16 December 2011

Randonneuring taking off Down Under

This is interesting...http://www.kiwirandonneurs.org.nz/ is a website for road brevet type events from 200 to 1200 km. They are run in the same spirit of self-sufficiency as the Kiwi Brevet. No great surprise really, because we're all inspired by the same sort of epic feats of long distance cycling that were taking place a century ago.

There are some differences in style though. In the road riding ultra endurance world the pinnacle events are Paris-Brest-Paris and Race Across America which are much more difficult to qualify for (and expensive to enter) than the off-road equivalents. They tend to be more competitive - you don't get people stopping to take photos all that much. But they have a lot of history and tradition which is fascinating in it's own right. Check out the history page on the Kiwi Randonneurs site.

Off-road ultra endurance events are younger, less organised and, arguably, more adventurous. This will probably change with time as fast riders race harder and harder to better their times (at the expense of the touring element of the ride). I hope the Kiwi Brevet will be an exception...that it will remain relatively uncompetitive...that it will encourage people to explore the mountains, coast and forest (more so than exploring their physical limits). There are plenty of other events which allow a rider to prove how fast they are.

I'll right some more about this when time allows. If you're curious about the early characters who promoted long distance cycle touring, check out this link:
Velocio - Paul de Vivie wrote gems like this:
After a long day on my bicycle, I feel refreshed, cleansed, purified. I feel that I have established contact with my environment and that I am at peace. On days like that I am permeated with a profound gratitude for my bicycle. Even if I did not enjoy riding, I would still do it for my peace of mind. What a wonderful tonic to be exposed to bright sunshine, drenching rain, choking dust, dripping fog, rigid air, punishing winds!

12 December 2011

Hand Care

Looking after your hands is one of the most important things to consider for anybody who likes to use their digits soon after the event. Perhaps you have a job that involves typing or a child who's shoe laces need tying. Maybe you're a bit of a musician or you simply like to be able to use cutlery.

Several very, very long days in the saddle can cause all sorts of nerve damage in your hands. Usually it's temporary, but may last a few months. Here are some tips for minimising the impact of the Kiwi Brevet.

1 - Get some really long rides in during your Christmas break. Of course this will be good for your legs and waistline, but it'll also help to build up the endurance in your arms. If your arms stay strong throughout the Brevet, you'll be able to keep your elbows bent, and absorbing small road shock. When riders get exhausted, they tend to straighten their elbows and bend their wrists - leaving road shock to be absorbed primarily by hands, wrists and neck.

2 - Run low pressures. A fat tyre at 30-40 psi will absorb a helluva lot of shock. If you are riding a touring bike or cyclocross, the fatest tyre you can fit, inflated to the lowest pressures you dare is the way to go (maybe 60 psi, depending on your luck in avoiding snakebites).

3 - Let the bike carry the load. The less weight you have on your back, the less pressure you have on your hands (and butt).

4 - Change positions and stretch every few minutes. If you're running MTB bars, I recommend fitting some aero bars. They're a great way to rest your hands (and a good place to put a map, or hang a small bag). Don't hang onto bar ends for long - while comfortable for your arms, they usually increase the pressure on the nerves at the base of your wrist. If you have dropped bars, add an extra layer of tape or consider having some padding put under the tape in the areas you rest your hands most of the time. Make any changes to your bars now so that you have time to get used to them.

5 - Find some gloves you love. A little bit of padding is a good thing, I believe, but it is a personal choice. I like a little bit of extra padding around the base of my palm (either leather or a little bit of gel). Too much gel padding can result in extra pressure being applied to the centre of your palms - an area not designed to take prolonged pressure.

At the end of each day, give your hands a bit of a rub and maybe take a small dose of anti-inflammatory of some sort. If you are getting pain by the end of day two, consider raising your bars and shortening the distance you try to cover in each of the remaining days.

29 November 2011

Firming up the start list

Lots of donations are going into Project K and the good folk at the Foundation for Youth Development tell me you're being quite generous. Over $3,100 raised so far. Nice one!

Here's a start list in first-name alphabetical order. An asterix means confirmed. We have 57 confirmed starters and 9 unconfirmed (as of 31 Jan). There's room for 80 riders in the 2012 Kiwi Brevet. If you want to confirm your start, but forgot how, check out the details here . We're happy to see new people sign up to the start as a confirmed starter, up until the point that we have 80 confirmed starters - after that, the names of unconfirmed starters will be removed from the start list. The start list will be closed on the 31st of January (based on riders who have confirmed their intentions with a donation to Project K).

