DCR Many Rivers 600K Brevet: No two rides are the same

MG and I took a break from the longer brevets last year, but we didn’t think that would make much of a difference when we started the D.C. Randonneurs’ Many Rivers 600K brevet on Saturday in central Virginia.

Early morning over the soft hills toward the Blue Ridge.

Early morning over the soft hills toward the Blue Ridge.

Our approach would be the same as in the past: we’d try to complete the first 241-mile day by 11 p.m. and get back on the road by 3 a.m. for the 136-mile second day. We mostly expected the same results, meaning an early afternoon finish on Sunday.

Well! The good news is that we got around the double-loop course from Warrenton, Va. just fine, with a finish of 36:01. In randonneuring, the only goal that matters is completion within the time limit. For a 600K you get 40 hours, so, all good there.

But, our result is more than two hours slower than in 2012, when we rode the same course in 33:55, in much hotter weather. You’d think we’d maintain the same pace in the perfect springtime weather conditions we experienced on Saturday and Sunday, with moderate temperatures, light winds and dry air.

The difference came down to additional time off the bike, and a little bit slower pace.

In 2012 we rode 24:26 and had a rolling average of 15.5 mph. This year we rode 25:12 and had a rolling average of 15.1 mph.

That’s 46 minutes additional in the saddle and 80 minutes more stopped time — not much over 1 1/2 days. Still, in a pursuit based on time limits, randonneurs tend to think a lot about their time result, and we’re no different.

See all of our data and course tracks at Garmin Connect: Day 1 and Day 2.

I have a full photo set on Flickr as does MG. See mine and hers.

We’re still sorting it out, but we’ve got a couple of theories. In 2012 the ride was on June 9-10, which gave us more time in the spring to get in shape.

As I said, it was much warmer then — I recall Saturday temperatures were in the 90’s that year, compared to the 70’s this year. That made the Sunday predawn hours warmer. This year had a cold start both days in the 40s.

The other factor was second-day fatigue. All of our additional time and slower pace came on Sunday’s 136-mile loop to Fredericksburg and back. We returned to the start/finish hotel for the overnight stop at the same time as in 2012, about 11 p.m., but we spent more time in the hotel, and took more stops around the course. I think we re-started at least 30 minutes later, close to 4 a.m.

There was a mild headwind on the second half of the Sunday loop which also added to our time, though I can’t say how much.

So — enough with the data! The upside in all this was that we enjoyed some excellent companionship along with way, especially on Saturday. We teamed up with Brian Rowe, David Givens (both new to randonneuring) and Rick Rodeghier for the Saturday afternoon and evening run back to Warrenton.

Rick, David, Brian. Good folks.

Rick, David, Brian. Good folks.

All three were in good spirits and we enjoyed the fresh perspective of Brian and David. They and Rick were all on randonneuring bikes with 650b wheels and fenders, and held a good steady pace. We had a satisfying sit down dinner in Louisa, Va. at the Roma Italian restaurant (great service!).

What's missing from this bike? A front derailleur.

What’s missing from this bike? A front derailleur.

The night run to Warrenton was spectacular, despite the steady grinding ascent in the final miles, with a blazing sunset and lots of good conversation. Our new generator hub and lighting system (Schmidt front disk hub, Schmidt Edelux 2 and Secula Plus tail light) lit the way.

Mike Martin and John Mazur were also in the vicinity, and we ate dinner and rode some of the way with the ever-debonair Roger Hillas, whose front derailleur had broken. He calmly rode with the chain on his small ring and laughed it off as no big deal.

Waiting on a train.

Waiting on a train.

We joined up with them earlier at the Howardsville Store at mile 122, after tagging along with the fast folks for the first 70 miles until the bigger rolling hills near the Blue Ridge put us off the back. The Big Cat tandem can only do so much when the profile trends upwards.

Away in the distance, the front group rides off.

Away in the distance, the front group rides off.

The event organizer Bill Beck was there at Howardsville, taking photos, and we had fun joking around. Barry Benson, MG’s co-worker, arrived with her cycling gloves, which had fallen out of our rear bag. Barry gets a gold star.

Bill executed a perfect power slide to get the shot.

Bill executed a perfect power slide to get the shot.

It was always nice to see Bill. He makes us feel like rando-celebrities with his flattering shots and all-around good cheer.

Barry found MG's gloves on the course. Thanks Barry!

Barry found MG’s gloves on the course. Thanks Barry!

