Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Super-Randonneur Jersey Q&A

I've had a couple questions about the RUSA Super-Randonneur Jersey and the Audax Club Parisien Super-Randonneur Award.

Here is the latest jersey mock-up, with "RUSA" added on the front to distinguish it as a RUSA award ... and below, the ACP SR medal ...

      • Q: "Can I use the same rides to qualify for the ACP SR award and the jersey?" A: Yes, our ACP 200k, 300k, 400k, and 600k brevets will qualify you for both. But the RUSA-only sanctioned brevets, and brevets of greater length, will only qualify for you for the jersey.

      • Q: "ACP-sanctioned?" A: For example, the May 2 Kersey Kick 200k brevet is RUSA- and ACP-sanctioned; the Stove Prairie one was only RUSA-sanctioned. The decision to submit some to the ACP calendar and not others does not reflect on the events themselves, but goals for the overall program. The sanctioning is flagged on the schedule.

      • Q: "Can I use a past year's Super-Randonneur series to qualify for the jersey?" A: Yes!

      • Q: "Why have broader criteria for the jersey than for the ACP SR award?" A: The jersey is a RUSA award; RUSA wished to be more inclusive in being able to earn the jersey, and to highlight US events.
      Hope this helps, and that whether either or both is your goal this year, you'll have a rewarding journey getting there!


      Sunday, April 26, 2009

      4/25 Stove Prairie 200k - A Bracing Adventure!

      Preliminary report - stay tuned for more details and photos ...

      The forecast wasn't great - some drizzle and a shower or two, highs in the 50's. But that was overly optimistic! Instead, riders got temps in the 30's-40's, blowing fog and drizzle, and ice-coated pine needles at the high point. 19 riders started, a third of the normal turnout, and 17 finished. The climb past Horsetooth dam #1 just disappears into the cloudbank:
      Poudre Canyon was serene and almost traffic-free, dry and with a big tailwind. You can see the clouds we're about to climb up into. Peter Hoff sails up Poudre Canyon:
      The final mile of the climb up to Stove Prairie was in a dense fog with a fierce headwind. One had to envision the sweeping curve of that section by memory - you could only see a few feet ahead. Paul Brown offers water and muffins to Stephen Whiteman:

      ... and randonneur-ready Todd LeBlanc summits the big climb:

      Our gracious volunteer Paul informed us it was 33º - thanks, Paul! The pine needles above the Stove Prairie School sign were coated with ice, which pecked at us as the wind blew them off:

      Everyone can be proud of a good effort and pleased with the extra-credit challenge (above and beyond the stiff climbs) this edition of the Stove Prairie offered us! PBP and Last Chance 1200k finisher Marcia Kestner might agree:

      Monday, April 20, 2009

      Stove Prairie 200k Rescheduled: Saturday 4/25

      The Stove Prairie 200k is rescheduled for Saturday, April 25. "This time for sure!" as Bullwinkle J. Moose would say. If you're able to get out during the week, these balmy, sunny days should be a great chance to tune up for next Saturday. Sign-in starting 7am, departure 8am.

      We'll see if there's even a hint of snow left from the feet and meters that fell in the foothills. Here are the Flatirons and nearby fields on Sunday the 19th, as the sun returned! -jle

      Saturday, April 18, 2009

      4/18 Stove Prairie 200k - Ride Status Update

      Despite persistent rain and rain/snow mix at the lower elevations today, there has been some road clearing, as predicted. This is good news for the Horsetooth Populaire, which is currently slated to go ahead as planned. Final decision up to the ride leader, Tim "Foon" Feldman, at the ride start.

      The Stove Prairie 200k is a different story. Given the multiple-foot-depth accumulations at Stove Prairie, with it snowing there while it rained down here, plus crisper overnight lows, passability on that segment is not a good (or safe) bet. So we are rescheduling for next weekend - probably Saturday; word in a day or two.

      So have fun on the Populaire and/or enjoy the balmy 70's temps we will be experiencing a couple days from now ... during the work week.


      Friday, April 17, 2009

      Stove Prairie 200k Volunteer Pre-Ride

      Eric Simmons reports on his helpful checkout of the Stove Prairie 200k route ...

      This is a report of a pre-ride of the Stove Prairie 200km Brevet scheduled for April 18th.

      Last fall when I read that the SP200km was scheduled for mid April I recalled an early May running of SP in 2003 which had to be rescheduled due to snow and ice and wondered how early April weather would turn out this year.

      I asked JLE if there was a need for a pre-ride to check the route and I received his blessing for a pre-ride. I picked April 15th to celebrate Tax Day and picked a small town post office on the route to mail my returns from in order to avoid long lines. I also chose this ride to try out my SPOT GPS transponder so that: 1. She Who Must Be Obeyed receives an "I am OK message" with GPS coordinates periodically, and 2. The RBA receives the same "electronic trail of breadcrumbs" documenting the ride in lieu of secret controls etc. I own the SPOT due to being lost/missplaced by the SIR on the Cascade 1200 last June, another story for another day.

