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400 km Brevet Tips

tdh37tdh37 Posts: 8
Any tips for riding a 400km brevet? I managed to finish 300km brevet but with a slowish time, about 17 hours. The 400km rides in my part of the world start about 2pm and I was told people aim to ride through the night and finish in 23 or 24 hours. I am a worried about how my body will react to 24 hours without sleep and the risk of not being able to keep up with a group and having to ride alone at night. There are no all-night petrol stations or grocery stores either, so how can I be sure to be self-sufficient in water and food for six or seven hours?


  • marcusjbmarcusjb Posts: 2,412
    17 hours for a 300 is plenty quick enough (3 hours in hand).

    if you have that pace, there's nothing to say you can't sleep on a 400. I would rather finish a 400 in 25 hours and have a little sleep at around 300km, than ride straight through and finish in 22 hours or less. It isn't a race and there's nothing to say you can't sleep.

    Don't worry about riding alone at night - it is one of life's great joys.

    You need to be able to ride alone and look after yourself - golden rule of brevet riding is self-sufficiency.

    Other than that, riding a 400 is no different to riding a 300, 600 or any other distance:

    Treat it as a ride of 50-80km (whatever the distance to the next control is). That's all there is to it really. Don't worry about the big picture, just ride that section.
  • tdh37tdh37 Posts: 8
    Thanks for the encouragement. As it turned out, I got lucky and tagged on to a group of six including a couple of experienced long distance riders who were helping some more novice riders qualify for the Paris-Brest-Paris. The brevet was done almost like a real audax with a captain setting the pace. We were also lucky with the weather, dry for the whole time and with a favourable wind for the most of the 120 km to the first control with virtually no wind after that.

    The organiser had suggested taking a survival blanket and sleeping for a few hours from 2am or so to dawn but it was a clear, moonless night and the temperature was dropping below 5°C at midnight and was down to about 1°C by dawn, so that didn't seem like a good idea in the circumstances. In the end I rode through the night with the group - safety in numbers and all that. Being with a group meant I could go faster as well, finishing in 21 hours.

    One thing I got wrong was not taking enough food. In my previous, shorter, brevets, most participants seem to stop around the halfway point for a café lunch. For this one, all of the others in the group were carrying the food they needed and short stops at cafés were just long enough to get a hot drink or add extra layers for night cycling. I had to make a hasty purchase of sandwiches at a supermarket at the first control point. Ideally, I should have brought something with me that is not sugary and easy to grab hold of with winter gloves on. That way I could have eaten small quantities at regular intervals while on the move. Trying to stuff a whole sandwich down my throat during a stop after 200km was a strangely difficult task and my stomach went off sweet energy gels and drinks.
  • GrillGrill Posts: 5,610
    How was it done like a real audax if ya'lls didn't stop for food? Even when I'm in a rush I still find time for a jacket potato or a fry-up.
    English Cycles V3 | Cervelo P5 | Cervelo T4 | Trek Domane Koppenberg
  • tdh37tdh37 Posts: 8
    I meant "real Audax" in the sense of a UAF event with a group riding together at the speed fixed by the "capitaine" rather than the ACP "allure libre" rules.

    As for the food thing, I was surprised that the others were not counting on stopping en route to buy food but as it turns out it makes sense because you don't easily find shops or snacks after 10pm in rural France. We stopped at restaurant in a tiny village at 10:30pm just to get the cards stamped but it would have been too late to order a meal in any case. The next control at 1.30am was done by the organisers, with a cup of coffee and a little bit of cake provided. The following one at 4am on Sunday morning was in a medium-sized town but everything was shut so we had to send postcards. It was only for the last control at 7:15am that places started to reopen and we managed to find a bakers, so it was time for croissants and pain au chocolat for everyone and a coffee or hot drink in the bar opposite.

    The next decision is whether to go for a 600km in a few weeks...
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