Sunday, May 31, 2009

Team Sage Grouse Hits the Dirt

New this year on the Front Range Flèche was Team Sage Grouse. Their route was the brainchild of Will deRosset, who in the end wasn't able to ride. Will's Red Dirt Randonnée formed the first 200k of the route - in the big sky country heading to Wyoming: Here are Foon Feldman and Josh Shafer at the team's "civilized" start in Fort Collins:The team had pre-arranged caches of water out at some controls in the wilderness, courtesy of Will: Here are Andrea Koenig (acting capt. ), Foon Feldman and Josh Shafer somewhere near Wyoming.
Knee problems forced the team to call it quits later on in their ride, but a good effort, and a fine adventure for the Sage Grouse!

Stay tuned for the report of Team Deer with Headlights ...


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

5/23 400k Pre-Ride: the Lefthand Pour Down

Last Saturday, May 23, Catherine Shenk and I pre-rode the 400k course.

Here is Catherine making sure that the final grade into Ward had not gotten any shallower. (Photos courtesy of Catherine except for this one and the glowering Indian Peaks.)

On the way up Lefthand Canyon, we came upon this sneaky fox, who'd made off with a sandwich no doubt from Memorial Day weekend pinickers.
Despite dark clouds west of the Peak-to-Peak (and fresh snow on Niwot Ridge!), we stayed dry. Here is Mt. Toll obscured by a low cloud ceiling:
After brighter overcast on the plains, more ominous foothill conditions returned over Carter Lake:Brightening the scene, a regatta with colorful sails was making their turn as we passed, a couple with spinnakers unfurled to catch some wind:
Coming into Wellington, we'd ridden over lots of wet pavement and through puddles, but had eluded actual storms (by following the prescribed route!). Here we are heading homeward (south), spying sun in the direction of the finish:
And yet all too soon fortunes seem likely to change, along with the direction of storm cells as we ride into the storm:
Taking refuge from a deluging downpour (or "pour down" in the local parlance) and, more to the point, electrical activity, were minutes well spent, despite our declining the offer of free burritos:
The optimistic theory is that our threatening-then-soggy 400k ride will be an inoculation to riders on the actual event date! Here are the soggy cyclists:Have a wonderful on-the-date 400k!
-jle and catherine

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

And they Call the Wind...Missouri

The Honeybees had a wonderful experience on the 9th of May riding 400K in Missouri. I call it wonderful because of the attitude of the riders we rode audax with was unbelievably positive and fun. It was as if we were riding with 8 John Lees or 8 Glen Werners clones. The reason their attitudes were so remarkable is that we had an unrelenting headwind for over half the 400K.

The course was incredibly pretty with everything being lush and green. The trees were huge with wildflowers and redbud trees in bloom. The hills were never ending, but we felt it was good for us to ride in different terrain. Flat areas had less trees and therefore the wind was unabated so it was a wash.

The group of 8 had a couple of unique characters. We began the ride in the back of Dale's car as the cold wind gusted outside. Brent asked me who Dale sounded like and I realized quickly that his voice sounded like Val Phelps (good friend). It was comforting in kind of a strange way to think Val would be accompanying us on our journey.

Brent and Spencer (Klaassen)

Then there was Spencer the "Wonderman". I dubbed him that when I realized that he was doing this on his fixed gear and he always rides this way. He thinks nothing of it and has done our Last Chance on it. Except for the hair color, he looked and acted a lot like Bob Fourney, another amazing cyclist. Spencer gave us the local history of northern Missouri, including relocated towns, Amish country, and Civil War lessons.

Amish couple riding to town

Speaking of interesting, the most "Colorful" of all was Dan. He prided himself in taking the skill of wheel sucking to a new level. With him it is almost an artform and he swells with pride when others pointed out that he does nothing but suck wheel. Brent tried to diplomatically tell him that if one wishes to sit one one's wheel all day, it is common courtesy to take even a short pull every once in a while. "Oh no" Dan responded in his thick Cajun accent, "Why would I want to do that. I might get tired!" We wondered when we first saw him and he exclaimed "Hot dog a tandem" as he jumped on our wheel, why the others in the group chuckled. "You go Dan" they said and he remained our shadow for most of the ride.

Riding at night in a strange place it is important that one learns the terminology. We saw something big dart out with glaring eyes in the dark. "Rat" was called out (biggest damn rat I ever saw) but soon found out it was a possum. There are also very friendly sheriffs on this route as two of them stopped to shine a light on our group when we flatted at night. I could tell they were all watching out for us as we traversed their county.

All in all the Missouri 400K was a blast! We met some characters, covered some miles, shared some stories, and found out randoneering in a new place can be quite rewarding and fun. You should try it!

Rando trash gathering at fine dining establishment

Monday, May 18, 2009

3/16 Black Forest 300k - Wind A-Plenty!

Tim "Foon" Feldman reports on a darned windy Black Forest 300k!

