Lessons Learned From the Thurmont Thump

I’m pleased to report some progress.

New saddle is comfortable. The Terry Liberator X saddle works great for long rides. A big difference there. I was sore, but not in pain like last time.

New top tube bag= easy access to food. I bought a Detours Slice bag, which makes it easier for me to use while riding. It opens and closes with a zipper, and I was able to fish out Shot Bloks and a Larabar with one gloved hand. Nice.

Fueling up. I had a good dinner the night before. I took small bites of energy bars and Shot Bloks while on the bike, a quick stop for a sandwich, and followed everything with a Tums chaser. My energy (and mental state) was more or less constant throughout, and I managed to keep the heartburn at bay this time. I stayed well hydrated.

Some things to think about:
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The Thurmont Thump: 115K Populaire

Urbana 200K 062

Thurmont and the Catoctin Mountains- photo by Bill Beck

Some of you may recall that my first brevet of last year was the Urbana 200K, which landed me a trip to the ER. Knowing how ridiculously hilly the route is, and knowing that once again, I would not have had adequate training and riding by this point, this year, I– wanted to do the Wilderness Campaign ride. But I had just come back from my annual out-of-town conference, and I also had a final paper to write for a class, so I bowed out. I did want to get a ride in March, so I signed up for the Thurmont populaire instead.
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Lessons Learned on the Populaire 2013

First, the good stuff:

I like the Tricross for riding randonneuring rides. This was my first time riding with the Tricross, and it was generally a good experience. I like being a little more upright, and the 700x28c tires greatly reduced the vibrations from the uneven roads. I definitely like having a triple chainring, although I think my triple on Tricross has higher gear ratios than my Dolce– I’d have to check. I’ll write more about riding the Tricross in another post.

I like my rack bag for carrying things. Also for another post, the rack bag I used seems to hold enough stuff for a ride, including a change of shoes, a jersey, half a sandwich, snacks, and bike stuff. Aside from the rattling of my rear light (which I need to fix), I didn’t even know it was there.

I think I like riding in the winter. I was surprised to discover that I didn’t need my inhaler at all for this ride. No allergies!

Stuff I need to work on:

I desperately need a new saddle and pedals. I’ve decided I don’t like the saddle I’ve been using for the past year for long rides, and I’m done with the half-platform, half-clipless pedals. I need a saddle that doesn’t hurt my butt, and I need to adjust the clips so that my knees don’t hurt. I’m going to swap those out soon.

I need to learn how to eat on the bike. This sounds stupid, but I was annoyed by not being able to easily open the top tube bag to get to my food while riding. I had to take off my glove (which was difficult enough), rip open the bag, and fish out the snack without dropping it or losing control of the bike. Part of the problem with the bag itself is that it’s designed for a right-hander, and I am left-handed. The rest involves me developing the skill to get into the bag itself. I may need a new bag as well.

I am not going to get better with hills without training. This is by far the biggest lesson. This is now my fourth randonneuring ride, and I should know by now that although I may have the capability of handling flat roads, I do not for hills. The only way to get better at hills is to practice riding hills. There is no alternative. I still need to get a heart monitor and find out what’s going on with my heart rate.

Consider doing permanents. At my current level of fitness, there is no way I can do a hilly brevet without feeling sick, and that’s just not fun. This 66-mile populaire pushed me to the limit without breaking me entirely, which makes me think that I should stick to shorter distances for hilly rides. I was thinking of doing more populaires and permanents, and possibly working towards the P-12 award. The only drawback is that I would have to figure out how to do one. (My schedule does not seem to coincide with Crista’s, unfortunately.) If I can get my act together to do one next month, I will.

Got to keep working.