I just completed my 200 km brevet ride last Sunday i.e. 4th November 2018. In this article, I would take you through my journey of preparing and completing my 200 km brevet ride. First, let’s get familiar with few terminologies which will come in handy in understanding the concept of brevets. This article is an extension of my previous article about long-distance cycling. Let me also shed light on Audax India, the body that organizes these rides. I would also mention how to recover from a 200 km brevet ride. A 200 km cycle ride is easy if you prepare for it and layout a strategy for yourself. We will also look at the 200 km brevet time limit set by Audax.
Note: Daily running can boost your stamina for long-distance cycling.
Few Important Terms
What is Audax India? Audax India is a cycling sport in which participants attempt to cycle long distances within a pre-defined time limit. Audax is not a competitive sport. So all that matters is to complete the distance in a set amount of time.
What are BRM/Brevets? BRM stands for “Brevet des Randonneurs Mondiaux” which is obviously French.
If you translate this in google translator it means “Patent of the world hikers“. In simple terms within Audax India, there are cycling events called BRM. Randonneuring is long-distance Endurance Cycling with rides of 200, 300, 400, 600, and 1000 km called Brevets de Randonneurs Mondiaux (BRMs).
What is Randonneuring? Randonneuring (also known as Audax in the UK, Australia, and Brazil) is a long-distance cycling sport with its origins in audax cycling. In randonneuring, riders attempt courses of 200 km or more, passing through predetermined “controls” (checkpoints) every few tens of kilometers.
Who becomes Super Randonneur? This title is earned by any rider who completes a series of brevets ( 200, 300, 400, and 600 KM) in the same year. A medal is also available for those holding this title. Riders should provide supporting documentation to their brevet organizer, as well as payment.
Check out my Instagram post below.
How did I prepare for 200 Km Brevet?
Nobody just gets off their couch to do a 200 km cycle ride. You need to train to ride long distances, train for power, and train your core. Post the ride you need to recover from a 200 km brevet ride as well. This needs preparation.
Assuming you can ride a maximum distance of 100 kilometers, preparing for your first 200 km cycle ride should take at least 4-8 weeks.
Brevet is not all about cycling and fitness. It requires riders to be mentally strong. An average rider can complete 200 Km Brevet easily. You do not require a great deal of fitness level for a 200 km cycle ride.
All the ride demand is for you to be mentally tough. Although I cycle regularly and once you start cycling regularly brevet becomes easy. However, doing a 20 to 30 KM haul and attempting 200 Km Brevet is another.
I started with a few 50 km rides and slowly and gradually build my stamina for a couple of 100 km rides. This boosted my confidence and I knew that I was ready to do this brevet.
People will tell you to follow strict regimes and diet plan, however this, not a mammoth task as you might imagine. Again stressing that an average fitness person can do this very easily.
Preparing for 200 Km Brevet – 4 tips
An average fitness enthusiast can easily do this challenge. However, you can’t just jump from the bed one fine day and do a 200 km cycle ride if you are a beginner. Give yourself time, I prepared myself for one complete month before taking up this brevet challenge. For beginners, I would suggest getting into a long-haul cycling routine at least two months before the brevet. This would help your body to cope up with the physical stress.
Plan a Strategy
Usually, the authorized representative from Audax India in your city will have the planning done before even Audax opens the registration. For e.g. I knew the route already before I registered. We were supposed to go to Kishangarh and then head back to Jaipur.
A route that was effectively planned by the Audax marshals. They planned it through “ridewithgps“. The route was well planned and had a clear explanation and marking of control points throughout the route.
Now, if you are a regular cyclist and if you are doing 200 Km Brevet with a group, you might have to keep a check on your speed. I was averaging 30 km/hour before I had few flats. Assume an average speed of 22 km/hour (14mph) for a group of riders, and calculate the total time of riding the planned route.
Plan a rest stop approximately for every 1.5 hours of riding, with minimum of 10 minutes of rest time per stop. Add one big rest stop of 20 minutes for lunch and stretching in the middle of the ride. Add up the total time of riding the route, rests, and lunch.
Then add 1 hour of spare time for mechanical, longer rests, and unforeseen problems. The total time is the most probable time of completing your long ride.
Prepare your mind
I realized that more than physical preparation, you need to prepare yourself mentally for this gruesome challenge. 200 km brevet time limit is 13:30 hours. You need to finish the ride in the time allotted to you. In my 200 km brevet, my body was in auto mode pedaling continuously. The challenge was to fight the boredom. An idle mind can be a deterrent to your success since it’s very easy to start thinking about how much more you have to ride, how tired you are, how boring this stretch of road is.
To keep my mind occupied I did below mentioned things (Few of them are hilarious)
- Keep talking to other participants in the brevets.
- Analyze the road quality and look for optimal safe lines for your wheels. (White lines on the highways)
- Be extra cautious and pay attention to the traffic, this isn’t Europe where cyclists are given a priority on roads.
- Look at the little details like trees, bushes, insects. This is especially helpful on a long route. Think of something which fascinates you. (if you know what I mean :))
- Think and visualize your next stop point and keep at least a distance of 50 km between stops.
