Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Paris-Brest-Paris 2015 Planner

Thinking about riding Paris-Brest-Paris in 2015?  

The Audax Club Parisien (ACP) already has info on their PBP site.  And Randonneurs USA will be adding and linking to more info as it accumulates via the RUSA PBP page.

Here, we'll be offering an overview oriented to local riders, answering questions you ask, and providing hints, starting with what you should be thinking about in 2014.

What to do in 2014?


Registrants get to "pre-register" (register before having completed qualifying) earlier depending on the longest ACP brevet or Randonneurs Mondiaux 1200k+ randonnée they completed in 2014.  The longer your longest brevet, the earlier you get to pre-register.  Earlier means higher priority for getting into the event.  (There is a maximum rider limit.)

A 1000k or 1200k should put you in excellent position, but even a 400k or 600k should help a lot.  We don't know, of course, whether the rider limit will be reached, but this dovetails with ...


Experienced randonneurs and other distance athletes know that year-over-year training makes a big difference.  The body becomes ever more seasoned, and mentally you gain confidence.  Some options to consider:
  • a Super-Randonneur Series (200k, 300k, 400k, 600k brevets) - These are the rides (or equivalent) you'll need to do in 2015 to qualify anyway, but they are good building rides for their training effect the year before.  
  • a 1000k or 1200k - Not only great training, but a way to start planning in some ways* for how you'll ride the 1200km of PBP, and fun in themselves.  There are five US 1200k's this year, and one Canadian one.  And there are 20 (!) US 1000k's, many of them scenic.  You should ride a 1000k or 1200k for the fun, challenge, and exploration, though, not because you feel you have to.
  • the RUSA R-12 - This award is earned by riding a 200k or longer ride in each of twelve consecutive months. You may wonder how this applies to a 1200k, but the R-12 is a good motivator to maintain conditioning throughout the year, including our wintry months, and ramping up strong in 2015.
* PBP, with its 5,000 riders, is a unique event, so some of your planning will be different from that for other 1200k's. You may wish to look at the ACP's finishing-time histograms to detect where the big crowds are ... and the gaps in between!


It doesn't hurt to reserve rooms near the ride start/finish now.  That's assuming you can change or cancel reservations later if needed.  Tour organizers reserve blocks of rooms (and most likely already have), limiting the supply left for everyone else, so book early.

You can get many recommendations by looking around and asking PBP veterans, and you may find great spots beyond the usual suspects such as the Campanile and Hotel Mercure near the start in St. Quentin-en-Yvelines, or nearby at the Holiday Inn or Novotel.

♦ ♦ 

These are simple steps for 2014.  The most important, I feel, is training, and experience in distance events.  They will pay you back with valuable conditioning, logistical lessons learned, and a wealth of confidence.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Two New 400k Routes

As you know, last year's floods affected canyons used by the Lefthand 400k and St. Vrain 400k loops.  Several events are affected:

400k/600k on May 17
400k on June 7
400k/600k/1000k on June 21

So here are a couple of ideas for new 400k routes we could use this year.

Black Forest 400k

This is an idea from Charlie Henderson, based on the Black Forest 300k route with a 100k round-trip spur from Elbert to Bennett.  The Black Forest and Back 200k Permanent previews that spur (in reverse).

This route has some benefits, and some challenges, including a 100k climb, quite possibly into the wind, from the turnaround point and course low point in Bennett.

Rustic 400k

The Rustic route has the familiar plains start of our 400k's and 600k's, followed by access to Poudre Canyon via Stove Prairie.  (If that road hasn't reopened in time, we can take Horsetooth Reservoir.)  This is followed by a spur to Livermore.  

These sections have high scenic value, but also some traffic.  As this is a Louisville start, the route could be used for the 600k's and the 1000k.

Let me know what you think!  Alternate ideas are welcome, too.


P.S. The 1000k may have increased interest this year, as it did in 2010, because of the ACP's pre-registration policy for Paris-Brest-Paris.  So we certainly would like to offer a scenic and enticing 1000k for our guests.  The third loop (up Big Thompson Canyon, and down via Devil's Gulch) will also need some attention or a substitute.

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Hana Hiatus 202km Perm - A Nice Break!

It's been in the teens all day as I write this, with a mixture of snow and graupel ushering in a Colorado month of March.  While many of us have been eking out a Platteville Poke-Along or Kersey Kick permanent in between snowstorms and the polar vortex, a few lucky riders - four so far this season - have been able to enjoy my Hana Hiatus 202km circuit of south Maui, starting with our own local luminary, Ray Rupel.

You can read Ray's write-up in the spring issue of American Randonneur.


The route takes in South Maui, featuring the Hana Highway, the quiet south coast, and the SW flank of the Haleakala volcano.

