Archive for February, 2012

Fleche on April 12-15, 2012

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

The DC Randonneurs fleche will be held on the weekend of April 12-15, 2012. A fleche (French for “arrow”), is a team event in which each team rides different routes toward a common finish location, like arrows toward a target. The minimum ride distance is 360 km, which must be covered in a period of 24 hours.

Most people who have done a fleche consider it to be one of their favorite randonneuring events since riding together as a team for 24 straight hours builds strong bonds between team members, and is great fun. This year we have scheduled the fleche for a week after the Easter weekend. The target this year is again the Key Bridge Marriott in Arlington, VA, where the teams will meet for a hearty post-ride breakfast.

Note that although teams can start their rides at any time between noon on Thursday and 10AM on Saturday, most teams will want to start at about 7AM on Saturday morning so that they can finish at 7AM on Sunday morning and join together for the celebration breakfast. The cost of the Sunday-morning breakfast is included in the fee for teams that finish on Sunday morning.

The fleche has its own set of rules that are somewhat different, and perhaps even more arcane, than those for a standard brevet. Some of them are summarized here:

  • Each team must consist of three to five bicycles. (Note that a tandem counts as a single bicycle, so teams will sometimes contain more than five riders.)
  • Teams can start at any time between noon on Thursday and 10AM on Saturday, and must finish 24 hours later. (However, as stated above, we encourage teams to finish between 6AM-8AM on Sunday morning so that they can join together for the brunch.)
  • The traditional fleche route starts at some distant location and then heads for the target, but a loop route is also allowed, as long as the start location is far enough from the finish to be considered as a different postal jurisdiction.
  • As in a standard brevet, the routes must contain control locations chosen so that the shortest bicycle-legal route through the controls is equal to at least the minimum distance of 360 km. However, the fleche has an additional requirement that one of the controls must occur exactly 22 hours after the start and be at least 25 km from the finish. Note that this requirement, as well as the one that states that no rest stops can be longer than 2 hours, ensures that teams take nearly the full 24 hours to complete the ride.

A full understanding of the rules, especially for the 22-hour control is essential for achieving a successful finish. Team captains are welcome to contact me with questions. And many experienced captains even recommend bringing a printed copy of the rules on the ride since they can be hard to recall at 4 in the morning.

To participate in this special event, riders should start forming teams now. Each team must have a captain who is responsible for designing the route and submitting it for approval.  The schedule will be:

  • March 12: Applications from captains due to RBA including 1) captain’s application form, 2) start date, time, and location, 3) map of route, 4) cue sheet, and 5) names, addresses, and phone numbers for the controls. The route information can be submitted electronically to in PDF, MS Word, or MS Excel format. Route files from DeLorme Topo, Garmin Mapsource, or MS Streets and Trips will also be appreciated, but not required.
  • March 31: Final rosters, rider applications, and waivers due from team captains to RBA. Deadline for final route approval.
  • April 6: Control cards sent to captains
  • April 12-15: Fleche

The application form for captains is available here, and for team members here. Team captains are responsible for collecting applications and waivers from their team members and submitting them on time. In other words, team members should send the forms to their captains, and then the captains should submit them as a group. The information part of the application is a fillable PDF form that can be emailed directly, but the waiver parts must be printed, signed, and then either scanned and emailed, or snail-mailed. The application fee of $10 includes the post-ride buffet at the Marriott.

Please contact Bill Beck ( ) with any questions. We also have many experienced fleche captains in the club who would be excellent sources of advice. If you are thinking of forming a team or looking for a team to join, the dcrand listserve is one good way to connect with other riders.

Planning and training are essential for finishing and enjoying a fleche. So I encourage all new teams to schedule at least one or two shakedown rides together, perhaps on a 200K (or even 300K) permanent route.