Category Archives: Brevets

Devil’s Daughter 210K Permanent

Devil's Daughter 210K Permanent. Jerry and Andrea

The emerging warmth and green of spring days tempt us. Long days at the office interrupted by relatively brief spates of outdoor time urge us to spend weekends actively exploring.

This weekend Felkerino and I joined bicycling friends Andrea and Jerry to revisit the Devil’s Daughter 210K permanent, a ride carefully crafted by RUSA permanista Crista Borras.

Jerry on CR-12

Crista describes the Devil’s Daughter 210K as an “extremely scenic ride with five major climbs, including one ‘gut buster.’” Those familiar with Crista’s rides know that if she says scenic, she means it. Sure enough, our route offered plenty of vistas and almost 11,500 feet of climb over the full 131 miles. (See the Ride With GPS here.)

I don’t know that I would want to attempt a course akin to the Devil’s Daughter every weekend, but it suited my mood and ambitions Saturday. Cruising sections constituted about 40 miles, with the remainder of the ride rife with intense climbs, some longer than others, and lots of chop.

Forsythia and redbud. Devil's Daughter

While the ride starts and ends in Middletown, Virginia, the bulk of the course covers territory in West Virginia.

West Virginia is a spectacular place to spend the day, especially when weather is good and the forsythia and redbud are peeping out. It’s also a place where the road can be rather merciless.

You wonder how the road you traverse is even paved. You wonder when it will let up. It doesn’t let up. You wonder how that’s possible. Despite the unrelenting up, you still want to take a picture to try and remember it all.

Jerry and Felkerino on South Branch Mountain. Devil's Daughter

Felkerino and I spent the day in excellent company. Jerry and Andrea are such experienced and confident riders that they rode their own ride even as we all stayed within eyesight of each other throughout the day.

Andrea pedaled confidently away on the uphills while Jerry often would swoop by us on switchback descents. How are they doing that?

Felkerino and I smoothly managed every grade that took us up higher and higher and never relented on the pedals. I was so proud of us and our “Big Cat” tandem, which is really proving itself to be an excellent climber.


Perhaps another reason I enjoyed Saturday’s ride so much is because a ride with that kind of climbing obliges you to completely immerse yourself into it. Every up and down it throws at you requires focus. Distractions and worries of the day-to-day have no place.

Sometimes it’s good to go on a ride and mull life over. Other days, it’s an excellent reprieve to focus on nothing other than what’s coming your way.

Jerry's Independent

A delightful day in the mountains. Thank you, West Virginia. See you soon.

More photos where those came from. My full set here, and Andrea’s photos here.

Pure Bliss: D.C. Randonneurs 300K

Carol and D. Warrenton 300K Brevet 2014

The ride begins with warmth in the air. After a couple hours of darkness, the sun rises and bounces down the road with us. It must sense that we’re in for a 190-mile day of play.

The sun and I get along so well. The temperatures rise, but there are no uncomfortable flare-ups.

Carol, Bill. Warrenton 300K Brevet

I’m not sure how it happens, but Felkerino and I coalesce with other riders, forming a group that rides together through the first century.

We flow up and down the day’s rises. Everyone holds their space well and conversation is relaxed. We take photos. Of course.

Bill. 2014 Warrenton 300K Brevet

As energy levels change, the group disburses. Felkerino and I ride alone, basking in the glorious day. I almost wish we were riding a 400K so we could make the ride last longer. Almost.

Matt. Warrenton 300K brevet

My legs show up and urge us on throughout. Pedal pedal pedal. Let’s go! Felkerino and I are completely in tune with each other, both present in each pedal stroke and aware of the other.

At some points my feet say, “Hold on, legs, I need a break,” so we stop under the sunny skies and I sit in stocking feet while the breeze attends to my toes. Ahhh, so nice.

300K Brevet. Shoes and Camelbak

After miles of riding solo, we come upon another group of rando-buddies. We ride peacefully to the next control. Company makes the miles pass quickly.

Randonneur lifestyle. 2014 Warrenton 300K brevet

The cue sheet says 60 miles remain, and I have a moment of “Will we ever get to the end?” A helpful wind pushes us forward and says gently, “Of course you will.”

