Got the travel bug this randonneuring season? We've got the cure. Several RBAs gave us a preview of their 2006 season. Some used a format supplied by American Randonneur. Others opted for a more a narrative style. The bottom line: Whether you're California dreaming or in a New York state of mind, RUSA has a ride for you. The schedule of all 2006 events appears on pages 18-19.
Santa Cruz, Calif. BrevetsSubmitted By: Bill Bryant
2006 Events: Events on your schedule for 2006? The Santa Cruz Randonneurs are running their first complete brevet series after two seasons of running a lot of 200 and 300k events. We're also hosting the Fleches-USA event for California at Easter. The destination will be in Davis.
# of Riders: Number of riders typically on the shortest event? The longest event? We usually have between 12 and 30 riders at our events, but with the demise of the Davis and San Luis Obispo series, I suspect we'll pick up more in 2006.
In-State/Out-of-State: How many out-of-state or out-of-region riders? So far, all our riders have come from California, but ours is a big state. So when folks drive 400 miles or more from the Los Angeles region to Santa Cruz, I think that is similar to "traveling from out of state" in other areas.
Terrain: Typical terrain of your routes — hilly, mountainous, flat, coastal, desert, mixed, etc. We have it all here—but our 200k is the hilliest ride in our 2006 series. Our longer events tend to have moderate terrain, but strong afternoon winds in Monterey Bay and Salinas Valley regions can make the difficult climbs of the shorter brevets rather attractive! We also use lonely Highway 25 to go south from the Monterey Bay and one will experience some lovely solitude out there. Overall, most of our routes are quite scenic and on low-traffic roads once we get away from Santa Cruz proper. We visit some of the best spots in California's central coast region.
Roads: Types of roads — mostly rural; one-third urban; secondary, chip- seal; rural-urban mix, etc. Our brevets use rural roads that are sometimes smooth, but more often, they are only fair to poor. California doesn't spend a lot of tax dollars on road upkeep and potholes are not at all uncommon, alas. One will find a fair bit of chip-seal too. Many of our riders use 700c x 23mm tires for rolling efficiency, but 700c x 25-28mm tires might be a better choice—and 20mm width tires would definitely be a poor choice for anyone. Good lights are needed at night to spot the irregularities too.
Weather: Typical weather conditions (sunny, rainy, windy, hot, cold, etc.) In March one should expect anything in terms of weather. California's rainy season usually ends in March, but strong showers in April are not uncommon and some of our brevets in the past have been rather wet. By May, and our 400k and 600k events, skies will likely be dry—but one never knows. Smart randonneurs will watch the regional weather forecasts leading up to each event.
Difficulty: Your most challenging route? Why? Well, our 200k and 300k events have a fair bit of climbing that will test most randonneurs' legs, but to me, riding north in the gently undulating Salinas Valley against a strong headwind is probably worse. This will happen during our 400k and 600k brevets. For one, there is no downhill to rest on after climbing, and the constant wind noise tends to spoil the cycling experience. Riders will have a sublime experience going south for the first 200k from Santa Cruz to San Ardo, but then they will turn around and face a long trudge northward to the ocean. When the sun goes down the wind typically dies down too(but don't count on it! -webmaster) riders will make the turn in mid-afternoon and then face several hours of arduous pedaling against a strong wind. Now, if the wind is light that day, the ride will be fine. But it is a very rare day in the Salinas Valley that this happens. Overall, I don't think anyone will achieve a Personal Best on our 400k and 600k events, even though the total elevation gain is on the low side. Some folks ask why we do these routes, but availability of mini- marts for controls forces the route designs. Other roads might be more interesting, or less prone to headwinds, but they lack the services we need during the long hours of a brevet.
Route changes: Any route changes for this year? In the past we've run about 7-8 events per season, mostly 200k brevets that explored the Santa Cruz mountains and the northern Salinas Valley. We also had an all-night 230k RUSA brevet that was a lot of fun. But we found the spring events got noticeably better attendance than the summer and fall brevets, and with Davis and San Luis Obispo no longer in the picture, we wanted to change our focus and offer the traditional Super Randonneur series in spring. We'll probably offer an autumn 200k in future years, but since we're hosting the California Flèche in 2006, we're using our organizational energy for that next year.
Another change for our series, but not exactly related to routes, is that we will offer roving sag support on all our brevets next year. Heretofore, we had very few DNFs since one needed to get themselves back to Santa Cruz if they quit. But we think this limited participation since new riders tended to stay away for fear of "what if I fail". Brevets go better for everyone if they have other randonneurs to ride with, so Lois and I will do a workers' ride the weekend before each event so that we can drive sag support during the brevets. Hopefully new riders will give our events a try. We've also got some volunteers lined up to help us—but we can always use more if anyone out there is interested in staffing a control or the finish line.
Attractions: Any interesting attractions along the way? The main attraction of our brevets, besides the sporting accomplishment of finishing such a long ride, is the great California scenery. Whether it be inland in valleys or mountains, or along the coastline, riders will enjoy fine sights on all our routes.