The other highlight of the morning was the espresso and gourmet sandwiches at the Green House Coffee in little Crozet, Va. where a group of us gathered (the speedy crowd chose other, more expedient establishments).

A welcome stop in Crozet.

A welcome stop in Crozet.

Randonneur yard sale in Crozet.

Randonneur yard sale in Crozet.

Mitch Potter told us a little about his tricked-out flat-bar Pivot 29er bike that he was riding in anticipation of installing big tires and riding the Tour Divide offroad race in the Rockies. It was quite the rig, with the snazzy 1×11 SRAM system, with a single chainring crank and a huge 42-tooth large rear cog.

Mitch on his Pivot.

Mitch on his Pivot.

A better shot of Mitch's bike. By MG.

A better shot of Mitch’s bike. By MG.

Sunday was another story, still a good one, but I was pretty shelled from Saturday and had the hardest time getting up. I finally arose at 2:45 a.m. after three hours sleep. Consequently our planned 3 a.m. departure ended up at 3:55 am, and we arrived in Fredericksburg, mile 288, after 8 a.m. — about four hours to cover 46 miles. I was dragging, and so was MG. We were consuming everything we had to get some energy going.

These espresso beans may have saved our ride.

These espresso beans may have saved our ride.

Mike Martin was again in our orbit. We got caught up at the first control of the day around dawn and talked about how tired our legs felt. After another stop at the second control on the outskirts of Fredericksburg (after something of a struggle to maintain momentum), we rolled into downtown in bright sun and immediately saw the Marine Corps Historic Half marathon taking place.

Historic Half Marathon underway in Fredericksburg, Va.

Historic Half Marathon underway in Fredericksburg, Va.

After cheering the runners for a few minutes I spied Hyperion Espresso, and so yet another half-hour passed off the bike as we revived ourselves with very fine espresso and muffins. This stop got us whole (despite some misgivings about stopping yet again) and back on the road in much better spirits.

The moment that turned our Sunday ride around.

The moment that turned our Sunday ride around.

At that moment Brian, David and John Mazur rolled through town. We caught up to them for the segment through the Fredericksburg Battlefield. Rick had been spied fixing a cable in the hotel parking lot when they left, so he was somewhere behind on the course. Hey Rick, we missed you!

John in the Frederickburg Battleground. Not on tandem this time.

John in the Frederickburg Battleground. Not on tandem this time.

MG and I decided we better get moving if we were ever going to finish without falling asleep on the bike. We pulled away after Spotsylvania, mile 317, to ride solo the rest of the day, tackling the pesky headwind. I had periods of saddle soreness and my left knee would hurt if we pushed too hard, and I started counting down the miles.

Randonneuring high life, in Spotsylvania.

Randonneuring high life, in Spotsylvania.

How far to the finish?

How far to the finish?

Almost there. Just 30 miles to go!

Almost there. Just 30 miles to go!

My eyes. My eyes.

My eyes. My eyes.

The route was intensely lovely, however, and we savored the verdant countryside views and forest lands in the final hilly miles near Warrenton. We again intersected with Mike, who was doggedly riding solo. I thought about how this event has us climbing into the town, a high point in the area, not once but twice. I guess it builds character.

Mike Martin leads us toward Warrenton.

Mike Martin leads us toward Warrenton.

After a somewhat serious push to get in to Warrenton by 4 p.m., we had to settle for a minute after the hour. Oh well! Our pal Lane G. was running the finish control at the Hampton Inn and got us checked in and had pizza waiting, with more arriving quickly — the two most important jobs when tired, hungry riders show up. Thanks Lane!

Lane checks us in. MG's got a pound of pollen in that eye.

Lane checks us in. MG’s got a pound of pollen in that eye.

MG is writing a post on our full randonneur series this year, so stay tuned for that at her fine blog, Chasing Mailboxes.

We made it. Still awake (barely) and still smiling. Photo by Lane G.

We made it. Still awake (barely) and still smiling. Photo by Lane G.

I also want to extend our thanks to DCR brevet administrator Nick Bull for all his work in getting the series organized, to Bill Beck for a well-run 600K, and Mike Binnix for keeping the food going in the overnight control room.

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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

D.C. Randonneurs Old Rag 200K: Magnifique!

I struggle to find the words to adequately describe the warm sunny spring day bestowed upon us for the D.C. Randonneurs Old Rag 200K brevet on Saturday. The controls were as friendly as could be, the 48 riders were in a great mood and rode well, and we had a nice time in the hotel room with pizza and stories afterward. Thanks to Crista, George, and Chuck for all their fine work on Saturday. Well Done DCR!

