Monday, June 27, 2011

Completing the brevet series with an interesting 200k ride, to become a super randonneur

I had earlier completed the other brevet rides of lengths 300km, 400km and 600km (much to my own surprise) but the 200km one was the only one I missed. So when another chance was given, i tried to do that one too, so that I would be completing the series of four rides in the same season, after which one becomes a 'super randonneur'.
(To know a bit about what's a brevet, here are two excellent links 
Brevet medals
On becoming a super randonneur)

The interesting 200k story: 

Of all the four brevet rides, the 200km one (the easiest of the four and thus the most boring one) turned out to be the most interesting because I had a tire burst, and I fixed it myself with junk from the road side, in true self-supported randonneuring manner!!!

I started off a little leisurely, at 6:25 am (the departure time of the starting point control was 6 am to 7 am). I was really really bored, nothing exciting at all, just a seemingly boring anti-climatic 200km ride after doing the other larger rides. (But I had to do this one to become a 'super randonneur').

The nasty tyre gash before I attempted to boot it

Very soon, at around 8:30 am the bike started wobbling periodically - i looked down - the road was smooth. I knew periodic wobbles mean something wrong with the bike rather than the road. (see Sheldon Brown: Creaks, Clicks & Clunks... ...and things that go "bump" on your bike.) Just as i feared something, and looked at the rear wheel, there was a loud 'pop' and I had my tyre burst!
I was not carrying a spare tyre, although i was carrying the usual puncture kit, spare tubes, etc and even a whole spare chain with missing links, taken off from my MTB, ha ha :).

About tires: Tires are not just about the rubber. It's actually a tough fabric casing coated with rubber. The tube inside would simple swell and burst like a balloon without the tough fabric casing embedded in the tire.

So although I had a spare tube and puncture repair kit, I could not simply put a new tube inside, for on pumping it would pop too, out of the gash in the tyre.

So I almost decided to quit, casually, and tried walking until the next bus stop to carry my bike back home. But then I met other riders who passed by, and one of them suggested i place a piece of tough material under the gash, like a piece of toothpaste tube, etc, something that wouldn't stretch. I called my buddy Sreepathi and he suggested booting the tire too.

Then I told them all to continue and I was alone.

I suddenly realized "self-supported" (brevet) is another name for DIY (see My DIY blog) and I perked up. I had noticed a lot of junk on the roadside while trying to walk my bike to a bus stop. So I started hunting for scrap material I could use. After some searching i found something that wouldn't stretch much at all, and felt ideal!! An old leather glove!

I found this old glove. If you look carefully, you can see it's showing the victory sign he he
So then I bought a shaving razor from a shack and neatly cut out a carefully measured piece.

I cut out a piece from the blade, it's on the rock - see?
Road bike tires are often pumped to 100psi - that's 100 pounds of weight acting on every square inch of tire material!!! So I made sure the rectangular piece was long enough to go well beyond the gash on either side, and prayed it wouldn't pop out after pumping the tube up and me sitting on the bike.

Luckily, it did hold, and I did about a whole 150+km more, of the rest of the ride !!!

I thankfully reached the turn around control point well within time. There I met Sandeep and Vinay who are my usual nice riding buddies and good friends.
Sandeep was on the return journey of his 600km brevet. He had not much sleep last night and took little naps, while we waited for him. We had plenty of time to complete the ride!

The sight of Sandeep napping like a new born baby (he was returning with us from a 600km ride) certainly perked my spirits higher up than they already were :D

As we had plenty of time, we had a lovely relaxed ride back. The weather was excellent! Lovely drizzles of rain now and then, and lots of road-side food pitstops :D

That's Vinay, and me the blue one. At the jackfruit stop.
We passed by another person (i forgot to ask his name!) fixing a flat and had another nice chat. I pointed at the 'spare tires' hanging from the trees behind and we all had another good laugh!

And we also finished the excess jackfruit we carried from the last jackfruit stop.

The blue thing is me, that's the only way i could put all three of us in the picture :)

This is how the gash looked at this point:

I was always hoping the booted tire would hold until i completed the 200km ride, and thankfully it did. And now I complete the Super Randonneur series.
It was really really fun!! Nice friends, a relaxed return ride with plenty of time left, brilliant weather, and an exciting gash :D


  1. Wow! thats a Biiiiiig gash! Nice to know booting works so awesome

  2. Hey!
    I thought u would hitch hike back to B'lore...
    Too gud to see you at the turning point.. :)
    Hope to ride again together sometime..

  3. Wonderful to know you did it in style.
    Congrats Super Randonneur Gokul, way to go!!!


  4. Wonderful stuff dude! Too bad we couldn't meet anywhere.

  5. Fantastic. I remember seeing you and hearing the experience in the 107KM control. Man, doing the DIY during a brevet run itself is tough. And here you have did along with illustrations and pictures :) Gr8 going buddy...

  6. thanks you balu, krv, abhirama, maheshwaran. I still don't know who exactly you all are from the names in the comments, though :(.....

  7. Great stuff on DIY Gokul.. A few would ever even attempt a repair of such a gash. An example of results of perseverance.. I think you are the part of CW and also known as Yehuda moon.. Is that right ?

  8. yes that's right ganzy boy, i joined cw recently, and i'm not really supposed to be known as yehuda moon cause i only used that name in my fb account, since i don't trust FB, but still had to join it just to watch the CW stuff posted in it.)
    It's just some arbitrary name. Call me gokul.