The Black Forest 300k took some perseverance. The day started with driving through rain to the start, and I had not a minute to spare to get ready. No rain fell during the ride, just some spray from wet roads for the first hour or two. By the time we got to Sedalia the winds had picked up. We had 20 to 40 mph winds out of the south for the next 8 hours until we got back to Sedalia once more. For a while we had seven rolling down the road with a quartering headwind from the left. I barked enough to get the lead riders all the way onto the yellow line so that the rest of us could echelon properly. I am getting used to my mirror which allowed me to monitor overtaking traffic and get the group back to the right side of the road before obstructing traffic.

From there to the finish I was able to ride with three others, but that was as often a psychological comfort more than a physical advantage as there is just not much shelter in such blustery conditions. The gusty sidewinds were just as problematic as the headwinds that usually dropped our pace to about 10 mph.

On the way to Elbert we had dangerously foggy conditions for a while, luckily only on lightly traveled roads. A tailwind section heading north to Elbert proved that the wind was over 30 mph. When the speedometer showed low 30's it felt like still air. Upper 30s was required before feeling wind on our faces. Here the clouds lifted and visibility improved through the remainder of the day. The route takes a u-turn at the Elbert control. Turning back into the wind, the 11.7 miles back to Sweet road took well over an hour for our lead group of four. But even then the route was not done sending us southbound into the teeth of the wind.

Finally at the southern most part of the route we arrived at the next control. The new Black Forest General Store has a soup kettle in their hot food section. This day followed their Kids Day theme with macaroni and cheese. A bowl of that and a few minutes sitting at the most welcomed small dining area readied us for the final third of the ride. We gladly turned the chairs over to the next group to arrive (Peter Hoff, Andrea Koenig and Dick Wiss). From there the temperatures finally started to climb and we got sections of coasting at 30+ mph while northbound as well as the sidewind on the westbound legs. After Sedalia though the wind shifted we returned to the day's theme of headwinds.


Friday, May 15, 2009

Black Forest 300k Update

Veteran randonneur and volunteer Eric Simmons has stepped forward to lead our 300k. Good thing, as I will be inside working against a project deadline - please enjoy the sun and the breeze for me.

Eric was a welcome face to Last Chance 1200k riders last year, with his hearty soup, snacks, and helpful support out on the wide open prairie. Thanks, Eric, and have a great ride, everyone!


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Black Forest 300k Checkout

A moist checkout ride of the Black Forest 300k route for our hardy volunteers - Steve, Michelle, Catherine, and John - two of whom had just completed the Kersey Kick 200k the day before and cleaned their bikes from the rain that came with it. It was a day of more sun, but more rain, and definitely more worms on the pavement!

A cool pre-dawn passage of the Ken Caryl hogback was a treat.Things brightened up nicely for a while, as in these sunny moments climbing towards Larkspur in the morning. Everything is verdant green (because of all that rainfall and snow!):
The Black Forest General Store (a control) has just moved down the block to a deluxe new setting. We were keen to check it out, and were very pleased with the facilities and friendly smiles. But no hot dogs! (This should be rectified by the time you do the 300k.)

When rain did move in on the way back from Black Forest, a shower cap came in handy. Here's wishing the 300k riders a sunny ride with snacks as desired!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Kersey Kick 200k - Rain Mainly Not on the Plain!

A drizzly start and gloomy skies did not deter 23 riders from gearing up and heading out on the first ACP event of the season!

"Foon" Guard-Dog Feldman stays out of the mist and keeps a close watch on the supply of brevet cards:
Guest Carola Berger from Boston takes time off from a conference on subatomic particles to stretch her legs.

Despite the soggy prognosis, the roads quickly dried out as we headed away from the foothills, and things even brightened a degree or two. After a top-notch burrito at the Kersey stop, riders were in for a nice quartering tailwind (not the norm!) heading back, and only encountered showers on the approach into Louisville.

Andrea Koenig, Tim "Foon" Feldman, and Peter Hoff at the finish:

Rob Pogorelz (so fast he's already changed into comfy-ware), Paul Foley, Catherine Shenk, and Vernon Smith - happy despite just enough rain to dirty up the bikes:

Join us next time for more of a sundrenched ride, but no less rewarding!


Monday, May 4, 2009

Quick-Release Mount for Lights

Several riders asked me to post this web site:
They are the source for the quickrelease mount for lights. Be aware that there are two types, one for handlebar mount battery type lights and one for generator style headlamps.

Eric Simmons

Friday, May 1, 2009

4/25 Stove Prairie 200k - More Photos!

A few more vignettes from a ride that tested everyone's mettle ...

John Flanigan brought his bike and usual enthusiasm, but left his helmet at home.

Fortunately Leslie Holton had an extra helmet (which in the end did fit, but did not become less pink.)

Here is Horsetooth's Heartbreak Hill on last spring's Stove Prairie "properly sunny" 200k:

... and here it is this year:

It's amazing how cheerful volunteers like Paul Brown can be, doing what they can for the riders while risking hypothermia.

... and in stark contrast, here are our volunteers' riders Michelle Grainger and Steve LeGoff sampling the snowballs at the Stove Prairie summit mere days before our odyssey.