Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Ride report: CVRM 300km Brevet

After really enjoying my 200km brevet with the CVRM in early June and finishing with lots of time to spare I decided to give the 300 a try last Saturday. My main goal was to finish and since it was Nicole's birthday the next day the secondary goal was to get home before midnight.
At the start
I got up at 4:35, slurped down my oatmeal, and left the house at 5:15, well in time for the 6 o'clock start. With 9 riders (one more would catch up with us later) we got going right on time, heading for Chambly. I started out riding with Clement and one rider whose name I forgot but soon decided to catch up with the riders slightly ahead of us, Serge and Raymond. This turned out to be a good decision and I would stay with them for quite some time. The first controle was a gas station in Saint-Césaire after about 55km, and during our quick stop the whole group regrouped again.
Route Verte near Granby

We continued east towards Granby where Raymond (who Serge described to me as "the human GPS") took us on a detour on the Route Verte 1. This was slightly longer but much more scenic and quiet than the original route. Ten kilometers past Granby we changed our general direction, now heading south. This should be the beginning of the hilly part of our ride which continued for the next 100km. Initially, I was doing fine on the rollling hills, yet our pace was fast and the closer we got to the second controle in Lac Brome the more tired I felt.

Second controle in Lac Brome
Awesome scenery
Rest, V8, a coke, and two Clif Bars got me back into shape, however, and we continued. The dark clouds and showers that we had observed all throughout the ride now finally reached us, and for about 20 km we rode through heavy rain. Since it was still very warm and I was wearing my wool jersey I didn't bother putting on any extra clothes. Riding in the rain without fenders is something I haven't done in years but I wasn't as bad as expected, and eventually the sun came out again. In a little village near the Vermont border (Mansonville?) we stopped at a gas station for a final refuel before the big climb of the ride. Jean and Olivier passed us there while Martin decided to stop, too, and continue with us. The route was still very scenic, following a river between the sizable hills of the Eastern Townships. After about 160 km it was then time to leave the valley and tackle the climb on Scenic Drive. The climb, while being the biggest on the ride, is not all that bad with less than 200m of elevation change and a doable gradient. Nonetheless, I quickly fell behind Serge and Raymond, and Martin also slowly disappeared ahead. On top of the hill I took a quick stop to get out my camera and then it was all downhill. Martin fortunately waited at the next intersection which I otherwise probably would have missed. The descent was smooth, steep, and awesome, and I got up to over 70 km/h. For the following ten kilometers to the third controle I decided to take it easy, enjoy the scenery and take some pictures.

I made it up Scenic Drive
Getting ready for the downhill on Scenic Drive
Controle in Sutton. Yes, that big bottle of V8 is mine
The picturesque town of Sutton was buzzing with St. Jean-Baptiste/Canada Day celebrations. The controle was at a supermarket on the outskirts of town, and the rest was very welcome. I devoured a bunch of crackers, a liter of V8, and a cup of coffee. Freshly nourished our group of 6 riders got going again, now headed north and into the wind. Serge had stop after about 5km for what I think was a mechanical, and Raymond and Olivier stopped with him while Martin, Jean, and me continued on. For the next 50 km I should learn why Jean is nicknamed "La Machine": despite the headwind he pretty much pulled me and Martin along all the way at a very good clip. I felt somewhat bad for not being able to contribute much but I was in no shape charge ahead. At km 225 we had another stop at a little dep with the now usual crackers, coke, V8. Somewhere between there and Farnham Olivier and Raymond caught back up to us and for the rest of ride we'd stay together.
Quick stop in Stanbridge East
Quiet country roads
Unplanned stop at a railway crossing

Tired legs at the second-to-last controle
Getting ready for the last leg of the ride
The second-to-last controle was again in Saint-Cesaire and from there we took the direct route back to Montreal on the Route 112. This is a busy four-lane highway but it has a wide paved shoulder and we made good time. The wind had mostly died down and I felt very good, allowing me to do some work for the others. We had a quick stop to fix a flat on Martin's bike but other than that the final stretch to Saint Lambert was uneventful. Following Raymond's suggestion we followed a different route into town which had much less traffic but unfortunately many more bumps.
Through the suburbs

Yay, 300km
Into the sunset
After 14 hours and 26 minutes with a moving average of 27.5 km/h we arrived at the final controle. I still had some way to go, and at the end of the day I had clocked in 335 km. During the ride, Jean and others kept suggesting that now I should do the 400 -- and I must say that probably I would have been able to do another 65km. Unfortunately, the CVRM's last 400k of the season is this coming weekend and I'll be in Europe. Oh well. I'll definitely be back for the remaining 300 and 200 km brevets in July, August, and September.
Cartier Bridge on the way home from the ride's start/finish

A big merci goes to all the riders who rode with me last Saturday, and especially to our great president Jean, for their advice, encouragement, stories, and paceline work. Without them I probably still would have made it but it would have taken much longer and been much less enjoyable.


  1. Are you allowed to take a detour? I thought brevets had to be ridden on the given route unless there was something making that impossible. Though controls are also supposed to be placed so that no detour would provide a shortcut.

    While extending the distance to 400k shouldn't be too hard, I've consistently heard that the difficulty comes in managing time. It's likely too short to make a long sleep break worth it, and possibly too long to ride continuously. Though when I did the 24hr fleche ride, the time wasn't much of a problem for me, so who knows.

    Also, since I was reminded by the pic with the Garmin, if you haven't tried out the newer 8x lithium AA batteries yet, they are amazing. I got 37 hours of use on a set on my Garmin, including about 10 hours with the backlight on.

    1. Re detours: The CVRM seems to have a fairly relaxed attitude about this. Even on the first ride I did with them we took a wrong turn about 1 minute after the start and nobody cared. I did not expect that but have come to appreciate it. No point in slavishly following the cue sheet if a fellow rider knows a better alternative (which, of course, shouldn't be shorter or avoiding hills).

      Batteries: do you have a link? I'm running Eneloops which probably give me around 20 to 25 hours without backlight.

      400: Yeah, sounds plausible, especially if you have a more challenging course and therefore will take longer. Well, I'll probably find out next year.