      It was a beautiful morning when I pulled off at exit 243 onto SR 66 and noticed the CONSTRUCTION blocking off most of the entrances to the Conoco station and other business on the North side of SR 66. Getting to the start will require some short Detours so come a few minutes earlier to be ready to start on time.

      After a quick GPS message to SWMBO and the RBA via satellite, the ride to Masonville went by almost without thought as I was distracted by the Llamas and Alpacas still in their winter coats and the Meadowlarks and Bluebirds who have mistakenly arrived in Colorado thinking that Spring has sprung here. The Masonville store I discovered, is closed on Wednesday but fortunately I had carried a sandwich with me for emergency food and an emergency was declared and fed.
      The trip around Horsetooth was an exercise in humiliation as riders in domestic Pro jerseys on timetrial bikes, many with follow cars went whizzing past in one minute intervals. After a deliberate footdown stop at the infamous Rd 23/Rd42 intersection I continued on to the Bellvue Post Office and had my yearly payment to Caeser hand stamped then, continued on to a sitdown lunch at Vern's as soon as the OK message was sent to SWMBO/RBA.
      The Poudre Canyon climb was quiet in midweek with a fringe of cinders/sand at the edge left from the winter plows, the turn up Rd 27 to Stove Prairie started the tough climb of the day (more loose cinders at the shoulder and some of the "new smooth" road surface is beginning to slide off on the downhill side of the road) as the sky darkened but the winds remained calm and I reached the top with only 15-20 minutes before the "closing" of the checkpoint. I sent another OK to SWMBO and the RBA stopped to take a photo of the herd of elk and continued on back to Masonville with the dark sky receeding to the North. I took a quick stop at Sandy's for another checkpoint OK to SWMBO and the RBA and continued on to the ride finish with the only wind of significance of the day in the last 15 miles gusting out of the northeast making staying on the road a bit of a challenge. One last OK to SWMBO and the RBA, a change of clothing and I headed home having finished my first Brevet of the year.

      I called JLE the RBA to see if the GPS transponder had satisfactorly documented the checkpoints for the ride. It turns out he forgot I was going to be sending the email messages and thought they were some Ethiopian escam, phishing for $$$ and he had deleted them all from his inbox. Fortunately some were retrieved from the trashcan/junkmail and I can forward the rest to him if he needs them.

      A beautiful day, mid 60's, sunshine most of the day, Unfortunately the weather predicted for the weekend is quite different. I look forward to seeing all of you on the Brevet when it finally gets the GO!

      4/18 Stove Prairie 200k - Ride Status Update

      With snow predicted through the night and much of Saturday, the 4/18 200k will be rescheduled, most likely for Sunday 4/19.

      Final call on whether to go ahead for Sunday will be made based on road conditions later on Saturday (and of course if the weather system doesn't move out as predicted).


      Thursday, April 16, 2009

      4/18 Stove Prairie 200k - Ride Status

      The forecast for Saturday (and conditions overnight Friday into Saturday) has worsened. It is now likely the 200k will be rescheduled, either for Sunday the 19th or Saturday the 25th.

      Ride status and rescheduling info will be posted here as soon as a decision is made, so stay tuned.


      Tuesday, April 14, 2009

      Last Chance and Gold Rush Planning Sheets

      Tim "Foon" Feldman has come up with planning spreadsheets for the Gold Rush Randonnée in July and the Colorado Last Chance 1200k in September. These are based on last year's Last Chance and Shenandoah planning sheets.

      How do they work? You fill in your expected pace between each contrôle and the amount of time you're budgeting at each controle. The sheet gives you estimated ETA's at each contrôle, and at the finish. It also alerts you when you're near or past a contrôle closing time. It's a great tool for:
      • planning and visualizing your progress through the event,
      • considering multiple scenarios,
      • coming up with fallback strategies.

      For the Last Chance, the three bagdrop opportunities may determine where you take longer breaks. For the Gold Rush, you may be influenced by terrain features such as Janesville Grade, and climatic aspects such as heat in the valley.

      Tim adds: "The Gold Rush planner is based on the 2005 route. According to the goldrushriders mailing list, expect changes to be made for 2009. After the route is announced, look for an update available here and perhaps also at the Gold Rush web site."

      So have a look. Thanks, Tim!


      Sunday, April 12, 2009

      Texas Ride Report II - A Ca(n)terbury Tail?

