My Thoughts About Participating in a Rando Fleche

My Thoughts About Participating in a Rando Fleche

I’ve just recently signed up as a member of RUSA.org. I think I sent my membership fee in back in late November (2016) if I remember correctly. My original reason for signing up was to force myself to do some long bike rides for my “training” needed to be somewhat competitive this summer (late June, 2017) at the USA Cycling masters national track championships. I plan to enter the two TT events then: 500m and 2k. But after signing up I noticed the Awards link on the RUSA Web site, and I got to thinking I would like to pick off some awards. The main three I want are Honor Roll on the PA_Rando Web site for the SR series and the R12 series (these would get me SR and R12 awards at RUSA), and the RUSA Cup award (takes 2 years usually to get). Participating in the PA Fleche this past weekend was something I needed to do in order to get the RUSA Cup award.

Before this past weekend, the longest ride I’ve ever completed was 150 miles which I did solo in 2015. And that ride was a complete aberration for me. Before that the longest ride I’d completed was a 130-mile road race as an amateur CAT-2 competitive cyclist when I was age 18. I’m now almost age 55 (in June). So long distance cycling is not something I have ever done much of.

I found the Rando Fleche to be a fair amount of planning and work compared to other Rando rides I have done so far this year. I’ve completed three 200k rides which will help me qualify for the R12 award I mention herein above. For those rides all I had to do was enter, show up, and ride. Which is a sharp contrast to what I had to do to participate in the Rando Fleche. For the Fleche I had to find a team to ride with, then I had to get accepted as a member of that team, then I had to help with the route planning (this involved a bunch of back and forth via email), and then I had to figure out what to pack for a ride that would last 12 hours in daylight but also 12 hours in darkness with a temperature drop. The last thing I had to do was help coordinate the transportation issues before and after the ride. Rando Fleches are not Point-of-Departure equals Point-of-Destination. My team’s point of departure was Lawrenceville, NJ. And the point of destination was Quakertown, PA. At the end of the ride we had to get from Quakertown back to Lawrenceville.

After having completed the Rando Fleche I must say I am glad to have participated in all the ways that I did. The funny thing about the ride was that it felt incredibly similar to the many group rides I have gone on with friends over the years – just longer and partly in the dark. We were not out to decimate our fellow riding buddies, and we had a policy of
“nobody will be dropped.” This is in sharp contrast to the 200k rides I have done earlier this year where the strongest riders push on and drop whoever will fall off.

I have to admit that I have never been a fan of rest stops during a bike ride. I suppose this dates back to my competitive cycling days during my teen years. I push pretty hard during a training ride, and when I stop to relax my body really shuts down. It’s quite a struggle for me to wind myself up after a break. This is true if I’m out for a 50 mile ride or a 240 mile ride. I don’t particularly like the process of getting wound up again. Participating in a Rando Fleche requires me to relax and allow my body to shut down several times. The only thing that made the rest stops better for me during the Rando Fleche was I was never really pushed during the ride. Allowing the weak link in the group to not be dropped forced me to ride at a relatively leisurely pace the entire ride.

Was all the extra planning and work outside of the ride worth it? Yes, and no. I’m glad I did this one, but I’m not sure I really want to do another. However, I didn’t dislike the experience. If I were to be approached by the right people at the right time, then I am sure I would agree to join their team. I’m just saying I didn’t feel like all the extra effort required for this ride was worth doing it over and over again. I suppose saying “Been there done that” is how I feel about the Rando Fleche.

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4 Responses to My Thoughts About Participating in a Rando Fleche

  1. Alex V says:

    to me, the whole thing would be more enjoyable without that many restrictions applied. 24 hours between start and finish, no stop exceeding 2hrs, 25 km within last 2 hrs (as far as I understand, this is calculated from the planned rather than the actual finish time). All this make increasing the pace pointless. For example, the Tavern stop took 1hr. Could we have spent it differently? We would have to sit and wait somewhere in any case.

    possible options: (a) select a really hard course that indeed required an effort over the 24 hrs, like the Binghampton bunch did (b) do everything in one day (as I understand, Fleches do allow planning a shorter ride). Select 10 pm finish time, start at 6am and maintain a real paceline. You still have enough time even with a couple of flats and one longish eating stop. Then sleep all night in the hostel and go home in the morning with full Sunday ahead.

    btw, the 300K have been posted. This time it’s the traditional course without the High Point section
    this is how I interpreted the cue sheet (no RWGPS map was posted on PA Rando site)

    http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/1499507896

    • I hadn’t bothered with the cue sheet for the 300 yet. I still have to figure out the cue sheet for the populaire I’m doing this Saturday. Another event I have to do for the RUSA Cup award. Thanks for plotting the 300 route. That might help me out some? I signed up for the 300 yesterday morning. I wonder how much you will finish the 300 before me?

      • Alex V says:

        u can download GPX or KML track file from MMR and load it into your GPS device or smartphone, which allows you to follow the course. And hope that I made no mistakes

  2. My routing program of choice is Plotaroute.com. When I uploaded the GPX and KML files downloaded from MapMyRide.com all was good except no cue sheet information was included. I cleaned up the route you mapped a little. You had 4 or 5 turns that were sloppy, and between miles 110 and 113.1 you hit a trail rather than stayed on the road. Also, Reigelsville you cut the route a little short by hugging the river rather than going out onto PA-611. Thanks for giving me a head start on getting the mapping done for the 300K.

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