Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Brevets are not Hats

Fall Colors in Emigration Canyon
Greetings All,
Well, for it being the end of October, the weather continues to be better than expected. Cool, dry weather has made for some outstanding riding conditions. There have been a few early (cold) starts to the day, but for the most part, with the right layers, riding has been fantastic.
Speaking of layers, I recently purchased a Patagonia merino wool base layer. It was expensive, but so far seems to be well worth the cost. It is light, warm, soft, and performs better than any base layer I have used so far. It keeps me warm, and I don’t overheat after the temperature rises later in the day.
This week I am bringing you a different facet of cycling; long distance marathon cycling, specifically, randonneuring, or brevet riding. I have searched the ‘net far and wide for information, and most of the data below is excerpted from the Alberta and British Columbia Randoneuring sites.

Looking west, down Emigration Canyon

What is Randonneuring?
Randonneuring is ultra-distance, endurance cycling. Riders challenge their physical and mental abilities by riding set distances in a prescribed time frame. The most common type of Randonneuring event is a brevet, referring to the certificate (brevet) the rider receives upon successful completion of the event. Typical brevet distances are 200km, 300km, 400km, 600km and 1000km in distance. Longer events known as randonnées can range from 1200km to 3000km in distance. The most famous of these and longest running cycling race/event in history, is the 1200km Paris-Brest-Paris (PBP) which first ran on September 6th ,1891. In 2003, there were over 4000 riders in PBP from 28 countries. Fast times are not the primary objective for all Randonneurs. Finishing an event within the time limit is the most important goal of Randonneuring. Riders compete against the clock, themselves, terrain and environment (especially the weather!). Being first is never the paramount goal and participants certainly pair up or group together during the events. However, it is not unheard of to see riders pushing themselves and each other to see who can clock the fastest time or be pushed to a personal best for an event. Provided one finishes within the time limit for the event, Randonneuring permits cyclists to "do the ride at the pace of their choosing". Whether you are an avid cycling tourist looking for the next challenge, an Ironman-Triathlete or competitive road racer looking for options to enhance your training, or you are just a little bit eccentric and obsessive about cycling, Randonneuring may be your next big challenge.

Looking south from the top of Emigration Canyon, Interstate 80 and the Mountain Dell Golf Course below.

You need not be fast to be successful; in fact, the best Randonneurs are steady, consistent and know how to budget their energy. Riders are encouraged to work together as they compete against themselves, the weather and the route. The theme of Randonneuring is to promote individual health, goal setting and personal achievement.

The various series of official brevets begin at 200 km and proceed to rides of 300, 400, and finally 600 km. First-time randonneurs must complete a 200 before moving on to a 300, a 300 before moving on to a 400, and so on. Riders looking for bigger challenges can then, if they wish, move on to the 'ultra-marathon' distances: 1000 and 1200 km

There are minimum and maximum times for the completion of rides at each distance. These times include all stops. The maximum times are listed below:

· 200 km. (125 miles) in 13.5 hours
· 300 km. (185 miles) in 20 hours
· 400 km. (250 miles) in 27 hours
· 600 km. (375 miles) in 40 hours
· 1,000 km. (621 miles) in 75 hours
· 1,200 km. (745 miles) in 90 hours

(I know that a lot of you reading this right now are thinking, "Is he nuts?")

In searching the web, I found a great “links” page with tons of local pages from randonneurs worldwide. Enjoy this great resource here. Also, check out the Ultra Marathon Cycling web page, along with Randonneurs USA

So, are Brevets next in my list of things to do on the Little Red Bike? Hopefully, Yes! But there is a long list of things to consider this winter before I get to the start line.

Happy Riding, All

Thursday, October 19, 2006

New Links to Read

Greetings All,
Well, another busy week with not a lot of riding. The weather folks and my work scheduler are still not on the same page! Here’s to spinning on the fluid trainer in the garage. (That’s another post down the road).

This week I decided to add some new links to the sidebar. Please check them out. First is Joe Keenan’s blog about recumbent riding in Shanghai, China. I just found this blog, and already I am smitten with the fine photography and writing. Next up is a site about riding Brevet’s and serious long haul riding. The Long Haul comes from Michael Wolfe of Portland, Oregon. As you read his blog, take note of the distances he is riding on these Brevet’s. Also check out "Concerning Bikes", another fine Brevet Blog.

By the way, “Brevets” will be a featured subject maybe next week when I get around to writing it. I am beginning to get the itch to complete my first Brevet in 2007.

And as it is against tradition to post without a photo, meet my good friend Pete from Australia. Pete has been mentoring me down the road, providing encouragement and advice as I expand my cycling horizons. The photo was taken during a 1,200 Km Brevet from Perth to Albany, back to Perth two weeks ago. Way to go Pete!

