13 June, 2011

Alec's 1200k Ride

We want to congratulate Alec Burney who just completed the 1200 kilometer Shenandoah Brevet in a time of 84-hours and 50-minutes.

Not only did Alec complete the very mountainous ride and endure searing heat and torrential thunderstorms, but he rode the 60-miles to the start. Then he rode 60-miles back and, instead of going home, he came directly to the VO office to catch up on e-mails and answer tech questions!

By the way, he rode his VO Rando with Grand Gru 50.4bcd cranks, dynamo, Ti Saddle, PBP rims, prototype rack, etc.


stevep33 said...

Congrats to Alex, nice rig!

The prototype rack is looking good too.

ablejack said...


Ted said...

Good ride - however not to critique you but should drop that rear sail fender extension, the cross-guard reflective belt (get a vest if you insist on daytime visibility) and for sure level out the seat (should be level to slightly pointing up - need a medium size level to do this properly). Seat post is way too low - so the question arises - is the frame too big or are you too low on the bike? If the frame is proper then the front hub should be invisible when riding on the drops of the handlebars (the top of the handlebar should obstruct the view of the hub w/ 110-130 stem).
Also the leg should slightly be bent at the point where you line-up the crank arm following the angle of the seat tube.

Also don't recommend listening to music while riding in traffic - but if you have to get a small rearview mirror so you know what is coming up on you.

Road shoes are more comfortable for long distances rather than mtb shoes. Carnac used to make a wooden sole shoe which was extremely comfortable and stiff - the wood would absorb a lot of shock and heat (Duegi and Sidi invented this about 30 years ago).

Ted Lewandowski
former member of the US Cycling Team

Anonymous said...

No offense Ted, but I'm thinking if he can ride a 1200k (and then come to work after) with that fit/setup and his choice of shoes, than he is pretty much good to go. He'd be on his way to the hospital if his fit were as bad as you're implying.

johnson said...

Really? Not to critique then a huge list of criticisms? Saddle tilt is dependent on a variety of fit factors, not including but not limited to frame size, bar height, saddle design, riding style, seat angle, and of course personal preference. A level saddle is a STARTING point for a fit, not a final solution.

Fender flaps are a great way to keep those drafting you dry.

Classically sized bikes often exhibit little to no post showing. Look at any old catalogue for an example. Or old racing photos, for that matter.

The idea that hubs should be obscured by the bars has no basis in real world cycling, where factors such as fork rake, toe clip over lap, bar height and stem length need to be considered. Biomechanics trumps arbitrary racing rules any day.

Helmets, like music, are a personal choice.

Point being, dude has logged tons of miles this year, and wouldn't be riding what he is riding if it didn't work.

-James Johnson

Level III Fit Certification

Anonymous said...

Wow, Ted. If that was "not to critique," then what is?

Chapeau, Alec!

Winga said...

What bars are those? One of the new Grand Cru? Will that rack be available for canti/centerpulls any time soon? I have a custom being built shortly.

Anonymous said...

Anybody who can cycle 1200 kms in 84 hours can pretty much ride what he wants, when he wants, how he wants. I don't think he needs advice from anybody. He cycled a double century for four consecutive days. Amazing.

anonymous said...

i think you can lose the trucknutz for the next ride though.

dwainedibbly said...

Congrats, Alec!

Chris: He's an employee? I hope he's getting some kind of help from VO, like parts for free, or something.

Alec said...

Thanks everyone!

Camp6bell: oh wow, does look like trucknutz. It's a small bivvy sack, Paul and I both carried one in car we wanted a long nap in the cold early mornings. We didn't use drop bags or spend a lot of time (3 hrs or so) at overnight controls because the course is too hilly (gps said 43,000 Ft) for dawdling, so the bivvys were good insurance against cold emergency naps, but unneeded, and does look like trucknutz. Ewwww

Winga: if you're getting a custom, the ideal way to mount this rack is to Rando rack eyes like on our Rando and Mixte frames... These go about 3.75" below the bottom of the fork crown... Email if you need help with more exact placement, but it's always best to send your builder the rack first!

It will mount to canti studs as well.

Anonymous said...

That "front hub should be invisible when riding in the drops" was a popular fit recommendation, oh, 30 years ago. I remember reading that in the fit section of a book called The Custom Bicycle back in the early 1980's. Wonder what Jobst has to say on the subject?

Also, I would guess the "cross-guard reflective belt" would not be near as hot as riding in a full on reflective vest.

Would like to see more of that prototype rack! WAY TO GO ALEX!!!

Alec said...

Winga: they're grand cru Rando bars... 42cm...

Anonymous said...

Good comment - however not to critique you but should drop that dad-itude, the "former member of the US Cycling team" signature (get back on a team if you insist on internet visibility) and for sure mellow out the outdated fitting technique advice (should be keeping up with modern fit or at least not old wives tales - need a medium size attention span to do this properly). Comment is way too long - so the question arises - is the ego too big or are you too long off the bike? If the critique is appropriate then the other commenters shouldnt be making fun of your post later on (the top of the comment list should obstruct the view of your comment w/ 10-30 other posts).

