Sunday, October 4, 2015

Coffeeneuring in Eugene, 2015 edition

Mary has suggested a 'theme within a theme' for coffeeneuring this year.  Mine will be 'social coffeeneuring.'

Most of my riding is solitary.  Even on organized brevets, I ride mostly alone.  I rode mostly alone among 5000 other riders from Paris to Brest and back, with a few hours of socializing now and again.  I'm fine with that.  I enjoy solitude.  But this year I'm going to try a little harder at sharing coffeeneuring with others.  We'll see how it goes.

Coffeeneuring 1, October 4, Sunday

Blue Heron beside the path
I had not made advance arrangements to meet anyone, but thought I'd kick off the season anyway, alone.  (Yeah, so much for trying harder to be social.)  I decided to try a coffee place I had not visited before, partly because Jolene (whom I hope to coffeeneur with later this month) had stated that as one of her conditions for coffeeneuring.  Google told me there was a new micro-roastery in town, Coffee Plant and 11th, and moreover it was close to home and not far from the Fern Ridge path.  Great!

When I arrived at Coffee Plant, I saw that there was a big anti-EMX sign in their lot.  (For non-Eugeneans, EMX is a bus rapid transit system, and it's broadly popular among Eugeneans but intensely unpopular among some business owners along a planned route.)  Before ordering, I asked whether the Coffee Plant was behind the sign. "Oh yeah."  OK then, thanks, I'll find coffee somewhere else.  I was polite, no arguing with their position, but I just wasn't willing to let any part of my coffee money go toward that cause.

Another Blue Heron
So much for my plan.   I took the path to another patch of 11th where I thought I remembered a coffee shop I had not visited, but I didn't find it, so I headed downtown and then toward campus where I knew there were plenty of coffee shops.  As I neared campus on 13th and saw Blue Heron bicycle shop, I remembered that Sue works weekends.

Sue taught me how to disassemble and reassemble my bike for travel.   She's an excellent mechanic and a wonderful, warm person who established a bicycle shop next to campus because she enjoys working with students.   Inspiration:  I can make this a social coffeeneuring outing after all, easy peasy, by bringing Sue a coffee, which I obtained from Espresso Roma just down the street.  Each time a customer entered, I perused the bicycle parts and tools and accessories while she took care of the customer.  In between, we drank and talked about randonneuring and about the advent of electric bicycles.   The coffee was so-so.  The company was great.

Beverage:  regular coffee from Espresso Roma, to go, with a chocolate biscotto.
Round trip:  ~10 rambling miles.

Coffeeneuring 2, October 10, Saturday

Another blue heron ... might be a motif
When I began riding recreationally a dozen years ago, I rode often with Greater Eugene Area Riders (Gears).  I learned a lot from the group, and rode with them frequently for years.  Eventually my interest turned to distance riding, and more and more I do my training rides solo,  but it's nice to occasionally join the Gears group.

Bike bridge from the park to downtown

Hideaway Bakery booth at the market

My plan was to get coffee with Virginia after the Gears club Saturday ride.  Problem:  Virginia is fast.   I have no idea how far behind her I reached the finish, but far enough that she was gone.  Nonetheless I will declare my "more social" goal accomplished in riding with old and new Gears friends.

There is a nice farmers' market in Eugene on Saturday, and Hideaway Bakery brings their wonderful breads and pastries and also makes pour-over coffee.   I had a potato donut, which was delicious, and a nice strong cup of coffee.   On the way home, I happened upon Lesli walking Chaz, so again more social component to my coffeeneuring, even if the coffee itself was drunk alone.
Hideaway making coffee
Distance: ~40 miles
Beverage: coffee

Coffeeneuring 3: October 17, Saturday:  Disaster Relief Trials

Once again I failed to arrange a meet-up in advance, but I thought I might still have a chance to be a bit social in my coffeeneuring, or at least be around people, by being a spectator at the Disaster Relief Trials.

The start/end point, with periodic check-ins for contestants, was at Alton Baker Park.  Among the features of the park is the center of Eugene's scale model solar system.  Sol, Mercury, Venus, and Earth are in the park.  Some of the outer planets are several miles away.

