Archive for February, 2015

Pastries and Coffee ACP 200km brevet, March 7th

Sunday, February 22nd, 2015

The Pastries and Coffee ACP 200km starts from the Big Bean coffee shop in Severna Park (green star in map).  Park across the street in the shopping mall shown with the red exclamation point.  Checkin starts at 6am and the ride starts at 7am.  We plan to end at Squisito’s where there will be pizza.

Since the ride starts after sunrise, we will not do safety inspections.  But riders are strongly advised to bring proper lighting and reflective gear since dusk comes early (

For riders who may be curious why this ride is “200km” now but was “209km” last July, the answer is that ACP rides are in standard increments of 100km while RUSA allow “odd” distances. The actual riding distance for the brevet is still 209km, so keep in mind as you plan your ride that you have 13-1/2 hours to ride 209km.

The ride is organized by Gardner Duvall and Theresa Furnari and is based on Gardner’s permanent of the same name.  Here is his route description:

                Pastries and Coffee passes through the best of southern Anne Arundel County, where many riders off the randonneur scene will be spotted.  It then takes a fairly easy approach to historic and quaint Ellicott City before traveling miles down the river through Patapsco Valley State Park.  These roads are used by three owners on more than half a dozen permanent routes, but this is the first brevet in these parts.  Some riders dread MD 2, but the route is on that road for less than .1 miles.

                The route starts in old Severna Park at the Big Bean, where a morning wake up and pastries are on offer.  Climbing is moderate at 5,550 to 6,000 feet, with rolling hills most of the way and a few flat miles.  The first flat section is at the Chesapeake leading to the first commercial control at Honey’s Harvest.  Honey’s provides the choice of customary conveniences for a quick stop, a fresh hot breakfast sandwich, or pastries and coffee.  The next water is the Patuxent River, on the way into Waugh Chapel for another feeding opportunity at a large open air mall.  The next leg includes a fast but easy descent into the Patapsco River Valley, to a control where you can select a quick stop, or more pastries and coffee, or hand-dipped ice cream.  After mile 100 the route takes a pretty easy course back to the start.  The ride ends at Squisito’s for the customary DC Rand pizza.

                Notes:  The Big Bean normally opens at 7:30.  We are checking if they can open early on our account, as they did last summer.  Assuming they can … this provides us with services and restrooms at the start.  Please reciprocate by indulging in some breakfast at the Big Bean.  Since the ride starts in a coffee shop, you’re on your own for pre-ride snacks.

At Waugh Chapel the route crosses MD 3, where there is a “Michigan U.”  This is ridable but the better approach is to use the pedestrian crossing directly through the intersection.  Follow the cue sheet rather than GPS directions here.

                This course has several sections of paved bike trails.  These are easy to navigate, with no opportunities to mistakenly diverge from the course.  Proper trail etiquette is required, yielding to pedestrians at all times.  These four sections total about ten miles.  If they are closed because of snow, the cue sheet will provide detours.

                At the open control in Ellicott City there are a number of options.  Lots of cyclists favor Bean Hollow, with coffee, pastries and ice cream.  Turn left at Main stream (the course goes right), and Bean Hollow is a few doors up the street on the left.  The excellence of this shop is well known, which creates crowds at times.  Across Main Street there is an ice cream shop.  If you turn right on Main Street to follow the route, Old Mill Bakery Café comes up on your left shortly after crossing the Patapsco.  If you’re in a hurry, three-tenths from the right onto Main Street there is a High’s on the left.  There is no restroom here, that need can be fulfilled at an ORF at mile 108.6.


