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Tubman Blackwater Preride Report

The brevet starts at the Royal Farms in downtown Denton. There is plenty of street parking behind RoFo on Franklin St. Unfortunately there are no public restrooms, so plan ahead.

Matt will be there by 0645. Please check in with him.

The route is quite scenic, especially through the expansive wetlands of the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, which this native Marylander never knew existed! The dying trees made it a little bit spooky on that gray day so close to Halloween.

As is typical of Eastern Shore "flatbread" rides, the biggest resistance can be the wind. The only real hill we encountered was a bridge over the Choptank River at about mile 115. The opposite side was notable as one of the few times we coasted.

We ate well during this ride. Here are some highlights, listed by mile:

  • 32.9 Cindy's Kitchen: Great neighborhood greasy spoon. We sat down at the bar, warmed up, and fueled on eggs, bacon, rye toast, and delicious homemade home fries. The restroom was very clean.
  • 42.3 Emily's Produce: You can't miss the giant yellow Adirondack chair surrounded by pumpkins. In addition to produce, they've got baked goods, deli-style salads, and bottled drinks. There is a restroom in an outbuilding.
  • 61.8: The marina on the right has soda and candy bars.
  • 67.7 Harriet Tubman museum: restrooms and water.
  • 88.7: Go right instead of left and follow for a block. Do not miss Mandala Pies! They bake fresh both sweet and savory selections and offer sizes that will fit in a handlebar bag. They serve coffee and bottled water and have picnic tables outside. Across the street from Mandala, Millie's Road House & Bar served up mouthwatering cheesesteaks and homemade chips while we watched Kid 'n Play perform their signature dance on daytime TV. Millie's restrooms were clean.

When you finish or if you drop out, please text Matt at 301-704-1748. Be sure to give your full name in your text. DCR needs to account for each rider at the end of the day. Also please send any EPP to Matt at haydenmatthewj@gmail.com.

Have a fantastic ride!

RBA Notes: Seriously consider the good food Matt points out at mile 88.7; you will have probably traveled a fair bit without food resupply by the time you get there. The only good thing to say about the gas station in Vienna is that it's a little better than it looks. Also, the Goose Island convenience store in Hurlock at mile 100 is good. See you Saturday.

October Reminder

October 1 has come and gone, so if you renew either your RUSA membership or your DC Randonneurs membership now, you will be an active member through December 31, 2023.

You must be an active member of DC Randonneurs to take part in the club's annual meeting, which is scheduled for January 21, 2023 at the Glen Echo town hall. Please join me in thanking Andrea Matney for making this wonderful venue available to the club.

RUSA has approved the draft ride schedule that Emily circulated at the beginning of the month and published that schedule on its website with those of other regions.

The end of the year is a good time to relax from your exertions of the spring and summer by doing things off the bike. But it's also a good time to think about your goals for next year. The twentieth running of Paris - Brest - Paris Randonneur (as opposed to the race) will take place August 20 - 24, 2023 from Rambouillet, southwest of Paris. In addition, the RUSA website shows six domestic 1200s and 17 domestic 1000s.

Your goal for 2023 may be to complete your first super randonneur series or an R-12 or P-12. DC Randonneurs has always had a group ride program second to none, and Emily has a fleche scheduled for the spring and a dart for the fall. It's not too early to start thinking about your team and route. You could get ambitious and try for a K-Hound. Or maybe you're closing in on Mondial or Galaxy status.

So take a good look at your equipment and clothes, do repairs or upgrades as necessary, and definitely do the maintenance your bike needs now rather than later. 2023 will be a busy year on the road . . . and gravel.

Mountain Church Preride Report

Bob Counts and I pre-rode the Mountain Church 200k brevet on September 24. Temps were cool and it remained partly overcast with wispy cotton candy clouds throughout the day. After eating up all the beautiful weather on the Civil War 200k and Mountain Church, I fear we’ve left little left for this upcoming ride (thanks Ian).

The start is at the MacArthur Starbucks. Fair warning that their bathroom was out on Saturday, but there is another opportunity at the Starbucks in Sangamore. This route takes the MacArthur Boulevard cyclist superhighway out to PersimmonTree Road through Potomac. We will be riding Glen Road through Seneca. If you’re lucky, you might get a glimpse of Jeff Koons’ Split Rocker at the Glenstone.

We’ll take familiar rolling back roads up through Dickerson, past the Dickerson Market. The bridge on Maryland 28 has reopened so we will take that on our first pass of the Monocacy River. Our route runs through Adamstown where you can pick up one of Bob’s favorite treats - a ham sandwich from Stup's Market.

The route cuts south and crosses Point of Rocks with a long, contemplative climb to Lovettsville, where you’ll have another opportunity to top off. Bob and I missed out on their Oktoberfest which was hopping, but sausages and Marzens didn’t fit the bill at 10:30.

We cross the Potomac again to Brunswick and start another long but moderate climb to Burkittsville. After bypassing the climb over South Mountain at Gapland, we go up and down on the side of the mountain until we reach the namesake for our route. Say a prayer upon the death of summer, and descend into Middletown.

