The San Diego Randonneur's held their Dudley's 300K brevet this past weekend. It was a ride to behold!
I spent some time thinking about riding tactics for this brevet. Last year, I had no idea what to expect. This year was different. I knew I had my fueling down, limit my time at controls, and if you've read my previous posts, I have been loosing weight too. You can tack on a -2 pounds since the January brevet!
My plans were to "ride with a purpose" to get up to the control at Dudley's, then do my best to push the descent back to Lakeside. My goal to Dudley's was to get there by 3 PM, then if all went well, I should make it to Lakeside by dark. Once there, make it to the Alpine control for a nice meal and hot coffee. From Alpine back to the start involves 15 miles or so of uphill, then a screaming in the dark descent back to the 94. I had planned to push all the flats too, and take advantage of them to fuel better. It was freezing cold last year, but mother nature had other plans for us this year!
The one thing to understand about San Diego weather, is that when the weather person says there's a 70% chance of rain, 9 times out of 10 they are wrong, plus there's a 50/50 chance of the weather going either way! I'm sure all the statisticians in the randonneuring world are scratching their collective heads on that one!
I can't put the description of the rain into words any better than my great friend, Forrest. Turn your speakers on and give a listen! Yes, it was just like that, plus throw in some fog, and I swear I saw a few snow flakes too! Could have been oxygen debt though....
This is my new configuration for the Surly. I've added Cascadia Hybrid fenders, Shimano hub generator, and B&M IQ Cyo R headlamp. The lighting configuration has been fantastic for commuting, it's better than just about any battery powered light I could find. I'm not talking comparing a HID light that only lasts a couple hours on a charge either. I can feel a difference between riding with my non-hub wheel compared to the hub generator. The cool thing is, I can't tell any difference between having the light on or off. Being an LED headlight, it doesn't have the current draw as a bulb head light. LEDs are way more efficient than bulbs.
In the early darkness just before our 6 AM start, our newly fearless RBA gives us some final instructions before our departure. Plenty of people show up despite the weather forecast.
All huddled in the dark. You can see the parking lot is all wet from the rain. Shortly thereafter, we're off!
The Welcome to Jamul sign surprises me in the dark...
Looking into gloomy skies. It was going to get a lot worse as the day rolled on.
Look at the intersection of Otay Lakes Rd and the 94. Darkness is receeding, but no rain.
Starting our climb up Honey Springs Rd.
More Honey Springs... It'll be fun on the way down !!
Heading into Harbison Canyon, right turn Clyde.
The camera couldn't keep up with my Surly speed.
Will the real Harbison Canyon, please stand up?
El Monte park, our first control at mile 55.1. It had started raining, but as I was at the control filling up my bottles, we could see a huge cloud burst race towards us! Total buckets of rain coming down. I decided then to get going, I didn't even stay a full 5 minutes.
Hard to see the rain in the photo, but you can see all the water flowing across the road. I've quickly learned to LOVE my fenders! Very little dirty water splashing up on my feet, bike, back... You get the idea.
Starting the climb up the 67. A river of water flowing down the road. No choice, gotta ride up!
Rain, fog, and traffic - not a real safe combination. Drivers respect the Surly and give me plenty of room.
My approach into Ramona. The fog just got thicker but the rain stayed pretty steady. Best thing to do was to keep all my lights on, and peddle!
This photo is on the home stretch to Dudley's control at 96.1 miles. A LOT has happened. From about mile 80 until Dudley's was a huge sufferfest for me. Like Forrest said, the rain was sideways. High, cold winds, roads filling with water. I had been riding rather hard so things were starting to hurt. I kept pushing the pace to get to Dudley's but there wasn't much left in the engine room. The winds almost blew me over twice, luckily away from the ditches on the side of the road. My left foot went numb, I couldn't wiggle my toes at all. Even though I had rain gear on, I was soaked to the bone. No matter how hard I rode, I kept getting colder and slower. My arrival at Dudley's was over 2 hours faster than last year! My original plans were to just stay long enough to refill water, get my brevet card stamped and don my cold weather gear from my drop bag. Problem was, I was so cold, I was shaking. Not the slight shiver, but whole body kinda shaking. I knew what that was as I've had a small hospital stay for hypothermia when I was in the Army. As soon as I got my drop bag, I went to the men's room to dry off as much as possible. I put on all my cold weather gear and got a coffee. My original plans of 10 minutes, turned into 15, then 20. It took 30 minutes for my shivering to stop, but I knew it was important to get my core temp back to normal before leaving. I put my feet in some plastic grocery bags given to me by another rider, and got some other great advice from another rider too on keeping warm in bad weather. I went outside, refilled my bottles, and felt generally pretty good. The rain had stopped, so I figured, if it didn't rain anymore, I should be good to the finish. Well, that wasn't in the plans! I departed Dudley's and about a mile down the road, the skies opened up again! I was blasted for the next 5 miles, and once again, soaked to the bone. I made the left turn onto Old Highway 80, I was back to shivering again. It got so bad, I almost dumped the Surly! I was pushing the descent to get back to lower climes, then had to come to a stop because the road had flooded.
I've learned to watch flooded roads for a few minutes to see just how fast the water was flowing. This one wasn't all that bad, about 6 inches deep. I road through it easily enough, then took off. I made it back to Ramona quickly, and made a stop at McDonald's. I was back to freezing, all my cold weather gear was soaked, my left foot back to numb. I still had the descent of the 67 coming up, with the darkness looming, and all the shaking I wasn't sure I could ride in all the traffic. I took a deep breath, went inside, and got another coffee. I went to the men's room and tried drying my clothes off with the hot air hand dryer. The floors in McDonald's are radiant heat floors, they heat the entire building by warming the floors. Walking around in my socks really warmed my feet up, plus left wet footprints that customers were pointing out and laughing. I spent another 30 minutes there, and I couldn't get the shaking to stop. It was dark too, started raining again, and plenty of traffic on the 67. I decided to DNF there. I called the RBA to let him know, then called my wife to come get me.
I rode 112 miles, and the BEST brevet I have ever done. I may not have finished for credit, but I made huge improvements in riding. I made it to Dudley's at 2:36 PM, nearly 2 hours faster than last year. My climbing hills has gotten way better too. Probably because of the weight loss, and general change in diet that lets me build muscle. I'm just going to keep doing what I'm doing with my diet for now, it's working. I don't think I do too bad since the only training I do is commuting 28 miles to work each day. I have added more hills to my commute, and have some plans to add more as I keep getting lighter.
Until next time!