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Woodbine Wallop 200km - December 16, 2017, 7am

Friday, September 22nd, 2017

This is a reprise of one of our toughest (but scenic!) 200km brevets–basically, the opposite of last month’s Flatbread. Starting innocently enough, the route leaves the McDonalds in Woodbine (park at the park’n'ride shown in the linked map).  The terrain is rolling at first, as the route goes through Damascus, to the first control at the Dickerson Market. Then the fun begins as it climbs Mountville Rd over Mar-Lu ridge (yes, the hard direction), plunges back down to the town of Jefferson, goes over a series of rollers to Burkittsville (made famous in the movie, “The Blair Witch Project”), and then heads over South Mountain at Gathland State Park, passing the world’s only monument to war correspondents. The descent from South Mountain is followed by an even nicer descent down Burnside Bridge Rd. to historic Sharpsburg, and then an easy five miles to Shepherdstown, WV, where riders can reward themselves from the delicious goodies at the Shepherdstown Sweet Shop. Don’t eat too many sweets though, because the climb back across South Mountain on Reno Monument Rd is somewhat steep. The road is named for a monument at the top to General Reno, who died at the spot during the civil war. No cyclists have died on the climb — at least so far. After climbing back over Catoctin Mountain on Shookstown Rd., the route follows rolling piedmont east to the final control in New Windsor, before turning south back toward Woodbine. Save some energy for those final 15 miles, because they include two very pretty, but steep, climbs on Buffalo Rd, more climbing on Roop Rd, and a few short steepies on Watersville Rd. Riders will finally be rewarded by a pleasant half-mile of gradual downhill to the finish at the Pizza Hut. About 11,300 feet of climbing–a tad short of the Frederick 300 or Warrenton 300.

The old blog post for the cue sheet & GPS files &RWGPS from the last time we rode this in 2015 is posted here.  Needless to say, it may need to be revised after the checkout ride.

Eastern Shore Flatbread 200km - Nov 11, 2017

Friday, September 22nd, 2017

Always a crowd favorite, the Flatbread 200km starts at 7am in the town of Centreville, Maryland and takes in a nice water view on the Chesapeake Bay side of the shore before heading toward the Delaware Bay / Ocean at Slaughter Beach, Delaware.  The fall colors and muted, dappled light are one of my favorite parts of this ride.

Compared to the climbs that we are used to on the western shore, the eastern shore of Maryland can be a wee bit flat, but for those who have done this ride in the past, we know that the wind is no friend. Be prepared for more of the same this year. As you pass through Milford, DE, don’t miss the opportunity to stop at Dolce Coffee: They make some tasty hot beverages as well as pastries to die for. This will boost your energy to go back out and tackle the wind. At Slaughter Beach, you’ll reach the midway point and a great time to get off the bike a few minutes and check out the beach. Due east, 12-13 miles, is Cape May, NJ. Look south and you’ll probably see the outline of Lewe’s, DE.

After the Slaughter Beach Control, you have only 10 miles to the next Control in Milton. It is an Open Control and there are a few good lunch stops, like Federal Street Expresso Bar, Irish Eyes, a Deli, and a convenience store. Milton is also the home of the Dogfish Head Brewery if you feel like a tour is needed or just go and sample the beer. No food, though. You can be in and out in 30 minutes or less. Or, if you’re in one those fast pacelines, enjoy yourselves a bit longer. You’ll make up the time on the road.

Heading back towards Centreville and the final Control, the ride will pass through the Bridgeville Control and then into Denton, Maryland. There’s an opportunity to fill your water bottles and grab a snack before the final push into the last Control at the Good Guys Sportsbar in Centreville where great pizza and fun await you.

The old blog post for the cue sheet & GPS files &RWGPS from the last time we rode this in 2016 is posted here.  Needless to say, it may need to be revised after the checkout ride.

