D.C. Randonneurs Back in the Saddle

D.C. Randonneurs on Saturday held its first brevet under new RBA Bill Beck. See the results Here and Bill’s Flickr photo set with route profile and his Slideshow.

I have also posted my own Flickr set and Slideshow.

Nick Bull and Bill wrote up nice reports. See both below.

On the Road to ThurmontEd, MG, Nick and Stan, courtesy Bill Beck

This day was very sweet indeed; momentous to MG and me, and no doubt others, who were thrilled to see happy times again for the club.

This brevet, the Urbana 200K, from Urbana, Md. was designed by Lynn Kristianson and has quickly become a DCR mainstay. No surprise there: it features everything you’d want in a brevet. A loop route, it ranges far and wide, from the Frederick, Md. area to the Antietam battleground and back. The route includes one long climb in the Catoctins, two smaller climbs, forested back roads, valley interludes and, at no extra cost, one amazing view after another.

Riders Await a Traffic Light at the StartOn The Road, Again!

We made it as far as Thurmont at mile 42 under dark skies. As we left town for 7-mile climb up MD 77 to Smithsburg, the forecast finally proved true and the rain arrived in buckets. The next 40 miles saw rain, at times heavy.

Nick, Stan, Michael and MG take a break from the rainNick, Stan, Michael and MG at Earl’s Market

We arrived at the KOA campground control, mile 78, in a torrential storm with occasional flashes of lightning. We were warm enough, but drenched head to toe. By then we had given up on riding fast and were focused on finishing within the time limit.

Hoping for a Letup at the KOARudy at the KOA

Soon after the rain stopped for good and we had a blast riding in with Nick, Stan and Mark.

Drying roads near the Antietam battlefieldRoads Drying Out Near Antietam

Stan Takes Five at the Battleview MarketStan Takes a Dry Nap at the Battleview Market

We rode leisurely in the sun and finished dry and happy at 6:26 p.m. We matched our normal pace on a hilly brevet of about 15 mp.h., but took nearly three hours off the bike. It was fine with us. Our informal plan to dawdle as much as possible, hoping the rain would pass, actually worked.

Happy at the EndMG and Me at The Finish!

Here is Bill Beck’s note. Thanks Bill for taking on the job of RBA, to the DCR board for all your efforts to reorganize the club, and to the riders for coming out for Bill’s inaugural ride.

They’re baaack. Yes, the DC Randonneurs returned with a bang on Saturday with the Urbana 200km brevet. Despite weather forecasts that included an 80% probability of rain, 28 of the most hardy randonneurs anywhere turned out for the start at the Urbana Waffle House. And 26 riders successfully finished after pedaling through 5 hours of hard rain, lightning storms, and several hard climbs.

Even a jungle of rebar that the highway department erected on the bridge over I-81 near State Line, Pa., that Nick Bull likened to a World War II tank trap, could not stop the group. I followed Keith Krombel down the long descent of MD77 in my car in a torrential downpour, and those mental images (hopefully preserved by a few of the pictures) will last for a long time.

It was also great to hear how new randonneur Chip Peake overcame a bonk using determination and a pile of nutrition products from Jeff Magnuson to get over Mar-Lu ridge and finish with a good time. And to see Jim Romer overcome a late navigation problem to come sprinting into the parking lot to finish with 4 minutes to spare before the cutoff.

Seeing these examples, as well as seeing everyone’s positive spirit as they were riding through such rough weather made me really proud to be a part of this very special club.

Results are now posted on the 2008 results page at http://www.dcrand.org, thanks to new software that our webmaster, Steve Ashurst, spent many hours writing that allows easy entry of those results.

Special thanks also to Bill Arcieri and Carl and Missy Wakefield for driving to the Waffle House at 6AM to register riders at the start.
Bill

Here is Nick’s report:

Twenty-eight intrepid randonneurs braved a somewhat daunting (but ex-post overly optimistic) forecast to ride the Urbana 200K, our first brevet under new RBA Bill Beck. The Urbana 200K is a “traditional” DC Randonneurs ride. It was my first 200K, though since then we’ve run it “in reverse”. It starts to the east of Catoctin Mountain in Maryland, climbs over and heads up to Pennsylvania, then turns south again continuing through the Antietam Battlefield, climbs over South Mountain and Mar-Lu ridge (the easy way — putting the 15 percent grades on the descent instead of the ascent), and then rolls on back to the start.

We started at the Waffle House this year, which gave me a chance to eat a hearty breakfast and say hello to everyone. Once we got rolling, I kept up with the fast group briefly before watching them all soar away up a hill, leaving me and Stan riding together. (My friend George couldn’t ride because he’s broken his clavicle so this year there’ll be no race up Catoctin in the fog, like last year). We had a quick stop in Union Bridge (the northern terminus of the Bridge to Bridge permanent, bringing memories of riding in the freezing cold).

