The Connaught 600

First the photo, this one worth 2,000 words, we think.

Even without any context, we found ourselves wondering, if you could ride a bike there (where?) why would you ever ride anywhere else? If you’re looking for the spot, it’s at the Ceide Fields a Neolithic field system in Mayo, Ireland.

We met Noel, the rider, through our friends at Cyclefit in London. Noel is an accomplished audax rider from Ireland, and we painted his Axiom SL to match his favorite place to ride, as well as to honor Audax Ireland. The photo was taken during the Connaught 600, a 600k event by the organiser of the Wild Atlantic Way Randonee.

At the Coulee Challenge

Brad and Matt are at it again, this time taking on the 1200km Coulee Challenge in Minnesota and Wisconsin. We remixed their TransAt bikes for this new event. This ride differs from the TransAtlantic Way they took on last month in the quality of the road surfaces (thus the switch to 700c wheels) and the type of climbing they’re doing.

From the ride description:

Our RM 1200k route includes great roads and bike trails in Minnesota and Wisconsin with a focus on the challenging coulees of Southeast Minnesota and Southwest Wisconsin. The terrain will have some hilly sections, with multiple, occasionally steep, hills crossing ridge lines followed by pastoral valleys and quiet, bucolic roads. Along the way riders will enjoy passing through a number of small towns in the coulees and river towns on the Mississippi River.

A coulee is a deep ravine, one of the defining features of the terrain in Minnesota and Wisconsin. This is no flat, mid-Western romp,so we reconfigured Brad and Matt’s bikes for the occasion.

The Coulee Remix bike is a progressive gravel bike that features a number of innovations, special offers, and incentives. It’s also available for a very limited time. The Remix employs the SRAM Force 1 group set with mechanical shifting and hydraulic brakes, aiming for the lightest weight, simplest design, and purest performance.

Follow the Brad and Matt’s progress here.

1000km on the Seven RedSky S

We delivered Woody’s RedSky S in February of this year, via Adam and Saj at Get-a-Grip in Chicago. We received this photo, just this morning, which suggests Woody and his Seven are getting along pretty well.

He wrote:

Rode my Seven for the Great Lakes Randonneurs 1000k last weekend.  We were allowed 75 hours, completed it in 65.  Had decent weather, just one huge storm on Day 1 to contend with.  Great roads, terrific variety of terrain, and great support from the GLR volunteers.  My bike handled great.  Bombing hills, cornering with speed, bouncing across gravel sections—all good. 

Thanks,

Woody

Henry’s Paris-Brest-Paris Adventure

HVDB_PBPWe are proud to say there were a lot of Sevens at Paris-Brest-Paris this year, and we had the chance to spend some time with one rider, Henry van den Broek, who is local to us and a Ride Studio Cafe regular, to hear about the adventure of riding 1200km.

11887916_10153581270432720_744836648985477069_nHe says, “I  started Sunday evening in the 90 hour wave at 18:30. Apart from some short stops at the controls (less than 30 min), I  rode through the night and the following day for 24 hrs until Carhaix which is 525km, just before the halfway point in Brest. After sleeping for 3 hours on a field bed in a gym, I left that night at 11pm for Brest and kept riding through the night and next day until Fougeres (921km) where I arrived with fellow Seven rider Dave Bayley Tuesday night.”

He continues, “Dave I met in the morning just after the Loudeac stop. This had been a tough morning where I felt pretty groggy and had a hard time making speed, but after plenty of caffeine and ice cream I got my mojo back. Dave continued that night for Fougeres, while I slept on a gym mattress for 3 hours and left at 4am Wednesday for the last 300k to Paris, where I arrived at 8:30pm, finishing the ride within 74hrs.”

11884668_10153581271177720_5026513863694382313_oWhen you’re speaking to someone who aspires to riding for 3 days straight, the first question is always going to be, why? Henry laughs when we ask, “Why do I do it? On the ride, I sometimes wonder myself what I am doing, but I ride for the sense of adventure, exploring, seeing new places, new landscapes. Randonneuring reduces life to its basics. You are just eating, drinking. You ask, how is my body feeling? You become your own little world. Also you can meet friends through this shared suffering. On long rides, you have a chance to meet, hang out.”

11872029_10153581271232720_4572119967679281557_oHenry only started randonneuring three years ago, encouraged by Patria and the crew at Ride Studio Cafe, and then he wondered if could even do it. 200km? 300km? 600km? Now he finds himself wondering what’s next after PBP.

“With all the preparation I had,” he says, “I was not that worried. I did 1000km in July, and PBP is not that much more. During the ride, I got more and more confident. Unlike many of the brevets I did in the season where there are typically 20-100 participants, there were more than 5000 people starting at PBP, all trying to finish. This year less then 75% percent finished.”

11937959_10153581268357720_8761148865596437124_oHe continues, “When things get hard, typically I do a check up. Hard can be multiple things, overheating, tiredness, pain, sleepiness. How are my back, my arms, my legs? Most things can be solved by eating. Electrolytes and sugar can cure most problems. Grogginess is a tough one. I had three hour sleep stops on Monday and Tuesday nights, but it wasn’t enough. The jet lag didn’t help either, flying into Paris two days before the event. Coffee was the only way to get over it. Chewing gum can help. Next time I want to try caffeine gum. You think it’s a mental thing, but that really comes back to sugar levels. Your brain is just saying it needs more fuel. This is about being in tune with your body.”

