Wilderness Campaign 200K Brevet. Back in the saddle.

Hello readers!

MG and I took a little breather from the brevet scene last year. We did not ride the longer events and focused on touring and informal rides.

Taking that step back, and additional duties for my job, led me to put TDR on the back burner.

Every good layoff deserves a comeback. So, hello, again.

And, we're back.

And, we’re back.

This year we’ve laid out an ambitious program. Our big randonneur ride will be the D.C. Randonneurs 1000K this fall. We also plan to return to Colorado for two weeks of touring in July, and go back to the Hilly Billy Roubaix gravel race in Morgantown, W.Va.

The goal is to get in great shape for next year, when we want to go again to the Paris-Brest-Paris 1200K in France. I consider it “The Best American 1200K Not Held in America” because nearly 500 U.S. riders go and you get to see everybody at one ride.

With those big rides in mind, we need to get out there and do a complete Super Randonneur series this year. You hardy randonneurs know that means a 200K, 300K, 400K and 600K.

Bring on the sleep deprivation, I say. I love getting up in the middle of the night to ride my bike!

Ha ha, just kidding! (Or am I?)

We got our campaign underway on Saturday with the aptly-named Wilderness Campaign 200K, run by the D.C. Randonneurs from Bristow, Va. The route (see it here) winds south from the Manassas area west of D.C. to Spotsylvania.

Riders take in the forested Wilderness Battlefield where the North and South skirmished in May 1864 over a number of bloody days.

Checking in at the start

Checking in at the start

MG has captured our ride on the Co-Motion “Big Cat” tandem in pithy fashion over at her award-winning blog, Chasing Mailboxes. See it here. See all of my photos here and MG’s here.

Our only game plan for this ride was to draft the stampede of fast folks until the hills and pace put us off the back, hopefully later than sooner.

Starting with the group

Starting with the group

We went with the speedy single bike riders for about 40 miles, until they pulled away after a series of steep rollers through Kelly’s Ford.

The Profile!

The Profile!

Riding the tandem in a group of singles was the usual challenge. Drafting works some of the time, though MG can’t see the gap to the bike ahead and keeps pedaling hard when the group slows down. (That’s a good problem, don’t get me wrong!) I have to keep in good contact with her about when to soft-pedal.

When we get on a real downhill, the tandem bolts forward like a rocket and if the road is clear, we end up out front.  But then we slow and get swarmed on the next uphill. We have to ride like mad to stay with the group over the top.

As you might expect, this goes on for only so long before our legs start to fade.

Seeing the front guys pull away was not a bad thing. Riding on our own, I could take my hands off the brakes and we could spin along and have a nice chat and enjoy the sunny day.

Most everybody figured out how to get food from the 7-11 and the pizza place at the turnaround in Spotslyvania, mile 68, but we were famished and went to the homey Courthouse Cafe. Only two other riders, Kurt and Matt of Harrisonburg, Va. had the audacity to throw away time like us and came in. We had a good talk about rides and tandems as we ate omelettes.

Matt and Kurt at the Courthouse Cafe

Matt and Kurt at the Courthouse Cafe

The return route starts on narrow roads with traffic, which led to spirited riding to get to the quieter sections. The day warmed up fantastically, to the 60s, but also brought a little headwind and sidewinds that made the return slow going.

The profile trends upward, gradually, which made momentum hard to find at times.

We discussed this in a tandem team sort of way, with such phrases as “boy I am feeling it in my legs!” and “it sure is a nice day, no need to rush, right? SIGH.”

Our spirits lifted as we caught up to other riders at the remaining stops, especially when we encountered our pal Eric P., who missed us at the start and was convinced we slept in. Hey — that’s what we thought you did, Eric! Ha ha!

Eric shepherded us back through the spiky rollers back through Kelly’s Ford and to the final rest stop/control at the old-timey Elk Run Store, which provided this ride’s Star Wars Cantina moment.

Taking it easy before the last stretch.

Taking it easy before the last stretch.

That’s when everybody sits outside a store grinning (or grimacing) and generally kicking back for a few minutes. We stuffed the last of our cold weather gear in the Carradice saddle bag, with the overflow longflap extended, and headed back with our luggage to Bristow.

We hoped for a finish before 5 p.m. (sub 10-hours) and pedaled along steadily but without much pop in the legs, wondering why we were so dang slow.

Plus, I had a case of ABB. (For the uninitiated, that’s short for Achy Breaky Butt).

Cockeyed Helmet.

Cockeyed Helmet.

We finished at 4:47 p.m., almost exactly the same time as last year.

So, it must be the course, and maybe the fact that we don’t have a lot of miles in our legs yet in March and maybe started too fast. I lay most of the blame on the course. Verdict: not really all that tandem friendly.

The club’s volunteer organizer for the ride, Hamid A., had the usual DCR pizza, pop and treats waiting for us at the finish, which made everything real good.

Catching up with fellow riders topped off a good day on the bike. Big congrats to the other tandem team today, Cindy P. and John M., and we enjoyed seeing once and future DCR rider Russ M., back from South Korea for a few months before heading off to his new home in Reno.

Russ and Lothar. You may know them as the Korea Randonneurs.

Russ and Lothar. You may know them as the Korea Randonneurs.

Next stop on the brevet train: either the second DCR 200K later this month, or the 300K next month. If we can’t get to the 200K we’ll do something on our own of similar distance to substitute.


A Brevet in Amish country

Sometimes a change of scenery makes all the difference. MG and I have been riding familiar roads around Washington these last few weeks after our summer Colorado tour and thought it might be good to ride somewhere else within driving distance.

That led us to the Pennsylvania Randonneurs Silver Spring 200K brevet from Christiana, Pa. This loop tour takes in the rolling farm hills of southern Pennsylvania in Lancaster County, with a run into northeast Maryland.

Our route. We rode clockwise.

Our route. We rode clockwise.

See my photos here and MG’s here. The route and our performance statistics can be seen at my Garmin page.

Tom Rosenbauer and me. Tom was riding with us today.

Tom Rosenbauer and me. Tom was riding with us today.

Andrew gives pre-ride comments. Cool enough for warmers.

Andrew gives pre-ride comments. Cool enough for warmers.

The start was just close enough, about 110 miles, to drive up and back the same day. It was an early start — leaving home at 4:15 a.m. — but we got there in plenty of time to get ourselves organized and the tandem ready. Organizers Andrew Mead and George Metzler got our group of about 20 out on the road right on time at 7 a.m.

We wanted to finish in 10 hours but also knew this was a very hilly route, with more than 9,000 feet of climbing over short, steep rises all day. The toughest hills were in the first half, including the wall that is Douts Hill Road, but the second half was only rarely flat.

