Monday, April 27, 2015

Tip #6 - First 400 km Tips

A 400 km is about as far as randonneurs typically ride in a day.  A 400 km is about learning that you can ride the first day of a grand randonnee.  It is also about riding further than you ever thought possible in your pre-randonneuring life.

  • Carry your own toilet paper. 
  • Don't trust cars.
  • Shivering at night is a bitch.  Carry appropriate clothes for when you are worn out.
  • Just keep moving.  No it doesn't get any better.
  • Riding in cool rain is pleasant with the right equipment. 


- Carry your own toilet paper.
  • Not every you stop has toilet paper in their bathrooms
  • I generally keep small rolls designed for camping in the bottom of one of my bags
  • Sometimes you have intestinal problems in the middle of nowhere.  Or at least somewhere you don't have access to bathrooms
- Don't trust cars
  • I pay attention to all cars passing me.  In the daytime they typically move over.  At night they typically let up the gas (and/or move over) when they first see you.
  • If I am on road with a bad berm and high speed traffic, between 9 PM and 1 AM I sometimes pull over and stop for passing cars. 
  • After 1 AM cars are often more cautious about unexpected stuff on the road - like you.
  • Once in them middle of the night I head a car manual shifting repeatedly on a road they could probably see me.  I got off the road.
- Shivering at night is a bitch.
  • My body has poor thermal regulation when I am tired and sick.  There are nights it's been 60 F, and I left a control with leg warmers, arm warmers, vest, balaclava,and gloves to avoid shivering (I was pretty sick).  As my body warmed up, I took most of these off.  Repeated at each stop.
Just keep moving.  No it doesn't get any better.
  • Actually, it may get better.  But you have to get through the sufferfest to get there.  At least I often recover from bonk or heat late in the day.  But you can't wait it out off the bike.  So just keep moving and accept your fate.
Riding in cool rain is pleasant with the right equipment.
  •  Wool is magic.   I can't wear it over 75F.  Below that it is magic.  Particularly 45F to 60F and wet.  When it is cool I wear wool bibs.  I wear or carry a wool jersey.  I have wool arm and leg warmers.
  • Nominal waterproof shoe covers are light enough to always carry.  Water sloshing in shoe vents is bad.  Your feet still get soaked with shoe covers.  But it takes longer and is more indirect.
  • Having gloves that are warm when wet is important too.  I have a green pair fleece gloves I've carried for over a decade when it is too wet for glove liners.  I used to have an ultralight pair of waterproof mitten shells, but I lost one.  Dan B reports success with surgical gloves under other gloves.
  • The how and why of fenders
    • Water sluicing onto feet from your front tire really sucks hour after hour.  If you have only one fender and mud flap, have a front one.
    • Keeping manure and giardia cysts off water bottles on wet country roads.
    • Keep bottles usable longer on trail riding.  If you are on a limestone trail more than 10 miles, your bottles get gunked up fast without fenders.  

My first 400 km was in Eastern PA out of Quakertown.  Eastern PA has beautiful routes, but they are mountainous.  I started to have pain in my left knee around mile 76.  After the turn around point up in New York, my knee hurt to bad I couldn't put any downward pressure on my left pedal.  Tom Rosenbauer (RBA) came upon me, asked how I was doing.  He happened to be carrying one over-the-counter pain and anti-inflammatory pill.  He let me have it and rode off.  After an hour or two the pain in my my knee lessened.  Several hours later I was almost pedaling normally again.  I arrived off the road perhaps around 1:30 AM.  After the ride, I had a professional bike fit, which eliminated the knee pain going forward. 

This is a continuing list of tips in what I explain what works for me.  What I did may or may not apply to you.  However, it should inform your decisions of what can work for you.  I am writing this series because one of Pittsburgh's riders asked me to do it