The photos tell the rest of the story. You can see MG’s and my set Here and the set from esteemed RBA Bill Beck.

We also posted GPS tracks. For the front group experience, see Bill’s. For the perspective of our little chase group of MG, me and Dave G., see mine. Bill has posted results at the D.C. Randonneurs results page.

We are not riding the fleche, but hope to hear from some of the participants next weekend. Our next stop: the DCR 300K on May 2. For a preview of the event, check out the photoset Maile posted from the checkout ride, also on Saturday. Thanks Maile!

MG Thursday: How to Talk about the Weather – Don’t.

(TDR launches a new feature I’ve named MG Thursday, in which our fair MG offers her observations on the randonneur lifestyle. Enjoy!)

How to Talk about the Weather – Don’t.

As a randonneusse and bicycle commuter, the weather consumes a lot of my thoughts. What will I wear in the morning? What will I wear home in the evening? How many layers will fit in my pannier? What will the weather be like for our weekend ride? All of it is dictated by forces over which I have no control so of course that makes me want to spend more time thinking about how I can control them.

What I have come up with are the following strategies:

First, I tune in as frequently as possible to weather websites. When I’m feeling like a bit of narrative with my four seasons, I watch every randonneur’s favorite, The Weather Channel. Twenty-four hours of nonstop weather! WOO! Sometimes I compare the television forecast to that of the website, and always believe the more optimistic prediction.

I also pray, but I try to save prayer only for brevets or long rides. I know God is busy so I don’t want to take advantage. I also do not want to come across as a weather wimp, especially considering my Midwest upbringing, but surely God has a moment for me and my riding territory’s weather patterns.

Finally, I keep quiet. Somewhere along the way, I learned that the the spirit of randonneuring dictates that randonneurs NEVER talk about the weather, except for the weather that is happening right at that moment. If it’s raining while you’re riding, you can comment about that to your buddy. But don’t even think of saying, “I sure hope this clears up.” It only invites trouble. You may also freely discuss what the weather was like during your ride– AFTER you’ve finished. Weather can make a good ride story great! But as I just stated, only after you have finished the ride!

The weekend ride forecast is 65 degrees, sunny, and calm? Great news, tell no one! Definitely do not put it in writing and send it out to any listservs on which you are a member. It just invites trouble, cloudy skies, inappropriate wardrobe choices, and disillusion if things change.

It looks like 70% chance rain? Pray! The day may turn out to be sunny… you just never know. Never give up hope until the moment you are at the ride. Even then, you never know what can happen.

In conclusion, when discussing the weather, DO NOT mention anything about the weather.

Brevet Week!

Looking past the fact that D.C. Randonneurs has already staged its first ACP 200K, this weekend’s Old Rag 200K in Warrenton, Va. marks the beginning of the ACP season for MG and me.

This route was my first 200K, way back in 1996. These days, I get a nostalgic feeling when I think of the Old Rag 200K. (It is named for Old Rag Mountain. For more information click Here.) Back then we were not a formal club, just a group of riders organized under the Potomac Pedalers Touring Club. We rode just the four Super Randonneur brevets, making each one extra special. It helped that they were perfectly organized by then-RBA Jim Keuhn.

I was the new guy among seasoned, hardy randonneurs who had ridden PBP as far back as 1987, and I am still riding with most of them today.

I rode that first 200K with absolutely no idea of what I was doing. I had never ridden that many hills in my life. I bonked with five miles to go and could barely sit on the tiny, hard racing saddle by the end. I finished, somehow, fully exhausted and massively saddle-sore. I didn’t ride another brevet that year, but I thought about the brevets all summer and winter and came back for more in 1997.

I’ve ridden at least one ACP 200K a year since, usually this route. The rides are even more fun now that MG and I are seeing them together by tandem. The Old Rag 200K is best run in mid-April when the dogwood and redbud are in bloom. They make The Three Kings, The Meanies and Piney “Pukin” Mountain Road — tough, steep hills in the second half of the ride — practically enjoyable.

MG and I, with Maile N., organized this ride last summer as a RUSA brevet, but we’re really looking forward to seeing it in its spring glory. Plus, we expect conditions to be s—ny and w–m! (No jinxes.) If you want to see some pictures of the route, Maile joined Crista and Chuck, Lane and George W. for the volunteers checkout ride in rain and wind last Saturday. See her photoset Here.

See you Saturday!

