Tuesday, July 30, 2013

My First 600 km Brevet.

I stopped in Holland, Manitoba.

I have been planning this ride for several years now. It has taken a while to get in shape for this ride, This was the first year with the Quest. It's been a great year. I have gone from the old guy who finishes last to the guy who can finish hours ahead of everyone. We started the year doing 200 km Brevets, then 300 km Brevets, then a 400 Brevet and finally the 600. All our routes so far have been South, North and East of the City of Winnipeg. This route was to the west. A little further west than I have traveled before by bike.

Here was the planned route :600 km Brevet route.

Because we were a small number and had a new member, we decided to stay together for the ride. We were 5 only. Three regular bikes, one recumbent and one Quest Velomobile. We were planning to do it in one non stop ride. There was to be 10 controls because of the way the route was planned. There was to be night driving. I have never driven all night before in the Quest. I follow Peter's Blog and he recently did a non stop 26 hour 600 km Brevet. Something to be Saluted. I knew we would not be so fast traveling in a group. I looked at the weather forecast.  High temperature of 20 C and a low of 10C, with no wind. It sounded too good to be true.
             I have prepared a list ahead of time and packed and prepared it. I was  ready for anything I thought. Six o'clock was our starting time. We met and left a couple of minutes late. Candy who was our lone female rider got there just in time.
On the Road at 6 am.
The conditions were great. It was about 12 C. and no traffic at this time on a Saturday morning.

First Control in Carmen
We arrived at our first control in at town called Carmen at 8:43 am. The distance was 77 km.

Happy Randonneurs!
Our group was happy and ready to go. We left Carmen and headed west on Highway # 3. Along the way I took this picture of this weather vane. It is a real car up there and it moves with the wind.
Weather Vane for wind direction!
The distance to the second control was 71 km but it was to have the most climbing sections as well as the highest elevation point of our Brevet. I am the first to admit I suck at climbing.  Well I got lots of practice and I got better at it that day. I followed at the back of our small group as no one could draft off the Quest XS. The first slope I had to grind up at a slow speed in the small chain ring and got left behind. After that I would look ahead and take a high speed run at the slopes. I still had to gear down to climb some of them but I wasn't getting left too far behind.  Some of the rolling stuff I could fly up and down the slopes.
                                    Wind Turbines on the high ridge.                                                        

As we approached the highest point of elevation I noticed the ridge was covered with wind turbines in all directions. Even with such a calm day they were all turning. I know this may be a common sight to my Dutch readers, but this was new to me. They are quite large when you get near them.

                                                    Wind turbines to my right....    

                                                 And more Wind Turbines to my left...

                                                             Control 2 Manitou 148 km
This was our lunch stop. We got there at 12:05. The service at the Burger Shack was slow but the burgers were great tasting. From there we headed west on the loop we had to do. First west on highway 253, and then north on highway 5 to our next control in Glenboro.

                                                     Control 3 Glenboro 247 km.
Glenboro was our supper stop and we ate well. Our stops were getting too long at this point and it was starting feel like a fun bike tour. We left Glenboro at 18:33 and headed east to our next control.

                                                                  Holland Manitoba.
On our way to the next control we passed though Holland Manitoba. I had to stop and take a couple of pictures so I could say I went to Holland this weekend! It was a fake wind mill.

                                                       Control 4 Rathwell     301 km
At this control everyone put on their lights for the night riding. Of course all I had to do was to flip a switch. At this point I didn't know if my lights would last the night, but I had two spares that I could attach to my helmet if the battery went dead in the Quest. With all the climbing I realized I had brought too much stuff and food. It was a good thing for someone else because I had a spare to loan them when their light went dead.
                                                                             Night riding!
I was surprised  this photo turned out at all because I shot it in the dark. The camera really made it look brighter.   Just after we left Rathwell my Garmin quit and I had to charge it up. I didn't restart it until we got to Mordon, so I lost 80km of slow night driving data.     Here is the link to the data from the first half from
 My Garmin     This portion of the night driving was part of a loop and we had to re-climb some of the slopes we had done earlier in the day. After a while I decided to hang back a long ways and watch the others tail lights. That way if they were climbing I could take a run at it and build up speed to get me up the slope easier. The group had to stop many times as people were getting sleepy and cold. I loaned my rain jacket and leg warmers to Candy as she was getting cold. It was a good thing I brought too much stuff. I was warm with just my shorts and jersey in the Quest. When we got to Manitou again we turned east this time and headed down hill. On this long stretch it would have been easy run at 55 kph for me and leave everyone far behind, but I stayed far behind. My MP3 player quit along here as it ran out of charge. I was feeling quite sleepy when we got to the coffee shop in Morden.
                                                            Control 5 Morden 383 km
After getting some food and coffee a bunch of drunk kids came in from the local bar. They were quite loud and funny to watch. Sam snapped this picture of us before I could wake up. That coffee tasted real good at that point. We left that control at 2:35 am. Just before Sunrise we decided to stop along the side of the road and sleep. Pete had a Bivy sack with him to crawl into and the others just laid down in the grass. I pulled out my cover for the Quest and covered the Quest. It was like a bug proof tent then and i slept well. After an hours sleep they woke me up and we continued on.

                                                              Control 6 Morris 456 km 
 After more coffee in a truck stop in Morris we left at 7:00am. We headed east and the south to St. Malo. More breaks along the road slowed us down. We left St. Malo and headed North and then east to  Control 8 (535km ) in Steinbach. Control 9 (561 km) was then west and north a bit. And back to Winnipeg to finish at 4:40 pm.
The weather and wind was perfect. We had no flats, and only 3 people had sore seats. But I don't have to tell you which 3.  I learned a lot. The Rice cake recipes tasted good and were easy to eat while riding. I brought too much stuff and will need to be lighter next 600 or 1200 I do. And the most important thing was we all had fun...

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Recovery Week

Recovery Week,
After a couple of weeks of long days of work  I got a recovery weekend. We took the Huskies and packed up the camper and went camping. July 1st is Canada Day. It falls on a Monday this year so we had a 3 day weekend of rest. No Quest, No bike riding , just rest.
Camping with the Huskies.

The picture caption says "Camping with the Huskies". The picture only shows two dogs. The smart female was inside lying under the air conditioner. It was about 30 Celsius when I took this picture. Being Canada Day we had our flag taped to the front of our 34 year old camper.  I can not remember such a quiet weekend for me. Lots of rest, good food and lots of dog walking.
           The rest did me some good. My average speed for my daily commutes is up and my legs feel stronger. The poor Quest sat at home in the shop all by itself. Actually it only spends time outside when I'm riding. At work it hides under cover in my locker area surrounded by buses.

Safely parked indoors at work.    
6 am in the Bus Garage.
The Camping weekend was good but coming home was not so good. Our 12 year old hot water tank sprang a leak while we were away. We came home to no hot water and some very wet carpet in our basement. It's a good thing we had the camper to shower in the next morning. My week involved putting in a new gas hot water  tank and lots of carpet cleaning.  It's just hard sometimes to balance rest, training and work. Not so much FUN to write about this week but the 600 km Brevet is coming up soon and I think I will be up to the challenge...