Italian Ice Fleche Report: The Spirit is Willing, But the Fleche is Weak

The “Italian Ice” fleche team of Chip Adams, Bob Casciato, Greg Conderacci and Clint Provenza left Middletown, Va. looking like this:

Chip, Greg, Clint, Bob

and finished in Quakertown, Pa. looking like this:

All Finished

In between, they went from sun and fun to dark, cold and wet, and that’s before the police got involved. Greg has written up the team’s adventure and it’s a must read for anybody who has left that heavy rain jacket in the car.

The Italian Ice Capades:
The Spirit Is Willing, But the Fleche Is Wet
by Greg Conderacci

April 29, 2008

The saga of Team Italian Ice and the April 26-27 Eastern Pennsylvania Fleche actually begins on April 25. On that day, Clint Provenza, our strongest member, rides the 140-plus miles from his home near Annapolis, Md. to the ride start in Middletown, Va. Our lazier members, Bob Casciato, Chip Adams and Greg Conderacci, drive.

Feeling a little guilty, Adams and Conderacci ride out to meet Clint about a dozen miles from the finish – and confront our first adventure. The low water bridge across the Shenandoah River is under water. Chip plows across the bridge, up to his bottom bracket in water, ignoring Greg’s pleas to turn back. OK, so tomorrow we start with wet shoes.

Chip, Greg, Clint, BobChip, Greg, Clint, Bob

Saturday dawns bright and clear and our ride scout and navigator Chip adds another benefit to his great route – a visit from his parents who cheerfully pick up our bags from the hotel and send us on our way with waves and hugs at 7 a.m. The Rando Rules specify that a fleche must be at least 240 miles and, just for fun, Chip has added an extra 35 miles. After all, we don’t want to be bored.

You don’t have to be a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing, and Chip has placed what should be a safe bet on that: we’re heading east to Quakertown, Pa. with the Prevailing Westerlies at our backs – we hope.

Through Golden FieldsThrough Golden Fields

It is a spectacularly beautiful day and we motor along, four cocky PBP finishers, resplendent in our French jerseys, snapping pictures of each other and casually stopping to gorge ourselves at breakfast and lunch. After all, a fleche is supposed to be relaxed, right?

Randonneurs Unite!Randonneurs Unite!

All morning long, no real wind, but as it comes up, it seems to be blowing from the east. Oh, well, no big deal, we think, as we roll into Gettysburg with 125 miles under our belts and almost 5,000 feet of climbing. It’s only 4 p.m. We are making great time and we barely feel the temperatures which hover in the high 80s.

Classic PA Covered BridgeClassic PA Covered Bridge

But as we turn east, the temperatures drop, the headwind stiffens and the hills become relentless. We press on, jaws set, eyes squinting, legs churning. We arrive at Fawn Grove, Pa., just as the light fails us. We are at 175 miles and it is 8 p.m. We have 11 hours to ride just 100 miles. Piece of cake.

Dinner StopLast Time in Dry Clothes

With temperatures in the 60s and the heaviest climbing ahead of us, Conderacci, as usual, over-dresses and is ridiculed by his mates. But as we cross the mighty Susquehanna, the skies open and the temperature plunges into the 40s. Everyone digs for rain gear in the drenching downpour and we all think the same thing: this could be one dark, nasty century.

Over the next 25 miles, the complexion of the ride changes dramatically. Can you say “hypothermia,” boys and girls? We pull into an all-night 7-11 and take stock of our situation. We are all shaking uncontrollably, especially Clint who does not have the advantage of the body fat the rest of us carry. Conderacci heads off to a coin-op laundry in a vain effort to dry his clothes. Everybody else chugs hot soup, hoping to restore internal body temperatures. Nothing much helps.

Warming UpWarming Up

As we ride into the bitter black night, our average speed falls like a stone. Since none of us believe in fenders, we can’t draft without getting an icy shower. Fast descents on slippery roads are out of the question. The wind is slashing through our wet clothes and every descent is like taking a dip off the Titanic. We pray for climbs and are grateful for the shred of warmth they offer. Fortunately, there are plenty of them: we will climb more than 10,000 feet in the second half of the ride.

We stop to wrap Clint in a space blanket under his sopping jacket, but it doesn’t help much. We need to go fast to maintain body heat, but Clint is too cold to do that. Finally, we have to face reality: we need to get Clint help – fast.

