Sunday, June 04, 2006

Bike Ride Report - 600k Brevet

My mother, who died in 1980, was a reader. She was a lifetime subscriber to the Reader's Digest. She kept them all on a shelf.

I also read a lot, to the point where I have to have printed matter in front of my face at all times. I will read anything at hand instead of not reading. This means as a teenager, I read every issue of the Reader's Digest from the 1970s. Several times.

I was thinking today about an article I read once in the Reader's Digest about the experiences of POWs in the Viet Nam war. It seems that the Viet Cong would always torture the prisoners at 4:00 am because that's when the willpower is weakest and it was easiest to break them.

I broke at 4:30 am this morning.

The 600k was a giant figure eight with each loop starting in Frederick, MD. The first loop was 230 miles. The ride started at 4:00 am, and I finished the first loop just after midnight.

I decided to crawl into Debra's Element and sleep, and get back on the bike at 5:00, which would give me plenty of time to make the 55 miles to the next control before it closed at 11:00.

The alarm in my GPS went off at 4:15. I got up and walked a block to the Liberty Convenience Store, looking for a cup of coffee and some food. All the food looked revolting. I took the coffee back to the E and decided to eat a banana and a Luna bar. The coffee was revolting. I felt horrible. The sleeping bag grabbed me and wouldn't let me go.

This picture is later, when I woke up again at 9:00. DNF DNF DNF

I think sleep deprivation is my big weakness as a randonneur. I was torn between drinking coffee and riding all night, or not drinking coffee and maximizing my sleep time.

Also, would it be better to eat a meal around midnight before sleeping or would it be better to spend the time sleeping and eat quickly in the morning and have more sleep?

I went the no coffee approach, which made me very, very tired on the last 40 miles into Frederick, which in turn made me want to maximize sleep more, and so I didn't eat.

I see this as a cascade of poor choices. I should have had some coffee in the evening, and I should have eaten more, including a meal at the 24 hour Dennys. I was running on empty when I got in to Frederick, and was feeling lousy and dragging badly from Snickers Gap onwards.

Would it have been better to ride all night? I'm not sure. I was thinking it's better to try and ride in a manner that was sustainable for longer than this ride.

I will have to experiment further.

Anyway, here is the usual campground scene at 3:15 am inside the element. Parking in the residential neighborhood behind the Comfort Inn was a winner again.

And here are is the start of the ride as everyone sets off at 4:00 in the morning.

I felt great at the start, and I was really flying. Since I am by no means a morning person, I usually start slow, and everyone is way ahead of me after a few miles. But this time, I was right in the middle of the pack. Then I had a flat tire on Sabillasville Rd.

I had it fixed and I was on my way in no time, but I forgot to figure out what caused the flat. It was a slow leak. Maybe it was because there was a tiny bit of glass stuck in the tire, and after a short while it would poke through the tube and I would have another flat. I worried about this all day.

Here is the scene from the first control. This was at a country market that was beautifully landscaped.

I was negligent about taking pictures. I should have taken a picture at the tasty pizza place in Mercersberg, where they have great lasagna that is served up really fast, and all the tanks at the Letterkenny Depot, or some scenes from Antietam battlefield.

Instead, I took this picture of the Sheetz parking lot in Shepherdstown, WV. Chris in the foreground show a look of disbelief because we were watching a crowd of hip-hop hillbillys who had their Ford Escort get backed into.

Come to think of it, I should have photographed the West Virginia rap guys and their girls. This was really quite a scene. A big white guy with a shaved head and a goatee and baggy sweats really mad running around going "Yo yo yo!"

Another thing I should have taken a picture of was the surprise detour on what was once Marlowe Rd. east of Charles Town West Virginia. Two weeks ago for the 400k, it was there. Yesterday it was gone. Removed from the face of the earth and replaced with a 100 yard mud pit. There was a bulldozer driven by a guy with a little boy on his lap pushing mud around.

Anyway, I didn't take the detour. I never take detours. You can almost always find a way through any construction site. And I did. I ended up with about 5 lbs of mud on my bike, but I got through no problem.

Here's the control on the climb up to Snicker's Gap. Lou there is not riding the 600k because he is going to ride the Race Across America next week. All by himself. Solo.

So Lou volunteered to work a control, which he stocked with cookies and turkey. He made me a turkey and cheese sandwich.

Lou's turkey sandwich did the job getting me over Snicker's gap as the sun was setting.

The scenery on this ride was beautiful as ever. At least the first loop. For all I know, the second loop was all sewage treatment plants and junk car lots and prisons.

Here's the GPS track of the first loop. You can also download it from MotionBased and look at it with Google Earth.


Cham said...

I think you diagnosed your issue correctly. When you are constantly wearing and tearing your body, you need to be constantly eating. Since there is much discussion about when to eat the carbs, the fats and the proteins, I recommend eating all three all the time. If your body isn't getting the consistent supply of calories it shuts down in the form of thirst, tiredness and cramps, all of which I could probably write a book about. Forget the coffee, eat early eat often when it is race day.

Anonymous said...

On my one and only 600k, I took a 90-minute nap at the halfway point. What got me going again was that the other people I was riding with were leaving, and I didn't want to be riding alone in the dark. Had I been by myself to begin with, getting restarted might have been a task exceeding my motivation. Many people have commented on the positive influence of companionship on longer rides. I usually ride alone, but for a 600k or any ride through the night, I think I'd generally look for some company. Best, SeattleBently