In the final miles, we reunite with Bill, who I was sure had already finished. We’ve spent many a good brevet mile with Bill over the years.  We ride in as a group while the late afternoon sun continues to keep us company.

Finished. Warrenton 300K Brevet 2014

To bookend this blissful day, I make sure to take one last photo. What a day.

More photos where those came from. Full set here.


Old Rag 200K Permanent: Hills, Vistas, and Math Word Problems

This weekend Felkerino and I hightailed it out of the city to escape the crowds that have descended on Washington, D.C., and arranged to do the lovely Old Rag 200K out of Warrenton, Virginia, with bicycling buddies Andrea and Mike.


The D.C. Randonneurs site describes the Old Rag 200K as follows:

From Warrenton we head generally southwest passing through rolling horse farm country with the Blue Ridge Mountains as our backdrop. We parallel the Blue Ridge as far south as Madison where we begin our return to Warrenton after a stop at the friendly, well-stocked Yoder’s Country Market.

The route is fairly gentle as we wind our way to Syria in the shadow of Grave’s Mountain. A moderate climb followed by a 3-mile descent puts us up and over the Old Rag Grinder.

A series of steep and unrelenting rollers–lovingly known as The Three Kings and The Meanies–will consume us for the next hour or so prompting many to re-fuel at the Laurel Mills store with the sweet, spring water that flows nearby.

Country roads bordered by stone fences carry us through Ben Venue and into Flint Hill and the final control at the reopened Orlean Store. A final climb over Piney Mountain brings us back to Warrenton.

Estimated total elevation gain : 8,000 feet.

This course is an old friend to Felkerino and me. It was the first 200K brevet course he ever rode (in 1996), and my second (in 2005). Saturday’s temperatures were good for riding, the wind swirled around in its springtime way, and the sun shone. Felkerino and I had great company.

Andrea and Mike, and a dog we surprised as it was out for a stroll

Andrea and Mike, and a dog we surprised as it was out for a stroll

I was glad for the urban reprieve, but unprepared for how mentally challenging this ride would prove for me. I have not been logging the bike miles like I hoped this year (although my running miles are up, woo!). Dispirited by the colder weather, getting sick on a couple of weekends I hoped to spend on the bike, blah blah blah. I’m full of good excuses, but the bottom line is that my confidence going into this ride was not where I wanted it.

My mind also kept wandering back to personal concerns. I forget how the things going on in our lives can affect our energy levels and focus. Usually, I can shake stuff, but it wasn’t happening on Saturday. I’d chew on things for a while and then refocus on the ride for a bit, only to be distracted again by all the thoughts banging around in my brain.

Heading toward Etlan Road

Heading toward Etlan Road

My usual mental approach to a 200K is fairly simple.

  1. Divide the ride into two main parts, the first 60+ miles and the last 60+.
  2. Knock off the first 25 miles and get the ride down to a conceptually manageable century distance (easy peasy!).
  3. Pedal steadily with minimal breaks until the halfway point, eating out of the back-pocket cafe as needed.
  4. Eat something more substantial at the halfway mark, like a sandwich.
  5. Ride steadily from lunch and stop once more for a little snack at around mile 100 or so. Only 25 miles left (Surely you’ve ridden 25 miles before?).
  6. The end!

This ride required the use of these ride management strategies and more to push through. I rode the first half or so according to plan, but struggled mightily after the first 60 miles. It was strange because my body felt fine, but my brain wanted to be back in bed, resting on my pillow.

The delicious Etlan Road is just past this red barn, and so is a steep climb.

The delicious Etlan Road is just past this red barn, and so is a steep climb.

After much scrutiny of the cue sheet, I ended up breaking the ride down into 10-15 mile segments. I spent a lot of time challenging myself to basic math word problems, and compared the distances we covered to the everyday riding I do.

Three rides to Whole Foods and back until we reach the next control. Two trips to work until we are at X miles. Two trips to the doctor, taking the long way. This made the distances easier to conceptualize, while also taking my mind off other things.

Ride management strategy: time for math.

Ride management strategy: time for math.

I also rewarded myself at mile 94 with homemade monster cookies I purchased earlier in the day. I try to avoid rewarding myself with food, especially during rides. Not this ride. This ride needed a dose of monster cookies!

