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400k Brevet, Tavares, FL - 13 March 2004

400k Finish          400k Finish

Facts:

Distance: 250.4 Miles 403.0 km
Elevation (climbing): 6,280 ft 1,914 m
Riding time: 17:54 h  
Total time: 24:45 h  
Average speed: 14.0 mph 22.5 km/h

 

Ride report 1 from John:
AAAAAACHHOO! AAAAAACHHOOOOOO!!!!
 
This pretty much sums up my miserable ride through springtime allergy hell last weekend. This nightmare was also called the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Florida (BBBS) 400K Brevet held in Lake County. After a relatively benign 300K held on the flats of Eastern Florida last month, the folks at BBBS must have discovered the exciting world of S&M, because they designed a course which heaped pain, misery, and mental torture upon the unsuspecting. How does 250 miles with over 6000 feet of climbing (more than the Bright Angel trail at Grand Canyon) and more than 35 degrees of temperature change in the merciless Florida sun sound to you? I hope you said "Woo woo! Fun base training miles and lots of yummy convenience-store food. Sign me up!", because that's exactly what I said... until I discovered that I was suffering like a just-nipped-lice-infested-three-legged dog directly from the start...
 
Don't get me wrong. Although I pay lip service to the joys of a soft lifestyle, I really do love to suffer. Pain and suffering would find me even if I didn't seek it out first. Is it a price of admission to endurance sports or a reward? Who knows? But I suspect the two are blurred to the point of indistinction after you've been in the game for a while.
 
But I suffered a little TOO MUCH last Saturday, mostly from the allergies. We cycled through orange groves, oak groves, pine groves, and marsh groves - endless miles of them in beautiful Lake County. But the pollen was out of this world, and it attacked me like a swarm of Alaskan mosquitoes on a nudist colony. I never had a chance, even with allergy medication. "Achoo! Achoo!... AAAACHOOOO!!!!" was what people heard when they were near me. If I weren't blowing or wiping my nose, I was preparing for another bike-jerking SNEEEZE.
 
Finally, I had a chance to buy a bottle of allergy medicine at mile 80. Relief at last. Sweet revenge on the damned pollen, right? The bottle said "Caution. May cause marked drowsiness. Do not operate machinery when taking this medication". I took notice and promptly downed a quarter of the bottle. I knew I had overdosed on this baby when I started falling asleep. In the middle of the day. Riding a bicycle. Whoa. But did it help subdue the allergies, you ask? Of course not! It was completely ineffective, at least in the short term. Such was my luck on this day.
 
Then 140 miles into the ride, we rode through this particularly fragrant orange grove when my eyes started to water and itch like crazy. I didn't dare rub them and just tried to squint and cry as much as I could to drive the irritants out. Riders going the other way must have been incredulous at the sight of me grimacing for all I was worth, tears streaming out of my eyes. I was so consumed with this activity that I actually went off road into a lawn. Lucky there was no curb, or I would have wiped out. I later found out that there was a huge pollen clump'o nastiness lodged right in my eye. Nice. I loved it. Nothing like a direct hit on your central nervous system to drive you insane.
 
Suffer. Suffer. Suffer. That was all I did all day long. And when day turned into night, I kept on sufferin'. I suffered past the point of quitting which, in the quirky world of Brevets, meant that it became inconceivable to quit. So I pedaled on until the ride turned mostly mental - the physical aspect had ceased to matter. You should know it's bad when I start waxing philosophical. And indeed it was.
 
There are two stages of suffering. The first stage is when you suffer with the intention to quit. "I'm going to cycle to the hotel and quit", you say to yourself. And all you can think about is quitting and what you'll be doing after you quit: shower, clean clothes, hot food, and sleep. This distracts from the suffering, which is good. But you still don't come out ahead because there's all that guilt that pervades your thoughts too.
 
Then there's the suffering after you've made up your mind to finish. Because quitting is now out of the question, all you can think about is the suffering you're going through now, the suffering you're going to be doing four hours from now... eight hours from now... It makes for kind of a miserable suffer fest for no purpose whatsoever except to finish and prove out your conviction. The best way I found to deal with this was to shut up and keep pedaling.
 
Eighteen hours and 190 miles into the ride, the allergy symptoms had started to abate, and I felt like a normal rider for the first time. I actually started enjoying the ride when PHOOOOOM, I went down tits over ass and my bike over me. Bonus. Nice to be inspecting Lake County asphalt from up close. The shoulder had abruptly given way to dirt and grass, which is dangerous enough for alert riders in daytime let alone tired riders with puny lights in pitch darkness. The rider ahead of me managed to stay upright, although his two flats later forced him to retire. I got a flat, some nice road rashes, and one more opportunity to curse the bike gods. "Bring it on!", I taunted them, as I was so convinced that I was going to triumph in the end that nothing short of a tactical nuclear bomb was going to stop me at this point.
 
