207km in 10 hours and 37 minutes.
I’ve just completed my first brevet. I’d be strutting right now if it weren’t so hot today. It was almost too hot yesterday.
Wait. It WAS too hot.
Two weeks ago, Yann and I purchased a GPS (Garmin Edge 1030) to take with us to the Pyrénées. The first unit we received turned out to be a dud and had to be replaced, so we didn’t get to really test it until yesterday. The amount of data this device collects is mind-blowing: speed (average, average while moving, max), time (total time, moving time), heart rate, cadence, elevation, calories, temperature, and a map of the route.
Here’s how hot it was:
Before I go any further, I should explain what a brevet is: it is a long-distance bike ride with check point controls, and it is to be completed within a specified time limit which includes the rest stops.
The beginner distance? That’s 200km. Yann, Ruth, and I rode alongside people who had done 300, 400, 600, and… wait for it… 1200km. Jean, the president of Club vélo randonneurs de Montréal did the 1200km in under 71 hours. (Also, 200km…BUT IN JANUARY. IN MONTRÉAL.) To put it in perspective, 1200km is way more than what Yann and I hope to achieve in the 300 or so hours we’ll be in France in August.
There was a point during the ride, just after the 100km mark where Jean was urging us to draft him. Yann was like, “…but we’re already going 35 km/h”
The route was relatively flat, with the exception of a monster hill at the 92km mark. It was the kind of hill where you’d try to shift down to the lowest gear and then realize, “Fuck, that WAS the lowest gear.”
And of course Jean shot way ahead of all of us so that he could take pictures of us gagging as we approached the top.
I have not yet seen the photos Jean snapped, but here’s one Yann took after we did another steep–but shorter–hill.
Throughout the ride, Yann was keeping his Instagram followers updated by adding to his Stories. The most asked question was: “What’s in Laura’s bag?”
A smaller bike in case my main bike falls apart.
My bag options are 22L or 0.7L. A small spray bottle of sunscreen, food (no, not a large slab of homemade granola), as well as a rain jacket (“expect thunderstorms in the afternoon”, my foot!) exceed the space offered by the 0.7L bag; therefore, I went with the 22L. The presence of this pannier bothered other people WAY more than it bothered me. Please don’t suggest a 5L bag: I’m fine with carrying air.
I brought two 750mL water bottles, which got filled three times each. I had some sports drink at the check points as well. Here’s the weird thing: I only went to the bathroom ONCE. All that water (and Gatorade) was being rerouted out of my pores.
I have Raynaud Syndrome which causes the blood vessels to overreact and constrict when exposed to cold. Clearly, this was not a concern yesterday, but I’m also delicate in the heat. My pores started to constrict in some places, trapping sweat underneath the skin. This should be called Reverse Raynaud’s, but it’s already known as a heat rash.
At the 184km mark, I was feeling dizzy and was struggling to keep up with the 27km/h pace. Like the amphibian that I am, I had to seek shade. Jean tried urging me on, but Ruth being the good friend with first aid training located a shaded spot for me to puke in if need be. I didn’t puke, but I squirted water behind my ears as directed by Ruth.
Had this happened earlier in the ride, I would have abandoned the journey. One of the guys even offered to come back to pick me up in his car but I felt that I was more than 23km away from death by heat exhaustion. Besides, I had squirted water behind my ears.
I’ve never been more joyous about dropping into a convenience store as the one in St-Lambert where we got the final signature needed for our control cards from an unenthusiastic clerk.
Wait until I do the 1200km: the clerk will want MY autograph.
Except I don’t plan on doing the 1200km. The 300km, however…