Our home club, the D.C. Randonneurs, was to hold its annual meeting and populaire last weekend, but delayed it because of weather. That turned out to be a fortuitous decision — Saturday we were greeted with mostly sunny skies and more of the mild temperatures, in the mid-50s, that have made this one of the warmest months in recent history.
A total of 50 riders started and all but one finished in the time limit of just over seven hours (Rudy H. always cuts out midway on this ride to go home). If you don’t know what a populaire is all about, it’s a ride that is shorter than the standard 200K (125-mile) or longer randonneur brevet.
Populaires generally have distances of 100K (62.5 miles) up to 150K, and shorter time limits, which is good for beginners and when a shorter ride is desired before an event, such as our annual meeting. Populaires don’t carry the same qualifier status needed for Paris-Brest-Paris and other long randonees, but still earn kilomers toward certain Randonneurs USA awards.
To get the newcomer’s perspective, check out this story of the ride by John R. at his Porta-John blog.
The 106K route on Saturday was one we’ve used before, and we like that the start is only 10 miles from our home, allowing us to ride there and back and stay at about 90 miles for the day.
After a sendoff by organizer Bill Beck, we rode north up on River Road through Potomac and out to Seneca, east to a control point in Hyattstown, then came back to another control point in Poolesville. The return was again on River Road, this time with the big rolling hills in reverse.
MG and I did our best to stay with the faster riders out to an information control at Seneca (where we filled in a question on our control cards about a local landmark) and then kept a decently brisk pace with Paul D. out to the halfway point in Hyattstown. This segment is marked by bumpy back roads with tight turns, and I had to keep my eyes sharp and hands on the brakes most of the way.
From there we rode at a more moderate pace with Paul, Ritchie, Bennett and Jeff M. to Poolesville for a stop at Selby’s Market, a local grocery that is closing its doors for good. We managed to get some Gatorade from the dwindling stock and ate some pocket food.
We saved our lunch stop for a shopping center closer to the finish, at Potomac, where Bennett joined us for coffee at Starbucks and sandwiches from Vie de France. We spent an hour here before completing the 6-mile run to the finish around 3 p.m., an hour before the club meeting.
The club meeting was fast and efficient. Andrea M. and Mike W. were elected to the board and the budget was approved, with a slight increase in fees for our 600K brevet included. Our club operates on a break-even basis now that we’ve got a substantial rainy-day fund built up, and the fees overall continue to be some of the lowest in the rando business. The good news is that we’ll continue to provide hot pizza to riders at the end of our events.
John and Nancy Guth gave a dramatic presentation of her two-woman Race Across America Team success this year with teammate Mary Florian. John was crew chief and described how they managed the progression of three vehicles and crew to get the riders across the country without any real mishaps. They are looking for crew this year for their own two-person team. Let me know in the comments if you want to get in touch with them.
Next up for DCR are the longer brevets, starting with the first of two 200K brevets, the Wilderness Campaign from Bristow, Va. on March 17. See the full calendar here. There is a savings of $5 per event for pre-registration.
We could not ask for a better day to get out for the first event of the year, and to enjoy some cameraderie with each other as the new season draws nearer.