Friday, November 12, 2021

Grand Randonnée Round-Up for 2022!

 It's November, and although the snow is only flying in the mountains so far, it's time to take a look at next year's Grand Randonnées!

A record nine US Grand Randonnées are scheduled for 2022:
* First scheduled in 2020 and then in 2021, but cancelled both times because of COVID.

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Here are some "award motivations" for riding a Grand Randonnée:

Finish two US grand randonnées in the same year.

Finish four different US grand randonnées - over any number of years

Finish a US grand randonnée, a populaire, a team event, 200k, 300k, 400k, 600k, and 1000k, and enough extra to add up to 5000 km in 24 months.

Finish PBP, another grand randonnée, a Super Randonnée 600, two Super-Randonneur series (with 1000k's), a Flèche, and other events within six years.

RM Challenge Lepertel  NEW 
A 1200 km or longer event in each of 4 consecutive calendar years.
Les Randonneurs Mondiaux has relaxed the requirement to complete a grand randonnée in each of four successive years. You can make up the year 2020 and 2021 by riding an extra grand randonnée in a successive year.

And now some details on the US grand randonnées ...

The Treasure Cove 1200 is a new event organized by Northern Virginia Randonneurs, who organized the inaugural Northern Virginia Clover 1200k in 2021. This one claims to have much less climbing, starting out with a visit to the coastal plains are of the Virginia Tidewater, and incursing into North Carolina. Riders will get their share of hills, though in western Virginia and West Virginia. The NVR 1200 was well organized in 2021, and we can only expect the same of this one!


This is the 6th edition of the Gold Rush Randonnée, featuring a beautiful and rugged exploration of Northern California, including the Feather River Canyon. The GRR is the second oldest US Grand Randonnée, dating back to 2001. Davis Bike Club provides excellent and comprehensive support, with plenty of staff and a numerous sleep venues, so you can tailor your own ride, or adapt as you go.


The Mason Dixon 1200k is a new event organized by DC Randonneurs, who organized the successful Blue Ridge to Bay 1200 in 2018. "The route includes the Blue Ridge and South mountains, Shenandoah Valley, the iconic Antietam and Gettysburg battlefields, and Pennsylvania Dutch Country, all in the Mason Dixon region that functionally separated Union and Confederate territories." So, an historic bent to this event, and sounds like similar locales covered to the Shenandoah 1200 of earlier times.


Seattle International Randonneurs is offering a new, and longer route for the Cascade 1400. Preliminary route info suggests a point-to-point route starting on the Olympic Peninsula, crossing to the east side of the Cascades, and returning over the North Cascade Highway to finish north of Seattle. Could be an epic and expansive ride, opening up new territory for this event!


The Lap of the Lake 1200 is a circuit of Lake Ontario. So a portion of the route is in Ontario, Canada. It is based on the Lap of the Lake 1000k, which Pete Dusel has organized for years. "Please make your plans assuming this is a self supported ride."


New York - Montréal - New York is "a long skinny loop, visiting six ranges of the Northeast Appalachians." It starts in the New York City suburbs and turns around near Montréal in Québec.


This is the second edition of the Coulee Challenge, organized by Minnesota Randonneurs. A number of us rode the inaugural event in 2018 and had a great time!  Yes, there are some stiff climbs up the coulees, but plenty of pastoral scenery to calm the experience, and great support.  Plus the chance to sample, compare, and debate about the virtue of Minnesota vs. Wisconsin cheese curds.


This is the 12th edition of the Colorado Last Chance. We may return to our pre-2017 two-state format (east on US-36 until some point in Kansas), but may have some new things in store. This is a good ride to do in a group, because the terrain makes it easy to stay together, and the possible wind makes it inviting to do so.


This is the second edition of Pete Dusel's WNY Waterfalls 1200k. Pete created this event in 2021 to substitute for LOL, since the Canadian border was closed. Riders loved the waterfalls and other nice scenery of Western New York. 

