Monday, May 20, 2013


Packing for a 600K can be tough.  Especially one without a bag drop. I needed to have clothing for highs in the 70's and lows in the 40's. This is what I decided to take:
  • 2 pairs of shorts
  • short sleeve jersey
  • long sleeve jersey
  • long sleeve base layer
  • tights
  • regular cycling shoes
  • shoe covers
  • balaclava
  • rain jacket
  • thin socks
  • wool socks
Other than the rain jacket, I wore everything that I took at one time or another.

The ride started in Grandview, MO. I had a little trouble finding the starting location but I called Bob and he told me where it was. There were 5 other riders: Spencer, Dan, Joe, Rod, and Steve. We rolled out at 10 PM in good spirits.

Rod fell crossing some railroad tracks. He was in pain but able to continue. We made it to the first control in Paola, KS (mile 41) at 12:49 AM. We got something to eat and were back on the road at 1:10. We were stopped by a sheriff somewhere in Kansas. He had gotten a phone call about "bicycles riding all over the road, some with lights, some without." Obviously he could see that all of us had lights. We told him what we were doing and he wished us good luck and told us to be careful.

That is what usually happens when I encounter the police on these rides. They wonder what we are doing. They usually think that we are crazy (we are), and they warn us to be careful (we are). They are polite and friendly. I've never had a bad experience.

Later in the ride, Joe broke his chain. Someone else had a chain tool and a quick link but the quick link was for a 10-speed chain and Joe had a nine speed. Fortunately, Joe was able to push out a pin and use it to fix the chain.

We reached the second control in Butler, MO (mile 97) at 5:22. The sun was starting to come up which made me feel less sleepy. We were still moving at a pretty good pace. Back on the road at 6:10.

On the way to Appleton, Joe's chain broke again. This time Steve gave him a chain pin to repair it with. We reached Appleton (mile 121) at 8:03. There were no services for the next 52 miles so we needed to stock up. I shed some clothes and put on sunblock here. I used the last of the sunblock that I had and planned to buy more at the next control.

This was the toughest section of the ride. It started out hilly and then got hillier. Many of the hills required grinding up in the lowest gear. I can't believe that Spencer was doing this ride on a fixed gear. The only advantage that we had was that we generally had a tailwind. Steve was not able to keep up and fell behind the rest of us. I know that it is more difficult to ride solo but everyone has to ride their own pace. I was also worried that I was the next weakest link.

We reached Humansville (mile 173) at 12:03 PM. This was a longer stop because we were so tired from the hills. Unfortunately the control did not have any sunblock. Back on the road at 12:44 and at Weaubleau (mile 182) at 1:22. It took us 15:22 to do the first half of the ride. That is a decent time for a 300K, we had just a little over 24 hours to do another one. I did find sunblock here. We all took a nap in the shade for 15-20 minutes and got back on the rode at 2:04.

We saw Steve headed the other way a little while after we left Weaubleau. This section was easy because we were headed south and the wind was out of the north. It had picked up too, just like the weather report said. We reached Humansville (mile 190) again at 2:35. We loaded up on supplies and headed back out at 2:45.

Now we had to face the tough section again. This time we had a headwind. In fact the wind had picked up so we had a stronger headwind than the tailwind that had helped us earlier. I did okay on the extremely hilly section where were headed west. Once we turned north I had more trouble keeping up with Dan, Spencer, and Joe. I seem to deal better with hills than with wind. Rod had already fallen off the back, and I kept falling back on the windy parts and catching up on the hills. Eventually I lost sight of Joe and stopped to rest and read the cue sheet. After 10 minutes or so Rod caught up and I followed him. About a mile later we found the other three resting outside a church. If I had know they were going to stop I would have kept going to catch them.

We rode together for a while and then Dan and Rod fell of the back. We reached Appleton (mile 243) at 8:05. The wind had died down some, and my legs still felt strong, but I was feeling sleepy. This was no surprise since I had been up for over 36 hours and had ridden almost 250 miles. If there had been a motel in Appleton I probably would have slept there. At 8:05 Spencer, Joe, and I were back on the road. I wasn't about to fall asleep on the bike but my brain had shut down everything else it seemed.

We reached Butler (mile 269) at 9:50. I got a motel room, took a shower, and went to bed. I set my alarm for 3:00 AM, but I woke up at 2:30 and just decided to get up. The 5 of us were back on the road at 3:40.

It was cold and getting colder. I ended up wearing everything except the rain jacket. When we stopped in La Cygne we saw at sign that said 33°. I was glad that  I had just bought new shoe covers to help keep my feet warm. We spent some time eating and letting our feet warm up.