Bob and I were greeted with the Middletown festival, complete with turkey legs, blooming onions, and a marching band wearing Revolutionary War attire. Again it was hard to pass up the opportunity for fried foods and beer. We had lunch at LDS which has a fantastic deli/made to order lunch options. Middletown has an abundance of other lunch choices on route, including Dempsey's Grille, the Main Cup, More Ice Cream, Brew 30, and Subway.

Our route pushed south to Jefferson and more good food choices at Farmers Daughter Bakery, Watson's, and the Little Red Barn, and then east with a climb over Mar Lu Ridge and a quick stint on the C&O towpath over the Monocacy Aqueduct. Unfortunately, Bob and I missed peak pawpaw season by a week or two. After a control in Poolesville, we take River Road back through Potomac. The traffic is heavy in the afternoon, but much of River Road has been repaved. A word of warning, the bike lanes have not been repainted. It’s all downhill from Persimmon Road and by then you should smell the barn.

This route is one of my favorites and despite the forecast hope you have an enjoyable ride.

Double Ox Audax 200 Preride Report

Mimo D and I went for a shakedown ride Saturday on the new Double Ox Audax route, cycling under the permanent rules. The weather was ideal, perhaps slightly warm by midafternoon, and with a mild headwind slowing us a bit on the return south to Frederick.

The route fills its bill, of providing fine roads and good services with the modest climbing that can allow us to keep a group together for a whole brevet, as the UAF rules requires. Breaking the route into 25-mile chunks, the hardest one comes first, which is important to know, because the hardest climbing is done first, and you don’t have to be discouraged that the whole ride will be as hard. Even at that, RWGPS counts less than 56 feet of climbing per mile in that first leg.

The first control and services are at Deja Brew in New Oxford, PA at mile 44. One basis for its choice is the availability of a bathroom. Their trade was brisk on Saturday morning, and I’m going to lengthen the scheduled stop time to get everyone served and otherwise cared for there. The baked goods are tasty but they lean sweet, not savory.

The next services are at the Wild Hog BBQ in East Berlin, at mile 58. Outdoor seating was ample and the menu is suitable for hungry randonneurs. Vegetarians seem to make out acceptably there, too. A barbeque sandwich is one of my rando favorites.

Leaving East Berlin we pass the site of the Battle of Peepytown, also known to psyops warriors as the Massacre at Peepytown. You can learn about this history by joining this brevet.

After that we stopped at the Hunterstown, PA Ruritan to watch kids in go-carts racing on a dirt track, which was pretty riveting. Mimo’s inner child, which is indistinguishable from his outer child, drew him like a magnet.

We stopped in Gettysburg at their inimitable 7-11 for water, which was advisable in the afternoon sun. I’ve added a stop there to our itinerary. We ride down Confederate Avenue at the Gettysburg Battlefield, and then cross over the battlefield above the closed Little Roundtop, before heading back into Maryland.

Gorgeous views of South Mountain carry us into and away from Thurmont, where some ice cream and a coke launched the final leg for me. Roads nearly worn smooth by the wheels of DC Randonneurs carry us back to Frederick, after crossing the Utica covered bridge.

Is this audax brevet for you? If you are committed to riding with the group for 200k, the anticipated 14 mph average is a lesser concern. If you need to ride faster, or you need to ride self-paced, this is not your brevet. Some of us may not be able to make this pace, but the group psychology can help you ride a little faster. When you know the group is there for you and is trying not to ride away, you can pull a little extra speed.

Civil War 200 Preride Report

The Civil War Tour has a new starting location. It now begins at the Giant on Sugarloaf Parkway in Urbana, MD. The Giant opens at 6:00 a.m., and there are restrooms. It makes for a much more pleasant start and end location, without crossing the Monocacy River on MD-355 late in the day, and there are several restaurants in the shopping center at the finish. Nearby on Fingerboard Road there is also a Waffle House, Dunkin' and Starbucks for early arrivers.

The first 69 miles entail most of the climbing but also some of the most beautiful sights. The Tour begins at the Monocacy National Battlefield, where you find the first info control. After the climb up MarLu Ridge, and taking in the view of the Middletown Valley on the descent, you will come to the pleasant town of Jefferson. If you don’t need a restroom stop, try the Farmer’s Daughter Bakery on Jefferson Pike, which has delicious baked goods and acceptable coffee. If you need that restroom stop, there is a Dunkin' on Lander Road.

From Jefferson, you will come to the town of Burkittsville to begin the one mile climb up Gapland Road. At the summit, there is Gathland State Park, reminiscences of the significant Battle of South Mountain, and the War Correspondent Memorial Arch. Each is worth a minute to take in. While there you can obtain water from the park. I advise obtaining water wherever and whenever you can. And if it is a hot day, consider carrying three bottles.

The lovely downhill from Gathland will take you onto Burnside Bridge Road along the Antietam Creek. At Sharpsburg you arrive at the Battleview Market, a tasty stop for that late breakfast. They make fresh breakfast sandwiches, have outdoor dining, and the restroom is clean and spacious. Services are thin on this route, so be mindful of that challenge.

