Archive for February, 2013

Ride results posted for Tappahannock 200km and …. pre-register for Wilderness Campaign by Saturday midnight

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

Ride results for the Tappahannock 200km are posted at

Please check that they are correct before I post to RUSA.

More about Tappahannock below, but first: Remember to pre-register for the Wilderness Campaign 200km brevet, scheduled for March 9th at 7 am. Pre-registration closes midnight this Saturday. Go to the pre-registration page and then click “Member” or “Non-Member” as appropriate to your current membership status:

Eight intrepid riders rode the Tappahannock 200km last Saturday. The weather was about as forecast: drizzly and with temperatures not far above freezing. I think this was Chris Readinger’s first 200km brevet. And five additional riders who rode this as a permanent also deserve mention. Paul Donaldson, ride organizer and WGR, did the pre-ride for the brevet on a very windy day. Anyone who has ridden the Tappahannock knows what a joy it is to ride the section after Tappahannock when there is a serious headwind! And four additional riders rode the permanent on the originally-scheduled day of the brevet. “Fortunately” the forecasts of an inch or two of snow en route were wrong but it sounds like it was still a very tough day, with some sleet, but not icy roads. Of these four riders, it looks like there are two firsts: This appears to be Misha Heller’s first 200km, and I think John Fox’s, too.

Our volunteers were Paul Donaldson, who organized the ride; Susan Auburn, who helped to get ready for the original scheduled day, Kelly Smith and Mike Wali who helped out with registrations, and Crista Borras who helped check that I had not garbled the cue sheet that Paul sent me (there was some email difficulty).

Bill Beck posted a few pictures at
. And his GPS track of the route is at

Nick Bull

Tappahannock 200km going on as (re)-scheduled; Fleche captain reminder

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

1) The Tappahannock 200km is proceeding as re-scheduled, tomorrow, Saturday February 23rd at 7am. For details, see:

The forecast is for some chilly rain in the morning but the afternoon doesn’t look bad.  Dress suitably and maybe carry some dry socks &/or gloves to put on when it stops raining :-)

Unfortunately, my mother-in-law died yesterday night, and I will stay in town so that I can be available in case my wife needs me.

2) Reminder to prospective fleche team captains, the due date for your application (including request for route approval) is March 4, see:

Also see the prior email to “Prospective fleche captains” which you can find at:!topic/dcrand/zMG2BoZ3cXg

That email included an example of a successful route application that I sent last year to Bill Beck.  The format was what he requested, and is the same as what I am requesting.

One thing that might have not been clear:  You do not have to provide a “minimal via” route that matches up exactly with the route on your cue sheet.

Your goal is to have a route for which the shortest safe and passable distance between controls totals 360km and the distance from the 22 hour control to the end is more than 25km.  You do not have to ride that route on your actual fleche, or justify the route that you plan to ride.  But if you create a GPS file with the controls listed and you compute the shortest possible distance and it comes up less than 360 or less than 25 for the critical distances, then you need to justify why the safest passable distance is actually 360 or 25.  To do that, you add via points to the route to get it off the unsafe roads or to get it off impassable roads (e.g. 3 miles of dirt road).

What you are sending me is a file created in MapSource or BaseCamp that has the controls that you plan to use, with an identification of which one is the 22-hour control.

In Mapsource, you set the preferences to “shortest distance” and to “Car” and set “route avoidances” to none and set the preferred road type halfway in between minor roads and highways.   I’m not sure of the exact names of these settings in BaseCamp but think they correspond.  (Setting to “Bicycle” makes it pick weird roads, and setting to “fastest route” makes it pick high-speed roads that are often longer than the shortest route.  Setting route avoidances to none diminishes map-specific or program-specific computation dependencies.)

I suggest that you name the controls in the GPS file so that they alphabetize correctly in the order you will ride them, e.g. Ctl1Frederick, Ctl2Middletown, Ctl3Shepherdstown, etc.  That makes it easy to just highlight them all and say “Create Route”.  That also makes it so that you can let MapSource/BaseCamp auto-name routes and they will alphabetize in order in your GPS when you are riding.

If the total distance shortest distance between controls is more than 360km and the distance from the 22 hour control to the end is more than 25km then you are probably golden.  If you come up short, then there may be places where MapSource/BaseCamp have taken “shortcuts” on roads that are not suitable for randonneuring because they are not safe, or they are not passable in the case of a long section of dirt road.  In this case, you’ll right-click on the route, “Insert route section”, drag it over to the nearest place that takes it off the unsafe road, and then click to place a new viapoint there.  Then you write a brief justification for that viapoint, e.g. “Viapoint BackRd Keeps the route off of I-81″ or “Viapoint ThePlains keeps the route off Hopewell Rd, which is a 3-mile long dirt road”.

Feel free to send me a “rough draft” of a route before the deadline if you want me to take a quick look and give you feedback.

And feel free to ask questions.


Tappahannock 200km rescheduled to Sat, 2/23/13 at 7am.

Friday, February 15th, 2013

Fellow randonneurs,

I am rescheduling the Tappahannock 200km to Saturday, February 23rd at 7am.  Paul Donaldson has rearranged his schedule so that he can continue to be ride organizer next weekend.  (A couple of you have volunteered to help out next weekend, and I think that Paul will need your help; I’m still uncertain whether I can be there owing to my mother in law’s illness.)

The weather forecast for the area of the Tappahannock 200 is about as uncertain as you can get.  All the forecasts are calling for rain and snow.  By itself, that’s not necessarily a big deal.  But most forecasts call for temperatures to fall below freezing before the end of the brevet (8:30pm).  Other forecasts call for a drop below freezing for a couple of hours at mid-day.  Most seem to call for light snow but some call for 1″, 1-1/2″, and even 2″ in Ashland and in Tappahannock in the afternoon.

