600k Wrap Up

Click here for a gallery of photos from the 2009 600k
Click here for a gallery of photos from the Davis Bike Club's 2009 600k brevet

I rode in the Davis Bike Club 600k on June 5-7. I should have written about it earlier, but haven’t had the time. Sorry. Long story short, as they say: rode it straight through without sleep. The ride was 378 miles (not counting the the 10-mile roundtrip to the start/finish). It took me 30.5 hours, which is 30 minutes longer than my anticipated best time. If I had to summarize it in one word, it would be this: Brutal.

Which is not to say it was a bad experience. In fact, in many ways, it was the opposite of my Davis Double Century experience. I was happy with my riding, happy with the way the ride went, and I learned a lot of things that I think will get me through the Gold Rush Randonnée.

But it was a very uncomfortable ride, and at times, a very unpleasant ride. Parts of it, especially near the end, were just no fun at all.

The interesting thing is that none of the riding was particularly challenging physically. There was climbing, some hills . . . but nothing as tough as Cobb Mountain on the Double Century, for instance. And I now realize that the the long, tedious stretches of the ride – a slow 70 miles up Feather River Canyon, the circumnavigation of Indian Valley, and the long straight slogs through the Central Valley – were exactly the kind of riding that makes people tell you that a long ride is far more of a mental challenge than a physical one.

It was challenging physically only because I didn’t sleep. I am certain that if I stopped at the 400k mark, napped for a few hours then went on, the rest of the ride would have been fine.

So, you’re asking, why didn’t I at least take a nap. Good question! The organization that sanctions brevets in the US is called RUSA, Randonneurs USA. They give you a handbook when you join. One of the articles in the book talks about training for a 1200k like the GRR. The author recommends riding the 600k straight through as sample of the fatigue you will experience on the 1200k:

If you aspire to do a 1200k, don’t pamper yourself. Instead, intentionally make things tougher since doing such a long ride is essentially all about suffering, and how to ignore it. . . . I would strongly suggest that if you aspire to do a 1200k, then endeavor to do a sleepless 600k precisely because it is so much harder than doing it with some rest. Afterward, this will give you better confidence to tackle The Big One.

Made sense to me, so I tried it. Unfortunately, it actually had the opposite effect on me. The entire second part of the 600k, I went over and over in my mind how stupid this kind of riding was and how I was going to drop the idea of riding the 1200k. A straight 600k didn’t give me confidence; it brought me to my senses. For a while anyway. By the day after the ride, I was applying what I had learned and determining that I could ride an enjoyable 1200k if I did it right. The recipe? Eat and sleep. But more about that later.

By the way, they for the ability of long distance riders to forget how miserable the last ride was is called “randonesia.”

As to the ride . . . the next three entries pretty much cover it.

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