Earth and its remarkably large moon
I met and saw a few familiar people at the trials, and saw a lot of interesting cargo-oriented bikes. 

'Responder class' contestant checking in

Not an approved coffeeneuring beverage
Approved and portable beverage

I had a tip that the canal near Autzen Stadium would be a good place to see some of the action.  It was.  Contestants were crossing the canal by rope, with their bicycles in tow.   ROTC students were helping them fasten rope harnesses and attach and detach their bicycles on either side.  They offered to help me get harnessed up.  I explained that I was not a contestant today, just a spectator.  Sure, the officer said, but did I want to go across or not?  I did.  

My commuter bike weighed a lot less than a cargo bike,  but it was still strenuous dragging it up on the far side of the canal, and satisfying.   It was not what I had planned for my Saturday.  It was way cooler than anything I planned or anticipated.  

Fléche teammate Alex Hongo participated in the hardest category, 'responder.'  I saw him at the conclusion.  Fléche teammate Chris Archibald participated as well, and for a little bit the whole 2014 fléche team was gathered recounting our ride and making tentative plans for another. 

In all, my most rewarding outing in three years of coffeeneuring, and also a reminder of what a great town and community I live in.   I'm feeling very lucky.

Distance: ~10 miles
Drink:  Java Sunda (home roast) pour-over
Location:  Alton Baker Park, Eugene  ("coffee shop without walls")

Coffeeneuring 4:  North Plains with Lynne, Corey, and Stefanie, October 24, Saturday

Many of us converged on North Plains, Oregon to witness our friend Susan Otcenas cross the 10,000km mark in her 2015 randonneuring.   (That's a lot of riding, and the 'K-hound' award for riding 10,000k in a year is one of the harder RUSA awards to earn.)  Lynne and I decided to add a coffeeneuring outing by taking a scenic tour around North Plains before the whole group met at McDonalds for the start of a 100k permanent.    The scenic tour was necessary because the only available cafe in North Plains, Hits the Spot, is only a few blocks from the McDonalds.   (Riding to North Plains from Lynne's home in Beaverton would be possible, but impractical since we would also need to ride back in time to get to the celebratory pot-luck after the permanent.)    We met Corey Thompson and  Stefanie Randolph at Hits the Spot, and briefly also Keith Kohan.

Lynne, Stefanie, Corey
Technically the heron made its appearance after the conclusion of the coffeeneuring, on Susan's K-hound ride. 

Assessment:  friendly, bike-friendly service, acceptable coffee
Distance: 2.4 miles
Drink:  Coffee (American style)
Location:  Hits the Spot, North Plains, Oregon, USA

Coffeeneuring 5:  Deschutes Hall, University of Oregon, October 25, Sunday

It's a weekend, and this isn't exactly work, even if it is work-related, so I'm going to count it.  Some of my students asked me to drop in on the Hacktown Hackathon going on Saturday and Sunday.  Saturday I dropped in for a couple hours 9-11pm, but that doesn't count because I had already coffeeneured that morning.  Sunday morning I came again a couple hours before the wrap-up.  On both visits there was a lot of good conversation with students, some jollity, and some advice on debugging and problem-solving.

A hackathon is something like a 400k brevet for software development.  Like a 400k, it generally involves slogging through the night, although as far as I know hackathons are nearly all indoors.  For ditch naps, substitute naps under tables and desks.  For coffee, substitute red bull (but also coffee).    For ACP and RUSA trinkets, substitute small stuffed animals to prize winners.

Eugene is Tracktown, hence Hacktown, and 26.2 hours.

Assessment: bike-friendly campus, friendly students having fun and suffering, just like randonneurs
Distance: 10 miles round trip from my home
Drink:  A mix of English Breakfast tea and chai
Location: Deschutes Hall, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR

Coffeeneuring 6: November 1, 2015, Hendricks Park

Achievement unlocked:  Meet internet friend face-to-face for coffeeneuring.