Here are some photos I took researching this route.  The ride starts in Lihei, on the west coast of South Maui, near hotels and services.  You pass the local rowing club's canoes arrayed on the beach.

A tranquil start on the bikepath from Kihei to Kahului.

Beyond Pukulani is the route's high point, just above 3,000 ft.  

After a flat start, you climb (if you're riding counterclockwise) up the shoulder of the Haleakala volcano to Pukulani. (Clockwise, it's a nice downhill treat towards the end.  There is a runaway truck lane, by the way.)

Some traffic heading down the Haleakala Highway on the way to work.

The road becomes pastoral and even quieter.

Looking up the flank of Haleakala.

Verdant stretches even on this, the leeward side.

The Piilani Highway descends to the south coast.

Nice views of the Pacific and nearby islands.

Some fun on a twisty descent!

This quiet road narrows to one lane.

More volcanic terrain.  Yes, we're looking down on the bridge we just crossed.

Nice outcroppings on the coast.

The segment just pictured has fairly new asphalt, and is in wonderful shape.  What follows is eight miles of rough pavement and (somewhat smoother) dirt. 

This pavement feels even rougher than it looks!

This shot of the bridge shown above - courtesy of Google StreetView - shows the pavement before it was redone.  Now it is very smooth. 

Goats graze on a ridge.

The road traverses volcanic outcroppings.

In this verdant country, even the cattleguards are overgrown with grass.

Deep ravines proceed to the coast.

The services tend to be isolated ranch and general stores.

A tempting sidetrip ... up to 10,000 ft.

Enjoying the beach at the start/finish, looking towards cloud blowing off West Maui.

Jenny and Shawn Hatfield are the latest to have ridden the Hana Hiatus as of this writing.  Check out Jenny's photo report.   And remember to look for Ray's article.

The Hana Hiatus is a tough 200k in some ways.  It has almost 11,000 ft. of climbing.  The south coast can be hot and has limited services.  The Hana Highway - a succession of rollers and bridges over inlets - has cumulative climbing and being on the windward side, can be wetter.  But with the right preparation and attitude, you're in for a rewarding, scenic experience!


P.S. I have not posted info on the Colorado Permanents pages (because it's not in Colorado), but you can find basic info here and a RideWithGPS map here.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Carter Lake Cake Walk Permanent #999

To me, riding a permanent in February is the most difficult month to complete such a ride.  With February being the shortest month of the year,  coupled with unpredictable weather leaving the roads marginally passable, work schedules, and most importantly family commitments, it is a challenge to one's dedication and perseverence.

I was able to complete the Carter Lake Cake Walk on February 8th despite predominantly wet sandy roads, while other roads had large snow packed segments.  At times, I was wishing I had ridden my Surley snow bicycle.

Although this was my second slowest 200K ride ever, I was quite pleased to now be a quarter of the way to an R-12 award on my third attempt at this award.  I marvel at those who have strung together multiple consecutive R-12 awards, which I consider a truly remarkable achievement!!

Eldorado Springs was cold in the morning shadows.

Road 29 was washed away by last Fall's flooding (note missing road prior to left side of bridge) requiring a detour to Masonville.

The northern most point of the ride was at least sunny, and NOT the snowiest point of the ride.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

2013 Thanks and Congratulations!

We'd like to recognize these Colorado riders for accomplishments in 2013, and thank our volunteers on the brevets, populaires, and 1200k's for their service!

Super Randonneurs
The ACP Super Randonneur award recognizes finishing a 200k, 300k, 400k, and 600k brevet in one year.

Cathy Cramer
Bob Dean
John Lee Ellis
John Flanigan
Paul Foley
Ronaele Foss
Tom Knoblauch
John Mangin
Tammie Nakamura
Ray Rupel
Catherine Shenk
Laurie Stanton
Mark Stanton
Dick Wiss

Laurie Stanton

The RUSA R-12 award recognizes riding a 200km or longer randonnée in each of twelve consecutive months.

Cathy Cramer
John Lee Ellis
Steve Le Goff
Peter Hoff
Catherine Shenk
Vernon Smith

Ray Rupel

The RUSA P-12 award recognizes riding a 100km to 199km randonnée in each of twelve consecutive months.

