MG Thursday: The Crucial Stop

Ed and I had the pleasure of riding with Russ Morris on last week’s DC Randonneurs 300K brevet. During the heart of the ride and in between controls, we pulled over, reapplied sunscreen, and refilled on water.

Russ then informed us that we were making a “crucial stop,” i.e., a stop that is not a control, but that you really need to make, anyway.  “There is always at least one crucial stop on a brevet,” Russ asserted.  170 miles into the ride, we pulled over again to drink Cokes. Russ said, “this is crucial stop number two!” I couldn’t have agreed more.

The “crucial stop!” I had never thought of my stops in this manner, and it made a lot of sense to me. I asked Russ if he would share more about brevets and the buildup to the “crucial stop.” His thoughts follow. Thanks for being a guest contributor, Russ, and helping me understand the importance of those “crucial stops.”

You start your ride and see the first control is at the 60 mile mark. No problem! Temps are cool, you’re full of energy, and your butt doesn’t hurt yet. You arrive at the control, your mind lucid, and you accomplish all the normal brevet tasks with ease.

The ride continues. You pass through the second control at 85 miles. You’re drinking and eating, but you look at your cue sheet more often to remember the next turn. Temps are rising, and your butt starts to hurt.

You approach a Mom & Pop convenience store; it isn’t a control. The next official stop is 15 miles off.

Your randonneur clock is ticking. Tick tock. Tick tock. Push on. Push on. You want to roll past the store without pausing, push on to that control, but your legs aren’t keeping good time with your randonneur clock. Please stop, they seem to say. Please stop. This, my friend, is your moment for the “crucial stop.”

Listen to your body and do the right thing– stop. Calmly go in the store and select comfort items. Slowly walk up to the counter, engage the clerk or a fellow customer in light conversation. Perhaps they’ll ask you how long your ride is. Force yourself to be a human being again, not some desperate randonneur on a 189-mile race against the clock.

When you get back outside, take your time eating and drinking in the shade. Sit if you can, stretch if you must. Take stock and consider why you’re putting yourself through this. OK, don’t think too long. As the refreshing cold beverage works its way through your system, you’re reinvigorated.

You happily mount your bicycle and ride off with a rejuvenated spirit and willingness to endure the hardships of the brevet.

Who knows? That crucial stop may even yield you a better time. Make the crucial stop, fellow randonneurs.

Thanks again for being part of MG Thursday, Russ! And by the way, even if that stop doesn’t better your time, chronologically speaking, it can make a huge difference to your disposition over the course of the ride. And that makes for a better time to me… and in turn, to Ed, ha ha :).

Russ at Crucial Stop #2
Russ at Crucial Stop #2

3 thoughts on “MG Thursday: The Crucial Stop

  1. Well said, Russ! Maybe it’s better to leave the rat race for the weekdays. (But sometimes it is hard to resist that tick tock of the randonneur clock.)

  2. “Listen to your body and do the right thing– stop.”

    I think Russ and I have something in common: Assuming that every control is the logical place to stop is not appropriate for everyone. I Consider controls the baseline or fall back options. Of course on some routes the controls are the only reasonable place to stop, however, on an event like PBP, there are MANY options. In fact, In 2007 I used less than half the controls as ‘stops’, meaning a place to east, rest, restock, and do all the other things that you do at a stop.

    Knowing yourself is perhaps as important as knowing the route when it comes to an effective ‘stop’ strategy. These factors become important in inverse proportion to your speed. (speed = flexibility).

    Great post!
    Yr Pal Dr Codfish

  3. Russ, you helped me get through my first 600k last year and I’ll never forget all your quiet encouragement. It will always be a memorable event.

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