Warming Zone AheadClint’s last control: No. Coventry TWP Police Station

Chip remembers a police station on the route in Pottstown. At 3:45 a.m., the lone cop on duty lets us into the station and points Clint to the restroom. Before we know it, Clint sees a shower stall, strips off his sopping wet bike clothes and hops in to warm up. After using all the hot water, he bundles his still-shivering body in a huge blanket and plasters himself against the wall heater. We fetch him a cup of hot tea. He urges us to press on, realizing there is no way he could survive another three hours in his hypothermic state. The officer asks again if he should call 911. As soon as we leave, Clint promptly falls blissfully asleep, wearing only a wool blanket. Sadly, with less than 30 miles to go, he doesn’t finish – even though he’s ridden 393 miles and climbed over 22,000 feet in less than two days!

The next control is only 8-9 miles away and we have over an hour to arrive by 5 a.m. As easy as it sounds, we realize we have a long way to go and not much time to get there. The storm and terrain made the trip incredibly difficult. We divvy up the space blanket, each tucking a third of it under our rain gear to block the chill. Suddenly, we are sprinting through the night, trading the warmth of our effort for the bitter cold. We must have a control stamp at 5 a.m. – two hours before our scheduled finish. We come flying into our control. It’s a sad state of affairs for a team that had expected to be lounging at this point.

With no time to waste, we now must go 22 miles in under two hours. Suddenly, that doesn’t quite seem like enough time. The hills, rain and cold take their toll, but the sky lightens and our spirits soar. It’s 6:30 a.m. and we have only about five miles to go.

Chip in the NightChip in the Night

But then Chip punctures. It’s a slow leak and we try pumping it up and pressing on, but it doesn’t hold – we have to change a tire. Our fingers are numb and trembling, but we manage to fumble through the change. Now, we’re sprinting again. We rocket down a long hill and into the hostel where food, friends and warm showers await us.

We arrive at the final control – right at the 24-hour mark. Chip looks down at his tire: it’s flat again. We’re so cold we’re barely conscious, but, thank goodness, we’re done. RBA Tom Rosenbauer passes out towels and we trundle off to showers, grimy and begging for blankets.

Among us, we have too many years of riding experience to count, but we all agree on one thing: this was the ride that froze Italian Ice.

All FinishedAll Finished!


Weekend Roundup — ROMA 400K and PA Fleche teams

DCRs were active this week up and down the East Coast, despite the wet weather on Saturday night. The group of us at the North Carolina Randonneurs 300K enjoyed the best weather, with just a passing shower in the evening.

Three teams comprised of DCR riders pointed their wheels north towards Quakertown, Pa. as part of Tom Rosenbauer’s PA Randonneurs fleche. See the results at the PAR home page.

They all had rain overnight but tried their hardest. Maile Neel’s “Fleche Pedalers” were successful in completing the team’s second fleche of the season, having ridden the ROMA fleche on Easter. See her photos at her Flickr page or see the Slideshow.

Bob Casciato’s “Italian Ice” Team also finished on time. TDR has been promised a report and photos; stay tuned.

Bill Beck’s “Fleche in the Penn” team took a group spill in the rain with no permanent damage to riders or bikes, but decided for safety’s sake to DNF rather than continue. See Bill’s photoset or the Slideshow, complete with details about the team and their ride.

Before the weekend, Crista Borras and Chuck Wood’s Team Carnivore withdrew from the event due to rider illness and the withdrawal of a team member, which left the team with only two riders.

Over in Leesburg, Va., a group of 17 riders undertook the ROMA 400K, which included the opening segment of the Shenandoah 1200K. They also endured a wet, cold night and had to cross a flooded low-water bridge. Nick Bull has posted a long report at the Randon list.

NC Randonneurs 300K: Sunny and Fast

UPDATE: Bob Orr has posted his report at his blog.

MG and I successfully completed the sunswept North Carolina Randonneurs 300K ride on Saturday. We had a fun ride. The route from Morrisville, N.C., near Raleigh, to Seagrove was all rollers but no steeps. Tandem Friendly!

MG and Ed in Seagrove, N.C.MG and Ed in Seagrove, N.C.

I’ve posted a set of photos at my Flickr page or see the Slideshow.

The weather was spectacular with moderate southwest winds providing a quartering headwind on the outbound leg to Seagrove and a nice boost on the return as the temperatures climbed into the 80s under clear skies until the later afternoon. The forecast for late day showers proved only briefly accurate; there was one heavy shower that swept across the course and nailed the main group for a few minutes with huge drops. For once our dawdling at convenience stores paid off and we missed the rain.

