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!

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


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