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.