Strangely, my legs felt decent throughout the day. At some points they fatigued (particularly during parts of what we call the three kings), but overall my physical output felt solid.

It was my head that was out of sorts. I struggled to be present in the ride. I don’t know if this is worse to experience on a tandem or a single bike. On one hand, you can start to think about how you are dragging the other person down, how much faster they could go if you were not there. On the other hand, your teamwork can be a source of encouragement. Fortunately for me, Felkerino was a good tandem partner on this ride.

Laurel Mills Store, where I rewarded myself by devouring monster cookies.

Laurel Mills Store, where I rewarded myself by devouring monster cookies.

Despite my difficulties focusing, I’m still glad we got out. I had to get away from the District. It felt good to meet up with others and pedal our way over the choppy and scenic Virginia countryside, with all of its trees poised to blossom.

One day after the ride, my legs are tired, but I am far from wiped out. This ride built my confidence that we can handle hills and go further than 200K if/when we need to do so.

My head was not in the space I wanted it during the ride, but I feel much better about life today. Nothing like a 200K in the spring sunshine and lots of made-up math story problems to clear the head.

Thanks to Mike and Andrea for riding with us. And Felkerino, you’re the best.

D.C. Randonneurs Wilderness Campaign 200K Brevet

A summary by the miles of the D.C. Randonneurs Wilderness Campaign ACP 200K Brevet.

You, too, can lead the glamorous life of a randonneur.

You, too, can lead the glamorous life of a randonneur.

Miles 1-40

Morning miles. Cold and sunny

Morning miles. Cold and sunny

Hand-throbs from the sub-freezing start.
I must take photos of the group in this beautiful morning light as soon as the hand-throbs fade!
I am riding a brevet.
I feel like an athlete!

Early miles outside Bristow

Early miles outside Bristow

Miles 40-70

Get it right, Felkerino!

Felkerino, doing his paperwork.

Did I say I was an athlete?
Totally not true!
I’m just on a morning ride to dine with my husband.
Yes, we take the scenic route and it requires a little paperwork, but really, just a ride to breakfast.
I love a bike ride to breakfast, and I love grits bathed in butter.

Randonneur meetup at the info control

Randonneur meetup at the info control

Miles 70-108

K/Curt and Matt

Kurt and Matt

We ride a few miles with Matt and Kurt, who have driven up from Harrisonburg, Virginia, for the ride.
Matt made his bike, and Kurt wears an Earth, Wind, and Rider jersey with a color combination I can’t stop admiring.
The day has warmed to sixty (sixty!) and the sun shines.
Who wants to hurry on a day like this?
We reach the info control at mile 78, and our friend Eric is there.
Matt and Kurt glide away from us, and Eric, Felkerino, and I settle into riding together.
It’s a fun day ride with bicycling buddies.

Another info control.. and Eric!

Another info control.. and Eric!

Miles 108-129

Eric in the last miles

Eric in the last miles

When did this ride start to feel like trudging?
I am trudging.
When will this ride end?
What happened to my fun day ride?
I have get-there-itis.
Yes, it is still warm.
Yes, the sun still shines.
Yes, Eric is excellent riding company.
Alright, it’s not so bad.
Even so, I still want to get there.

The Finish

We ride for pizza

We ride for pizza

We’re back.
We FINALLY made it.
Okay, it didn’t really take as long as I thought.
Felkerino and I chat with other riders outside the Caribou Coffee.
It’s so much fun to talk about events gone by and adventures yet to come.
We all swap stories and discuss big plans as the sun sets and riders come and go.

Thanks for the ride, D.C. Randonneurs. More photos here, and see Felkerino’s here.

Harvest Time and 200K Brevets

Ye Olde Barn Shot

Growing up in rural Iowa, the harvest was always an intense and busy time. Tractors constantly moved through the fields, and it was not unusual to catch sight of the lights of a tractor shining over the dirt clouds raised up by someone working into darkness. Kids missed school to help their families. Crops had to come out before the cold winter days arrived.

Hard at work on a Saturday

Living in D.C. now, I’m pretty removed from that life. Instead of cornfields in the backyard, someone else’s backyard is my backyard and I have to ride about 40 miles in any given direction for a glimpse of the country.

