Wednesday, June 24, 2009

6/20 600k - A Green Greeting to Summer!

A mild morning greeted the 600k contingent - 18 riders, a good turnout!

PBP ancien Dick Wiss (r.) chats with 600k rookie Todd LeBlanc (l.).

Soon it was time for the assembled multitude to be off , with Nate Dick in the lead:

While Saturday started off cloudy and a bit iffy, Sunday turned into a glorious first day of summer ... after a little fog. (Sunday photos courtesy of Michelle Grainger.)

After some burnoff ... ... things really started to perk up! A few puffy clouds hung above the Indian Peaks.
Here is Steve Le Goff patrolling the course. He and Michelle Grainger were riding the Kersey Kick 200k Permanent that day - perfect timing for checking on riders not quite as fresh as they, and lending an encouraging word. They saw almost half the field."Verdant" only began to describe the uncharacteristically rich green of the countryside.And streams and rivers like the South Platte were chock full of spring runoff.

All making for a great finish, as typified by new Super-Randonneur Todd LeBlanc! Congratulations to all the finishers, and especially the first-timers! The 600k is a significant leap. I have updated the Super-Randonneur award list (click Refresh if you don't see 2009 awardees). You still have a local qualifying brevet of each distance left in the season, in case you haven't completed all four. Check out the schedule!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Shenandoah 1200K: Attention climbers: this ride is for you!

(photo by Greg Courtney)

I was the sole RMCC representative on the Shenandoah 1200K. John Lee had given the organizer a heads up that I would be there so I received a warm welcome and answers to all my route questions.

The estimates are still rolling in on the total vertical is for this ride - somewhere between 48,000 and 55,000K. No matter - it was hilly, no doubts about that! Note that I do not consider myself a climber - I consider myself a generalist - someone who is, in general, ok on any terrain.

So, while I was initially terrified by the sheer amount of climbing involved, I was also delighted to discover that the area affords a wonderful location for a beautiful ride - one filled with trees – what a concept! (the antithesis of eastern Colorado). There is even shade to ride in now and then!

The ride starts in Leesburg, VA and heads north to Gettysburg, PA, some 68 miles for the first leg. There was a welcome mist to the heat.

Of course, it was the typical 1200K brevet Cat 1 start with everyone taking off as if it were a race, sprinting around corners right from the get-go - crazy! I managed to hang on.

We all quickly settled down and formed a small pack heading to the first check point.

A ghostly ride through Gettysburg...

(photo by Greg Courtney)

The climbs are steep and therefore the drops are steep. If fact, the drops are over way too soon! Mike Sturgill (of Arizona) and I commiserated that perhaps 80 percent of the time on the ride was spent climbing and 20% descending. Quite possible!

Much of the route is on narrow back roads with pastoral views and few cars.

What's that dark stuff? Whoa! SHADE! I am thinking I like this.

More scenery. The rain is building - again.

(Photo Greg Courtney)

Once we got on the Blue Ridge Parkway we were treated to some very fast riding followed by a very long climb up a grueling hill.

(Photo by Greg Courtney)

The view from the top.

There were some 92 degree moments and there was also rain.

(photo by Greg Courtney)

A low point in the ride was taking 6 hours to pedal a mere 80 miles. We finally pulled into a gas station to repair a suspect
tire and within a minute, it was pouring!

Here Henk Bouhuyzen sits out the rain.

Who are these people anyway?

Behind me is Justin Crawford,
the youngest randonneur on the ride and below is
Juan Salazar.
Both on their first 1200Ks.

Jim Solanick, a veteran of 20 1200Ks. It is true, he just dances up the hills... making it look easy.

Greg Courtney cruises along.

Mmm, maybe I should have done a little more than that one climb to Ward to prepare for this ride? Dang!

I prefer to ride at night when it is cooler and also find that the riding in the morning is beautiful.

Morning arrives.

One of the few markers for the route. (there were 4 total, I believe.) Not quite PBP!

They had the grill going at the Mt. Airy, NC control. All in all excellent support and this way you could eat lots of food while contemplating the steep climb first thing on the return. This did not make for easy digesting!

I did not complain however - these rides are really about the food, right? C'mon, admit it!

Passing ships in the night – Matt Settle, who unfortunately suffered from numerous bike mechanicals and persevered anyway, going the other way.

Jim Solanick, just after the climb from the Mt. Airy control. We saw deer this morning. (We also saw some nasty dogs that day, but I did not get any pictures of them.)

Greg Courtney enjoying the new morning sunshine.