At 7:50 we got to Paola (mile 326). We got are cards signed and then went to McDonald's for third breakfast. We met up with Steve here. He had gotten to Butler after us and left before us. It was getting warmer so I shed some layers. We left at 8:20. After a little while Dan and Steve fell off the back.

The last 20 miles or so were a little frustrating. There was more traffic on a Sunday morning that there was when we left on Friday night. Also the hills seemed to have gotten steeper. It felt like we were almost done but still had a couple of hours to go.

We finally finished at 11:15 (mile 367). It felt good to be done. Dan and Steve finished not too much later. It was a good ride and I felt proud that I kept up with the "big dogs" this time (unlike the 400K). Actually, anyone who finishes a 600K can be considered a "big dog" in my opinion.

I ended up stopping twice on the drive home to take naps. I certainly did not want to fall asleep at the wheel.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Done with the 400K, getting reading for the 600K

Sometimes it seems like writing the blog post about my rides is harder than the ride themselves. Once again I am writing a report of a ride just before my next ride. I guess this is also a side effect of doing so many rides this year.

I did the Kansas City 400K on April 27. The weather report called for less wind than the 300K but rain at the start. It was about 45° with a light rain when we rolled out at 6:00. The rain kept our speeds down so I didn't have to worry about burning out early. Even so we made a good pace until our first stop in the Burger King in Cameron (mile 45) around 9:00. This wasn't a control, just a good place to grab breakfast.

The first control was in Pattonsburg (mile 73). I was a little late leaving this control, but I figured I could just catch up to the main group. I was hammering hard but I could not seem to close that last quarter mile. I caught up to Spencer for a little while but he later joined the main group.

Another rider fell off the main group. This was Steve who I had met briefly at the 300K. This was his first 400K. We ended up riding the rest of the route together. The next control was in Lamoni, Iowa (mile 117.8). We saw one rider here who made it to the turnaround and was on his way back. We decided to stop briefly here and make a long stop on the way back.

On out way to the turnaround we saw the rest of the riders who were ahead of us. We made it to Davis City, Iowa (mile 124.3) before 4:00 PM. This means that we had done the first half in less than 10 hours. This put us on a pace to finish in 20 hours but I knew we would be slower on the way back.

Steve and I rode back to Lamoni (mile 130.8) and had some pizza. When we left, I was feeling strong. I little too strong because I kept leaving Setve behind. I slowed down because I wanted to have someone to ride with.

We got back to Pattonsburg (mile 176.6) before 9:00PM. We were averaging 10 mph (including stops) since the turnaround. This pace would have as finishing around 4 AM. That would be 22 hours which would be fine with me. When we left the control it was Steve's turn to slow down for me.

Unfortunately we made a wrong turn somewhere near Winston. We ended up going 5 miles in the wrong direction before I figured out that we had done something wrong. We figured out our mistake and turned around. Steve seem to be a little deflated by this, or maybe he was just tired. After we got back on the route, we stopped at a c-store somewhere near Winston for about 30 minutes.

As we neared Cameron Steve told me that we was about to fall asleep on his bike. I told him that we would stop and let him try to take a nap. We had plenty of time so no need to take chances. I had heard about one of the riders talking about sleeping in the Walmart in Cameron (mile 203) on a previous ride so we decided to stop there.

We each lay down on a bench in vestibule of the Walmart at about 12:45. I don't think Steve actually slept much (I did not sleep) but the rest did him some good. After 30 minutes we got back on the road.

It was starting to get foggy. At first there were only patches in the low areas. Later, it was everywhere. It wasn't thick enough to be dangerous but it was disorienting. It was also wet. We made one more stop at a closed gas station to swap out batteries. I was very impressed with Steve's headlight and decided to buy one just like it.

As we neared the finish Steve was getting tired again. We swapped Airplane quotes to stay awake. In the last bit I pushed our speed a bit because I wanted to finish in under 24 hours. The time limit is 27 hours so we still had plenty of time. We finished in 23:58.

Being sleepy was the biggest problem on this ride. That's going to be a bigger challenge in the 600K which I'll be doing today. It starts at 10 PM on Friday. That means that there will be two nights of riding.

Since I've never done a ride with a nighttime start I'm not sure what to expect. My tentative plan is to ride the first 268 miles in 22-24 hours. That would put me in Butler, MO  at 8-10 PM Saturday. I can sleep in a motel until 2-3 AM and still have 11-12 hours to finish the last 100 miles.

Of course I might have to take naps at other time which would cut into the cushion. I might decide to take several shorter naps instead. I haven't done this before so I'm going to have to play it by ear.