DC Randonneurs


DCRand Fleche09-23-2021 07:0017 Registered

07-23-2021 16:35
09-23-2021 12:00
ACP Fleche
Sunrise at 6:56:20 AM Sunset at 7:05:19 PM

William BECK
Email William

Get me there
935 N Stafford St
Arlington, VA 22203


Overnight Ride
Social Gathering Before/After


Many randonneurs consider the fleche to be one of the most fun (and often challenging) events on the schedule.

What makes it fun? You’re riding with friends and team mates, all working together toward a common goal.  Plus there is the fleche breakfast, which all who have registered for the fleche are welcome to attend, regardless of whether they rode or finished.

What makes it challenging? It’s a 24-hour, 224+ mile ride.  You may be on a team whose route is more or less challenging.  And … the timing of the fleche is determined by the week after Easter, which of course is variable.  So some fleches are characterized by bitterly cold weather; for others, heat may be a challenge.  Sometimes the weather is lovely, others the weather is appalling.

Most teams will want to start riding the fleche at around 7am on September 25 so that they can finish 24 hours later at the fleche “target,” the IHOP at 935 N Stafford Street, Arlington, VA, and join other exhausted and elated riders for the celebration breakfast and to share stories about their adventures.

Critical deadlines for forming a team, getting a route approved, or becoming a team member are shown further below.  But first …

What is a fleche and what are (some of) its rules?

fleche (French for “arrow”), is a team event in which each team rides different routes toward a common finish location, like arrows toward a target. Minimum distance is 360 km, which must be covered in 24 hours.  Most people who have done a fleche consider it to be one of their favorite randonneuring events since riding together as a team for 24 straight hours builds strong bonds between team members, and is great fun.

Fleche target:  the IHOP at 935 N Stafford Street, Arlington, VA, where, on Sunday September 26, teams will meet for a hearty post-ride breakfast.  (Note that the target does not have to be the team’s final control.)  Unlike previous years, each person will pay for their own meal.  The cost to enter the fleche is $7, to cover the club's insurance and related costs.

Allowed start times:  Most teams will want to start at about 7AM on Saturday morning so that they can finish at 7AM on Sunday morning and join other exhausted and elated riders for the celebration breakfast.  Team members are welcome at the fleche breakfast whether or not they successfully completed the fleche.

Fleche rules:  The fleche has its own set of rules that are somewhat different and more arcane, than those for a standard brevet. Some of them are summarized here:

  • Each team must consist of three to five bicycles. (Note that a tandem counts as a single bicycle, so teams will sometimes contain more than five riders.)
  • Teams can start at any time between noon on Thursday and 10AM on Saturday, and must finish 24 hours later. (However, as noted above, we encourage teams to finish around 7am (between 6AM-8AM) on Sunday morning so that they can join together for the brunch.)
  • The traditional fleche route starts at some distant location and then heads for the target, but a loop route is also allowed, as long as the start location is far enough from the finish to be considered as a different postal jurisdiction.  You may not use the same road twice in the same direction.  And only small out-and-back sections are allowed, for control purposes.
  • As in a standard brevet, the routes must contain control locations chosen so that the shortest bicycle-safe, bicycle-legal route through the controls is equal to at least the minimum distance of 360 km. However, the fleche has an additional requirement that one of the controls must occur exactly 22 hours after the start and be at least 25 km from wherever that team finishes. Note that this requirement, as well as the one that states that no rest stops can be longer than 2 hours, ensures that teams take nearly the full 24 hours to complete the ride.
  • The 22-hour and 24-hour control rules (Articles 10 and 11) have recently been changed to allow an exception in case you are unable to obtain on-the-spot control verification.  But … we suggest that you use this exception as a last resort, since its use requires ex-post route validation, which inherently increases the possibility of disqualification.
  • For the complete fleche rules, click: here

A full understanding of the rules, especially for the 22-hour control is essential for achieving a successful finish. Team captains are welcome to contact me with questions. And many experienced captains even recommend bringing a printed copy of the rules on the ride since they can be hard to recall at 4 in the morning.

Fleche Team Deadlines

To participate in this special event, riders should start forming teams now. Each team must have a captain who is responsible for designing the route and submitting it for approval. The schedule will be:

  • Saturday, August 21: Applications from captains with route application due to organizer.  See “Fleche Captain Application” below for details on what must be provided.
  • Saturday, September 11: Final rosters due from team captains to organizer.
  • September 25 to 26: Fleche

Captains, see “Fleche Captain Application” below.

Team members, this year there is no form for team members to fill out. After you have verified your place on a team with the Team Captain, register online at http://dcrand.org/dcr/member/order/, entering all of the information requested–especially phone numbers and emergency contact–and following the payment instructions there.  Note: For insurance reasons, RUSA membership is now required to ride a fleche. Important: In the box labeled “Comments or any relevant info,” write in the name of your team’s captain. 

Captains should also register online at http://dcrand.org/dcr/member/order/, entering all of the information requested–especially phone numbers and emergency contact–and following the payment instructions there.  Note: For insurance reasons, RUSA membership is now required to ride a fleche.

We have many experienced fleche captains in the club who would be excellent sources of advice. If you are thinking of forming a team or looking for a team to join, the dcrand listserve is one good way to connect with other riders.  Planning and training are essential for finishing and enjoying a fleche. So all new teams are encouraged to schedule at least one or two shakedown rides together, perhaps on a 200km (or even 300km) permanent route.

In case of Inclement Weather:   Because each team rides its own route, weather conditions might be acceptable for some routes while unacceptable for others.  If the weather forecast looks questionable for the region, team captains will be contacted, and they will be required in turn to contact their team members.  For this event as for all events, it is up to each individual randonneur to decide based on the best information that they have available whether they think it is safe to proceed.  Whether or not you ride (or complete) your fleche, you are welcome at the fleche breakfast, which will proceed as long as the IHOP is open.

Fleche Team Captain Applications

Fleche captains will submit four items.

1) Registration form by August 21: 2021 Fleche team captain regform,

2) Route application form, also by August 21: 2021 Fleche route application form, and

3) Fleche Team Tracking Sheet, by September 11: 2019 Fleche tracking spreadsheet.

4) Also by September 11, captains will submit the registration forms with properly-filled-out waivers for their team members.  Confirm that all of your team members have registered online and note that in the tracking sheet.

Routes that do not include a completely-filled out DCR Fleche Route Application will not be considered.  Note that if your proposed route has been approved within the last three years, you will not need to fill out the detailed Route Justification section.  All other routes will require detailed route justification.  This is no more and no less than what is required when you submit a route to RUSA for approval.  So … if you’ve submitted a route to RUSA, you know what to do; and if you get a fleche route approved, then you’ve had good practice for submitting a route to RUSA!

It is up to prospective fleche captains to take the time to justify the route.  The organizer’s job is to review the justification — typically that can take an hour per route — not to work out the justification for you.
The route information can be submitted electronically to william.a.beck@gmail.com in PDF, MS Word, or MS Excel format. Ideally you will include a route file created in RideWithGPS; Garmin Mapsource is also acceptable; either of these will be much appreciated, but not technically required.