Archive for the 'Brevets' category

The 600k trip to Hell and back

| May 24, 2010 11:23 pm

by Chuck Schroyer

The event started much the same as the 200k and the 300k leaving from the Golden gate in the wee early morning. This 6pm start was in the daylight without rain, this was a good sign. Art Cruz had asked if we could ride together because he had never done a Brevet out of San Francisco and the cue sheets had a lot of turns that could get him lost. Not haven ridden with Art in a number of years I was a little concerned about our possible different riding styles.

The ride started right on time and soon we were able to settle down, once you are on the bike many of the worries seem to go away. The ride out to the first checkpoint 2 Point Reyes Station was cold but nothing we had not prepared for, things were looking good. After a great Chocolate bread pudding that was just out of the oven, I knew I was in heaven, things could not be better riding and eating life was wonderful. I was right things would not get better, soon we started to get the jest of the ride, rolling hills and a constant headwind and I say that with a capital H.

Art and I found that we rode well together and grouped together with other riders during the more winder portions of the ride. The next checkpoint 3 was Peet’s coffee in Petaluma, things were still going well and the Latte with heaps of sugar hit the spot, on to checkpoint 4. We were starting to get a little tired of the rollers and the headwind they seem to sap the strength. Checkpoint 4 was in Healdsburg and it was getting late in the day so there was no soup at Safeway something my mind was hoping for the last few miles. I was able to make up for the lack of soup with a great croissant chicken salad sandwich.

The fun Begins!

Coming out of Healdsburg you go up to Cloverdale where the climbing begins, not like the rollers are actually climbs. Art and I were riding with a group of six when we started the climb, although it was only a 1300ft climb the grade wore you down. I was the first to the top and was feeling good the rest did not fare as well; the blood was running from the wounds of those that overlap wheels on a slow climb, nothing fatal just more battle scars. The run out to Checkpoint 5 proved be harder than expected, 93 miles between checkpoints and the sun going down. The ride support people had set up a bag drop about 30 miles from Ft Bragg and it was a God sent. Something to eat some extra water and the adding of lights and we were off for Fort Bragg, well after some messing with my rear derailleur, things not shifting right.

Wind is howling coming into Ft Bragg around 10pm temperature around freezing and can’t get worm. After putting on two polypro under layers arm warmers and two jackets I decide it is too cold to ride on. Thanks to Art and six plastic bags and one large paper bag under my jersey I was ready to go.

After messing with my rear derailleur again we were off, much in hopes of finally getting to ride with the wind and not into it. 181 miles of headwind was enough for me. We made it back to the Bag drop and were greeted buy some of the greatest volunteers ever, hot bean soup “yes I finally got my soup” and hot Chocolate and best of all and roaring fire. It soon became apparent I was toast I had thrown up everything I ate at Ft Bragg and the soup looked like it would have the same fate. Art was ready to ride and we had 50 miles to Cloverdale to a Hotel we reserved for the night. Think time line here it was 2pm and it had taken us 4 hours to do the 50 miles from Cloverdale. We said our good bye and Art road off in the freezing weather a better man than me. One of the volunteers’ must have felt sorry for me because he offered me his tent and sleeping bag. I closed my eyes only to be awakened by the volunteer telling me it was 4pm time to ride “what the f@*k” I obeyed my commander and got back on the bike, after playing with the derailleur.

No tail wind and bitter cold I was praying for a climb to heat up the body, why is it that it seems to be the only flat 14 mile stretch in the whole ride in front of me. Shifter not working very well only have my two climbing gears but still have the front chain rings, thank God I have a large spread a 34 and a 54, and this will be the saving factor for the whole ride.

Watching the sun rise was glorious but the ride back to Cloverdale became a daunting task, one large climb and rollers that never seem to end. Coming into Cloverdale and seeing other riders made my day. The stomach was not altogether right but ordered pancakes and eggs anyway, got about one third down and felt better. Surprises never cease here pulls up Klay Cardona he had got 5 hours sleep and left an hour and a half after me from the bag drop and made the cutoff at Cloverdale with 15 minutes to spare.

Feeling better and the wind at our backs Kley and I dropped the hammer and make the run to checkpoint 6 Guerneville. We make it there with an hour and fifteen minutes under the cutoff, things were looking up. Still had the shifting problem and again messed with the derailleur this time deciding to oil the cable housing with sun screen, this did not work for when I pulled on the cable it broke in two. It had broken inside the shifter “not good”. Kley and I looked for a bike shop to no avail. I finally just pulled it up tight so that my rear derailleur was on a middle gear and tied it off. We were off; on the flats I would spin above 100 to keep up, using the 54, and grind out the hills with the 34 my life saver.

Pulling into checkpoint 8 brought another surprise there was Art, we got to hear Arts tale of sleeping on the concrete floor of some post office, he did make to hotel in time to shower before checkout. We made a pack to finish this thing together for without each other we would not be here. After tightening my derailleur cable some more to get me into a better climbing range we headed out of Point Reyes station to the finish. With the lower range I could not keep up on the downwind legs, I have to give it to the fixed gear people they are nuts. Only four climbs left with the lower gear I could grind out without walking but knew that the last climb up to the Golden gate would do me in.

