2013 Amy Dombroski Memorial Dolores Cross

2013 Amy Dombroski Memorial Dolores Cross

Ride/Race Schedule - to add event - Email: ciclistasdelrio@gmail.com

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

PBP Recap #4

I awoke hungry from 5 1/2 hours of good sleep.  Throat was still scratchy, but I felt rested and ready to go.  Ate breakfast gingerly, just to be safe, and Fred drove me back to Tinteniac, where I resumed the ride by first going through the control.  I started slowly to be sure I was fully warmed up, and suddenly I was really enjoying being on the bike again!  It was the first sunny day, puffy clouds in the sky, and lots of people were in a good mood with sights set on Paris.  Started off with an Englishman, and we hooked up with an Aussie, and then gathered in 3 Seattle randonneurs.  The 6 of us Anglais formed a nice steady rotating pace line, and before long we had a throng of cyclists sitting on our wake - it was kind of fun leading all the Euros through the French countryside.

Arrived back at the hotel in Fougeres and scarfed down more food.  I was able to take food and water on the bike again, but made sure I stocked up at the van.  Colin had not slept too much, but was well enough to press on to Paris unsupported, leaving Julie and Fred to support me.  He was clearly stronger than me at this point, and waiting for me would not have done him any good.  And I was fine with it as I could go at a slower pace without feelilng guilty!  Turns out for most of the day I was matching Colin's pace anyway, as I was feeling so much better - the endurance training and also living at altitude were paying dividends today.  My average speed increased, and  though sub-60 was out of the question, it looked like sub-70 was still in the cards.

However, between Villaines-La-Juhel and Mortagne-au-Perche, the nausea started to creep back, and I couldn't eat much on the bike.  I took advantage of the food and drink in the villages along the way, but it was soon clear that I was not over my cold.  After Mortagne, I started to crash pretty hard, feeling sleepy and nauseous.  About 11pm I was climbing through a dark forest with no moonlight, and it seemed like I was the only person on earth.  At the top of the hill, there was a crossroads with a war monument, and a handful of cheery villagers were offering coffee, tea and biscuits - "Gratuit!  Free!"  I stopped for a cup of tea, and decided I really needed to be horizontal for a few minutes, so I took off my helmet and curled up in the shadow of the monument for 20 minutes of sleep.  I had left my rear lights blinking, and someone kindly came over and turned them off.  I imagine I looked like so many other riders that I had passed, lying comatose by the side of the road like so much PBP flotsam and jetsam.

I got up feeling better, but it was clear I wasn't going past Dreux tonight, despite wanting to finish sub-70.  I reminded myself that Goal #2 was to have fun and get the most out of the PBP experience - and those last 40 miles in the middle of the night, feeling sick, were going to be miserable and not accomplish anything, certainly not Goal #2.  And right after I had made up my mind to sleep in Dreux, I got out of the saddle to strech my back, and the extra effort put the nausea over the edge - I quickly had to skid over to the side of the road, dismount, prop my self over the bike, and wretch for 10 minutes.  Definitely sleeping in Dreux.

Made my way as best I could to the control where Fred and Julie were waiting.  After all my good time earlier in the day, this last leg was desperately slow.  Got a change of clothes, and told Fred and Julie to go to the hotel at the finish to sleep (Colin had arrived just a couple of hours earlier, finishing in 66 hours or so) and meet me there tomorrow morning.  And literally seconds after they left, as I was walking into the gym/dormitory, I had to wretch again.  The attendant was very nice and sent one of the staff EMTs to look after me.  They had a full infirmary set up to deal with all kinds of physical problems, mostly saddle sores, and they had a few cots set aside there, so I got a 'private ward' instead of the huge dormitory, which looked like a scene from Alien, with cocoons of snoring cyclists stretching away into the gloom.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

PBP Recap #3

Did I mention the rain?  From about 11am on Day 1, it rained lightly but consistently for about 6 or 7 hours.  I stayed relatively dry and warm, but somehow it got to me.  I got out of bed at 1:30am on Day 2 with a scratchy throat, a harbinger of the day to come.  That combined with the fact that neither Colin or I got any actual sleep, and we were not off to a good start.  As is so often the case, the first night's rest, or lack of, can determine the whole outcome of the ride.

