יום ראשון, 26 באוקטובר 2014

177. Ride Report Israeli Brevet 1200 Pre-Ride

Ride report of the 1200 km pre-ride.

A note to the reader:
This ride report is written a little differently than the other ride reports in this blog, as it's used as a route check, and the info here should be useful for anyone who'll ride on the official date.
This will make this post exceptionally long. You have been warned! :-)

This brevet was held exactly one week before the official date of the 1200 km brevet.
It was meant for Israeli riders (who will support riders coming from abroad for the official ride,) and riders who preferred this date.
In light of this, there are a few changes between the two ride:
There's no water supply between convenience stores (the official ride will have pre determined water supply places.)
No food is given in Shizafon Junction (the official ride will have food supply there during restaurant closing times.)
And there's no bag drop service to the sleep control.
As I see it, these differences add 2-5 hours to the ride time, because of the extra weight, and the need to "take care of oneself" (like, for example, PBP with or without support vehicle.)

6 riders registered to this ride: The Israelis Udy, Shuki, Assaf, Itsik, and myself, and Akos who came from Hungary.

We all met at the pre-ride dinner.
I estimated we'll be twice as many as the riders, but we were 3 times as much.
Family members of the riders came, as well as people related to the Israeli randonneuring scene. Especially riders who rode brevet in 2014, but also those who last rode before PBP 2007, and they still have a soft spot.

Itsik was supposed to start at 05:00 the next day, so we were 5 riders on the start line.
There were more than 10 cameras there as well. :-)

I led a slow start in the park bike paths, mainly due to riders without much experience in the park bike paths, where one needs to avoid pedestrians, electric bikes ridden by kids under the age of a driving license, etc...

On the night of the official ride there's also the yearly Tel Aviv 10 K Night Run.
There's no overlap between the routes, but the park may be crowded with runners who finished their run (which starts 2 hours before this brevet.)

Udy, as usual, starts slowly (but accelerates later, until he reaches, or passes us) and asked whether we'll stop at Lehavot Haviva at 63 km.
I said maybe before, but "we'll know when we get nearer."
When we neared Lehavot Haviva I asked the other riders whether they have water and food so we could continue on, and all sayd "yes."
A little before Karkur Junction I felt hungry, and thought about the pastry house in Hana Junction at 73 km.
We could stop there before the control in Caesarea, or after (or both...)
I asked the others, and some said they'd be happy to stop for some food now. We stopped. Udy went by, and I called him, and he returned, and walked in with us.
Akos said "this is a perfect stop for the hungry rider" and he was right.

We all arrived at the Caesarea control together. The wall was lit, and it was a nice surprise (in an earlier ride there one night, the wall wasn't lit.)
But while we were there the lights went out, so I guess we were there at the right time.

No need to mention we stopped again in Hana Junction at 97 km, for some more pastries. :-)

I was most worried traffic wise, because of the section between Nizanei Oz and Einat.
But we were there at night, so there wasn't any problem.

However, we reached Kesem Interchange at 158 km at daytime, and there was heavy traffic there.
I thought we'd stop in the big store in Einat, but it was closed, so we had to make do with the small store in the fuel station.
I hope it will suffice all the riders. Maybe they should stop before, say from Kfar Sava and south.

Towards Modiim Junction (168 km) Akos said he's tired and wants to sleep, so I pointed to a location I thought was suitable, and I also gave him an alternative if the first place won't work. We said goodbye.
The 4 Israelis stopped for water in Nachshon Junction (190 km.)
Until the control in HaEla Junction a gap has opened from Udy who was behind, but we all met in the control.
When we were about to leave Akos arrived. I was relieved. :-)
I told him we're about to leave, and if he'd do it quickly we could all leave together. He said he needed some time, and we shouldn't wait. Udy said he'll wait a little longer, and that they'll leave together.
We said goodbye, and continued 3 together: Shuki, Assaf, and me.

We stopped in Nehora (249 km) for water.
We stopped too long for my taste at the Kama control, but I wasn't worried about the time. When we left, Udy and Akos haven't arrived yet.
I talked with Udy, who said they suffered from several punctures.
When we reached Gilat Junction, Udy called and said they only have one inner tube left. I hid one of my tubes at the side of the road for them to pick up.

We stopped at Urim (315 km) for water. I noticed they have tubes and told Udy, so they could buy when they get there.
We passed Zeelim Ford slowly, and didn't stop in Mashabim.
We rode the section between Tlalim and Halukim at "personal pace," and I was in a hurry, to get the room key.