      Texas Ride Report II
      A Ca(n)terbury Tail ?

      by Jim Kraychy

      I would like to share a story about the second of two recent late February rides in the Dallas - Fort Worth area I did with Val and Robin Phelps of Lone Star Randonneurs ( LSR ) on their Marko Polo Permanent - a pretty apt name since we did do some “exploring”.

      Read Jim's full story here! ...

      The route was a loop starting from Plano ( North East of Dallas ), continuing through the outlying towns of Cado Mills, Celeste, and Princeton, and returning to Plano. These small towns were located in the rural country side, yet Plano was close enough in to be quite suburban in nature ( malls with plenty of big box stores, etc. ).

      Traffic was light as we left the start and remained so until our return. Most drivers gave us the entire lane as they passed. The terrain was flat relative to the Kickapoo Joy Juice Permanent with its seemingly endless rollers that we rode the previous day. Still, there were a few hills to break the ride up.

      OK, now for the first highlight of the ride: Time to fess up. I would be more embarrassed if the scenario weren’t so funny. We didn’t have a route map but there was a cue sheet giving us street and road names, and cumulative mileages to the successive turns. You would think that two pretty experienced riders wouldn’t have any problems, wouldn’t you ? Well, Val and I got to gabbing and telling stories like the stereotype of a couple of older women on their way to a big sale that we missed a few turns through out the ride ( three times !! ) and added about 20 bonus miles as a result of our uh, “explorations”. Some of our inattention was because it felt so nice and relaxing to be out riding and there was a tail wind heading East from Plano, how could anything go wrong ? HA !

      In our defense, the first time we missed a turn, the name on the street sign didn’t agree with the cue sheet and we did catch it within a half mile. That first error resulted in the biggest chunk of our bonus miles ( maybe 10 miles or so ) since we backtracked - into the head wind - far enough to figure out what the problem was. It took so long to get our first error straightened out that we almost missed the time limit at the first checkpoint - I think we made it with only two minutes to spare !

      Now our odometers were off from the cue sheet numbers so mental arithmetic was required for every successive turn to stay on route for the remainder of the ride – great, even more attention required now.

      You would also think that after it happened once we would have been on our toes, but guess what – it happened twice more ! And both times were due to yacking it up again, telling stories !!

      Oh well, it was such a nice day, with green grass in spots, some yellow flowers scattered about, and birds were singing in welcome of spring that we didn’t care too much about time, so long as we weren’t late for dinner.

      After “negotiating” our way around Lavon Lake near the town of Wylie ( our second addition to our bonus mile tally ), ranch and farm land with plowed fields made up most of the scenery. Interesting to note that you could easily mark the location of towns by the water towers off in the distance. These smaller Texas towns seem to be closer together than in Colorado.

      The weather was gorgeous compared to Colorado standards for late February: sunny and mostly calm. The only head wind to speak of was at the beginning when we back tracked West. It warmed up nicely as the day progressed, with the sun being a nice gift after our ride the day before which was mostly overcast with a little light rain early on ( please see previous ride report ).

      We saw quite a few dogs, some just lazing in the sunshine, looking at us, seeming to be saving their energy for more worthy opponents ( maybe since there were only two cyclists we weren’t worth the trouble ). Those that did run out responded in our favor to Val’s method of dealing with them ( shouting a firm “NO” to them ). Enough canines ran out to us that I was sensitized to any noises or movement in my peripheral vision; which set me up for the following cat tale.

      We reached straight stretch of road where there was a shallow ditch in the grass along the right side of the road and a pipe rail fence separating us from a field of short bright green grass ( the brilliant green that you see in early spring so soothing on the eyes after the grays of winter ). Val was to my left when I saw out of the corner of my eye some movement. “DOG !” I thought and warned Val. The movement that caught my eye turned out to be a tabby cat of medium length fur that darted out of a bush at the front edge of the field and started running next to the fence parallel to the road in the same direction we were riding. After I assured myself we weren’t about to be accosted by a canine. I had time for a closer look. The critter’s orange color really stood out against that bright green grass.

      “Hey Val, check out this cat“ I said. The feline appeared to be racing us as it ran along the fence with us for a good 50 yards or more. I was surprised that it didn’t appear to become winded and was in fact pulling ahead of us.

      What happened next surprised me even more: as it pulled ahead of us, it turned towards the fence, crossing under it at an angle, and headed right for us on a collision course. Expecting an impact and the possibility of a nasty crash, I braced for the worst, not wanting to take Val out if I went down by opting for the ditch if I had to. One of the thoughts in my head at that moment was that this dam cat was going to grab a hold of my foot, claw its way up my leg all the way to my throat and start to work on my jugular. Hell, I had NO idea what it was thinking ! Who has ever seen a cat that wanted to race cyclists ? Dogs ? sure. Horses ? all the time. Cats ???

