Brevets (long distance endurance cycling events of 200/300/400/600 kilometres that are supposed to be completed in a stipulated time) have caught the fancy of cyclists across India. With various randonneuring clubs in different parts of the country and with a spirited participation from a handful of Indian cyclists in the recently concluded Paris-Brest-Paris 2015, there seems to be a spike in interest in this form of cycling.
For a first time brevet rider, besides building upon their riding capabilities and endurance levels, the right choice of gear can be quite a confusing proposition. Packing too much or too little gear is an issue that a lot of prospective riders end up facing. We’ve come out with a guide to help you make an informed choice on what you need to be carrying for your brevet.
Apparel and Rider Gear
Being comfortable as a rider is crucial for these events and can be a make or break factor. Good quality apparel goes a long way in ensuring that the rider is comfortable and performing at their optimal best during these rides.
- A light weight sweat wicking jersey that does not flap in the wind, lest it cause excessive aerodynamic drag is optimum for these events.
- Look out for jerseys with hints of neon/bright colours and reflective accents to aid your visibility on the ride.
- The rear jersey pockets in the jerseys can be used to store utilities like energy bars, cue sheets, cash and credit/debit cards for easy access.
- Good quality jerseys will come equipped with one of the three rear pockets having a waterproof zipper pocket for additional protection to your jersey pocket contents that require so.
- BOTS Recommended options – Specialized RBX Jersey and Specialized RBX Sport Jersey
Shorts and Bib Shorts
- The padding in cycling shorts and bib shorts is a factor that separates the not-so-good bib shorts from the good ones.
- Its worth investing in a good pair of bib shorts on your ride. The last thing you want is saddle sores and/or a sore behind midway through your ride.
- BOTS Recommended options – Specialized RBX Sport Bib Shorts and Specialized RBX Sport Shorts
Besides these, arm covers, base layers, gloves (Specialized BG Gel, Specialized BG Sport) and reflective jackets are some other pieces of apparel that one could look at investing in based on the weather conditions and brevet distance.
A good pair of tires can save you a lot of hassle on a brevet. They need to be light weight yet robust. The last thing you want on a brevet is to spend more time on the side of the road fixing punctures instead of actually riding your bike!
- Look for tires that are 25-28mm wide. They will be the best performing tires when it comes to finding the right balance between reducing rolling resistance and a comfortable ride.
- The Schwalbe Lugano 700*25c and the Schwalbe Delta Cruiser 700*28c are optimum choices with their K-Guard puncture protection belts, directional tread patterns and relatively light weights.
Puncture Prevention and Patch Kits
- Keep a pair of spare tubes for your ride. Its quicker and more convenient to replace a tube than finding the puncture and patching it up in the middle of the ride.
- Check out our range of Schwalbe tubes here.
Puncture Patch Kits
- In the rarest of rare cases when you end up using up both your spare tubes (which if you ask us, is just rotten luck!) learning to fix a puncture can be a very handy skill to be aware of.
- We recommend you practice fixing a puncture or two using a patch kit before your brevet. That will help you iron out any clinks in your armour and give you the confidence to take care of the situation if such disaster does strike. There are a lot of videos on youtube to guide you with the process. Else, just stop by your local bike shop and the mechanic should be able to guide you with this task.
- The Parktool patch kit is a well rounded patch kit that is compact enough to sit discreetly in one of your rear jersey pockets.
- What good is a tube if one does not have a pump with themselves to fill in air! Now a days one can find a wide range of compact pumps that can either be mounted on the frame or sit comfortably in your rear jersey pocket.
- The GIYO Element Hand Pump is one such device. The USP of this device being the guage that comes inbuilt in this pump. That gives you a fair idea of how much air you have filled and can help you avoid nasty pinch flats due to running your tires under pressure
- Tire liners are a flat strip of plastic that sits in between the inner side of the tire and the outer side of the tube. This layer provides an added bit of protection from basic road debris like thorns and small sharp stones and are worth the investment.
- Make sure you choose the right size of tire liner based on the compatibility with the tire on your bike.
- To view our range of Tuffy Tire Liners, click here.
Having a good pair of front and rear lights on your bicycle are not only important from a safety and visibility point of view, but also mandatory as per the rules if one is looking at taking part in these events.
Characteristics of a good front light – High Lumen rating (At least 300 Lumen. We recommend a minimum rating of 500 Lumen for our riders), good battery life and can withstand the elements of weather. A rechargeable battery powered light is an advantage. Then one does not have to carry a lot of batteries along.
Characteristics of a good rear light – A tail light is supposed to serve the purpose of making the cyclist visible to the traffic at the rear. Besides that, features like reliability and its ability to withstand various different weather conditions are important.
Recommended rear lights : The Cateye Nima 2 is a nifty little rear light that not only mounts on the bicycle frame, but can also be easily mounted on the rear of the helmet. We recommend you use two of these if you plan to do so as they come with a lower power rating. Besides this, the Cateye Rapid 5 is another viable option.
BOTS Tip : Carry a small USB power bank with yourself. Its a useful item to charge all your electronics, be it your mobile phone, Garmin device or bicycle lights.
With a brevet, one races against the clock. From the start to the finish line, the clock never stops. So pacing yourself is a skill that is very critical here. And having a cyclocomputer in front of you gives you the perfect idea on how you are doing and how you need to pace your ride further.
For an event like a brevet, a basic cyclocomputer is sufficient. All one needs are features like average speed, distance covered, time taken. Based on this data, one can easily ride themselves to a comfortable and successful brevet finish.
One must however make sure that they don’t pick up any run of the mill cyclocomputer as accuracy of data is really important. Also, a cyclocomputer will be exposed to the elements of the weather. So that must also be taken into consideration. Especially on brevets in the monsoon season.
The Cateye Strada Slim Wireless Cyclocomputer is the ideal choice for all you randonneurs out there.
Saddlebags and Frame Bags
Considering the length of these brevets, especially the 400 km and 600 km rides, having saddlebags and frame bags become imperative. Not only do they help you carry your belongings, but also come in handy during wet weather conditions when keeping things exposed in the jersey pockets is not a wise decision.
Click here to view our collection of saddlebags and other variety of frame mount bags.
Nutrition and Hydration Tips
- Eat something that is rich in carbohydrates at least 3 hours before the ride. This is the food that is going to be your primary fuel for your ride.
- During the ride remember the golden rule, ‘Eat before you are hungry and drink before you are thirsty’.
- Carry a few energy bars like the Yoga Bars. Eat one every half and hour to forty five minutes based on the intensity of the ride to keep replenishing your energy reserves.
- Carry two water bottles on your bike. Carry plain water in one of those bottles and electrolyte solution in the other. Keep taking regular sips every fifteen minutes of so from the bottles, alternating between them one by one.
BOTS Tip : Make sure you are aware of the brevet route prior to your ride. If possible do a route recce prior to the actual event date to be familiar with how you plan to pace your ride. If that’s not possible, then go through the elevation data of the route. That shall give you a rough idea of how to pace yourself.
Hope that with this information you are more confident to tackle your next brevet. And hopefully on your way to becoming a Super Randonneur.
For any other queries, feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we shall be glad to assist you in any way possible.