We were ok with the time, and we slept for 2 hours (my original plan was to sleep longer on the next time we're there, after Massada and the Dead Sea.)
Udy and Akos were still asleep when we left, and preferred to keep sleeping, then to leave with us.
We stopped in Dimona (420 km) for water. I bought a "meal" of sandwich and 500 cc soft drink bottle, and kept the empty bottle in my bag.

At Zohar Junction (476 km) we stopped again, and I bought another sandwich and 500 cc soft drink bottle, and kept the empty bottle in my bag.

We reached Massada more than an hour before sunrise, and the place was full of school kids that were getting ready to climb and see the sunrise from the top.
They left soon after our arrival, and I said we have a few minutes to sleep while it's still dark, before sunrise.
A little before sunrise I woke Shuki and Assaf, and we continued riding.

We had 120 km till the next control in Sde Boker, and more than 100 hours in our hands, so I didn't fear we'll miss it.
Before we left I talked with Udy, that said that Akos is suffering from the heat.
Diki is the Reports Controller in this brevet, but he's abroad at the moment, so I called Menashe, and explained him the situation of Akos and Udy.
We decided that the controls closing times are advisory and will not be enforced, but the 90 hours limit still stands.
It's a common decision that is sometimes taken in the long brevets, even PBP.
(Other long brevets also add a few hours to the time limit.)

I talked with Udy, who said that he went to sleep about 0 km from Massadam and Akos stopped a little earlier.

The next place I knew we'll have water was Zafit Junction, 62 km which includes the long ride to Hatrurim (I believe it's the hardest climb in this ride,) and a long gentle ascent between Zafit and Hatrurim.
So, upon exiting Massada, I carried 4 liters of water.

I talked with Itsik who said he DNF'd.

On the way south from Massada I met Akos going north to the control. We stopped and chatted a little.
He didn't see Udy (probably went past him while Udy was still sleeping,) and I told him not enforcing control closing times.

Near Ein Bokek I met Udy standing by his bike facing south (he was supposed to be facing north, towards the control in Massada...)
He said he had too many puctures for this ride to continue being fun, and he's DNF'ing. I was sorry, and we said goodbye.

Shuki started the climb from Zohar to Hatrurim slowly. When I got to the top I knew it will take some time until he arrives, and I found a place to rest.
Until he arrived, and we left, it's been more than an hour.

At Zafit Junction I waited with Assaf for Shuki, to direct him to the water faucet.
We waited more than 15 minutes for him.

I rode fast between Zafit and Rotem, and as I feared - there was headwind in the Big Crater.
On the climb out of the Big Crater I walked. Twice.
From the top I saw Assaf starting to climb and shouted him to look for me in a restaurant in Yeroham. I didn't see Shuki.

I found a Schwarma place, and stopped there. There was a queue, and by the time I was at the front, Assaf arrived.
When we sat down to eat we saw Shuki coming, and there was no queue, so we all left together, to sleep in Sde Boker.

The section between Sde Boker 1, Massada, and Sde Boker 2 took a lot longer than I expected, so I said we only have 2 hours to sleep (and not 4 according to the original plan.)
Instead of sleeping, I had "errands" (mostly phone calls and texts about this and next week's rides.)
When the alarm went off, I said I'll stay for another hour. Assaf and Shuki were happy about my "decision" and decided to stay another hour as well.

Shuki told Assaf that his back is aching, and whether he has any ideas. Assaf suggested a few exercises, and Shuki said he was feeling better.

When we left Akos was still there, sleeping, and we asked him, he preferred to continue sleeping in a bed.

We rode together till Shizafon (740 km) where we slept a little, and continued together.
Assaf said he's answering a "nature's call" and Shuki and me kept on going.

Some of the signs around that area contain numbers, usually short, but one sign had a long number.
Shuki laughed and said "look at that funny number." I asked what was funny about that number? and he replied: "it's long."
I explained him about "Teaspoon State." :-)
("Teaspoon State", in Hebrew slang, is the state you're in that even saying "teaspoon" makes you laugh as if it was a really funny joke.)

A little later, Shuki said he wants to sleep a little and we stopped.
Assaf arrived, and we waited a few minutes until Shuki was up, and we all continued together.

