DC Randonneurs 2012 Warrenton 300K: Don’t think, just ride!

Sometimes the big hurdle on a brevet is simply getting on the bike. MG and I have been feeling some year-after-PBP blahs this season (anyone else too?) and our excitement over Saturday’s D.C. Randonneurs 300K was fairly muted. The forecast didn’t help — showers and cool temperatures in the 50s were predicted.

See all of our photos at Flickr: Mine and MG’s.

UPDATE: DC Randonneurs rider and RBA Bill Beck has posted his photos. See them here. The full results are at the club web site.

We got out to Warrenton on Friday night, managed to stumble over to the starting line at just before 5 a.m., and are sure glad we did. We had a quite pleasant ride, in no small part due to the company of our fellow randonneurs, particularly Christian M. and Rick R. We rode as a foursome through the middle section of this rolling route through central Virginia farmlands. We also spent some time with George W. and Jim L. on his recumbent., and saw fellow tandemers Cindy and John, John’s brother Andrew, and Chris M. at the afternoon food stop in Orange, Va.

The quick summary of our ride: we started with the fast guys in our usual role as the unofficial brevet pace car, before letting them go after a couple hours. Over Old Rag Mountain I overshifted and put the chain behind the cogset, but we got it out and on we went. The sun came out for awhile and we met up with a lot of folks at Syria Mercantile, mile 64, along with local runners on a 5K event.

We rolled out with Jim, George, Christian and Rick, and the latter two stayed with us through the darkening clouds and finally a cold rain shower into Gordonsville, mile 100.

After lunch at Subway, the sun came out a little, then went away again, as we trundled to the Dairy Korner in Orange for Lunch No. 2 at mile 132. The descending terrain from Orange separated us and we rode the final segment mostly solo to the finish, under threatening skies and a few stray sprinkles, without stopping. We caught George at Remington and the three of us traversed the last 20 miles in relatively close proximity.

Many thanks to organizer Maile Neel and her volunteers for another successful DCR brevet. As our own stint as organizers approaches at the club’s Frederick 400K next month, we’re taking note of all the little things that make it easy for the riders to enjoy themselves and get a warm welcome at the finish.


DC Randonneurs Frederick 300K: Sunny Spring Savoring

MG and I thoroughly enjoyed our ride Saturday at the D.C. Randonneurs 300K from Frederick, Md. The sunny conditions, with temperatures in the 70s and some good stretches of tailwind, allowed us to post one of our faster finishes on this course. And, it was fun to see everybody. I’ll have more to post tomorrow after Bill Beck sends out his summary and I get some more recovery sleep.

The Annual Climb up Big Flat Ridge.

For now, MG has posted a great roundup of our ride at Chasing Mailboxes.

MG Monday: Lessons from the Contrary Mother of All 300Ks

TDR has a special MG Monday story about our ride at the D.C. Randonneurs “Contrary Mother of All 300Ks” brevet last Saturday. Every brevet is a learning experience, and this one was an intensive seminar! Thanks again to all who made this a memorable event.

See MG’s story below.

The D.C. Randonneurs “Contrary Mother” 300K is an epic knee-breaking excursion through the sawteeth of eastern West Virginia. Rather than regale you with a blow-by-blow of our day-into-night trip, I jotted down some of the brevet lessons I learned over our 192-mile journey.

Pay no attention to the forecast. Just wear wool and hope for the best. Supposedly, the temperatures for our ride were to start in the low 40s and climb into the mid-50s. Ha ha ha ha! We spent the day in the 40s, with the high temperature barely reaching 47. The day felt even colder because it was damp and overcast. I was happy for the emergency toe warmers I packed.

Maile and me (c) Felkerino

Fog is the enemy. Hilly rides can be great because even though the climb may hurt, there is a payoff waiting for me at the top. Surveying the panorama and feeling the accomplishment of knowing that I climbed all the way up from down below is a cool feeling. The fog robbed me of that pleasure on Saturday.

A fellow rider mentioned that the fog was beautiful,  and while I am glad he found it so, that was not the case for me. Where was my payoff? I could hardly see anything at the top of the climbs except Felkerino’s Camelbak and the road immediately in front of me. I like looking at Felkerino and the road, but it is nice to see other things, too. Fog, you won this time, but I’ll be back for those views on a sunny warm day!