Fueled up, you enter the Antietam National Battlefield. Although not as well-known as Gettysburg, Antietam was a significant battle in September of 1862. The many turns through the battlefield are not always marked but are easy to figure out.

After Boonsboro, there are a series of rollers on Crystal Falls Drive, leading into the next mountain climb on Raven Rock Road. Try to ride close to the trees and take advantage of all the shade you can. And it will also give you a chance to see a trailhead for the Appalachian Trail. Descending on Skunk Hollow and Fort Ritchie Road there is a lot of gravel and I found myself braking more frequently. Eventually you will come to the Harbaugh Valley, another lush valley to appreciate. After a 1.2 mile climb up Jack's Mountain, you have a nice downhill to the town of Fairfield.

You are halfway done and finished with the mountains, and Fairfield provides the last supplies before Gettysburg. Ventura Pizza has a wide array of good food of hot and cold sandwiches, panini, and pizza. If you are interested in just pizza, there is a new location in town, New York Style Pizza, across the street from the Book and Table Café. It is in the back of a long building, and the entrance is on the side of the building. The pizza was good, there were tables inside, but there was no problem social distancing. Gardner is thinking about trying the Book and Table for second or third breakfast, and there is a small convenience store on the left as you leave town.

The second half of the ride begins with a tour of Gettysburg National Military Park. I can never get enough of riding through Gettysburg, and I find myself trying to read the memorials. The next control takes you into the town of Gettysburg. The best rando food stops in Gettysburg on route are McDonald’s, Ragged Edge Coffee, and the 7-Eleven. Service at the Ragged Edge can be a little slow if the place is crowded but the tasty treats and sandwiches are worth it. The 7-Eleven does not have rest rooms, so don't bother to ask.

Due to work that is going on in the park, the National Park Service has closed many roads, so please pay attention to your cues as this section of the ride differs from past Civil War Tours. Taneytown Road takes you back to Maryland, and there is a Mason-Dixon milepost at the line. From there you follow generally flat roads to Woodsboro Pike. The High’s on the right is your last stop before the finish, so if you need fluids, fill up there. There are a few climbs left on this ride, most notably on Tabler Road, but although it is steep it is short, and the next three miles to the end are a breeze. Enjoy the ride and your route through Civil War history.

Many Rivers 600 Preride Report

Being a dutiful randonneur, I spent more of the offseason training and building endurance. After signing up for the Mason Dixon 1200, I committed myself to getting a qualifying series and eating up as many DCR events as I could fit on the schedule.

Two weeks ago, Jane reminded me that she had work events on the 13th and 14th and reminded me that I would be her date. I surmised I could make her events if I pre-rode the 600, right? At that point the dye was cast. Being a good boyfriend, I committed to giving up three weekends in a row of playing bikes. But hey, I had her blessing. Little did I know what the weather had in store for this last weekend.

While the chance of rain looked middling early last week, by Thursday, the hopes of good weather had all but diminished. I imagined myself as the Elmo on Fire gif, listening to Andrew WK’s “I Get Wet” on repeat (Mimo had other designs with a certain R-Rated Cardi B song).

Mimo, Paul and I set out at 4 am from the Warrenton Wawa near the Red Roof Inn, committed to our sport. The path out of town was slower than usual given the damp and the dark. The weather stayed cool, and the roads were quiet. Given the wet conditions, we elected to take the low water bridge detour around Lillard’s Ford. Be advised that an old standby, the Somerset store at mile 60.1, is permanently shuttered. Bring an extra bottle and be prepared to motor on to Dyke for the first real food option (82.0). [RBA Note: Organizer Emily will be a trail angel Saturday morning and provide a re-supply stop so you don’t have to carry the goods to get you 80 miles.]

Maybelle’s market in Dyke – holy cow. I remember this place being a red, run-down barn/feed and grain store. It has been significantly upgraded and features hot, fast, delicious, made to order food. The staff is super friendly and the place is spotless. They also have country ham sandwiches perfect for stuffing in your jersey pockets for later. Crozet up the road offers a Dairy Queen and some nice coffee options, for those of you who enjoy riding tandems and sipping espressos, but you might be apt to motor on, as we did. Leaving Crozet, the quiet stretch along Plank Road was heavenly as the road cuts through the Blue Ridge down to the James River.

We had a late lunch at the Exxon in Scottsville (hot sandwiches and mac and cheese!), where our paths crossed with some of the NVR 1200 checkout riders! After some quick hellos to our fellow sufferers, we pushed off for Louisa. There is a super choppy hill leaving Scottsville, but the worst of the Day 1 climbing is done, and the terrain moderates to gentle rollers for the return to Warrenton. The rain had cleared up for the afternoon, but now we had to deal with headwinds all the way back to W-town.

I cannot recall whether it was the previous version of Many Rivers or the Kinder Gentler 400 that skirted around Lake Monticello, but this route takes a much quieter approach to Louisa. Going through Palmyra, there is some lovely new tarmac, but it remains unpainted. Be cautious passing through here as there are no lanes/obvious shoulders. Outside of Louisa, Mimo’s bike decided that it had had enough of the wet conditions as his second spoke gave out. His frustration was obvious, but I couldn’t help but be envious of his misfortune as the rainclouds grew darker. I gathered my resolve and made it into Orange for the final push. Be advised that many services close early. Paul and I intended to meet at McDonald’s, but their dining room was closed. As was Hardy’s. Sheetz is a good option if you need hot food at that hour (about half a mile north on US-15); 7-11 is always a good bet without having to depart from the route.