I became aware that Sally was a coffeeneur in the greater Eugene area last season, and followed her posts on Facebook, but we had never met face-to-face.   We made arrangements to meet in the main shelter at Hendricks Park, with contingency plans to move somewhere else if the forecast rain was horizontal.

What an enjoyable meeting!  We talked bikes, we talked PBP, we talked recycling ... Sally works at one of a very small handful of companies that makes the sophisticated machines for separating the materials in recycling.  There is a lot of very cool and clever technology involved.  I, being lazy, brought my coffee from home in a thermos mug that fits in the bottle holder of my bike.  Sally, being resourceful and an experienced touring cyclist, brought equipment for making her coffee on the spot.

A mushroom walking tour group was having its pre-walk lessons in the covered structure, and the rain wasn't coming down, so we moved to a picnic table outside.  After a nice long chat, a few sprinkles reminded us that it might be time to move on.  

Location:  Hendricks Park, 2198 Summit Ave, Eugene, OR. Hendricks Park is known mostly for its rhododendron gardens, but it's beautiful year round.
Date: November 1, 2015
Drink:  Cafe au lait (me),  pour over (Sally)
Bike friendliness:   Hard to beat leaning your bike against a picnic table and sitting under giant conifers.  
Distance:  ~10 miles round trip for me, farther for Sally

Coffeeneuring 7, Friendly Street Market

It was supposed to rain hard on Saturday.  And then it was supposed to rain on Saturday.  And then it wasn't.  Since I try to keep up a streak of riding at least one 200km brevet each month (going into my fifth year of so-called R-12s), a break in the weather on a November weekend is hard to pass up.  I had a tentative plan to join a work party at a local park (Madison Meadow), which would have been perfect for my 'social coffeeneuring' theme.  I changed plans and rode a brevet 'permanent' instead.  

So, solitude.  Off theme.  The only real social interaction of the whole day was a nice chat with the young woman in a coffee and ice cream booth in Brownsville, on the return leg.  We talked about Paris, about randonneuring, and about her recent adventures in kayaking.  Very nice, but not coffeeneuring.  In fact I drank plenty of coffee in the first half of my ride, but it doesn't count as coffeeneuring.  Rule 8:  "You may not combine your coffeeneuring ride with any other ride such as an organized century, populaire, or brevet."

But Rule 8 goes on to say: "If you do an organized ride, you may do another, separate coffeeneuring ride on the same day, e.g., a pre- or post-event ride to get a latte either before or after your organized ride." So that's what I did.  My ride ended at the 7-11 at 18th and Chambers, purveyors of some of the worst coffee on earth.  But just a mile and a third away is Friendly Street Market, with a deli.  It was not exactly humming at a quarter to eight, and in fact the deli part was shut down, but the operator said he could make me tea.  I chose rooibos tea, avoiding evening caffeine.  There was only one other occupied table, where some friends were having a boisterous conversation over beer.  More solitude, but I was ok with that, being pretty tired after my ride.   Drank it slowly, then rode home very very slowly  (about 3.5 mph up the hill to our home), another 1.3 miles.  

So here's my rationalization:  Solitude is complementary to being social.  Twice a week, for 90 minutes, I lecture to a room full of students, and I spend a good deal of time holding 'office hours' by hanging out in the shared lab space, and in various faculty meetings and in advising or other meetings with students.  I enjoy those interactions.  They take energy, and they move at their own pace.  My short ride to school and back home gives me a little break.  A long solitary ride gives me a much longer time for reflection and for ideas to develop in ways that they never will in my day-to-day routine.  So, while my theme this year is being more social in my coffeeneuring, a little solitude is not a bad thing.  Figure and ground, theme and counterpoint.  