We set out a little afer 2am, and joined a throng of red lights making their way west.  It's hard to tell at night, but it seemed that Loudeac to Carhaix was very hilly.  Good time to Carhaix, where we found Fred and Julie by the blinking red glow-lights they attached to the flag pole.  Throat did not feel good, but the body was holding up, so I still had hope.

There was no rain, but soon after Carhaix, climbing the coastal hills toward Brest, we encountered a mist/fog so thick and persistent it soaked us as well as any rain would.  That may have been the last straw, as I started to feel pretty poorly with the cold coming on and the lack of sleep.  About 17 miles from Brest, we stopped to call Julie and let her know we'd probably be needing 20 or 30 mins of sleep in the van.  Despite how we were feeling, we made Brest is good time, a cumulative 29hr20mins, pretty much right on track to break 60 hours.
Support van in Brest - don't know if we're coming or going
Well, they didn't have the van ready for sleep, so we decided we'd do that at Carhaix.  I was really not feeling well at this point, and Colin went on ahead in order to sleep more at the next stop.  It was very hilly getting back over the coastal hills, and my average speed suffered along with my morale.  30 minutes of sleep in Carhaix was very welcome, but didn't do much for my cold.  There was nothing to do but press on.

At this point, I could not stomach much food or liquid on the bike, and that's simply a death spiral for endurance riding.  I would eat and drink as much as I could at the support points, and force down small quantities on the road, but it's a loosing caloric battle.  Caught back up with Colin at Loudeac, and as well as support food, we had some pasta and soup provided at the official control.  At this point, Colin was recovering well from the lack of sleep, but my cold was getting worse.  Luckily, many of the villages we passed through set up big tents and sold all kinds of local foods to the riders, so I was able to stop a couple times for nutrition.

At Tinteneac, I made the decision to call it a day.  We had a hotel at Fougeres for the night, but I decided I needed some real sleep to kick the cold - so Colin rode to Fougeres while I took the van.  Hopefully I would sleep well and wake up refreshed, go back to Tinteneac, then pick up Colin in Fougeres, and we'd be off.  But in trying to take my electrolytes and other supplements, the gag reflex kicked in, and suddenly I was emptying what was left in my stomach in the hotel sink.  It was going to be a long final 3rd of PBP.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

PBP Update #2

Support:        For a randonneur event, you can only receive support at the designated checkpoints, not anywhere else along the route.  If the riders run into trouble, they have to be able to make it to the next checkpoint to get any help from a support crew (though they can make their own way to a bike store or whatever they need along the way).

So Julie and Fred were providing support for Colin and me.  They had a minivan loaded with supplies, registered and labeled as an official support vehicle.  In PBP, because of the large number of riders, you are allowed to provide support within 5km either side of the control point.  We decided that we wanted to have all our support before the controls, not after.  And we had heard that it can be pretty chaotic, so we wanted to be a few km out, not right close in.  To help identify the van, we heard that a distinctive flag was they key, so Fred took a Colorado state flag and adorned it with some PBP flair.  He turned the central "C" of the flag into a coat of arms, with "Partager La Route" (Share the Road) inscribed in the "C", and a pair of spear-wielding marmots on either side.  It was destinctive to say the least, and got many stares and comments from cyclists as they rode by.
Support van with infamous flag
So the routine went something like: within 5km of the control, Colin and I would begin to scan for the flag.  It turned out that because we were at the front of out group, and Fred and Julie founds spots that were away from the crowds, it was easy to find them.  They early supports were fast, simply an exchange of bottles and resupply of food items, maybe changing out some items of clothing.  Then we were off to the control to get our cards officially stamped, then back on the route to the next control.  We were usually fast enough to be back among the lead riders after the control - but after a couple of controls, the lead peloton was separated into a number of smaller groups.

Somehow, Colin ended up in a ditch between Villaines-la-Juhel and Fougeres.  We're not sure how it happened, but he overlapped wheels with me, I moved to follow the wheel in front of me, and he went down on the chip seal (yes, they have chip seal in France, too).  Luckily it was still very wet, and he slid quickly into the grass, but not without a nice hole in the knee and road rash on his hip.  The Frenchman we were riding with stopped and helped us back up, and the three of us continued on to Fougeres. 