We left in a light rain and the head wind continued to pummel us through the night hours. Around Rapidan, I pulled away, motoring on along the familiar roads back to Warrenton. Be aware that the route takes us back via Brandy Station, rather than Kelly’s Ford and Summerduck (a welcome change at that hour). There was a stretch of wet gravel along Blackjack Road that caught me off guard. A few intermittent showers would roll through the late-night hours, mocking me as I envisioned a warm bed.

I rolled into Warrenton around 3, and after a hot shower and 3 hours of sleep, prepped myself for Day 2. Luckily there was no more rain to contend with; however, we faced a steady headwind all the way into Point of Rocks. I do not recall the route from Warrenton to the Plains to be so punchy, but my legs felt gassed for the first 15 miles. There is some fantastic scenery to feast your eyes on as the route cuts through wineries, horse country, and ranches around Loudon County. Middleburg (273) offers some upscale breakfast options, but Purcellville (289) is only a few more miles down the road. Be careful on the way into Taylortown (301.2); there is a stop sign with blind corners. Even though I slowed on the approach, I nearly got my ticket punched by a pickup because I couldn’t see oncoming traffic. After crossing through Point of Rocks, we hopped onto the C&O for a good stretch; however, there is a low water bridge along the canal that was VERY flooded Sunday. It remains to be seen whether it will remain unpassable next week, but keep an eye out for alternative routing in the next few days. [If the towpath does not go through, we will detour at Point of Rocks up the hill to Lovettsville.]

If you have an hour to kill, there is a very good brewery in Brunswick (Smoketown) that serves food and sits next to King’s Pizza. Service is very good and the pizza/garlic knots/sandwiches are amazing. Mimo, Bob and I have “dined” there on a permanent a number of times. On the climb to Lovettsville, I encountered a number of other NVR riders doing their final leg of the 1200. I ate lunch at 7-11, and the modest headwind became a welcome tailwind that pushed me south. The final 40 miles are along quiet backroads, and there are a few punchy climbs that punctuate the route, but nothing unlike what you’ve seen before. Marshall offers one last opportunity to top off if you need it; I had a celebratory ice cream sandwich and taquito. The final descent into Warrenton will buoy your spirits, and friends will want to hear your tales of your adventure.

A few points - Be sure to top off each morning. I didn’t eat breakfast on Sunday and was bonking hard by the time I got to the Plains. [Sheetz is on route as you leave Warrenton.] Worth noting is that there are resupply points on the rest of the route every 20-30 miles. Once you get through the first long stretch, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to top off on fuel and liquids.

Hope you have pleasant weather next week and get to enjoy more of the scenery than I could!

Northern Exposure 400 Preride Report

FIRST OFF: the start/finish of the Northern Exposure 400k HAS CHANGED…to Fairfield Inn and Suites, Frederick. It is two doors down from the previously announced Extended Stay America. The cost-conscious may want to stay at Extended Stay, Sleep Inn, or another hotel and “commute” to the start/finish; however be advised that this pre-rider had a reservation at Extended Stay that he could not check into after the ride because its front desk was closed (the night shift person failed to show up for work). I then found a room at the nearby Sleep Inn instead.

If you don’t have a room, park at the lot northeast of the Extended Stay on Westview Ride and pedal the few feet to the Fairfield, turning left from the lot on Westview.

This ride can be summarized as follows: head north, cross South Mountain to enter the Cumberland valley, cross the valley, head into the ridge and valley province and cross some ridges, ride along those valleys, then head south to cross everything again and return.

Heading north: you will follow the typical departure through downtown Frederick and outskirts to the north. There is a detour around construction on Willowbrook Rd by staying on Opossumtown Pike. Dawn will be breaking as you cross US15. There are ample services at this stage, but it was a bit too soon for us.

Crossing South Mountain MD-550: not as strenuous as it was on Ye Olde Frederick 300k on MD-77. We did make a point to stop at GT Handimart as I am partial to their donuts (from Krumpe’s Donuts in Hagerstown). From there it is a delightful high, winding, muy bueno ride on Buena Vista road, followed by a rapid descent to services in Rouzerville, and another climb to the first info control. From there you descend into the Cumberland Valley.

Cumberland Valley: delightfully flat(ish) and verdant riding between its bounding ridges. I highly recommend Etter’s Store at mile 76 in Roxbury PA for your lunch stop. Its excellent sandwiches are made to order - just fill out the form by the cashier and hand it to her. But it’s easy to miss, as we did on the first pass. You need to stop there anyway because there is nothing for the next 33 miles.

From there you head north to cross through the ridges and valleys. Your next opportunity to resupply is in Waterford at mile 109. Be aware that the only store is Long’s Store, and they accept no credit cards for purchases less than $8 (debit OK, and cash). Newport (mile 138) is a good dinner opportunity, but we wanted to wait til later for a meal. Leaving Newport you turn south and start heading to the finish, but you have a few ridges and valleys to cross until you are back in the flat Cumberland Valley.

