Today I was reading through some of my pre-blog randonneuring rides and came upon this story of the Gray Ghost Riders flèche from 2006. It was my second flèche, and one of my favorites.
Given that our club, the D.C. Randonneurs, just ran its 2014 flèche over the weekend, I thought this an ideal time to share the Gray Ghosts story. And by the way, congratulations to all the DCR flèche teams!
Friday evening the team of the Gray Ghost Riders (Steve A., Lynn H., Liz, Matt, Paul D., and me) gathered together at Cullers Lane in the Shenandoah Valley in preparation for the next day’s flèche journey.
So much happens on a group ride like the fleche. Teams cover over 225 miles in an intense 24-hour period. It can be overwhelming in retrospect. For me, it’s often easier to focus on the memories that emerge after the event ends and some time has passed. Recollections of a ride can be so distinct to what you experience during it or even in the immediate aftermath.
Felkerino has a full ride report planned, but in the meantime I wanted to put pen to paper about a bit of my experience.
This week, 13 teams (65 randonneurs) in the D.C. metropolitan area are in the throes of final preparations for the weekend’s flèche.
Felkerino and I are participating as part of Team Definite Maybe, a team of three of our riding buddies and us. In our case, that translates to five people on four bikes.
As many of you know, the flèche is a 24-hour team cycling event where groups consisting of a minimum of three and up to five bikes ride at least 360 kilometers and follow a host of other French rules that ends with the convergence of all teams on a central point.
While some people ride brevets throughout the year, Felkerino and I tend to do most of our of brevets during what we call the “Spring Season,” which basically consists of the four-brevet Super Randonneur series and the Fleche.
One of the big kickoffs to spring is the Fleche, as it is usually one of the first events on the D.C. Randonneurs ride calendar and, compared to brevets, seems slightly lower key.
For those unfamiliar with this strange ride with some historic significance, the Fleche (French for arrow) is a 24-hour team cycling event. Audax Club Parisien started the Fleche in 1947 as an homage to French rider Paul de Vivie, Mr. Velocio himself.