Location:  Friendly Street Market,  2757 Friendly, Eugene, OR.  It's our neighborhood natural foods store, with lots of organic veggies, good local meats, bread from local bakeries, a nice selection of beers, and other stuff somewhere in the spectrum of natural to foody. 
Date: November 14, 2015
Drink:  Rooibos tea
Bike friendliness:   Pretty good --- adequate bike racks (staple design) in front, under cover. 
Distance:  ~2.6 miles

Monday, September 28, 2015

Paris-Brest-Paris: Plans vs. Reality

I did succeed at Paris-Brest-Paris, finishing in 88 hours 28 minutes.  However, my actual progress was quite far from my plan.  Briefly:

  • I had hoped to reach Loudeac (449km in, or a little over 1/3 of the way) in substantially less than 24 hours. I actually reached Loudeac in a little over 24 hours. 
  • I planned to sleep 90 minutes at Loudeac on the outbound.  Had I done so, I would not have had breakfast at the hotel.   Also I was very tired after 24+ hours of riding.  I instead slept 3 hours on the outbound, so I left Loudeac quite a bit after my "Plan A", with less time in the bank. 
  • I crashed on the way back from Brest ... lost inflation in my front tire, which slid out from under me.  It wasn't a bad crash.  I had some road rash on knee and elbow, shifters knocked out of position and uglified, and (as I later learned) a clean bolt pulled partly out, but it didn't really have a big effect on my riding once I (slowly and carefully) put the bike back in order.  But it cost me quite a bit of time adjusting the shifters, changing the flat, and later dealing with a shoe that I couldn't unclip.  (It's pretty alarming when the foot you customarily clip out with just won't come unclipped, to the point that I resorted to leaving the shoe attached to the pedal and removing my foot from it.)
  • I had planned to sleep 3 hours in Loudeac on the return.  Due partly to time lost from the crash, and partly just to riding more slowly than I had hoped, I slept 90 minutes on the return. 
  • I had a drop bag with a change of clothes in Villaine.  However, I didn't have a hotel there, and didn't want to wait in line for a bathroom, so I didn't really have an opportunity to change.  Also the jersey in my drop bag was synthetic, and with the dropping temperature I decided keeping my wool jersey on was a better idea.  (I'm glad I made this choice, as it rained the next morning.)  I did retrieve something from my drop bag ... food?  I don't recall what.  But neither the planned nap nor the planned change of clothes happened. 
  • I did lay my head down on a table for 30 minutes in Mortagne.  Every available space on the floor, in the cafeteria and halls and doorways, was taken by others sleeping, so the table was what was available.  Thereafter I did not have a repeat of the vivid visual hallucinations I experienced on the way into Mortagne, but I was still quite tired and had to take a couple of ten-minute ditch naps later, fortunately before the rain started. 
  • Narayan Krishnamurthy, a friend from Seattle International Randonneurs, asked me to ride in with him from Mortagne.  I tried.  After perhaps half an hour or an hour, I had to send him on and take my first ditch nap.  (Narayan had a later start time and was therefore closer to the time cut, so he could not afford a ditch nap then, although he really wanted one.)   (On further reflection, that may have been my second ditch nap ... I think Narayan and I both slept for a few minutes somewhere between Mortagne and Dreux.) 
  • I had another flat, this time on the rear, on the final stretch from Dreux to the finish.  My coordination was poor, but another rider stopped and helped me get the wheel back on. 
It's interesting (to me at least) to see how my actual progress stacks up against my plans.  My optimistic plan A was reasonably close on the first day, then far off later.  

A = Plan A  (optimistic schedule)
B = Plan B   (15% slower, less sleep, racing the cut)
Actual:  Actual arrival time at a control, from the PBP electronic records

Note A and B are planned departures, and Actual is arrival times.  Perhaps at some point I can dig through GPS records to get the actual departure times.

