WORDS BY BRANDON DOOLEY | USING THE CARGO BIBSHORT WITH POCKETS SINCE APRIL 2021.
Brandon is a South Korea based AUDAX rider who rode the KR1200 Brevet event on Audax South Korea's 2022 calendar. It's a 1200km AUDAX ride. Here's the map of the route.
Brandon rode this in 2019, setting a course record of 58 hours, 20 minutes. He was back in 2022 and smashed it with a time of 50 hours, 23 minutes. In doing so, he also set a a record for the fastest 1000km ridden during a sanctioned event in Korea in a time of 41 hours, 48 minutes.
Brandon details his record setting ride in this writeup. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
KR1200 Brevet Ride Report by Brandon Dooley
- Date: Saturday, June 4th, 2022
- Ride: 1205km, 11,425m of climbing
- Official Time: 50hrs 23min- Personal Best (PB) and KORA 1200 record
Thank You's : Before jumping into the ride report, this was not an individual effort. I had a lot of support before the event and moral support during the event that helped me push through the best I could. A special thanks to everyone that messaged me during the ride. My phone was tucked away, nice and dry, in my frame bag for most of the ride, but I was able to see the messages on my watch, even if I wasn’t able to reply.
A special thanks to Mijin for helping me keep my sanity while preparing everything the week before the event and for sitting down and helping me prepare 40 individual baggies of carb mix (photo above, recipe later in this post). And lastly, this wouldn’t have been possible without Bas Kragt. He helped recon the route with me and find water stops along the way. He was of essential support during the ride sending messages on Kakao and keeping an eye on my safety during the ride. It was nice to know someone was tracking me if anything went wrong and when things did go wrong he was a lifesaver to have on the other end of the phone.
The rest is pretty long, but I've had a few friends say they're looking forward to reading the play-by-play. In short, it was a tough ride filled with rain, cold, sleep deprivation, and aches and pains. However, with some great support and a few road-side naps, I was able to finish. For the play-by-play, keep reading.
The Prep : I’ve been looking forward to the KR1200 for the last 2 years, but unfortunately it was canceled due to COVID in 2020 and 2021. The last time I rode it, I went to hell and back to finish in a time of 58h 20m through some of the worse weather imaginable.
I dug so deep in 2019, that I knew I would need some luck to go faster. However, they say, “luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” If the opportunity to go faster this year presented itself, then I wanted to make sure that I did everything possible to prepare for it. I did my best to take what I learned during my last KR1200 to try and make myself a faster, more durable rider for my next crack at it. I upped my general knowledge of cycling training over these last few years by diving deep into training methodology and completed a few coaching certifications to better my understanding of how to get faster (this could be a whole other post).
This left me with about a 50 watt increase in FTP compared to 2019. I also changed up my nutrition on the bike, moving to mostly a liquid diet of “Rocket Fuel” (aka my homemade glucose/fructose super mix- 🚀 recipe at the end). I decided to have 4 different flavors of “Rocket Fuel” so I wouldn’t get sick of drinking the same thing all ride. These 2 factors put me in a position to better my time from 2019.
I knew there were so many factors that would be out of my control, but if I could control my fitness and nutrition on the bike, that’d get me a long way in reaching my goal. After some success this year with smaller 200-400 brevets, I had the lofty goal of finishing in 50hrs, but all the stars in the galaxy would have to align for this to happen.
Gear : Weather was going to play a big role in my gear selection. The last thing I wanted was to have a mechanical mid-ride that would knock me out of the event. 2 weeks before the event, the weather was sunshine and rainbows. However, as the event got closer, the weather got worse each time I checked it. I decided to go with my heavy steel bike, a 2015 Salsa Vaya Travel.
It may be quite a bit heavier than my carbon race bike, but it is a tank that can survive almost any ride. Also with the dynamo wheel, I could also charge my electronics while on the bike. Bas also lent me his K-lite and USB-charger so I could use a bright light with my dynamo set-up. Little did I know, choosing the heavy steel bike would end up being one of the best decisions I could have made once the rain started pouring down.