We had dinner at McDonalds in Middlesex, mile 163. Be advised that it is crowded with tractor-trailers from the nearby Pennsylvania Turnpike, and it will likely be dark when you get there. If you go to Arby’s (on route) or McDonalds (a block to your right) you won’t mix it up with the trucks on US-11 for more than a couple blocks, but we managed to get ourselves lost. Cues have been updated.

From there to the finish it’s pretty much a rerun of the finish of Ye Olde Frederick: climb South Mountain for the last real climb of the day, another construction detour on Latimore Valley Rd, East Berlin (we hit Rutters for the last supply stop of the ride), the long dark trek to Thurmont (which may be all shut down, depending on when you get there), and the final 20 miles to the finish.

NOTE: End-of-Ride sandwiches will come from Royal Farms. If you want one:

Go to their website (https://www.royalfarms.com/sandwiches), decide what you want, and email your pick to Jack Nicholson (email address to be provided separately).

Call Jack when you reach Thurmont (his number will be on the cue sheet) and he will get your sandwich and have it in the lobby (or perhaps his room).

See you Saturday!

Warrenton 300 Preride Report

The Warrenton 300 is a Lynn Kristianson route first ridden by the club in 2005. This year we've eliminated the stretch on VA 231 south of Gordonsville that everyone objected to last time. We'll make it up at the northern end and gain some good scenery into the bargain. But good scenery also means climbing. I recorded 5,500 feet of climbing in the first 65 miles and only 6,000 feet more the rest of the way.

You'll leave Warrenton on Blackwell road as usual. Be careful, as there is a significant descent with decidedly choppy pavement and often morning fog or mist. At the bottom of the hill, you'll turn left on Airlie Road / SR-605 instead of going straight on Blackwell. You'll turn right on Blantyre Road at mile 3.9 and soon join the customary route up to Marshall.

There is a fairly mild RR crossing at the bottom of the hill as you leave the Plains but a much rougher, diagonal crossing as you approach Marshall. Take care. The Red Truck Bakery in Marshall doesn't open until 08:00, so your best bets if you need to stop are the 7-Eleven on the right as you enter town and a cafe on your left as you leave.

At mile 23.8 you'll turn right onto Hume Road / SR-625 to avoid a closure on Crest Hill Road. If the skies are clear, you'll gain some spectacular Blue Ridge views, especially after you turn left on Leeds Manor Road / SR-688 at mile 27.9. You'll rejoin Crest Hill at mile 31.7 and take it to the town of Flint Hill, then climb west to Little Washington and the only restaurant on any of our routes to earn three Michelin stars.

Try to stay to the right of the white line for the mile or so you spend on US-211 after Little Washington heading towards Sperryville. There won't be much traffic, but what there is will be moving fast. The left turn onto Gravel Road / SR-622 at mile 47.5 will bring relief from the traffic and more terrific Blue Ridge views, with Old Rag visible in the distance.

US-522 at mile 53.1 and F.T. Valley Road / VA-231 at mile 53.6 will bring more fast-moving traffic, and some rises that limit forward visibility. Enjoy the views, but keep your eyes on the road and stay close to the white line. Your reward will be the challenging but scenic ride over the shoulder of Old Rag and down to the control at Syria Mercantile. If you're hungry, try the country ham muffins. It's easy to eat one at the store and stuff one or two more into your pockets.

You'll have more food options in Madison, which you'll enter at mile 81.2. There is a pizza place on your left as you ride into town and a McDonald's on the left just before you cross US-29 on your way out of town. Continuing to ride the Old Rag 200 in reverse, you'll reach Aroda, then continue southeast to Gordonsville, first on back roads and then on VA-231. Keep your eyes open and you'll see some pretty impressive old houses on your left between Somerset and Gordonsville.

Gordonsville at mile 101.2 brings more food choices. This year you'll ride down the very pleasant Main Street instead of taking the truck route around town as we formerly did. You'll leave town on busy US-15 but will soon be back on secondary roads as you approach the southern end of the course. By this point, the terrain will have leveled out to moderately rolling, and the Blue Ridge views of the first hundred miles will give way to fairly non-descript pine and deciduous forest.

You'll ride the Louisa Road / VA-22 through two controls in close succesion at miles 109.0 and 116.4. We had hoped to move this section of the route onto back roads, but it turned out that all the alternatives are gravel -- rather deep gravel. Don't go by the K&B market on your left at mile 116.4 without adequate supplies. You won't have any chance to restock until Orange.

Orange at mile 133.4 offers multiple food options, including a 7-Eleven on course and a Sheetz, McDonald's, and other fast foods off course on US-15 North. You'll climb a hill leaving town, but other than some rollers around Kelly's Ford, the rest of the route is somewhere between gently undulating and pan-flat.