Food/lodging. Typical restaurant or food options? Hotels when needed? As always, our events use stores, cafes, and mini-marts along the route for controls since we do not have the manpower to staff checkpoints. For the 200k and 300k brevets, there are businesses at useful intervals throughout the ride. During the 400k and 600k events, there will be some long stretches at night with few services, but if someone needed to stop for sleep there are some little towns with motels along the way at strategic locations that should be helpful. Since our 600k uses the 400k route for the first two-thirds of its distance, one will reach Santa Cruz for a useful stop at the 400-kilometer point. One can leave fresh clothes and other supplies in their car, or leave a drop bag at SCR HQ, which will be the 400k control point. There are also motels near the checkpoint if they want to sleep or shower before setting out on the last 200 kilometers.
Colorado BrevetsSubmitted By: John Lee Ellis
2006 Events: When are events on your schedule for 2006? — Our 23 events run from April into October; the main SR series is May-June.
# of Riders: Number of riders typically on the shortest event? The longest event? — Shortest event (not the most riders!): The spring populaires draw one to two dozen. Longest: the Last Chance 1200k had over 30 riders last year. Most riders: the spring 200k (50+). Fewest riders: the 1000k's may draw 1-3 riders.
In-State/Out-of-State: How many out-of-state or out-of-region riders? — Roughly 90% of riders are from in-state. With the Last Chance, it's reversed: 80% of riders are from out-of-state.
Terrain: Typical terrain of your routes — hilly, mountainous, flat, coastal, desert, mixed, etc. — Typical is a mixture of mountains and plains, usually with some canyon climbs thrown in. A few are plains events (some populaires, the Last Chance). A few are mountain extravaganzas (Denver-Aspen and Grand Loop 300k's).
Roads: Types of roads — mostly rural; one-third urban; secondary, chip- seal; rural-urban mix, etc. — Mostly rural, county roads, or secondary highways in the mountains.
Weather: Typical weather conditions (sunny, rainy, windy, hot, cold, etc.) — Overall arid, but afternoon thunderstorms likely in summer. Moderate highs, chilly nights, wind can be a factor.
Difficulty: Your most challenging route? Why? The Grand Loop 300k has over 15,000 ft. of climbing, including a 7,000-foot climb to 12,000 ft. and another, later on, to 11,000 ft. Challenges: not only the volume of climbing but the extended length of the climbs, and the prolonged time at altitude.
Route changes: Any route changes for this year? — Always a few minor tweaks. A "mountain 1000k" in planning.
Attractions/Views: Any interesting attractions along the way? — The Rocky Mountain Colorado Front Range, including the Continental Divide. Plus scenic canyons, wide plains, geologic outcroppings (such as Devil's Backbone), and backcountry meadows.
Food/lodging. Typical restaurant or food options? Hotels when needed? Checkpoints sited mainly at convenience stores. Also some good "country" or truck-stop cafes en route. Good hotel variety (multiple major motels) at the main brevet start/finish (Louisville). The 600k and most 1000k's come back to this start midway through the event.
DC/MD/No. VA BrevetsSubmitted by: Gordon Meuse
For 2006, DC Randonneurs is running an entire ACP brevet series, which includes 2 200km's and a flèche, beginning in late March and finishing in early June. The grand finales to the brevet season are RUSA 300 and 322 (aka double English century) the 3rd weekend in June, which will take advantage of the long daylight hours of midsummer. Several other RUSA brevets are proposed for weekends before or between the ACP series and there may also be several late season populaires, depending on volunteer initiative.
Both ACP 200km's will be the same routes as last year, one starting in Maryland and the other well-established route starting in Virginia. The remaining brevets from the ACP series will begin in Maryland with a long- standing 300km route and a new 400 and 600. With these new routes we are realizing a goal of developing a full series from each of our start locations.
All rides travel the rural roads of the piedmont, Blue Ridge and Appalachian Mountains and feature rolling to very hilly terrain with some sustained 1-2 mile climbs of up to 10% grades. This area of the mid- Atlantic is rich in Civil War battlefields and many other sites of historical interest. The routes feature picturesque farms, towns, forests and parks.
Over the past several years, 40-60 riders have started the 200km and 300km brevets and 25-30 have started the 400km and 600km brevets. In PBP years there have been as many as 75 riders on the longer brevets. Five to seven teams usually participate in the fleche.
We get all the conditions that are typical for the mid-Atlantic as our season progresses from late March to early June. We can have anything from steady drizzle and a passing rainstorm to gorgeous sunny skies and temperatures ranging from the predawn 30s to the low 90s.
DC brevets all start at national chain hotels and our 600K are routed to overnight at the start/finish hotel. In general riders are expected to rely on stores and restaurants, which are noted on cue sheets with opening and closing times.
Our series has been running since 1991—under various national and local organizations—and this long history of randonneuring provides the background and ability to offer a great brevet experience to all riders.
