Sunday, May 28, 2017

Old Dennis 219k Permanent - a nice ride in Texas!

At the end of April, we went to Texas to visit my family. I was looking for a perm to ride from  Weatherford, where we were staying, and found a couple of good ones. (Thanks to Dan Driscoll for providing the other one!)

Pam Wright's Old Dennis 219km permanent seemed especially good, as the roads looked quiet, and there was limited southbound mileage toward the end of the ride, when the prevailing southerly winds might become an issue.

If anything, the route was more serene and pastoral than expected, a delight to ride.

A nice clockwise loop starting in Weatherford

A quiet start out Old Dennis Road (the old road to Dennis, Tex.).

The route veers onto even smaller, more rustic roads such as Kickapoo Falls Road, zigging and zagging past ranches.

Much of the route is on quiet farm-to-market roads such as FM 1188 and FM 1189 pictured here. Texas farm to market roads are well-engineered roads constructed in the early 20th century for economic reasons: to provide safe, quick ways for farmers to get their crops to market, without having to brave slow and uncertain rutted paths.

A nice view of hundreds of acres of tree dotted pastures and woods from this ridge.

This ranch name is both bemusing and faintly foreboding.

Typical flora - cactus and wildflowers - grace this guardrail.

Spring wildflowers abound!

The day before leaving for Texas, I had taken a spill on my bike.  This made riding the perm less comfortable, a minor distraction. Still, a clerk at the penultimate control asked if I'd crashed upon seeing this

Temps ranged from 70º to near 90º, so a celebratory chilled Perrier at the finish hit the spot!

A big thanks to Pam for designing this quiet, pastoral route, and for setting me up to ride it!


Monday, May 22, 2017

Hump to Pahrump - a 205km Perm in Nevada

New miles - priceless!

On April 25, I rode Richard Stum's 205km "Hump to Pahrump" Permanent in Nevada. Tagging another American Explorer state was an excuse, I admit, but this just sounded like a fun route.

Richard tells us he created a number of Nevada perms to ride in the winter when it's cold where lives in Utah. This one starts essentially in Henderson, a Las Vegas suburb, heads west over Mountain Springs Summit (5490 ft.), the high point and "hump" of the route, to the next town of Pahrump, and back. I picked this route because it looked like it had plenty of western scenery ... and simple navigation!

This RWGPS map illustrates the hump, and the route's simplicity ... click to enlarge.

To get there, it's an easy hop from Denver to Las Vegas, less than two hours' flying time.

Late April means plenty of snow at the Continental Divide in the Rockies.
This is probably near Aspen.

Lake Mead's desert landscape - on the approach to Las Vegas - is a contrast.

In Las Vegas, the entertainment starts as soon as you step off the plane!

A shuttle to a nearby hotel makes it easy to ride the permanent without renting a car.

An early start, after the motel breakfast ...

I've mapped the 2½ miles to the perm start ...


... and head out after dawn.

A cold front has come through, making for a brisk northerly wind in the Las Vegas environs, and temps around 60º. The first miles are a succession of traffic lights as we leave Las Vegas proper. But good bike lanes and alert motorists.

Soon, the route climbs into the foothills west of town, complete with flowering desert plants.

I stop for hydration top-off at a store ten miles out, as Richard's cue sheet tells us no services for the next 40 miles (that is, until Pahrump). It turns out this is not needed today, with a temp range mainly in the 60's and 70's. But soon it will be quite toasty here. Right about now is the ideal window of opportunity to do this ride.

A "bikes prohibited" sign unexpectedly comes into view!
No mistaking the message here. But this is the only road to Pahrump. (In fact the highway was constructed in the late 1960's just to get to Pahrump.)

It's a construction zone. I ask the foreman, and he says it's fine to go ahead, because they're not even working today. This provides six miles of traffic-free climbing. That's some luck!

At the summit, I need to don extra layers, as it is chilly with a brisk headwind from the west. It's a pedaling descent into this wind. I think this must be the normal prevailing wind, perhaps a bit stronger today ... or maybe not. I vie against the wind to make it into the double-digits.

Here's a closer look at the snow-capped peaks to the north.

Oops, riding in the airplane lane! 

Pahrump greets you with a parade of billboards to illustrate the entertainment possibilities in town. 

In Pahrump, you pass numerous convenience stores and eateries - plenty of opportunity to replenish. The actual Pahrump control is on the way back through town, though.

The route makes a circuit on local roads in the arid plain west of town.
Here's the far reach of the course, where the course veers east, and you can sit up to catch a tailwind!

Interesting, but not our route.

An upbeat street name!

After a calorific lunch stop, we bid adieu to Pahrump ...

Some desert flowers ...

... and cactus along the route.

Fortunately, this is also a bike lane.

The big middle third of this route is open expanse.

Soon we reach the climb back over Mountain Springs Summit and the desert foothills scenery.

The climb is gradual but extended.
It's been a nice ride, and good to see the summit again (with a tailwind).

