Kinder-Gentler 400 km ride report – More rain, less hills.

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This is my next report about our most recent 400 km ride with DC Randonneurs.

To rest better this time I took a day off  and slept well.  I was excited about it. One of my all time favorite randonneurs Hamid was organizing with his wife Shab.   I drove to the start location and got there extra early as usual .

As I was getting ready the riders were arriving. Time always seems to fly for me before a big ride. After the usual hour of preparation it was time to go. Soon thereafter we were on our way after short instructions from the ride organizer.

Final instructions from Hamid

It was still dark at 4 a.m in the morning and I followed the trail of taillights . I then moved into the big ring and started pedaling hard.  This would be my last training before my first 12-hour race of the year in two weeks. The terrain actually suits me perfectly with short rollers and no extended climbing . Based on the forecast we expected few hours of rain.  Therefore, I  brought no rain gear. That was a big mistake. I was wishing that I had my shoe covers and wool gloves later on.

As soon as I established my pace in the morning there was a guy on my tail.  Later I found out that this was Martin , a local mountain bike racer.  He told me that this was his first brevet. We would actually remain together for the next 65 miles while mainly drafting behind me. He even stopped and waited for me every time I had to take a bathroom break.  I didn’t really mind , as long as he was willing to do some work himself. I gave him a quick background of randonneuring and what is all about while emphasizing that it is not a race. He told me that he was unable to load the maps on his GPS and I didn’t mind leading a new rider . It is part of that rando culture.  I was just wondering why he didn’t want to use his cue sheet.

Somewhere here the sun was poking through the morning clouds. It looked stunning

Later on we crossed the low water bridge near Brightwood , VA. The water was up to my knees. An hour later we were at our next control – the Somerset store. We met Damon there. I was surprised that he was not an hour ahead  already. He actually had a flat tire in the dark – so unfortunate. I explained to Damon and Martin that I intend to slow down a little bit. I didn’t want to pay for the high  speed later. Martin asked Damon to ride  behind him and save wattage and they left.

As soon as Damon said that is going to rain,  it started pouring on us. And it was bad, cold rain for almost 4 hours.

Martin got dropped after not even five miles behind Damon. He  was constantly a little bit in front or behind me,  mostly waiting at every other intersection to ask me which way to go.

Right before the Dyke snow store control he was in front of me only by half a mile. Surprisingly  when I got there , he was gone. It felt so nice to stretch my legs while listening to the rain drops falling. This was the last time I will see Martin all day. I was barely moving as the cold rain was really  demoralizing .

Next was a bit of climbing up Simmons Gap. Right before I got to Crozet  the rain stopped.   This was actually a  nice little town. Plenty of people were walking the streets and gathering together for the holidays.


As soon as I left town I was  running out of supplies and decided to stop at the Crossroads store.  119 miles were behind me.  What a tasty Eclair they had there . It reminded me of home. But there were still about 23 miles until the highlight of the day – a Gourmet control in Scottsville.

No more rain

As I approached the town I can hear Shab screaming my name. It felt so good and reminded me of her tireless support in France.  The control was at the Canal Basin Square. They had warm food, a place to charge your phone and  bathroom.

Is this what heaven feels like ?

This was my planned long break for the day. I was pedaling as hard as I can so I can spend as much time as possible there. As a bonus Hamid gave me a sandwich to go. Thank you!

The rain was long gone and my clothes dry . Next control was at Sheets in 50 miles and I picked up the pace. When I got there I stopped for another  10 to 15 minutes . I got a nice big sandwich, filled up my water bottles and  was ready to go.  I knew that this was going to be my last stop until the end.

No rain, no sun

Suddenly, I felt great and decided to race to the end. My moving average speed was above 20 mph.

Luckily it was only over an hour that I spend in the darkness and made it to the finish line with a new personal best of 18 hours and 40 minutes.  This is  4 hours and 10 minutes faster than my previous best ! ! !20170506_224332I am almost ready for the first 12 hour race of the year next Saturday. It is the first edition of Maryland Endurance Challenge.

And I am racing for a great cause – SHIP (the Student’s Homeless Initiative Partnership of Frederick County

In School Year 2015-16, homeless students were located in 61 of the 66 schools with Frederick County Public Schools. This issue cuts across all grades and all ethnicities. Help SHIP by donating. More info in the link below
My goal is to raise $500.
Race starts and ends on Saturday, May 20 at the East Campus of Mount St. Mary’s University. The Rules are simple – Ride as many miles as you can in 12 hours.

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