Our approach to keep moving was one we picked up from our cycling friend Josh S. and his wife Doreen: don’t sit down at the stops. It works well, in that standing around reminds one to depart soon enough.

C.J., Clair and those obligatory cows.

C.J., Clair and those obligatory cows.

The weather was just about perfect. We were treated to bright sunny skies, light breezes, low humidity and highs in the low 80s.

Just past the Conowingo Dam, not a cloud in the sky.

Just past the Conowingo Dam, not a cloud in the sky.

As for the ride itself, the first five miles trended down and we rode away from the group but were caught before the first control at Port Deposit, mile 31, by the faster riders. From there we spent the rest of the day leapfrogging with Bill Olsen, Clair Beiler, first time rider C.J. Arayata and Eric Dahl.

The randonneur lifestyle. Eric, C.J. and Clair.

The randonneur lifestyle. Eric, C.J. and Clair.

Bill just completed the Granite Anvil 1200K randonnee on Aug. 25 and is headed to Colorado this week for the Last Chance 1200K. He was in full get-there brevet mode and left us at the next-to-last stop at Mount Joy, mile 85, while we ate sandwiches in the warm afternoon sun.

As is typical being on the tandem, we’d fly away on the downhills. Our riding companions would catch us on the uphills. We’d all ride together on the flats.

C.J. and Clair on another quiet road.

C.J. and Clair on another quiet road.

During all this MG took photos of the barns with tobacco leaves drying and Amish farm families working the fields. We rode around the occasional horse-drawn carriage and shared the Sheetz convenience store patio with a number of Amish teenagers who ate pizza before piling back into a van.

Except for a couple of short stretches, the roads were not busy. That’s a testament to a well-designed route.

Cutting the grass, the old-fashioned way. Courtesy MG.

Cutting the grass, the old-fashioned way. Courtesy MG.

Tobacco drying. Courtesy MG.

Tobacco drying. Courtesy MG.

Andrew came out to meet us at the second control, a gas station that had closed, with some drinks and snacks. Thanks Andrew! We love roadside oasis support. The Coke was just what we needed.

Andrew and this cooler of cold drinks.

Andrew and this cooler of cold drinks.

We finished right before 5 p.m., and made our 10-hour goal. The hills took it out of our legs, so we were more than happy to be done. George Metzler generously grilled hamburgers and sausages for the returning riders at his house near the start.

We had a very nice time visiting with George and his family, and our fellow riders, before the drive home. Sleeping in our own bed was much nicer than a hotel.

Tom R. finishes at dusk.

Tom R. finishes at dusk.

One of the best post-ride dinners you could ask for. Courtesy MG.

One of the best post-ride dinners you could ask for. Courtesy MG.

Thanks to all the Pennsylvania Randonneurs for hosting us so graciously. We hope to see one and all here in D.C. soon.

DC Randonneurs Wilderness Campaign 2013: Our ride report

We’re back home after the DC Randonneurs first ACP brevet of the year, the Wilderness Campaign 200K from Bristow, Va. What a day!

Jeff Miller and rest of the field awaits the start.

Jeff Miller and rest of the field awaits the start.

(See the rest of my photos here and MG’s here.)

This gentle course through four Civil War battlefields south of Manassas features flat sections through farmlands and lovely rolling roads through historic battlefield forests. This was our first brevet on our new Co-Motion tandem and everything went quite well on the bike today.

The front group got off to a fast start on the flat initial 15-mile segment and we hung in there until about mile 25, when rollers and their strong legs left us behind. The group included our neighbor Jeff Miller who hitched a ride with us over to the start.

After a first control around mile 50 we toodled over to Spotsylvania under unseasonably warm, bright sunshine to a sit-down lunch at the Courthouse Cafe with Lane. No one else walked in, apparently deciding to use the nearby 7-11 as their control stop.

You missed it folks — service was friendly and fast, and our omelettes and ice tea hit the spot. None of us bonked in the afternoon.

Bennett rolled up as we remounted and the four of us took off on the 57 miles back to Bristow.

They and us took turns rolling ahead on the short hills that stood in our way until we saw Justin Antos, riding his first brevet, who was stopped on the side of the road with chainsuck.

His front derailleur needed some tweaking. We got it adjusted enough to get him back out on the road. Justin your good cheer in the face of a balky bike was inspiring to this old rando horse.

Justin, Lane, MG, Bennett at an information control.

Justin, Lane, MG, Bennett at an information control.

After our second information control stop we swooped past the cushy Inn at Kelly’s Ford and descended to the final road control at the Elk Run Store near Bristerburg. Snacks and drinks were consumed in bright sun as more riders arrived.

Lane decided to wait for Bennett and we joined with Carol, Paul and Chris for the last 20 miles. A gentle headwind kept our speed in check, which let us joke around and talk as we pedaled along.

Our legs were getting tired from the day — this was our longest ride of 2013 — and we counted the miles down.

Carol and MG in the best sun of the year so far.

Carol and MG in the best sun of the year so far.

MG, Chris and Paul at the Elk Run Store.

MG, Chris and Paul at the Elk Run Store.

The finish came around 4:30 pm and we were met with the traditional pizza and soda by organizers John and Cindy. Thanks to them for putting on a flawless event. Thanks also to our fellow riders for your good company.

Done! And happy!

Done! And happy!

As always, I must also express my gratitude to my fearless and strong tandem stoker MG. You were a champ today, honey!

One personal historical footnote: today’s successful ride marked the 18th consecutive year that I’ve completed at least one ACP brevet and the ninth consecutive year that MG and I have completed an ACP brevet on tandem. We’ve had a good run and are looking forward to more rides with the DC Randonneurs in the months and years ahead.

DC Randonneurs 2012 Flatbread 200K: Flat and Fun

We’ve ridden the D.C. Randonneurs Flatbread 200K before and each time it’s a little different experience. Being on the mostly-flat Eastern Shore side of the Chesapeake Bay, the ride is highly influcenced by wind direction and the lack of hills. The easy terrain lets riders form groups that might split up in hills, which means we tend to ride with folks we might not see as much on other rides. See the full route and the rest of our GPS data here.

The Flatbread route from Centreville, Md.

The event is also a good one for folks who want to try their hand at randonneuring for the first time. Think: Longer Seagull Century, without the thousands of riders, no pie, free post-ride pizza and soda. It’s a pretty sure bet that if one can ride the full 100-mile Seagull, you’ll complete this ride within the time limit of 13.5 hours.

