Sunday, April 08, 2012

The Singing Dynamo Hub

Rain and cold on the 300.

I'm finally posting Gentle Readers of This Blog--the 300 didn't go as planned for me I'm afraid. Possibly I could have made it but with the rain and cold, and hypothermia coming on--I had to DNF late in the ride in the middle of the night.

I got lucky and had an escape plan that worked--this time. But I have to say this was a hard brevet for me. Pretty much the first 15 to 20 miles were okay. I was with the group and when we started to spread out, I could see everyone up ahead so I felt good. The roads were pretty much deserted--fast and smooth rollers endlessly in front of me.

Wind and dark clouds soon arrived--with lightening too--and all of were caught off guard because within seconds a down-pour soaked us--soaked me before I could dismount and get on my rain gear. That was the tough part, mes amis--having all my gear wet so early. I'm glad I brought everything really because I almost left stuff behind--booties and rain pants--things that I bought early in December and January for just this kind of brevet. I was carrying what seemed like a ton of stuff--and I would use all of it...

I really will consider building a brevet bike. Fenders would have been a big help to me. Oh and on some fast rollers with the group, I hit a bump and one of my water bottles flew out and rolled into the high grass. I did not stop to retrieve it as I wanted to stay with everyone--plus I had packed an extra in the Carridice bag just in case.

Pretty much the ride was a slog in heavy rain. The route was remote and scenic, through rich green farmland--best I've ever seen. But the miles took their toll--and I just want to say that, again--I felt that the cue sheet was kind of vague--as I got lost a few times--and rode way off course and had to back-track. It didn't help that I was cold, tired--and probably confused and not thinking clearly.

Totally lost with cold and darkness setting in, I weighed my options and made a call to Ricky to come fetch me in Marshall Missouri. The thing was, Gentle Reader, is that I was so off-course that the cue sheet really would be of no use--I pretty much rode to the what I figured was Marshall, MO as I could see the city lights reflecting on the clouds lumbering above that locale. I have to tell you it was a cold long lonely ride. Man, I was so tired too...

Ricky and I made it to that fair city within minutes of each other--about two hours from when I called him. I had ridden almost 50 miles more than where I would be on the cue sheet. I just wanted to get the hell outta there--I was wet, frozen, and exhausted.

Schmidt Dynamo Hub and light set up for the 300.

I wanted to let you know that out on a test ride, I started to hear a click up front. I thought it could be the hub going out, and this really worried me because I had phoned up Peter White Cycles in Vermont, and talked a few minutes with Linda when I was ordering replacement bulbs for my light. I had wondered if I should need to send them the hub and have them service it--but Linda said only if I started to hear a grinding sound. Well I wasn't sure and I called her right away when I had the chance. Also want to tell you when I got the replacement bulbs--I ordered five--the first one I tried with the Dynamo flared and burned out. With only a few days before the ride, I was worried I'd have no hub--or it would go out. So after calling Peter White Cycles again, and talking to Linda--and she talking to one of the mechanics there--they thought it could be the spokes and to get them checked-out.

This position worked well for me--really was trail and error to get just the right beam the way I liked on the road mes amis.

Sure enough later after work, Chad at the local bike shop found the problem--but the real diagnosis was that the wheel was shot. He spent 20 minutes working away, trying to get the spokes tight. The wheel was true but pretty beat up. Would it last a 300? Not sure and only one way to find out.

I can report that the Lumotec worked fantastic on the road, and the hub was the least of my worries--but it creaked, clicked, and moaned on those mile I rode. Sometimes it was like riding by a house and hearing people talking on their porch outside in the cool air. Other times the sound was like a hum or someone singing silently to their self. It was eerie a few times in the middle of the night on a dark rolling road in the country.

I still use the bulbs and don't have LED yet, but even in the worst conditions, this light with the hub is extremely reliable--and it was bright. A bit about my hub--it was given to me by the legendary Randonneur, Gerry Goode, of Boston Massachusetts. The hub and the wheel had seen many brevets and was used at least twice for PBP and who knows how many times for BMB. With all these miles on the wheel, well time to have another built (being built as I write) and the hub, from what Linda tells me, will last from many more years.

Riding over the Missouri River into Glasgow, Missouri.

I photographed the bridge going over the Missouri River and going right into the town of Glasgow. From here I'd have 14 miles to Fayatte, MO for the turn around and controle at mile 97 (which would be mile 107 for me because of a missed turn and back-track in the town of Slater...)

Captains Lewis and Clark and the Voyage of Discovery crew stopped here in 1802.

Glory Days.

I will say that the small towns in Missouri seem to be fairing much better than the ones I've seen in Kansas. The landscape was rich and beautiful (when the rain let up a few hours anyway) and as you can see, the people that farmed this land prospered. I believe there will soon be a shift back to the more organic farm, and the greedy, poisonous way corporate farms do business will not be tolerated by consumers much longer.

Trying to dry out my clothes--but not much luck.

So I have been wondering if this brevet riding is worth it, Gentle Readers of This Blog. But really, the problem was not my fitness level or my gear--it was logistical. Problems with cue sheet and missed turns--also weather. I really believe its time to build up a brevet bike with fenders, etc. That could have helped me more. I also believe that I will attempt the 400 on April 28th. Then the 600 in May 12th. After Little Egypt has comes home for R and R--and then heads back to Kuwait, I can try and make up a 300 in Iowa later in mid-June.

Cheers! Bruce


Dan Trued said...

There is nothing more interesting than to read a brevet report. It looks like you got all three of the threats, weather, equipment, and map problems. On the Tombstone 600 I guess they got snow, people frozen too, from what I read. I've read those rollers can really give you a beating after awhile. Good luck on the next one,

Bruce's Bike Blog said...

Hi Dan,

I still wonder if I should have tried to make it to next controle--it would have been close. At least I didn't see a tornado--some of the guys talked about being out and seeing one coming down the road at 'em... How come the weather's always so nice--even in Tucson--and then come brevet time everything goes nuts?

Cheers! Bruce