I guess really a fail is never a win but in this instance I feel like I won last Saturday when I was a participant in the tappahannock 200k bike brevet (it’s not a race, yeah tell the guys at the front that). A brevet is more like an endurance race in any climate (in this case ball freezingly cold) that put the emphasis on getting to check points in a certain time rather than being first. I was excited to participate first because I have never ridden a bike 200 kilometers in one day (still haven’t, continue on please) and second it seems like a neat concept. So Friday night I got all my gear together, lights (it would be dark when we started), tools for changing a flat if I got one, appropriate cold weather gear, wAter bottles and the like and went to bed early following a big meal. When I arrived at 6:30am at Ashland coffee and tea pretty much everyone who would be riding was already there and sorting out thier gear as well as taking in extra banannas, sports drinks, and adding chamois cream to their taints in the dark. It was about as cold as it has been here every other day for the last couple weeks which was well below freezing but no one in this crowd would have it any other way. We set out at a brisk pace and I experienced something new right away which was riding in a group that wasn’t a critical mass. Good times there and in short order the pack began to split up into groups of varying paces. There were some really fast folks taking off and I pretty much hung with the second group which was pacing around 15mph for the first 20-30 miles. We chatted, traded names, stopped for a guy who had what was clearly a pinch flat from super skinny tires, and I generally enjoyed the scenery although at speeds in excess of my usual riding pace. About this time I discovered that my cyclocomputer and the manufacturers reccomended settings were totally off by about 1 mile every 10 and that on days like this one if you don’t put warm/hot water in your water bottle it will freeze in less that an hour which mine did. I ended up chatting with the guy who apparently organized the route simply because I liked his bike and I liked the fact he was wearing Carhardt clothing rather than the usual cycling reflective weatherproof bombproof anything proof clothing that people spend hundreds on. At this time we passed a farm I used to work with in manquin VA and I realized where we were. A store was approaching soon and although everyone else in the small pack I was with was continuing on I had to eat something and hopefully melt the ice in my water bottle. This I did and to my surprise they had a roaring fireplace which can be seen in the pictures below so I took plently of time to eat, drink up, n warm up. This was mistake number one. While it was pretty necessary that I eat some food by this time my stop and dilly dallying cost me ample time and while I was enjoying myself everyone else, whether they stopped or not, took off before me and I was dead last at that point. I wasn’t really worried about that but what I learned from riding in a pack that first two hours or so now translated to real issues while riding solo for the next two hours. Sure I caught up to folks along the way but the situation changed dramatically for me at this point. I could feel I was working way harder and going slower too which is kinda a double whammy at this point. Furthermore there were notes on the cue sheet I didn’t understand that could have caused me to get lost although I didn’t and made it to the first checkpoint. Anyhow I got there which was the courthouse market in King and Queen VA which really is nowhere and didn’t even have decent food to buy. I had caught up with some other cyclists and was crusing with them but ended up getting passed by the final tandem and tried to draft them for a mile or two before I couldn’t hang and let them blaze on while I puttered behind. This became an issue as being with them really helped with the wind which was starting to kick up for real at this point. I decided since I was already 45-50 miles from where I started and could feel my energies fading fast I could either truck on and be out until 8pm trying to finish this thing or just be happy with completion of what essentially is the first century ride I have ever done. I opted for the latter and stopped back by the warm fireplace again and had a cup of coffee with the owner of the gas station. All was well but when reading the cue sheet backwards I made a crtical wrong turn that took me 15 miles the wrong direction and it wasn’t until I noticed that the scenery looked incredibly familiar and was no where near Ashland that I checked the iPhone and confirmed my worst nightmare. I had just ridden in the opposite direction from my destination for an hour. At this point there was no way I was riding another 24 miles to Ashland so I called my sweet wife and she came and picked me up (son too, he wasn’t driving though). All in all I managed to ride the better part of 100 miles in a day for the first time and in sub artic temperatures so I was pretty happy although totally numb. In retrospect I would need to train some to finish one of these things which I did none of outside of my 12 mile round trip to work everyday and I need to upgrade some deficient areas of preperation like my lighting situation. There will be more brevets this year and the goal for now will be to get some century rides in and hopefully complete my first brevet sometime in 2010. The bike performed excellently and I even managed to have the chain slide back onto the big ring after it came off with only the assistance of the deraillure not requiring me to dismount. Again lighting was an issue simply due to the cheap light I have but that is easy enough to fix. My ass got a little sore and my wrists too but I don’t think there is much any bike could have done about that. Yesterday I wasn’t really even too sore, just tired and i think that sums up the event for me, i just flat ran out of gas so i need to figure out how to increase my stamina for these paces for an all day ride. Probably will have nothing to do with carbon fiber or sports drinks. I might still look into a nice riding jacket since i can use that for commuting too and if i was going to do one of these again i would get some of those foot booties people had cause my toes were frozen. For now I’ll enjoy my commute home this pm and might take a look at when the next brevet will be. So long commuters.