MG, Jeff, Byron and Branson under bright skiesMG, Jeff, Byron and Branson under bright skies

The regular NCR crew turned out, featuring Branson Kimball and Mike Dayton of Research Trailer Park blog fame. See Mike’s ride report Here. We also got the chance to visit with Chuck Lathe, builder of Coho Bicycles, who was riding one of his own.

Three other D.C. Randonneurs joined us for the ride: Lynn Kristianson and Gordon Meuse on their Co-Motion tandem and Jeff Magnuson on his single. We also got to know Scott McCullough of Linthicum, Md., who rode his Bachetta recumbent. See Scott’s report and photos Here.

For the most part everyone stayed in relative proximity on the out-and-back route and we had lots of time to visit. Thanks to RBA Alan Johnson and helpers Jerry Phelps and Wes for making the event one we really enjoyed. Oh, and an extra thanks to North Carolina drivers who were almost unfailingly polite (we got buzzed once by someone who wouldn’t wait for oncoming traffic to pass, but that was it) and to North Carolina in general for the smooth, quiet back roads.

Thursday Commuteblogging: Bike Friday Edition

As some of you have figured out, MG and I like to meet after work on the Pennsylvania Avenue plaza at the White House. We get a chance to talk without all the urban car traffic and check out the parade of bike commuters passing by. And, we might get a visit from Squirrel Buddy. Remember when he climbed my back wheel? On Tuesday he came over to say hi again.

Squirrel BuddySquirrel Buddy

Just then we saw Blake Rubin riding by on his custom color Bike Friday Pocket Rocket. Not being shy, we called out and he graciously stopped to show us his new steed.

Blake and His Bike FridayBlake and His Bike Friday

Blake bought it to do a little of everything: commute, countryside rides, and travel to Philly and abroad.

The color scheme is wild, in a cool way. The build is pretty standard Bike Friday, in that the Friday folks really like lower-end Shimano when they are not installing Sun Race hubs — shudder.

Blake went with the Shimano Capreo 9-tooth cog rear hub, which lets you get away with normal size chainrings instead of the big 58-tooth outer rings MG and I use on our PRs. Blake splurged for a King headset. Nice.

Here are some more photos. Hopefully we’ll see Blake out on a brevet one of these days.

Cane Creek lever, bar end shiftersCane Creek lever, bar end shifters

Front fork, King headsetFront fork, King headset

Shimano Capreo rear hub, folding rackShimano Capreo rear hub, folding rack

Tucson Bikes and the Old Rag 200K

MG and I were away in Tucson this weekend for her sister EFG’s wedding. We actually needed a weekend off the bike after getting a little thrashed on the Pennsylvania Randonneurs 200K the weekend before and with the NC Randonneurs 300K coming up this weekend.

Riders enjoying the Old Rag 200K, Apr. 19, 2008Riders enjoying the Old Rag 200K, Apr. 19, 2008

Still, we missed our buddies doing one of the best 200Ks in the Virginia area, the Old Rag 200K out of Warrenton. Crista led the ride as an informal group ride. I’ll be organizing this route as a RUSA brevet for DC Randonneurs on July 19. Maile posted some excellent photos at her Flickr page, or see the Slideshow.

There was a 200k in relative proximity in Globe, Ariz., hosted by the Arizona Randonneurs but it was impossible for us to attend and still be good wedding guests.

Ed and MG in TucsonEd and MG in Tucson

Lucky for us, the Greater Arizona Bicycling Association had its spring Bike Swap on Sunday morning and we were able to go have a look. We found a bonanza of old bikes, mostly in fantastic condition. If we had the storage space I would have bought a couple at least; a Schwinn track tandem and early model Specialized Stumpjumper had my eye. The crowd was relaxed and enjoyed the Sunday morning vibe, with families mixing with fixed-gear scenesters and the classic bike aficionados.

See our photos at my Flickr page or see the Slideshow.