It's more desert formations on the descent ...

... and the first views of glamorous Las Vegas.

A good day and a good ride - thanks for the route, Richard!


Friday, March 31, 2017

Colorado Rando Awardees - 2016 Round-Up!

Here are Colorado randos who've earned RUSA and ACP awards in 2016.

Not about the trinkets, really ...

For most, you need to apply to be recognized, but you don't need to purchase the physical award. What's important is the goal and the accomplishment. For some, the physical award adds a nice momento.

Some are challenges within the current year. For others, you are allowed multiple years to earn. Others recognize achievement over a number of years.

We congratulate all these fellow randos for their persistence in achieving their goals!

You can see our cumulative awardees across the years here:
Super Randonneur · R-12/P-12 · R-5000 · Others

One-Year Awards
ACP Super Randonneur
American Randonneur  
Multi-Year Awards
American Explore
ACP Randonneur 5000
Ultra Randonneur
other awards not covered here
RUSA Distance Awards
Ultra R-12

Super Randonneur
Complete brevets of 200km, 300km, 400km and 600km in one year.
† For our tally, you can substitute longer distance brevets.

John Lee Ellis
John Flanigan
Paul Foley † 
Joshua Horwood † 
Kieran Johnson
John Mangin
Makoto Miyazaki
David L. Nelson
Ray Rupel
Jon Sendor
Catherine Shenk
Vernon Smith
Henry Snavely
Michael Turek † 
Jason Turner
Corinne Warren

Complete a 200km or longer RUSA ride in each of 12 consecutive months.

John Lee Ellis
Paul Foley 
Ken C Heck
Catherine Shenk
Henry Snavely
Mike Turek 
Corinne Warren

Ride a 100km to 199km RUSA ride in each of twelve consecutive months.

John Lee Ellis

ACP Randonneur 5000
Ride 5000km in events including Paris-Brest-Paris, a Flèche, and 200km, 300km 400km, 600km and 1000km brevets within 48 months. (An Audax Club Parisien award, not RUSA.)

John Mangin

And now for RUSA awards that randonneurs can work towards over multiple years ...

American Explorer
Cover at least ten different U.S. states and territories on RUSA rides.

Paul Foley (3 new)

Complete at least one of each type of RUSA event, accumulating at least 5000km over a two-year period.

Corinne Warren

Ultra Randonneur
Complete ten Super Randonneur series over any number of years.

— none new in 2016 —
Coast to Coast
Complete four different RUSA 1200km or longer events over any number of years.

— none new in 2016 —

Complete 40,000km in RUSA rides - a lifetime achievement award.

Vernon Smith

American Randonneur Challenge
Complete two or more RUSA 1200km or longer events in one season.

2016Paul FoleyTexas Rando Stampede 1200 /
Colorado High Country 1200 /
Cracker Swamp 1200

Courtesy Randonneurs USA

A Final Thought

RUSA has created these awards over time to give you more and more diverse goals to shoot for. Maybe you don't have the personal time to achieve K-Hound mileage, but have the grit to complete an R-12 ride each month for a year in hot and cold, sun and snow.

Set your own goals, and let your imagination and determination be your guides!

You can find details on each of these awards via the RUSA Awards page
including all those who've applied for recognition.

Bonne route!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Favo(u)rite Distances: RUSA vs. Audax UK

Randonneuring has lots in common among all riders and organizers. But each country is different in what they emphasize and how they do things. Vive la différence!

I had a look at the Audax UK annual report (thanks to our friend Mark Thomas for the link). Interesting how our ridership levels differ at the various distances. For Audax UK, the most popular distance is 100km. For RUSA, it's 200km. So I decided to compare the overall 2016 stats (click chart to enlarge). It's kind of a dramatic difference:

As you can see, 100km is a hugely popular distance for AUK riders. For us, I think we are using Populaires as intros to the longer distances, starting with the 200k's. So we are not emphasizing the populaire distances as much. Some RUSA regions offer only a few. And of course we don't have a 50km (31 mile) distance at all.

At the longer distances, the ridership contrast is still pronounced. Looks like we have more folks going after 300k's, 400k's, and 600k's. One difference, admittedly, is that we have a lot of 1000k events and a good offering of 1200k's every year. The 2016 1200k offering in the UK is probably the fascinating Scottish Highlands 1200k you may have read about from our rando colleague Ian Flitcroft in American Randonneur.

Eldorado Canyon near Boulder

Of course, this year, our four 1200k's are not going to compare with London-Edinburgh-London's ridership. :-)

And Audax UK's absolute ridership is actually greater than ours (overall, though not at specific distances), despite their being an island nation much smaller than ours. It's all just a difference in styles, history perhaps, and emphasis.

So there you have it.  Your thoughts appreciated!


This is the second in a series of "stats" posts that I hope you'll find interesting. I have not yet published the first - about RUSA membership - so you can feel free to anticipate!