Confirmed Starters:

Alastair Brown & Martin Harry*
Alex Revell*
Andrew Carman*
Andrew King*
Andy Gilbert & Tony Little (tandem)*
Andrew King*
Andy Reid*

Bill Fry*
Brenda Clapp & Chris Burr*

Charlotte Ireland & Tim Collinson*
Christopher Gilbertson*
Claude Dabaliz*
Craig McGregor*

Dan Roberts*
Darren Tatom*
Dave Sharpe*
David Kleinjan*
Dean Johansson*

Geof Blance*
Graeme Head*

Hana Black*

Jeff Lyall*
Jimmy Finlayson*
Jo Smith*
Joel McFarlane-Roberts & Clair Graydon*
John Lubbe*
Jonty Ritchie*
Julie Williams & Thomas Ekholm*

Karin Pehrson*

Lance Griffin*

Matt Gerstenberger*
Matthew Kemp & Kerrie Noonan*
Michelle Cole & Joshua Kench*
Mick Brown*
Mike Revell*

Nathan Mawkes*

Ollie Whalley*
Owen Hughes*

Pat Hogan*
Paul Becker*
Peter Maindonald*
Peter McKenzie*
Peter Sullivan*

Richard Davies*

Scott Emmens*
Stephen Butterworth*

Thomas Lindup*
Tor Madsen*
Troy Szczurkowski*

Expressions of interest (unconfirmed):

Adam Basiljet
Andrew Rowe
Christopher Boyle & Mel Boyle
Nathan Versey
Shaun Timberlake
Stan Hancock

22 November 2011

Butt Care

This is the first in a series of short pieces on looking after yourself at the Brevet.

Probably the hardest thing for a fit rider to deal with when doing an ultra-endurance bike ride is butt care. Discomfort and damage fall into five areas:

1 - Numb family jewels.
Solution - tilt your seat down slightly and/or raise your handlebars. Experiment with different saddles long before the ride, and then get used to your preferred choice. Spend time standing on the pedals and/or walking regularly.

2 - Numb or raw 'taint' ('taint' = the area just behind your family jewels. It ain't this and it aint that).
Solution - Similar to above, but also make sure you aren't drifting forward to the narrow part of the saddle too much. Don't carry significant weight on your back. Use chammy cream or talc.

3 - Bruised sit bones and raw skin on buttocks.
Solution - Similar to above, but it may help to lean forwards and put more weight on your taint from time to time. Running tyres at low pressures helps to reduce road shock (my pick is 50mm wide tyres at about 30 psi). Maybe pop a low dose anti-inflammatory pill at the end of each day.

4 - Distressed butt-hole
Solution - Chammy cream is the main fix for this one, followed by some talc at the end of the day. If you are really unlucky you might end up with hemorrhoids. There is some useful information about this topic to be found online, but I recommend avoiding Google Images.
Try to avoid foods which might lead to constipation, throw a packet of prunes into your jersey pockets, and pull back on the number of hours in the saddle. It will pass.

5 - Saddle sores (which can occur on any part of the anatomy previously mentioned).
Solution - Again, start the Brevet with a well worn-in saddle. Wash every day. Use a great pair of cycling shorts (with chammy cream) while riding, and a well-ventilated pair of shorts at the end of the day. Stand on the pedals frequently and walk some of the steeper climbs.

If you are doing really, really long days, you may start to get a bit crusty overnight. Breaking through the crust at the start of the day can be a little painful, but after about 10 minutes you should be back to normal. 'Pain is weakness leaving the body' is a good catch phrase at times like this.

Saddles are a very individual choice - I won't recommend any particular one (other than to say, DON'T try starting with a new leather saddle. Those suckers take a long time to break in).

On the shorts front, I've been very impressed by new Ground Effect Exocets. They have no seam round the edge of the padding, and the padding is thick where it needs to be. If it isn't too warm and problem 3 is your worst, consider wearing two pairs of shorts for some of each day.

Chammy cream is also a personal choice. The last I used was Sweet Cheeks Butt Butter (made by Jennie Taylor who's husband is an ultra-endurance mountain biker). It worked brilliantly. Jennie is extending the same special deal as last year:

$20 for a 200gm pot of Sweet Cheeks Butt Butter + $2.50 shipping anywhere in NZ = $22.50 total.
Usual retail price is $25 + shipping

Contact: sweetcheeksnz@gmail.com or phone: 03443-2002

20 November 2011

Le Petit Brevet Underway

Spare a thought for Le Petit Brevet riders this weekend, touring round the Port Hills and Banks Peninsula for up to 36 hours. They have 8,000m of vertical to tackle over a 230km course - but the scenery, fine food (like chocolate milk) and good company should more than make up for the travails encountered.

If the organiser (Tim Mulliner) isn't totally shattered, we might see some results (and maybe photos) appear on lepetitebrevet.blogspot.com in the next day or two.

18 November 2011

Freeload rack two-for-one deal

And now we have a special offer from the clever folk at Freeload:

"Two racks for the price of one - on either model.... buy one and receive a second of the same value. www.freeload.co.nz
We'll also throw in one pair of the new and improved tie-down straps (25mm webbing and stainless buckles) per order : ]

Only for confirmed entrants, and available right up until kick off."