Descending Wolf Gap

Take the time to wrench it. Early in the ride, my seatpost began to slide down. We would stop to fix it and it would slip again. It was so frustrating. After four adjustments, I was too annoyed to deal with it. Turns out the saddle was more than ½ inch below my regular height. I now know this was a bad move, and we should have taken the time to resolve the case of the slipping seatpost. I thought the terrain was what was making my knees and back yell at me, but now I think my seatpost was an accomplice. (Editor’s note: MG’s mechanic/husband/randonneur spouse is to blame here. He has scratched a mark in the post so there is no guessing in the future!)

Dogs that don’t bark are trouble. This ride was chock full of dogs. I still think North Carolina might have more dogs than West Virginia, but it’s a tight contest. Most pups were pretty tuckered from terrifying other riders. By the time we rode past, they yelped a little, but stayed in their yards. (Thanks, fast riders!) Most, but not all. At least three stealthy canines silently awaited our approach, and sprinted out in the road at the last minute to scare me. In the end, though, the tandem proved too much for them, and they retreated.

Get Back Fluffy!

Ascents on the tandem are tough, but the descents are incredible. We may have poked along on the many ascents of the day, but we rocketed on the downhills. The disc brakes (with brand new calipers) responded quickly and assuredly to any pressure we applied. We only maxed out at 49 m.p.h. on Saturday, but we enjoyed some fast descents throughout the day.

You can pedal at 2.9 miles per hour, but is it necessary? Felkerino and I rarely walk our bike. We prefer to ride it. However, the pitch at the top of Mill Gap at around mile 145 had the tandem rearing backwards and me begging for mercy. We decided to hop off and walk it, because: 1. We were climbing as fast as we could walk the bike; 2. we had no pop in our legs to pedal the tandem up and over that bad boy; and 3. by that point, we had no shame left.

I also want to apologize to John H. for telling him that Mill Gap is a mellow climb. I forgot about that hellacious segment at the top. Not mellow. Ouch.

PBP Anciens are everywhere. During this ride, I met two more PBP anciens. John H., from New York, is planning for his sixth trip to PBP this year. Max P., who I have seen before but never talked with until Saturday, is prepping for his fifth. According to John, “PBP is addicting!”

Passing the Miles with Max P. and his gold bar tape

Hilly rides scatter the groups, but that does not mean you are alone. Because of the hilly terrain of this brevet, there were a lot of small groups distributed along the course. Felkerino and I rode much of the ride by ourselves, but occasionally met up with others. We leap-frogged a lot with six or seven people throughout the day, shared some pleasant miles riding and chatting with them (when we were not gasping for breath from the ascents), and exchanged brief updates with riders at the controls. The comeraderie helped motivate me and keep my spirits up.

Cindy and John

Paul and Carol

The Branch Mountain United Methodist Church on Jersey Mountain Road has a lovely outhouse and slippery parking lot! Felkerino and I took a quick break at the church to refuel and refresh for our arrival in Romney. I was walking on the asphalt parking lot when my legs flew out from under me and I fell flat on my back. It bruised my pride as well as my body.

Just keep pedaling. I won’t lie. This ride tore me up. The saddle issues were maddening, the weather frustrating, and falling in the church parking lot was a bummer. Many moments on this ride I found myself wishing I was somewhere else. The clouds never dissipated and the temps did not warm up much (although we ended up with no rain and light winds, which was great). It never became a day where I thought “Wow, this is an awesome day for a bike ride!”

Fueling appropriately was difficult. I was working so hard that I needed to eat, but eating didn’t appeal to me because I was working so hard. I was glad I packed hummus sandwiches and ate them in increments throughout the ride. It helped minimize my crying jags.

Sometimes rides do not work out like I hope.  Not every day is a sparkling sunny day in the 60s, stuff happens on the bike, and some days I pedal stronger than others. However, even though it was not my best day, I still felt lucky to be out on the ride and with my randonneur spouse/husband. Seeing Maile throughout the course, looking after us and taking pictures was a real boost and helped me feel like we were doing something special. Believe me, people, that ride is special. (Especially butt kicking!)