Happy Riding, All


Thursday, October 12, 2006

Climbing Again: Mill Creek

Greetings all,
This week I enjoyed yet another canyon on the Wasatch front. Monday, I rode up Mill Creek Canyon which is just east of Salt Lake City, and south of Parley’s Canyon. Mill Creek is a widely used canyon for mountain bikers heading to trailheads, hikers, cyclists, and cross country skiing in the winter months.

Mill Creek offers 8-9 miles of steady climbing, from a base of about 5,000 ft. to the end of the road at around 7,500 ft. A profile map is here: http://www.flux.utah.edu/~mike/climbs/html/millcreek.html

Taking off around noon from below the pay station, I took my time, enjoying good steady spinning up the canyon. I am still not that good of a climber, but I keep working on it as I enjoy these canyons. Hopefully there will be a payoff and I will see an improvement in my overall strength and spinning technique. I just keep trying to find a nice comfortable gear and spin at about 70 rpm up the hill.

Visually the canyon didn’t seem that steep, but my legs sure noticed! Also, when I turned around from above Elbow Fork, I sure got to 30 mph in a hurry, so it’s steeper than I thought. It took me about 58 minutes for me to ride 6.5 miles above Elbow Fork, and only 14 minutes to come down! I was fairly conservative on the descent. There was quite a bit of vehicle traffic (it was a holiday) and along with the damp leaves on the road, I didn’t let the bike go FAST until a mile or two from the bottom. At that point I did manage to get to 47.5 mph! Of course by that time I was almost to the pay station with their inane directions for bikes to “Stop, but not Pay.” This just meant I had to lean on the brakes and get the wheels back on the ground just long enough for the attendant to say: “Ok, you can go on through.” Sheesh, Bureaucrats! I would like to mention that during the fast descent I saw a few mountain bike riders struggling up the hill. They sure looked surprised as I zipped by them at 35-40 mph.

As for enjoying fall colors, things didn’t work out so well. Heavy rain and snow last weekend knocked a lot of the leaves off the foliage in the canyon. It is most assuredly fall, and soon the gate will be closed and it will be time to wax the skis!

Next canyon: City Creek

Happy riding, all


Monday, October 09, 2006

Kids in a Candy Store

Hi all,
Sorry for the delays in posting, been a busy time! Recently, I was down in Tucson visiting family, and Jon, Amy and I took the time to visit Ajo Bikes. www.ajobikes.com They have a fairly good inventory of recumbents, trikes, along with most other types of bikes.

Jon and I, along with Amy had a great time test riding a few bikes. Jon fell in love with a Catrike Road, and enjoyed several spins around the lot. He got that "Triker's Grin" almost instantly! Amy took off on a Rans Cruz crank forward bike http://www.ransbikes.com/ that seemed to fit her style of riding quite nicely.

Jon has the "Grin!"

I was inside oogling the latest in trike technology, a Catrike 700. http://www.catrike.com/ Built for speed, and painted an old retro Bronco metallic orange, it is a lovely machine! I really wanted to ride this beauty, but it was tucked away in the back part of the shop, and I got the subtle non-verbal impression that unless you were serious with money in hand, that it was to stay inside. I found the laid back position very comfortable, and as soon as I sat down, the bike felt like a shoe that fits perfectly the first time.

All I want for Christmas.....

Of course, owning this bike poses several limitations to actually enjoying it. 1: The bike is 81 inches long from nose to tail! Since it doesn't fold, I can't transport it anywhere! 2: I am leery about commuting on this bike, what with all the dips in the road, speed bumps etc... The bike frame at its lowest point, is a mere 2.5 inches off the ground! So, I wouldn't mind owning a trike that I could enjoy out on Antelope Island, or on quiet bike paths. If I never had to deal with automobile traffic, I could see myself riding a trike all winter! Oh yes, and #3: It costs almost $3,000 bucks! That's quite a limitation too!

The men try to figure out where Amy hid the credit cards..

I too tried the Rans Crank Forward model. I enjoyed a lap or two around the lot, but what I really need for a good test is to get out and RIDE for about 10-15 miles. A nice riding machine, though.

The moral of this story really rests on the subject of how to buy a recumbent bike. Along with my past experiences in buying a 'bent and from what I've read in recumbent forums, the most important task is to ride as many 'bents as possible before spending your money. Another factor is to determine your requirements; what kind of riding you want to do, what the area/terrain is like where you want to ride, and how much money you want to spend. And of course: Research, research, research. The 'net is a wonderful place to learn about recumbents, read forums, and talk to people! Find out why they hate/love their bikes. http://bentrideronline.com/ is a great place to start.

For me, I think I need a fleet!

Bike #1: My Barcroft Virginia GT. What I ride today. My all-purpose touring/commuting/everyday ride.

Dream Bike#2: An Optima Baron: My SPEED machine, for chasing roadies on centuries.

Dream Bike#3: A Trike for bike paths and quiet places like Antelope Island, along with riding in the winter.

Dream Bike #4: A beater mountain bike, something to explore a few trails in the Wasatch, and just be the Mud Bike.

Is that too much to ask? Oh yes, and a BIG garage too!

Happy riding all.