Ride Report from Jakub Ner:
On Saturday I reached a milestone I was thinking of ever since fall 2012; when I first learned to ride. Back then I could barely ride around the neighbourhood without muscles I never thought I had wanted to explode.
On Saturday I tried a 200km Randonneuring Brevet and did the distance.
It was actually 205km and I rode it on a Nimbus Oracle in 14 hours 55 minutes.
I’m a 39 year old dude who mostly commutes on my unicycles. I don’t really do sports other than daily post commute stretches and some basic PT.
I started unicycling as a way to mess around with my kids while they bicycle the neighbourhood. Riding a full sized bike with them didn’t have any appeal and uni won over getting a BMX (at my age).
Since I’ve ridden with Randonneurs Ontario on my bike, the thought of trying with a uni was always there, nagging.
I’m fit enough to suffer through things.
Water + Perpetuem
Before the brevet I trained for 2 weeks by making 6 of my morning commutes 36km one way and the regular 17km back. I was averaging 3:40/km, roughly 16.3 km/h. This included some stops, red lights and such.
My pace seemed somewhat compatible with doing a brevet. A 200km brevet allows 13.5 hours to complete the distance, otherwise you’re DNF (Did Not Finish). You’re expected to maintain 14.8 km/h or faster, all breaks in.
It seemed plausible but I knew I’m going to be cutting it close at my pace. That, if I made the distance in the first place.
I knew that taking a break will be out. I fully expected to not stop for food or take any lengthy breaks. My fuel of choice was Hammer Perpetuem and I was just going to drink my way to victory all day long.
Beside worrying about the friction, knee pain, and general suffering, I worried about face planting when I’m tired and not being able to mount out of exhaustion.
The start was at 7am. At 6:40am while waiting at the start I realized I forgot my knee pads and wrist guards. Sigh. Especially with my worries over face plants still squarely in my head.
Luckily the ride had only one UPD when I came off onto loose gravel but managed to run it out. This was roughly 65km in so the legs were still good. Not sure how I’d fare later on in the day.
Maybe 10km in–just after we left London (Ontario)–I also realized I didn’t pack any water other than the single 750ml Perpetuem bottle I made to fuel me for the first 2 hours. Well, St. Mary’s was at 40km, I’ll resupply there. It was a good plan. I took on 3L there. Later on at 140km (in Stratford) I got another 2L that took me to the finish. The Perpetuem powder I carried all along with me, to remix as needed.
The first control was at 95km. I got an eager ice cream connoisseur to sign my control card. I realized I made the control point with only 20 minutes to spare before it closed. That’s OK, before this control I wasn’t sure I’ll be able to do the distance and thought I was taking it somewhat easy. I vowed to make a bigger time buffer for myself before I get into the Stratford control at 140km.
At the midpoint I also realized that the pains and aches have all been relatively stable for the last 20km or so. They weren’t getting any worse. I realized that this is manageable.
By this time I’ve been taking more frequent slowdowns to raise myself off the saddle and I dismounted more often to stretch out and walk out some pains. It felt like I was doing this every couple kilometres.
Unfortunately I hit the 140km control point 5 minutes after it closed. Regardless, I was optimistic that the last 65km are downwind and I can make up the time and make it into the finish before time cutoff.
Somewhere around the 150km mark the Randonneurs on bikes passed me for the second time. These guys went to see a Shakespeare play in Stratford as part of the ride. You see, there were no “normal” Randonneurs on this brevet . It was a huge boost
to see them again.
Seems all through the ride there were moments of drudgery and probably longer moments of awesomeness–despite the pains. The moments of awesomeness evaporated completely approaching London and in the dark, but I was almost at the finish line (I had 3 head lights and 5 tail lights, safety first).
After about 180km my fear of not being able to mount became reality. It took many failed attempts to remount. It was bound to get much worse in the dark, and it did.
I did make it into the final control at 205km at 9:55pm. This was quite a bit past the cutoff time of 8:30pm. But I did the distance and now my curiosity to do this on a uni was satisfied.
PICS OR IT DIDN’T HAPPEN