Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Bryce Canyon 200k

Well folks, here is my report of not only my first brevet, but the first official brevet in the State of Utah.

The 200 km ride started at 0700 in Panguitch, Utah, which is 20 miles west of Bryce Canyon National Park. There were 10 riders, and two no-shows. Most of the riders were veteran distance types, but new to brevet riding. Lonnie Wolff, the RBA and his riding partner, Claire Jenson, are aiming to be the first Utahans to ride PBP this summer. Lonnie’s license plates even read: PBP 2007! For me, it was my first 200k, and was also going to be longest single day ride I have ever attempted.

All ready for the adventure!

The riders completing their pre-ride routines
The day dawned cold and clear, temperature around 32F at the start. The only problem this caused was that I wore tights and a wool base layer to start the day. I noticed that most of the other riders had just put on knee warmers, as they pack smaller and lighter. A good hint for next time! Of course 25 miles later I had to store this stuff and lug it around all day. My seat bag isn’t very big and I struggled with managing my stuff all day. Every time I unzipped my bag, stuff fell out everywhere, and that got old very quick. Later in the day it warmed up nicely to around 82 F.

The first 50k or so had two long climbs; 8 miles into the day, a long, steady, 10 mile climb up Red Canyon. It is probably a manageable climb for most, but on the Little Red Bike and not the best legs to start the day with, I seemed to struggle into it. Some days, it just isn’t going to be your day. Then over the plateau past Bryce Canyon at 7,800 ft above sea level, and a 7 mile- 8% thunderous descent around the east edge of Bryce Canyon to Tropic and the first control. 48 mph and I never touched the pedals! I made the control with 45 minutes to spare on the clock. After getting my card signed, and eating a snack, it was time to go back up the big hill to the plateau and the northward turn to Antimony. It took me 1+15 to make it up the hill, with lots of careful spinning at 4-5 mph. Sometimes it was all I could muster, and other times it was to protect my knee for the whole day. So, 36 miles in 3 +15 and an average speed of 10.9 mph; still in the game but I was already worried about the long day ahead.

Looking west, back down Red Canyon

The knee, what about the knee? Last week, I stupidly went for a steep climb. The rear set wouldn’t shift right so I ended up mashing up 5 steep km. The knee protested loudly and I hadn’t really healed yet. Hence the problems of the day. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Not the best way to peak for my first 200k.

Climbing west at about the 30 mile point.

The middle 55 miles was the section that I learned about being a distance rider. 55 miles of long gentle climbs, descents, gritty isolated roads, no cell coverage, and no one around for miles and miles. I worked hard at managing pace, coasting all downhill’s, and making up time. 30 miles into this section is a great canyon descent to Black Canyon. What fun! Coasting at 30 mph is very efficient. I stopped in Antimony (pop. 183) for more sunscreen, food, fill up water, and a few moments of pondering about the day. The owners of “The Merc” in Antimony mentioned to me that “the other crazy riders” had passed through for lunch about an hour before. I rode 17 miles further to Junction and the second control. Average speed now 14.0 mph, so, I figured I must have averaged 17 mph or so for the past 55 miles.

By now the afternoon wind is up and strong out of the south. Now, at the Junction control at 1500, I am 2 hours ahead. Even with the horrible south winds I know I am going to complete. But the wind! Long gentle (very gentle) climbs back to Panguitch, but I couldn’t make headway through the wind. 9-11 mph was all I could do.

On Rt. 62 between Antimony and Junction

Anyways, after 2.5 hours of struggling home, the wind switched out of the west for the last 10k. The RBA came out to check on me at 7 miles to go. After encouraging words, Advil and a friendly wave, I am on my way. Thanks Lonnie!

11+30 and I made it! A bit off my planned time, but hey, it’s about COMPLETING!

Here are 10 things I learned both during the ride, and from key advice from a few experienced brevet riders:

1. Coast (or spin) as much as possible on downhills.
2. I was very careful to spin while climbing. This caused a slow pace, but I needed it.
3. I never used the53t ring the last 50 miles; more efficient spinning, no mashing.
4. I drank over 100 oz. of water, ate all my snacks, and was still starving at the finish.
5. Sunscreen. I used just enough, missed one spot on my arm, but hey, I’ve got Aloe Vera.
6. I kept to the clock knowing that I had 13.5 hours, and that no one else’s time mattered.
7. Be sure to take only what you need, and be able to manage it all. I can do better at this.
8. Self sufficient means self sufficient. It’s quite a feeling to be all alone, 40 miles from everywhere.
9. Ride YOUR ride and pace.
10. Have fun!

Next up. MS-150 in two weeks!



Princess Pat from Zardonia said...

I just read your Brevet Log. You are AMAZING! and I am SOOO proud of your accomplishments! You have no idea!!!
Love, your SIS

Princess Pat from Zardonia said...

I just read your Brevet Log. You are AMAZING! and I am SOOO proud of your accomplishments! You have no idea!!!
Love, your SIS

Anonymous said...

Great job, Jim. An inspiration for those of us hoping to jump in on a long ride like this. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Amazing achievement, Jim! What a feeling to complete that ride!

Love, Nan

Vik said...

Great ride Jim. Congrats on your first brevet...=-)