Gavin and Bill in the early miles

Gavin and Bill in the early miles

This weekend, the beauty and busyness of the harvest came back to me during Felkerino’s and my ride with the Pennsylvania Randonneurs on the Silver Spring 200K. This brevet spends many miles in Lancaster County, the heart of Amish country.

Tobacco drying in the barn on the PA 200K

Amish country is an amazing place to ride. People use a horse and buggy for transportation. Kids ride kickbikes to get places. Lawns are cut with a manual push mower. Horses are instrumental in working the farm.

Riding by the tall corn

The corn has grown tall in Lancaster County and people work vigorously to prepare for colder months. There are the normal weekend chores of mowing and feeding livestock, but the crops grown over the past three months are primed to come out. Tobacco is being harvested and dried.

Tobacco drying in the barn on the PA 200K

I had never seen tobacco harvested before. I confess it is a beautiful sight to see all those leaves lined up and hung from barn ceilings as the symmetrical wood slats flare out to help the drying process. And the subtly sweet smell wafting from the leaves signals that fall is arriving soon.

I longed to get off the bike and linger in various spots along the way, soaking in the earthy odor and the season, but I knew we would never finish our ride if I started doing that.

CJ and Clair ride by the tall corn

CJ and Clair ride by the tall corn

Felkerino wrote a summary of our day including a link to our route. As you will see from his story, we enjoyed an ideal day in the companionship of our fellow riders, and traversed a spectacular route.

Lancaster County on the PA 200K

Thanks to the Pennsylvania Randonneurs Silver Spring 200K, I had a front seat to the harvest for a few glorious hours this past Saturday. I savored every moment.

Trail Ridge Road on Tandem

There’s nothing that kicks off a bike tour better than riding the highest continuous paved road in the United States.


Felkerino and I spent yesterday riding our Co-Motion Java tandem on the Trail Ridge 200K, a 134-mile RUSA permanent that starts in Louisville, Colorado, and takes the rider to Estes Park, up Trail Ridge Road, down the mountain, to Grand Lake, Granby, Hot Sulphur Springs, through a canyon that has a name I don’t recall Byers Canyon, and over to Kremmling.

We had a good ride, the highlight (and lowlight) for me being Trail Ridge Road which ascends to a height of 12,200 feet.


The road was beautiful, winding us up and up and up, and eventually giving us incredible views to look back at what we had climbed.

However, the intense climbing amid fairly constant car traffic on a road with a tiny shoulder overlooking what seemed like a long long long way down if we fell freaked me out in places. I would call it vertigo, and at times I found myself flung over to the left side of the stoker bars like a cat stuck in a tree clinging to a tree branch while it awaits rescue. So dignified.

We breathlessly made our way to what seemed like an interminable summit and stopped to warm up and drink a pop. While there we received many kind comments from visitors who had seen us on the climb and I can’t tell you how much that meant and helped me feel better about my low moments on this preposterously high road.


Felkerino and I rolled our way down the mountain and glided our bike over gentle rollers to Kremmling in perfect late afternoon long shadow sun, with stories of Trail Ridge Road pouring out. I have never ridden anything like it. Unforgettable, daunting, vertigo-inducing, exhilarating, inspiring. We did it. I can’t believe we did it.

The D.C. Randonneurs 400K Brevet: A Long Ride to a Pizza Party

Riders at the 400K Brevet Start (Photo by Felkerino)

Riders at the 400K Brevet Start (Photo by Felkerino)

This past weekend Felkerino and I organized the D.C. Randonneurs 400K brevet. Of all the spring brevets the 400K is the one that, as a rider, I find most daunting. It starts at 4 a.m., and is the first of the brevets that requires hours of night riding. Riders roll out in the dark, and arrive in darkness, too.

I overhead the staff at the hotel where we staged our ride called our 400K a pizza party. That made me laugh. If the 400K could be considered a pizza party,  it’s likely the most hard-earned pizza you’ll ever eat.

This brevet was particularly challenging due to the dreary weather. Riders set off under dry skies, but that ended about an hour into the event and the remainder of the time was spent riding in rain, drizzle, a stint of no rain, more rain, and more drizzle. During the later evening hours, the rain let up and mist filled the sky, fogging up people’s glasses and making nighttime visibility more difficult.

