PA Randonneurs: New Bleu Redeux 400k Brevet

The PA series 400k started at the Flint Hill Farm. It passed through Wind Gap, Fort Indiantown Gap, Lancaster County, and Phoenixville before reaching the farm again. Unfortunately, the weatherman fooled me this time. The day started in a cool blanket of fog obscuring mountain views and misting my camera lens, giving the ride a different feel than the last brevet. As I pedaled, the sweet smell of honeysuckle made me look for the white trumpets on nearby shrubs alongside ditches and fields.

The light spring rain on the manure-speckled rural roads occasionally resulted in a brown mist from my front tires spraying onto my water bottles. Fenders would have been wise, but I survived by squirting a little E. coli-tainted water into the ditch to clear the nozzle before drinking.

I started to hear a creaking/snapping sound from "somewhere" on the bike about 65 miles into the ride. I'd heard other noises from the bike on past brevets and had been trying to chase down the offending part for weeks. My seat post had been regreased, the saddle rails cleaned, and just about everything I could think of had been checked. But, on this brevet, the sound was the worst it had ever been, and I started to wonder if something was going to snap off. I eventually narrowed the racket to the rear wheel but ignored it and hoped for the best. However, a post-ride inspection revealed that the noise was probably caused by the expulsion of rust from a dry freehub accumulating on the spoke-hub interface. Servicing the freehub and cleaning up the hub resulted in a happy wheel and new mechanical know-how for me.

A big part of these rides is the pre-ride preparation. I have a lengthy checklist of items to ensure I've packed and maintenance tasks to ensure I am prepared. For example, the toolbag needs spares of such and such; the batteries for the phone, GPS, and lights need to be charged; the chain needs fresh cleaning and lubrication; the weather forecast has to be checked, and I need the proper layers in the bags, etc. One of the tasks is familiarizing myself with the route. For rides in regions I've never ridden, such as this, I could review the cue sheet in detail or virtually ride the ride on Google street view. However, I usually try to get a sense of the general shape of the route and then rely on the GPS and turn-by-turn instructions from my phone. For some reason, my mental model of the route omitted the entire northbound leg after Phoenixville. Once at that control, I thought I was almost done. But there were actually 40 miles and multiple dark climbs left to go. This phenomenon seems to repeat on my rides, regardless of the distance.

I finished back at the farm at about 3:30 am, with (but slightly behind) a cohort of other riders. Again, a quick bite, a couple minutes of chatting, and right through the farm gate to a shower and a waiting bed.

randonneuring PA Randonneurs brevet