Felkerino’s positive attitude kept me going, too. We diligently worked together, one pedal stroke after the other, until we happily arrived at the glamourous Super 8. Relief and elation ran through me. I knew that we had completed a difficult course and that I did not have to pedal the bike any further. That felt great.

Two PBP qualifiers down, and two to go. Bring it on!

The “Contrary” Mother of All 300Ks Brevet: Nine Magnificent Climbs

D.C. Randonneurs rides are generally hilly, but the Mother of All 300Ks brevet from Middletown, Va. through the hills of eastern West Virginia has a special place. It features nine (!) major climbs, all of them coming in the middle 125 miles.

Saturday a total of 37 riders undertook this year’s edition, run as the counterclockwise “contrary” orientation. The weatherman played a cruel trick on us, telling us that temperatures would rise to the upper 50s. But they stayed stubbornly in the mid-40s, with fog and damp air adding to the challenge. We were robbed of many wonderful vistas from those high points by fog, but at least the forecast for morning showers did not come true.

I’ve posted a set of photos here and Mary’s is here.

Here is RBA Bill Beck’s summary of the ride. Stay tuned for a special MG report on Saturday’s ride!

On Saturday, thirty seven riders signed in to challenge the Contrary Mother, a scenic route designed by Lynn Kristianson. This 300K is one of our toughest rides, coming in at number 2 or 3 on the basis of elevation gain per mile (https://dcrusa.powweb.com/dcr/randoinfo.php?page=climbing-faq). My GPS and elevation profile are at http://connect.garmin.com/activity/78430895. The barometric altimeter on my GPS indicated 14,040 feet of climbing at the end.

This year, the ride was a little tougher still because of temperatures in the forties and a mist or fog over most of the route. Thick fog at the top of Wolf Gap forced riders to descend much more slowly than usual, especially those rider who reached the summit after dark. Scott Gater found the ride really really tough when he was broadsided by a deer in the morning darkness. His bike and clothes were covered with deer hair, and he sustained some road rash and bruising, but finished the ride in good shape. In the end, all but one rider finished the ride, including three who were over the time limit but still rode in under their own power.

Thanks to organizer Maile Neel for putting on a smooth running event. Thanks also to to Lynn Kristianson, who co-organized, did the cue sheet, rode the checkout ride and helped run the start and finish. And many thanks to Gary Dean, who helped with the checkout ride, Mike Wali and Alex Burney, who registered riders on Friday and Saturday, Randy Mouri and Scott Gater, who registered riders on Saturday, and Mark Brewer, who staffed the Siler control. Alec also helped at the finish.

Preliminary results are posted at http://www.dcrand.org/dcr/results.php?page=display-results&year=2011. Maile was out on the course taking pictures, which you can see at http://www.flickr.com/photos/mcn7/sets/72157626344337111/.

My pictures are at http://www.flickr.com/photos/wabeck/sets/72157626468055940/.

After the ride, we found a pair of full-fingered Pearl Izumi gloves and their fingerless cousins, as well as a tub of Assos chamois creme. If these sound familiar, let me know and I will bring it to you at an upcoming ride.

The fleche is next weekend, followed by the Old Rag 200K on April 23. DC Randonneurs has eight fleche teams this year each of which will be riding at least 360km over 24 hours and converging on the Key Bridge Marriott, where they will join together for breakfast. I believe eight teams is a new record for the club. Good luck to all of the fleche riders!


MG’s Story: An ‘Epic’ 2010 D.C. Randonneurs 300K

MG has written up our tale of Saturday’s wet & windy 300K brevet from Frederick, Md. She recounts the crazy day with aplomb,  graciously (of course) leaving out the rough spots caused by yours truly.

Having ridden the Frederick, Md., 300K twice before, I feel qualified to tell you that it is a really nice ride. Nice! It features a pleasant, rolling, mostly downhill start, a mighty climb up the infamous Big Flat accompanied by an equally mighty descent into the first control at 68 miles, some more climbing, 60 miles of gentle rollers, and the end. Sounds nice, right?

