Lessons Learned From Urbana

As I’m still a newbie at this randonneuring thing, I feel like I still have a lot to learn about riding. I’m writing these “lessons learned” posts as a reminder of things to think about.

I did everything I said I would in my last post. Luckily, I didn’t get a flat this time. My new tights fit me fine, and my new headlight works great. I did eat before the ride and throughout, so I didn’t bonk at all, but there were times when I did feel hungry.

So what did I learn from Urbana?

Get a saddlebag or a rack trunk bag. I think my handlebar bag gets in the way of my brake cables, which proved to be a problem this time. It definitely gets in the way of my headlight. Since I have a small bike, I don’t have room for a decaleur in the front.

Buy a breathable rain jacket. It didn’t rain, fortunately, but I continued to wear a rain jacket for the duration of the ride. I was sweating a lot, and when I got to the finish in the evening, I was chilled. Luckily, it wasn’t so cold out, but it could be potentially dangerous in colder weather to wear that jacket, so I need to get another one.

Consider buying an indoor trainer. I rode a stationary bike when I was holed up in hotels for work. Although it’s not nearly as fun as being outdoors on a real bike, I did find that it did give me a good workout. I try to get out and ride when I can, but for those days when I can’t, especially in the winter, I need to ride anyway, and a trainer would be a big help.

Consider getting a Camelbak. I need to hydrate more. I know this.* But I hate carrying stuff on my back, and I’m bad about cleaning bottles as it is. Maybe I just need to remember to drink more often.

Take pictures! I brought a camera, but I was so worried about my time that I didn’t stop to take any pictures. Hopefully, I will work on riding more throughout the year so I don’t have to worry about making to controls on time, and thus will be able to stop and document the ride.

I’m going to keep riding. My goal is to finish the next brevet on time!

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*I wrote this post ahead of time, but last night, I wound up in the ER from extreme dehydration. That’s never happened to me before, and I’ve done long rides in the summer. So I should definitely do something about this sooner rather than later!

Lots O’ Hills: The Urbana 200K (DNQ)

photo by gypsybug


I spent a lot of time worrying about whether to do this brevet. I knew that it was going to be hard (8200 feet of climbing!), and that I wouldn’t have enough time to train (2 out-of-town work conferences!). But I didn’t want to wait until the fall to do a brevet– I wanted to ride before I got into the summer physical and mental burn-out. I’ve been biking throughout the winter, but not long rides. Finally, after annoying my bike friends going back and forth on the subject, I bit the bullet and pre-registered.
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The Flatbread 200K

photo by J


Last year, after I had successfully done two centuries back to back, I was feeling pretty good and looking to taking my riding to the next level. As if the World Wide Web read my mind, I came across this line about randonneuring: “If you have done a century and are looking for the ‘next’ challenge, [randonneuring] may be it.”* All right, I thought to myself. I’ll try it. The 200K sounds like my next move– if I can do 100 miles, 124 miles should be achievable.

The Eastern Shore Flatbread ride sounded like it would fit the bill– hey, the terrain is flat! How hard could it be? I somehow convinced my fellow bicycling buddy J to join me, although she had some reservations. We decided to stay at a hotel on the Eastern Shore the night before, get a good dinner and a good night’s sleep, then head over to the start point early Saturday morning.

We made it to the start point a little later than intended, but all was well at the beginning. I unloaded my bike and began to put some air in my tires. I unscrewed the Presta valve cap of my rear tire– it broke off between my fingers. And that’s where my troubles began.
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