Civil War Tour 200km - October 28, 2017

Friday, September 22nd, 2017

The Civil War Tour is a 200km trip through three years of the U.S. Civil War and four significant battlefields, designed by Bill Beck–see detailed discussion below.   The brevet starts at the Frederick Pizza Hut (please park far from stores; the Pizza Hut is closed at the ride start, but there’s a nearby WaWa among others).  The first part of the day starts out fairly hard with climbs over MarLu and Gapland the hard way.  After a few flatter miles that let you recover some time, the route climbs back over South Mountain to Gettysburg.  The terrain moderates until the last fifteen miles, when it gets hilly again, so leave a little something in reserve.  (Just three miles from the finish, Ball Rd is notably steep!) Total climbing is a bit less than the Urbana 200km and the Reno 911 200km, and a bit more than the Old Rag 200km, around nine thousand feet.

Bill provides a more-detailed description of the history traversed by the route: The route first heads south to the Monocacy Battlefield. General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia camped there in September of 1862, during their first invasion of the north. It was at that site that Lee issued his famous “Special Orders No.191,” which ordered his army to be divided into multiple pieces. When Union soldiers later occupied the same area they found a lost copy of the orders wrapped around three cigars. Union General George McClellan recognized the significance of the find: he now knew that the Confederates were divided into relatively weak pieces as well as where he could attack them. So he ordered his Army of the Potomac to cross the passes of South Mountain (the Battle of South Mountain) and attack the main piece of Lee’s army that was situated on the other side. Our brevet route follows rolling terrain and a steep climb over Catoctin Mountain at Mar-Lu ridge to the southernmost of these passes at Crampton’s Gap, and to our second battlefield, South Mountain. Passing through the town of Burkittsville, the route climbs to the crest where it passes the only monument in the world dedicated to journalists killed in combat before plunging back down into Pleasant Valley.

The Confederates were pushed out of the passes in South Mountain but they delayed the Union advance long enough for Lee to set up a defensive position along the Antietam Creek near the small town of Sharpsburg, MD—the site of our third battlefield, Antietam. On September 17, 1862, Union forces attacked that defensive line in what is still the bloodiest single-day battle in US history, resulting in over 23,000 casualties. The battle was also a major turning point in the war since the Union victory permitted President Lincoln to announce the Emancipation Proclamation, which changed the reason the war was being fought from a war against states rights to a war against slavery. Our route descends South Mountain, follows Antietam Creek past Burnside Bridge, passes through the town of Sharpsburg, and arrives at the first control at the Battleview Market. It then makes a loop past the Cornfield, which was the site of intense fighting in the morning, and Bloody Lane, a sunken road that was the focus of fighting in the middle of the day. Leaving the battlefield, the route passes through Boonsboro, heading north before passing back over South Mountain on the last major climb of the route, and approaching our fourth battlefield at Gettysburg, PA in the year 1863.

Gettysburg was the battle with the largest number of casualties in the Civil War, and is often described as a major turning point of the war. Gettysburg ended Lee’s second invasion of the north, as Antietam had ended his first invasion in the previous year. Our route enters the southern end of the battlefield and turns north along what was the Union defensive line on Cemetery Ridge. The route passes a spot sometimes called “the high-water mark of the confederacy” because it was the spot of the deepest penetration by the Confederate Army of the Union Army’s lines during the battle, and also perhaps the best chance the Confederate Army had of achieving victory in the war. Then, after a stop at a control in the town of Gettysburg, the route passes the historic Lutheran Seminary, and heads south along the Confederate battle line on Seminary Ridge. After passing the section where the disastrous Confederate attack known as Pickett’s Charge was launched on the third day of the battle, the route loops around the southern end of the battlefield where Confederate General James Longstreet launched the attack on Little Round Top on the second day of the battle, finally exiting the battlefield near Little Round Top itself.

Heading south again, the route enters the year 1864 and follows fairly gentle, rolling terrain back to the Monocacy Battlefield. At that time Confederate General Jubal Early had marched north through the Shenandoah Valley and was under orders to turn southeast and attack Washington, DC. Until reinforcements arrived, the only thing standing between the Confederate army and DC was a ragtag group of 2,300 men commanded by Union General Lew Wallace. Reinforced by a few thousand additional men arriving by train from Baltimore, but still outnumbered by a ratio of nearly 3:1, Wallace set up defensive positions near the strategic railroad junction at Monocacy. Although the South won the resulting battle (the only Southern victory in the North), it delayed the Confederates long enough that reinforcements could reach DC. Therefore it is often called “the battle that saved Washington, DC.” Our route crosses over the rail junction before finishing back at the Pizza Hut.