And bring it on they did... in the form of cold. From midnight to 6 am we cycled through intense cold for which I was woefully unprepared. The hills did not warm me up. Nor did spinning with the brakes on. The cold insinuated into my bones and sat there like a demon which could not be exorcised. It was the most uncomfortable thing I had had to endure.
 
As soon as the ride was finally over (24 hr 45 min), my fellow riders started making plans for the 600K. Insane. Absolutely crazy. "Achooo!", I said to them as I let them figure out what it meant. All I knew was that I had been an impostor in this Brevet business who was found out on this brutal ride. Good thing too, because the others guys almost had me convinced that the 600K would be "doable" and Boston-Montreal-Boston would be "more fun than you can handle".
 
NOT.
 
John the Impostor

 

Ride report 2 from Kelli:
Hello there Sports Fans,

Many say that this ride, the 400K, is the ride that separates the Men from the Skirts...I am pleased to report that I am NOT a skirt. This was...hands down the single most difficult thing I have ever done.  250 very hilly miles and I had to complete the ride within a 27 hour window. (If any of you have ridden the Horrible Hundred Century ride it was like doing that.....several times).

Our ever familiar group, Team Sore Caboose, started the ride out of the Inn on the Green at 5:00am. Veteran riders, Reinhard (the GPS guy), Barb, Tony, Ted, Steve and rookies John P and myself. We were to ride a 150 mile loop and end up back at the Inn, take a break and wrap it up with another 100 mile loop.  What could be so hard about that? It seemed very do-able to me. Bring it on!!

We no sooner pull out of the parking lot and my hands start to feel funny...Look down and I had put my gloves on backward...oh no..is this a sign of things to come? My group laughs with me..Look out..girl genius is on the loose!  Fix my gloves and we pedal on together. I really enjoy those early morning starts, the buzz of excitement, the cool air on my face, the anticipation of things to come. Little did I know that would that would turn out to be an understatement of EPIC proportion!!

I have noticed that the experienced riders all have racks on the back of their bikes that they attach a bag or trunk to.  They store whatever they will need for the day's ride in the bag. Well shoot, my jacket alone has plenty of pockets, it's quite roomy.. why would I need a trunk?..I mean doesn't that weight slow you down?  Well maybe if I didn't pack like a girl it wouldn't be so bad but I was busting at the seams I was so loaded down.  4 spare tubes, CO2 cartridges, a weeks supply of food, handy wipes...(well you get really dirty when you ride)..... tire levers, chamois cream, 4 packs of AA batteries, bottle of sun screen, lip gloss, travel scrabble (just kidding) cell phone, money, control card, arm and leg warmers and what felt like a 10 lbs portable battery pack for my head light.... you name it I had it.  I looked like the Pillsbury Doughgirl.  John P decided he would just carry a backpack instead. Seemed like a fine idea...he offers to carry some of my stuff..no I take that back he INSISTED on carrying some of my stuff..Okay sure, have at it..John will now be referred to as my personal Cabin Boy.

We climb through the hills of Mt Verde and Ferndale, up Sugarloaf Mountain just in time to see the sun rise.  Beautiful, just beautiful.  Here we are again...my friends and I. We are healthy, happy, experiencing another adventure together. It just doesn't get better than this.  As we head through town I pass many of my friends out on the road.  I yell and wave like a maniac!  But their ride will end long before mine will.  I dismiss the thought and we continue on. 

Bang! 100 miles?!???! Already? And it really happened that fast!  I mention this to Tony, man we will be done in no time!  The miles are just FLYING by!  He asks if I'd like him to remind me of that later.  Sure I say with a smile, that'd be great! Only 50 more miles and we are back to the hotel. One Sugarloaf climb done 3 more to go.. life is great.

Cabin Boy was adversely affected by pollen..see even Super Heroes have their weakspots.  Poor boy, sneezing and wheezing, eyes watering.  To top if off he had taken some allergy medicine that stated in big bold letters may cause drowsiness...DO NOT OPERATE HEAVY MACHINERY, and it was at that point that he shared he'd been dozing off on the bike.  We stop for a short break and I look over to see my Cabin Boy ripping open his backpack flinging the contents of the bag all over the place like a crazed mental patient. 

KELLI YOU HAVE TO CARRY YOUR OWN STUFF!!!

Hrmph! My goodness, such attitude I think to myself.. I mean it was only one measly pair of leg warmers, bag of powdered food and bottle of purell. Besides wasn't it you who insisted on toting them in the first place??  We all have a good laugh that breaks the tension.  The backpack (and way overstuffed jackets) make it hard to climb. This is why the experienced riders have those racks on their bikes.  Can't I have just one Brevet that is not entirely made up of Lessons Learned for Kelli?  I must admit my spacious jacket wasn't feeling quite so spacious anymore; infact it was rather binding and I was getting a little hot under all that stuff. 