I was also using a new GPS head unit, the Hammerhead Karoo 2. I was a little skeptical if it could handle a ride like this so I also brought my old head unit along as well. The great thing about the Karoo 2 was that I could send out a live-tracking link for others to follow me and keep tabs on where I was. This extra level of support and safety was essential late in the ride. We had a drop bag in Sangju that we’d visit twice at about every 400km of the event, so I tried to keep the bike as light as possible and keep heavier items in my drop bag.
For clothes, I had 2 pairs of RedWhite Cargo Bibs, 2 jerseys (one hot weather, one merino), Castelli Gore-tex rain jacket and cycling pants, Fizik cycling shoes, and my trusty POC helmet with my Exposure Light on top. I started with the warm weather jersey and RedWhite Cargo Bibs. My drop bag mostly had “Rocket Fuel” along with an extra change of clothes and charged external battery packs.
Divided into 3 parts :
- (Start-Sangju (451km)
- Sangju-east coast-Sangju (374km)
- Sangju-finish (376km)
I’m writing this about a week after the event. A lot of the event was a blur due to extreme fatigue and just being on the bike for so long. I was also a hurting unit after the ride and had brain fog for a few days after as well. I was able to get a lot of the details from my ride data, Bas’s Instagram stories, and chat messages along the way. I doubt I could put every memory and thought of the ride on paper, but hopefully, this will give one perspective of what the riders went through to complete the KR1200 in 2022.
Part 1: Start to Sangju (451km)
The first part of the ride was the best. I was surrounded by friends, the sun was shining, and we were moving fast. Jason Ham and I shared a hotel the night before and had our alarms set for 4:00am.
We woke up with the energy of the day already pumping through our veins, ate breakfast, and spun to the start. We were greeted by about 140 other riders and event staff. The event started at 6am. We were given the go-ahead by Jan and quickly rode to a red light about 100m from the start. Not quite the fast-paced start we were hoping for. After that, we cruised towards Sangju in a group of about 40, which whittled down to about 10 after the first 100km.
We were then left with 5 riders after the second CP (control point): Jihak Kim, Jason Ham, Sang Jun Je, another rider (I didn’t catch his name), and myself. This part of the ride was a blast chatting with other riders, blasting down descents with Sang Jun, and just being in good company. We hit the sea wall about 5 hours into the ride. This part can make or break your ride depending on the wind. It’s about 30km of a road raised above the ocean with nowhere to hide from the wind.
Luckily, our group of riders worked well together to fight the wind and finished the seawall without emptying the tank too much. We then got to our 3rd CP in Maryang. It was getting really hot by this time, so when we got to the convenience store we opted for some water and Coca Cola on ice. Jinhak didn’t want his legs to cool down too much, so he left our group a bit earlier than the rest. I left a couple of minutes later, leaving Jason and Sang Jun to finish their snacks. Little did I know that this would be the last time seeing them on the ride.
I could see Jinhak in the far distance and caught up to him after a few kilometers. We were planning on just spinning easily so Jason and Sang Jun could catch up, but that easy spinning speed was about 25kph and if we didn’t stop completely it would be hard for them to catch up. I decided at that point that I would just push on towards Sangju and hoped we may see each other again if we ended up sleeping at different times.
Little did I know, at about the time that I decided to push on, Jason and Sang Jun had actually ridden hard to catch Jinhak and me. After the ride, Jason said that he could see me in the distance and ended up catching Jinhak and riding together with him to Sangju). The next couple CPs flew by. I tried to stay as aero as possible in my TT bars and kept up on my nutrition. I then reached Malti Pass which was one of the most difficult and most beautiful climbs on the whole route. It was back-to-back switchbacks, lit up with streetlights, all the way to the peak.
When I got to the top, I was supposed to take a picture of what I thought was a colourful tunnel. I search and searched the parking lot at the top for the right picture, but couldn’t find it. After about 5 minutes of running circles in a parking lot, I realized that it wasn’t a picture of a tunnel, but a picture of a big black rock in front of a light stone wall. I snapped the picture and sailed down the descent towards Sangju.
When I arrived in Sangju at 10:30pm, I was greeted by Bas and Jan. They were working the CP in Sangju and helping with drop bags. I was about 1 hour ahead of schedule at this point. I was hoping to sleep for an hour or so since it had already been about 450km in the hot sun. However, Bas convinced me that I should keep going in hopes of making more time before the rain came. I got to my drop bag, changed into my merino jersey, grabbed my rain gear, restocked on “Rocket Fuel” and was off into the night ready to face the elements.