The up-side of the day was that it was not terribly cold, although the temperatures did not allow riders to stop for long without getting chilled. Winds were also light for most of the route.

Happy finishers on the 400K

Happy finishers on the 400K

This course, called the “Firefly 400K,” was originally run in 2011. It is a loop that starts in Warrenton, Virginia, meanders down to Charlottesville, and back. Overall, the terrain is rolling with no major mountain climbs. That’s not to say that it is an easy course, only that there are no real mountains on it.

Twenty-six people came out for the event, and all but four riders finished within the time limit. Those who abandoned or did not officially finish all made it back to the hotel under their own steam.

Felkerino and I organized the club’s 400K last year as well, which ran out of Frederick, Maryland. While I preferred the Frederick course, we encountered logistical issues with start and finish locations, and moved the ride to Warrenton this year.

George Moore and Nick Bull pre-rode the course last weekend for us, and helped us in preparing the ride materials. Thanks to both of them for checking out the ride and being there for early morning bike inspection. It felt strange for Felkerino and I to not pre-ride the course ourselves, but we are taking a break from the “big rides” this year. More on that some other time.

Everyone who attempted the ride on Saturday has my admiration. The weather made an already challenging 252-mile ride that much more difficult. I know there are those few people who like to exclaim their love for riding in the rain, but I am not among them. I’ll take a sunny day over a rainy one almost any day.

I’ve been riding regularly with the D.C. Randonneurs since 2005, and it’s been educational to see what organizing a ride entails. Until organizing, I took a lot of the behind-the-scenes work for granted.

400K Registration and Check-in

400K Registration and Check-in

I’ve gained a real appreciation for all the brevet details that must be managed. Control cards and cue sheets need to be made. A pre-ride of the course should be done. Volunteers need to be in place to register riders and inspect bikes for appropriate lighting and reflectives.

Food and supplies need to be purchased and set out. Most importantly, you need the pizza place on speed dial so that you can offer riders food at the end of that long effort.

Over a 400K distance, the field becomes quite spread out. Riders have 27 hours to complete the course.  This year, people finished in small groups of ones and twos between 9:30 p.m. until just before 6 a.m. The 400K is an all-night pizza party, you see, not a slumber party.

Organizing a ride is work, but it’s fun, too. It’s interesting to see all the riders in their various stages of lucidity before the ride start. Everybody has their own way of approaching these early mornings.

Some are outwardly excited and chat animatedly. Others are solemn and mostly silent. I see some riders who focus intently on their stuff, packing and repacking to make sure they have everything they need for the long day ahead.

After hours of waiting in between the roll-out and the final miles, the last control is also an exciting place to be. It’s a thrill to see riders successfully finish such a long ride. People are in various physical and mental states after riding that far.

400K Finishers

Between Saturday night until Sunday morning I saw riders who just wanted to finish and immediately head off for a shower and sleep, and I also hung out with those who wanted to catch up from the last time we saw each other and relive some of the day’s experience.

A friend of ours once described volunteering at a brevet finish like being at a party where everyone is tipsy except for you. I see what he’s saying. The 400K is a big accomplishment, and there is something indescribable that’s released during the finish.

Take a combination of endorphins, relief from being done, the physical exertion from riding from 4 a.m. until dark and then some, and add a little sleep deprivation and you’ve got one goofy 400K pizza party.

400K Brevet Pizza Party

400K Brevet Pizza Party

(The finish is also a time where organizers get feedback about the course. We have some lessons learned about this course which the club will keep in mind for next year.)

Going from rider to organizer you  interact with riders that you might not otherwise, due to your differences in pacing and style. For Felkerino and me, that meant we got to share a little bit in everyone’s ride.

Several riders completed their first 400K this past weekend. Of those, I want to give a special shout-out to our rando-buddy Mike Binnix of Severna Park. Mike attempted a 400K last year, but was unable to go the full distance.

This year, I knew Mike was going to make it. He had unfinished business with the 400K and I could hear in his voice when we talked at registration that he was all in on this ride, determined to finish. Twenty-six hours and 252 miles after departing Warrenton, Mike finished his first 400K. Well done, Mike. I’m really happy for you!

