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My First 600k

by on October 17, 2013

Check that milestone off the list and schedule the next one!  Now that was a lot of fun!

October 12-13 saw 4 SPP riders participating in Taste of Carolina 600k that was held in conjunction with other rides, including 200k, 300k, 400k, 1,000k and 1,200k.  Tony designed the route so that people could ride together even though they were riding different distances.  Mike B and I drove to NC together on Friday after our very wet morning ride, arriving in time to get a quick dry ride in on the first part of the planned route.


Regular readers of this blog will know that I’ve tended to write “ride reports” that are somewhat chronological in nature.  That’s not going to happen this time, in part because it has been quite some time since the ride and that level of detail on such a long ride just doesn’t make sense to me today.  I’ll offer this report from what I hope are interesting perspectives.

I will say in advance that this ride exceeded my expectations and was better than I could have hoped for.  Our finish time was 33:28 which included an amazing 7 hours off the bike for the overnight stop!  Our average rolling speed was 17.9 mph!


If I were to design the perfect conditions for a successful first 600k, this ride couldn’t have been better.

The route was flat.  It was almost too flat!  Whenever we encountered the slightest hill, it was an unusually large effort.  One route profile shows 4744 feet of climbing.  My Garmin showed 3,051 feet of climbing.  That works out to about 8 feet per mile.  Minuscule!

Temperatures were just as favorable.  We had about an 8-10 degree temperature range, from 60 to around 68° F.  Combine that with thick cloud cover (we saw the sun once for about 10 minutes) and winds that rarely were headwinds and never got to the forecast 20 mph and I couldn’t ask for anything better.  I never used leg or arm warmers.  Short fingered gloves were sufficient.  I did use the reflective wind vest part of the time, but usually only in the dark mainly for the safety, not the warmth.

We had some light mist leaving the beach on Sunday morning.  The road surface was wet for a few hours.  It began a heavy mist about 30 minutes after we finished on Sunday.

Hydration and Nutrition

Before setting out on this longest ever ride, I knew I needed to dial in my nutrition and hydration plans better than ever before.  The conditions helped here, but I was more attentive to hydration and nutrition than ever before.

My pre-ride reading indicated that I needed to consume about 80 grams of carbohydrates per hour and that my body likely would not be able to process more than about 100 grams of carbohydrates per hour.  That became my baseline.  I had snacks packed that consistently gave me about 20-25 grams of carbohydrates that I used about every half hour.  I supplemented that with Rocktane sports drink.  When we stopped for food, I made sure that I ate only that which would keep me within my limits.  I ate far less than anyone else I was riding with.  At Subway (our preferred stop) I ate a 3 inch flatbread sandwich or soup.  Regular Coke rounded out the calories at the stop.  Sometimes I purchased chocolate chip cookies and used them as food on the bike.  I was also attentive to loading up with about 100 grams of carbohydrates immediately (within 15 minutes) of stopping for the night.  My research indicated that this was most helpful for multi-day rides.  I also made sure that my food intake began from minutes before the ride started for the day and continued throughout.

Hydration was simpler.  I drank every 15 minutes.  I split the hydration between water and Rocktane, depending upon what I could tolerate.  Usually I consumed half a bottle of Rocktane then diluted it with water at a stop.  I still did not drink the amounts that would have been necessary on a sunny or warmer day, but my output indicated that I was doing an acceptable level of hydration.  In any other conditions, I would have likely been much more dehydrated.

My gauge for all of this was my heart rate, and I couldn’t be more pleased.  I know that when I’ve not consumed enough fluids or fuel, my heart rate spikes.  I intended to watch that carefully.  My average heart rate for the entire ride was 117!  On day 2 that average actually dropped.  I think on most 200k rides, my heart rate average has been about 135!  For me this was affirmation that I was getting more things right.

After 225 miles!  Time for sleep.

After 225 miles! Time for sleep.


The dogs kept us alert.  Several were descendants of Cujo.  Most dogs were not fenced or restrained in any way.  There were two strategies for dealing with the dogs.  The first was to never be the last rider in a paceline.  The other was for several of us to shout commands and loud noises when they attacked.  The closest a dog came to getting a piece of me was after we had successfully outmaneuvered one particularly determined dog late in the ride.  As we relaxed, another dog approached fast and silent until he was only a couple of feet away.  I’m lucky he misjudged my speed and that I immediately accelerated.  They kept us alert!