SQ Yvellines (start)  19:30 Sunday
Mortagne au Perche (food) 139km/86 miles A: 2:28 B: 3:52 (not a control)
Villaines La Juhel 220km/136 miles A: 7:20 B: 9:43 Cut: 10:10 Monday  Actual: 06:10 Monday
Fougere 309km/192 miles A: 12:21 B: 15:43 Cut: 16:04  Actual: 11:10 Monday
Tinteniac 363km/225 miles A: 15:41 B: 19:43 Cut: 19:56  Actual: 14:40 Monday
Quedillac (food) 389km/241 miles A: 17:10 B: 21:30 (not a control)
Loudeac arrive 448km/278 miles A: 19:59 B: 0:53 Cut: 2:00 Tuesday  Actual: 19:50
Loudeac depart 448km/278 miles A: 22:00 B: 0:00  
St Nic du Pelem 493km/306 miles A: 0:19 B: 2:47 (not a control)
Carhaix 526km/326 miles A: 2:47 B: 5:44 Cut: 8:03  Actual: 05:31
Brest 614km/381 miles A: 8:05 B: 12:06 Cut: 14:53  Actual: 10:59
Carhaix 698km/433 miles A: 13:11 B: 18:14 Cut: 21:19  Actual: 17:10
Loudeac arrive 780km/484 miles A: 18:11 B: 0:13 Cut: 3:39  Actual: 23:04
Loudeac depart           A: 23:39 B: 1:39 Cut: 3:39
Tinteniac 865km/537 miles A: 4:48 B: 7:49 Cut: 10:12  Actual: 08:24
Fougere 919km/571 miles A: 8:20 B: 12:05 Cut: 14:23  Actual: 12:05
Villaines La Juhel 1008km/626 miles A: 14:27 B: 19:25 Cut: 21:14  Actual: 18:30
Mortagne au Perche 1088km/676 miles A: 19:20 B: 1:17 Cut: 3:08  Actual:  00:42
Dreux 1166km/724 miles A: 0:08 B: 7:02 Cut: 8:44  Actual: 07:38
SQ Yvellines 1230km/764 miles A: 4:12 B: 11:54 Cut: 13:30  Actual: 11:58

It is remarkable how close this is to my "Plan A" in the first 24 hours and "Plan B" thereafter.   It's a little depressing to realize this averages to 8.6 mph over the whole journey, but that's total time and not moving time.  I have no idea what my moving average was ... probably around 11 or 12mph.  I was definitely not moving quickly toward the end.

Although I found it difficult to keep to my plan, I think the planning exercise was useful in helping me gauge my progress at each point, and to make tactical decisions like sleeping more at Loudeac on the outbound.  Although I was behind where I wanted to be, I was never in serious danger of missing a cut, and knowing that was helpful. 

Friday, August 14, 2015

My Paris-Brest-Paris time plan

I learned the art of brevet time planning from Susan Otcenas (who makes very elaborate time sheets with, among other things, speed variations based on climbing) and Lynne Fitzsimmons (who uses a similar but less complex system).  Mine are closer to Lynne's style, but have borrowed as well from Susan's style.   I like to have at least two versions:  A "plan A" for the schedule I'd like to keep if everything goes well, and "plan B" for the schedule I'll try to keep if things are going less well and I'm rushing to keep ahead of the cuts.

Here is my plan for Paris-Brest-Paris, extracted from a spreadsheet that has some additional columns, such as my speed and the time I plan to spend at stops (typically 45 minutes at each, except for sleep stops in Loudeac and food stops at a couple places that are not controls).

I depart at 7:30pm Sunday  (10:30am Eugene time) and have 90 hours to reach Brest and return, with intermediate time cuts that I must reach to avoid disqualification.  The intermediate time cuts are not even:  Basically I have 40 hours to reach Brest and 50 hours to return.

I have a hotel in Loudeac for Monday and Tuesday nights.  On the way out it's likely I'll get 90 minutes sleep,  3 hours on the way back, but more (or less!) is possible.  Sleep will be in 90 minute increments --- for example, if I have time for 4 hours on the way back, I'll take 3 (90 minutes x 2 cycles) and bank the extra hour for a nap sometime later.  However, if I reach Loudeac with less than two hours "banked", I'll likely to take at least a short nap before continuing.

