Wednesday, June 10, 2009

From 35 Minutes To 35+ Hours

It's time to shift gears a bit, and move away from the short-but-fast races I've been doing lately. In fact I'm shifting just about all the way to the other end of the cycling spectrum: long and slow.

After doing 400 miles over two days about a month ago, all I've been doing is racing, with one 80km ride in there for "distance." I probably could have used a century or 200k somewhere in between for general conditioning, but I'm hoping that since I've at least be on the bike a lot lately that I haven't lost anything since last month.

In a few days, I'll be doing the Seattle Rando June 600k brevet. Starting in Auburn, we head over the Tacoma Narrows bridge, up to Port Orchard, west to Matlock, further west to Cosmopolis and the coast! But we won't be done yet at that point, nope, that's only about half way. From there we head east to Centralia, where the overnight control is. (At the overnight control, you can generally share a room and/or bed with other randos for a few hours, depending on how much spare time you have). I have a mini-plan to ride through the night, but we'll see how the cookie crumbles when the time comes.

Geoff wrote a nice pre-ride report from their ride last weekend. Mark also wrote up a little something about it. Sounds great!

Choices, Choices

I think since I've been on the Ciocc mostly for the last month I wanted to use it at first. But that's a big compromise in some ways, such as comfort and packing space. I'll never forget the ragged feeling I had after riding that bike on last year's STP & Sprint 400k. Yes they were fast (for me) times, but comfort was just not there.

Nonetheless, I came up with a packing list for the essentials I'd need to bring on a brevet using the Ciocc with maybe a small saddlebag (the rest would go in jersey pockets)

600k Minimal Packing List

  • Rain/night jacket
  • SiR short sleeve jersey
  • long & short fingered gloves
  • wool shorts
  • medium wool socks
  • reflective stuff (sash, ankle bands)
  • spare lights (front, rear LED)
  • backup halogen bulb for E6 light
  • Planet Bike headlamp (for reading cue at night)
  • Two 32-oz bottles, one spare 24oz bottle (folding)
  • Tools: 6 tubes/patch kit/frame pump, chain tool, master link, FiberFix (temporary) spoke, spoke wrench, 5-mm allen

  • Clif "Shot Blox" packs (10-15)
  • Shot Gel (caffeine)
  • nuun tablet packs (3)
  • sandwiches/burritos/something (2-4)
  • I would of course need more fuel for this, and for that I would turn to my favorite gas-station offerings that can be found almost anywhere. Mmm, mystery meat!
Other Stuff

  • Mini alarm (for sleeping on the side of the road, don't want to pass out for too long!)
  • cue clips (alligator clips), ziploc for cuesheet
  • Toilet paper, because you never know

But after thinking long and hard about this, I'll probably go with the more comfortable Pacer. With it's gigantic handlebar bag I won't need to leave anything behind. Yeah the Pacer is a good deal heavier, but more importantly much more comfortable. But at the same time, really noodly. On the Pacer I can just feel 20% of my power input to the bike disappearing into the flex of the frame. The Ciocc just feels more efficient.


In other news, I got off the Ramrod wait-list and into the ride! Somehow I moved from #250 on the wait list to in the ride, sweet. Looks like I'll be doing another Ramrod starting in Seattle this year, excellent.


Jansen said...

I just rode 100 miles around the seattle area on a route I found on bikely last weekend and I felt like I would never ride a bicycle again after that.

The story from last year was an enjoyable read. Your mileage for the day and the story are something to envy. I hope the tale this year is even better for you! Good luck.

Mars Girl said...

The Pacer is a Surly, correct? I am thinking of getting a Surly Cross Check for winter/less than ideal conditions riding. What do you think of those steel frames? Do they impede your riding any? I'm just curious. I want to make sure I can still grind up some of the hills out here on the Cross Check, if I get it (or have one made for me).

Good luck on your brevet. I live vicariously through you on those long rides! I still havent done a ride longer than 110 miles in one day.

Robert H said...