A year ago, George Moore and I set off on a permanent where the temperature was forecast to be mid-40’s with light drizzle for a few hours in the afternoon.  We were expecting some misery.  What actually happened was that after an hour of drizzle, the temperature dropped like a stone to just above freezing, and the drizzle turned to light snow.  We got back before the roads got icy, but it was touch and go.  A few years ago, George Winkert and I rode a permanent, while Bill Beck separately rode a checkout ride.  Weather conditions were somewhat colder than tomorrow’s forecast.  We all ran into snow that stuck to the roads and was icy, and we all had to abandon.  No amount of willpower will make bare rubber stick to ice.

If the temperature tomorrow came in just a few degrees below forecast, it could be below freezing for much of the day and there could be snow accumulation that turns to ice on the roads.  Riders could be soaking wet, unable to proceed on icy roads, and possibly with no chance of rescue if the roads are impassable for cars.  That’s ignoring safety issues with other cars on the roads or practical issues like how riders get home.

Since we can reschedule an ACP brevet to a week later, that seems like the right (but painful) course.  That’s the risk to scheduling winter events.

If you could please email to let me know whether you expect to be riding next Saturday, then we can get an approximate count of riders and have the right amount of food at the start.


Nick Bull
CBA for DC Randonneurs
RBA for MD Capital Region

Tappahannock 200km, given the current weather forecast

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

The forecast for weather in the area of the Tappahannock 200km is not promising.  It has deteriorated to 50 percent chance of rain mixed with snow Saturday morning turning to 50 percent chance of snow mixed with sleet all afternoon.

Since some people are likely planning to drive down Friday afternoon, we plan to watch the weather carefully to see whether there are signs of improvement, and then make a decision at around noon on Friday on whether to run the event as scheduled on Saturday.

If we do not run on Saturday, then there is a possibility that we can reschedule up to a week.  But if the roads are covered with snow and sleet on Saturday then rescheduling for Sunday may not be possible, either.  Overnight temperatures fall below freezing with a continuing chance (25%) of snow until midnight.  So we won’t be able to make any sort of decision about Sunday until we see what’s happening with the weather (and the weather forecast) on Saturday.

Paul Donaldson, our ride organizer for this event, can only run it on Saturday.  However, that still leaves open the possibility of rescheduling for Sunday or for the following Saturday, but having someone else be the ride organizer.  That someone else could possibly be me if we reschedule for Sunday.  However, my wife, Jan, is presently en route to Phoenix, AZ, where her mother has been hospitalized for several days with COPD and may have developed pneumonia.  Jan is scheduled to come back on Saturday the 23rd so I don’t expect that I’d be able to organize the ride if we rescheduled to that day.

Now you know everything that I know right now.  Paul says today was pleasant down there with a high of 60.  We seem to have drawn a dud in the weather lottery.

Watch this space &/or the website for further updates.

Nick Bull
RBA for MD Capital Region

Cue Sheet and GPS Files for February 16 Tappahannock 200km Brevet

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

The cue sheet for the Tappahannock 200km Brevet, starting at the Ashland Coffee & Tea at 7:00AM on January 9, 2010 is now posted at Cue Sheet Tappahannock 200km–Word or Cue Sheet Tappahannock 200km–PDF.

Registration opens in the parking lot behind the Ashland Coffee and Tea at 6:00am. Do not park behind the Ashland Coffee & Tea or next to the hotel. There is plenty of parking on the street, e.g. along Railroad Ave.  Also, there is no restroom available at the start, nor is there any secluded little spot to duck into.  Stop somewhere before the start to take care of business.

We will have normal breakfast items at the start.  During the ride, there are some stores noted on the cue sheet.  The usual store at King and Queen Courthouse is now closed–we now have an info control there.  In Tappahannock, you can control at either the Sunoco or at Arnest Seafood and Cafe (formerly Java Jack’s).  Make sure to get a receipt (it’s always a good habit, anyway).  If you’re in a hurry or if Arnest is crowded, then Sunoco is your best bet.  At Arnest, I’m told that the sweet potato fries are still fabulous plus now they have seafood items that they say are great.  The leg to Sparta is a long haul.  Enough said about that.  At the end, since it is a restaurant, you have traditionally been on your own.  I have particularly enjoyed the quiche.  We’re investigating sandwich platters but don’t know if that’s in the cards.

The link to the GPS files is posted below. But please read this information before downloading them. Always get a copy of the final cue sheet. That final cue sheet contains the official route, so in case there is a conflict with the GPS file, you should resolve the conflict in favor of the cue sheet. Use the GPS as a handy-dandy adjunct. Keep your wits about you, as the GPS cannot notify you of road hazards — it is up to you to ride safely.

We strongly recommend that you set your GPS to the settings below. We cannot guarantee that these will keep you on the official route, but if you have your GPS set some other way, it is entirely possible that it will take you off route, possibly onto unsafe roads. Go to the Setup->Routing page and set as follows:

Guidance Method: Follow Road
Follow Road Method: Shortest Distance
Next Turn Pop-Up: On
Follow Road Options:
Off Route Recalculation: Prompted
Calculation Method: Best Route
Calculate Routes for: Car/Motorcycle
Avoid: (set to none – the route itself should control this)

By the way … make sure that your GPS either has maps already downloaded, or select the relevant maps around the routes. The GPS files are posted at GPS Files 2013 Tappahannock 200km brevet.