“The 600 kilometer brevet is the crown jewel…a daunting experience…desolate…lonely…” RUSA Handbook
My bike is named, Freddy, a retired Eddy Merckx breed of top of the line race bikes. It is dressed with the finest equipment available suited for randonneurring a 600k brevet in eastern NC this January. There will be a lot of “pro randonnuers” participating. A lot will be learned. The weather will be ideal for winter riding. Here’s a sample of the pedigree who will be rolling along with me:
And here is an idea of what we pack. Shit adds up!
The route begins early on a Saturday morning but was delayed for 2 hours due to an ice storm the day before. The temperatures were unable to rise and there was a threat of ice on roads and bridges. And yes there was some ice. Fortunately, Tony Goodnight was on hand to warn us about some of the areas threatening our safety.
According to the GPS, the temperatures were in the low 20s. The weatherman was so wrong and fortunately wise decisions of extra layers made the journey delightful. The wind was light and the sun fought to break through. As the sun was setting beautifully westward, the full moon was rising behind us. We were slipping into Rocky Point to grab a late dinner at Subway before we rode into one of the expansive voids of rural NC. No traffic, no street lights. Imagine, the sight of a slew of high beam lights coming at you waivering a bit in the oncoming lane in the middle of the night. So surreal….
And noticeably more, the sound of dogs. They heard us coming. We would hear them bark or howl from their pens, their porches, or worst yet, come after us. Thank God for fences or their sudden fear realizing they were outnumbered by us! We saw every porch dog on this route give chase like the old bitch with her flapping titties or the scared cat which outran us and darted across the road to it’s home! The full moon brings out the wild side to all like Capn Ende howling at the moon along with Ian accompanying him in frozen harmony at delirous attempts of classic rock!
With slurried frozen water bottles, leary blurried eyes, weary tired bodies, we arrived at our destination to sleep in Shallotte NC, 5:30AM, after approx. 260 miles and 20+ hours of riding. We recharge ourselves at a Comfort Inn Hotel, but first a couple of us go next door to Waffle House and ordered 12 egg and cheeze sandwiches to go! Waffle House is a rando home.
We eat up and sleep for about 3 hours and get ready to ride into the cold to Sunset Beach, Tabor City, Boardman and back to Lumberton. It was a clear morning with slightly warmer temps and increased winds. Thank goodness for a decent size peloton and we kept together by the trail boss, Mark so we could take shorter pulls into the winds! And it was nice to have studs like Vinnie, Tom and Luke (reigning Rookie of the Year working hard to covet a legendary status of repeating such an honor!).
We push on to Tabor City SC. WooHoo! There aint jackshit there, but a convenience store open on a Sunday with very limited choices. As a matter of fact, the rest of the journey had limited food choices. It’s not that there’s fine dining during a randonneur, however, par value food is do-able but this was sub-par. Glad I brought my NOW bars! Tabor City is a psychological point where the brevet rider can mentally sense the pull to accomplish the finish.
We begin our northerly flat rural route along the pig, poultry, cotton, tobacco, and tree farms. Love the country smell of freshly laid silage, pig farm waste sprayed fields and paper mill exhaust. It was all about shit. Shitty smells, shitty feeling bodies, and sore asses. Oh yeah, the dogs. One good thing about the dogs, there’s an incentive to not veer off the road!
The peloton grinds away taking one section at a time, looking for the next turn, the next stop, the next nature break, the next control. It’s all about the expected next, not the unexpected ones, such as mechanical or mental breakdowns. We were blessed with neither on this journey. The day again turns to night with very little traffic until we approach the Lumberton vicinity. We go to nocturnal settings…
Without incidents we slide into the city of Lumberton. Adrenaline rises, pace hastens, cue sheets miscued. Again another blessing, the local Florians herd us home safely to the finish. We completed our weekend epic all together in approx. 34.5 hours. Plenty of time before the 40 hour limit!
“..after completing a 600k, the definition of “ what is possible” in one’s entire life is substantially redefined.” RUSA Handbook