PBP Qualifiers

Published on April 21st, 2019 | by Admin


Murcia 400k BRM – 16th April

I set my alarm for 4am, to leave the hotel at 4.30am. Everything was prepared the night before; lights on bikes, garmin, drinks bottles. Only thing left to do was to get my sandwiches and bananas out of the fridge.

I met Tony in the lobby where our bikes were stored. I connected my battery for my lights and off we went at 4.30am.

The bike shop where we were due to start was closed obviously and Juan Pedro, the organiser, set about giving out Brevet cards in the darkness. There were 23 of us. He took a photo of the group and soon after 5am we were on our way.

All of the Murcia Randonneur riders are much faster than us. They can average 28.5 kph on a 400 km ride with 10% climbing!

Shortly after the start we could hear sirens. It seemed to take ages for the two fire engines to pass us. It was quite eerie in the darkness as we singled out, realising that not too far away, someone was in trouble.

It was good to stay with the group to get out and around the city but shortly after the fire engine episode the group started to fragment.

We made it to our first control in La Romana after 65 kms without any incidents and got our cards stamped at the garage.  We met up with four other brevet riders but they were nearly ready to leave as we arrived.  A quick loo stop, a coffee for Tony, a quick bite and we were off again.

Onward and upward to the 2nd control in Fortuna.  We stopped at a bar where we could see other brevet riders, only to be told that it wasn´t the control!  I ran across the road to the Ferretaría (DIY shop) to get our cards stamped, whilst Tony ordered some drinks. It had started to warm up, so before setting off again, we removed some clothing.

Our 3rd control at 202 kms was at Montealegre Del Castillo.  We knew we had to take on “real” food here and so we stopped in a bar to eat some pasta.

Feeling a little more refreshed we set off again for what was supposed to be our easy 100 kms, only to be met by a headwind from hell.  I felt deflated as I had hoped we could have got through this third 100 kms with a little more ease.  Tony was a trooper as he took on the headwind and I tried to tuck in behind.

Just before our fourth control at Ontur (229kms), we met up with the same four guys again.  This was lucky as we were able to take each others photos as proof of control, as nowhere was open in Ontur.  Upon leaving Ontur we cycled with the guys but with the ascent and headwind, I found their pace a little too fast.  So we were on our own again to battle on.

After control five in Jumilla, we turned slightly for a short while and so instead of having a direct headwind, we had a side wind.

Just before control six at Calasparra, we had to stop to put our lights on.  Here we had a 40 minute stop.  We drank coffee and had a bocadillo of serrano ham and tomato.  At this point I applied halibut cream to my derrier!

We were on the last 100 kms in the dark and with still a lot of climbing to be done and the dreaded headwind.  Also it had become much cooler.  Onward and upward and upward.

We turned off the main road and in the dark I wasn´t sure where we were but the road surface was awful.  After more climbing I realised we were climbing up to Sierra Espuña.  The surface was terrible for the climb and even worse for the descent, which we couldný enjoy because of all the potholes.

We took photos of the Alhama sign as proof of control number 7.

By this time I was feeling very tired and during the last 50 kms I encountered a couple of ten minute periods when I wanted to go to sleep. These periods can be seen via my heart rate monitor on Strava, as my heart rate dropped dramatically.

The last 10 kms went on and on along a long straight road all the way to the hotel which was the final control. On arriving, I got my card stamped, switched off my garmin and lights, handed my bike to the night porter and said “goodnight” (I think!).  I headed up to my room, took my shorts off and fell asleep straight away.

I´m pleased, so pleased that the 400kms qualifier is done and I have no desire to attempt one again due to the sleep deprivation.

Without my extra drinks of coffee and two aspirins with caffeine, I think I would have literally fallen asleep on my bike!


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