John Day River (National Parks Service photo)
What's becoming clearer to me is that each distance has its own demands that are more than the obvious distance differences. What follows is not news for veterans, but I am still catching on to the nuances.
For instance, depending on your speed, the 300k is the first brevet that could demand night riding and therefore a proven lighting equipment package and night riding strategy. Though if you're fast enough, you might not have to ride at night.
The 400k requires nighttime strategies for all riders. But there are finer points. Experienced riders project where on the course the night riding will likely take place and that determines whether they go batteries or generator. Also, will the night riding be hilly or not? Wouldn't have crossed my mind.
Sleep strategies are demanded if you're not fast enought to blast through. Building up a time bank to draw on if something unforseen occurs gets factored into sleep stop and other strategies.
But don't take it from me. Check out the Oregon Randonneurs website to get a variety of exceptional ride reports and photo collections. Also, see Mark Thomas' (of SIR fame) detail his struggle on his blog, Mark's Rando Notes.
Deschutes River (Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife Photo)
Responding to those postings, Vince Sikorski wrote to the Oregon Randonneurs listserve about his unique river dunking strategy for the same OR Randonneurs 600 XTR:
I really do not have much to add to the extensive write-ups already provided. It was HOT!, I set a P.R. for river dives. Really not deep enough to dive, but I only removed my hemet and any food in my jersey pocked. Would walk into the river (shoes on) and would lie down in the water until sufficiently cooled. Three dunks in the John Day river. One in the small stream on the left side of HWY-26 shortly after turning right on it. Once in the Deschutes River (Coldest and shortest dunk), and once in Eight Mile Creek (along Eight Mile road approaching The Dalles). For extra credit, I also lied on the ground under the open faucet at Cant Ranch (that was also very cold) and took a quick spray from Michael Wolfe at the hose outside of the store in Mitchel.These dunks really brought down body core temperature. I would feel great for the next 5 miles or so afterwards. In the dry Central Oregon climate, I dried out (too) fast.
And if all those postings got you rarin' to go, the Seattle International Randonneurs have their own 600k this weekend:
Is this your first time? 600k
Ride Description:This is a beautiful course and lots of "firsts abound" If you've been waiting to do your first 600k, this is the one. If you've been looking for a personal best on a 600k, this might also be the one. By SIR standards this is a relatively flat 600k, no mountain passes and 'only' about 10,000 feet of elevation gain total (we have some 200k rides with that much elevation gain).
Keep it cool and curious,