Fleche on April 9-12, 2015

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

The DC Randonneurs fleche will be held on the weekend of April 9-12, 2015, 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. Minimum distance is 360 km, which must be covered in 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 on Sunday April 12th, teams will meet for a hearty post-ride breakfast.  (Note that the target does not have to be the team’s final control.)  Breakfast is included in the fleche fee.  If you would like to bring a guest, their breakfast will cost approximately $18.00 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 9th and 10AM on Saturday the 11th.  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.
  • The 22-hour and 24-hour control rules (Articles 10 and 11) have recently been changed to allow an exception in case you are unable to obtain on-the-spot control verification.  But … we suggest that you use this exception as a last resort, since its use requires ex-post route validation, which inherently increases the possibility of disqualification.
  • 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 8: Applications from captains due to RBA.  See “Fleche Captain Application” below for details on what must be provided.
  • March 28 : Final rosters, rider applications, and waivers due from team captains to RBA. Deadline for final route approval.
  • April 9-12: Fleche

Fleche captains fill out a registration form, fleche_team_captain_regform.doc, and a route application form, dcr_fleche_route_application.doc.

Team members fill out a registration form, fleche_team_member_regform.doc

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 200km (or even 300km) permanent route.

In case of Inclement Weather:  We have a 300km 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

Fleche captains fill out a registration form, fleche_team_captain_regform.doc, and a route application form, dcr_fleche_route_application.doc.

Routes that do not include a completely-filled out DCR Fleche Route Application will not be considered.  Note that if your proposed route has been approved within the last two years, you will not need to fill out the detailed Route Justification section.  All other routes will require detailed route justification.  This is no more and no less than what is required when you submit a route to RUSA for approval.  It is up to prospective fleche captains to take the time to justify the route.  The RBA’s job is to review the justification — typically that can take an hour per route — not to work out the justification for you.
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.

Hotel Information for 2015 Brevets

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

For Hotel information for 2015 brevets, click hotels_2015.pdf or hotels_2015.xls

There are blocks of rooms for the night before each 300km, the Northern Exposure 400km, and the Shenandoah 600km.  And there is a block of rooms for the overnight on the 600km.  The block of rooms for the 1000km includes the Thursday night before the start, through the event to Sunday night.  The Firefly 400km does not have a block of rooms because the start is Saturday night.  We’ve booked a control room so if you need to take a nap before rolling home, it’s available for that.

While I would encourage you to book early, please do not book and then just cancel since that potentially loses a room that someone else might want.  Contact me if you want to cancel so that we can get the room put back into the block.

Let me know if you run into problems reserving rooms.

Any updates to this info will be posted to the website’s blog.

Nick Bull

Blue Ridge Vistas 1000km: Route, Hotel, and Other Info

Friday, February 6th, 2015

The route for this year’s Blue Ridge Vistas 1000km has been approved.  The route was designed with two goals in mind: First, to be a self-supported ride that has low cost and low impact on DCR volunteer resources; and second, to be of comparable difficulty to PBP.  So it’s a triple-loop 1000km–the route starts and ends at Warrenton and returns there at the end of each loop.  And as it turns out, in terms of climbing per mile, it has only about 1-1/2 percent more than PBP, and the climbing is of roughly the same character as PBP–mostly small stuff, a fair number of 350 to 500 footers, and (on the second loop) a couple of 700 foot climbs on a par with the Roc Trevezel.

While the triple-loop format is less epic than last year’s Appalachian Adventure 1000km, the route itself is very beautiful.  The first loop (first day) follows the first day of Lynn Kristianson’s Many Rivers and Fords 600km, which we rode last year (see  It makes a big loop in northern Virginia (240 miles), returning to the start hotel for the overnight.  Starting from the Warrenton Hampton Inn at 4 am on Friday, June 26th, riders head south and west, passing through Rixeyville and continuing west to Griffinsburg where the route turns south into Madison County. After Madison, there are many miles on VA230, with wonderful Blue Ridge views and moderate terrain, to a control in Wolfsville and then on to US33 in Stanardsville. From there we pick up the very scenic 810 through the foothills in Greene and Albemarle counties.  After crossing US250 in Crozet the rollers become more intense; the control in the phenomenal Batesville store will be most welcome. There is a southeasterly roll down wonderful Plank Road and then a slightly hillier stretch to the very basic Howardsville General Store on the James River.  Moving east from the mountains, the terrain moderates through Fluvanna and Louisa counties. After a possible dinner stop in Louisa, it’s a straight road due north until the route crosses the Rapidan and turns east onto the old familiar Algoquin Trail. Bypassing the narrow, dark roads around Kelly’s Ford, instead it heads north to Brandy Station and then east to Remington. Crossing US15, 29 and 17 a number of times, riders return to Warrenton on Lover’s Lane and Lees Ridge.