We finally hit the climb up to Catoctin. About half a mile up the climb, we heard thunder and there was a little rain, so we pulled over to put on raingear. As the rain came down faster and faster, we were frantically grabbing raingear and putting it on, trying to stay one step ahead. Usually this would be enough to stop the rain, which we somewhat expected to happen because the forecast had looked like we’d have a thundershower roll through and that’d be it. But while the rain tapered a little, it still just kept coming steady.

I’ve decided that the descent from Catoctin is the “It’s always something” descent, since the last two years we had stiff headwinds that means we had to pedal all the way down, and this year with the rain and slick roads, we had to watch our speed carefully. I’m guessing it’s a nice fast descent under the right conditions :-)

The terrain after Catoctin has lots of big rollers, but eventually moderates somewhat. The fenders and flaps kept my feet dry for quite, but eventually the rain running down my legs gave me thoroughly wet feet. We crossed into Pennsylvania, where I ate a ham sandwich that couldn’t be beat. Ed Felker and Mary Gersema came up and we chatted for a bit, under the overhang of Earl’s market. The rain tapered while we talked, but of course picked up again when it was time to go.

Shortly after Earl’s, Stan and I got to a bridge over I-81 that’s been under construction for awhile. Last time we crossed, it had a two-inch deep puddle of water. On Bill’s checkout ride, there was no problem crossing. But this time, no water, but instead something that looked like a WW-II tank trap, with re-bar pointed every which way. Fortunately, we’re riding bikes, not tanks, so it was pretty easy to lift the bikes up and carry them around the end where there was a gap in the re-bar.

We pressed on to more rollers, rain, and occasional lightning and thunderclaps. Having read the recent discussions about what to do in a thunderstorm on Google Randon list, we realized that we still didn’t really know. A cloud-to-cloud lightning burst that seemed nearly overhead and immediate thunderclap had us a little jumpy. We pressed on, apparently riding past Ed and Mary who had passed us and then stopped to shelter by a church. By the time we got to Antietam, the rain had stopped and the sun came out. We wrote down the answer to our secret information questions at the Mansfield Monument and rolled on through the battlefield, which is always an emotionally overwhelming experience.

At the Battleview Market, I went in first, which meant that for the second time in a row, I got the last slice of lemon-meringue pie, while Stan got the last piece of chocolate-creme pie. We had a way-
too-nice time sitting round a picnic table enjoying the sunshine, before finally rolling out. At least we tried to roll out, but Stan had a flat so we all stood around to keep him company. By that point, we had 2h12m of stoppage time, but accumulated only a few minutes more when we stopped to help a motorist figure out how to get to Harpers Ferry.

I wanted to ride hard over South Mountain and Mar-Lu Ridge, to test whether recent saddle adjustments had eliminated some nagging knee problems, as well as to test how strong I feel for the SIR 600K next weekend. So my goal was to be first to the top of these two climbs. A fifth rider who had joined us seemed to climb effortlessly, so I thought my goal was in jeopardy, but since he didn’t know we were racing, he didn’t ride hard on the little descents on the rollers heading toward South Mountain, and I was able to leave him well behind for the last mile of the main, final ascent. By the top, he had pulled up to 200 feet behind, which would have been easy striking distance, if only he’d known we were racing :-)

We watered-up at the top, and I soaked my head under the spigot before rolling on. On the descent, Ed and Mary passed me, and I thought that my dreams of the polka-dot jersey were again shattered. But three miles later, by the beginning of the ascent to Mar-Lu ridge, I had caught up to them,
and we chatted during the climb. Mary said something like “Yay, we did it” as we came near the top of what turned out to be a false summit, and as we crested I came up next to them and used my singleton advantage to climb to the summit just a bit faster. Again, the most successful race strategy is to not inform your opponents of the contest they’re engaged in. (Editors note: we figured it out, Nick! Ed)

After the rapid descent past the “use low gears, 15 percent grade” sign, it was only another ten miles in to the end, with only a few rollers big enough to get our attention. At the control, we met up with some of the faster riders, and of course Bill Beck, and ate more pizza than I’d like to admit to. Another great day of randonneuring, despite a little (5 hours) bad weather. I guess I forgot to switch “tracking” back on on my GPS, so I didn’t get a track for the day, but based on prior rides, there are about 10,000 to 11,000 feet of climbing. I finished in 11h20m with 2h14m of stoppage time. As always, thanks to Bill and to other the volunteers who made this ride possible.

Nick

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2 thoughts on “D.C. Randonneurs Back in the Saddle

  1. Hi Ed and MG,

    It was a great ride! And I say this as a rain hater…ha ha.

    Do you and MG ride after work in the evenings during the week?

    Thanks for taking the photos,
    Mike

  2. Thanks Mike. We like to ride around Hains Point after work, though we often feel like moving furniture with the racers and tri folks blasting past us! Anytime you are downtown send me an email at eddiefel@gmail.com and we’ll try to meet up with you. Ed

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