Sunday, April 27, 2008

I Missed My Granny

I remembered last year's 3 capes as the most scenic of the Oregon 2007 brevet season. With a very favorable (by Oregon Spring standards) weather forecast, my hope was to have a faster time. I figured 2008 would be a year to decrease mileage, replenish long term physical reserves and explore different approaches and equipment (no buying more bikes, though). One thing I'm sure of is that my 2007 mileage was not sustainable on a physical, professional or family/friends level. So, less miles and try to get more out of them. BTW I don't believe in or like the term "junk miles", but if there are time/energy limitations, a goal oriented approach is needed at least part of the time.
A few things to tinker with:
Controls: One thing that I've noticed was that the longer I rest at a control the more sluggish I feel when resuming. Is this a cause or consequence?- Don't know. But only by experimenting can I find out if increasing fatigue is the cause for the longer stays. So, my goal was to get the card signed, do bladder breaks and keep moving.
Food: I know large food boluses don't agree with me and that nutritional value has to take precedence over any other factor in rides over 200K. So, it was back to Perpetuem.
Also, since I'm not doing anything longer than a 600K this year, I can see how much junk I can leave out of my trunk. I have been using a small handlebar bag and a small saddlebag for the past month and am going to see if that's enough storage for this brevet season.
Camera: Chose film over digicam for this ride as the film camera is more compact. Choice was also inspired by Leslie L., who had said she was bringing her film camera.
Wheels/tires: My choices were my Kysriums/Vittoria Open Corsa/11-27 cassette which are my fair weather setup or Mavic Open/Vittoria Pave/11-34 cassette which is my rainy day setup. I chose slightly lighter hoops over better granny gear cause I'm a weight weenie and had been using that set of wheels recently and didn't feel like swapping.
The start was cold but only my hands really felt it. As we're going up the first climb, John Maurice remarks that this brevet is fairly flat for a 300k; "don't feel that way to me" was my reply. But after the first control, there was a nice long descent. Together with warming weather and a flat and very pretty section which followed renewed my hopes for a better time. It was also great fun to hang out with the usual suspects. I enjoyed talking (photo)shop with Nate and Leslie and very pleased to see Nate lugging along his Olympus SLR which is probably close to his age. John, in addition to maintaining his flat ride assessment, was asking how I was liking my Perpetuem diet.
Then came the Second of the Capes. Less than halfway through the ride I found myself spinning (if you can call it that) 40 RPM up the incline and thoroughly regretting my choice of equipment. By the time I reached Pacific City I knew I would have difficulty meeting last year's time, let alone improving on it. I was moving quite deliberately over the Grand Ronde pass when I was joined by Peg W. We shared the hospitality of the motorized users and argued over who had been called sweetie by one of the gentlemen in a pickup truck. "I think he liked you" cooed Peg. I insisted the overture was directed towards her. Finally Peg remarked-"you realize we're arguing over someone with 3 front teeth".
We were joined shortly after arriving at Grande Ronde by several more Randonneurs. At that time, my only goal was finishing within the time limit and was quite happy to have folks to lallygag with. I had similar levels of fatigue at PBP and an AZ 600K that remains my only DNF. It also was clear that it would behoove me to have company as my nighttime navigation talent is minimal.
I was part of various groups for the last stretch for the last 30 miles and relied on Cecil for the last 10 miles or so for navigation and commiseration- I felt that any little bump on the road felt like a hors-category climb and she was feeling likewise. Alas, we earned in a few bonus miles by making a wrong turn less than a mile from the finish. Ouch.
Lessons learned-
I will never, ever do a ride longer than 200K without a 34t cassette again. It's hard to evaluate the effect of carrying less stuff, using light wheels/tires when you're having engine failure from grinding along at 40-50 rpm for a couple of hours.
I felt badly about being less than helpful with nighttime navigation but I don't think my sense of direction will improve anytime soon. So I got a Garmin GPS device the next day. It only has 15 hours of battery life max, but if I only turn it on when it's needed for navigation purposes, it certainly should be sufficient for 600K and under brevets. We'll see.
As for camera choices, I'm glad I took my Leica. I don't use it enough. I'm limited to one lens, one film speed and color or B&W. That approach has its charms.

3 Capes 08