The second loop (second day for many riders) heads over to West Virginia then up into Maryland (see  Riders start by heading west from Warrenton over Piney (Pukin’) Mountain, pausing at an info control at the Orleans Store on the way over rolling terrain to Marshall.  Riders head west climbing over the Roc Trevezel (OK, Snickers Gap, with its wonderful descent) on Rte 7 after Airmont, continuing on easy West Virginia roads to an open control in Shepherdstown.  Then riders head up into Maryland, controlling in the awe-inspiring Antietam Battlefield before climbing over the Roc Trevezel again (OK, Gathland–with its unique War Correspondents Memorial arch) and then MarLu Ridge the easy way, headed to Urbana.  The return to Warrenton is via Barnesville, crossing the Potomac at Point of Rocks, then riding the ups and downs of Loyalty Rd, eventually traversing some rugged terrain through Purcellville, Middleburg, and The Plains. 

The third loop (third day for many riders) follows fairly closely Lynn Kristianson’s beautiful Warrenton 300km (  We take the “back” way out of Warrenton via Blackwell Rd to  Blantyre Road and then riders will head west through The Plains and Marshall and ride the many ups, downs, and stunning early morning vistas on Crest Hill Road all the way into Flint Hill. More hills and more terrific scenery await the riders on the way to Washington VA. Turning west toward the foot of the Blue Ridge, the scenery just keeps getting better on a long rolling stretch which brings the riders toward Old Rag and a control at the Syria Mercantile. Continuing south, the riders skirt Madison, before controlling at the familiar 24-hour Sheetz south of Madison.  Returning across US29, riders pick up the route to Elly, Aroda and Old Somerset. Returning to route 231, riders head into Gordonsville and then continue farther south. The route then turns east through the more mellow terrain of Louisa county on VA22. After heading north for an open control in Orange, riders return to Warrenton through gentler terrain via Batna, Lignum, Kelly’s Ford and Remington.  The return to Warrenton is via Lovers Ln, thus allowing exhausted riders to avoid the gravel road we usually traverse at the end of the 300.  After some interminable climbs coming in to and over Warrenton, proud riders can coast down the long hill on Blackwell Rd to the finish hotel.

The route is designed to provide services at good intervals for riders who expect to finish in 58 to 75 hours. The fastest and slowest of these riders may have a few legs where they need to plan around stores that are not open.  That said, Day1 is the first day of an oft-ridden 600 so services are no more of an issue on the 1000 than they are on the 600;  Day 2 and Day 3 both have 24-hour stores either as controls or on the route at reasonable intervals.

Hotel arrangements:  Warrenton Hampton Inn, we have a block of 15 rooms booked for June 25, 26, 27, and 28 at $109 per night.  The group code is DC1.  The block is only held through May 26 so if you _think_ you will want to ride the 1000km, you should book a room soon.  If you ultimately decide you don’t need the room, let us know so that we can keep the room available for other riders.

Qualification for the 1000km: An SR series in 2015; a 1000km or longer event in 2014; or permission of the RBA.  While this 1000km is not as tough as last year’s AA1000km, it is still a tough route and riders will need to be well-prepared to ride in hot weather and to know and not push beyond your limits–if you’re snoozy, take a nap; if you’re overheated, find some shade and take a nap!

Rider Limit: 45; first-come-first-served.  If we run out of rooms we’ll have to add more, if available.

Event cost is $25 — nothing is included beyond some breakfast items before the ride start and pizza at the end.  There will not be any rider tracking data posted on line–it will be up to you to update friends, family, and even loved ones as to your progress.

Registration will be opened ASAP, probably in a week or so.

Feel free to ask questions.  Click here to email me.