Part 2 : Sangju to the east coast and back to Sangju (374km)
On pre-COVID brevets, most of our CP’s would be convenience stores and we’d get a stamp at each one. This is convenient since you can stock up on water and snacks. However, during COVID, many of the CPs are now landmarks in the area that we take pictures of to avoid gathering many riders inside at one place.
This makes for a quick CP stop but also leaves the riders into figuring out where to get water and fuel along the route. I was lucky enough to have Bas help me recon the route beforehand and load convenience stores along the route on my GPS head unit. This was all working very well until around 2:10am on Sunday when I arrived at a convenience store on my GPS, low on water and fuel, only for it to be CLOSED!!!
I looked and looked, but there was nothing else around. I messaged Bas “CU CLOSED. Another????”. This led to a 2hr search for water. Bas was on messenger looking for places to get water. We tried a supermarket-closed, a 711-closed, a camp sight for spring water (apparently the spring water was the actual freaking river). Finally, I came up on an auto camping spot that Bas had pinned and there was a public restroom outside. Also outside was a little boy standing outside of the women’s bathroom at 4:28am! I wasn’t sure if I was hallucinating or if he was really there.
I said “Hi” to him and he bowed and said “hello” back. I then went into the bathroom to find a sink and filled up my bone-dry bottles. The little boy stood there watching me the whole time as I put my sugar mix into my bottles. I told him “goodbye” and was off again. I messaged Bas that I found water there and he later said he and Jan were like cheering like it was a goal at the World Cup. I then reached the east coast and was greeted with the coastal winds and undulating hills.
The coastal roads never disappoint. I made it through CP8 in Yeongdeok, which is where I slept for a few hours in a hotel in 2019. Up to this point, I hadn’t slept yet since waking up at 4am the previous day and it was now 5:35am and 620km into the ride. My hope was to make it all the way back to Sangju and find a nice comfy bed to sleep in for an hour or 2, but Sangju was still about 200kms away.
I made it about 4 more hours until I started to fall asleep on the bike. The last thing I wanted to do was crash and be out of the event. I tried everything to stay awake : singing, slapping myself, shining my light in my face, etc. However, I couldn’t stop the sleep from creeping in. I found a gazebo on the side of the road and messaged Bas at 9:52am that I couldn’t go any farther and would be taking a 30min nap.
I was really hurting by this point and urgently needed sleep. I set my phone alarm for 10:20am and laid down on the hard wooden floor, helmet and all. I immediately had the weirdest sensation. It was like the movie “Get Out” when the character is hypnotized and enters the black void. I could feel myself spinning and spinning, head over heels into this black abyss. Then all of a sudden, my alarm went off. It was the fastest 30 minutes of my life. Amazingly, all it took was a little nap to get some of my power back and feel “almost” like new.
I can’t exactly remember when the rain started, but I know it didn’t end until I almost reached the finish. I stopped and put on my rain jacket and rain pants before Sangju. I kept pedaling and pedaling until I got close to the city. The rain was really coming down by this point and I could see Jan standing in front of the CP. I felt miserable, wet from head to toe, delirious from lack of sleep, my quads, knees, and ankles were starting to swell, and my ass was getting rubbed raw after being wet from the rain and sitting on my saddle for so long. When I arrived at the CP, I mustered an “It’s a beautiful day, isn’t it?” to Jan and Bas as the rain poured down. I’ve had so many people encouraging me along the way that I didn’t want to show how much I was really suffering at the time. Bas remarked that I looked “fresh” but I really think it was him just trying to up my spirits.
I had ridden for 32h 32m for 824km with 30 minutes of sleep. If I really looked fresh, he must have had something in his eye. :) All I wanted at this point was a shower and a bed. I went to the hotel and grabbed my drop bag and a room. I stripped down out of my soaking wet gear and jumped into the shower. Bas remembers me saying “Ah, hot water! Come on!” but it finally warmed up and I washed all the grit and grime off of me that had been sandpapering my skin for the last few hours.
I then looked at my progress chart and realized that the last leg of the ride took me from being up an hour to being behind an hour. The rain and fatigue really hit me during that last leg. I was planning on getting 2 hours of sleep in Sangju, but disappointedly set my alarm for just 1 hour. I needed to minimize sleep and keep going if I wanted to stay on pace.
