Brevet report from Iowa

(Reported by Martin) On Thursday I assembled my new superbike, on Friday I rode it with Jay for 80 miles to make sure it would not fall apart, and on Saturday was its first real test: a 300k (189 mile) brevet organized by Mike Fox in Eldridge, Iowa.

A dozen randonneurs showed up (see photo). Brevets are timed rides with a cutoff time and intermediate time controls. If that sounds awfully like a race, it is, except in the randonneuring spirit, there is no podium, and riders assist one another and put cycling camaraderie ahead of placement. Like the Paris-Brest-Paris 1200k that Jay, Ryan and I did last year.


The temperature was nice (42 F at the start, 71 F maximum in the afternoon), but the wind did not cooperate: 10 mph NE while we were heading north in the morning, then 20 mph SE when I headed back south in the afternoon. Headwind almost all the way! After the 7 AM start in Eldridge, a lead group of three quickly formed from the pack of a dozen. Besides me, there was Tom, who had not ultra-raced in years, but rode with Haldeman & Co in the glory days, and Dave, a retired mathematics teacher and RAAM finisher. He knows Jay from the Michigan 24 hours and says ‘hi.’ Around 30 miles, I was pulling at the front, and when I looked back, Tom and Dave were gone. I saw them once more on an out-and-back segment after the half-way turnaround in Peosta, about 20 minutes behind. The ride back will ring a bell with Ryan Linne from last year’s 300k brevet: a gravel stretch, headwinds of 20 mph, including the beloved “wind tunnel from hell” north of DeWitt. The superbike performed admirably: I rode 19-20 mph into the headwind for 90 miles, while rarely getting my heart rate above 125 beats a minute.


I got to the finish at 5:58 PM, about an hour ahead of the next riders. Conveniently the race hotel (Quality Inn) had a pool and shower area, where I refreshed before downing some calories and driving home. With nearly 11,000 feet of climbing in 189 miles, I warmly recommend this brevet for racers getting ready for hilly races. There’s even a 3 mile gravel stretch for Aaron Higley! Mike Fox has other brevets in May, June and July. While not as intense as pack races, brevets are timed and thus a little more intense than the typical group ride.