In the Eilat Mountains we split. Descending to Eilat I though a little, and realized that since 2007 we didn't have any brevet reaching Eilat.
Our Brevet 400 starts in Eilat, but no other brevet is arriving in Eilat, or even passing through it.
I wonder why... ;-)

Until the others arrived I bought some food in a nearby store (pita breads, hummus, tahini, pastrami, prunes.)
The pita breads were very dry, and so were the prunes. Really dry and hard, and didn't taste too good (I thought of taking some in my pocket, but decided against it, and threw the rest.)

From here is a section I never ridden in this direction: From Eilat, through Ktora, to Shizafon.
I rode it on the other side in the past, and even drove a car in both directions.
In any case, this route is shorter, and has a lot less climbs, than the other way, through Netafim.

Exiting Eilat we had, as expected, headwind. It was pretty strong, and we rode slowly.
Assaf was first, I was a little behind, and Shuki was on my wheel.
While still in town, I heard a puncture sound from my front wheel.
A few of the metal wires were torn. I put a tire boot, and we continued.
I couldn't catch Assaf till Yotvata (853 km,) but we met there.

Assaf left a few minutes before us, but we caught up with him even before Ktora.

The ascent there is short, but steep. I was first on the road, and walked.
I arrived in Shizafon (876 km) after the restaurant's closing time at 15:00. I was lucky they let me fill my water bottles.

By the time Shuki arrived in Shizafon I had about 5 minutes sleep (I wanted 15, but something woke me.)
Assaf left a few minutes before us, and Shuki wan hanging on my rear wheel in the headwind we had there.
By the time we arrived at Zihor Junction the headwind stopped, and the small hills on the way to the Meishar started.

Shuki rode there slowly, and I couldn't make the photo op from the top of Paran Ascent in time. Not enough light. :-(
I rode fast through the Meishar. I didn't check, but I think it was the fastest I ever rode there.
When I reached the top of Shdema Ascent I stopped to sleep a little, until Shuki arrives.
I didn't sleep enough, but woke up when Shuki arrived, and we continued together.
Inside Ramon Crater I told Shuki I was stopping for some more sleep, and slept 10 minutes. He continued.
I caught him at the entrance to the fuel station in Mizpe Ramon (962 km.)

When we reached Sde Boker, Assaf was still awake. We slept a little more than 2 hours, and left 2 hours after the control closing time.

It was the middle of the night when we left Sde Boker, and we didn't stop for water until Urim (1063 km.)
Before we reached Urim I said I had an idea for a new dish (in brevets! I don't claim inventing this dish, because we ate it in the last millennium...) cake dipped in latter. Done. :-)

Exiting Urim Shuki said it's hard for him to keep his head up. One look was enough to decide: he suffers from Shermer's Neck.
To my knowledge, it's the first time someone suffers from it in a brevet in Israel.
Therefore, we changed strategy:
Assaf rode first, Shuki on his wheel (he couldn't see more than 2-3 meters ahead,) and my behind and sometimes on the side of Shuki, supporting him or pushing him so he doesn't get too far behind Assaf.

Shuki couldn't see Assaf's signals, so we invented a shouting code:
"Right" or "Left" means there's something on that side (like pointing) with no details.
"To the right" or "To the left" means move a little to that side (like pointing behind the back,) e.g. if a sidewalk invades the road.
And that's on top of the usual "Stop", "Red Light", "Slowing", etc.

We rode 15 km like that till HaNasi Junction, where Shuki asked to stop and do some of Assaf's exercises, and Assaf continued.
I stayed with Shuki until he finished the exercises, and we continued together.
The road had a good surface, and Shuki was able to get by himself, so I left him and continued in my own pace, until I caught Assaf and we rode together to the control in Kama.

Shuki was first out of the control in Kama, but we saw him stopping for more exercise in a bus stop.
A little later, Assaf stopped for a call of nature, and I stayed alone.
I accelerated, and rode my own pace, until the last control in Nachshon Junction, where I waited for the others to arrive.
Assaf arrived more than 30 minutes behind me, and Shuki another 15 minutes behind him.

We left Nachshon with only 45 km left to the finish, which is lower, no headwind, and 4 hours.
Exiting Nachshon Assaf said that his knee started aching, so we slowed down.
So Assaf and Shuki rode in the same pace, and I stayed with them.
We rode about 14-16 km/h most of the way. They couldn't ride any faster.
We reached Tel Aviv in the afternoon, and there was a lot of traffic in the streets, so we rode on the bike path on the side walk from Kaplan Street till the middle of Ibn Gvirol Street.

At the finish line there were several relatives of Assaf and Shuki, and there was a big mess. :-)
Truth be told - An honorable achievement.