The Other Side of Randonneuring — Organizing a Brevet

This year, MG and I volunteered to run the D.C. Randonneurs 400K brevet on May 26-27, our first stint as ride organizers in awhile. Our last event was the club’s Old Rag 200K from Warrenton, Va. back in 2008, the first one under RBA Bill Beck.

The big day is still some weeks away, but we’ve kind of been riding it in our minds. It’s been a cool challenge to plan for all the details it takes to put together one of the club’s longer brevets.

The first order of business was making sure to secure hotel rooms at the start. We had booked a room for ourselves at the Hampton Inn in Frederick, for Friday and Saturday night of the ride, before we took the job.

That room will now be used as a club room for us the evening before the start and then for the riders overnight Saturday for showers and naps.

We got another room the weekend before to use before riding the checkout with our Volunteer No. 1, Lane G., who is assisting us with routing and other tasks.

With the hotel rooms out of the way, we have turned our attention to the route. There has been one looming problem — a key control at the northernmost point, mile 178, closed. It had been the sub shop in tiny Newville, Pa. where the owner agreed to stay open until the 11:12 p.m. control closing.

We heard that it re-opened as a coffee shop, and with that in mind, MG and I rode there on Saturday to see whether the new owner could accommodate us. We also went to check out a minor re-route through nearby Shippensburg, the big town in the area, that would allow riders to get food and drink at a number of places. The issue there is that it can be busy on Saturday and we’d have to make it a control as well.

On our way north to Chambersburg, Pa.

MG wrote about our ride and posted her photos of the day at Chasing Mailboxes. You can also see all my photos here.

We rode from Emmittsburg, Md. on a crystal clear spring day to join the 400K course near Chambersburg, Pa., then scouted the new section into Shippensburg. Along the main drag in town we noted possible stops for riders and counted two gas station/convenience stores and four possible food stops.

MG on the road toward Shippensburg under cloudless Pennsylvania skies.

Our intention right now is to make Shippensburg an open control, so that the grab-and-go crowd can rush through town, while anyone who wants to stop and eat will have a number of options.

If we adopt this revision, folks have to ride 52 miles from the last town with hot food, instead of 66 miles all the way to Newville. The segment has always been a long one, with just a campground store and convenience store along the way.

One of the food options in Shippensburg, Pa.

After Shippensburg, we took familiar roads out of town to rejoin the standing 400K route, and found we would shave just 1.5 miles off the 252-mile total distance — good news on that front. We were afraid of either adding miles, or cutting off too many.

After a pleasant 11-mile run to Newville, we spoke with the friendly owner of the coffee shop, but it was not clear that she could feed really hungry people, or very quickly. Having been open only a week, she is set up to make cold sandwiches and pastries, but she is not offering meals. That could be a problem for anyone who is famished. We’re leaning toward an information control in town, while letting riders know the shop is there until 9 p.m. if they want some light fare.

We made some notes about possible information controls, and then continued on the 400K course to Pine Grove Furnace, before joining yet another route — a ride our pals Crista and Chuck were riding that day, also from Emmittsburg.

See Bennett’s post about their ride, Three Babes in the Woods, here.

The namesake for Crista’s ride through the hills around Big Flat Ridge

We didn’t meet up with them until the finish, however, which was probably as well. Their pace through the orchard hills would have been faster anyway. As it was, they were about 45 minutes behind us; we thought they were ahead. We went to hoppin’ downtown Frederick, Md. for dinner afterwards and enjoyed tasty Thai food while comparing our rides.

Through the orchards back towards Emmittsburg

Our next task for this ride will be to finalize the cue sheet, send it to friends for proofing, and make contact with the other controls to remind them we’ll be coming through. More to come on those details.

One thought on “The Other Side of Randonneuring — Organizing a Brevet

  1. Great write-up on the ins-n-outs of the behind-the-scenes (or visa-versa). It’s organizers like you who put that much time, thought and effort in a course that make it worth the ride!

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