Archive for February, 2014

Wilderness Campaign ACP 200km - March 8, 2014

Sunday, February 23rd, 2014

The Wilderness Campaign explores some of the Civil War history in our region. It is named after Grant’s “Wilderness Campaign” of 1864, which was an attempt to drive a wedge between Lee’s forces and the Confederate capital in Richmond. Our route traverses the first and second battlefields in the campaign, the Battle of the Wilderness, and the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse. We also traverse two earlier battlefields, both from 1863: the Battle of Kelly’s Ford, and the Battle of Chancellorsville. Overall, the route is fairly moderate with about 6000 feet of climbing and no climbs of more than 400 feet. The first (and last) fifteen miles are fairly flat, through rolling farmland with herds of (among other things) longhorn cattle. But it becomes more hilly as it skirts and eventually turns deeper into the Wilderness and the woods. Most of the route follows pleasant, country roads, but there are a few places with higher-than-desirable traffic.

Wilderness Campaign 200K Map and Elevation Profile

Click for larger version

The brevet starts at 7AM (registration starts at 6AM) at the Caribou Coffee in Bristow, just west of Manassas, and heads generally south-south-west to the first control at Locust Grove. Pay sharp attention during a two-mile leg along VA-3 shortly before the control. Although traffic is fairly light in our experience, the area can be somewhat congested and parts of the road do not have a shoulder. From Locust Grove, the route turns generally southeast toward Spotsylvania Courthouse. Right after Locust Grove, there is a three-mile section along Constitution Hwy that has a narrow-ish shoulder and moderate traffic. The route becomes more pleasant after the turn into the Wilderness Battlefield and then follows a long section along Brock Rd. When the route detours through the Spotsylvania Battlefield, look for the easily-visible trenchlines that were dug during the battle. Spotsylvania has an open control in Spotsylvania itself–there is a 7-11 to the left as you go into town, an old-fashioned general store that’s fun to visit but has fewer choices, and several small restaurants near the turn back onto Brock Rd. From here, the route heads generally north-west to Kelly’s Ford. There are essentially no services for the next 37 miles so make sure you have enough food and water. Leaving Spotsylvania, there can be a bit more traffic, up until the turn onto Piney Branch Rd. After an info control at Chancellorsville Battlefield you enter a long stretch on Eley’s Ford Rd before rejoining the out-and-back portion of the route near Kelly’s Ford. The terrain continues to be a bit rugged for a while, but flattens out around Bristerburg before the final miles back into Bristow.

Appalachian Adventure 1000km: Route description and RWGPS links

Sunday, February 16th, 2014

The Appalachian Adventure 1000km web pages are here.

The route description itself is now here

Fleche on April 24-27, 2014

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

The DC Randonneurs fleche will be held on the weekend of April 24-27, 2014, with the “target” being the same as last year, the Key Marriott.  Critical deadlines for forming a team, getting a route approved, or becoming a team member are shown further below.  But first …

What is a fleche and what are (some of) its rules?

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.

Fleche target:  the Key Bridge Marriott in Arlington, VA, where the teams will meet for a hearty post-ride breakfast.  (Note that the target does not have to be the team’s final control.)  The breakfast is included in the fleche fee.  If you would like to bring a guest, their breakfast will cost approximately $22.50 which includes tax and tip.  There is some street parking on Nash St and possibly elsewhere, otherwise, the hotel parking is very convenient.

Allowed start times:  Most teams will want to start at about 7AM on Saturday morning so that they can finish at 7AM on Sunday morning and join other exhausted and elated riders for the celebration breakfast.  Teams are allowed to start between noon on Thursday the 24th and 10AM on Saturday the 26th.  Team members are welcome at the fleche breakfast whether or not they successfully completed the fleche.

Fleche rules:  The fleche has its own set of rules that are somewhat different and 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.  You may not use the same road twice in the same direction.  And only small out-and-back sections are allowed, for control purposes.
  • As in a standard brevet, the routes must contain control locations chosen so that the shortest bicycle-safe, 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.
  • For the complete fleche rules, click: here

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.

Fleche Team Deadlines

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 23: Applications from captains due to RBA.  See “Fleche Captain Application” below for details on what must be provided.
  • April 12: Final rosters, rider applications, and waivers due from team captains to RBA. Deadline for final route approval.
  • April 19: Control cards sent to captains (if not printing their own)
  • April 24-27: Fleche

The application form for captains is at fleche_team_captain_regform.doc or fleche_team_captain_regform.pdf. For team members it is fleche_team_member_regform.doc or fleche_team_member_regform.pdf

Captains and team members will be required to register online at, entering all of the information requested–especially phone numbers and emergency contact–and following the payment instructions there.

The forms linked above must also be returned because they contain the waiver for this event.

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.

Please contact Nick Bull ( ) 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.

In case of Inclement Weather:  We have a 400km scheduled for the weekend after the fleche, so it will not be possible to reschedule in the event of inclement weather.  Because each team rides its own route, weather conditions might be acceptable for some routes while unacceptable for others.  If the weather forecast looks questionable, team captains will be contacted, and they will be required in turn to contact their team members.  For this event as for all events, it is up to each individual randonneur to decide based on the best information that they have available whether they think it is safe to proceed.  Whether or not you ride (or complete) your fleche, you are welcome at the fleche breakfast, which will proceed as long as the hotel is open.

Fleche Team Captain Applications

The fleche team captain application includes:

  1. Captain’s application form above including signed waiver;
  2. Start location, date, and time; Team Name
  3. Map of route;
  4. Cue sheet, and
  5. Control names, addresses, phone numbers, and hours when the control is open (e.g. store opening hours); and
  6. written justification for why additional controls are not called for (e.g. if there are any apparent shortcuts between controls).  For example,
  • prohibited to or unsafe for cyclists
  • difficult passage due to road surface (e.g., dirt washboard, debris-filled)
  • significant climbing, traffic congestion, or other factors impeding progress

Note that some roads that are acceptable for randonneuring might nonetheless not be your preferred road.  Your route will only get credit for the acceptable road, but you can ride your preferred road.  The RUSA rule says: “The shortest legal and safe distance between successive checkpoints is credited, not the actual route taken.” For example, MD2, Solomons Island Road is acceptable for randonneuring because even though it has a lot of traffic, it has a wide shoulder.  But personally, I don’t like the traffic noise, so I might want to ride side roads instead, even if they added several miles.  This is not allowed on a permanent or a brevet, but it is allowed on a fleche.  But you still only get distance credit for MD2.

The route information can be submitted electronically to in PDF, MS Word, or MS Excel format. Ideally you will include a route file created in Garmin Mapsource; RideWithGPS is also acceptable; either of these will be much appreciated, but not required.