DCR Urbana 200K, and a special Cherry Blossoms Report

D.C. Randonneurs held its first ACP brevet in two years on Saturday, following a reorganization year in which Bill Beck was named the new Regional Brevet Administrator and the club staged RUSA brevets. The club had a terrific day despite wet conditions. Some 47 riders undertook the Urbana 200K and another nine went out on the 100K Populaire. There were more than a few sporting the new Woolistic DCR wool jersey. (Well done Michael Scholten!)

Chuck and Crista, sporting those new jersies (Courtesy Maile Neel)

Chuck and Crista, sporting those new jersies (Courtesy Maile Neel)

Ron and Barb Anderson came south for another fun day on the tandem. (Courtesy Bill Beck)

Ron and Barb Anderson came south for another fun day on the tandem. (Courtesy Bill Beck)

Bill has posted photos and preliminary results. See his recap of the ride below. Maile “24” Neel has also posted photos at her Flickr page.

Congratulations to everyone who rode, and to DCR for coming back with a full ACP schedule this spring!

MG and I could not be there, and certainly missed the excitement of the beginning of the ACP season. (Why do French-certified brevets mean more than RUSA brevets? Beyond their status as qualifiers for PBP and some other 1200K randonnees, there is still something that makes them special. That’s a topic for another time.)

My excuse? My daughter DF was in town. On Sunday the sun came out and she and I grabbed the tandem and met MG down at the National Mall to check out the Cherry Blossoms around the Tidal Basin and Hains Point. It was crowded with cars and tourists, but the bikes made it all manageable. See a set of photos from our jaunt at my Flickr page.

DF takes in the beautiful cherry trees.

DF takes in the beautiful cherry trees.

Here’s Bill’s recount of Saturday’s brevet:

What an impressive bunch showed up in the rain at Urbana on Saturday: 47 riders for the 200K ACP brevet, and 10 for the 100K populaire! The riders pedaled a challenging route through light rain for pretty much the whole day. But there seemed to be nothing but smiles around the course.

The populaire riders went half the distance of the brevet, but they had some bragging rights of their own because they rode over MarLu ridge and South Mountain in the hard direction (as well as the easier direction). All of the populaire riders finished the course, five with official finishes. All but one of the 47 who started the 200K brevet completed the full course, 44 within the time limit. Everyone who showed up gets credit as being certifiably hard-core.

Special congratulations to Erik Ewald who completed his first brevet and Maile Neel who completed her second consecutive R-12 award (which we have been calling R-24). Maile’s streak started with her very first brevet! If there were any other notable firsts that I didn’t hear about, please let me know. And thanks to Bill Arcieri and Maile Neel for volunteering to help at registration, and to Jan and Nick Bull for volunteering at the finish.

Final D.C. Randonneurs Jersey

Michael Scholten announced this week that the D.C. Randonneurs wool jersey order is in the final stages, though you still have time to buy one. Based on timetables by Woolistic, the original dark gray color scheme has been reversed to crimson red with white lettering and gray highlights, which should arrive in time for spring riding.

However, you must get your check into Michael’s hands no later than Monday Feb. 2. If you need to reach Michael, leave a note in the comments area below this post and I’ll pass it to him. Short sleeve jersies are $79, long sleeves cost $87, plus $7 flat fee for shipping.

Below is a depiction of the jersey. Sharp, huh? Michael says the red should match the Alfa Romeo Trainer at the Vintage Velos site, where you will also find a men’s sizing chart.

Women’s sizing is as follows:
Bust: XS = 30 S = 32 M = 34 L = 36 XL = 38
Hips: XS=33 S=35 M=37 L=39 XL=41

New DC Randonneurs Wool Jersey

New DC Randonneurs Wool Jersey

Thanks to Michael for working many weeks on this project. They are going to look terrific.

Mark V.’s Paul’s Paradise 200K Permanent

As many of you know, I don’t chase the RUSA R-12 award, in part because I don’t want to have to ride a 200K brevet/permanent in winter. Plus, my schedule is structured so that I would have to miss out on riding with friends to go off and get a solo permanent here and there.

However, there is a dedicated band of R12ers here in the D.C. area who have been riding high and low to keep their streaks alive.

In the spirit of the presidential inaugural, I’ve posted Mark Vinette’s tale of the inaugural Paul’s Paradise 200k Permanent— a route designed by Crista Borras.

The route is an out-and-back from Poolesville, Md. to the turnaround at Paul’s Country Market with substantial climbing and lots of valley views. Mark rode it on Veterans Day, wrote his story on Dec. 31, and now it makes its way to TDR. Thanks for a nice writeup, Mark!