Mike B. finishes the 400K

Mike B. finishes the 400K

Congratulations to everybody who rode this weekend and to all the finishers. Thanks for letting us be part of your adventure. We had a great time hosting the 400K brevet and pizza party.

Second Chances: The D.C. Randonneurs 300K Brevet

D.C. Randonneurs 300K, Photo by Bill Beck

D.C. Randonneurs 300K, Photo by Bill Beck

This past Saturday, the D.C. Randonneurs ran their 300K brevet out of Warrenton, Virginia. It was my third time on this particular 300K route (although I did ride it one additional time as a no-credit “fun ride”), and I was determined to make this year a different experience than 2012.

Last year I experienced a new and awful feeling while riding– the urge to stop and go home. Upon reflection, I think a number of things contributed to this, some of which I postulated in last year’s ride report: fatigue; a rainy forecast; and an unexpected been-there-done-that sentiment toward brevets.

Regardless of the cause, though, the result was I was not mentally prepared to pedal 188 miles and it took a lot of effort to get myself back into the flow of the ride.

Memories of the negative thoughts that arose during last year’s 300K were strong in my mind as I began to ready myself for Saturday’s ride. I spent several days mentally prepping, largely by frequently telling myself that Felkerino and I were going to have a good ride. I believe there is truth in the power of positive thinking.

Applying the power of positive thinking at the last control. Photo by Bill Beck

Applying the power of positive thinking at the last control. Photo by Bill Beck

I also ate well, and tried to get decent sleep the week leading up to the event. I moderated my workouts in order to have fresh legs on Saturday. I meticulously packed for the ride two days before, giving myself plenty of time to remember something I might potentially overlook and to avoid throwing things wildly into bags at the last minute.

Felkerino said that he wanted to ride steadily and minimize time off the bike. Done! I packed sandwiches for myself (one almond butter and strawberry preserves, and two hummus sandwiches) as well as a couple of Clif bars. That freed me from having to rely completely on the stores along the route.

Saturday arrived and I was ready and focused. My legs felt good (although I do still have a lingering pain in my left knee).

It was a perfect day to be a bike rider on the 300K. The day was clear with winds out of the west. As the route generally goes north to south, we avoided direct headwinds for much of the course. Humidity was low. Early morning temperatures hovered in the mid-40s and rose to the low-sixties by afternoon.


To add to the blissful conditions, the countryside was in full bloom. Apple trees had started to flower. Puffy pink cherry trees and white and pink dogwood brightened the landscape. Redbud (my favorite) contrasted beautifully with the lush green around us. Meadows of bright yellow interspersed our route.

300K Meadow

The vividly painted surroundings almost made me feel like our colder-than-normal spring had been worth it. I appreciated the mild temperatures and spring warmth that much more, and the later blooming season perfectly coincided with our brevet.

Matt, Bill, Felkerino, and Andrea on the 300K

Matt, Bill, Felkerino, and Andrea on the 300K

Oh, and babies! I almost forgot the babies. We passed a mother horse with her newborn foal, saw many baby calves on our ride, and even encountered two baby goats– one of whom appeared to be escaping from its fenced-in home.

Photo by Felkerino

Photo by Felkerino

Early in the ride, Felkerino and I grouped up with Matt, a randonneur from Pennsylvania, and Andrea, of D.C. We also leap-frogged throughout the day with Bill, who took some beautiful photos of the course. That ended up being our little brevet posse, and we had good time chatting and riding the day away.

300K Matt and Andrea

Our group rode at a comfortable pace throughout, but tried to be judicious with time off the bike. Felkerino and I generally plan to spend one hour off the bike per each century ridden when we’re doing brevets. On Saturday, we rode 188 miles and spent 90 minutes total off the bike. For Felkerino and me, that is a disciplined bike ride.

Thirteen hours and 13 minutes after rolling out of the parking lot, we returned to make our final control. Ninety minutes faster than last year’s time. Pretty good.

Redbud on the 300K Brevet

George Moore, who organized the brevet and had spent much of his time out along the course taking photos of riders, was there to greet us, sign our cards, and provide us pizza, cookies, and pop. Thank you, George!

