Monday, July 12, 2010

Andrey's Amazing 1000K Adventure: Lap of the Lake 2010

The skin on my palms turned into leather. I used the entire chamois cream large tube. It was used on every part of the body, inside gloves, above ears, inside socks and of course most of it went where it is intended to go. On the third day of the ride even it did not help much and I had to stay off the seat for most of the day.

I could not sleep well the night before the ride, plus camping in a tent on an 80 degree night temperature did not help either. 51 riders started the ride at 6 am. To my surprise the pace was very fast as if it were a Sunday group ride. Within the first 15-20 miles, the group started separating into sub-groups of 5-10 people. I was very comfortable travelling in a third group. About 20 riders ahead were just too fast for me (above 20mph) and our group settled into a comfortable pace of 18 mph. At 8 am it was very humid and it felt like the temperature was in the 90s.

Before reaching the first control, I had my first flat and most of the riders passed me while I was trying to insert the valve stem into the rim. Ever tried changing a flat in a shower? That is what it felt like in a 96 deg. humid heat, as the sweat poured down my face and my body. By mile 50 I had 3 flats and I was ready to quit the event. The only hope I had was the bike shop in Oswego that may sell me a new tire and extra tubes, so I could continue the ride. As it turned out, the only tire the bike shop had in 700 sizes suitable to handle a LOL ride was a wire-beaded 700x25 “race lite” tire.

I lost all hope to catch up with any riders, thinking I was the last one, since I lost so much time. Before I reached the second control I had two more flats on the new (!) tire. I still decided to cross the border to Canada, because I did not have any bailout plans. To my surprise I was not the last rider, quite a few people were behind me. Although I think all of them DNFed because of the heat factor on the first day. I could not ride the bridges through the border, since they were way too narrow and I was too wobbly, so I ended up walking them which caused me to cramp up when I got back on the bike again.

I used my last spare tube about 20 miles into Canada. Luckily I was able to ride fast enough to pass some riders and one of them when he caught up with me let me have one of his spares. I also used his HPx pump, since my arm started to cramp up after pumping so many tires with a mini pump. I could not get the pressure high enough with a borrowed pump or maybe just because my arm was tired, but I did not have any flats with softer tire and was able to reach the first sleep stop in Napanee at 2:30 am with a help of McDonald’s cheeseburger.

After sleeping for two hours, taking two showers and installing electric tape under the rim tape of my wheel, I was on the road again. Next morning 3 other riders, Al, Brian and Dan walked into the diner at 8 am where I was having breakfast. RBA Peter Dusel soon joined them, but he was not on the bike any more and now he was in the support car. I rode with Al, Brian and Dan all the way to the finish. We were all rookies at this distance; Brian had only 150 miles as the longest ride before this event. The heat wave passed and Friday presented us with fresh crisp morning air and cloudy skies as we set into Canadian countryside. We could not work together as a group, since Al liked riding on the front all the time and Dan only in the rear. We even finished the ride in this formation.

Around noon it started raining heavily and we spend around 2-3 hours riding in the rain. Brian did not even bring a rain jacket with him and I gave him my arm warmers and vest. At the controls we were catching up with other riders, but they were leaving as we were coming in.        
Riding with a group made me stop thinking about quitting the ride and for the first time I was thinking I might even finish, although some parts of my body were thinking otherwise. At the end of the second day, I was struggling to stay with the group, especially on rolling hills. I realized I had the most gear and the heaviest bike and I was paying for it. I unloaded a lot of stuff including the front bag to the support car that we met at the Bowmanville control.

I soon came up with another reason not to continue the ride since during the process of unloading my stuff, having dinner, stopping at a gas station, etc… I lost my wallet and the brevet card. I thought I had left it in the restaurant on a table, but the plastic bag mysteriously disappeared. I was frustrated but decided to ride anyway, since the group was ready to take off and I needed them to feed me, since I had no money. GPS saved us on the way around Toronto, since there were a lot of turns and everybody was extremely tired to even look at the cue sheet, the spirit of the group was down, since we made one control with only 20 min to spare before it's closing time. We were finally in Toronto at 5 am and decided to meet at 10 am in a hotel lobby and I went to sleep at my friend's house.

The next morning I found my wallet and the brevet card in the bag that I thought I had checked many times the night before and my hopes were back up and we also saw a lot of riders ahead of us leaving the hotel. We filled the Camelbaks and bottles with ice and headed to US boarder at Niagara Falls. We realized that we should start riding faster since skateboarders were passing us on the road laughing at us and the speed we were travelling. Also some shirtless men on mountain bikes passed us effortlessly, but we were enjoying the lake and the beaches at Burlington.