At last climb, I talked Art and Kley to go on ahead because I would most likely walk most of it. Pulling the derailleur cable up as hard as I could I was able to get almost all the way up to my climbing gear. I was determined I was going to make it. Coming around the last part of the climb before you cross the road and cross the Golden Gate there was Art and Kley not willing to cross without me, a perfect ending to the most grueling rides I have ever done.

We hit the checkpoint finish line at 8:13pm and all got the same time, 36 hours and 13 minutes.

The rollers added up to 23,342 ft of climbing, total distance 375 miles, knocked off the bike twice by the wind. This was a once in a lifetime experience that has taken me as close to the edge as I would ever wish to get.

SFR Russian River 300K Brevet

| March 3, 2010 5:49 pm
SFR Russian River 300K Brevet

by Lane Parker

After I failed to complete the Devil Mountain Double back in 2007 I decided that super long rides were not for me. So, the 300K (188 miles) seemed out of the question but I’ve been doing so well this year with distances up to 150 miles that I felt like the 300K would be tough but doable. And there’s something different about the brevets, at least for me. There seems to be so much comradarie among the riders than on other organized rides. In the past, I would start getting frustrated after about mile 120 and mad at myself after about mile 150 for signing up for such a distance. Saturday, I never felt that way. It was a great day.

Russ and Sheila

Russ and Sheila

Now for the 300K. My good buddy Ken Emerson picked me up at 4:20 and it was off to the Golden Gate Bridge for a pep talk from Rob Hawks followed by 188 miles in the saddle. Sometimes I wonder what the hell I’m doing on a bicycle at 6AM. It had been raining most of the night but by the time we rolled we just had wet roads and, as usual, I forgot something important: this time it was my fenders. I’m sure the people following me like Russ & Sheila Stevens weren’t too happy about that. Sorry.

Like the last two brevets we wound our way through Sausalito, Corte Madera, Larkspur, then on up to Petaluma. As forecasted, the rain started up again at mid-morning but thankfully it stopped by around noon. For the first time this year, there was a secret checkpoint on the route. When I signed the sheet I noticed that someone had left their route sheet and money in a plastic bag on the tailgate of the truck. I asked Tim Houck, the checkpoint master, what was going to happen with it and he said he would take it back to Rob. With some coercion he agreed to let me take it with me and that conversation separated me from Ken and one of his legion of friends, Kobayashi. When I arrived at the check point in Petaluma, Ken told me his buddy Mojo needed money so I said “I have money.” Mojo was standing at the front of the store wondering who was going to pay for the food and drinks he was holding in his hands so I asked him if he lost his route sheet. When he said yes I handed him the plastic bag with his money and route sheet. I can’t remember seeing anyone more grateful and I was really happy I found the owner. It was a bonus that it was a good friend of Ken’s.

Rolling out of Petaluma I was lucky to be in great company with Barley & Susan Forsman, Mojo, Ken, and ironwoman Michele Santilhano. With a strong crew we cruised the next 30 miles to Healdsburg through farms and vineyards. Leaving Healdsburg at mile 80 I was feeling strong so when I got to the front I put the hammer down and when I looked back Ken and Michele were both rolling along with me so I ground out the next 25 miles or so averaging 20mph. I should have asked them to take the lead a few times or dialed it back a bit because by the time we got to Hwy 1 to turn south I needed a break. Ken and I stopped for some Advil and a bit of a stretch but Michele kept churning with some other guys who had latched on.


As we headed down Highway 1 I was amazed at how violent the ocean was. I heard later about the earthquake in Chile and wondered if the ocean behavior was related in any way to the earthquake. After the coastal run we caught up to Michele at Diekmann’s at mile 120 but didn’t see her again until the end. Barley and Susan caught us there and after a brief stop they also took off ahead of us. They said Mojo wasn’t feeling too well so he was a bit behind and we didn’t see him again. Just as we were rolling, Clyde Butt rolled up with his new best friend, Andrea Symons from Germany (another ironwoman).

Ken and I slowed the pace a bit from Diekmann’s for the next 24 miles to Marshall at mile 144 where we had the best clam chowder ever. That was the last checkpoint and it was getting dark. As we were prepping to roll, Andrea pulled in and asked if she could join us for the last 40 or so miles. That’s when we discovered how strong she is. I could tell she was capable of taking off at a faster pace but she wanted the company and it was good to have the three of us for the extra lights since it was very dark on the backroads before we got back to civilization.

Lane, Andrea and Ken

I had estimated that we could finish in 14 total hours but we spent a little longer at a couple of the stops, thankfully. So, Ken, Andrea, and I pulled in at 8:37PM. It’s such a great feeling to finish a challenging ride and not be completely wiped out.

Thanks to Rob Hawks and all the volunteers who make these events such a great success. And a big thanks to all the friendly cyclists who support each other so well throughout the ride.