Base! How low can you go? Or, why you should ride brevets.

I like to boast that I don’t really follow a training plan, but that is only partially true.  I definitely do not have one of those blogs that list numbers and charts and all sorts of info that only a tiny tiny fraction of the world understands (I’m not a part of that percentage) and won’t turn this into  one.  Even if I do buy a heart monitor.  Or a GPS. But I do (attempt to!) follow the base-build-peak plan popularized by Joe Friel.

If you are one of the people who follow my site only for vegan nutrition stuff, I apologize. But I promise this post won’t be too techy!

Now I have a few complications with the base-build-peak plan. One is that I’m incredibly bad at planning more than a few months in advance. Another is that I tend to do really long events- longer than most people’s longest base-mileage rides.  Lastly, and related to the second point, is a little race called the Furnace Creek 508.  I’ve raced solo the previous three years and since it’s in October, it really screws with my ‘peak’.  Last year I never really peaked at all and I suffered for it.  This year I am not racing the 508 and am attempting a more normal schedule.

That means lots of winter miles! One fun way to get these miles is on brevets:  self-supported, long-distance rides.  There’s no support, only a route sheet, start time and ‘controls’ where you need to get your brevet card signed and/or a receipt to prove you were there.  I wrote a little about them and qualifying for Paris-Brest-Paris last month. Since then I rode a 200k with Mike Sz in Orange County where we stopped for coffee and burritos and took 12 hours to finish, the Point Reyes 200k in SF, where I rode hard on a beautiful day and finished in under 8 hours. This past weekend I headed to San Diego to ride their club’s 300k.  My next post will be that story: experiencing all four seasons in one ride.

Brevets are randonneuring rides; each club usually does a series: 200k, 300k, 400k and 600k, all of which are approved by the national randonneuring group and are qualifications for the big one: 1200k.  Sound insane? It’s not. The routes are great, the time limits are healthy and the riders and organizers are often very inclusive.  I highly recommend you get out and ride one: official USA Randonneur calendar here or a California brevets schedule I made:

My approach for training is that it is much more than cardiovascular and muscular fitness. If that’s all it was, then I’d say stay home and ride your trainer for hours every day. But most people don’t quit events because they don’t have the fitness, they quit because they didn’t prepare mentally or something unexpected happened and they were unprepared. How do you know how much water to drink? You need to get out there and get dehydrated. And bonk. And yes, be miserable. On brevets there’s no aid stations to count down to. Only yourself and your ability to find food and water out in the world.  When you become dependent on yourself, you’ll be more prepared for any event you have planned in the future.

That 200k in SF? It was awesome. First off, I met the legendary ultra-runner Ann Trason (<–read this interview!), and was star struck. Yes, she was riding it. And it was a perfect day for cycling: favorable winds, sun all day and sleeves and vest temperatures. Nice to know I could concentrate and comfortably put out 125 miles in under 8 hours.  Last weekend’s 300k? The opposite. It’s going to get its own post because it was a wake-up call about all that can happen when on your bike all day…

Note that Spring is only 3.5 weeks away! I hope all of you, no matter what your interests are, are out there getting ready to do what you do. Remember, Demand the Impossible!

What I’m looking at today:

Banksy is in LA and killing it.

-My friend Dan Koeppel wrote about Andrew Skurka circling Alaska, 4679 miles, by foot, raft and skis in National Geographic.

A journalist called the Union-busting Wisconsin Governor and pretended to be David Koch to see what he had to say. I love a political prank!

-I also love quotes and here’s a collection on Vegan Activist.

How to make kale chips!

And since I referenced Public Enemy in the title, I’ll end with them:





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6 responses to “Base! How low can you go? Or, why you should ride brevets.

  1. Pingback: The high cost of traffic deaths, a possible 3-foot passing bill and ride with Bicycle Fixation on Sunday « BikingInLA

  2. You met Ann Trason! I am starstruck and jealous and demand more details on your encounter!

    • Ha! I realized that morning that I didn’t know much about what she
      looks like. But, as luck would have it, she was signing in right
      before me. As the ride started I built up some courage to speak with
      her and she was shocked that I knew who she was and even cared. I told her that I was just getting into ultra-running and she warmed up to me. I told her that her racing and life have motivated people I know to run more and thanked her. Then wished her a great ride! It was very cool.

  3. Pingback: Sometimes the lessons fall from the sky: the Corona 300k | True Love Health

  4. Great post Matt. Brevets seem like more fun than training that’s for sure.