(Thanks to Brian Baracz of the US National Park Service at Antietam National Battlefield for reviewing the text and suggesting improvements.)

The old blog post for the cue sheet & GPS files &RWGPS from the last time we rode this in 2016 is posted here.  Needless to say, it may need to be revised after the checkout ride.

“Pigeon Hills” ACP 600km brevet - Oct 14th, 4am - Frederick, MD

Friday, September 22nd, 2017

The brevet starts from the Frederick Day’s Inn (park at the “P” on the map in the gravel truck-parking lot, unless you are staying in the hotel).  The Frederick 600km route–originally designed by Lynn Kristianson–has an initial, Day 1, Frederick to Frederick loop that is roughly similar to the 2017 “Four States” Frederick 400km in reverse; the second Frederick to Frederick loop will take in some familiar territory from the 300km and some new territory through York and Carroll counties.

Day one heads north to Thurmont, climbs up MD550 and then picks up the 300km route through Fairfield and Arendtsville. In the Michaux State Forest, we forego the grinding climb over Big Flat for a slightly more mellow route through the woods in Pine Grove Furnace State Park. Once across South Mountain, the route heads east along Yellow Breeches Creek to a control in Montsera. Turning south and west to pass through Newville, the riders begin the reverse 400k route. After a control in Mercersburg, riders continue due south through Williamsport and Sharpsburg and then cross the Potomac into West Virginia at Shepherdstown. From here, we avoid climbing over Snickers Gap (which has become too dangerous over the years) by detouring back up into Maryland, over Gapland, and then down to Purcellville.  Turning north again, we soon rejoin the old route, re-crossing the Potomac at Point of Rocks and return to the Day’s Inn.

Day two starts by following the flat terrain of the Monacacy flood plain and the MD 300km route - in reverse - to East Berlin, PA. Turning southeast,  riders pass through the most challenging portion of the day’s ride in the Pigeon Hills of York County, to a control in New Freedom. From Glen Rock to New Freedom and then on the return to Maryland, the terrain moderates slightly. The hills return in the quiet rural roads of Carroll County. A stunning 5-mile downhill along Deep Run Road and more rolling terrain bring the riders into Frederick County where the terrain moderates somewhat as they reverse the day’s earlier route back to US15 and take some familiar roads to the final control.

There are many stop-lights going through Frederick. Please respect these as the cross traffic is sometimes fast and hard to see. Going out through downtown Frederick in the morning is especially nice. Watch for traffic when you return to Frederick as it will likely be heavier that going out.

The old blog post for the cue sheet & GPS files &RWGPS from the last time we rode this in 2013 is posted here.  Needless to say, it may need to be revised after the checkout ride.

Northern Exposure ACP 400km brevet - Sept 30, 04:00 am - Frederick, MD

Monday, September 18th, 2017

The Northern Exposure 400km brevet, designed by Crista Borras, is a beautiful and challenging expedition to Newport PA on the Juniata River. Many of our brevets ride through Cumberland Valley, e.g. in the region of Shippensburg, PA, leaving us to wonder what is in the mountains to the north and west of the valley?  This brevet answers that question.  (Alternatively, the USGS answer to that question is that the Cumberland Valley is part of what it defines as the Great Appalachian Valley and the mountains to the north and west are part of the Ridge and Valley Appalachians.)

Starting from the Frederick Day’s Inn (park at the “P” on the map in the gravel truck-parking lot, unless you are staying in the hotel),  we ride north on familiar and easy roads to Thurmont.  We cross Catoctin Mountain on Sabillasville Rd heading into the Michaux State Forest, one of the more beautiful and easygoing crossings.  This is the same route that the Frederick 600km takes on the first day, as far as Sabillasville–but here the routes part, with the Northern Exposure route climbing over South Mountain, here, and into and across the Cumberland Valley.  From Roxbury, riders climb over Kittatinny Mountain into the Path Valley, with its picturesque Amish farms and long mountain views.

