I’ve been readying for the weekend’s big ride– the D.C. Randonneurs 600K. I stew in my nervousness and look frequently at regional weather forecasts. I burn off steam with short runs and rides, during which I consider and reconsider all I need for two days of pedaling.
When I catch a moment here and there, I scribble out my list of food, gear, and other 600K essentials. Generally, the “clothing” list includes arm warmers, maybe knee warmers, a cap, and gloves. Rain jacket, vest. Reflective stuff for night riding. I take an extra pair of shorts, socks, and short-sleeve jersey for the second day. And gloves, if I remember.
The nutrition I’ll take with me goes on the “food” list. I take bananas, almond butter sandwiches, Clif Shot Blocks, and a couple of emergency Clif bars. Generally, I don’t care too much for Clif bars because they are both sweet and dry, but in a pinch they do the trick without upsetting my stomach. For this 600K, Felkerino and I plan to take extra food in our drop bags since there will be no additional food at the overnight stop.
This year is a big loop course so we will not return to the same hotel room from which we started after the first day of riding. Because of that, our club will provide a drop bag service, where a volunteer will take a small bag of each rider’s stuff to the overnight hotel at mile 244, if the rider chooses to do a drop bag. (Thank you in advance, volunteer!)
Felkerino is in charge of most things bike, so my “gear” column includes items such as my Camelbak, lip balm, cue sheet light, sunscreen and chamois cream. Toothbrush, toothpaste. Phone charger cord. Supplemental light chargers. Miscellaneous things I can’t remember right now.
List writing is a good way for me to begin envisioning the brevet. As I ran during lunch today, I realized there is another category on my 600K packing list– the “critical intangibles.” These critical intangibles are the aspects of experience that I’ll stick in the forefront of my brain as I ride.
The time to think about my level of training is long gone so all ideas associated with that must be left at home. That said, it’s important to think about what I have trained for versus what I haven’t. Felkerino and I are riding to finish strong and healthy, but we are not pursuing a personal best.
Felkerino’s and my previous overall times for completing this ride also need to be thrown out the window so that we can concentrate on this year’s 600K ride experience as its own entity. Each ride is unique and that should be respected or it can make for two long days in some pretty negative head space. This was a real problem for me on last year’s 600K.
It is also important to take along the inner confidence we have gained from our years of successfully riding brevets together. This is not our first time riding 600K– we’ve done it several times before. That may not matter so much in determining our 600K riding time, but our history does show that we can do this distance.
We are a solid team on multi-day brevets, and have developed a riding approach that works well for both of us. Generally we ride to the overnight, sleep for three hours, and then ride out the second day. (See? Piece of cake!)
We both have ways of segmenting the ride in our minds so that it does not overwhelm us. We take breaks, stop at controls, and eat as needed. Drink water and reapply sunscreen. Repeat until finished.
Clothing, gear, food, and the critical intangibles. That should cover it, but if I missed something let me know. I’m almost ready to clip in. Just a few more edits to make to these lists. Then all that’s left is the pedaling part. Maybe I’ll see you there.