I just finished my first brevet and I had a great time. My wife dropped me off in Edwardsville at 5:30am. I registered and talked to some of the other riders. It was about 50 degrees at this point and I thought about taking off my jacket and putting it in may trunk bag but I decided to keep it on.
At 7:00, John gave us our final instructions/pep talk and we were off. There were several turns in the first few blocks, but I just stayed with the group. Then there were a few miles on a shady bike path. It was several degrees cooler here and I was glad I kept my jacket on. The group was still warming up and riding at about 15mph. I would have preferred to go a little faster here to keep warm.
Then we came out into the open and started riding on farm roads. These are great for cycling because they are flat and have very little traffic. We had a headwind/crosswind but even this wasn't too bad because we could look forward to a tail wind on the return leg.
The speeds slowly crept up as we reached Pocahontas and turned more directly into the wind. There were some pretty strong riders in this group and I was having trouble keeping up even though I wasn't pulling. Even though the pace was too fast for me I wanted to stay with the lead group so that I could hide from the headwind. The disadvantage is that, at least for me, it is harder to eat and drink enough while riding with a fast group.
Finally, at about mile 38, I dropped off the back of the group. I managed to keep them in sight until almost the first checkpoint at mile 41. They were still there when I got there but I decided not to join back up with them. I figured that I would just get dropped again. As I was getting ready to leave, two more riders showed up. They had been delayed by a flat tire. I decided to wait for them so that we could ride together. I also let one of them use some of my sunblock.
After we left the checkpoint, I could tell that they were stronger riders than me. I let them pull and I did most of the navigating. After about 8 miles I said goodbye and dropped off the back again.
At 63 miles, I felt that unmistakable squishy feeling that meant that meant that my rear tire was flat. Being alone means that I had nobody to help me fix it, but it also meant that I didn't feel like I was slowing someone down if I changed it too slowly. I was very methodical so that I was sure to find the cause. That last thing I wanted was to flat again after a few miles. I found and removed the sharp rock in the tire that had caused the flat. I was a little surprised that no other riders passed me during the 20 minutes or so that I was fixing the flat. One car did stop and ask if I needed help.
It was only about 5 more miles to the second checkpoint. The fastest riders were long gone but there were still a few people still there. As I got something to eat and refilled more water bottles, more riders started trickling in. Had I been trying for a fast time on this ride, I blew it by spending too much time at this checkpoint. I was just enjoying hearing people talk about their experiences as they came in.
Shortly after I left the checkpoint, I passed two women riders. This would not be the last time I saw them. I stopped for more water at mile 90 and they came into the convenience store while I was there. I was feeling a little tired after that so I also stopped at mile 106 for some chocolate milk. I think that I was feeling the effects of the sun at that point. Fortunately I had the benefit of the expected tail wind.
Later I saw a pair of riders in the distance ahead of me. It seemed to be the two women I had passed earlier. I spent the next 40 minutes trying to catch them. I kept wishing that they would speed up so I wouldn't see them or slow down so I could catch them. I finally caught up with them about 5 miles from the finish and we rode the rest of the way together. My time was 9:23 on the clock, 7:02 rolling time.
On this ride I learned that I need to eat and drink on the early part of the ride. In the first 2 hours I did not even drink one full water bottle. The question is how to carry enough water conveniently? I have two water bottle cages, but this won't last that long on hot days. I don't really want to use a camel back. I could carry more water in my trunk bag but I'd have to stop to get it out. Maybe a water bottle cage behind the seat?
I also ended up with a little bit of sunburn on my face and my upper arms. I think that my sleeves rubbed away the sunblock on my arms. I need to remember to reapply.
I spent over two hours off the bike on this ride. On the longer rides, I will need to be quicker when I stop. I will need to build up a buffer for rest/sleep stops.
Overall I am very pleased with my first brevet. I finished and felt good.
7:02:03 rolling time
9:23 clock time