Still, quite roads on the last day (there were a few busy roads too).

Foamhenge – for real.

A popular stop for the casual Randonneur.

(Photo by Juan Salazar)

Here I am on yet another climb - maybe number 1835? I lost count!

(photo by Greg Courtney)

A church near the final control.

I would like to thank Matt Settle and the Randonneurs Of the Mid-Atlantic (ROMA) for organizing the Shenandoah 1200K. Yes a stiff, but great ride! Their time and efforts are appreciated and enjoyed by many, including the happy finishers: Henk Bouhuyzen, Catherine Shenk, and Greg Courtney.

Thanks for reading!
Hope to see you on the road soon

Monday, June 15, 2009

Prepping for the 600k!

These randonneurs have the right idea for pre-600k prep: petting a fluffy dog (Buster) after finishing the Glen Haven Gallivant permanent, which takes in the 600k's big climb to Estes Park. Peter Hoff and Andrea Koenig had a fine ride, missed the rain, and helped pre-visualize the event by stopping for cinnamon rolls at the Glen Haven General Store.
Beth and Brent Myers were on the same wavelength, as they rode the GG the day before (6/13). At this point the forecast looks uncharacteristically sunny so we'll keep our fingers crossed. And keep those cinnamon rolls in mind!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Shenandoah 1200 Starts Today!

The second edition of the Shenandoah 1200 starts today. You can follow rider progress on their website. The route proceeds from Leesburg, VA up to Gettysburg, PA - visiting the Gettysburg Battlefield site - then heading down the scenic Shenandoah Valley. This year's turnaround point is Mt. Airy, NC, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge, famous as Andy Griffith's hometown and model for "Mayberry." Our local entrant:

We wish the riders a fine ride in mild conditions!


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Full Speed Ahead with Seasonal Permanents!

Will deRosset reports that his dirt and winter-road-closure affected permanents are now open for business: "I did get a chance to pre-ride the Manhattan Express course on Sunday. All the gates are open, and the water spigot at the base of Pennock Pass has been turned on. Consequently, both Permanent 200 (Red Dirt Randonnée) and Permanent 465 (Manhattan Express) are open for the season. It is truly wonderful up there this time of year, not too hot, and the routes are far enough west that the heavy afternoon thunderstorms hammering my garden have passed over with a light touch." Contact Will to arrange to ride one of these permanents, as well as advice on the best gearing and tire size. For these and other permanents, including the other season-bound permanent, the Grand Loop Git-Along, consult the Permanents webpage!


Monday, June 8, 2009

6/6 400km Brevet Teaser!

How was last Saturday's Lefthand Canyon 400km brevet? Judge for yourself as Last Chance and PBP veteran Paul Foley descends to Peaceful Valley in view of snowcovered Mt. Toll and the other Indian Peaks:
Underneath that Camelbak, he's sporting a colorful RUSA jersey, by the way. Stay tuned for the full story!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Team Deer With Headlights Taste the Flèche!

"Flèche" means "arrow" in French. Teams of 3-5 bikes converge like arrows on a common destination. They must cover at least 360km (224 miles) and finish 24 hours after they start. Here is Team Deer with Headlights at their sunny start - JLE, Greg Courtney, Catherine Shenk (team captain), Michelle Grainger, and Steve Le Goff:
It's off to a sunny morning of cycling as the Deer head north:
Greg Courtney was our guest from Iowa. Greg had ridden our 400k and the Last Chance 1200k last year, and was coming back for more:
Michelle and Steve celebrate summiting Stove Prairie with a snowball:
Greg climbs Stove Prairie strongly, though he begins to feel the 7,500 ft. elevation towards the top.

After descending Stove Prairie, the Deer sail down scenic Poudre Canyon:

Greg and Steve enjoy a shady break at Vern's in LaPorte.

At the Kersey checkpoint, it was time to don the reflective gear:
And off they go past Platteville, the randonneur vortex:

Sunday morning bode a thoroughly wet and chilly time:
Michelle and Steve head into the blustery rain:
And Catherine bundles up appropriately:
The nautical decor at this Boulder convenience store seemed especially fitting:Despite the weather, the rainjacketed Deer seem happy as clams at the finish:
Traditionally, teams gather for breakfast near their destination. Here Greg and Catherine dig into the après flèche reward of a hearty Italian breakfast at the Blue Parrot in old town Louisville:
Thanks to all the Deer for making this flèche a memorable, smooth, and fun ride! Bon appetit!
You can see more at Greg Courtney's slide show. Sound like fun? Maybe you'd like to form or join a team next year!