A = Plan A  (optimistic schedule)
B = Plan B   (15% slower, less sleep, racing the cut)

SQ Yvellines (start) 19:30 Sunday
Mortagne au Perche (food) 139km/86 miles A: 2:28 B: 3:52
Villaines La Juhel 220km/136 miles A: 7:20 B: 9:43 Cut: 10:10 Monday
Fougere 309km/192 miles A: 12:21 B: 15:43 Cut: 16:04
Tinteniac 363km/225 miles A: 15:41 B: 19:43 Cut: 19:56
Quedillac (food) 389km/241 miles A: 17:10 B: 21:30
Loudeac arrive 448km/278 miles A: 19:59 B: 0:53 Cut: 2:00 Tuesday
Loudeac depart 448km/278 miles A: 22:00 B: 0:00
St Nic du Pelem 493km/306 miles A: 0:19 B: 2:47
Carhaix 526km/326 miles A: 2:47 B: 5:44 Cut: 8:03
Brest 614km/381 miles A: 8:05 B: 12:06 Cut: 14:53
Carhaix 698km/433 miles A: 13:11 B: 18:14 Cut: 21:19
Loudeac arrive 780km/484 miles A: 18:11 B: 0:13 Cut: 3:39
Loudeac depart         A: 23:39 B: 1:39 Cut: 3:39
Tinteniac 865km/537 miles A: 4:48 B: 7:49 Cut: 10:12
Fougere 919km/571 miles A: 8:20 B: 12:05 Cut: 14:23
Villaines La Juhel 1008km/626 miles A: 14:27 B: 19:25 Cut: 21:14
Mortagne au Perche 1088km/676 miles A: 19:20 B: 1:17 Cut: 3:08
Dreux 1166km/724 miles A: 0:08 B: 7:02 Cut: 8:44
SQ Yvellines 1230km/764 miles A: 4:12 B: 11:54 Cut: 13:30

Except for Loudeac, all times are departure times, after some time for getting my control card stamped, getting some food, etc.  There are a couple of anomalies in the schedule as shown here ... for example, I can't actually leave Loudeac before I arrive on the way out.  What that means in practice is that Plan B is not tenable on the outbound ... I must either ride faster than that or spend less time at the controles.

I think I can stay close to plan A for the first day, if nothing goes wrong.  I may slip closer to plan B in subsequent days.  I will try to keep 4 hours "banked" after the turnaround in Brest, but the early morning finish shown in Plan A strikes me as unrealistic ... it's more likely I'll trade in some of that time bank for a nap somewhere on the third or fourth day.  I'll have a drop bag in Villaine (but no hotel), so I might take a nap on a cot there.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

How to Ride All Night

Preparing for Solstice 2014 ride
Probably all of us ride at least sometimes at night, even if it's just our commute home during the mid-winter months.  From late fall to early spring, we may carry lights and anticipate many training and recreational rides ending in darkness.  Most think of darkness as something to be avoided or tolerated.  But what about riding all night, intentionally?  Have you considered that?  Does it sound like fun, or a worthwhile challenge?  I think it is.

I've ridden through the night several times now:  On 400km brevets, on 24-hour flèche events, solstice night brevets, and on the outset of the fabulous SIR 1000km brevet from Seattle to Klamath Falls.  I don't consider myself an expert, but I don't think I can consider myself a beginner any more either.  Here are a few things I've learned about riding through the night, from dusk to dawn.

Aside to my experienced randonneuring friends: You probably already know what I'm going to write here.  Feel free to critique my advice and add some of your own in the comments.  This is aimed primarily at recreational and sport riders who are new to distance riding at night.

Why might you do this?  First, because riding at night is something a little different, an experience worth having.  Everything looks different.  If you ride alone, the solitude is magnified.  If you ride with a friend or a group, riding together for a long time at night is a bonding experience. Or, you might just want to ride a really long way.   If you are riding for 24 hours or more, a period of darkness is a given.   (Almost:   There is a 600km brevet in Alaska that takes place around the summer solstice and entirely in daylight. )

Of course your bicycle must be equipped with a good headlight.  I'm a big fan of hub dynamo light systems, but both dynamo and battery lights have improved greatly over the last few years.  You need enough light to see the road, and you need it to last all night.  There are lots of good battery lights available now that meet the first requirement; the second is a little harder, but you can do it.  There is more to say about lighting than fits here.  I'll reserve the rest for a separate post.