You'll take the familiar route through Rapidan and Kelly's Ford to Remington at mile 167.7. In addition to the Exxon station on the right as you go through town (open until 22:00), there is also a new pizza place on the left (open until 23:00). After Remington, you'll zig-zag north to Warrenton, crossing US-29 several times and US-17 along the way. Be very alert to fast-moving traffic and, if you get to this point in the early evening as I did, lots of it.

Chris Readinger (240-393-9054) will be at the Hampton Inn to greet you when you finish. He'll have food, and the club will have a room where you can take a shower or rest if you like.

GravPop Coffee Stop Preride Report

Welcome to our first ever official RUSA Grando (Gravel + Rando) ride done with the new RUSA rules!

This is a great route with minimal cars that Ramsey Hanna has created based on inspiration from a similar VeloPigs (Virginia gravel / social club) route. RUSA is giving us extra time to complete this ride and the ample coffee / dessert stops make that a good thing.

This route has plenty of punchy climbs that require you to stay seated to prevent spinning out your rear wheel. None of the descents are treacherous and some light feathering should keep speeds in the comfort zone for everyone. That said, it is about 60% gravel and is significantly more tiring than road riding. I averaged about 2 mph less than usual for a Rando ride with more “perceived effort” per mile as well. I rode on 38 mm slicks, but 32 mm slicks would have been fine as well.

Mile 0: Rust Library in Leesburg parking lot is empty on Saturday morning, but it will be jam packed upon your return, so please park as far from the library entrance as possible.

Mile 18: The name of the ride is “Coffee Stop”, so it’d be criminal not to do so… Coffee was average here, but the dessert selections at Sweet Rose Bakeshop were excellent. I tried multiple to verify and was not disappointed. Small number of seats outside in the sunshine were nice and toasty warm too. This is the end of the W&OD, so a great place to brag about your Rando awesomeness to unsuspecting trail users.

Mile 18.6 - 19.1: This is it, the only semi-busy stretch of road you'll see the entire ride.

Mile 28.2: I’ve never been to the Bluemont General Store without having a steep as hell climb immediately afterwards so this was my first time trying the hand scooped ice cream. And since they have the greatest flavor of all time, Peanut Butter and Chocolate, it was a mandatory break spot for me.

(Btw, for those of you who like to mock my usual non-stop style… I’ve now controlled for more time in the first 30 miles of this ride than I have for any 200K I’ve done in over a year. Oh, the sacrifices I make while pre-riding.)

Mile 47: Middleburg is not for the faint of heart or light of wallet. All the shops, people, and fancy SUVs gave me the heebie jeebies, so I went to Safeway instead of a fancy coffee shop here. Well, the Safeway was pretty shi-shi as well, but they do have pre-made sandwiches if you need one.

Mile 57: If you're super lucky like me, this is where Andrea M and Greg C will randomly roll up on you wearing DC Rando gear and keep you company. Luckily, you only need to stick to their speed for a half mile before we turn off into gravel and then you can catch your breath.

Mile 68.7: You’re done and hopefully enjoyed this truly pleasant romp through mostly rural Loudoun, VA.

Our next DCR Grando adventure, likely May 21st, will be a little bit longer. Get out there and get some practice before then.

Lady and the Barons Preride Report

This was my first opportunity to ride The Lady and the Barons route, but it felt very familiar from beginning to end. The start is at the Big Bean coffee shop in Severna Park, which will open at the special time of 06:00 for our start. There are also several alternative pit stops close by for a quick bite/bathroom break along Route 2/Ritchie Highway if prefer before your start. The route begins by heading south on the Baltimore Annapolis Trail, and hopefully you won't encounter a running event like I did, but I got through with my bell and some patience. Going over the Severn River I saw Navy cadets out in 3 rowing shells surrounded by 6 or more motorboats, heading back to the Academy, something I had never seen after years of Annapolis visits.

This ride is made up from several other routes, it is a series of figure eights with 9 controls. I had cloudy and gusty weather on the same day as the Frederick 300, but the route’s generally southern direction for the first half, and overall short segments along the Chesapeake Bay, broke up the westerly wind into something more manageable. The terrain is mostly rural but there are multiple stops available for food and beverages along the way, some of my favored stops are not marked on the route map or cue sheet. The Chesapeake Market comes early at mile 47.5 and it has usual country store provisions along with a full menu of good sandwiches for a relatively quick turn around no matter what you need there.

The route turns north almost exactly at the midway point while heading west through Lower Marlboro at the Patuxent River, and then looping back on itself to Deale, another bay country town with opportunities to stop along the creeks. Another loop heading west brings you out to the familiar Harwood Rd (be careful crossing MD-2) and the horse farms in Davidsonville. After some choppy climbs the route brings you back by a north-westerly route to the dead drop on Generals Highway, before the turn home on Benfield Rd. and then a finish on the Trail. My GPS showed over 6000 feet of climbing for the 124 mile distance.

PARKING: DO NOT park in the little strip mall where the Big Bean is located. Riders have always successfully parked in the shopping center lot across the street, although the lot is signed for towing. If the signs worry you, look for street parking in the neighborhoods nearby.