The GABA Swap flyerThe GABA Swap flyer

Schwinn Track TandemSchwinn Track Tandem

Shay and his Kogswell P/RShay and his Kogswell P/R

Bryan Keener\'s 36-inch wheel MTBBryan Keener’s 36-inch wheel MTB

Thursday Commuteblogging: the Pope and Steel Bikes

I admit I missed yesterday’s Wednesday Commuteblogging and didn’t have one at all last week. I’ll plead that when the ACP brevets are underway, I try to scale back the late evenings in order to get more sleep and generally focus on the next event. MG and I are tentatively headed south to the N.C. Randonneurs 300K in Raleigh on the 26th, and we’ll return for their 400K on May 17. Our 600K plans are uncertain right now, with the Boston 600K on July 26 the most likely.

This week Pope Benedict is in D.C. and as a bicycle commuter who rides past the White House daily, I get to see a little more of the pomp of VIP visits than your average person who drives or takes the Metro subway. That was the case Wednesday, when he was hosted at the White House. What’s he got to do with steel bikes? Nothing, really. He probably grew up riding a steel bike. We know he has a wooden bicycle to ride around Rome.

Here’s a photo of cyclists gawking at the White House south lawn on Wednesday, when the Pope was hosted by the president:

Cyclists stop to view the papal visit to the White HouseCyclists stop to view the papal visit to the White House

On to steel bikes. Randonneurs ride all types of bicycles, with steel, titantium and carbon the top frameset choices these days (did I just list those in reverse order?). Aluminum is relatively rare on brevets, save for Cannondale, which to its credit still offers a touring bike and the most affordable high-quality tandems now that Burley has given up on bikes and focuses on trailers.

Richard Schwinn of Waterford Bicycles recently spoke to Georgena Terry of Terry Bicycles about frame materials.

Check out the audio interview at Georgena’s t-chatter blog.

While he’s a fan of steel (warms my heart!), Richard notes the qualities of carbon. In particular, he recognizes the ability to shape it into cool lines, and, to him, the value of carbon forks to reduce weight, though he says the non-racer is overly focused on that aspect. He also talks about how carbon’s long-term durability is as yet unknown and how cyclists confuse its ability to dampen, vs. absorb, vibration.

We all know carbon fails catastrophically, unlike steel and to a lesser degree titanium. Richard delves into the economics of carbon, as well. China and Taiwan saw an opportunity to win market share through aluminum frames, which they sold cheaply enough to push steel bikes off shop floors, and now are doing the same to aluminum by emphasizing carbon.

Over at the Cycloculture Blog, Surly’s Andy Corson offers his take on the Surly lineup. See Andy’s comments Here.

Surly offers what I see are the best lower-cost randonneur-ready frames and bikes. They are available through any shop that does business with the big wholesaler Quality Bicycle Products. It helps to look past Surly’s ugly web site, I’ll admit. The problem is that you rarely see Surly bikes in shops, which prefer to push the brands with which they have dealership status.

I wish more shops would keep a Long Haul Trucker, Cross-Check and Pacer built up for test rides, just to show folks that affordable, lightweight (note I did not say ultralight) steel bikes are still around. I recently told a buddy who is considering getting back into cycling to check out Surly, but I have no idea if he could actually find one built up for a test ride in his size.

Seattle randonneur Paul (Dr. Codfish) Johnson reminds me that another affordable alternative is the Salsa Casseroll. The Casseroll looks great and I’ve mentioned this bike before, but it’s worth repeating. Steel, versatile, room for fenders and 32mm 700c tires. What’s not to love?

Team Blue Without Two’s 2008 Fleche

Nick Bull has written up the saga of the “Blue” fleche team, whose name changes every year. In 2008, it was Team Blue Without Two. Thanks for another great tale, Nick.

Nick on the road with Team Blue Without TwoNick on the road with Team Blue Without Two

by Nick Bull

A few pictures (two are courtesy of Bill Beck) are at my Flickr page and my Motion Based track is Here.

Team Blue Without TwoTeam Blue Without Two: Tom, Mike, Fred, Nick, Alex

Two regular members of the “Blue” fleche team couldn’t ride with us this year: Hank Greenblatt and Doug Young. So two new riders joined the team: longtime randonneur Alex Sanchez, and rookie randonneur (but experienced triathlete) Mike Desmond. The remaining members of the team are (captain) Tom Reeder, Fred Robbins, and Nick Bull. Why are we the “Blue” team?