Really, though, who needs a nice ride when they can have an epic one? This year, our nice Frederick 300K brevet on May 8 morphed from a pleasant jaunt through the countryside to an unforgettable journey that wrung me out, shook me to and fro, and left me feeling like a cranky rag doll at the end. This was the year of the epic Frederick 300K.

Riders at the Start (c) Bill Beck

It didn’t begin epically. Temperatures were pleasant at the start, winds were fairly calm, and the group rode happily out into the dawn. As always seems to happen, Ed and I fell back as the roads began to go up more than down. Ed likes to say, “Downhills are our speciality,” which also means that the uphills are not so much. That was OK, though. We slid into our tandem touring pace and, at mile 16, began slithering up MD77 through Catoctin Mountain State Park. Our legs felt good and I was happy to be on the bike.

While we ascended the sky kept getting darker. I told Ed that this was one of the first brevets where the ride was brighter at 6 a.m. than at 7 a.m. We ran into Al Pless and as we topped the climb together some little droplets fell, but no rain manifested. So far, so good.

Volunteers George Moore and Tyler Bronder helped us through the secret control on Foxville-Deerfield Road, I grabbed a banana, and we hit the road. Al said he would catch up with us in a bit, as he was going to pull out his rain jacket. Rain jacket? “Hope we don’t need that!” I thought. Silly me!

We descended Foxville-Deerfield Road (a fun downhill, you should definitely try it if you haven’t had the chance) and I kept an eye on the darkening sky. I sent the sky telepathic messages. “Please do not rain on us. Please do not rain on us.” Note to self. These telepathic messages do not work well, if at all. Al’s approach works much better. Just get your rain jacket out.

Over to Jacks Mountain Road we went (mile 34), and the skies opened. Drizzle, drizzle, POURING RAIN!!! The rain pelted down, making it difficult to see. Ed said, “I’m looking for shelter.” Yay! One minute later we rolled into a covered bridge, Ed slammed on the brakes, I grabbed my jacket, and we hung out for 10 minutes or so. Perfect timing! I never thought I’d be so happy to kill time under a bridge. It was lovely!

After a few minutes Kelly Smith and Mary Crawley came blasting through, unfazed and unstoppable. Apparently the rain wasn’t bothering them! “Ride on, randonneur warriors. I don’t share your courage,” I thought. We waited a little longer in our cozy spot, the rain let up, and we made our way out from the bridge into the dissipating shower. We did keep our jackets handy, however.

Al and Lothar, after the downpour (c) Felkerino

Next stop: Big Flat. As many D.C. Randonneurs know, Big Flat is an oxymoron. Here is Crista Borras’s description of the Big Flat adventure:

From Arendtsville, the route turns north-west and begins a long, stair-step climb with many steep sections, ascending the false summit before Big Flat, altitude 1,650 ft.,  before a rapid descent to a stop sign, followed by the real climb to the summit of Big Flat at 2,040 ft.

Ed and I rolled our way to the Big Flat climb. Three weeks ago we had ridden Big Flat in the opposite direction as part of our fleche. In addition, since I was experienced with this route I was totally confident that I knew what the climb would be like. As we ground along up a steep section toward Big Flat, I asked Ed, “Is this Big Flat?” I asked him this twice, until he responded, “No, Mary. We aren’t even to Shippensburg Road yet.” Oh, right. Sure. I remember that. Right.

We turned onto Shippensburg Road toward the real Big Flat and caught up to Chris Mento. Another incline. Another couple “Is this Big Flat?” questions coming from my direction. Chris dropped back. I told Ed that Chris slowed down because I kept bothering everyone with my “Are we there yet?” approach to Big Flat. Later, we learned Chris had gotten a flat– on Big Flat. No kidding!

At long last, the real Big Flat was upon us, and it was unnecessary to ask “Is this Big Flat” anymore. In fact, I don’t think I could have asked if I wanted to because we were putting all of our energy into the climb. We slipped into the granny, topped Big Flat, and began the sublime descent to the first control at mile 68 in Shippensburg, Pa. WOO HOO! We controlled in at the Unimart and zipped off to the Sheetz for breakfast and a latte.