Part 3 : Sangju to the finish (376km)
I woke up and jumped into a new pair of RedWhite Cargo bib shorts with fresh chamois cream. It felt so good after being in the same pair of bibs for the last 32 hours. With the Cargo bibs, I like to put my brevet card and credit card in the side pocket. This way, no matter what I’m doing, I’ll always have them on me. This works great until you decide to change bibs mid-ride and forget them in your dirty bibs.
I set off into the rain with some newly found power in my legs, only to realize after 5 minutes that I had left my brevet card and credit card in my old bibs. I raced back to the hotel room, disoriented and not remembering the room number. I was finally able to find the correct room and rushed off again into the rain, this time with my brevet card and credit card. Another thing that I put into my back jersey pocket during this stop was an emergency blanket. The rain was getting cold and I was rushing off into the evening and knew it was going to get cold. Never did I imagine that I’d actually need the emergency blanket.
I arrived at the next CP, CP11 in Goryeong, after another wet 99km at 8:28pm.
I was wet, tired, and battered. The rain was relentless at this point and didn’t show any signs of letting up during the night. I also started to shiver uncontrollably as the rain outside my rain jacket was pulling the heat from my body. Upon reaching the CP, I was shivering to the point that it was hard to steer my bike. The photo CP was next to a GS25 convenience store, so I went inside to try and warm up with a lukewarm coffee.
I asked the clerk if they carried any hot packs and she looked at me like I was stupid. I then realized that it was early June and why on earth would they have any hot packs. It was at this point that I was actually scared to continue. I would be riding through the Korean countryside in the middle of the night, away from everywhere and anyone. I was either going to have to find a way to keep warm on the bike or find shelter somewhere to get warm for the night, severely jeopardizing any hopes of a PR. I then remembered the emergency blanket in my left jersey pocket. I opened up this little card-sized blanket which opened into the size of a full bedspread. I wrapped and wrapped that foil blanket around my torso, chest, and shoulders under my cycling jersey and rain jacket in the hopes that my body wasn’t shutting down enough still to make sufficient heat and that the blanket would help keep some of that heat in.
I started to pedal towards CP12 but the shivering continued. I was looking for a bridge or tunnel to take shelter in to warm up when I hit a small hill. This hill was enough to bring up my heart rate to make produce some good ol’ body heat. The shivering stopped and the blanket started to do its job. Although the shivering stopped, the rain did not.
The leg to the next CP in Sacheon, CP12, was one of the longest of the entire ride. It would be 119km before I would reach the next CP and refuel.
The course profile didn’t look very hilly, but after being on the bike for 38 and a half hours, every hill felt like a mountain, and every mountain felt impossible. As I was cresting one of the larger hills in this stretch in the pitch dark and pouring rain, a white SUV pulled up beside me and asked if I was a randonneur and where I was going. He then drove off and I thought that would be the last I saw of him. However, he drove a safe distance in front of me and put on his hazards any time that a sharp corner was coming up. This was extremely helpful with the rain in your eyes in the dark. I reached the bottom of the hill and he shouted, “화이팅” (meaning “Let’s go!”).
After some time, I then turned off one of the bigger roads and the GPS route had me turning onto a bike path. However, when I got to the bike path, all I saw were contraction cones, dirt, and heavy machinery. It was the dead of night, so I couldn’t see how far the construction went. I tried to ride on the dirt/gravel a ways just to see if it was only a short section of the path that they were repairing, but it seemed to go on and on. I decided to turn around and jump back on the bigger road. Luckily, the Karoo 2 head unit re-routed me back on track and I joined the main route about 15 minutes later. This was about an extra 5km that I really didn’t want to ride and while racing the clock, precious minutes were wasted.
On my way to CP12, I got a message from Bas congratulating me on the fastest 1000km ridden in a KORA event in a time of 41hrs 48min, a PB of about 10 hours for me. This brought my spirits back up after the bike path detour incident. I only had 200km to go, but I knew it was going to be a long 200km.
I wasn’t able to make it to Sacheon before fatigue started to creep in again. I found a gazebo bus stop on the side of the road and let Bas know I would be taking a 10-minute nap. That’s right, a whole 10 minutes. I was out like a light and back on the bike before I knew it. To my surprise, a 10-minute nap brought power back to my legs and I felt a lot better. The rain continue, but so did I toward Sacheon.