In 2004 (before I joined the team), the team was on a training ride and kept being passed by a group of cyclists, so the team said “They blew right by us.” Thus the name “Blue Bias”. As it turns out, the team rode so strongly that they blew by all competitors–thus they blew by you (well, in their dreams, maybe …) so …

In 2005, they became “Blue Bayou”. During that fleche (my first with the team), two riders blew out their tires, so …

In 2006, we were “Blue Attire”. During that fleche (we all wore some blue attire, of course), temperatures were quite hot, leading to serious stomach upset after a stop to eat barbeque sandwiches. The result? Riders didn’t actually blow chunks of barbeque, but they wanted to, so …

In 2007, we were “Blue Barbeque”.

Back to the story for 2008. We followed the same route as usual: Our route is somewhat of an arrow shape, pointing toward the south west, with its tip at Madison, Va. The “top left” corner of the arrow is at Purcellville. The top right is at Key Bridge, which crosses the Potomac from Rosslyn in Arlington County, Va., to Washington, D.C. We start out from the Westover district of Arlington County and head north-west on the W&OD trail to its end at Purcellville. From Purcellville, we head roughly southwest to Madison.

Then we turn roughly northeast heading in the direction of Key Bridge. After Madison, we face a nearly-80 mile stretch that has practically no convenience stores, and only one place we can fuel up–a pizza place that closes early enough that it can be a bit dicey whether we can get there in
time for food.

After a little bobble when the 7-11 clerk at the start control refusing to sign our fleche cards because of fears that he would be deported (or something), which were thankfully overcome by the persuasive powers of Ruth Reeder, we started just a few minutes late, riding into near-freezing temperatures. Just to keep things interesting, we had a few minutes of sleet near Leesburg, plus winds from the north at 12 m.p.h. with gusts to 18 m.p.h. that hindered our progress to the northwest.

Alex, Nick, and Mike powered down the W&OD, with Tom and Fred coming along behind. Apparently, Fred just hates the W&OD, but he told himself that if he could just get to the end of it, then he could do the rest of the fleche with no problems. We regrouped at the 7-11 in Purcelville, with riders heading out as soon as their teeth started to chatter, so the late arrivers left a few minutes after the early arrivers. Now heading southwest, we had a nice tailwind that kept up for the remainder of the day until our turnaround at dinner.

Alex and Nick rode together for most of the leg down to Warrenton — or at least, Nick kept up sufficiently with Alex so that he kept him in sight most of the time. Mike powered off down the road, only to arrive at Warrenton a few minutes after Alex and Nick. Apparently, the Blue route contains too few miles for Mike.

Sheltered from the wind by the Warrenton Sheetz, it was comfortably warm sitting in the sunlight, which made it hard to get going again, heading back into the chilly mid-40’s temperatures. This year, the barbeque at Tolliver’s store was fabulous. Many hours later, after an afternoon that barely reached 50 degrees, and that fortunately only had one “scattered shower” we regrouped at the McDonald’s in Madison — again, Alex and Nick beat Mike there, as Mike decided to add a few more miles to the route.

We were worried that the tailwinds would now become a problem as we turned northwest toward home, but the hlly terrain provided some shelter, and the winds died down somewhat with the arrival of dark. But … now the temperature dropped precipitously, heading toward freezing quit quickly, and then gradually getting down to an overnight low in the high 20’s. This year, when we stopped to put on lights, I remembered my experience last year with painfully-cold feet in the desolate wasteland between Rapidan and the M&P Pizza control, so I put on my full kit of foot-warming technology.

We arrived at the M&P at 9:30 (Alex, Nick and Mike), which is quite early by historical standards, because of the earlier tailwinds; Tom and Fred came in just a few minutes later.

Matt Settle, Doug Young, and Ruth Reeder were all at the M&P, so we had quite a party, at least as much of a party as tired, cold, and hungry randonneurs can handle. We suited up in our coldest-weather gear (well, as usual, I had just a little bit more in the Carradice, “just in case”). We headed off at 11 p.m., riding as a group for the remainder of the night, for another 45 miles of riding in the wasteland between M&P and Occoquan, eventually controlling at a 7-11 where I dipped into my clothing reserves and put on a wool, long-sleeved shirt.

We moved out fairly quickly, but when we arrived at the 22-hour control had only 20 minutes to spare. I’d been having problems staying awake, so took a 15 minute nap in the dirt, sheltered from the wind by a fence and a dumpster. What a lovely little spot!

After carefully buying a muffin at precisely 4:00 am (to get the time-stamped receipt), we headed north again, we eventually were riding along the bike path next to the Potomac. Someone had
thoughtfully arranged for a choir to sing to us from across the river.

