The Big Dog's, out of the Quad Cities, are once again hosting a Paris-Brest-Paris (or PBP) Brevet series. The series consists of a 200K, 300K, 400K and 600K and when completed qualifies the rider for entry into the 2011 addition of the historic ride. The series runs from early April to early June. RUSA is the governing body of the Brevets held through-out the country.
What is a Brevet compared to a race? This RUSA web page defines Brevet and Randonneur pretty well. Brevet's are not a race, the time cutoff is close to 10 mph. There are no awards for first place, all finishers are treated equally and usually the results are posted alphabetically. During a brevet if your riding partner has a mechanical problem or wish to take a "nature" break, add or shed a jacket then you stop and wait. If someone is struggling you let them draft and maybe back the pace off a little. You don't see that during a race. Don't get me wrong there are "racers" who enter brevet's and cannot resist the temptation to push the pace. Many times they will pay for it down the road especially during the 400 and 600K.
The 200K on April 2nd had 23 finishers from all over the Midwest. See results. Fellow Melon City Bike Club members Mike Doyle and Joe Wies joined me for the 6:00 am start in Eldridge Iowa. Mike has done a couple of brevet's in past years but this was Joe's first. We rolled out into the pre-dawn morning with a nice group of 11 of us. The route head west to Bennett, south to Wilton, the west to Nichols. The wind was gently blowing out of the NE so the wind would not be much of a factor. The pace was more controlled then any brevet I have ever done. We rolled along in a nice double pace line chatting as the miles rolled by. It was a mini RAAM reunion with Paul Carpenter and Jay Yost. Paul was a rider last year and Jay and I were on his support crew. It was good to catch up on how life and cycling had been treating them. Larry Ide (crazy Larry) was also in the group. I have ridden several long rides with Larry over the years and it is always nice to have him along. Fellow Trans Iowa participant Jeremy Frye was also out getting some training miles in for the big ride on April 23. The ride went without a hitch until 5 miles after the turnaround on highway 70 between the Nichols turn and F70. This stretch of road is pretty beat up and it looks like they tried to fix it by putting a thin layer over the top. That layer did not stick. With the variations in the surface color it is hard to notice pot holes. The 11 of us were riding two abreast when a pot hole snuck up on us. As the leaders tried to dodge the hole the riders behind were scrambling/panicking. this resulted in the back riders running into the riders in front of them. Two riders got tangled and one went down. As we slowed and circled back to survey the damage I hoped it was not Mike of Joe. It was both of them. Joe went down and Mike got ran into. It looked like Mike's rear skewer met Joe's front spokes and Joe's front skewer met Mike's rear spokes. The result was a really bent spoke for Joe and a broken spoke for Mike. Joe also had a nice scrap on his knee. We were able to fix Joe's but not Mike's wheel. We managed to get the wheel to stop rubbing the brakes but was really close to the frame. As we neared Muscatine Mike decided it was not worth risking ruining his frame so he headed home.
Shortly after saying good-bye to Mike we started working our way into the looming northeast breeze tha thad picked up as the day progressed. The first stretch was pretty protected but the two undulating sections from Wilton to Bennett were wide open. Keeping a group together in a cross wind is hard enough, but toss in a few rollers and it soon becomes "everyman for himself" trying to stay in the draft. Our shrunken lead group of five rolled into Bennett with a huge sigh of relief knowing the last 26 miles would be all tailwind. At this point I decided to wait for Joe and the rest of the shattered group before heading out. The last section was at a nice conversational pace and a great way to end a ride.
Total time was just under 8 hours with waaayyy to much time off the bike. Next up the 300K brevet as the last training ride before Trans Iowa.