2015 Fleche Report. Team ” Not Lost Yet”

This year I decided to ride a Fleche for a first time.
What is Fleche? Here is some important things to know.
According to RUSA   :
Article 1
The Flèches-USA are 24-hour randonnées held in various regions of the United States during the spring. The traditional event date is Easter weekend, but it may be held from one week before Easter until seven weeks after.These rides are patterned after the Flèche Vélocio held by the Audax Club Parisien (ACP) in France
Article 2
The Flèches-USA are regional events whereby teams of cyclists all head to a common destination from various starting points.
Article 5
Each team is limited to a maximum of five members and a minimum of three members. Each tandem or other multiple-rider vehicle counds as a single member. Members of the same team may assist one another. However, teams are expressly forbidden to aid each other, even teams from the same club. The one exception to this is in the event of a medical emergency. During the event, riders may not draft anyone except their flèche teammates.
Article 8
Each team is to design its own route that is at least 360 KM in length. The traditional format for a flèche is point-to-point, like an archer’s arrow (flèche in French) flying toward its target. Though not a classic flèche route, a large circuit or loop may also be used, such as to make a scenic tour of a region.
A successful Flèches-USA team ride counts as 360 KM in ACP and RUSA Distance Awards, even if a longer distance was covered in the 24 hours.

 

Fleche also counts towards The Rusa Cup – Riding at least one of each type of RUSA events, accumulating at least 5000 km over a two-year period. I am not crazy about awards, but it is nice to have.  It is also inspiring, keeping you fighting towards a goal !

First, I want to thank my teammates for accepting my request to join their team. One of their riders was unable to ride and I filled the spot.

Thank you Captain Jerry Seager, and team members Eric Pilsk, Jose Blanco and Steve Crum.

The plan was to meet at the White House at 6:40 am  for a photo before getting to Starbucks at 6:50 am. I got there 5 minutes late due to Police closing streets around Capitol Hill. At least I was there at Starbucks for the start 🙂
We were met there by Mary Gersema and Ed Felker. They stopped to say hi before we departed.

First few miles upon leaving DC were typical for the city – path-holes, construction and lights, plenty of them .. . There was a feeling of relief when we left the city and started descending. I then heard a strange clicking noise. As if something was rubbing against the fender. Before you know it, I heard a loud bang. Flat tire 5 miles into my 240 mile ride! What a great start. My teammates were still unaware, and had to ride back a mile to rescue me.  I was using brand new Conti Gatorskins with under 200 miles on them. Wow !  When the tire blew up, it came out and over the rim. I have never seen that before. That explains the rubbing noise.

Fleche 4

Changing a flat under the supervision of Jose Blanco

Ok. Lets move on !
My first 50 miles are always miserable. So 3 hours after our start we made our way to Harpers Ferry
Fleche 3
We then crossed the Potomac into Leesburg, Va. Those hours went by quick. We chatted and got familiar with each-other and kept a nice pace. We were heading north, the opposite side of a 20 mph wind. How typical !
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Team Work

 Lessburg was our  first proper stop at a bakery 67 km into the ride. What a great Lemon cake I had there.
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Social media time

 Later on we were on the  C&O Canal Trail. As you already know I hate bike trails, and luckily we were not there for long.
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C&O Canal Trail

Soon afterwards we passed through Airmont and Bluemont. The control at Bluemont General Store was halfway up the big hill.
Good spot to resupply. They were plenty of other cyclist there. I  had a quick chat with one rider while waiting together for the portable WC. After short conversation he just confirmed what most people think of us. I told him that we are about to ride 24 hours straight, with no sleep.His comment :
– You guys are nuts !
My response:
Thanks , we already knew that !
IMAG0102

Up the hill we go

 

The good thing about going up the hill is that eventually you go down. As we started descending the headwind intensified. I was behind Steve and his bicycle started shaking due to the crosswind ! Scary !
 We were on our way further  north .
Nothing in the cue sheet was pointing towards the next challenge – Gravel ! ! ! Not again.  I did not enjoy myself. My back wheel was spinning. The tires were deep into the gravel. . . What a mess.
IMAG0116

Gravel section

Fighting the headwind together like a well working machine we soon entered  Shepherdstown, WV. We were taking turns at the front. Talk about a real Peloton !
It was nice and sunny. What a nice scenery.

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Besides, we were moving slow through those rollers. One team member had a cramp, plus my right knee was starting to give me the usual business. We patiently waited for each-other and pushed forward. Ibuprofen killed the pain. I am always in pain around mile 100, and as the ride progresses I get stronger and stronger.No pain, no gain.
We cross back across the Potomac and continued north passing through a control at Waynesboro, PA. Next was  Mont Alto.
Night was approaching. We planned to get up the mountain and down the hill ( South mountain) before dinner control at Gettysburg.
That is not what happened.  We didn’t even made it all the way up the hill before it was pitch dark. It would have been nice not to descent in the dark, but we had no choice. Temperatures also dropped in the 40s. Full winter gear was on for me again. All my teammates had a laugh! Me and  cold are not friends.  I even had heat pads under the wool gloves. It felt nice and cozy. . .
The Gettysburg Control at Belle Italia Pizzeria was a nice treat. Monster calzone was a huge part of it.

IMAG0178

Additionally  we were behind schedule.  Dinner was less than the planned two hours. The good news was – We were now heading south ! The wind also died. And sometimes was even behind us. Unbelievable.
Last stop before the finish line was for breakfast at IHOP .
FLECHE 1

Steve joking with Hose about falling asleep again . . .

Other teams were there too. Some were eating , others napping  in the booths. We were rolling dawn  into Arlington. I don’t know what we were calculating but we were way off 😦  It looked like we might not even finish on time. I even heard someone mentioning that the fastest guys should just push forward and finish to get credit. No. We sticked together. Me and Steve were pulling in the front. The gap was getting bigger, so we slowed down to wait for the team. Traffic lights every 100 yards also slowed us down. We were really close. Calculating time and mileage every 5 minutes.
Last task was crossing Key Bridge. We could see the Marriott from there. What a relief. Selfies and last group pictures time .
Fleche 2

Selfie time

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What a great event. Bill beck was there snapping pictures of all teams. Ours was so nice with the cherry blossoms behind us. Thanks Bill ! ! !
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5 thoughts on “2015 Fleche Report. Team ” Not Lost Yet”

  1. Looks like you rode much of the same route as we Carnivores: WOD, Rt 7, Sheperdstown, Monte Alto, Gettysburg, IHOP, Key Bridge. I did an exploratory detour and hit that same patch of deep gravel.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Such a coincidence. It is a great route. And that deep gravel was bad. I was so happy to see some grass on the side and ride on it 🙂

      Like

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