Apart from that, the rest of the day was fast and we arrived in Loudeac ahead of plan, about 9:30pm  That's 280 miles in 16.5 hours.  It was a great start for us, despite Colin's crash, and now it was necessary to get a few hours sleep in preparation for Day 2.  We had a good hotel near the course, which catered to PBP riders by setting aside a conference room for all the bikes.  Shower, recovery drink and a bite to eat, and it was lights out for another middle of the night wakeup call.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

PBP Tracking

For everyone concerned about the apparent abandon, don't worry.  It's clear that they've had some big problems with the final stage electronic tracking, there are lots of people listed as abandoned because it looks like they entered many finishing times as 23:04 or some such.  They're probably doing this just to get results out of the system and then manually check them against the control cards.  

As for me, I definitely saw the woman stamp mine and write 11hr and some number of minutes (eyes not working so well at that point).  So my final time will be 78 hours and change.

Right now we've arrived in Nice, where it is a pleasant 75* at 11pm.  Five days of r & r on the shores of the Mediterranean, maybe day trips to Monaco and Italy.  The bike is securely packed away in the basement of a Paris hotel.

Further updates on the ride tomorrow...

Friday, August 26, 2011

PBP Recap, #1

You can chose one of three 'time slots' to start PBP.  The 80 hour group is the first to leave, 5pm on Sunday, and this is where the elite racers are, those that ride all the way through with no sleep, finishing in under 50 hours.  The record is something like 42 hours!  Other fast riders can chose this option too, and I know many from Rocky Mountain Cycling Club did.  This group leaves first and mostly stays ahead of the other riders so they can get through the controls with little fuss.  Next is the biggest group, the 90 hour group, leaving at 10pm Sunday night.  Finally, an intermediate 84 hour group leaves at 5am Monday morning.

This is the group Colin and I chose, mainly because the start time is similar to many of the rides we do here in the US, that start in the wee hours of the morning - so it was familiar territory.  Riders are sent off in pelotons of 300 at a time, 10 minutes apart.  Colin and I decided that we wanted to be in the first or second group to leave, so we figured we had to get there about 4am.  A 2:15 wakeup call had us at the Gymnase des Droits de l'Homme at 3:50 and we were with the first 50 riders.  Perfect.

The first riders arrive for the 5am 84 Hour start
An hour later we filed through to get our first control stamp, and lined up under the start banner.  Then we were off, and the first 10 or 15 miles or so is all about surviving the Paris suberb road furniture, and there is a lot of it.  Most of these riders are also racers and know how to ride in a peloton, so it wasn't too bad.  As we got further out, the roads open up and the lead group began to get down to some serious riding.  Colin and I made our way to the front 30 or so riders to make sure we would be in any group that began to separate itself off the front.  Colin in fact rode in 4th or 5th position for much of the time.  We had a pace car and motorcycles leading us through all the lights and intersections, that was pretty cool, like we were in some kind of big race or something!

Eventually, I looked around and counted about 25 or 30 lead riders, and we had left the rest behind.  I was being careful monitoring my heart rate to make sure I didn't start too fast, which has been my downfall in the past, but also I had been practicing faster starts.  Hit my pre-set limit a couple times on some of the longer rises, but not for long, and the pace felt really comfortable.  I saw Colin take his turn on the front for a while, and thought that I'd like to do that too.  Made my way up and eventually the last rider ahead of me pulled off at the end of his turn, and here I was, behind the motorcycles, leading our start group's peloton through the French countryside in one of the oldest bike races around.  It was a pretty sureal feeling.

As dawn broke, we could start reading the jerseys of our fellow riders, and we had a nice diverse group.  Prominent was a group of 4 or 5 Austrians in their country's special randonneur jersey, a similar number of Germans, at least one Brit and a Dutch, a handful of Italians, and many French and probably a Belgian or two.  Colin and I represented Randonneurs USA.