We ride Cherry Loop, which has some rollers and I notice the temperature picking up.  Whew!  I am hot!!  Need to be eating and drinking..but I don't want to...ick!! Now, I know what you must be thinking..the heat has gotten to me..when have you EVER known me to turn down food. But it's true I didn't want to eat..I was too hot and getting tired.  Besides the next control stop wasn't that far off anyway. I'd just wait.

That was the biggest mistake I ever made.  And I paid dearly for that.

We hit the control and rest for bit...we were at 125 miles I think.  I buy some fresh cut fruit that I end up just playing with. Cabin Boy sees a nice young lady and it was like he had just eaten a Power Bar. He was suddenly revived!!! He had a full tank of gas and began chatting away, wooing her with his Super Cabin Boy Charm.  We are all doubled over laughing!!!  Our John, God love him!

We climb Sugarloaf again and head back to the hotel. I am overcome by waves of nausea. I feel sick as a dog and as we near the hotel I feel hot tears welling up in my eyes...I just can't imagine having to ride 100 more miles. I am demoralized.  As I get off my bike I burst into tears...not the dainty movie star tears that glide silently down the cheeks, I mean total sloppy, sniffling breakdown.  I am not a pretty crier either... my face was all screwed up and splotchy, my shoulders heaving and I have that stoopid, rapid, hiccuppy sounding breathing.. You know what I mean..like how little kids get when they cry and can’t catch their breath?  Yeah well it was just like that..lovely... not my finest moment.  I am sick to my stomach and I DO NOT want to continue.  I waddle into the host room still sniffling and Cabin Boy fixes me a coke and sandwich.  Took me 20 minutes to choke it down, it was awful.  The experience riders are patting me on the back laughing as they know from experience how hard this ride is.  They tell me to rest, take a shower and eat, I will be just fine.  But they don't seem to get it...I am done...that is it...I will ride the additional 100 miles I told everyone I was going to ride but I will just ride it tomorrow..... in the flats.  They pay me no mind and talk like I am not even in the room.  Reinhard tells we are going to do this as a team, if we have to stop every 5 miles -  we stop every 5 miles, but quitting is not an option.  Fine I say, but I am really done!  I go shower and next thing you know I am back on that stoopid bike. 

Reinhard says anyone can do a century, it's just 4 sections of 25 miles.  We have to go out 50 miles then come back.  But I tell him that I am not having fun anymore... I don't like traffic, I don't like my bike, and oh by the way, I don't even like the color blue anymore incase you were wondering....I was NOT a happy camper. I think we decide to stop every 15 miles or so I really can't remember.  I phoned my Dad to tell him we'd be at the 5th control at 11:00pm ish.  Riding in the dark at night is pretty cool on those country roads, it's quite, you aren't getting sunburned you just have to pay attention to the road or you might run off it.  Ted and John crash, they run off the road.(they weren’t hurt) Two flat tubes and Ted's tire has a hole in it.  We phone my Dad who is at the control 3 miles away, he comes to the rescue whisking Ted off in the nice warm car and heads back to the control.  We, on the other hand, pedal there. 

Pull up to the control and I tell my Dad and Linda it's game over..I have nothing to prove and just so you know not just anyone could have gotten that far.  My Dad promptly sent me to the car for a 10 minute nap.  I barely got in the car and I was sound asleep. This was all just a bad dream.

Rat-a-tat-tat...my Dad knocking on the window..Get up kid, you gotta go!  Dad hands me a Snickers.  I think the team was conspiring behind my back while I was asleep b/c I was getting no sympathy. Kelli, it's only 50 miles Linda says..you do that all the time, piece of cake.  I realized that I wasn't going to be getting back in that warm car. The only way back was to ride ...on my bike.  Tony gently reminds me that if you can talk yourself out of something then you can talk yourself into something. And even I was getting tired of hearing myself whine at that point…it wasn't getting me anywhere.  I think the sugar finally kicked in because I felt myself smiling again. Off we go ..We climb more hills and my spirits were lifted.  We took breaks frequently and I would lay down right on the cement and fall right to sleep. I was so tired I didn't care.  Reinhard and Tony stayed awake while John and I slept, probably saying they would have paid $100 bucks for a roll of masking tape to shut me up!  I never heard one single negative comment come from either of them the whole entire ride..but they would probably tell you it's because I didn't shut my mouth long enough for anyone to get a word in edgewise!