Paul’s Paradise Trip Report
by Mark Vinette
Dec. 31, 2008

This whole adventure started when I asked my R-36/48 buddies George Winkert and Nick Bull if they were interested in a Veterans Day Permanent to get our November ride in. They had the day off and rode mid-week holidays in the past, most notably the inaugural ride of my Bridge to Bridge Permanent on a frigid Martin Luther King Day this past January.

Alas, although we are united in our goal of continuous monthly 200ks until we die, our secondary goals of 2008 RUSA mileage awards and a nearby starting location required us to select different permanents for the day. RUSA does not grant mileage credit for permanent routes repeated in the same year, so when Nick was able to recruit Ed Felker and Mary Gersema with the suggestion of the highly attractive and nearby Mason-Dixon 200k Permanent, I was out of luck, having ridden the M-D back in March.

The Mason-Dixon 200k seemed like the perfect choice for a short November day, with its convenient start and average amount of climbing, particularly since George was flying back from Japan after three solid weeks of sushi and no riding.

Sadly, I am not as smart as Nick and George when it comes to route selection. Route developer extraordinaire Crista Borras had told me about the pending approval of Paul’s Paradise, starting nearby in Poolesville, Md., during one of our mid-summer permanent scheduling/counseling sessions. It had just been approved on Oct. 31. Paul’s promised some serious climbing (“scenic” in Crista speak), but the close-in start was just too good to pass up. Besides, I was still in pretty good shape from my summer riding.

The Paul’s route generally follows the DCR RUSA 10th Anniversary/Roaring Lion Permanent route. It winds north-northwest from Poolesville to Adamstown, then over Marlu Ridge to Middletown, location of one of the estates of “World’s Greatest Randonneur” Paul Donaldson, not the Paul this route is named for.

From Middletown, this route turns scenic. You get Harmony Road and then Harp Hill (the hard way) to the first control in Wolfsville, then take Wolfsville Road (MD17) for an extended low grade climb over South Mountain. From Smithsburg the route goes north to Rouzerville, Pa., and then loops to the north and west just short of the climb back up South Mountain to the turnaround control at Paul’s Market. The return reverses direction to Rouzerville, then climbs back over South Mountain to Cascade and down to MD77 via the reverse of the original D.C. Randonneurs 300k route.

From MD77, the route follows Stottlemeyer Road to Delauter’s Store on MD17 just south of Wolfsville. From Delauter’s the route follows MD17 to Harmony Road to Jefferson. The finish is over Marlu Ridge and through Buckeystown, Urbana, Hyattstown, Peach Tree Road, ala the RUSA 10th/Roaring Lion ride.

It was 28 degrees at the McDonald’s at my 6:30 a.m. start time and both of my computers decided to fail. Since I had ridden the final 40 miles of Roaring Lion with a cracked downtube on my last Crista Borras permanent, I decided the twin computer failure would not be the cause for a DNS. This was my first long ride with all the extra winter clothes on and they noticeably slowed the pace down.

I slogged over to Marlu Ridge and granny geared it over, saving energy for Harp Hill to come. I had a noticeable northwest headwind for the entire day which slowed my morning progress as well. Harp Hill was under construction and down to one lane going up, but traffic was non-existent and I rode alone over the top and down to Harnes Store in Wolfsville. Harnes is famous for being either closed or out of business most of the time, but today it was hopping with several locals hanging in back and shooting the breeze.

I needed a recovery break from all the climbing so I stayed for awhile and ate something. Soon I was climbing the long but not steep grade of Wolfsville Road/MD 17 to the crest of South Mountain. I stopped along the way to check out a corn field and realized I was about to bonk, so I sat for a while more and had a gel and a banana.

The next section was quite flat into Rouzerville, Pa. along roads I had never been on before. The wind was swinging more west of northwest and helping out at times too. From Rouzerville, the route follows Old Forge Road north, a long climb from the epic Pennsylvania 400ks of 2002 and 2003 which are famous for rain, wind, hills and frost warnings. Fortunately for me, Crista diverted west along the base of South Mountain to get to the turnaround control at the aptly named Paul’s Market (mile 55). This section featured a long uphill grade that was also upwind. I spent a little more time than normal at Paul’s, talking to Paul and recovering from the previous section.