MG and I have been out of the rando scene for a few weeks but got ourselves back in the saddle for this year’s on Saturday Nov. 10. We’ve had fun on this ride in the past and th 2012 edition would prove to be our best experience yet.

After a shockingly early 4:15 a.m. wakeup, we picked up Jeff Miller, a first-time brevet rider in our neighborhood, just before 5:30 a.m. Jeff is the president of the Alliance for Biking and Walking and has a ton of experience in cycling and cycling issues. He and I chatted away the miles, though when I looked over at MG, she was getting in a few final winks. Smart lady.

After a slight delay getting around an accident scene on I-295, we crossed the Chesapeake Bay Bridge as the sun rose and pulled in to quiet little Centreville, Md. with just 25 minutes to spare before the 7 a.m. start. Jeff ran over to sign in first, then MG and I arrived with barely two minutes to spare. We had pre-registered, which made things easy; sign the waiver, stuff control cards in our pockets, go!

Pre-ride gathering in Centreville

Photo links: see my full set here and MG’s here. Lisa Shiota has photos here, Dave Sweeney has photos here.

All in all, we were in good shape. The sky was clear for the big group of 76 riders who left after organizer Chip Adams made a few comments.

Folks who know us quickly realized we were not on the same bike! It’s true. For the first time in ages, we decided to ride our singles instead of being on tandem. Why?!

Reason No. 1: We’re awaiting a replacement frame from Co-Motion because our beloved Speedster developed a problem (stay tuned for an upcoming post in which I’ll explain).

Reason No. 2: Our older 26″ wheel Cannondale tandem, A.K.A. The Lead Sled, is a good touring rig but somewhat uncomfortable for MG after 100 miles or so. On a long flat ride without much coasting, comfort is key and won out.

With a few bikes to choose from in the Dining Room Bike Shop, this was the perfect ride for us to each have our own wheels. MG chose her trusty Rivendell Romulus and I grabbed my 650B Rivendell Bleriot, two of our favorite brevet bikes.

MG riding strong on her Rivendell Romulus

The rush to get on the road left me a little disoriented. From bed to car to bike, it all happened in a blur without a decent breakfast or coffee. For the sake of our neighbors, I did not fire up the grinder or espresso maker before we left. This made me sad.

I was still trying to wake up during the first miles. We had already talked about starting easy and letting the main group go ahead and that was no problem. The early temperatures seemed to dip into the 30s as we got out into the countryside which also added to my motivational challenge. It also took me awhile to get used to riding a single bike in a group again.

We quickly fell in with a number of our BikeDC / Friday Coffee Club pals, including John Roche, Crystal and Adam, Chris Niebilski, and Mike Ross and Lisa Shiota on his Da Vinci tandem. This was Lisa’s first long tandem ride and we were very impressed.

Mike and Lisa, new tandem duo

See Crystal’s story here and Lisa’s here. It was great to run free in the countryside with our urban pals, beyond the cycletracks and stop lights of D.C.

Adam and Crystal

We also spied past riding companions Steve Harding of Newark, Del. on his Rivendell A. Homer Simpson — err, A. Homer Hilsen — and Nigel Greene of Elkins Park, Pa. on his Raleigh fixed gear bike. I was also impressed with the Rawland Sogn piloted by Jameel, who was out with his dad for the day — more first timers!

Still, as the temperatures fell I wondered what I was doing out here. Chip Adams steamed by on his fixed-gear Cannondale and I drafted for a moment and said hello, but fell back as he shot up a low rise and my legs complained. At the information control I took a deep breath, unzipped the sleeves from my jacket and tried to get focused.

At mile 28 I saw bikes at the store on the right and pointed my wheel there. MG said she wanted to keep riding so we agreed to meet at Dolce Coffee in Milford, Del. at mile 49. I got a Coke, stuck it in my bottle cage, and some cheese crackers. I don’t know why they sounded good, but I ate the entire pack and felt better. The Coke also satisfied my caffeine and sugar needs — Breakfast of Champions, all that, ha!

John and Lisa, warming up

Chris and I teamed up to ride through a headwind to Milford, where we found a little rando-party at Dolce. Think Villaines during PBP, just smaller. OK, a lot smaller, but just as welcome.

Ron and Barb Anderson were there, and Mike and Lisa pulled up soon after, adding to the festivities. Espresso and breakfast goodies got me revived for good and the loose group, now including Dave Judkins, moved on to the Slaughter Beach control under cloudy skies.

Good times for randonneurs at Dolce Coffee

Barb and Ron on the Purple Comet (I made that up)

Much picture taking and conversation ensued as we tooled away on the shoulder of Delaware Rt. 36 to the control. A big group was there, getting their cards signed and then going over to the beach for photos. MG and I got Steve to take our picture. Thanks Steve!

Our annual beach outing – really!

We reached Milton at mile 68 and stopped for lunch. Subway was our cuisine of choice today. You know what you’re getting before you walk in and the service was fast and friendly. I ate half of a footlong turkey and put the rest in my Carradice saddlebag for later. The final control at mile 87 is just a gas station convenience store and I recalled being famished last time in the last segment. My plan was to eat a second lunch there to avoid the big bonk.

Nigel and MG. Fed and fired up!

Leaving Milton

The easy roads kept on coming — Thirteen Curves, Prime Hook, Sand Hill and Deer Forest as we made our way to the 87-mile control in Bridgeville. There we saw John and Lynne on their new red Co-Motion Mocha tandem — just gorgeous. It made me want to get our new bike from Co-Motion even sooner! Congratulations to them on their new steed.

New Tandem. Great choice by John and Lynne

It looked like we’d get in before 5 p.m. with a steady effort, and the stop at the Super Soda Center (great name!) was relatively quick. Chris was worred about the steering on his Surly Long Haul Trucker and we checked the headset and front hub, but found nothing amiss. Out on the road I ate the second half of my Subway turkey sub and drank ice tea I put in one of my water bottles. Hmm, I’m going to do more of that. I downed a few cashews as well. Like pototo chips, they’re too much for me off the bike, but on a ride they taste so good.

Steve, Nigel, MG hoping to make the cover of the American Randonneur

Near Denton we came upon Nick Bull and Mike Wali fixing a flat on Mike’s fixed gear and they joined us — making a group of nine of us in all: MG, Dave, Chris, Barb and Ron, Mike, Nick, Steve and me. Nigel had stopped to get water around mile 106 and would come in by himself. I was sorry he wasn’t there to finish the ride with us.