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Foreign Grand Randonnées - Have a look at the Les Randonneurs Mondiaux calendar for 2022 for listings of Grand Randonnées worldwide. Among the 93 events for 2022:
    • 13 in India
    • 11 in Australia
    • 9 in the US (as mentioned above)
    • 1 in Canada
Highlighting a couple of events ...

August 25

This is the fourth edition of the Granite Anvil, organized by our friend Dave Thompson under the rubric of Ontario Randonneurs. The event has been well received, especially the 2nd and 3rd editions. For 2022, instead of one big loop, it will be topologically like this year's High Country: out to a common overnight point, two loops from there, and back. That should make logistics easy for riders and maximize scenic route appeal.


July 3

The third edition of the Ronde Aliénor d'Aquitaine, in southwest France should be a good, scenic event, judging from the positive opinions of friends who've ridden it before. They offer, "the forests and  lakes of the Périgord Vert, the medieval fortified towns, the legendary passes of the Pyrenees (including the Aubisque), the verdant Basque Country, the dramatic Atlantic coast, and finally the prestigious Médoc (Bordeaux ) wine route."

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Choosing and Riding a Grand Randonnée

My traditional advice ...

While all grand randonnées aim to provide you a memorable experience, there are many styles of events, kinds of challenges, services, and what you get for your fee.  So investigate and find which ones suit your personal goals!

Scenic and Challenging or Social ... or Both? - Each of these events is challenging, of course, and any can be social with the right attitude and discipline.  But it can be easier to stick together as a group if the route is more moderated in its climbs, exposure, etc.  Riding with a group may be important to you.  Or you may be longing for that special, bracing experience, and willing to ride stretches alone or with a few friends who've agreed to stick together.

Your Ride Plan? - Some events provide a pretty definitive idea of where you should sleep. Others provide some accommodations at a number of controls. Still others leave you totally to your own devices.

» Stage-Oriented events have suggested riding segments per day, with overnight facilities provided at the ends of those segments. They have become more popular over the years. This scheme promotes rider cohesiveness, and allows riders to regroup on successive morning starts.  They also allow the organizers to concentrate their lodging and food support at fewer points, making for upgraded lodging options and cost savings.

» "Freestyle" events come in variations on two themes: many staffed controls with sleep options (some of which may be limited, but still a place to sleep), such as Paris-Brest-Paris and the Rocky Mountain 1200; or no event-provided lodging, leaving you to research ahead of time, and make your own arrangements based on your ride plan, likely with a more economical entry fee.

It can be satisfying to tune your ride to how things are going, or to your own personal way of riding.  It can also be comforting not to have to think about that, and just ride well-thought-out stages. 

Pre-visualize how you'd ride the event you've chosen or are considering, and how the event structure supports or can accommodate your needs.

Services / Lodging Provided? - Are there regular opportunities to get food (either event-supplied or in stores) and shelter / lodging (either event-supplied or motels en route)?  The Big Wild Ride 1200k in Alaska, for example, advised riders there could be stretches up to 200km where you'd need to be self-contained (except for water).  This requires more planning on your part, but the reward could be a remote, scenic trip hard to match.
Effort and Expense - Finally, while it may not affect which event you choose, research the total cost of riding the event.  The entry fee may a small part, when added to transportation and lodging - and the logistics of getting to/from the start line.  International events clearly can be more trouble and expense, and some US events are easier to get to than others, too.  If it's a trade-off between economizing and the exotic, you may find the new or exotic worth the extra cost and trouble, or not.  It all depends!

- - - 
Plenty to whet your appetite and take you to new places in 2021.  So start imagining, planning, ... and training!


Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Golden Gate Coal Creek Conniption 100k (perm route #4190)

This classic loop - climbing Golden Gate Canyon and descending Coal Creek, or the reverse - is now a 100km RUSA Permanent Populaire, the Golden Gate Coal Creek Conniption 100k.

Both canyon roads have the added bonus that they have climbing in both directions!

A bright start in Arvada ... this is a convenient location to start and also get snacks and beverages before and after the ride.

We are generally familiar with these canyon roads, so I'm not showing many images. These "stairs to nowhere" seemed photoworthy, though.