- Listen to music but at low volume and with one earbud only. (This is quite unsafe, so avoid it if possible)
Prepare for unwanted stops and mechanical failures
Even though the 200 km brevet time limit is 13:30 hours but still there are bottlenecks that can prevent you from timely completion of the ride. This is by far the most important part when it comes to ultra-cycling. You need to have your bike in top condition. You need to set up your bike, clothing, tools, food, spares, etc. Let’s talk about these things one by one. Road bikes are quite unpredictable when it comes to flat tires and mechanical failures when you ride on Indian roads.
About your bike and other essentials
Now when we have done preparing our mind and stops on our route the next thing which comes is the selection of your bike and what to carry on the ride.
200 km brevet or for that matter any brevet can be done on any type of human powered bike. It can be a Road bike (Which is easiest), it can be a Hybrid bike (A little tough) and a mountain terrain bike. (Toughest)
It all depends on the fitness state of the participants and the rider’s mental strength. I did this on a road bike equipped with hybrid bike tires. (Polygon Stratos S2) It’s ideal to train on the same bike that you’ll be riding on the long ride. Your body will adjust to the bike, and you’ll have time to adjust everything to work as well as it should.
Your bike should be well fitted, and you shouldn’t have any pain during riding. Just make sure that whichever bike you ride, at the time of purchase make sure that the bike shop does a proper bike fit for you. If you don’t like to fiddle with the bike, every decent bike shop will be able to do a good bike fit for you.
Service the bike
I talked with a lot of riders, a day before the ride started. Most of them got their bike services a week before the ride. That way they can take care of any adjustments that they might identify during the test rides.
Check that the wheels are ok, tires and tubes are in good condition (or replace them), check and service or replace cables and brake pads if the worn, chain is in good condition, etc. Most of the rides say a big “NO” for getting the bike serviced a day or two before the ride. Not recommended!
Ride in the same bib shorts and cycling jersey that you trained in, even if old, you are comfortable in them. Plan to carry a base layer and a foldable rain jacket in one of your pockets, so that you can layer if you get hit by cold or rain. Carry an extra pair of socks in a zip lock bag – after a rain, put on dry socks, then the plastic bag over the dry socks and the wet socks over the bag.
This way your feet will be dry and you’ll be able to continue riding. Helmet and cycling eyewear goes without saying, no need to describe them. Most important, please wear a reflector jacket or a reflector belt, always remember safety comes first.
Food and liquids
You need to keep yourself hydrated. Carry two water bottles and a spare one in your backpack if you can keep one. I carried two water bottles. Plan to have a small sandwich/fruit every hour. You should carry enough stuff for the first 4 hours, then you can replenish at control points along the way. In the 200 km brevet, we control point at 50 km, and then at 100 km, we got plenty of hydration support and refreshments. Remember that you need to recover from a 200 km brevet the next day as well. Being hydrated helps a lot.
Audax India marshals are helpful at control points only as this is a self-supported ride.
Spares and tools
Carry two tubes and a portable pump. A portable toolkit with a chain breaker is a must. Learn how to break and connect a chain with your chain breaker ahead, practice on any old and discarded chain.
Have a front (white) and rear (red) light on your bike, with fresh batteries. Also, you need to have your rider number properly displayed at the front and back. I had two flats while coming back from the 100 km control point. Luckily the riders on the way had pumps to fill the air and puncture kit.
My biggest mistake was not to take these essentials things. In my next BRM of 300 KM, I carried all these essentials things.
Other Important Stuff
Money and ID, several strips of adhesive bandages, 4-6 pain pills (ibuprofen or similar), glucose tablets. ORS and electoral packet are essentials too. Magnesium powder packets are good for preventing the onset of cramps.
I carried my cell phone to record my ride on STRAVA. I will also recommend keeping a battery bank to charge your cell phone in case it runs out of juice. My GoPro was my companion along with other riders, which I charged with the battery bank that I carried.
What is the 200 km brevet time limit?
200 km brevet time limit as per Audax is 13 hours and 30 minutes in total. So you need to make sure that you complete the 200 Km cycle ride within this stipulated time frame else you would stand as DNF. DNF is an acronym for did not finish is event terminology. I complete it in approximately 11 hours coz I had a few flats on the way back.
How to recover from a 200 km brevet?
Recovering from a 200 km brevet is easy. Although it does not strain like the other brevets like 300 KM, 400 KM, or 600 KM and above, it surely gives some soreness & pain in your legs. If you are not used to long-distance cycling then it could be a problem and create un-easiness the next day. I would advise you to ignore the pain and for a short ride of 30 to 40 KM. I did the same and post my ride I was feeling wonderful. The logic is the same when you go to a gym and do heavy exercises after warm-up, your body needs to warm down as well. This is why we have warm down exercises in place. Similarly, you need to recover from a 200 km brevet as well.
So that was everything about the 200 km cycle ride that I attempted and completed. Always remember brevets or for that matter, any long-distance cycling is not about how amazingly fit you are but about how strong is your will to complete the ride.
If you have any questions related to the 200 km brevet time, recover from a 200 km brevet or Audax India, please leave them in the comments. I will get back to you as soon as possible.