Even if you have excellent lighting, don't underestimate the value of good reflective clothing.  Besides making you much more visible to drivers while you're riding, a reflective vest or jacket will make you visible when you're beside the road, fixing a flat at 3am.

Solstice 2013 ride (photo by Norm Carr)
Besides food and lights, you will need some capacity to carry layers of clothing on your bicycle. If it's cool at 8pm, it may be downright cold at 4am.  The coldest hour seems to be right around dawn.  If you don't have the layers you need, the energy your body needs to keep warm will be stolen from your pedaling, and also hurt your alertness.

A night ride requires more planning than a day ride.  In particular, you'll want to have located 24-hour convenience stores and gas stations with mini-marts, because your opportunities for buying food at night are much more limited than during the day.  It can be difficult to read a cue sheet at night, so a GPS or a GPS route on your phone (like the new RideWithGPS app) is very helpful, particularly if the route is not very familiar.  Even if you use a Garmin or other dedicated GPS device, it is a good idea to have your route also on your phone (the app is good for this) in case of a device failure or if you get lost.

If you can, take a nap before an evening start event.  Even an hour, even if you can't really get to sleep, helps make sure you don't start in the hole.  Sometimes this won't be an option, but if you have the chance it is very helpful.

Make sure someone knows your route.  If you ride at night often, or outside cell phone coverage, you might consider a satellite tracker like the FindMeSpot, which communicates directly through a satellite and does not depend on your cell phone.  If you need one very occasionally, you might rent or borrow one, or perhaps you can ride with a friend who uses one.  If you need one often, they are about $150 to purchase plus $150 each year for service.  I've never used the 'call for help' feature on my tracker, but I'm glad it's there.

You'll also want to pack more food than you would for an equivalent ride in the day.  Eating while riding can be more difficult in the dark.   If you have a front rack or a handlebar bag, it helps to munch from the bag while riding.  Otherwise a 'bento-box' style top-tube case can hold a couple bars and a couple gels.  I'm not a fan of powdered drinks in general, but they are convenient at night since you can reach your drink without seeing it.

Eat, drink, repeat.  This holds for riding in the day or at night, but it's particularly important at night. Besides keeping your energy up for pedaling,  sufficient food and water help keep you alert.  If you start feeling drowsy, consider how long it has been since you last ate or drank.  Caffeine helps too, and many gels, bars, and other ride foods available today include caffeine.  But caffeine without additional food energy won't do it.

Suppose you've eaten enough, and yet the drowsiness is becoming overwhelming.  You must stop. Really, do it.  Falling asleep while riding is a bad idea.  I've done it once, but woke almost immediately and recovered before crashing.  Last year on a ride in Washington, a rider was not so lucky; he fell asleep, crashed, and broke his collarbone, a long way from anywhere.   So if you find yourself shaking your head to stay awake, pull over and take a short nap.  Set your phone alarm for fifteen minutes, eat a gel or bar with caffeine (which you can be digesting while you rest), and lie down if you can, or else sit with your head on your knees, and take that little bit of sleep.  It doesn't take a lot.

You will go slower at night.  What feels like 18 is probably 14; what feels like 14 is probably 10.  Unless you are racing, you should just accept that you will not maintain daytime speeds at night.  Nonetheless, you need to guard against slowing down too far.   If you feel like you are doing 14-15, but you are really doing 9-10mph, you may quickly fall behind your plan, so check your computer occasionally (or use the backlight on your gps unit to keep your speed visible).

The bigger threat to your schedule at night is not riding slower, but taking too long when you do stop.  If you stop at a convenience store without a plan, the delay can easily balloon.   If you are riding in a group, it helps to discuss the stop in advance:  Are we taking bathroom breaks? Getting food?  How much time do we plan to be stopped?   An explicit plan for the length of the stop helps.  Take the time you need, but not more.

And then?  A ride is just a ride.  Things will look different, and you'll feel different, but the key skills of steady pedaling, monitoring your exertion, and enjoying your surroundings are the same as ever. If you can ride 100 miles or more in the daylight, with a little preparation you can probably ride 100 miles or more at night.
Refueling after the Solstice 2014 ride