As you can see from the data at the first checkpoint, we rode pretty fast, 30kmh for the first 200km+ (that's 18.5mph for the first 137 miles for the imperially-minded).  In fact, at 100 miles, I saw our time was 4:58 - my first sub-5 hour century.  But in a large group with no long or even steep hills, it felt easy.  And that average includes a 5 minute resupply stop at 80 miles.

OK, gotta go have dinner and catch the highlights at the Louvre this evening, will continue later...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

PBP Update...

Sorry to have been out of touch during the race, but I never did figure out how to text to Twitter in France, and that really was the only realistic way I had to communicate.

Anyway, it turned into an epic which I shall detail in the next day or two.  It started perfectly with the first day going to plan.  What was not in the plan was getting no sleep the first night and catching cold at the same time.  So that put the sub-60 out of reach, but sub-70 was still possible after I thought I had recovered on the morning of day 3.  That was not the case, it caught back up to me that evening.  Stayed an extra unplanned night at the last control point before riding in this morning in 78 hours and change.

I'm a little upset at not riding the fastest I could, but I'm very excited to have finished despite the obstacles.  Finding ways to overcome the problems along the way is what randonneuring is all about, and I did that in spades.  Hope to have some time to begin recounting the details tomorrow...

Start in 8 hrs

Long day of registration and logistics.  All organized and ready to roll.

Sent from my mobile phone

Saturday, August 20, 2011

In the Shadow of Notre Dame...

Arrived in Paris 6am Wednesday morning in preparation for Paris-Brest-Paris.  All luggage arrived safely; found the train; found the apartment; immediately went to a patisserie for croissants.  Then assembled the bike on the terrace under the watchful eye of the Cathedral de Notre Dame.

Not too shabby a location

Sleep was calling, but rather than surrender, we went for a walk to find a local street market.  They were tearing down just as we got there, so we found an Italian cafe for a late lunch, then a little more walking just to stay awake.  Early dinner at a cafe near the apartment, then after 32 hours since leaving Albuquerque, hit the sack for a solid 10 hours of sleep.

Fred and I took the train back out to Charles de Gaul to meet Colin and Julie coming in from LA.  With their two bikes and luggage, the minivan was not big enough for 4 of us, so Fred schlepped back to the apartment via train, while I drove with Colin and Julie to their hotel near the start in Saint Quentin.  I mainly wanted to do this in order to take the train back to Paris so that I would know the stations and if there were any peculiarites to the route.  Turns out there is construction on the RER C line on the section that contains the St. Michel - Notre Dame station.  But they had a free connecting shuttle bus.  Very glad to get all that sorted out before trying to take the bike.

Yesterday, Fred and I reversed that route (with the bike) and met Colin and Julie at the station in St. Quentin.  Colin and I met up with a large group of American riders for a preview of the first 25 miles of the course, while Fred and Julie sorted out the GPSs and maps, practised driving the country roads of France, and met us at the turn-around point.  During the ride, found and chatted with 4 Rocky Mountain Cycling Club members (Billy Edwards, Paul Foley, Vernon Smith, Brian Rapp).  They're all having a big Colorado dinner tonight in St. Quentin, but unfortunately I won't make it back out there for it.

After delicious coffee (for Fred, Julie and Colin, I'm still on the caffeine/alcohol wagon), rode back to St. Quentin for a shower and lunch.  Then off to do chores (hardware store for PVC for a flag pole for the support van ID flag, auto store for a Thule rack for the minivan for Colin and Julie's tour of the Alps after PBP (yeah I know, Colin's nuts), then drove 80 miles out to the first support point so we could nail down the exact location for a swift exchange.

Train back to Paris, arriving about 9pm.  Andria had already eaten dinner, but joined us for a drink as Fred and I had a late meal.  Another 10 hours of solid sleep, and it's time for a little sight seeing before Colin and Julie meet us here for dinner.

So far everything has gone very smoothly, jet lag was minimal, and the bike is working well.  Tomorrow is official bike inspection and registration, and the first groups of the fastest riders leave tomorrow afternoon.  We'll be staying in St. Quentin Sunday night, ready for a 5am departure on Monday morning.

2012 Dolores CX Results

2012 Dolores CX Results
Any questions concerning the results, please email CiclistasdelRio@gmail.com