Thursday, April 16, 2009

Getting Ready For Something Different: A Flèche

In the last year or so I've done roughly twelve brevets, with distances between 200 and 600km and overall times ranging from about 9:35 to 39:59. It's a format that I've grown used to. On a brevets the organizer chooses the distance, and you get to choose the time it takes to complete it. Even with all the paperwork that is randonneuring, it's a pretty reasonable and straightforward setup.

But for a flèche things are a bit different: everyone is on the road for 24 hours, and each team chooses the starting location and length of the ride beforehand (it has to be at least 360km, or 224 miles in length). Each team starts in a different location, but ends in the same location. This year for the SiR 2009 Flèche the end location is in Olympia.

What makes the flèche really different is that you can't just blow through 359 km in say 19 hours, and then sleep for 4.75 hours and do the last kilometer at the 24-hour mark. Nope, the French creators of the flèche wanted to make sure you're not sticking around in one spot for too long. And thus, no team can spend more than two hours in one spot. Which means you really have to keep an eye on the time for this event; it sounds like almost moreso than on a brevet. Luckily our team captain, Greg Cox, has gone thorough these motions before and should be a great guide for the ride.

Our route is starting on Bainbridge Island, then going up north towards Hadlock, south towards Shelton, a little jog out to the Aberdeen area, and then a straight shot east to Olympia. I've done some but not all of these roads, and I don't think I've done any of them at night, so it will be interesting. Since we start at 6PM on Friday, we'll be finishing at 6 PM in Olympia on Saturday.

I read a funny quote from Kent Peterson a while back in relation to these rides. It goes something like this: "there are a lot of stupid rules in randonneuring, but the flèche takes the cake." (Mark Thomas mentions this quote, but the link is broken)

If you're dying to know all the dirty details of this ride format, see the RUSA flèche page.

Robert made some sweet graphics for us, and Joe P. made buttons and t-shirts! It's gonna be a ride to remember, for sure.

In other flèche news, I read on that an ACP team in the Flèche Velocio (in France) did a 630km route! That's 391 miles in 24 hours. Whoa.


mike said...

Good luck! Love the graphics too. Here in the NE we roll the weekend of May 15. Our team is starting morning of 16th and rolling 225(ish) miles (mostly the length of VT) to our target in MA.

Looking forward to it, even with the rules.

Good luck!

Kent Peterson said...

Here's the updated link:

All my old stuff migrated from the site to so replacing with fixes the broken links.

Have fun burning time at some mini-mart at 2:00 AM!


matt m said...

Thanks, Mike! Good luck on your ride - will you be posting a report anywhere? I always enjoy reading about others' cycling adventures, dumb or not.

Kent: Thanks for the updated link.

As it turned out, we never really needed to burn any time, we burned it by going slower than planned. Nonetheless, we made it!

Steve said...

Hey Matt, looking forward to reading your report on the Flèche. I'm wishing I had got it together and got myself on a team. Oh well there's always next year.