OK, I'll stop. Its was too easy...

But seriously: Alex, what did you eat on your ride? Do you mostly drink water or other stuff? Do you have any magic advice for other young riders?

Peter said...

Wow Alex, that's quite a feat! I'm off to Norway next Friday for 1200km of cycling, but I'll take three weeks for it :-)

Just curious, did you only use the bag up front as shown, or did you have additional bags on the lowriders?

Ted said...

I posted fit guidelines for Alec that reference whether the bike fits properly or not. Yes they have been used for a long time but are still valid - again without being there in person - to check one's position on the bike. I've seen plenty of cyclists develop problems with ill-fitting bikes.

Alec said...

Anon: more info on that front rack is in another blog post.

Anon: I mostly ate everything. I tended towards fruit, nuts, salty chips, cliff-bars and similar, and caffeinated shot blocks at night. Twice a day it's really nice to have a sandwich, omelette, something like that. I tried hard to have more milk, cheese, and vegetables than I usually do on a ride and avoid sugar more, but a candy bar is great too..

I drank water as much as I could, but every third bottle ended up being either caffeinated soda, milk, gatorade, or juice.

My twitter feed might Give a good idea of what I was eating..

Advice? I'm no expert. Get the miles in, you're only making your life harder if you skip rides. Dont eat what i eat, find what works for you so you can keep eating even when you're not hungry.

Peter: no additional bags and no drop bags, but you can almost see my non folding spare tire tied to the right hand low rider...

Norway sounds great! Enjoy!

Pete LaVerghetta said...

Better get rid of those non-areo brake levers while you are at it. You could shave seconds off your time. Seriously, congratulations. (I love the internet, where someone is always wrong)

Anonymous said...

Hello Alec,
congratulations from Boston,
Out of curiosity what are you using for lights? It looks like a supernova (upside down mount?) and possibly a shimano hub but I can't tell. Is the tail light wired in as well? I am curious about your thoughts because I am started to do 200k + rides that extend into night and am looking at lighting systems. thanks

dmg said...

Congrats, Alex!

Taylor said...

First off, congrats! I finished my first 1200k last year and it was a great experience, Shenandoah is on my list of future rides, I'll have to stop into VO whenever I do it!

Many of Ted's comments will clearly be way off the mark to experienced distance cyclists, but just in case:

- The front hub thing is totally weird, and is going to be invalidated by the long reach bars and fork rake. For long distance bikes using a slightly shorter stem with longer reach bars provides a few more hand positions and will not affect handling, as you will likely end up placing the weight where you would have the majority of the time other another set-up anyway. These bars just provide more options than just those positions.

- The sash is a much more comfortable solution than a vest. And, likely, it's not for daytime visibility really, it's sometimes just easier to leave it on after night riding than to remove it and stow it away. RM requires a specific type of France approve vest for PBP, but stateside the sash is by far the most popular visibility solution. Vests sometimes block rear pockets or front zippers, and frequently don't fit tight enough to not blow around when traveling fast.

- Shoes are also totally preference, I prefer road shoes, but many people prefer the extra float and walkability of mountain shoes for distance riding. Same as many things for distance riding, if you have a pair that works without hot spots or other issues, it's best to just use those for your longest efforts.

- Fit wise, if you can ride a 1200k on the bike without comfort or other issues, the bike fits just fine. Everyone I've seen that has saddle height or positioning issues generally figures it out around 600k, if not way before.

Winga said...

Thanks Alec for info. I forgot to mention, congrats!

Ted said...

I highly doubt that long distance cycling bike set-ups are that drastically different than racing road bikes but I could be wrong.

When I was racing there were many 100 mile days of training and the road bikes were very comfortable.

Just one quick view of that set-up I know I would have problems climbing out of the saddle because the top tube would be "too high" due to the frame size selection - someone else might prefer this out of a simple preference.

Anonymous said...

"I highly doubt that long distance cycling bike set-ups are that drastically different than racing road bikes but I could be wrong."

Wha? Nothing you mentioned earlier had to do with drastic differences, only small adjustments. You just contradicted yourself. Also you are wrong.

"When I was racing there were many 100 mile days of training and the road bikes were very comfortable."

This is tangentially related, but does not apply in such a nuanced way to 746 miles in 3.5 days as you seem to think it does.

"Just one quick view of that set-up I know I would have problems climbing out of the saddle because the top tube would be "too high" due to the frame size selection - someone else might prefer this out of a simple preference."

Exactly. Again, way to go contradicting yourself by offering fit advice and now backtracking to say that people can in fact have a bike fit that is different than you and still be comfortable. Duh.

Anonymous said...

@Ted "I know I would have problems climbing out of the saddle because the top tube would be "too high" due to the frame size selection - someone else might prefer this out of a simple preference."

