AAA 200k Brevet

September 17, 2016

Route: Adrian, MI to Albion, MI and back
Distance: 125  miles
Bikes: Soma Stanyan & Soma Grand Randonneur

After watching the weather all week hoping the forecast would change, we drove down to the Jackson, Michigan area to attempt our first 200k of the year. We knew one thing: it was going to rain. The day started early with hot coffee and bagels as we headed to the start point in Adrian, MI. I don’t think the organizer expected it, but a half marathon was starting from the same location that morning so finding the other riders proved to be a challenge.

Eventually we found the ride organizer and acquired our brevet cards and cue sheets. We had expected over 25 riders but only 5 riders started the brevet. It was already raining as we rolled out at 8AM towards the first control at around the 20 mile mark. The small group of riders quickly broke apart with each rider at a different pace. Despite years of solid performance, one of our taillights died in the first stretch. Luckily we carried some spares we were product testing for our business.

The group of riders came back together after that first control and the rain really picked up. We were so focused on riding that we almost missed a few turns. Luckily, the ride organizer was in our group and knew the route well. The route was generally flat but this section certainly had the most climbing. It was tough but at least we knew it would be downhill when we returned.

After about 4 hours and just after the second control at Mile 45, we stopped for lunch at Subway with 2 other riders. We still felt good and stayed on top of our energy bars so we split a sandwich and continued on. After a rough stretch on a busy road , we turned onto the most pleasant part of the route, the Falling Waters Trail. The rain reached its peak just we pulled up to an information control. In randonneuring, an information control is typically a question that can only be answered if a rider is in the right spot. In our case ,we had to note the numbers on a tractor crossing sign.

Before we knew it, we were off the trail and struggling through bumpy roads and a bit of fatigue as we headed to the turnaround at a park in Albion, MI. Here’s a short narrated video just before we started moving again.

After the turnaround, I remembered to use the camera a bit more. Here we are on the Falling Waters Trail heading back to Adrian. The rain had finally stopped for the day but the clouds were still looming.

Falling Waters Trail at about Mile 75

As we left the trail, we began to realize that we had not consumed enough water or food since the turnaround and our energy levels dipped. We stopped at a gas station to reload on water but forgot to eat once again. Finally, we found a quiet place to pull off and we calculated what speed we needed to maintain to finish in time. We quickly realized that we were well ahead of schedule and slowed down our pace to relax a bit. The second to last control and the 100 mile mark arrived before we knew it.

Control #5: The Panther Pit in Addison, MI

We stocked up with more water in Addison, MI and felt energized to attempt to finish by 7PM.

Devil’s Lake in Manitou Beach, MI. A brevet highlight.

The sun finally came out and we sped along through our favorite part of the course between Round Lake and Devil’s Lake in Manitou Beach, MI. We even made a short video while riding:

To make our 11 hour finish goal, we had to pick up the pace a bit at the end. Somehow, after 10 hours on the bike, we finally found a rhythm and it almost was effortless for the final 15 miles. We got back to the start point and ran inside to have our finishing time logged. It was exactly 7PM. Our total time from start to finish was 11 hours. The car was stocked with food and drink for the finish and we quickly made a major dent in our supplies. As the sun set, we began the long drive home to Grand Rapids and are already looking forward to the ride again next year.

The completed brevet card with our new tail light still burning strong

Thank you Tom and the Detroit Randonneurs for a great fall ride.