Friday, April 28, 2023

Eastern PA Fleche 2023 -- Ride Reports

Preliminary results for the 2023 PA Randonneurs Flèche are available on the website along with finish line photos.  Barring any issues, results will be submitted to RUSA and ACP soon and will become official eventually. The process takes time.  As usual, don't expect your Flèche certificate from the ACP until next Spring.  Think of it as your reminder to register for the 2024 Flèche. 

Of the five registered teams, four teams started, three teams finished. Of the 25 Registered Riders, 18 started; 13 finished (72%).  The reason for the high DNS/DNF rate was the weather: 100% chance of rain, heavy at times, pretty much all night long. And some wind. And some cold. And scattered darkness, becoming 100% dark. Not a very "inclusive" weather forecast. But there's a certain, special kind of person that finds challenging "Rule 9" conditions to be irresistible. These people are called "badasses". 

Patrick in happy anticipation of a Rule 9 opportunity

Four teams,  Romancing Flatlanders, Coast Cycles, Flèche and Bones, and Annie's Arrows, comprised such badass type people and ventured out, undaunted, on Saturday morning. Come what may. 


The Romancing Flatlanders -- still pretty dry at this point.


Two of the four teams started from the NYC area, one from Washington DC, and another from Quakertown, PA.   Even without the presence of NYGTF this year, the NYC and DC starts represented a wide dispersal of start locations, very much in the spirit of the Flèche event. Great job, captains, crafting such spatially diverse routes.

But some of that diversity ran afoul of nature. As the storm came in from the West and lingered at the shore, teams that routed to the West hit the storm early and then ran back into it again as they approached the finish, but seemed to have some respite from it in the middle. On the other hand, one of the teams, the Flatlanders, seeking the mild terrain along the shore, found themselves located in the middle of the lingering storm. Facing the prospect of grinding through endless rain and wind all night long, the Flatlanders abandoned after about 200K of this Type 3 "fun". 

The other three teams were soaked too, but not quite as relentlessly at the Flatlanders, and these three were able to make it through to the end. Sunday morning the clouds vanished and the sun came out.  Finish photos show happy faces basking in sunshine, belying what they went through to make it there there.

Hard partying after the Flèche

Getting volunteers to run the flèche can be difficult because people want to ride the event and that pretty much precludes them from helping out.  An exception to this rule is Ben Keenan, who, after riding all night through the rain with his team, took a brief nap and then helped the organizer clean up and stow gear after the finish party.  

Brad Layman helped out at the Flèche finish with some set-up/clean-up and also with shuttling some tired riders to their homes or cars. Brad and his wife Amanda recently completed the Boston Marathon (Chapeau!) and Brad didn't feel up to riding the Flèche sandwiched between that big run a few days earlier and his upcoming preride of the 400K (where he will be organizer).  This is what it looks like when Brad "takes it easy".  Thanks Brad!

Cecilie Gaffney, originally destined to serve as the power-stoker in the Gaffney sub-team component of aka More Cowbell had an illness that prevented her from riding. Nevertheless she found the strength to show up with tomato pie and pastries for the finishers and well wishers. Thank you Cecilie.

Also helping with the clean-up were CJ Arayata and Ryan Stanis.  CJ also helped get the word out that well-wishers were needed at the finish to cheer the arriving teams, and he delivered this Rocky Statue Pep Squad to the porch of Chamounix Carriage house. For the most part arriving by bicycle, the RSPS deployed a staggering array of coffee production apparatus so as to coffeeneur without walls as they awaited the finishers.  As they sipped coffee and cheered the teams, I wondered if any of these pep squadders, many of whom rode in on dyno-hub powered, headlighted, randoesque looking steeds were starting to get rando curious? Vous avez l'équipement. Avez-vous la ténacité d'être un randonneur?

Outdoor coffeeneuring by the Rocky Statue Pep Squad

Breakfast was provided in large part through the volunteer efforts of RBA emeritus Andrew Mead. Andrew drove in from Lancaster, measuring cup in hand, and proceeded to make pancakes and sausage for all comers. 

Iwan Barankay writes...

Thank you for setting everything up at the hostel. The fresh pancakes were particularly amazing. They should put it on the package: "Tastes best after riding 12 hours in heavy rain."

Coming up next in the PA Randonneurs calendar is the ACP SR Series that continues with a 400K and simultaneous 200K run out Chamounix Carriage House. All the details are on the website. Hope to see you there. 

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