Making the turn, closer to the finish

Dave and MG

Good Guys Pizza in Centreville appeared right at 4:30 p.m. and we were greeted by Chip and his volunteers, with the customary DCR free pizza and soda. Many thanks to Chip, Clint, their wives and the rest of the Severna Park Peloton group for hosting this ride. And, our best wishes to Bryan Nelson for a quick recovery from his recent crash. You looked in good spirits at the start Bryan!

Made it! That was fun

The Flatbread 200K is for me an annual homecoming ride for DCR, a last chance to gather in fall’s glory and moderate temperatures before the holidays and colder days arrive. We were glad to be a part of it.

Adam and Crystal, new randonneurs. Well done, you two

DC Randonneurs Urbana 200K: Hilly and Hillier

The D.C. Randonneurs started the brevet season two weeks ago with a ride through the gentle Virgina countryside. The inaugural running of the Wilderness Campaign 200K from Bristow featured fast times, warm sunny skies and lots of easy miles.

By contrast, the Urbana 200K from Urbana, Md. last Saturday was all about hills. With about 8,500 feet of climbing, the course takes a good hour or more longer to complete than the club’s easier 200K rides.

Those hills are mostly bunched at the ends, as riders travel a loop through the hills around Frederick and then more hills after passing north of Hagerstown, Md. and the historic Antietam Battlefield near Sharpsburg.

The course has been run in both directions over the last few years, and this time we took the counter-clockwise orientation. We started north though steep rollers, then turned west into the Catoctins before dropping into southern Pennsylvania before returning to the east. I prefer this direction because the toughest hills come first. The downside, however, can be dead legs over the final 30 miles, when the hills return, though not so many.

MG and Lisa, ready to ride.

The day started out fairly cool and cloudy, in the 50s, but without the threatened rain. MG and I signed in at the Waffle House and were early enough to enjoy 15 minutes of greeting our rando friends, including three of our four Fleche teammates — Lane, Eric and Mike — and Lisa S., who was out for her second brevet ever.

See her report here.

Gathering at the Waffle House under gloomy skies.

See all of my photos here and MG’s here.

And, boy, what a doozy she chose. The field of 54 riders immediately hit fast rollers that dot the first 30 miles to the control at Union Bridge, Md. The tandem’s downhill speed allowed us to ride with the front riders for nearly 15 miles, but one too many hills forced us to drop away in due time for a more sedate pace.

With the fast riders, for a little while longer.

After the control at the 7-11 at Union Bridge, MG and I gathered ourselves for the long climb up MD77 past Thurmont, Md. and on to Smithsburg. We were accompanied by Lowell, Alec B., Scott G. and Duncan, who was on his first brevet, among six rookies out today. Welcome to randonneuring! This stair-step ascent seems so manageable early on, but it gets tougher toward the top with two massive rollers to conquer before the fast drop down to the valley.

At Union Bridge. Still Cloudy.

Up MD77 with Scott, Lowell and Duncan. Courtesy MG.

We pulled over outside Smithsburg to fix something, and MG got a couple of photos of riders. Even though the terrain leveled off to the second control in State Line, Pa., at mile 65, we were very hungry by the time we got there. It was still cloudy and cool — a temperature sign said 54 degrees –and we stood inside the store rather than stand out in the chill.

After Smithsburg, a few more hills before flatter roads. Courtesy MG.

We ate chips and nibbled on sandwiches we brought, and drank Gatorade, but did not have what would be considered a meal. Some of the fast riders were leaving just as we arrived, and we rolled out with the last of them, the Severna Park trio of Clint, Bryan and Cliff. They pulled away when we stopped in less than a mile for me to get out my vest, though we kept them in sight for a long time.

Lane, Scott, Mike, Alec and Eric were still at the store but promised to look for us at the “coffee shop” in 16 miles.

Scott (far left), Alec, Lane and Mike, enjoying the good life. Courtesy MG.

The countryside to the next control at the KOA Campground, mile 78.4, is not very hilly, but the wind was blowing from the north, giving the day a blustery spring feeling. As we arrived the sun had started peeking through, giving us hope for a sunny and warmer afternoon.

Our real goal at that point was the Sheetz store (the so-called coffee shop!) three miles away in Williamsport. We consider this course something of a food challenge because the stops are convenience stores with minimal hot food; at least at Sheetz we can get sandwiches made and coffee drinks. After hustling through the KOA, where we saw the Severna Park guys and I bought a Snickers bar, we pulled into the Sheetz alone.

I ran in while MG stayed outside to get some Zombie photos. Lane, Mike, Scott, Eric, and Alec rolled up and we sat on the curb in true randonneur fashion, eating sandwiches out of wrappers and drinking Sheetz lattes and espresso. Gourmet, no, but Sheetz somehow manages to suffice when there’s no better option.

Zombie and Scott (the human). Courtesy MG.

Riders went by in ones and twos, and we finally got ourselves back on the course toward the information control in Antietam, and then pedaled on to the Battleview Market for the last control at mile 97. The skies were partly cloudy and the temperatures were just cool enough to require arm and knee warmers, but it was pleasant riding overall.

Our annual spring visit to the Battleview Market.

This course can be demoralizing because it just takes longer at the end than you want, with hills between you and the finish. We left the control with 30 miles to go sometime after 3 p.m., knowing it would be close to 6 p.m. by the time we finished. MG and I like to finish our 200Ks in under 10 hours, faster if we can, but that was not going to happen today.

Adding to the challenge was a little noise coming from the front wheel. Every so often we’d get a subtle bonk-bonk-bonk-bonk. A roadside inspection found no obvious problem, but we made a note to take the bike into the shop.

After slogging up Burnside Bridge Road we finally made the turn toward the climb over Gapland. It was here that our minimal calorie intake caught up with us at the base of the hill, where it gets very steep for a few dozen yards.

I muttered, “Ready?” to MG, meaning, “Ready to stand?” She heard “granny,” and said OK. I stood up and the bike went all tippy, then MG stood up as I sat down, and we lurched to the right, toward the dirt berm.

Luckily this was all happened at 5 m.p.h. and uphill. I got a foot out and we managed to stop without falling over. We stood for a few moments to gather ourselves, got it together and started up again, this time making it to the top without a problem. Oh, the joys of tandeming!

Over Gapland Road, past the War Correspondents Memorial. Courtesy MG.

After the run down the other side, the north wind blew us into Jefferson, Md. where we stopped to put on layers. We slogged with Lane, Eric and Mike up and over Marlu Ridge, with a view of many happy cows sunning themselves on the hillside in the cool breeze.

From there the last miles through Adamstown and Buckeystown passed slowly but surely, with entertainment from a passing freight train that appeared ahead of us on all three of the railroad crossings in the segment, but clearing each time before we passed.

