Eldridge 400k brevet

Report from Martin, Ryan and Rikki. On Saturday May 19, we ‘raced’ the 400k (249 mile) Quad Cities Randonneurs brevet in Eldgridge, Iowa, and came in first by quite a bit, despite a hot day with unfavorable winds. Now we can register for Paris-Brest-Paris in February instead of June 2019.

We headed up to Eldridge (just north of the Quad Cities) on Friday night, enjoyed the sausage platter, pretzles and cheese curds (+ some beer) at the Bierhaus in Le Clair, then hit the sack early (9:30 PM), to get some sleep before the 5 AM wake-up call.

Registration was swift when Mike Fox, the brevet organizer, showed up around 5:15, and after the inspection of bikes and clothing for night-riding, we lined up at the start with about 10 other randonneurs. Brevets (the long ones over 600k are called randonnées) are metric timed bike rides with times taken at intermediate control stations to make sure the course cannot be cut. They sign and time a brevet booklet for you at controls, which is then certified in France for PBP early registration. The shortest brevet is 200k (ca. 125 miles), the longest randonnées are 1200k, 1500k, or even longer.

We were off to a measured start (it is 250 miles, after all) at 6 AM, but still ended up at the front right away. Ryan and Martin were pulling into the north wind, while Rikki made up the rear guard in the trio. All three had done Calvin’s challenge two weeks before, so we had a good feel for how to distribute our power throughout the day. After the first control in Low Moor, we headed to the Mississippi river at the Iowa/Wisconsin border to control #2 in Bellevue. Everyone was in good spirits as we refilled drinks and energy bars or gels. Then on to the first steep climb of the day, when of course the sun had to come out to blast us as the temperature was climbing towards its high of 80 °F. The wind was still blowing against us as we headed into Peosta, the control at 95 miles. We were there at noon, on track for a 15:45 finish at 9:45 PM. There we had a quick lunch of ham wraps, and were off onto the hardest part of the course, involving steep long climbs and descents to/from the Mississippi River Valley. We reached Guttenberg, the northernmost control, about 45 minutes behind schedule, refilled, and were on our way back. The nearest randonneur, whom we could see on the out-and-back portion of the loop, was about a half hour behind us, and the next group about an hour behind us. After a strenuous climb out of the Mississippi Valley in the full afternoon sun, over about 1000 deep cracks in the road, and with plenty of bugs buzzing around, we made it back onto the Iowa rollers. In Cascade, some magic numbing cream from Ryan and a ham and cheese sandwich put Martin in good spirits, and he pulled the group to the next control in Maquoketa. There we changed into night gear around 8:15 PM, and headed for the finish 42 miles away. Rikki was getting a little tired, but pedaled on unfazed, although she later picked up on Jay’s joke about wishing that a bear had jumped out of the thickets and eaten her.  In High Mound, Martin’s light went out, but this was quickly fixed as he had a spare battery on board. By the end, everyone was in pain but pedaling on, and we reached the finish at 11:15, at least an hour ahead of the next rider. We handed over our stamped brevet booklets and showered to feel human again. After woofing down some Casey’s pizza, we were on our way home, while Rikki (driving) and Martin chatted, and Ryan predictably slept in the back pretty much the whole 3 hour drive.

We may head up north again on June 16 to do the 300k (piece of cake!) if anyone wants to join us!