Ye Olde Frederick Preride Report

Ye Olde Frederick 300 begins at the Extended Stay America hotel, a new location for DC Randonneurs that’s further south in Frederick than starts in previous years. You may experience “if we started here I’d be done by now” on the return trip, but the new hotel is a step up from those used previously. Parking is available on the street out front, and there is a huge parking lot across the street that worked for the pre-ride. We tested parking in both - no tickets, not even on a workday.

After clearing the lumpy bits on the northern outskirts of town it will be a dark but enjoyable trip to Thurmont on flattish roads. NOTE: leaving Thurmont there was a construction site with a “Bicycle detour” sign. You might just do what we did - ignore it and ride on the shoulder side of the orange barrels – it’s only about 100 yards long and no actual construction was happening along our route. By the time dawn arrives on March 26 you should be on the long, enjoyable climb through Catoctin Mountain Park. Lots of ups-and-downs from there until Fairfield PA. I was impressed with the donuts at the first control along the way (GT Handimart). The convenience store on the way into Fairfield is no more.

It’s a flattish ride from Fairfield until South Mountain. The apple orchards along the way unfortunately are not yet in bloom, but there are several beautiful vistas. Next is the climb to Big Flat with its false summit, the descent into the Cumberland Valley, and short pedal into Shippensburg for lunch at either Sheetz or McDonalds. Big Flat is around the 100 kilometer mark, and most of the day’s climbing is behind you then.

After lunch there is the beautiful ride up the valley, very flat with perhaps a tailwind to push you along with mountain ridges on both sides of you. Several stretches run alongside quiet creeks as well. After controlling in Carlisle you head southeast to East Berlin, climbing out of the Cumberland Valley over South Mountain on Whiskey Springs Road, with another false summit, but this time only half as high as your last climb. There are several excellent dinner options in East Berlin, then it’s 60 miles to the finish on flattish roads that we really motored on – smelling the barn. Many riders will take one last re-supply in Thurmont about 40 miles from East Berlin, which is the last of the well-spaced services along the way, as long as you plan carefully.

Warrenton - Orange Preride Report

The Warrenton – Orange 200K is a very beautiful route that winds its way southwest along some very familiar roads. It is a route that has, in the past, provided the start for the longer events and a favorite to many – Old Rag. I picked a particularly beautiful day to make the check-out ride. Though a little chilly at the start, it warmed up nicely to the low 50s. In planning for the ride, I’d expect the possibility of a 20-40 degree temperature swing as I had. Having additional space for the expended layers is recommended.

The beautiful views start almost immediately as the route heads out of Warrenton into the countryside and the rolling terrain. It is a hilly route, but lacks any significant or sustained climbing. The first control at mile 28.6 is Reuwer’s Grocery. It is the last opportunity for food and drinks until mile 70.9, so unless you pack enough at the start, I’d recommend a quick stop here and top off. There used to be another old store along the route that many of you will remember – the Old Somerset General Store at the intersection of Rt 231 and Rt 20 near Orange, but it is there no longer – only a hole in the ground. From here, it is only 6 miles to Orange and several food opportunities.

Along the route to Orange, you’ll pass Montpelier, the historic home of our 4th president, James Madison and his wife, Dolly. If you have time, stop in, it’s open 7 days a week, but keep an eye on the clock and allow yourself time to make the last 57.6 miles.

In Orange, there are a number of places to eat or restock. Staying the course will bring you to a 7-11 and Mario’s Pizzeria. If you make a left on N. Madison before you get to those stores, you’ll open up other fast food and convenience store options.

Back on the route from Orange you’ll pass through horse country and the quaint village of Rapidan. Don’t blink as you pass through it or you’ll miss it. The terrain levels off a bit over the next 10 or so miles. The last control at mile 105.3 is the Exxon in Remington. Only 20 miles to the finish from here. As you approach Warrenton, there are a couple of stingers for some tired legs, so save a little bit for the last 5 miles.

Parking is limited at the Sheetz so please do not plan on leaving your car here. Instead, please park in the shopping center parking lot located just behind the Sheetz.

O.T. Doe D.O. Pre-Ride Report

Theresa Furnari, Emily Ranson, and Bill Beck started the O.T. Doe D.O. pre-ride at 7am on Feb 12 with a temperature of 46F, which is quite warm for February. However, winds were brisk out of the west and northwest, which is common this time of year, and we were expecting a tough second half of the ride, though it was not as bad as expected.

The Over to Dover Do Over offers all the characteristics of a DCRand 200k. There are rolling hills, a few of which are steep, but steady downhills and picturesque scenes. I particularly like the creekside view around mile 61, just before starting the climb up to Dover. The terrain takes you through the suburbs of Frederick, across many bridges, among country barns, and through small Pennsylvania towns and farmland.

The ride starts at the Dunkin’. There are restrooms and Dunkin’ sells the standard pre-ride treats - coffee, bagels, and donuts. Please use the abundant street parking rather than the more limited shopping center spaces. At the 2.0 mile mark, look for Walter Martz Road at the traffic circle. Do not turn at Walter Martz Pike, which comes up .1 miles before the roundabout.