Eric and Lane on Fingerboard Road, only a few miles to go.

Fingerboard Road is never fun, but it was done and gone in short order and we were finished at the Ledo Pizza in Urbana with a 10:45 time. Carol Bell checked us in, Bill Beck took our photos, and we were done! Some pizza and soda and stories with our fellow riders capped the day.

Thanks as always to MG for being a very patient and hardworking stoker and randonneur partner, to our fellow riders, and to Bill and his volunteers. Urbana, you’ll always be a big ride, even if only a 200K.

Tomorrow I’ll post a summary of the ride by Bill Beck, with links to results and other photosets.

DC Randonneurs Wilderness Campaign 200K: Summer in Spring?

The D.C. Randonneurs kicked off the spring ACP brevet season last Saturday, Mar. 17, with the new Wilderness Campaign 200K from Bristow, Va., just south of the Manassas area. This new route traveled south to the Civil War battlefields near Spotsylvania that, in 1864, saw Gen. Grant inflict what would be a slow but mortal blow to Gen. Lee’s ability to sustain the fight, even though there was no decisive victory won by either side.

Ready for the start of a new ACP brevet season.

A total of 38 riders started the ride and all but one got an official finish. Morning temperatures in the 50s would rise to about 80 under bright skies. The warmth caught out more than a few of us, who had to stop to peel off layers as the morning fog rose.

For the first time in years I rode a brevet without MG — shocking, I know! She was off running the marathon in D.C. this day; see her result here.

Way to go, MG! She got a lot of congratulations from friends and co-workers. I note that people seem to understand the marathon much more than randonneuring — 26 miles is a terrific accomplishment, but what we do is somehow unfathomable. Our biggest event, PBP, attracts 5,000 people, which is a fraction of the participation in a major marathon, so I suppose we are still a niche sport.

I last completed a brevet on a single bike in 2007, so this was a rare occasion for me. Being faced with the choice of a racy bike or one of my sport-touring setups, I took my trusty Ritchey Logic race bike. It was my first brevet bike back in the 90s, and I was pleased to find it a fast and comfortable ride after all these years.

Compared to today’s real race bikes, it’s something of a throwback, with steel tubing and fork, standard spoked wheels, triple crank, Brooks saddle and a quill stem. I had it repainted and modified to take fenders a few years ago and the bike remains my favorite, if not the most versatile.

Ride organizer Nick Bull sent us off at 7 a.m., just before sunrise, into a light fog. The terrain is very gentle in that area of Virginia, with mostly rolling hills and many flat stretches. The group stayed together for the first two hours at a pretty fast clip — the main pack averaged close to 19 m.p.h. over the initial 30 miles.

Through the morning fog.

There was some breakup into smaller groups from there to the first control at mile 48. This was a good development as cars backed up behind the big group during the early miles, afraid to pass on windy roads and visibility obscured by fog.

I had ideas of riding with the front riders but gave way to common sense and fell in with riding pals Alec B., Scott S. and with newcomer Rick R. from North Carolina. Eric P., who is gearing up to ride again on our fleche team, Table for Five, joined us at lunch in Spotsylvania. We rolled out together and the five of us rode as a group to the finish.

Alec at our first control at Locust Grove.

Some DCR courses, especially the longer ones, feature epic stretches across hilly ranges in the Catoctins and Shenandoah Valley area. This one was different. I could see how thousands of troops on foot and horseback could maneuver in this area, though from what I read, the forests were a major challenge.

Scott and Rick under bright sunshine at the Bloody Angle information control. Thankfully, none spilled today.

After lunch at the Court House Cafe, mile 68.8, we pushed to keep up our speed, but didn’t rush through our final stop at the country store in Bristerburg. The sun was unfiltered by clouds and the sun was toasty for a March day, which is a good problem to have.

Many blooming trees along the way.

One last stop in Bristerburg.

The finish back in Bristow was something of a outdoor picnic at the Caribou Coffee, where Nick kept to the DCR tradition of having pizza, soda and sweet treats waiting for returning riders. We lingered to take photos and share stories after a long, if not very cold, winter doing our own rides.

Hey, I’m having a great time on this brevet!

First time riders Barry and John R., among others, rolled in and got their deserved pats on the back for a successful maiden outing.

Many thanks to Nick and his volunteers for a fine event.

Club RBA Bill Beck’s report is below, with links to other photosets and blog posts.

We’ll be back on tandem at the DCR 200K brevet in Urbana, Md. on March 31. It was fun to ride solo, but I much prefer randonneuring on the big bike together. We hope to see you there!

Bill’s Report:

38 riders took advantage of the absolutely gorgeous weather yesterday to ride the new Wilderness Campaign 200K ACP Brevet. It appeared that everyone had a great time, and 37 riders earned an official finish. It was around 50F at 7AM when the riders rolled out of the parking lot, and rapidly rose to around 80F by mid afternoon, with clear blue skies.

Because of the warm weather we’ve had this spring, the route was much more colorful than would be expected in mid-March, with blooming pear and crab-apple trees, as well as lots of daffodils. A GPS track of the route is at http://connect.garmin.com/activity/159009125.

Thanks to Nick for organizing the ride on a route that he originally designed as a permanent route. Thanks also Tom Reeder, and new member George Flanigan for registering riders at the start, and to George Moore for registering riders at both the start and finish. And special congratulations to all of the riders who completed their first brevet!

Preliminary results are posted at http://www.dcrand.org/dcr/results.php?page=display-results&year=2012. My photos (and a few from Greg C) are posted at http://www.flickr.com/photos/wabeck/sets/72157629610433769/. (Please let me know any missing rider names in the captions and I’ll fill them in.)

I also posted two video compilations, one from the first part of the ride where most riders were still together (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L38hV75R4ds) and the other from my riding group (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRISw0CdLG4).

Other pictures have been posted by Ed Felker (http://www.flickr.com/photos/8193389@N06/sets/72157629607156217/with/6845206536/).

I’ve seen ride reports by Dave Ripton (http://www.ripton.net/blog/?p=71), and by new randonneurs John Roche (http://portajohn.wordpress.com/2012/03/18/dc-randonneurs-wilderness-campaign-200k/) and Steve Martin (http://martinsj2.wordpress.com/).

The next ride is the Urbana ACP 200K on March 31.


Chip and Bill’s 2011 Winter Solstice 200K

Chip Adams of the Severna Park Peloton is a man of many talents, one of them being the ability to ride his bike all night. It’s a handy skill when one is in the middle of a 600K brevet or has to ride a loaner bike, say, at PBP, but he chooses to employ it on the occasional 200K permanent as well.

