Sunday, June 10, 2012

Ride report: CVRM 200km Brevet

After the tough but successful 147km Populaire in late April, I was determined to do at least one 200km brevet this season. I missed the first opportunity in May but last weekend there was another one scheduled.

Great summer morning riding

Rolling hills
 As per usual, I didn't get much sleep the night before and at 4:47--13 minutes before my alarm was going to go off--I got out of bed. Despite my attempts to prepare as much as possible the night before, my slow morning self still had to do a couple of things and I only got going at around ten past 6. My ride to the start leads across Île-Sainte-Helene and I was lucky to still get through, as there were already barricades and plenty of security people in preparation for the Formula One Grand Prix weekend.

Rando-panda cockpit shot
After the obligatory group picture, we got going a few minutes after 7. Overall there were, I believe, 9 or 10 riders and I started out with the lead group of 4 others. As I tend to stop at traffic lights and only ride through stop signs carefully, I fell behind the group a couple of times but always caught back up when they got stuck at a traffic light. Like on the populaire, the route led south but on a slightly different route due to construction. By the time we had gotten out of the suburbs, one of the four riders had gotten ahead and quickly disappeared in the distance. The speed of the other three was just a bit too high for my taste and I stayed a bit behind all the way to the first control at a gas station in St. Cyprien, after 41km. From there to the second control I stayed with the three others.
One of several vineyards and cider mills on Covey Hill Rd

Covey Hill in the distance
The route took us pretty much straight south towards the US border, parallel to the A15. The weather was lovely, the roads were scenic and quiet, and I was very much enjoying myself. At the "last exit before the border" we then turned west towards Covey Hill which I had just climbed a three weeks ago. Before getting on the actual Covey Hill Rd, there was a horrible but fortunately short stretch of very rough gravel road. After that the initially gentle and rolling climb to Covey Hill began. Me and one other rider of the group had an easier time with the climbing and after a while we each went off on our own before regrouping at the top of the hill. The last bit of Covey Hill felt pretty mean again, but I arrived on top first. The rest of my group arrived after a few minutes, almost at the same time as those riders who so far had been behind us. From here to the second controle it was all downhill which, despite the poor road conditions, was very enjoyable.
Gunnar on top of Covey Hill

View down Covey Hill's western flank
Controle 2 was a nice change to the usual gas station/depanneur stops: Saint-Antoine-Abbé is a tiny village but it features a lovely bakery, Boulangerie Chartrand. Of course, they didn't have anything vegan but that was alright. I refueled with an espresso, a can of V8, and a homemade lemonade. With a group of nine riders arriving and the usual customer traffic the rest stop took fairly long but the folks I had been riding with previously were also eager to get on the road again.
Their pastries looked awesome

The next part of the ride would lead us back east, and the roads we were riding were awesome. The espresso (my first caffeine of the day) worked wonders and at some point I decided to ride ahead at my own speed. After a while, another rider from my previous group caught up with me and we rode together until the next rest stop. For most of the time we shared the work and were going at a very good clip. Only for the last 20 km before the controle, my partner was starting to bonk a bit and I pulled for the rest of the way. This didn't slow us down too much but it definitely drained my energy reserves; and we were both very happy once we got to the gas station controle. I had just started drinking my bottle of Pepsi when the 5 riders of the bigger group and after another couple of minutes our two riding buddies arrived, too.
On one stretch of road there were dozens of telephone poles with stuffed animals nailed to them. Very weird.

With only 40 km to go I didn't feel like hanging around for too long and thus headed out by myself ahead of the others. As I was now riding mostly into the wind I kind of expected to be caught by the others but that didn't happen. My speed was still decent and at 3:47 pm I reached the final controle. I would have gotten there at least ten minutes earlier but my bike computer and the cue sheet didn't quite match and I therefore rode past the controle and had to turn around.
On the way back from the ride finish. Masses of people at the Grand Prix

To conclude: this was a great ride, both in terms of performance and of experience. I was fast (moving average of 27.8 km/h), the route great, the weather awesome, and never during the ride did I feel particularly crappy. Next stop: 300km.


  1. Sounds amazingly fast! Though I see that you aren't blessed with the rolling hills of the Finger Lakes there.

    1. Yeah, the lack of hills plays a huge role. You need to do at least a 300 km to get into hilly territory around here.