The return to Rouzerville was much easier with the tailwind and I was soon on the Old US 16 climb back over South Mountain to Cascade. This climb is never very steep, but it does go on for over a mile. I kept moving, knowing once I crested in Cascade, I had mostly downhill to the control at Delauter’s Store on MD17 in Wolfsville and beyond on MD17. I arrived at Delauter’s (mile 85) at 1:40 p.m. feeling OK but now calculating my ETA at the finish vs. the “dark monster” — sundown — around 5-5:30 p.m. Let’s see, 40 miles + two controls + Marlu Ridge and Old Middletown Road = 3:15. I would arrive around 5:15 p.m., still light enough to go full speed all the way; the final 30 miles from Marlu Ridge were pretty familiar and fairly flat.

I have finished at least six RUSA rides this year on these roads. I made decent time and rolled through Urbana and on to the final control on MD355 in Hyattstown, still on schedule. The final miles back to Poolesville on Peach Tree Road went typically for me on this finish. I either feel bad from riding too hard or eating too little or some critical part of my bike starts acting up. Today was no different. My bike developed a loud squeal at high speed that could be felt as a vibration in the pedals and bars. I traced the source to the rear hub area by eliminating all other possible speed variable sources. Luckily, nothing more than the squeal/vibration developed by the finish.

I rolled into McDonalds at 5:18 p.m., right on schedule, with the remaining daylight fading fast. My total time of 10:48 reflects the greater-than-average climbing on the route. I don’t have an elevation total due to the computer battery failure, but I’ll confirm Crista’s estimate of about 10,000 feet or 20 percent more “scenic” than her typical routes. The climbing is spread through the first two-thirds of the ride, leaving the end fairly flat. The climbs are longer and less steep than average, except for Marlu Ridge (going out). All in all a nice ride — except I never did see the Pair of Dice!

A Christmas Wish Come True

Santa is real. How do I know this? We learn from Nick Bull’s story of the Gettysburg Gallop 200K Permanent that the dream of a significant other — a partner, spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend — taking up randonneuring actually comes true. Nick and Jan Bull, on their tandem, not only completed the inaugural ride of this Crista Borras permanent, but Jan finished her first brevet in the process. Welcome aboard, Jan!

Jan's Water Bottle Froze Solid

Jan's Water Bottle Froze Solid

See Nick’s story Here. All you guys and gals out there wishing to join the society of randonneuring couples, don’t give up. You never know what St. Nick might bring you.

Woodbine Wallop 200K Results and Photos

D.C. Randonneurs RBA Bill Beck has posted results and photos from Saturday’s Woodbine Wallop 200K RUSA brevet. See the results at the D.C. Randonneurs site and photos at his Flickr page.

A group of 21 riders braved cold, wind and many hills on this route, with all but one finishing within the time limit and the lone DNF riding back to the start via a shortcut. Everybody on this ride gets an official TDR “True Randonneur” sticker.


All photos courtesy Bill Beck.

Here is Bill’s report to the DCR email list:

21 very hardy randonneurs turned out for the Woodbine Wallop 200kmbrevet on Saturday. As late as the morning before the ride, we weren’t sure if we would be able to do the planned route, or even do the ride at all. But the weather cooperated, and the rains of the previous day dried on Friday afternoon. However, a localized snow shower Friday night dusted the Park and Ride and surrounding roads with a layer of snow, so the start was more wintery than expected. Temperatures were around 28F at the start, but the sun finally came out and temperatures warmed all the way into the high 30s(!)

The Woodbine Wallop was a very challenging course with several steep climbs, and around 10,100 feet of total climbing. But this amazing bunch handled it in stride, and all 21 starters arrived back at the Woodbine Pizza Hut under their own power. A big “Chapeau” to all of you. The fastest time was almost 10 hours, with all riders finishing after sunset. Tom Reeder showed that he is truly a hard-core randonneur by riding to the finish even though the cold and hills had pushed him past the official finishing time.

Special congratulations to George Moore and Ken Widmaier, who completed this monster of a ride as their first brevet! And thanks to Jeff Magnuson for volunteering to register riders at the start, Nick Bull for designing a back-up route in case weather made the roads to Shepherdstwon unsafe, and Crista Borras for helping design part of the route.

When I did the checkout ride the previous weekend, I thought “Whoa, that was a tough ride. It was probably not very smart to schedule it near the shortest day of the year.” And, I appreciate that no riders gave me a Woodbine Wallop at the end. (Some actually seemed to like the route.) But I will try to set up a much more mellow brevet, perhaps into Southern Maryland, in early February to average things out a bit.

Bill