Case in point: he and Bill Beck ignored forecasts of potential rain and rode a 200K on the night of the 2011 Winter Solstice last month. They chose the Woodbine-Dillsburg via Gettysburg permanent and enjoyed unseasonably warm temperatures and twinkling outdoor holiday lighting along the way.

Read Chip and Bill’s story below, and see Bill’s photoset at Flickr.

2011 Winter Solstice Ride – Woodbine / Dillsburg
by Chip Adams

I’ve always heard that the Winter Solstice, Dec. 21, is the shortest day of the year if you consider the amount of daylight. But I think Bill Beck and I made it one of our longest days of the year if you consider when our day started and when it actually ended.

For Bill, his day started with his normal 2:30 am wake-up and then the trainer. For me, I slept in until 6:45 am, knowing that I would be up all night. But, if you’re going to be up all night, what better way to do it than on your bike, I always like to say.

And, the Winter Solstice Ride was a great reason to do it. The idea was originally bounced around by Kelly Smith who, in the days leading up to it, had to bow out due to his work schedule. Weather was a concern at the start, but ended up being one of the best days, or night to ride a bike.

For about a month after Kelly mentioned the Solstice ride I was planning to do an Arlington start, but after Kelly announced he couldn’t make it, Bill sent out the optional Woodbine – Dillsburg 200K permanent route. Either way, it was going to be a rush-hour event to get there, but I was pretty much committed to riding something on this Winter Solstice.

George Moore was also interested in doing the ride. We were studying the weather pretty closely in the days leading up to it and we were looking at what appeared to be a major rain event. The temperatures looked pretty good, though. I don’t mind riding in the rain as long as the temps don’t dip below the 40’s.

The day before the ride, Bill and I were e-mailing each other about what to do. I sent a response that said I was planning on riding. Unfortunately, Bill didn’t get the response until the next morning so he had scrapped the plan to ride it. I, on the other hand, had committed to riding it, and when I got Bill’s e-mail that he had made other plans since he hadn’t heard from anyone, I thought, “OK, this is going to be a lonely and quiet ride.”

Bill sent the registration and waiver with a note that said, if “I go insane later, I may join you. “ Well, luckily, he did go insane and we planned to start when the rain ended – 7:00 pm Wednesday, 12/21. George Moore found his work schedule to be too much and opted out.

Off we go from Woodbine.

So, it was now down to Bill and me. The route we chose to ride was the Woodbine-Dillsburg, I think mainly because we both love Buffalo Road so much!! After working all day, I loaded my bike and joined the rush hour traffic as it made its way up to I-70.

It was raining steadily from the time I left home until I got on I-70 where it had become a drizzle, and by the time I got to Woodbine, it had stopped. But, just to make sure, I brought my raingear.

The conditions were absolutely perfect as we pulled out. We had what felt to be a double-digit southerly wind pushing us on our way to varying degrees all the way to Dillsburg. Traffic up Rt. 94 was pretty busy, but soon we were on back roads and making great time.

We rolled past many beautifully lit-up houses and barns and stopped for the occasional photo.

Holiday Lights in full blaze.

The forecast remained true and provided us a sky full of stars as we approached Gettysburg. Good thing I brought my rain gear! Ha ha. We weren’t sure whether we should work around the Gettysburg Battlefield since the park was closed or just stay the course.

We stayed the course and entered the Gettysburg Battlefield which was enclosed in total darkness. The lights from downtown Gettysburg, in the backdrop, though insignificant, allowed us to see some monuments but as silhouettes and I was lost in the moment just thinking of the hallowed ground we were riding on. We stopped for a couple of times for a few minutes and Bill got some awesome photos.

Gettysburg Battlefield by night. Haunting!

The quiet was deafening. As many times as I’ve been across this battlefield, I’d have to say this was the most memorable. But, soon we were at the famous 7-11 on Washington St. (I wonder how many times I’ve been there?) We rolled in about 10:00 pm.

After enjoying a donut or two and after Bill updated Facebook, we pushed on. The temperature was still very pleasant and though we had a tailwind, it wasn’t as evident as before.

We stopped at one point and Bill showed me this great App called Skymap which located all of the planets and constellations. Great stuff. I’ve since downloaded it on my phone. We found it much darker the farther north we got and as we reached the pheasant fields just below Dillsburg, it became very dark and quiet. My handlebars managed to loosen.

I had replaced the stem a couple of weeks earlier and guess I didn’t tighten it enough. So, instead of bombing down one of the hills and having my bars drop down during hard braking, we decided to stop and adjust.

Adjusting those handlebars.

We got into Dillsburg at 11:45 pm and got dinner, or was it breakfast? Not sure, but we ate it outside in the low-50 degree weather. People were coming and going and looked at us like we were crazy. One guy couldn’t believe we riding that distance at night and were only half-way through.

Living it up, rando-style.

He said he didn’t like traveling that far in the daylight and in a car. It was starting to chill off a little but still very mild considering we were now officially in the 1st day of Winter. We added some layers where they were needed and got back on the road heading south. It was now 12:30 am – the exact time that some say the Solstice occurred. Exciting stuff, eh?

The only way this evening could get any better was for the wind to swing around from the north and push us back to Maryland. Well, believe it or not, that is what happened. It wasn’t entirely out of the north, but close enough. It had been downgraded quite a bit, but at least it was not in our faces.

Many of the Christmas lights had been turned off on our way back home and it was then that we realized we should have called ahead and requested they be left on. We’ll remember that for next year.

We got back into Gettysburg just after 2:00 am. The 7-11 had restocked their donuts since we had been gone and we both opted for the Apple Fritter for its fruit benefits. When we had come through earlier, we both took advantage of the glazed Twist for its donut benefits. I just love donuts and bike rides!

The temperature continued to drop a degree or two at a time as we pushed south to Woodbine, but the descents is where it was most notable.

Between Windsor and Woodine we noticed some very big differences in temperatures; between the bottom of a descent and the top of a climb, we saw as much as 8 degrees change. As much as I wanted to stop and put on another layer, we decided to keep it going since we were so close to the end.

Almost there!

Within a mile of our approach into the final control in Woodbine, we saw the little sliver a moon rising in the east. We finished at 5:35 am just as rush hour was cranking up. So, we saw the end of one rush hour and the beginning of another. Wow, I didn’t see that coming.

That’s that. Now, off to work.

The experts are wrong. The Winter Solstice is actually a very long day when you throw in a 130 mile bike ride that starts and ends in the dark.
We hope to see many more faces out there for the 2012 Winter Solstice ride. Bill informed me it falls on a Friday night.