21 miles to go and I am elated! WOO WOO! Say..this wasn't so bad at ALL!  Why was I so upset for such a long time?  I am sure I was about to get clocked! haha!  It is amazing to me what staying hydrated and keeping your sugars level will do.  Let it plummet and so will your spirit.  My mind is a dangerous thing.. left alone, my thoughts and I, when I am not eating enough, man it's like being in a bad neighborhood by yourself. I am my own worst enemy.

Just 6 little miles to go and something in my knee got VERY sore.  WHY NOW??  I am not being whiny anymore.. really....why this...and why now?  OY! It aches, with every pedal stroke it hurts.  I decide to unclip my left foot and pedal only with my right leg.  Cabin Boy rides next to me putting his hand on my back pushing me up the hills while I pedal with one foot.  Tony and Reinhard are laughing at us because we look like a really bad three legged race.  Now it's flat ahhhhhh..still pedaling along with one foot.  You know, Reinhard pointed out, Kelli rides faster pedaling with one leg than she does with two!  We are hysterical hooting and laughing and you know something...that is what it's really is all about.  Pull into the parking lot only to notice my Dad's car in the lot.  My Non-Riding Support Crew waited ALL night for us to come in. We have completed the Brevet with plenty of time to spare.  It was 5:45 am. I can't describe in words how I felt at that very moment but I won't ever forget that feeling.  

The whole crew goes over to Denny's for breakfast for a much needed hot meal.  I was utterly exhausted but just smiling ear to ear laughing at myself for being such a baby....I was just soaking in all the good conversation we had, swapping stories and joking around.  If it weren't for my Team I never would have made it...you have never met a stronger, finer group of people than my riding friends. They are THE best!

So there you have it…Total ride time 24:45..actual riding time 18 hours.  We climbed a total of 6280 feet and I burned 10206 calories! Yippie Skippie!

Get ready....on to the next Brevet! 600K! (but we have 40 hours to complete it and it's NOT hilly!) WOO WOO!

Thank you again for all support WE are really doing something great here!

Your friend,
Whinella

 

Ride report 3 from Reinhard:

There is not to much to report overall. You probably know that Steve from Georgia didn't went back out. So we were the "Sweeping Gang", making sure nobody gets lost or falls behind us :-))

The group overall was still in a good mood. At the beginning heading out in the night especially we had quite some traffic on 561. Even so with a side lane it was not to bad, but some car drivers had to show off and yell at us. Since not all of us had night riding experience before, some wished now to be in a warm Motel room, rather then in a cold, dark and loud night on a bicycle. But, once we turned onto Sugarloaf traffic became better.

This time up Sugarloaf we made it without a 20 min. chain fixing break. So we went on chatting and having fun for a while and having small breaks in between. At Villa City road then it happened, the side lane of the road had a sudden end turning into a ditch and grass. Ted managed to stay on the bike and John crashed. Fortunately not much happened to both riders. John had a flat, that we were able to fix. Ted had actually 2 flats and after fixing those to realize that the tire had a large hole (size of cent). Since we were not far away from the last control and Kelli wanted to meet her parents there, we called them if they could come by. They were very nice and picked up Ted to give him a ride back to Tavares later on.

At the last control it seemed that some of us had difficulties. Not to much physically, but more mental. As you know, that is something to overcome for the long rides, especially riding through the night.

I guess it must been me that was in difficulties, since after a long break and for some a short nap, it was Kelli that sounded my horn, to let me know, that it is time to leave and I was not ready.

With good spirits we went on to our journey. With going a consistent speed and regular breaks, knowing that we had plenty of time we made it to the finish without further incidents. Just to let you know, that after 24 hours, we had our Fleche distance of 242 Miles.

Between midnight and the morning the traffic was very low and some in the group realized for the first time how nice it is to ride during this time. Everybody was working with me to keep me motivated and my moral up. With this support I was able to successfully make it. At 5:45 AM we all reached the finish together.

At then end of ride, Kelli immediately planned for the next rides and signed up John for the 600k. John, are you in on that?

As a summary I have to say that I really enjoyed this ride. We had a great time. The spirit was good and with some ups and downs everybody was focused to finish and help each other. Not going a very fast speed, helped my knee a lot. It almost was not hurting at all and at the end my legs were nearly as fresh as at the start. Only the seat left some impressions and noticed the long riding time :-))

You can join me in congratulating Kelli, John and Tony for their first successful finish of the 400k, riding through the night and their longest ride ever.

Also thanks to you and Ted. It was a pleasure to have the both of you with us for most of the time.

Finally I think it was great of Kelli's parents to stay at Tavares in the car all night, waiting for us to come in. They were a great moral support and never had any doubts that Kelli will make it. They were there, just in case one of us would need them.


Thank you all, that you gave me the opportunity to ride with you. I would do it again with this team at any time, if you are willing to drag me along.
 


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top Last updated by Ridehard -     03 Dec 2004