The open control at New Oxford at mile 44.9 offers two fast food stops, Turkey Hill, which is on the right side of the road and a Sheetz on the opposite side. Both offered bathroom facilities. At the turnaround point in Dover, PA at mile 69.3, the Moonlight Cafe offers hot delicious food, including a tasty cream of crab soup. The staff were also happy to bring us a pitcher of water or two to refill our bottles. If you want to treat yourself, stop in, you will not be disappointed. Two other possibilities include a Turkey Hill farther along Main Street for those who want a faster stop, and Taqueria EL Camino, which Emily spotted after the turnaround, on Canal Street, and which opens at 11 AM.

Although most of the roads were wide or had shoulders to ride on and were in good condition, PA 4002/W Canal Road coming out of Dover was the only road that did not meet all of those characteristics. The road was narrow at places and lacked wide shoulders to ride on. But a few miles down the road brings you to the town of New Oxford where there is a killer coffee shop and tasty treats, plus a 7-Eleven. At mile 107.5, the McDonald’s just outside of Emmitsburg, the Exxon gas station, or the newish Dunkin’ provide quick stops to fill up bottles or a light bite for the last 23 miles to the finish. The finishing miles are not difficult, and Saturday’s winds became gentler when the route headed more southerly from Emmitsburg to the end. Also, it was quite beautiful to watch the sun dip lower as we proceeded south with Catoctin Mountain to the west, seeing backlit clouds behind the mountains. After a careful crossing of US-15, the balance of the miles takes you through familiar roads and then neighborhoods to the finish. If Dunkin’ is not your food choice, there is Pizza Blitz across the street, which offers tasty pizza.

RWGPS scores this with about 5,000 feet of climbing, though one GPS Saturday put it slightly over 6,000. The two crossings of U.S. 15 deserve attention, after Maryland improved the safety of the intersection for drivers by blocking (with low, sloped barriers) a direct crossing. It is now designed in each direction for riders to turn right onto the highway shoulder for about 50 feet, and then cross the highway when it is safe, using a paved path across the intersection. After crossing the traffic lanes, turn onto the shoulder again to get back to the route.

Minutes for Annual Meeting

Minutes for the 2022 Annual Meeting of DC Randonneurs have been published to this website. They can be accessed by clicking on Meeting Minutes > 2022.

2021 in Review

I've posted a page of awards, achievements, and recognition for 2021 on our auxiliary website. It can be reached from this site by clicking on the About tab > Pre-2008 Results > look for 2021 in the Awards section at the top of the page.

The view from 30,00 feet is pretty impressive:

  • 4 riders achieved Mondial status (2 recidivists)
  • 1 Ultra Randonneur (= 10 SR series)
  • 1 Ultra R-12 (= 10 R-12)
  • 7 K-Hounds (3 recidivists)
  • 7 R-12 (4 recidivists)

The list of organizers also includes recidivists. Guess who organized more rides in 2021 than anyone else.

I've also added a section entitled Holy Sh*t to capture what seem to me remarkably achievements that aren't part of the normal ACP or RUSA awards structure.

This page lists randonneuring achievements, but as many of you know, our riders do all sorts of other amazing things on their bikes, like ultra-marathons and trans-Virginia races.

Please let me know if you see any errors or omissions. I've picked a lot of low-hanging fruit from the RUSA website, but I've also done some stuff that involved scanning results lists and counting on my fingers, which has a pretty high error rate.

Website Help

At the bottom of each page on the DC Randonneurs website, there is a link labelled "Webmaster". If you ever have trouble finding something on the site, or performing a task such as registering for a ride, clicking on that link will enable you to send an email to the site administrators, who will be glad to help you resolve your problem.

Who We Are

DC Randonneurs sponsors long-distance cycling events in the Mid-Atlantic region ranging from 100 kilometers to 1,200 kilometers (60 - 750 miles) in length. Rides start from the Baltimore-Washington region but travel as far afield as State College PA, Buchanan VA, and Warm Springs WV.

The terrain we ride ranges from the flatlands of the Eastern Shore to the rolling hills and valleys of the Piedmont and the sometimes steep flanks of the Appalachian mountain ridges to our west. Our routes, many of which we've ridden for years, take quiet back roads through gorgeous and varied scenery, with regular stops for supplies and rest.

Our rides are unsupported. There is no sag wagon, and help of any sort can be miles away on some of the more remote stretches of road we ride. But we ride together, creating bonds of friendship and camaraderie along the way. Our ride organizers and volunteers work hard to make sure that every rider is accounted for, from start to finish.

Our rides are timed, with riders required to reach intermediate control points, as well as the finish, within a set window of time. But our results are listed alphabetically. Our style of riding is know as allure libre, meaning riders ride at their own pace within the limits set by control opening and closing times rather than riding as a group at a steady pace set by its leaders, which is the audax style of randonneuring.

Randonneuring is non-competitive, but we challenge ourselves and each other -- to ride farther, to ride faster, to ride longer than we might have though possible. We aspire to relentless forward progress but take time to help each other when in need, whether that need is for emotional support, an energy bar to cure a bonk, or a cleverly improvised fix to broken equipment.

DC Randonneurs is affiliated with Randonneurs USA and operates according to the rules promulgated by that organization by adoption from the Audax Club Parisien.




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