Jeff's recap: https://jlippinbike.wordpress.com/2017/10/10/calendared-1200k-rando-ride/
day 1: https://www.strava.com/activities/1223820303
day 2: https://www.strava.com/activities/1223820266
day 3: https://www.strava.com/activities/1223820246
day 4 before: https://www.strava.com/activities/1223820196
day 4 after: https://www.strava.com/activities/1223820180
My first (and very likely my last) RM. I was lucky to be joined by Jeff L. We shared the driving, and riding with Jeff is always fun. The ride had fixed overnight stops, so it felt more like 4 rides in a row rather than a single long one. To me that was good, as I had no prior experience and could have made a mistake in planning.
There were only 14 starters, including 5 NJ riders (3 of them Eastern PA Rando regulars: Jeff, Bill O. and I). Gil L and Chris S. were there as well.
Day 1: we were supposed to ride up north to VA and then back south. We had 234 miles to cover with 15+K ft gain. The whole stage did not include a single serious climb but rather consisted of endless rolling hills. I decided to tackle the stage alone. There was no benefit from drafting anyway. Again we had a back luck with heat. The locals were friendly and gave me water. I never experienced a real crisis and even accelerated at the end, when the air cooled down. At some point a freight train blocked the road and stopped. Luckily, RR workers let us cross the railways 50 yards up. In the parking lot of the motel that was our destination for the day I caught up with Mark T (RUSA membership #64!!!!). We were first to arrive, 17 h 30 min after start. That was on par with my optimistic expectations (my "very optimistic" mark was 16-30, the normal mark was 18-00, the "very pessimistic" was 21 hrs).
Day 2: we started at 4 am with Jeff and Mark. We rode slowly to first control, where we had breakfast. After that the pace increased. On second control, we saw Metin U, who was riding a fixed gear steel bike! We decided to wait for him, he was quick. The four of us battled headwinds together for the rest of the stage. Not a very neat paceline but it helped a lot. At some point we were passed by the Tonymobile. Gil L sat in the passenger seat looking very happy and gave us water and gatorade. I was tempted to jump in but there was no more space in the van. Finally, we reached the streets of New Bern, our destination city. The nighttime urban riding was really unpleasant. I hit a pothole when I was standing on my left, and that produced some damage and a pain in my left knee. . The pain started to really bother towards the end of the stage, but finally we got there. Again we were the first group at the overnight control. 233 miles, 17 hrs 44 min.
Day 3. Only 166 miles, all flat. I debated myself whether my knee was strong enough to complete the brevet. Finally, I decided that if I was to give up that would happen on the course rather than in a hotel room. I started alone late and rode slowly, listening to my knee. After a number of bike adjustments a reasonable setup was found. My ass had to suffer from a low seat position, but that was kinda acceptable. Gradually, the pace increased. That stage include a seashore stretch and a stretch to northwest through the rural plains on NC. The seashore ride was nice and pleasant. I was astonished by the poverty of the rural plains. It could compare to Russian Northwest, but the rural areas there are semi-abandoned and produce almost nothing. In NC, the poor soil is planted with cotton and soy, cattle farms are seen here and there. At noon, the traffic became really intense as local started driving home from thousands of churches of multifarious denominations. I have never seen anything like that. My left knee started to hurt again, which forced me to slow down. Still I arrived relatively early.
Day 4. Only 118 miles, somewhat hilly. I woke up at night well before the alarm, dressed and started my way to the finish. I met Georgi S and Hamid A at the first controle but left before them. Gradually I let the pace increase. I do not remember exactly what happened near Corinth. Probably, I blundered railroad tracks in the morning twilight because of the rain and car headlights. I woke up on the pavement and collected my stuff. The rear derailleur bent and did not function, but that was ok. I continued the ride, but 15 miles after the rear chainstays suddenly fell apart and I had to halt.
I called Tony and told him I DNFed. All other riders were still behind. Georgi and Hamid passed by in about 40 minutes, followed by Jeff. He agreed to pick me up after he had finished. Then came Tony in his Tonymobile van. To my great surprise, Tony let me ride his own crit bike he had in his van. We changed the pedals and tried to adjust the seat to fit me. It did not quite work but hey, there was a bike to ride! I rode to second controle that was just a mile away. Mark and Metin were still there. I managed to stay with them and stopped the clock at 83-50. A happy end at least!
Well, sorta. Orca was a great bike and I spent a lot of time building it.
Hamid, Georgi, Jeff. (Source)
Mark, Metin, myself (Source)
Organization: Tony G is a great guy. He is a racer and a very accomplished randonneur. He knows what it takes and goes the extra mile to make things work. He threatened us with secret controls but none was actually encountered. Nevertheless, Tony and Jeff swept the course regularly and knew where we were. The course was diverse and fun to ride. New Bern area was unpleasant but I guess this depends on the local geography and could not be entirely avoided. The registration was announced kinda late, so if you plan to go, better be flexible. Overall, a great event.