D.C. Randonneurs 400K: Sparkling Day into Starry Night

The D.C. Randonneurs held their ACP 400K on Saturday, with 48 starters from the Hampton Inn in Frederick, Md. They were rewarded with a perfect warm spring day with light northwest winds and not a drop rain all day.

MG and I had the ride we wanted — about three hours off the bike and a finish around our normal time of 19 hours overall — 18:59 to be exact — after our group charged the last couple of miles to get in before 11 p.m.

After a very cold winter and so-so weather on some of the spring rides, it was a real treat to start in warm, dry pre-dawn conditions and enjoy the day without a threat of rain. The course is a clockwise loop that heads over rollers to Brunswick, Md. and to an information control at the crossroads community of Airmont, Va. We were able to hang on to the lead group until then, but let them go while we shed layers, put on our daytime sunglass shades and got out snacks.

From there we got over Snickers Gap and then headed toward the second control at Shepherdstown, W.V. with a stop at a nice, quiet Sheetz store along the way for morning coffee and sub sandwiches. We packed the subs to take with us to the third control at Hancock, Md. at mile 112, because we arrive there right at noon and it can be a wait at the stores to get food.

This route is something of a two-edge sword. The 75 miles to Shepherdstown are rolling, but fresh legs and some mellow sections make the section pass quickly. But the next segment consists of one steep, short roller after another with few long run-outs, and by the time we get to Hancock we’re feeling the ride in our legs. Fortunately the terrain is lush and relatively quiet. After Hancock we continue climbing another 20 miles away from the Potomac east into Pennsylvania until we get out on the valley roads near Mercersburg.

All the climbing makes for a slog over more gently rolling roads across south-central Pennsylvania to the dinner stop at Newvill at mile 178. We stopped at a church pavilion around mile 152 and bought sodas from a vending machine — and they were good and cold, a nice treat as temperatures had climbed into the 80s under bright skies. The machine did not exactly give us what we were expecting, but we managed to get root beer, ginger ale and iced tea. Hey, sometimes it’s enough just to get a cold drink at the right time.

Our group for the day had formed around Hancock and we had great company from Alec Burney, Lane Giardina, Bill Beck, Mike Martin and Jeff Magnuson. After a filling control stop at the helpful Kane’s Subs in Newville, the long climb over South Mountain stretched things out, but we all regrouped in Gettysburg for the 37-mile night run to Frederick under a bright moon.

Unlike last year, I managed not to lead our group off course on this section, and we arrived at the finish in high spirits. All in all, we enjoyed the great non-competitive camaradarie of randonneuring. Thanks buddies!

And, many thanks to Chris and his volunteers who ran a flawless event with a few course changes that improved the route nicely.

See my photos here, MG’s here, Bill Beck’s here and Dave Sweeney’s here. Bill’s report is below.

48 riders started the Frederick 400K ACP brevet yesterday, and 46 reached the finish. The final riders finished in daylight, having experienced two sunrises along the journey. The weather for the ride was drop-dead gorgeous, with temps rising from the high 50s into the 80s, and pleasant temperatures during the evening run back to Frederick. Deep blue skies with white clouds and light winds made it just about perfect.

Thanks to Chris Mento for organizing the ride and staying up all night to check riders in at the finish. Also to Ray Skinner who scouted the roads up in PA for a reroute around a missing bridge, Crista for designing the reroute, and Nick for reprogramming the entire GPS file. Thanks also to Calista Phillips, Kelly Smith, and Leslie Tiersten, who helped register riders at the start and inspect bikes.

Chris also wanted to compliment and thank the staff at the Hampton Inn who constantly offered to help in any way they could, Danny Cokinos who let us park in the Pediatric Center lot, Dennis at C&O Bikes who couldn’t do enough for us, and Randy Kane at Kane’s Subs, who added extra staff and stayed open an hour extra just for our riders.

Preliminary results are posted at http://www.dcrand.org/dcr/results.php?page=display-results&year=2011. A GPS track of the route is at http://connect.garmin.com/activity/87378170. My pictures are at http://www.flickr.com/photos/wabeck/sets/72157626655771505/. Ed Felker’s pictures are at http://www.flickr.com/photos/8193389@N06/sets/72157626653959115/.

The next ride is the the big one — the Shendandoah 600 on June 4.


4 thoughts on “D.C. Randonneurs 400K: Sparkling Day into Starry Night

  1. Congrats on the successful 400, Ed!

    Hope to encounter (was going to say, “run into,” but that might connote a collision!) you and your lovely bride in France this August. You and I always seem to meet up en route at PBP. Let’s hope for a less soggy encounter than the one we had in 2007 between Carhaix and Loudeac.

    If the 600 is a success for me this weekend, I will be doing the 84-hour group PBP start, as I have the last 3 times. How about you and MG? Which start group are you planning on?

    All the Best,

    Dale in Missouri

  2. Hi Dale,

    good to hear from you! We’re choosing the 84-hour start this year. It will be nice to re-connect with you and your gang again.

    1. Ce Bon, Mon Ami!

      Bonne Route et bonne chance en vos 600!

      Dale (Butchering the beautiful French language, one word at a time)

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