you do carry money and are permitted to buy whatever you want along the way. There are regular controle checkpoints to make sure you stay on course and don’t take any shortcuts.
This was my first experience riding in Florida and it sure is different from Santa Rosa!
First of all, it is humid there! Day temperatures hovered in the 88-90 degree range and the humidity was up there – but the locals kept saying it wasn’t bad. But I sure felt it. Everything is kind of damp all the time!
Second, it wasn’t as flat as I thought it would be! Certainly no mountains but not dead flat either. I registered about 9,000 feet over the entire ride, which isn’t much considering the distance… but when you are tired you definitely feel the inclines. The landscape is more interesting than I thought it would be. And everything is very green!
Third, they have a lot of weird bugs and animals in Florida. The first night Kamran and I went to a restaurant that had a sign on the balcony that said “Don’t feed the Gators.” I thought it was a joke. It wasn’t. On the first day we saw two huge black bears crossing the road up ahead of us, and I saw a lot of interesting road kill, including armadillos, squashed snakes and some weird hedgehog things. And lots of mosquito's and gnats!
The ride was designed to be ridden in three days: 400 km the first day and 300 km the two subsequent days. Kamran and I rode with front group of about 7-10 cyclists for most of the ride. Day 1 was fast. Riding speed averaged over 20 mph. We slowed down a bit on days 2 and 3 as we got tired and sore, but the pace was still up there. We had a few recumbents in our group – they are fast on the flats!
The toughest part of these long rides for me is mental. You simply cannot think about how far it still is to go – you’ll go nuts. Then of course things start to hurt. I used a lot of A&D ointment and my hands, fingers and toes got a little numb and tingly by the end of the third day. Luckily I had no saddles sores that were too severe but I was happy to get off the saddle at the end of the ride!
Hydration was a challenge. I was constantly dripping wet even at low heart rates. I lost count of the number of bottles of fluid I consumed. There were some long stretches between controles which required us to carry more than two bottles. On day 2 I got behind on my fluid intake and had to go through the painful process of catching up. Eating was less problematic for me – I never got too behind on calories, which was good.
My other challenge was sleep. I only managed a few hours’ sleep each night. I think the adrenaline or something keeps me awake, in spite of the exhaustion. Still, I never felt like I was going to fall asleep on the bike, which is good. (Believe it or not, this happens to some long-distance cyclists.)
Kamran is a fantastic riding buddy for me. Our riding styles are different, which actually means that we complement each other well. Kamran always seem to perk up when everyone else (including me) is tired. And he is always in a good mood! I can’t image a better riding partner.
In general, I found the Florida drivers to be pretty respectful of cyclists. We did have a few cars and trucks buzz us, and a couple of ‘rolling coal’ diesel trucks. But I never felt very unsafe.
And in general the Florida roads are way better than Sonoma County roads. We did have a few rough patches, but overall the surfaces were good and pretty smooth.
We had an interesting group of very experienced cyclists. About 35 participants from a total of 15 states! I know there were at least 5 DNF’s (results have not been posted yet). We got to meet some great people, many of whom we will see again in the future (at PBP if not before). I tried to convince everyone I met to come and ride in Santa Rosa.
Total time: 62:25 (time limit was 75 hours)
Total time on the road: 42 hours (give or take)