New Jersey Selected BrevetsSubmitted by: Laurent Chambard
Princeton 200 — Saturday, April 8th, 2006
Start / Finish: Forrestal Village parking lot, Princeton NJ — by US Route 1
Since its inception four years ago, this event has drawn a good number of riders and has seen many people coming back to it every year, to the point that it has become a bit of a local classic. Improvements have been made to the route over the years, and it is now well tried and tested.
The first stage leads over a reasonably rolling and scenic countryside to Frenchtown on the Delaware. After refreshments, riders cruise for a few miles along the river before entering hilly territory. The succession of Adamic, Bellis and some few other respectable climbs insures that by the time riders reach Asbury they are ready for food. More climbing follows, although somewhat less concentrated, and culminates to the long drag up Rte. 519S before a vertiginous drop into the valley and gentle cruise back to Frenchtown for more TLC by our volunteers. The return leg is a bit shorter than the way out, and visits some delightful little lanes including the only covered bridge to be found in New Jersey.
With approximately 8,000 feet of climbing this route should not be regarded as a killer, but constitutes nevertheless a respectable test of early season fitness—or lack thereof!
Don't miss the windmill at the top of Adamic! You might even find a short stop enjoyable….
Princeton 300 — Saturday, April 22nd, 2006
Start / Finish: Forrestal Village parking lot, Princeton NJ — by US Route 1 This is another event having gained a good reputation, and run along a well tried and tested course fine-tuned over the years. The Princeton 300 is a brevet that includes a sizeable amount of climbing (11,000 feet approximately), two of the climbs being really steep, yet won't leave you a miserable wreck at the finish thanks to careful balance of the route. A particular attraction for its loyal group of regulars is that it is run just while the Garden State is in full spring bloom, providing wonderful scenery all the way.
The first stage is an easy bash to Whitehouse Station, with many deer along the road being the main reason to force you to slow down. After refreshments you enter a succession of scenic little lanes, and the terrain becomes gradually more hilly including some sharp stretches. Light snacks and drinks from volunteers come handy in Blairstown to revive riders for the few tough miles leading to the main control at a deli just before tackling Jenny Jump State Forest and its famously steep climb. After that the terrain eases a bit and allows riders to gain spare time in-between the climbs, but the water and snacks stop in Hacklebarney State Park comes at the right time for ensuring that by now tired riders reach Whitehouse Station in good spirits for more food and drinks. From then on, the final stage is relatively easy and rolling.
Although relatively hilly, this event is also suitable to slow riders thanks to the many long, easy sections that allow to keep time limits at bay. It is strongly recommended to bring very low gears, for coping with the two steepest hills without digging too deep in energy reserves.
Central/Western NY BrevetsSubmitted By: Jenn Barber
2006 Events: When are events on your schedule for 2006? — CNY/WNY is holding six ACP events and two RUSA sanctioned events this summer. We may add more RUSA events based on interest.
# of Riders: Number of riders typically on the shortest event? The longest event? — The number of riders depends on how many riders are trying to qualify for 1200km events as we are usually the last series that may be used. We generally have at least 6-10 riders for each event. We have had up to 30 riders on events.
In-State/Out-of-State: How many out-of-state or out-of-region riders? — We usually see about 60% out-of-state and 40% in-state riders. We get a number of Canadians visiting from Ontario and Quebec. We've also had riders from overseas.
Terrain: Typical terrain of your routes — hilly, mountainous, flat, coastal, desert, mixed, etc. — The CNY terrain is rolling. It's difficult to find flat routes in this border area of glaciation. We have long ridgelines along the fingerlakes with steep, but short, ascents and descents as we cross to each ridge.
Roads: Types of roads — mostly rural; one-third urban; secondary, chip- seal; rural-urban mix, etc. — We predominantly route on rural and secondary roads. The rural roads are generally low traffic so riders have the opportunity to ride in small groups. The secondary roads often have shoulders wide enough for two cyclists to ride abreast.
Weather: Typical weather conditions (sunny, rainy, windy, hot, cold, etc.) — Riders can expect showers on the early season rides. The summer weather is generally mild. Thunderstorms are short-lived and usually mild. Most June/July rides are sunny.
Difficulty: Your most challenging route? Why? QuadZilla! This is Mark Frank's "Tour" of the Fingerlakes. It's 400 miles in 40 hours of 95 feet of climbing per mile through the gorgeous Finger Lakes region.
Route changes: Any route changes for this year? — We have new routes for the 200, 400 and 600 due to a new start location.
Attractions/Views: Any interesting attractions along the way? — We route along the numerous large and small lakes of the Upstate NY regions. The routes pass through a patchwork of forest and farm lands. We enter the Adirondack and Catskill regions. We have creeks and waterfalls. There's a little something on every ride!
Food/lodging: Typical restaurant or food options? Hotels when needed? The start location for the majority of the rides this year is at a private home. Hotels are within 15-20 minutes. The sleep stop for the 600km is also at a private residence. We enjoy allowing the opportunity for a shower to riders who have to travel distances at the end of the event. The routes pass through numerous small towns with diners and delis.