Put a check in the box, another brevet completed. Another all night adventure promising to be an epic tale. Riding all night is enough to add adventure to anyone’s vocabulary. FYI, adventure is an exciting or unusual experience or a bold risky endeavor with dangerous unknown outcomes. All of these elements are present in a night brevet. Adding to the experience during a sultry August night were the chances of viewing a meteor shower. Thankfully the ride is a night brevet and not a day light ride. This enabled all of the riders to complete the brevet without risking heat related injuries.
The ride started with the familiar scenario. The group departs just a little too fast for my taste. I hang on as long as I can before I am dropped. What really happens is I decide that there are more than 100 Miles remaining and become wise. This time I had a buddy, Dean, and we just cranked away sensibly. Eventually, we catch another dropped randonneur. We have a group of three that can work together and be visible to traffic.
While we are doing our own thing, the lead group is trying to keep up with the Master Chief. He is pulling at a body-numbing rate. Eventually a long hill takes its toll. The lead group drops him for a short period. They miss a turn after Andrew’s Store and take a 3 mile detour. If this sounds familiar, it is because I did this exact thing on my first brevet on this route. The lead group would not see the Master Chief again. He hit his second wind and arrived at the 100K check nearly an hour before anyone else. In his typical fashion, he decided to do a 300K and kept going.
Dogs – Yes, very large, fast, pissed off and hungry dogs chasing us in the middle of the night. There were a few that chased us for what seemed like a mile. On the 9 mile stretch of Siler City-Snow Camp Rd., we were chased from both sides of the road. We were chased from 5 or 6 houses in a row. Best of all, we were chased from a small yappy dog that I started to make fun of until I realized he was the decoy for some buddies. They began appearing from the darkness and we began sprinting. Well, I did!
Self pitty- Yes, for a few miles, I couldn’t figure out why I do these rides and considered throwing in the towel at the turn. I really didn’t want to ride any more especially if I had to pass by all the dogs again. The thoughts lasted until I realized we were only about a mile from the first Control.
Overcoming doubt and fear is difficult. I guess it is too easy to sit on the couch eating ice cream. We do things that are comfortable. If you are reading this, you know how it feels when you are in the pits of despair. You are also aware of the reward for overcoming these feelings and completing your goal. The couch potatoes will never understand; don’t waste time explaining.
There is a recommended strategy at controls. Get your card signed, get what you need and get on the road. No wasted time. We followed the first rule then hung out for maybe a ½ hour. Branson and Jerry volunteered to do some support for the ride and met us at the Control for support. They were great, providing cold water and entertainment. Thanks Guys! We got the group together for the return to Morrisville with 5 strong. This proved to be great. We pretty much flew back or I was sleeping on the bike because I can’t recall 2 or 3 roads on the route.
The most difficult factor during a night ride is the hour or so right before the sun comes up. I really wanted to fall asleep this morning. The light slowly coming over the horizon always provides a little adrenaline boost. This morning was no exception. The more light in the sky, the faster the group peddled.
I actually followed the advice provided by Hammer Nutrition and ate only their food. It worked pretty well. I did not want to mess around with blood sugar issues. Perpetuem, Endurolites and Hammer Gel (with caffeine) are the only “food” I put in my body during the ride. I drank a cup of coffee at the Control; it hit the spot.
This plan worked out great. I did feel on the edge of hunger but I wasn’t hungry and I didn’t bonk. I should have sipped more Perpetuem on the outbound leg. My intake timing was off slightly because I could not see the time.
The Details: 200K – 125 miles Ride time: 8:14 Total Time: 9:30 or so. Unsure of the actual start time as we started late. I compared this with the last time I rode the route in April. I am about an hour quicker on the whole.
Lessons Learned: Food intake. It worked pretty well. Stay relaxed on the bike. Don’t push into the red zone.
By the way, we did not see any meteors. We did see possum, raccoons, dogs, and several deer.