The rain passed, the sky cleared, and the winds the forecast promised began. I don’t remember much about this section, actually. Oh wait, yes I do. We had a tailwind of epic proportions. You could see the grain waving in the fields. You could hear the wind from every direction, racing across the trees and the ground, pushing us along. I don’t know how to describe it. It was like the wind was the biggest presence in the space around us, eclipsing the trees, the sky, the farmhouses. It was alive. ALIVE! We passed a girl going the opposite direction. She was riding her bike straight into the headwind, stoic and determined, a visual trailer of what was to come for us.

On to mile 85. We controlled at Youngs Deli, took a couple of pictures, ate some peanuts, and rode the next several miles with Michael R., Michael O., and Charlie. It was good to have company. The sky was gorgeous, the clouds danced in the sky, and the sun brightly shone. We rode along the delightful Creek Road and I had a randonneur moment of “Wow! There is nothing I’d rather be doing right now!”

Creek Road – Good Times

Further up the road we caught Carol Bell and Paul Donaldson. We told them we had stopped at the Sheetz after the first control and Carol said, “Yes, you guys do that every year.” I laughed. My husband and I have an annual convenience store tradition?! Sheetz? That is kind of sad! Paul suggested we get Sheetz to sponsor us. I said that would be OK if we got free lattes and sandwiches, but I wasn’t going to wear any polyester jersey with Sheetz plastered on it. Sorry Sheetz!

Carol and Paul

Carol spied a rider ahead. “Who’s that?” she asked, and then sped up. Randonneurs are funny. We speed up just to satisfy our own curiosity about who is in front of us. We all sped up, and discovered that the unknown randonneurs were Mary Crawley and Kelly Smith. Thank God we figured that out!

Mary and Kelly

By this time, our tailwind days were over, and we entered a stiff cross wind. Ed had lied to me early in the ride (unknowingly, I believe) and said that the winds would not be that bad. Fortunately, Roger Hillas had disagreed vehemently with Ed about his prediction for the conditions of the last 60 miles. I distinctly remembered Roger saying, “You have to save something in the tank for those miles. Headwind!”

Ed and I broke away from Mary, Kelly, Carol, and Paul to stop at (guess?) the Sheetz at mile 107 in Mount Holly Springs, Pa. We enjoyed fine curbside dining of cheese sandwiches, a latte, and a double espresso. And on we went.

Sexy Randonneur Lifestyle – art shot

We caught up to Paul, Carol, Mary, and Kelly at the next control in East Berlin, Pa. at mile 129. Since we had already eaten, we rolled out with the group. Mary and Kelly seemed unbothered by the winds and we mentioned this to them. Mary said that we obviously did not have a microphone up to their tandem because there were a lot of comments being made about the trying conditions. Carol remarked that riding in the wind was still better than sitting at home on the couch. At this point, I had a randonneur moment of “Wow! There are quite a few I’d rather be doing right now!” And sitting on my couch might be one of them!

Mary directed Kelly to take a left in a mile or so. “No!” Kelly said. “I don’t want to!” It was tough to keep making those turns into the vicious winds. I started to feel disheartened and frustrated about the whole thing. I had been dreaming about the last 60 miles being the payoff section of the ride, since that is how it’s been in the past. I was having acceptance issues about the weather. As we looked at the roadside fields we could see the wind whipping along the grain. The trees were bending and compressing from the force of the winds. Branches and leaves were making their way into the road and dirt and debris were flying around. We could hear the wind howling and howling through the trees and power lines.

Ultimately, I decided that even though I had ridden this brevet two times in the past, this was a different kind of ride than I had ever experienced. It demanded a lot of attention and strength because of the windy conditions. After much animated internal discussion, I determined not to let the headwinds get me down. Every mile we rode was one mile less to cover. “We have ridden in worse,” I thought. And Ed and I are pretty good on the flats. They are not quite as much our “speciality” as the downhills, but they are still something at which we excel as a team. As the stoker, I even got the benefit of a draft! After this little pep talk with myself, I stuck my head down and pedaled. I’d raise it after a while to take some pictures, and then I’d put the camera down and drop my head again to pedal away. “Wind, you will not defeat me!” I repeated to myself. “Not today!”