11181090_10153581270897720_68586247631590121_nIt is not every day you ride 1200km. Most who finish PBP only do it once in their lifetime, so strategizing for a ride like this comes down to the experience of the “shorter” brevets and reading about how others have handled the distance.

Henry says, “What I realize now is you have to be careful how much power you’re putting out. You have to measure your effort, not go too hard. Even 1% over your pace will catch up to you over these kinds of distances.”

Henry’s Seven Evergreen SL was built with more than just PBP in mind. This is a bike that Henry uses on group rides with the RSC club. He has done the full brevet series on it. And now that it’s fall, he’s racing cyclocross on it as well.

He says, “I love the frame. I love the versatility of it. I was always completely worn out by my old bike. This season I’m on the Seven on 38mm tires with supple casings. It’s so smooth. They roll so well. The Evergreen has a lot of clearance, so you have choices in tires. The disc brakes give you reliability in all weather. It’s very stable, too. I ride with a very light touch on the bars, so no back pain ever.”

HVDB_CX2

“I also really love the custom paint,” he adds. “So many people look at my bike and love the paint job. It’s orange from Holland. I always get attention with it, and it’s really MY bike. It has my name on it, my color, made for my body. It’s a statement. It’s me. I feel very together with the bike.”

A Tale of Two Millenia, Pt 2

After extreme heat made completing the Portland to Glacier 1000km unsafe, Matt Roy had another opportunity to knock off the distance right away, back here at the New England Randonneurs Downeast 1000km on July 30th. This time things went better, and his 63hr 9min finish was the best of the 18 riders who completed it. Here is the story of his Downeast 1000km, in his own words:

20080662970_5f4d1834f1_z

Earlier in the summer I had the brilliant idea that I could string a pair of 1000kms together with a one month buffer in between. It was my plan all along.  And when the Portland to Glacier National Park 1000km went belly up in the heat I really had to commit. The Downeast 1000km was the first event in New England greater than 600km since the demise of the fabled Boston-Montreal-Boston 1200km, which was last run in 2006. The promoters, route designers and volunteers put a ton of effort in to it so I really wanted to be part of the inaugural edition.

The route promised to be amazing. Montpelier, VT to the top of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park and back.  636 miles. More than 37,000 feet of climbing.

20080728368_3975182e84_z

Day one, 4AM start, 20-or so starters headed out.  The route would head northeast towards to the north side of Rangeley Lake in Maine, crossing New Hampshire following Bear Brook to Lake Umbagog. It’s moose country. Hunting and fishing country. Amazing that Conway is only 60 miles away. It might as well be Saskatchewan.

20080844058_4aee6a12d2_z

The overnight was at Colby College in Waterville, ME but I rolled in earlier than planned with two others.  With plenty of daylight to spare, I decided to press on with hopes of making to Bucksport, which would put me at a little over 280 miles for the day. It also meant that I had a much better chance at making to the top of Cadillac Mountain close to sunrise the following morning.

20080703550_3b2462009c_zIt seemed like a good idea at the time but I was being pursued by a nasty storm cell that periodically dumped rain on me. I pushed it for the next few hours, pulling into Bucksport where Mo met me at a motel. Soaked, tired, but pretty happy with the  day.

The next morning I pressed on to Cadillac with a fellow rider who met me in Bucksport after he got some shuteye in Waterville. We rode together along route 1 in silence. Both sleepy. In a literal and figurative fog.

Top of Cadillac. Maybe three, four other people there. Amazing. Mo picked berries on the side of the road and surprised us with them.

MattRoy1000k

Bar Harbor. Bakery. Brekky. And then, after a leisurely breakfast, we headed into the streets of Bar Harbor where the early morning quiet had vanished, replaced with bustling buses, hordes of vacationers. I saw on bumper sticker that said something to the effect of “No I’m not on vacation.”

20242651746_5b27e65761_z

The highway back to Bucksport. Loud, hot, cars, trucks, RVs passing you at 65mph. Longing for the solitude of the roads east of Bucksport and back to Waterville.

20080750468_2d211dcb05_zMy original plan was to blast past Waterville, ME and press on to North Conway but the day got hot, the wind picked up and it would have been a solo death march for the balance of the day. 150 miles on day 2. I opted for a shower and a luxurious five-hour nap. I waited for a trio of friends who had made the trip up from NJ/PA. The four of us cruised under the full moon, starting at 2am. Pace was super casual but they were a blast to ride with. Plus, Mo wouldn’t have to worry about me riding solo and she could get another hour or two of shut-eye since she was meeting me at every checkpoint.

Sleeping the night in Waterville and the leisurely nighttime ride meant that we’d get into Conway at prime weekend traffic hour, and up and over the Kancamangus with the buzz of a thousand Harleys. I pushed on alone once we hit Conway. Over the Kanc and thankfully soon on the quiet roads west of Kinsman Notch.

The last 60 miles were sublime. Winding dirt and paved roads. Hardly any cars. Along the Connecticut River crossing back in to Vermont and then winding gently up along the Waits River into the golden hour. Finished around 7pm. Daylight to spare. Not much left in the ol’ legs though. A little over 205 miles to cap it off.

Here’s the breakdown:
636.8 miles in 63 hours and 9 minutes. Total riding time, 42:11. Off the bike for 18:58 for a 15.09 mph rolling average. 37,402 feet of climbing. 20,949 estimated calories burned.