Paced by Fred, we arrived with only five minutes to spare at our usual “regrouping” park bench, 1/4 mile south of the Key Marriott. We had a moment of panic when Tom hadn’t shown up by 5:59:00 and we decided we’d better ride to the hotel and check in, but he arrived at the hotel a minute or so later, which is close enough to be “simultaneous.”

This is the first time that the “Blues” have gotten five members across the finish line together, which is cause enough for celebration. But all of us were particularly inspired by Fred Robbins, who had DNF’d in our previous two years, and who this year had begun training earlier and harder, and who stuck with the ride with determination and fortitude. Several of us went to Lynn Kristianson and Gordon Meuses’s post-fleche breakfast party, and had a great time. Thanks so much to Lynn and Gordon.

With the deep, cold weather this year, many of us spent much of the ride blowing our cold, drippy noses. So …

For 2009, we will be “Blue Noses” (I don’t know how Tom comes up with this!)

April 8, 2008

PA Randonneurs 200K Results

Tom Rosenbauer has posted preliminary results from the PA Randonneurs 200K at the PAR site. See them Here.

Dan Blumenfeld (see below) has posted his story at his RanDanneuring blog.

Tom notes a 100% completion rate at the NJ Randonneurs forum:

Given the dismal weather forecast, the difficulty of the course, and the number of new riders either unfamiliar with the course or coming out for their very first brevet, the last thing I expected was a 100% completion rate. But all 38 riders who clipped in this past Saturday “rised up” to the challenge and finished within the time limit — the last 3 riders coming in with just 6 minutes to spare! Dan Wilson, one of the seven first-time brevet riders, was the first finisher with a time of 8:41. And another first-time brevet rider, Dan Blumenfeld, became the very first recumbent rider to officially finish a PA brevet.

Special thanks go out to Steve Scheetz, for helping with bike inspections at the start and to Nate Morgenstern, for leading the way with the sign-in sheets and helping out at finish. And thanks also, to Seeni Komolafe and Rob Welsh for helping with the cleanup and packing up my car. Without volunteers like these, putting on these brevets would not be possible.

The PA200k has been a labor of love and I really appreciate the many kind remarks you gave me. If you have any other comments or pictures to share, I’ll include them in the ride report that I’ll be posting on the website, shortly.

Tom Rosenbauer
Eastern PA RBA

PA Randonneurs April 12 200K — Scenic & Unexpectedly Sunny

An even dozen D.C. Randonneurs (counting Mary Crawley as one of ours!) traveled to Quakertown, PA Saturday for the PA Randonneurs 200.

See my Flickr photoset Here or see the captioned Slideshow.

Update: Bill Beck has posted his photos, Slideshow, and Motion Based map and elevation graph.

Maile has also posted her photos. See them Here, or see the Slideshow.

Cresting Fox Gap

After a pre-ride group dinner at the popular McCoole’s Red Lion Inn in Quakertown, we went back to our hotel and hostel beds to dread the forecast of showers throughout the day Saturday.

We gathered under rain at the Weisel Hostel and Tom Rosenbauer delayed the start when thunder and lightning rolled through. It was very ominous. Yet the rain had tapered to a mist as we departed at 6:15 a.m. and we rode the rest of the day under partly sunny skies, save for a sprinkle in the afternoon when the winds shifted from the south to the west. Temperatures climbed into the low 70s and we drank a lot of water.

Ed & MG give the Secret Randonneur Salute

A total of 37 riders (Tom pre-rode the route, bringing the official field to 38) undertook the loop route that consisted of four long ascents and numerous little steeps along the Delaware River, alternating winding descents, riverside romps and slow crawls back to high ground. There were four tandems: Chuck and Crista, Mary and Kelly, me and MG, and Ron and Barbara of Hamilton, N.J. on a well-equipped Burley Paso Doble. There were many excellent randonneur bikes on this ride — I’ll post about them this week.

Tom had a terrific route, beautiful and challenging. Chuck logged about 9,700 feet of ascent on his GPS. It felt harder because most of the climbing was steep, such as Fox Gap, which had sections of 13 percent. On our tandem, that’s about 4.3 m.p.h., or more than 30 minutes to climb the 2.6 miles to the top of Fox Gap. Oof!

In all, the event was well run and Tom took very good care of us. We’ll be back for more.

Crista and Chuck, with Dan from Pittsburgh, prepare for the final segment