      Keep in mind all this transpired quickly - it is taking you far longer to read my description than for all of it to occur.

      The cat disappeared under my right foot ( which was forward as I stood up on the pedals - I must have been contemplating a bunny hop, or leaping off the bike to get away from it if the attack was pressed home ). Next thing I felt was a “thump” from my rear wheel as I continued straight down the road. A quick glance revealed Val still riding next to me and upright, with the cat tearing across the road into the driveway of the house across the road, by all appearances unhurt !

      I can only guess that my rear wheel ran over some part that darn cat. Val said it ran right in front of him after I hit it. He asked me if I ran over its tail, but the thump felt too big ( enough to rattle the chain and rear derailleur ) for me to be sure. It didn’t look like any bones were broken as it ran off in full stride.

      Most of us have experience with those kamikaze squirrels and rabbits that purposely zigzag back and forth in front of you trying to cause a wreck so they can brag to their buddies about the cyclist they crashed, but this cat was a first for me. I like cats a lot but don’t feel all that badly for this one as it chose to do what it did and the resulting mayhem. Maybe those genes shouldn’t be in the feline pool anyway. Hopefully that feline knows it has only 8 lives left now. I may have added a few more gray hairs up top now from the encounter so I am pissed off at it.

      Whew: way too much excitement packed in a very short period of time. In comparison, I think criteriums are a bit more relaxing.

      In comparison, the rest of the ride was almost dull. We did have one more bit of distraction resulting in a small addition to our total bonus, nowhere near the magnitude of the first two. Nice to be out in the early spring sunshine and wonderful scenery.

      Texas is a great place to ride ( just keep on your toes ! ). LSR offers over 120 permanents in addition to all their Brevets. I am glad I had the opportunity to ride with Val and Robin there.

      Friday, April 10, 2009

      Audax Club Parisien announces PBP'11 policy

      Audax Club Parisien has sent out a policy to address the number of riders it can handle at Paris-Brest-Paris 2011. RUSA has posted the letter in French and English. (Image above is what the PBP'11 logo might look like.) Wondering what this might mean?


      Monday, April 6, 2009

      Snowing in Boulder? Great riding options in south western Utah

      Hey Everyone,

      Check out the brevet schedule in southern Utah! Lonnie Wolff of the Southern Utah Brevet club has organized a wonderful selection of routes to pick from. Contact him directly to sign up at

      Here is their schedule for the next couple of months:

      May 2 Pine Valley Mountain 300K St George

      May 30 Hurricane 400K Hurricane Utah

      June 20 Bryce Canyon 200K Panguitch, Utah

      BTW - all the rides have great scenery and here are a couple pictures from their recent 200K of which I was a guest. (If you read the SUBrevet Blog, yes, I am the lame one that started more than an hour late because I spaced out the time change from Nevada to Utah. I had no idea there was a time change since it was only two hours away! Doh!)

      Lonny wrote in his recent newsletter that “Brevet” is a French word that means “strong, crazy people who like to ride in the rain while the warm sun is shining at home.” Well I lucked out on this ride because it was warm enough and sunny in Utah while it was snowy in Boulder. Of course, I did get a little reminder of back home because during the later part of the day as there was a super strong headwind. (Sound familiar?) Literally a blast from the past. I think I clocked all of 5 mph for probably an hour in that section.

      Below are some sand dunes. These sort of reminded me of all the snow banks I rode by this winter.

      In summary the ride started in St. George, Utah and went to Zion National Park via numerous back roads, some marked, some not. Since I started late I was using an old cue sheet and so I managed to log some extra miles at the beginning and also I got lost near the finish. (I missed a key turn that was also part of an off ramp from the highway. I decided to pass on riding up the off ramp so I ended up riding down a dirt road on the west side of the highway when I should have been on the paved road on the east side of the highway.) Dirt roads don't really phase me but unfortunately the road did disappear after a ways and then I had to pitch my bike over a barbed-wire fence and climb it myself so I could finish by riding on the highway to the next control. I made it over the fence without ripping a hole in my shorts so I consider that leg of the ride a success.

      Lots of traffic too. NOT! (The road in Zion was just closed to cars - nice!)

      Nice views the entire day.

      Visit for more details on riding in southern Utah.

      Saturday, April 4, 2009

      Ride Status: Carter Lake Populaire, April 5

      The populaire for 4/5 is cancelled. With snow showers overnight (and chance of snow showers Sunday) and temps in the teens, riders will be better served by going for the RMCC training ride (if it's on), with its inherent options of taking the shorter course or simply turning back. Many thanks to Tim Kalisch for stepping forward to lead this populaire.

      You can now rev up for the 4/18 Stove Prairie 200k brevet, and the 4/19 Horsetooth populaire!

      The testimony of our blue spruce today.