The route continues northwest through the Path Valley and Horse Valley to East Waterford, followed by a gentle climb over Tuscarora Mountain and then a scenic cruise to Newport.  After a stop in Newport (open control) riders climb over Blue Mountain, back into the Cumberland Valley.  After passing Children’s Lake in lovely Boiling Springs, riders return to familiar roads, joining the route of the Frederick 300 for the return over South Mountain on Whiskey Springs Rd, eventually passing Lake Meade, controlling at East Berlin, continuing on through Thurmont and the relatively easy terrain back to Frederick.
There are many stop-lights going through Frederick. Please respect these as the cross traffic is sometimes fast and hard to see. The roads in Frederick may be rough–showing the effect of a long winter plus construction; exercise suitable caution.  Going out through downtown Frederick in the morning is especially nice. Watch for traffic when you return to Frederick as it will likely be heavier that going out.

A preliminary draft of the route is posted at RidewithGPS

Oh yes, climbing: This brevet has about the same amount of climbing as our usual Frederick 400.  Relative to the Warrenton 300 or the Frederick 300, it has about fifty percent more climbing.  How many feet is that?  It depends who you ask :-)  By my measure, consistent with the climbing chart on the website, it has about 14,000 feet of climbing.

Here is a link to the OLD cue sheet and GPS files.  To be revised after this year’s checkout ride!.

Cue Sheet and GPS Files for September 16th Frederick 300km ACP Brevet

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

The cue sheet for the fall Frederick 300km ACP Brevet, starting at the Frederick Days Inn at 5:00AM on September 16th is now posted in various formats at 2017_dcr_fall_300km_frederick_cue.zip

Parking:  Riders will need to park in the Days Inn truck parking gravel lot.  In the map that is linked to above, this is identified with a big arrow and the letter “P”.  The entrance is off of Grove Rd just a little down from the Days Inn.  Look for a sign that says Days Inn Truck Parking.  Park at the back of the lot.

Registration will be in the breakfast area of the Days Inn starting at 4am.  This is near the green exclamation park on the map.  Come early enough to buy breakfast at the Waffle House next door!

Lights and reflective gear are required for this ride so when you come to registration please be ready to pass safety inspection.

Note that there is a bridge out after mile 153.8 … the cue sheet has the detour … old-timers, don’t just ride on auto-pilot, here.

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)

Climbing cues are generally provided in the GPS file for climbs of more than 400 feet. To read them: A cue like C7.8m59to151 means “From here, you’ll be climbing for 7.8 miles for an altitude change of 590 feet, ending up at an altitude of 1510 feet.

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 2017_dcr_fall_300km_frederick-gps.zip.

A RidewithGPS version that may be useful for people using certain Garmin Edge GPS’s and/or other GPS’s is posted here.

Ye Olde Frederick 300km ACP brevet, September 16, 5am

Wednesday, September 6th, 2017

Starting from the Frederick Days Inn (parking directions to be provided later), the beautiful Frederick 300km route–designed by Crista Borras–heads north, skirting South Mountain as far as Thurmont and then turns west to climb the ridge on MD77 through Catoctin Mountain State Park. Just short of the summit, it heads roughly north-north-east into Pennsylvania and through the rolling apple and peach orchards of Adams County. Along the way it climbs Jacks Mountain Rd, with its multiple false summits and swooping descent to a covered bridge.  From Arendtsville, it turns northwest and begins a long, stair-step climb with many steep sections, just to get you properly fatigued before the climb up Big Flat.  After turning left on Shippensburg at mile 59, you’re finally ascending the false summit before Big Flat (altitude 1650 feet) before a rapid descent to a stop sign at Pine Grove Rd, followed by the real climb to the summit of Big Flat (altitude 2040 feet). Nine miles–including the sweetest descent on any of our routes–brings riders to a much needed rest stop and control in Shippensburg. By this time, you’ve done about half the climbing of the ride, so keep your spirits up, it does get a little easier, with the lovely sequence of Mud Level Rd, Oakville Rd and Red Shed Rd.  If you want to get back to Frederick, there’s just one more big climb over South Mtn on Whiskey Springs Rd, and then the terrain is rolling all the way home, with a stop in East Berlin for pizza, to get you ready for that long, long haul down to Thurmont for a final chance of resupply before the last miles in to Frederick.