John Lee Ellis
Emily Warm
Ted Warm

Grand Randonnées (1200k+)

There is now quite a good selection of Grand Randonnées, and it's nice to see that these folks are up for the challenge - and the variety!
  • Bob Bruce - Taste of Carolina
  • Cathy Cramer - Shenandoah
  • John Lee Ellis - Gold Rush Randonnée (CA), Big Wild Ride (AK)
  • John Flanigan - Taste of Carolina
  • Paul Foley - Texas Rando Stampede
  • Tom Knoblauch - Gold Rush Randonnée (CA), Colorado Last Chance
  • Tammie Nakamura - Taste of Carolina
  • Catherine Shenk - Gold Rush Randonnée (CA)
  • Vernon Smith - Texas Rando Stampede, Taste of Carolina
Tom Knoblauch at the Gold Rush


Thanks to our fine volunteers who through their dedication enable us to put on an extensive schedule of events!
  • Paul Foley - Brevet Leader
  • Tom Foss - Registration
  • Carol Gerber - Finance
  • Beth Long - Brevet Leader
  • Brent Myers - Brevet Leader
  • Tammie Nakamura - Brevet and Populaire Leader
  • Vernon Smith - Brevet Designer/Leader
Tammie Nakamura
 Last Chance 1200k Volunteers
Despite the September flood that was occurring as the event unfolded, riders persevered, helped in no small part by our tireless Last Chance volunteers.
  • Cathy Cramer - Atwood
  • John Lee Ellis - various
  • Tom Foss - Registration and Finish
  • Carol Gerber - Finance
  • Scott Griffith - Atwood ... and Detour Research
  • Patricia Heller - Volunteer Planning and Finish
  • Charlie Henderson - Lodging, Logistics, and Course Monitor
  • Beth Long - Byers
  • Brent Myers - Byers
  • Tammie Nakamura - Anton and the wilderness
  • Satish Patki - Atwood
  • Dan Shields - Vital Supplies and Planning
  • Laurie Stanton - Finish
We hope this past year was rewarding for you, whatever your goals, and that you are cooking up some great goals and plans for 2014!


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Rawhide Ramble 201km Permanent - New!

Last weekend I rode the new Rawhide Ramble 201km Permanent.  It's based on the 200k created to replace the September Stove Prairie 200k, which was put out of action by post-flood road closures (and which are still in effect!).

One impetus for this permanent is that we Boulder and Larimer County residents need all the climbing opportunities we can find.  In this case, it's Horsetooth.  And shall I say, lots more invigorating at 40 miles into the ride, rather than 130 miles into a 400k or 600k, ha, ha.

Here's the horse tooth of Horsetooth beckoning from outside Masonville.  

Lots of inspiring western scenery to glance at during the climbs.

Horsetooth Reservoir is pretty full.  I've always thought Horsetooth and Carter Lake looked rather abstract as desert terrain hemming in waters, but that's how it is with Western reservoirs.  (Those two dots are kayakers.  And yes, open waters is an odd scene when most everywhere else is frozen over.)

This route dives down past the CSU stadium, avoiding some of the Ft. Collins congestion.

... and on Overland Trail, you get to see one of the vanishingly small number of drive-in theatres still remaining!

For the middle part of the route, including the eponymous Rawhide stop, I don't have pictures.  (The breeze might be one influencing factor.)  But here are John Guala, Mark Lowe, and Lloyd Jones on the 200k brevet in September.

Throw in a (missed) photo-op of a group of 12-15 antelope (a good number, based on my experience), and you get the picture.  These are typical scenes for Ft. Collins riders, but a change of pace for us.

It was a really brilliant, sunny, and eventually mild day to ride, which we do get in January ...

... and at other seasons, too!

So give this one a try.


Friday, January 24, 2014

Canyons Update - Lefthand Canyon

On January 20, Pat and I were returning from Estes Park and decided to check out Lefthand Canyon.

Signs in Estes Park advise motorists to take US-34 or Hwy. 7 (St. Vrain Canyon), as US-36 now has remedial roadwork in three places, after last fall's rapid repair and reopening.

Hwy. 7 seems to be holding up fairly well:

In contrast to the CDOT signs on their canyon highways warning cyclists, "Bicycles not recommended.  Ride at your own risk,"  Boulder County simply warns all road users to prepare to handle certain situations.

While Lefthand Drive is open, many segments - some longer, some shorter - are gravel.  (This still represents a huge effort by road construction crews!)

Where did all that displaced and faulted asphalt go?  Much of it was carted off to asphalt mountains such as this one near the junction of James Canyon.

In the curves of Lefthand Creek, there's hardly better evidence of how much roadway the flood ate away than to see the centerline heading straight for the new edge of the road (sans shoulder).

There are a lot of these gravel segments.  Motorists and cyclists alike need to keep eyes open for what they may encounter around every curve.

Lots of roadwork is proceeding.  Here, giant boulders ("the size of an SUV") are being loaded by this crane into a truck.

A good view of the "scouring" effect of the flood waters.

All in all, lower Lefthand Canyon at present has the sense of those backcountry dirt roads in the mountains.

And James Canyon remains open only to residents, of course.

We saw some "high-performance"-looking cyclists in ones and twos heading up Lefthand as if it were life as usual ... but these are the folks who climb to Gold Hill on racing bikes, so what else is new?

I'm sure everyone joins us in thanking the road crews for reopening this road, of most benefit to residents, but good for everyone.