Vehicle Traffic and Drivers

On previous long rides, particularly the Fléche, vehicle drivers have cursed at us, thrown things at us, dropped us in a cloud of diesel exhaust, skimmed by close enough to touch the vehicle and otherwise made our ride dangerous and challenging.  That was not to be in North Carolina.  These were the most courteous drivers I’ve encountered yet.  They often gave us a full lane, passing completely over the center line.  Friendly honks sometimes were used to alert us to their presence.  At no time did I feel a vehicle driver put us at risk, whether it was daylight or dark, or rural or urban.  Thank you North Carolinans!  It more than made up for the dogs.

The paceline

Mike and I were prepared to ride the entire route as a duo if necessary.  We hoped that our other two SPP partners would be riding a pace that worked for us and the four of us could ride together.  When we started, it seemed like tradition for this ride was for everyone to ride together to the first control (40+ miles) and although that didn’t work perfectly, it worked well enough that the 4 of us were in the lead group at that control and feeling good.  Some strong riders took long pulls and no one seemed to mind that some took short pulls or none at all.  Most of the ride distance, Mike and I rode in groups of 5-9 people.  There was a stretch of 20 miles midway through the first day where we just could not keep up with the strong riders we had been riding with and we rode as a duo.  On the second day, we intentionally pulled ahead and rode about 10 miles together just for a break and to continue to push ourselves a little more than the group riding allowed.

The pacelines we rode were of mixed experience.  Some riders would pull too long and gradually lose speed, frustrating the rest.  Others couldn’t hold a steady pace, no matter if they were in the front or at some other place in the line.  A couple of riders were uncomfortable drafting closely and rode off to the side reducing the advantage to those who were behind them.  By day two, I was much more comfortable being in the paceline in the front 4-5 positions and after a pull would drift back to a gap rather than to the very end of the paceline.

I discovered something I had not noticed before about the paceline.  If the leader pulled for quite some time, it was a real effort for me for the first half mile when it was my turn to pull.  My speed dropped.  My heart rate increased.  After that half mile or so, I got in my rhythm and was able to increase my speed and watched my heart rate drop into a comfortable zone.  I think that a more frequent rotation would have minimized this effect.


Luckily there were few incidents.  Gardner and I both flatted on a “closed to thru traffic” road in Jacksonville.  I got a piece of wire in my rear tire and as it was deflating also got a pinch flat.  It was kind of nice that our group divided and helped repair the flats at the same time.  Gardner later flatted again on day two.  That’s it.  We had no other mechanical issues.

Super Short Stories

In Surf City we were able to get permission to take our bikes out on the pier for photographs.  It was a nice change of pace.

IMG_1970 IMG_1969

In Jacksonville at a Subway, Theresa was coached on how to save$0.59 on a Coke by a young man who appeared to have some developmental disabilities.  He later told me that he knew I was a biker because my calves were well-defined.  It didn’t seem to occur to him that a helmet, spandex, and a bicycle were other clues.

One Subway clerk in Wallace served us, saw us on the road returning from Surf City as she drove there after work, and served us again the next day.

Most riders were a little nervous crossing the causeway onto Emerald Isle.  The railing on the bridge came to about our top tube, and everyone I spoke to about it seemed to have imagined themselves hitting that railing and tumbling over it into the water.  Most riders gave that railing wide berth.

With 44 miles left to go, we took a group “selfie” in the mirrored window of a convenience store.


On Sunday, it was tough dodging the little lizards running across the road.

The Numbers

Total distance = 383.85 miles

Official Elapsed time = 33:28

Moving Time = 21:28

Average Speed = 17.9 mph

Maximum Speed = 29.6 mph

Fastest 5 mile segment = 21 mph

Slowest 5 mile segment = 15.2 mph (the first 5 miles)

Average temperature = 64° F

Time off the bike overnight ~ 7 hours

Miles suffered = 0!

ELCA Malaria Campaign Pledges = $1,596.50

The route

The route

Big thanks to Mike, Gardner, & Theresa as ride partners and new Super Randonneers.  Thanks to Tony for a well-planned and supported ride.

From → Cycling

  1. bryan0751 permalink

    Well done. I’m aiming for the ‘Century’ just now and I find your writing very inspirational.

  2. Wow – well done! Speechless…! 600 km – amazing!

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