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Flatbread 2012

by on November 12, 2012

Now that was a lot of fun!

Let’s get outta here!

One of the more popular brevets in the DC Randonneuring stable is Flatbread.  It always happens in November and as the name implies, is the flattest brevet DC Randonneurs sponsors.  This year, about 65 riders pre-registered and 76 rode the course.  Of those, I believe 13 were Severna Park Peloton members.

I hitched a ride with Mike B to the start along with Fran and Mike C.  We all groused about the colder than forecast temperatures (forecast was for 40, actual was about 34 … with heavy frost on parked cars) and Fran asked what the plan was.  We all agreed that a 9 hour ride was what we were anticipating … meaning our goal was to arrive at the finish at about 4:00 pm, well ahead of darkness.

Planning for this ride was a challenge.  Temperatures would range about 30 degrees which made packing light a little more difficult.  I had resolved to use only my front bag and a small bento bag on the bike, so I prepared to ride with as few clothes as possible so when I stripped down in the warmer part of the day I didn’t have a lot to carry.  I also was cautious because of the recent sciatica issues I’d been having.  Friday night, I visited the Chiropractor (for a second visit this week) with a sciatica pain level of around 7-8.  When I left his office, it was 0!  My back hurt where he manipulated it, but there was no sciatica pain at all.  He did recommend some stretching on the bike, so I resolved to ride the Kona even though I wanted to ride the fixie on this ride.

Jack, and a bunch of other “crazies” getting ready to ride.

The 7:00 am start time arrived swiftly and with a cheer, the 76 riders pushed off into very chilly temperatures.  The pace was relatively easy for the first 6 miles.  That was where our first control was.  We arrived at the information control at exactly the same time as the answer to the control question.  By this time, my fingers were like ice and hurting pretty badly.  Moving out of the control, we turned east into the rising sun, picked up the pace and had a large group in the lead.  We kept the speed up the rest of the ride.  For the next 20-25 miles into Greensboro, this pace line moved comfortably around 18-19 mph but sitting in the middle of that pace line, we sometimes registered heart rates in the 115 range.  With very little effort we were moving pretty quickly.  Not only that, but we were chatting one another up as if this were an easy day.  Arriving in Greensboro, four SPP riders needed a bathroom break.  The main group kept on going.  We made short work of the stop, and were back on the bikes quickly to attempt to catch the main lead group.  The four of us worked hard together, increasing our average speed to close to 20 mph over the next 25 miles.  We never did see the lead group even though we overtook several other riders.  We made one additional pit stop for clothing shedding and bathroom break, but kept the speed up as much as we could.

Sometimes all you could see of us was this view.

When we got to the Slaughter Beach control, we finally caught the lead group, just as they were leaving the control.  It turns out that as we stopped for that first bathroom break, they picked up the pace to about 20 mph average also, so we never were able to close the gap.  Mike B and Fran were getting ready to go so I made the control stop just long enough to get the control card signed, top off a water bottle, slam down a gel and go.  It had to be less than 5 minutes.  That’s easy to do on this course, because there is a lunch stop about 10 miles after the Slaughter Beach control.

Ready to leave Slaughter Beach

We pushed off into a headwind with about 4 riders, but still worked at keeping up the pace.  In no time we were in Milton for the lunch break.  The most popular stop for lunch in Milton is the Subway on the “leading edge” of town.  Our small group decided on the coffee shop in town, and I’m glad we did.  The food was more “homemade” (yummy chicken salad sandwich) and the 3o minutes we were stopped only 3 other riders came in.  About the time we were ready to pull out, we saw a group of about 4 or 5 riders go by, so we accelerated our departure and within a few miles, were able to catch them and link up.

There are two places on a 200 k where I experience some real fatigue and the miles seem to go very slowly.  One of those is 80-90 miles into the ride.  I started bonking.  I had trouble keeping my heart rate down and after a pull in front noticed that drifting back I was not recovering very well.  Our group was still attempting to push 19-20 mph and it was getting to be too much for me.  I grumbled a little.  I tried a bathroom break.  The other riders were being very patient with me and Mike B confessed he was having some of the same issues.  Finally, my nutrition/hydration starved brain recognized that this was not that everyone was going too fast but that I hadn’t consumed enough of the right mix of fluids and nutrition.  I drank some water.  I sucked down a Roctaine gel, and within a few minutes, I noticed my heart rate coming down and recovery happening.  Mike B wasn’t so quick to diagnose his issue, and he struggled a while longer.

The other place I experience the miles to go by slowly is those last 10 miles.  Interestingly enough, that wasn’t so true on our ride today.  Those last 10 miles seemed to fly by.  I was feeling pretty strong and remembered to drink enough water to see me through.  (What often happens to me is that I think to myself that I don’t need any fluids or food for those last 15-20 miles because I ride that distance every morning without a drink of water or food in my belly.  What I forget to consider is that this is at the end of 100 miles covered, and that’s not the same as the first 20 miles!)

Somewhere in here, we had one last control.  I stayed twice as long as I wanted to, but it was still under 15 minutes total.

The short stops and the speed we had been riding was working for us.  We noted that the Garmin said we would arrive at about 3:05, 55 minutes ahead of our initial plan.  Try as we might, we could not shave off those 5 minutes to get under an 8 hour ride time.  True to form, we pulled in at 3:05 pm, with only 3 SPP riders ahead of us.  About 10 minutes after we arrived, another group finished and now of the 12 SPP riders, 10 were done and between 1/4 and 1/3 of the field was in.  Nice showing SPP!

After a quick outdoor change of clothes and tucking the bikes away, it was time for beer and pizza.  I lingered around for a couple of hours congratulating riders and renewing friendships.  Nearly everyone was pleased with the conditions of the day.  Light winds (compared to brutal headwinds last year) and most were reporting quicker times of between 1-2 hours than last year’s ride.

Now for the self-congratulatory and analysis part of my post:

This was my fastest 200k ever by about 23 minutes.  I averaged something like 18.3 mph rolling speed and 15.7 mph elapsed speed.  I was off the bike 1:08, which always surprises me.  I would have guessed closer to 50 minutes.  My rolling time was under 7 hours.  This was fun!

Rating of sciatica pain at the end of the ride … 3!

Chip puts together a great event, as evidenced by the large turnout.

The photos I’ve included were taken by Bill Beck.

This Ride: 127.5 miles
Month: 238.8 miles
2012: 5,214.2 miles
Total since 1/1/2010: 19,067.8 miles

From → Cycling

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