Felkerino, taking the brunt of the headwind for the team

Ed and Kelly started joking around. Maybe Ed was feeling lonely since I was so engaged with all the voices in my head. Kelly said he would feel better about finishing the ride after he was out of this headwind section (or something like that). Ed responded that he would feel better about their chances of finishing the ride after they reached the hotel room (our final control). Ha ha ha! For some reason, jokes like these become really funny the later into the ride they fall.

After grinding away into the winds for 40 miles straight, Ed and I let the group go at Thurmont, Maryland. With 20 miles remaining, we treated ourselves to some sugary snacks and potato chips to prep us for the final 20 miles. While we were there, Chris Mento stopped too.

Prepping for the final 20 miles

We left Chris to make a proper bathroom stop at the High’s convenience store a few blocks up. There, Paul Donaldson rolled in. He said this wind made him irritable and made him think about how much better it is to ride your bike on nice days. I said, “Paul, irritable is not an emergency.” He responded, “If irritable was an emergency, I would have quit long ago!” Ha ha ha!!! Another hilarious moment brought to you by the D.C. Randonneurs.

Ed and I caught up to Chris Mento again, and we rode the final fifteen miles in together. It was lovely. The headwinds were mostly behind us, and the terrain into the final control mellow. Company was good. The sun began to make its way down for the day, but it was still light outside. Chris led the way to the Motel 6 and we all controlled in together, happy to have finished what had gone from an ordinary ride to an epic one. Bill Beck, the king of the randonneur paparazzi and RBA, snapped our frazzled finishing photo (well, Ed looked totally unfrazzled).

Felkerino and Me, frazzled but unscathed. (c) Bill Beck

We spent some time in the control room discussing our epic ride and recalling our nemesis, the headwind, now happily behind us. I absorbed three pieces of pizza– true decadence! While I may have looked like a rag doll at the finish, I felt awesome for not letting the windy conditions conquer my spirits. My successful showdown with the wind made me a randonneur superhero in my book! If I’d had a cape in my change of clothes, I would have proudly worn it. Instead, I guess I’ll buy myself a medal.

A Wet, Windy, Wild DC Randonneurs 300K

The annual D.C. Randonneurs 300K brevet from Frederick is generally considered a “fast” brevet, because all of the climbing is over after about 200K, followed by easy farmland roads back to the finish. Get up MD77 from Thurmont and over the infamous Big Flat ridge, boogie over a few rollers to Mount Holly Springs and conquer the return climb over South Mountain, and the rest takes care of itself.

This year a big gusty front from the west decided to join the ride. That changed everything. We were hit by a torrential downpour at mile 36, then big winds — gusting into the 40 m.p.h. range — blasted us eastward until the turn south around mile 107. After the wind-protected climb to York County into open country, every westward section felt like a steep climb and every turn south felt like the bike was getting pushed hard from the right.

We burned calories like mad all day and ended up spending a lot of time refueling — 2:26 off the bike out of our 14:51 total time. We had to make a “crucial stop” with just 18 miles to go in at the Liberty station in Thurmont for water, Gatorade, Coke, chips and ice cream — all the junk food that hits the spot when the tank is empty. Chris Mento rolled up for the same and we finished the ride with him at an easy pace in fading light. Chris nicely led us through the new route into Frederick that avoids the busy feeder road we take on the outbound leg.

We’ll have a special writeup of the ride from TDR’s own MG tonight. For now, see our photos here and here and RBA Bill Beck’s photos here. All 37 starters on Saturday made it back to the finish, including three over the time limit who nonetheless pushed in rather than bailing out on the course. See the results here.

Well done to all and thanks to organizers Nick and Jan Bull and their volunteer helpers — George W., George M., Lisa C. and Tyler B.

Next stop: the DCR 400K, also in Frederick, on May 22. Here is Bill’s report of Saturday’s ride:

WIND!!! That was the major theme of the Frederick 300K on Saturday. And just to make things more interesting, Mother Nature threw in a soaking rain shower in the morning. But, as Nick described in his organizer’s message, all 37 riders who started made it to the finish under their own power. Adding the 4 riders who did the checkout ride on the week before, and subtracting 3 riders who were over the time limit and one who had a missing control, there were 37 official finishers.