Everybody on the team was very exhausted and we did not even stop at Niagara Falls for sightseeing.  We just went through the customs and crashed for some rest at a fast food joint on the U.S. side.
I lost my team on the way to the next control because of the roadwork on US side of Niagara Falls and ended up riding some “bonus” miles. But I was feeling good and stayed mostly around 20 mph till I reached Olcot. To my surprise I passed my team and saw about 10 rides that were ahead of us at that control. There were a lot of festivities in Olcot with a car show and parade of some kind. There were many nice restaurants right on the shore, but I did not visit a single one, since they were packed, limiting myself to a small “food mart” snack (I paid for this mistake later). I was afraid that my team went back looking for me as I was trying in vain to phone them since I had no reception.

Finally, 45 minutes later they arrived (Brian had a flat) and after a small rest we started the most boring and tiresome section of the ride to Charlotte. Mentally I broke this section into three 20-mile stretches but it did not work well. The road was made out of concrete and had very wide joints that the bike tires hit so hard that I wished for a spring saddle and wide tires. Also this section reminded me of the Taconic parkway with cars flying at 6o mph, but this road surface we were on was in much worse condition. It was getting late and luckily cars were rare.

By the time we reached Rochester I started to bonk. I ate all the remaining two gels and a power bar, but it was not enough. With 20 miles to go to the finish at 1:30 a.m. and no businesses open I felt pretty low and started to wobble. Dan gave me his last Clif bar and I think I ate it with the wrapper. When we rolled in on fumes at 3 a.m. to finish we were greeted with tired applause by the people who finished before us. We were the last riders in, but we still had a lot of time left (75 hours would end at 9 am).

I think I ate all the remaining food on the table, drank a bottle of beer, mumbled something like “thank you” to the organizers and crawled into the tent to sleep, but I was in trouble because of the bonk. I was freezing. I could not find any of my warm clothes, my mind was not working well at that time and I could not concentrate on the issue at hand. I caught myself talking out loud while putting 3 layers of wet cycling clothing on. I think tiredness took its toll and I fell asleep . . .

Al’s tent was next to mine and I heard him yelling to see if I was going to get up today, breakfast was ready. It was 8 a.m. I crawled out and was still shaking and wobbling when I headed towards table with food. People were asking me if I was OK. I guess I looked bad, but after a shower and 3 breakfasts I started feeling better and was able to talk to people and even drive home, pulling over every hour for a nap.

Lessons learned on the ride:
  1. GPS is great, but you still need a cue sheet.
  2. Very strong and experienced riders show up on rides over 600K. It is not your typical 200K ride. I need to train more for rides like this. Riders from Florida DNFed because of the heat-they had training rides in Florida heat for 5-6 hours, but it was not enough to handle the first day of LOL at 96 deg. temperatures.
  3. Need to make the bike much lighter and take less stuff along, I am not sure if fenders should even stay on the bike or may get sacrificed for the weight saving. No front bag for me, jersey pockets work as well.
  4. Camalbak works great on hot long days, ice stays in it for a long time. But need to make sure there is a place on the bike where it could be secured when your back needs rest. Third water bottle cage may be an option worth considering.
  5. Need to put more gel under handlebar tape and the quest for a seat is not over yet.
  6. One cannot have too many electrolytes and too much chamois cream on hot/wet rides.
  7. Ibuprofen was only used on the last day but it does work wonders.
  8. Need to make a mental schedule to eat real food 3 times a day, otherwise a bonk is inevitable.
  9. Pepsi-Cola works as an electrolyte, caffeine and cure for the upset stomach.

 By Andrey Belikov

More great LOL photos can be found here.


  1. Is that a Garmin Edge 705? What's it like on the ride? Did it crash frequently? How did you keep it charged, given that it has a non-replaceable battery? The manual recommends resetting the timer every four hours in 1-second mode, and every 12 hours in "smart" mode. How did you deal with that?

  2. Not a 705. Andrey rides with a Garmin eTrex Vista. Takes AA batteries and lasts a whole lot longer than the 705. Let me know if you want more information on that device. I can put you in touch with him.


  3. That's a great recap, I am hoping to attempt a 1000K ride, perhaps next year. This year, maybe get up to 400 or 600K. I agree with George's comment - I used many GPS receivers but the eTrex Legend I have (for 5 years now) has proven to be the best, virtually indestructible with excellent battery life (15-20 hours easily).