I think you've finally nailed it, Ted. Bike fit is a personal thing and you should trust your body and experience, not the machinations of bike fit "experts" past or present.

Anonymous said...

Dear Ted Lewandowski,

First, that’s pretty dang cool you were on the US Cycling team! It’s also nice that you have wandered over to the Velo Orange blog.

If I may generalize, the demographic here is a bit out of the mainstream of cycling. You’ll find folks who don’t subscribe to the theory that if it works for professional racing cyclist it must be good for the average rider out there. People here tend to think (again, I’m generalizing) that most riders would benefit from a more versatile and a bit more comfortable bike than an all out racing machine. The traditional randonneur bike is certainly a source of inspiration among this crowd. So, the ideas of fit, gear, etc. are very different that what you find in the average bike shop or in Bicycling magazine. I’m sure I way over-simplified that, but hope that helps. All the best!

Christopher said...

This reminds me of the joke about the competitive eater who looses a contest and then complains that he was able to eat the required amount earlier that day for practice.

Good grief! 60 miles to and from the race? That would kill me. I hope there was some rest in between.

Congratulations on the race.

Dale said...

Excellent job on the 1200k Alex!

I found this site interesting as they recommend a different frame size depending on your style of riding. A "Competitive" fit frame for racing is smaller than the "Eddy" fit, which is smaller again that the "French" fit (which is suited for Alex's Rando style riding).
They also give a detailed rationale for the different frame sizes including why standover height is not a major consideration for larger French fit frames.

Anonymous said...


Congratulations on finishing such a difficult ride!
Was this randonnee organized by roma brevet.org this past weekend? I wasn't aware of it, and couldn't find it. Of course it doesn't in any way diminish your accomplishment. I'm just curious because I'm interested in doing a randonnee myself someday.

Thanks, and congrats once again!

c.a.ricco said...

I think Ted may be doing a bit of Colbert's schtick here?..... Jus' sayin'....

Ted said...

Well said c.a.ricco - these people that are hiding under anonymous identities need to lighten up - I think we are all part of the same group here - cyclists that enjoy the sport.

Etherhuffer said...

Alec, good job! I got a blister on my taint just reading about that ride!

mander said...

Yes, and we all have arms that are exactly the same length relative to our bodies, which is why the hiding-the-hub rule for stem sizing works so well.

RoadieRyan said...

Chapeau Alec is that your warm up for PBP?

Drew said...

Yehuda Moon? lol, just playing. Amazing amount of miles..

Anonymous said...

Im with Ted, and id like to add..

Alec, whats up with that long hair and beard? Not very aero. When I was on the US Cycling team we shaved our butts. Would highly recommend a full body shave, and wearing nothing but a thong, if you want to cut your wind resistance.

Also, I feel like in general you didnt spend enough money on your setup.

MG said...

Way to go Alec! You and WGR = awesome! And thanks for all the tweets along the way. Made for some good fantasy randonneuring!

Alec said...

Thank you, everyone, for the congrats and complements!

Anon (boston): yep, headlight is a supernova E3 Symmetrical (upside down, don't do as I do), wired to a Pixeo tail light and powered by an early (anodized black!) VO Dynamo hub

RoadieRyan: I'm not going to France, too far, too expensive. This is my big whoop-de-doo for the year.


(the WGR is still talking about his retirement, but we all know he can't stay away)

Hall Monitor said...

QUIT BASHING TED. May I remind you to:

1. Clean your room
2. Finish that book report
3. Turn down that music

Biker Bob said...

Congratulations on a tough ride, and for essentially turning it into a 1400K with your riding to and from the event. Your Rando looks like a nice setup.

Anonymous said...

Fabulous job, Alec! Enjoyed your twitter posts, too.

If you want some more unasked for critique, though, I just thought I'd mention that your helmet would work a lot better if you buckled the strap. I feel sure that thought never occurred to you.

Look forward to seeing you on the road sometime,


JP said...

Bravo Alec !
Félicitations depuis la France :)
It's great to see a young guy riding 1200 kms on a classic bike !
I love those intrepid plans ; it's a good start, keep it up ! Always with some V.O stuff, of course ^^

Velotex said...

Congratulations Alec! Your boss should sponsor you to go compete in Tour De France next year! I'm sure you will give the top cyclists a run for their money!

Paul said...

Is this the same chap who rode for the Budweiser team in the Vitamin Tour in about 1983.
If so in an old English team mate would had a mini car and it would be great to catch up.

VeloOrange said...

@ Paul,

No, Alec wasn't riding for the Budweiser team back in 83.

Paul said...

I didn’t think so. Lol. Probably wasn’t born then. Lol.
I was trying to contact Ted. I doubt you lads are that bothered about assisting from the comments. But I did actually ride for the Great Britain road team in 1980’s. The Budweiser team and battled round the European circuit. If this Is the same Ted I would really appreciate if you can point me in the right direction to get in touch.