That wind was certainly the strongest that I have experienced on a bicycle. It was moderate in the early morning as we rode through Thurmont and over Big Flat, but really got cranking by mid-morning. Our group actually had a good tailwind most of the way from Shippensburg to Blosserville. But the entire final third of the ride from East Berlin to Frederick was a combination of vicious headwinds and cross winds, including gusts that made many riders feel like they would be blown right off the bike. Congratulations to all 37 riders who battled through to reach the finish. And special congratulations to Dave Judkins and Christian McMillen who both completed their first brevets – and did it on a difficult 300K at that!

Thanks to Nick Bull for organizing the ride. Nick already mentioned his other volunteers, but they deserve to be mentioned again. Jan Bull worked at the entire ride from Friday evening to early Sunday morning. Tyler Bronder and George Moore staffed the rainy secret control (and provided great cookies!). And Lisa Catino and George Winkert handled registration and bike inspection for the big crowd of riders at morning registration. Thanks to all of these members who made the ride possible. If you would like to volunteer for a future ride, please contact our volunteer coordinator, Mary Gersema.

Preliminary results are now posted at http://www.dcrand.org/dcr/results.php?page=display-results&year=2010. A GPS track of the route is at http://connect.garmin.com/activity/32732695.

My photos, along with some very nice ones that George Moore took at the secret control, are posted at http://www.flickr.com/photos/wabeck/sets/72157624025278580/.

Next up is the 400K, also starting at the Motel 6 in Frederick. Hopefully, this time without the wind.


DCR 300K, and a sad passing of Selle An-Atomica maker Tom Milton

MG and I did not ride the stunningly beautiful, super-hilly D.C. Randonneurs “Mother of all 300Ks” brevet Saturday, but wished we could have been there. It was run in reverse this year, and would have been fun to see the West Virginia hills and hollows from the other direction. Below is RBA Bill Beck’s report about the 17 riders, all successful finishers, who braved hills and showers to get home within the time limit.

First, however, we want to note the passing of Selle An-Atomica founder and maker Tom Milton. Tom saw a need for leather saddles with cut-outs and made his own. Brooks finally took note and brought back their own version from decades ago, the Imperial. We’ve seen a fair number of Selle An-Atomica saddles on DCR bikes and it appeared to have a good following.

Tom died of an apparent heart attack during the Devil Mountain Double 200-mile event Saturday. Read a fellow rider’s account here. Our condolences to Tom’s family and friends.

Here is Bill’s report from the 300K. Well done to all the riders. We’ll be out there with you at the next 300K on May 8.

17 billy goats showed up in Middletown, VA for the Contrary Mother of All 300Ks on Saturday. This epic ride was designed and organized by Lynn Kristianson, and featured lots of scenic river views, spring blossoms, and of course lots of hills. Temperatures were in the low 50s at the start with a 60% likelihood of showers forecast throughout the day. But it turned out that we only had a couple of hours of light showers in the morning and then another shower after dark. Much of the day was actually sunny.

There were only a few residual apple blossoms left, but the dogwoods, redbuds, lilacs, and bluebells were in full bloom. As for those hills — the first third of the route was not so rugged, but a long grade up to the Slanesville Store at mile 80 set the stage for a series of long, steep hills on Grassy Lick Rd. Plenty of other hills lead to two big climbs over Mill Gap and Wolf Gap, followed by the familar 18 miles of rollers along Back Rd. By the end, my altimeter measured 13,700 feet of climbing. But all 17 of the starters finished in the time limit.

Thanks to Lynn for designing and organizing this very memorable ride. Thanks also to Fred Robbins who was there at 4 a.m. to help with morning registration and still there at midnight to help check in the final rider. And finally to Maile Neel and Al Pless who were a welcome sight at the Siler control with lots of goodies to eat.

Preliminary results are now posted at the DCR site (except for Tim Laseter, whose results will be added shortly). A GPS track of the route is at Garmin Connect. And my photos are at Flickr.

Next up is the Frederick 300 on May 8 – a somewhat kinder and gentler 300K.