I arrived at 1:52am, grabbed some water, mixed in my “Rocket Fuel,” snapped my CP pic, and was off again. Only one more CP and then it’s the finish. 158KM to go!
Between CP 12 and 13, the night monsters would come again, forcing me off the bike for another 10-minute nap in another gazebo. Another issue was all the grime on my bike from the rain. My front derailed was really sticky from all of the gunk and wasn’t shifting correctly into the smallest chainring. This wasn’t a problem on the flats, but when I hit a steep hill, it sometimes wouldn’t shift into the small chainring, leaving me to muscle it up the hill (and there wasn’t much left of my muscles at this point).
I arrived in Gokseong, CP 13, around 6:05am. I rode right to the control point on the map and I was supposed to take a picture of an old train station. However, when I went to the point on the map, there was no train station to be seen. I saw a train and a fence, but no train station. I thought it was just the fatigue getting to me, so I looked around and still didn’t see a train station. I rode around a bit and finally found the train station which was about 100m in the previous driveway. I had ridden right past it. Although, no fault of my own, the GPS file had misplaced the pin for the CP. I snapped my pic and let Jan know that the CP was in the wrong place on the map and was credited 15 minutes for identifying the mistake and letting them know. I then headed off for the finish. Only 56km to go!
The last 56km to the finish was a collection of the roughest roads on the whole course, or at least that’s how it felt on my butt. By this point, my bibs had been wet for hours with road grit and grime finding its way into my shorts and acting like sandpaper. Every bump was misery and there were lots of bumps in this last section. Luckily the rain had let up and I was able to take off my rain kit and let everything dry out a bit.
The weather app had said that I would hit a tailwind around this point and would just sail into the finish at 35kph with minimal effort. However, there was no tailwind to be found and I instead had to pedal hard just to keep it around 25kph. I had the singular focus to just keep pedaling, although my mind was trying to find any reason to stop and pull over. My butt hurt, so I should pull over for more chamois cream, I’m tired so another nap won’t hurt, my feet hurt so I should stop to adjust my shoes… No! Just keep going! As I got closer, I started to see signs for Gwangju. After several bumpy farm roads, I finally entered the city! Before the finish, there was one last small hill. My mind said “f*ck it, we’re almost there!” and I was able to sprint up the last hill knowing that I’d be off of the bike soon. I arrived at the finish at 8:38am in an official time of 50:23 dreaming of a crowd of people cheering me into the finish only to arrive at a closed bike shop and nobody around. I snapped my finishing CP pic and sat at the front of the closed bike shop with my shoes off, just exhausted. I filled out my brevet card with all of my times and let out a sigh of relief that it was all over.
* * * * *
I’m writing this a week after the event. My body was a mess after the event. After the event, I found the only fast-food restaurant open nearby and ordered 2 large value meals. I scarfed down the 2 burgers, fries, and colas and was still hungry afterwards. I was supposed to drive back to Busan on Monday since I had class on Tuesday afternoon, but I was in no shape to drive.
I rode back to my hotel and got another room for the day/night. I showered and went to bed around 11am. In the meantime, I was also tracking Jinhak and Jason. Jinhak was the second finisher around 6:45pm and ended up with a PR as well. I was able to get around and greet Jinhak at the finish. We grabbed some Korean BBQ afterwards and it was good to talk about our adventures. Jason was the third finisher, also finishing with a PR as well at around 2am. I hate the feeling of arriving at the finish with nobody around, so I drove back down to the finish to greet Jason too. He finished with a smile on his face and was just as relieved to be finished as I was.
I was so happy that Jinhak and Jason were both able to finish safely and PR on the event as well. Jason and I shared the motel room for the night and downed a whole pizza together and stayed up late into the night with adrenaline still pumping. It was wild talking about our rides, the high points, and the low points. We both had our share of highs and lows but were able to get through them, even with the miserable weather conditions. In the end, 79 riders (58%) finished and 58 DNF’d (42%).
For the gear, the Karoo 2 was brilliant. I was really worried about charging it in the rain, but I put a zip-lock bag over it and it stayed dry. My other head unit, the Wahoo Roam, was anything but. If I had only ridden with the Wahoo Roam, I would have been severely at a disadvantage. It would reset itself every 150-200km and I would lose all of the data. It was a complete dumpster fire.