As you read this report, you might think it seems boring. Maybe in some ways it is. Felkerino and I planned our ride and packed our stuff. We woke up early. We rode our bike 188 miles. The bike rode great. The course was pretty. The ride was well-organized. We took some photos. We rode with nice people.

Made it! Photo by George M.

Made it! Photo by George M.

For me, though, it was not boring. Saturday’s ride was a second chance. It was a way for me to recreate my ride experience and remind myself of the reasons why I love doing brevets. 

I paid special attention to those things on Saturday: the beauty of spring rides; the solid organizing and well-thought-out routes of the D.C. Randonneurs; the fellowship of others; the joy of spending an entire day out in the country with my husband on a beautiful tandem; and the sense of accomplishment that comes from riding long.

D.C. Randonneurs Flatbread 200K Brevet Roundup

This past weekend, Felkerino and I broke the tandem in two and took off for the Eastern Shore to ride the D.C. Randonneurs 200K Flatbread brevet. While I’ve ridden this brevet once or twice before, this time was unique because instead of the usual tandem routine, I rode it on my Rivendell Romulus.


Riding the Rivendell Romulus on the D.C. Randonneurs Flatbread 200K

Felkerino and I made the decision to ride singles after riding last weekend’s dirt road ride on our “back-up” Cannondale tandem. (Our regular tandem, a beautiful Co-Motion Speedster, has gone to tandem heaven, or wherever it is that tandems that are no longer rideable go.) While a fine bike that performs well on dirt roads, the Cannondale is NOT comfortable for me when riding distances of over 100 miles because the handlebar reach is too short.

The Flatbread 200K was the first time I’ve ridden my single bike on a brevet since 2008. Seriously! Even though I ride my trusty Surly LHT every day to commute, and do several weekend nondonneuring rides throughout the year on my single, I felt nervous about attempting the brevet on a single.

I was not confident about how I would do riding on my own. What if I went too slow? What if I missed a cue and got lost? How does this steering thing work again?

On the other hand, I was excited about getting out on my Rivendell. The bike fits me well, it’s fun to be the sole entity propelling the bike along, and it was a nice change to get to see my bike’s front wheel on a brevet.

Basically, I over-thought the whole thing. While my pace was slightly slower than Felkerino’s and my tandem pace, the conditions were perfect for cycling (sun and low winds). I rode well within  the required time limits and, with the exception of a couple of bar end air shifts (my Romulus has Ergo shifters), I rode rather smoothly. The terrain of the Flatbread is (guess?) flat, which also helps the miles go by.

Obligatory ocean shot at Slaughter Beach. Photo by Steve

The combination of a mellow route and traditionally big turnout makes for a social ride. Felkerino and I had a great time riding together throughout out the warm and mostly-sunny day, taking pictures, and criss-crossing with various other randonneurs.

A few randonneurs, including Felkerino, put together ride summaries that do an excellent job of capturing the day so I won’t include a full writeup. Rather, I’m providing links to their posts and I’ll conclude by saying that I loved changing it up with a long flat ride on my single bike, especially after last weekend’s hillacious adventure. I got to stand whenever I wanted, stop when I felt like it, coast without consequence, and enjoy complete control over the bike.

  • Daily Randonneur penned a few notes and posted a GPS track and photos (including links to our photo sets) about our single bike experience.
  • Rambling Rider rode the Flatbread with our friend Mike. This was her first tandem ride. What a way to start!
  • Iron Rider came down from Pennsylvania and was one of a few people who rode the brevet on a fixed gear.
  • Crystal, of the Aesthetics of Everywhere, completed her longest ride to-date and first brevet this weekend. Well done!

Randonneuring: When it’s Worth the Effort

Morning riding on the DC Randonneurs 600K

This past weekend Felkerino I rode the D.C. Randonneurs 600K. Instead of a full ride report, I wrote up a short reflection about 2012 randonneuring and the Super Randonneur series. It’s on that other blog I know, The Daily Randonneur. Click here for the post.

By the way, thanks to everybody who has sent words of encouragement Felkerino’s and my way this year and followed our blogs. Knowing that people are following the rides, reading our stories, and wishing us well keeps us moving forward. ♥