Take, for example, my fascination with reading about randonneuring over the past few years. I love everything about the sport: the bikes, the adventure, the scenery. I used to read the rider's stories on the RUSA website and think that if I had been the author, I would have had a heck of an experience.
Yesterday's Ohio 300K Brevet gave me plenty of time to come to several realizations. These nuggets of wisdom are only hinted at in randonneur's stories, but I've not found them in print. So, if you are thinking you might like to try a brevet, read on.
Nugget #1 - The weather on a brevet is never ideal. Despite the forecast, the weather will never be what you hope. Usually it is much colder than predicted, and windier. If there is a 20% chance of rain, plan on it being an all-day down pour.
Nugget #2 - Regional Brevet Administrators (RBA's) always down play how hilly the route actually is. "It's really not that hilly - except for a few hills around Mohican State Park". If an RBA even mentions there may be a hill on the course, plan on panting for several hours as you watch your speedometer stick at 4.5 mph.
Nugget #3 - I may be optimistic here, but count on 10% of each route to be located on smooth roads. The other 90% of the route will shake bolts out of your bike. Be sure to use plenty of Lok-tite.
Nugget #4 - Make peace with the phrase, "What the Hell am I doing here?" You'll ask yourself that many times, like when you're climbing a big hill (especially the one near Mohican State Park), or when your turn a corner and feel how the cold, wind-swept rain stings your face. Unless you quit the ride, you'll just have to accept you'll be asking that often.
Nugget #5 - The other people you're riding with feel as miserable as you do, even though they don't show it. So don't ruin a good thing by complaining. By working together, you can buoy one another and make miserable circumstances seem much better.
Nugget #6 - As miserable as you might feel, the pain seems to go away when you see the final control. An overwhelming sense of satisfaction settles in, and very shortly you are looking ahead to your next long ride.
Well, that's what I've learned so far. I could say a bit about bike condition and working on your bike before a brevet (never, ever wait until just before a ride to try to fix something), but I'll save that for later.
Yesterday's ride was a game changer for me. I've done many brevets, but I think I became a randonneur last night when I finished the ride.
PS Steve A, I'm going to use the Tricross for the 600K ride. My Treks are no match for the roads and hills of eastern Ohio.