Nutrition was the single biggest improvement over 2019. Having my “Rocket Fuel” ready in every bottle helped ensure that the calories were still trickling into my system even when my stomach shut down and I didn’t want to ingest any solid foods. At no time in the ride did I feel like bonking and my stomach stayed happy for the entire ride.
The RedWhite Cargo shorts kept my butt as comfortable as the conditions allowed and the side/back pockets came in handy to carry light pieces of kit (just don’t forget your brevet card when changing to a new pair) 😅.
My bike stood up well to the conditions too but was absolutely thrashed at the end of the ride. I’ll have to do a detailed overhaul of it before the next big ride. The Redshift Sports dual-position seatpost and suspension stem were also great and helped keep my position comfortable on the bike. My legs were also thrashed. I could hardly walk for the first 3 days after the event. One week later, I’m walking fine, but my legs are still sore. I had the appetite of an elephant for the first few days after the event as well. According to my cycling computer, I burned 32,693 calories, roughly equivalent to 450 cheeseburgers or 300 slices of pizza. Luckily a had a few of both after the ride. :)
I am extremely happy with my results and I know that I pushed myself as hard as I could go without breaking physically or mentally. In the back of my mind though, seeing the time of 50:23 really has me wanting to put a 49 in front next time. I knocked an outstanding 8 hours off of my 2019 time, which I thought at the time was close to impossible to improve upon. To go any faster I’d really need for everything to line up perfectly. I’m planning on taking a couple of weeks off the bike, but then will get back into the training just in case the stars align next year, I’ll be ready for my preparation to meet the opportunity of another “lucky” ride.
Nerd stats :
- Riding Time: 45h 03m
- Sleep Time: approx. 2h
- Stopped Time (not sleeping): approx. 3h 30m
- Weather: High 30C (86F) / Low 12C (54F)
- Normalized Power: 199w
- Avg Heart Rate: 124 bpm
- Calorie expenditure: 32,693
- TSS: 1,483
- VI: 1.1
- Bib changes: 1
- Shower: 1
- Liters of water consumed: ~35L
- Stroopwaffels eaten: ~24
- Proper meals eaten: 0
🚀 Rocket Fuel Recipe :
- 1kg of White Sugar
- 500g of Maltodextrin
- 3 TBS of Table Salt
- Add flavoring to your liking: I usually add 1/3 Cup of Kool-Aid
- Food scale
- Measuring cups/spoons
- Large plastic container
Measure out the sugar and maltodextrin on a food scale. Add 3 TBS of table salt and put all ingredients together in a big plastic tub. Shake well.
I then use a 1/3 cup for a scooper with leaves me with ~78g of carb mix for each level scoop according to my food scale. I then put each serving in an individual zip-lock bag and plan for one serving per hour (if this is your sole source of fuel). This mixture leaves you with a 2:1 glucose to fructose ratio and around 20 servings with each serving costing around $.25 USD (I’ve gotten this down to about $.20 by buying the sugar and maltodextrin in bulk).
For the KR1200, I was anticipating 45hrs of ride time so I prepared 40 baggies of mix with the assumption that I wouldn’t solely be fueling off of the mix since I had my stash of stroopwaffels. I carried 12 baggies of the mix for each leg of the event and had a few extras in my drop bag if I needed them. By the end of the ride, I had consumed around 35 packets.
It’s recommended to mix one 78g serving with 1L of water to get the correct osmolarity so you don’t end up with stomach issues. However, I’ve used it successfully on 200-400km brevets with 800ml bottles without any stomach issues. It may take some testing and gut training to see what works well for you. For the 1200km brevet above, I had two 1000ml bottles and one 750ml bottle and used the same 78g serving for each. If you get a stomach ache due to it being too concentrated, just drink more water to balance it out.
Depending on your taste, you can reduce the ratio of sugar to maltodextrin, since maltodextrin isn’t as sweet as sugar. Maltodextrin also doesn’t contain any fructose, so you’d be potentially limiting the amount of carbs that can be absorbed per hour.
This article goes into a deep dive : https://www.climbingnutrition.com/supplements/make-your-own-sports-drink/