Until next year,
Chip Adams

DCR Flatbread 200K Brevet 2011: Sun, fun and our friend, Mr. Wind

A club record 79 riders signed up for this annual Eastern Shore jaunt that features flat roads from the Annapolis area eastward to the Atlantic Ocean shore and back.

Chip and his Severna Park Peloton compadres were out in their best SPP finery, ably assisted by Katie Adams and Sherrie Provenza, spouses to Chip and Clint Provenza, at the registration and finish check-in tables.

The weather promised clear skies and high temperatures in the 60s, but also a gusty southwest wind. The route is something of a squished triangle, with a middle section that runs south along the shore and a westerly section afterwards.

Flatbread Map

Those were the toughest miles, right into the wind. Once we made it to the third control, at mile 69, the route trended more toward the north and we got some much appreciated tailwinds.

MG and I started out with the field, then spent most of the first half in small groups. We stopped at the Dolce Bakery in Milford, Del. at mile 50 for some caffeine and sugar snacks. We had a nice visit with Janet and John Bodine and greeted other riders who decided to take advantage of this unofficial stop.

Dolce Bakery in Milford, Del.

MG and me in a rare appearance at a beach.

The trip in the winds through the control at Slaughter Beach and on to the lunch control town of Milton, at mile 69, was draining. We arrived famished and stressed. The town was designated as an open control, meaning any establishment was acceptable to get our cards signed as long as we got a receipt.

The first place we stopped, The Gallery Espresso, was staffed by just one employee who was not having a good day. I shed a tiny tear to walk away from any place with a real espresso machine.

We split and went around the corner to The Vintage Cafe, where we got a sandwich, some pretty good coffee and a much needed break from the wind.

MG and I had a better ride from there, and loved the tailwind sections that blew us and the group that formed along the way — Jack Nicholson, Bob Torres, David Ripton, Nigel Greene and Joe Kratovil — north along variously wooded and open sections.

Alec B. and MG in Bridgeville, Md.

Tailwinds = smiles.

The finish at 4:17 pm, or 9:17 overall, was a good one for us. This was our first 200K since PBP and we did not know how well our legs would respond. At just 1:20 off the bike, we were able to get back to the finish before sunset.

There are some good accounts of this ride. MG has posted a nice story about our ride and our other Veterans Day weekend outings at her blog, Chasing Mailboxes. She has also posted a combined set of photos we took at her Flickr page — click the gallery image below to see more.

Our Flatbread Photos

Read Nigel’s story at his Iron Rider blog and learn more about Joe at his Mellow Yellow blog. They were both riding fixed-gear bikes.

Joe — trackstanding — and Nigel await a traffic light.

First timer Lisa S. posted about her successful ride, with dreamy night miles to the finish, at her Rambling Rider blog. Congratulations Lisa!

It was a great fall event. Thanks to Chip and all the helpers, and to our fellow riders for sharing the journey. We’ll be back.

Here’s DC Randonneurs RBA Bill Beck’s summary report.

A record 79 riders started the Eastern Shore Flatbread 200K RUSA brevet yesterday, and all finished! The weather was beautiful with sunny skies and temperatures rising from the high-30s to the low-60s. But a brisk wind from the southwest made that flat course into a tough ride on the return from Slaughter Beach.

Special thanks to Chip Adams for again organizing this gorgeous ride. It was a big job with so many riders. A big thanks also to Katie Adams and Sherrie Provenza who helped register riders at the start and checked in riders at the finish, all while managing pizza orders – a big job with 79 riders!.

Congratulations to Earl Janssen for completing his R-12 award, Theresa Funari for her R-24, Clint Provenza for his R-36, and Tom Reeder for R-72! We think Tom’s streak is the longest for any rider east of the Mississippi.

There were also 8 riders who became official randonneurs by completing their first brevet. So congrats and welcome to Michael Caha, Jane Cross, Richard Downs, Alex McKeague, Jack Nicholson, Lisa Shiota, Jonathan Winkert, and Ping Xiang.

Preliminary results are posted at http://www.dcrand.org/dcr/results.php?page=display-results&year=2011.

My photos are posted at http://www.flickr.com/photos/wabeck/sets/72157627993903523/ and Mary Gersema’s are at http://www.flickr.com/photos/gersema/sets/72157628114335094/.

A GPS track of the route is at http://connect.garmin.com/activity/128517507.

Next up is the Woodbine Wallop 200K on December 10. This is a challenging ride with the second most feet of climbing per mile of all DCR routes. A nice contrast to the Flatbread! I like having it in December so you can keep cool while working up those hills.


DC Randonneurs Old Rag 200K — Spring Arrives!

UPDATE No. 2: Event co-organizer Chuck Wood has uploaded his photos from the roadsides. See them here.

UPDATE: Bill Beck’s summary is now posted below and MG has posted a scintillating story and photo essay at Chasing Mailboxes. Lastly, check out the photos by retro-rider Ritchie R. at his Flickr page.

The D.C. Randonneurs’ Old Rag 200K brevet is an annual rite of spring, and this year did not disappoint. The timing coincided with the blooming of the dogwood along the course in north-central Virginia, just east of the Blue Ridge. We even coaxed Mr. Sun to come out by late morning, chasing away the last clouds of a rainy Friday night and lifting temperatures into the high 70s. After last weekend’s heavy rains, the day was an Easter basket full of cycling candy.

A total of 43 riders started in Warrenton, Va. for the clockwise loop south to Madison, Va., then north to Old Rag Mountain, with the return over a series of steep rollers to Flint Hill and Orleans before the return via the unbeloved Piney (Pukin’) Mountain climb, aptly named because it comes just before the finish.

MG and I had a fine ride with a lot of our pals new and old. Not much to report, which is good. We enjoyed the day and our fellow riders. What more can you wish for?

See our photosets from the captain and stoker compartments of our tandem. See MG’s here and mine here. See even more photos (and videos!) from RBA Bill Beck, whose full report is below.

Thanks to Crista and Chuck and their cheerful volunteers for another fun running of this classic brevet.

Next up: the lovely Frederick, Md. 300K on May 5, starting at a nice new location.

Here is Bill’s report:

43 riders came out to Warrenton on Saturday for the Old Rag 200K ACP brevet. It had rained all night, and most people were prepared for several more hours of rain, covered in jackets and helmet covers. But it turned out that the rain stopped shortly before the start and never resumed. Temperatures were in the 40s at the start, but soared into the middle 70s when the sun finally emerged. Riders kept peeling off layers until most arrived at the finish in short sleeve jerseys and shorts. There was concern that the low-water bridge around mile 48 would be underwater, so three cue sheets were prepared — one with the normal route, one with a detour around the bridge, and a third that combined the first two into one sheet. But it turned out that the bridge was above water. The route itself was at its’ floral peak. Dogwoods, redbud, and cherry trees were all in full flower. And many places were covered with tulips. and daffodils. The second half of the route includes most of the climbing with Old Rag, itself, the Kings and Meanies, and finally Piney Mountain. 41 of the original 43 riders reached the finish and enjoyed pizza in the club’s motel room.