DCR Warrenton 300K: The Rain that Stayed Away

UPDATE: Maile N. has posted photos from the finish at the hotel. See yourself eating pizza here.

The forecast for Saturday was certainly gloomy but not ominous. In keeping with a recent post on TDR, I decided not to talk about the weather and instead packed a rain jacket, put the front fender on the tandem and left it at that.

At least there were no lightning bolts.

At least there were no lightning bolts.

The day turned out quite nice after all. We had one decent passing shower that stopped after 20 minutes or so, and after that only some random, threatening raindrops here and there. We enjoyed some spells of sunshine as well, and temperatures stayed in the 60s and 70s. Not bad.

See all my photos at my Flickr page and our GPS track at my MotionBased page. Most esteemed RBA Bill Beck also posted his photoset.

A total of 27 riders were sent off by organizer Maile Neel and co-organizer Lane Giardina, and all came home within the time limit. See the times at the D.C. Randonneurs results page.

We rode with the front group until the rollers got to us at mile 30 or so, and after that we rode with Russ Morris the rest of the way. We saw the leaders coming away from the first control at Syria, and talked with Bill Beck as he proved that a Carradice bag can hold the makings of a fine randonneur yard sale.

Somewhere in there was a long-valve inner tube.

Somewhere in there was a long-valve inner tube.

Mary, Russ, and I pressed on through the day with short stops, allowing ourselves a luxurious 40-minute stop at the Dairy Korner in Orange. Mary finally found a turkey sandwich to her liking! We were much improved with an actual meal after munching on convenience store food all day.

Fast and friendly service at the Dairy Korner

Fast and friendly service at the Dairy Korner

Lynn, Russ and Lothar at the Dairy Korner

Lynn, Russ and Lothar at the Dairy Korner

We also encountered a stuffed hamster in the road in Louisa County. What a fortunate fellow he was, unlike the collection of road kill we encountered throughout the day.

Cute, and lucky

Cute, and lucky

We enjoyed the easy run to the finish in fading light. The rain held off and we didn’t rush. All told, quite a nice day’s ride. Thanks to Maile, Lane and all the helpers in making this another successful D.C. Randonneurs brevet.

Almost to Warrenton

Almost to Warrenton

NC Randonneurs 300K: Sunny and Fast

UPDATE: Bob Orr has posted his report at his blog.

MG and I successfully completed the sunswept North Carolina Randonneurs 300K ride on Saturday. We had a fun ride. The route from Morrisville, N.C., near Raleigh, to Seagrove was all rollers but no steeps. Tandem Friendly!

MG and Ed in Seagrove, N.C.MG and Ed in Seagrove, N.C.

I’ve posted a set of photos at my Flickr page or see the Slideshow.

The weather was spectacular with moderate southwest winds providing a quartering headwind on the outbound leg to Seagrove and a nice boost on the return as the temperatures climbed into the 80s under clear skies until the later afternoon. The forecast for late day showers proved only briefly accurate; there was one heavy shower that swept across the course and nailed the main group for a few minutes with huge drops. For once our dawdling at convenience stores paid off and we missed the rain.

MG, Jeff, Byron and Branson under bright skiesMG, Jeff, Byron and Branson under bright skies

The regular NCR crew turned out, featuring Branson Kimball and Mike Dayton of Research Trailer Park blog fame. See Mike’s ride report Here. We also got the chance to visit with Chuck Lathe, builder of Coho Bicycles, who was riding one of his own.

Three other D.C. Randonneurs joined us for the ride: Lynn Kristianson and Gordon Meuse on their Co-Motion tandem and Jeff Magnuson on his single. We also got to know Scott McCullough of Linthicum, Md., who rode his Bachetta recumbent. See Scott’s report and photos Here.

For the most part everyone stayed in relative proximity on the out-and-back route and we had lots of time to visit. Thanks to RBA Alan Johnson and helpers Jerry Phelps and Wes for making the event one we really enjoyed. Oh, and an extra thanks to North Carolina drivers who were almost unfailingly polite (we got buzzed once by someone who wouldn’t wait for oncoming traffic to pass, but that was it) and to North Carolina in general for the smooth, quiet back roads.