There are a couple of switchbacks towards the upper end of the canyon road, with good views looking downcanyon.

Possible checkpoint photo for the intersection of the Golden Gate Canyon road with Peak-to-Peak Highway. (Notice Hwy. 46 sign in background.)

Foliage just starting to turn here, at the high point, 9,300 ft. on this mid-September foray.

Sweeping views of the Front Range from this stretch of the Peak-to-Peak Highway!

The establishments at Rollinsville continue to spell jollity and fun.

Good checkpoint photo of junction with Coal Creek Canyon Rd.

As you climb the switchbacks towards Wondervu, very nice vistas!

Post-flood reconstruction has added a "climbing lane" of sorts for bikes for the few miles up to the canyon store. That's a help.

Then past the railroad underpass (a line you cross in Rollinsville, Cliff, exiting the canyon, and then on Hwy. 93) the road broadens out, pointed towards a view of downtown Denver.

A final geological treat is the hogback on Leyden Road as you leave Hwy. 93.

Old 93 used to hug the western flank of this hogback before being rerouted. You can see two previous alignments to the east of the current highway.

And then it's on to a serene finish through shady neighborhoods in Arvada!


Monday, May 10, 2021

Lake Forest Park - Index 200km Permanent

by Pascal Ledru

I spent April working remotely from Seattle. We drove from Colorado to Washington state and I took advantage of having a car to take my bike and bike gear with me. The weather turned out fantastic and I rode several permanents:

  • Lawyers, Guns and Vikings
  • Green Gold and Red
  • U Village-Carnation
  • Lake Forest Park - Index
  • Cable Car

This reminded me how useful the permanent library is. I am not looking to achieve K-Hound status, log more miles than anyone else but riding a route created by a local and knowledgeable cyclist is so valuable. In Seattle, this means exiting the city on a safe route (often riding the Burke-Gilman trail or the ferry!) connecting to roads with low traffic.

The Lake Forest Park - Index 200km starts just North of Seattle on the Burke-Gilman trail. I start from downtown at 5:15 to reach the control start about 40 minutes later. 

After about 20 minutes, the route leaves the trail to go through Bothell, then Woodinville (home of the Chateau St Michelle winery). Quickly the road leaves suburbia and the section from Woodinville to Snohomish goes through farm lands. I take a few pictures in Snohomish which was where the Cascade 1200k ended in 2018. Good memories.


From Snohomish, the route progressively climbs and leaves the farm lands to reach the Cascade. I stop in Sultan for an espresso along the way. One of my favorite things in the Northwest: all the small coffee huts along the way. The section from Gold Bar to Index is on a narrow forest road very scenic; I keep stopping to take pictures. I reach Index: it looks like the typical movie picture: a river running through the forest with the mountain in the background. 

Index General Store

Several artists are painting with their easels directly set up on the road! Control at the small convenience store; the owner is watching a Korean soap opera. I hesitate to show off my 2 words of Korean... but with Covid going on... decide not to try to be funny and exit the store.

From Index, the route goes back to Sultan then turns South to follow the Skykomish river unto the Snoqualmie valley to Carnation (apparently a SIR base). Stop at Sandy's for lunch. 

Sandy's Espresso

From Carnation, the road climbs back through the forest to very suddenly reach suburbia again in Redmond. Then, the ride ends on the bike trail from Redmond to Lake Forest.

Sultan Coffee Hut

The scenery on this ride is fabulous: it follows first the shore of Lake Washington, then goes through some farmland, then forests, then climbs in the mountain to a small village.

Seaplane Base - next to start/finish control

Did I mention too: the weather on this ride was just fantastic! Perhaps, do not trust the people who tell you it always rains in Seattle!

- Pascal

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Sea to Stars 200k - Mike Turek Reports!

 On February 28, Mike Turek rode the Sea to Stars 202 km Permanent on the Big Island of Hawaii. This perm - originally created by RUSA member Scott Taylor - boasts 12,300 ft. of climbing. It starts along the NW coast near sea level, topping out at 3,530 ft. on the beautiful Kohala Mountain Highway, and 9,160 ft. where the pavement ends on the climb up the Mauna Kea volcano.