Mars Girl, I know you didn't ask me directly, but I think I speak with Matt when I say that the extra pound or two on a steel bike doesn't mean much compared to the weight of the whole unit (you and the bike) while going up hill. I love race bikes, but the industry has really gone out of their way to sell people on the new/fast/light/high-tech.

More important than anything is that you are comfortable on a bike. The better it fits, the longer you can ride, and the more hills you can take in the long run.

Matt - You will do great. It is really a mental game after a hundred miles or so, but you knew that already. Don't worry if you need the overnight stop either. You always have the "plan" of not stopping. We both know how tough that is once you are out there in the dark. :)

I can't wait!

Mars Girl said...

Thanks, Robert. I know, my local bike shop has been trying to erase my somewhat skewed idea that the extra weight of a steel bike will hinder me. My normal bike (a Giant OCR 1) isnt even carbon (just the forks and the seat post) so I dont know what I'm worried about. Anyway, the boys at the local shop had suggested I get a Cross Check because I was looking for a road bike I can take on non-paved surfaces and in crummy weather (something I could put fenders on). I might want to start doing self-contained multi-day sort of rides too. So I was just curious... I'm definitely NOT the racing sort so it probably wont, as you say, make a difference to me.

matt m said...

Jansen, congrats on your century ride! No matter how long the ride is, it's the amount of personal suffering that impresses me. Rather, it's the conquering of said suffering that I find so impressive.

Mars Girl, yup it's a Surly. I don't really know if steel impedes my riding, since I've never actually ridden anything else. It's not that I'm against carbon or titanium or aluminum, just that I don't have any issues with steel.

At least one rando uses a Cross Check, so it must be a pretty good bike for general riding. I think it weighs a tad more than the Pacer but not much.

But even between steel frames there are definitely differences, mostly in stiffness. My Ciocc, which is Dedacci(?) Com 12.5 mid-level steel, is actually pretty stiff and snappy, yet comfy. Where as the Pacer's Chro-Mo 7003(?) steel is way more flexy, and I feel it.

Hence my dilemma of which bike to use. The Pacer can get the job done, but just doesn't ride/handle as nice as an unloaded Ciocc. I'm actually leaning back towards the Ciocc for the upcoming 600k - I figure if I get too uncomfortable I can just take a break. Honestly even on the Pacer, after about 200 miles I'm not sure any bicycle could be considered "comfortable" - but maybe that's just me.

Robert, see you soon!!

Matthew Conroy said...

6 tubes? Really?

I'm slowly building myself up to rando length rides this summer, and I really enjoy your blog. It's quite inspiring. Good luck with the 600.


Matt C

Robert H said...

Oh man, I forgot to rib you about the 6 tubes too.

That is truly prepared for the worst. Bring your tool box too. You never know when you'll need a headset press. I kid, I kid.

matt m said...

Well I'd like to bring along six tubes, but if I'm on the Ciocc there won't be space for that.

I think I still have bad memories from that 600k in Oregon last year, when I had about 7-8 flats. Randonesia is good for some things, but I'll never forget those series of flats!

I'll probably bring some extra patches and 2-3 actual tubes.

Jansen said...



I've been commuting by bike since the first of the year trying to build my legs up to SIR level performance. The posts on your and Robert's blogs have really piqued my interest in randonnuering. Hope to meet you guys on a ride one of these days.

RE: your bicycle choice, which one has fenders? I thought that was a pre-requisite for riding in SIR? =p j/k

matt m said...

Jansen, the Pacer has full fenders, the Ciocc doesn't have any unless I slap one of those (temporary, crappy, "just for me") Race Blades on the rear.

I think there used to be some kind of "official" fender rule, but the thinking nowadays is that fenders are mostly to keep your friends' faces clean.

So if you don't have a fender and want to ride in a group (on a rainy day), then it's back o' the pack for you.

That said, a surprising amount of randos ride on "racey" bikes with little to no fender coverage. I'll be one of them tomorrow - there is a chance of rain, but I figure it's warm enough that the rain won't kill me like it might in the winter.