Thanks to co-organizers Crista Borras and Chuck Wood for organizing the ride and preparing not one, but three (!) cue sheets for low-water, high-water, and all-weather. They were also out on the route greeting riders and taking pictures, including at the top of Old Rag. (Crista thought it was cold up there, but none of the riders who had just climbed to the top seemed to agree.) Thanks also to Keith Krombel and David Ripton who registered riders at the start and also at the secret control.

Preliminary results are posted at http://www.dcrand.org/dcr/results.php?page=display-results&year=2011. There were almost as many cameras as riders out on the route. Mary Gersema’s pictures are at http://www.flickr.com/photos/gersema/sets/72157626443389833/ and Ed Felker’s are at http://www.flickr.com/photos/8193389@N06/sets/72157626445350191/. Mine are at http://www.flickr.com/photos/wabeck/sets/72157626566123972/.

Chuck was taking photos along the route, so we’ll look for those to appear later.

We ramp up the distance over the next weeks with the Frederick 300K on May 7, the Frederick 400K on May 23, and then the big one — the Shendandoah 600 on June 4.


D.C. Randonneurs Urbana 200K — Our First Step to PBP

MG and I had not planned to ride the D.C. Randonneurs 200K brevet last Saturday from Urbana, Md., but our schedule opened up and we were glad to get the opportunity to ride! A total of 67 riders came out and we enjoyed a cool but sunny day riding over the big hills to the Antietam Battlefield and back. We did not ride the February club 200K, so this ride represented our first qualifier for Paris-Brest-Paris, and we were glad to get it behind us.

It was easy to feel excitement in the pre-dawn air at the start of the D.C. Randonneurs 200K brevet Saturday morning. The air was cold and the skies were clear as randonneurs arrived in droves at the humble Waffle House just off the interstate in Urbana, Md., to undertake the first spring event of the spring season.

The inaugural brevet is always a much-anticipated ride, made even more palpable by the fact that this is a Paris-Brest-Paris year. For those of us headed to the grand old randonnee, the ACP 200K qualifier is the first tangible step toward qualifying and adding getting on the PBP start list.

The scene was one of many familiar faces. I greeted Max Prola, who comes out in PBP years, Mike Martin, and Ron and Barb Anderson, from Hamilton, N.J.

Over at the check-in tables, Dave Berning, Charlie and Katrin, and Fred Robbins were getting everyone squared away. We’d find a few other folks we’ve gotten to know out on the road, including Dave Goodwin, John Fuoco, Linda McAdams and Bill Alcorn.

That’s one of the magical things about the brevets. You’d never get a group ride together like this by yourself. But here we all stood, cards at the ready, chains lubed and tires pumped, ready to climb mountains and swoop through valleys together.

A total of 67 riders joined esteemed RBA Bill Beck in the parking lot. After his gentle urgings that we buy something at the controls, and to call if we had any problems, off we went into dawn’s early light.

MG and I saw many of our rando buddies coming and going. They’d sweep past us on the uphills and we and fellow tandemers Chuck and Crista would swoop around them on the downhills, at least until we got tailed off the front group on a series of sawtooth rollers on the way to our first control in Union Bridge, Md.

We saw the group climbing the next hill for awhile, but each time they got a little farther away until they were gone. Joe Brown, Lane Giardina and Mike Ross rolled up to us and we arrived at Union Bridge just as the first group was pulling out.

MG and I went on alone to Thurmont, fighting a steady little northwest wind, our hands gradually warming as temperatures climbed into the 30s. The long six-mile climb up Rt. 77 is always a challenge and we did our best to stay focused. Gradually we were overtaken by some riders from behind, including Paul Donaldson, Maile, Ben, and Bennett — and our buddy Jeff Radan, who was patrolling the course on his motorcycle!

The descent to Smithsburg was thrilling and unnerving as always. We had some new, stiffer wheels built since the last time we descended and they were a marvel in helping us hold our line on the steep curves.

The next objective, the Earl’s Market control at mile 64, was a bit too far and we were fighting the bonk when we arrived. MG and I found it cold and breezy outside. We lit out after just 20 minutes after wolfing some snacks and drinks. The staff at Earl’s was as nice as could be and we were glad for their hospitality.

A turn south toward the KOA campground control took us out of the headwind and we warmed up rapidly, enough to change to lighter gloves and shed some headwear after buying a brownie and getting our KOA sticker on our control cards.

Our next objective was coffee and food three miles later at the Sheetz in Williamsport, and it was there that we took another long break of about 20 minutes. My espresso and chicken wrap, and MG’s latte, were the best we were going to get on this rural route and we enjoyed it as much as we could.

The group of Maile, Joel, Bennett, Alec Burney and Linda (and one other fellow) rolled past and we went off in chase of them, making contact just before the information control in the Antietam battlefield. We rolled into the Battleview Market with only 31 miles to go, but with two extended climbs and a bunch of rollers ahead.

We ran through the control fast and got back on the bike — today was all about movement. We wanted to finish with just an hour or so off the bike. Crista and Chuck caught up to us at the top of Trego Road, just as we made the turn toward Gapland.

A little extra effort kept us with them over Gapland, and we commenced trading turns over to Marlu Ridge. We got extremely lucky and caught a green light at the intersection of Mountville Road and U.S. 15 on the other side of the Ridge and we all just kept on going, the barn in sight.

The only thing stopping us was a mechanical, and so it happened. We turned onto Fingerboard Road and for no reason our timing chain rolled off. Our mechanic warned us the rings were getting worn, but I never knew what happened if they got too worn. We found out just four miles from the finish!

Luckily the chain was intact and after reinstalling we were off. Crista and Chuck nicely waited for us and we rolled in with a 9:55 overall time, with 1:14 off the bike. For us, it was a nice result on a hilly course.

There were many friendly faces at the Ledo’s Pizza, where the staff took good care of us with endless pizza, and we made sure to grab one of Bob Sheldon’s yummy brownies! Thanks Bob.

Our thanks go to Bill, his volunteers, and to our fellow riders for making the day so fun. We’re looking forward to many more fun miles with you all.

See the rest of my photos here and MG’s set here.