Here is Mike's story!

- - -

Here is the link to strava results, 12 hrs flat.  Not a perm I’d bet my R12 on!  Lots could go wrong to cost me another 88 minutes...

I’ll update a few things in ridewithgps...but not much...Most important:  With COVID, the only water at rest area on saddle road is handwash water, hard to get a bottle under and it’s a trickle. Army base has a gate...could be used in duress, but recommend stashing at rest area.

Started 5:30, recommend early as possible due to afternoon showers, but minitmart opens at 5a.

Riding in dark from minit mart Kawaihae to Hawi was glorious warmup.  Kohala coffee open when I reached at 6:30a ... but opted for minit mart. Then the fun began.

Fresh legs made the 7% glorious as I inhaled fresh garden flowers ...

Kohala Mtn road is stunning in the morning, green rolling!  Summit was breath taking with views of Mauna Kea...and 40mph gusts!  Wow! 

Descent to Waimea treacherous.  I checked again for saddle road forecast and it still said SE 6-10 ... otherwise I would have bailed.

Fuel up good in Waimea.  If you don’t stash, you need 7 hours of water.  Really ... I used 5 bottles up and back ... and I had favorable wind largely.

Ranch on saddle road: 

Goats on saddle after rest area:

And the rain finally arrives: 

Tailwind to saddle from Waimea, rear quarter saddle to Inouye Hwy, which shifted over summit prior to army base, but didn’t really impact me.  Weather cool, rainy up steeps to visitor center.

Onizuke plaque:

Coming back down, I’d planned for all easy, but the 6 miles from saddle to Waimea was horrific 20 - 30 headwind, actually safer than cross wind ... but sucked my life energy out.  (And I’m the club guy who likes headwinds).

Roller coaster back down saddle: 

No stop in Waimea on return, just wanted to descend.  And what a descent! Wow, all she promised and more!  Just warm, humid air greeting me as I ripped back down to Kawaihae!

Thought of following up with a 100k only, my legs are shot.

- Mike Turek

Monday, January 25, 2021

Colorado Rando Awardees - 2020 Round-Up!

 Here are Colorado randos who've earned RUSA and ACP awards in 2020!

Once again this year, we recognize you, our friends, because you have decided on this or that challenge, and through commitment, persistence, and discomfort, have managed to achieve it!

2020 - A Difficult Year - The awardee lists are pretty short this year, with some awards - e.g., Super Randonneur - having zero recipients. Permanents weren't available until August,. events (brevets, populaires, etc.) were suspended April through August; there were no Team Events (Darts, Flèches) and no RUSA-sanctioned Grand Randonnées (so no ARC or Coast-to-Coast awardees). Those who racked up R-12 or P-12 did so by finishing off series begun in 2019. Still, I'm keeping the full list of awards below, as a reminder of what we may strive for in the new year!

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

Some are challenges within the current year or a twelve-month period. Others recognize achievement over a number of years.

We congratulate our 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
ACP Randonneur 5000
Ultra Randonneur
Ultra R-12
American Explorer
— other awards not covered here 
RUSA Distance Awards
Ultra K-Hound
Ultra P-12

Super Randonneur
Complete brevets of 200km, 300km, 400km and 600km in one year.

No awardees in 2020,
down from 20 in 2019.

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

Catherine Shenk [12]
John Lee Ellis [14]
Dustin Harding [2]
Bennett Sigmond [3]

Ultra R-12
Complete ten R-12's (need not be contiguous).

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

John Lee Ellis [8]

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.)

Paul Foley [3]

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.
New to the American Explorer award, 
or added states in 2020

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

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

Paul Foley [2]

Coast to Coast
Complete four different RUSA 1200km or longer events over any number of years.

Complete 40,000km in RUSA rides - was a lifetime achievement award,
but can now be earned multiple times.

Paul Foley [2]

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

Courtesy Randonneurs USA

Complete 10,000 km or more in RUSA events in one calendar year. You can also count foreign Grand Randonnées if needed. 

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!