3 Coasts 600 Preparation Notes

I've chosen to enter the 3 Coasts 600 again this year as it is a BRM event and will allow me to pre-register for Paris-Brest-Paris 2015.  The "3 Coasts 600" isn't exactly easy, but it must be a lot more straight-forward than the "Kernow and Southwest 600", the "Bryan Chapman Memorial" and the "Swan with Two Necks".  Having ridden it before I know my way around and it is about the surest chance I have of completing a 600km event this year.  The "East and West Coasts 600" runs on the same day with a lot less climbing, but I'm not too worried about that, in fact I find flat routes a lot harder than undulating ones.

I'm trying something new this year, I'm connecting the little gps device to the usb output from the dynamo hub and trialling whether it will give me reliable directions for the entire event.  As a backup I do have the route-sheet coated in double sided sticky-back plastic, and will try to not get lost.  I also feel familiar with the roads.

In this picture the switch for the lights is on the left and the usb cable runs underneath the route-sheet to plug into the little gps device.  Although I don't get mapping with the little device, the thin black line is all I really require to stay on track.  I plotted the routes out from the route-sheet myself using ridewithgps.  I would like to use the "Connect" toolkit but I've noticed that it routes tracks the shortest distance around roundabouts, which is annoying when out on the road.  However, this is not a review of gps tracking sites.  For a plethora of information about gps tools have a look at the Audax UK site, or here.

In terms of preparation there are several steps to consider:
The first step for me was to read back through my own notes for the last time I did this ride; Preparation for a 600km Audax.  I did okay with my preparation then, but I have more experience this time and will pack slightly differently.

I am not worried about my strength to complete the ride.  I did sprain my ankle 14 days ago, but it is recovering well.  I still have some pain in the heel but I'm more comfortable cycling than walking.  My confidence took a big boost when I rode the DIY 300 comfortably, and I learned that my insole needed replacing when I had an attack of hot-foot.  The insole has now been replaced.

I no longer worry about whether to take a light fast bike or not.  Endurance is about managing the degradation of performance and a comfortable bike can keep me riding longer and thus further.  The weight of the tourer still needs to be managed, but is less of a disadvantage than discomfort would be.  Until I am blessed with a carbon fibre audax bike; the tourer will be my first choice for long distance.

Adding dynamo headlights has been a new development.  I will take a head-torch as backup, and for looking at the route-sheet or for fixing punctures.  I'm delighted with the performance of the dynamo light and have overcome the problem with a poor quality mounting bracket.  The alloy unit from SJS Cycles has really fixed the problem.

As mentioned, I have the plastic route-sheet and my memory, I have also used ridewithgps to plot out the tracks in two one day sections

Day 1

Day 2

I also spotted that there was a control change to Busy Lizzie's snack bar in Castleford and it is important to have a mental picture of what the controls look like, which is why I can review the control points in my earlier 3 Coasts 600 preparation.

Finally the question of supplies.  Experience is helping here again and I know what I will need, and what I hope I won't need.

In the Carradice Barley:

On the bike:
  • Blackburn frame pump
  • 2x drinks bottles

On me:
  • Assos bib-shorts
  • Base layer
  • Short sleeve shirt
  • Arm warmers
  • Track mitts
  • Cotton cap
  • Shoes (don't ever forget your shoes for an event!)
  • Cashmere cycling socks (I found the Merino ones took the skin off the top of my foot!)

As this is not an overnight event, I know I don't need additional layers, plus it is June and the weather forecast is promising.  Dean tells me never to look at the forecast because it is always wrong and you've just got to ride through it anyway.  With the 3 Coasts 600 we get to loop through Mytholmroyd and I can leave the following items with Chris:

The 3 Coasts 600 is a beautiful experience, challenging but not impossible.  For a long distance cyclist this is a holiday.  I know that the unexpected can happen, but if I at least start this ride with a bike that can finish and with the confidence that I'm fit enough then most of the other issues I'll just have to deal with as they crop up.

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