But I am just a pilgrim on this road, boys
Until I see you fare thee well
-Steve Earle, Pilgrim

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Flèche Lives

I rode my first Flèche on April 23 and 24. The route went from St. Joe to Grain Valley, MO (about 228 miles). The name of the team was "Flèche Lives", and the other riders were: Spencer Klaassen, Bob Burns (KC RBA) and Brian Bettis. Spencer organized the team.

A Flèche is a 24-hour ride held in the spring. The traditional event date is Easter weekend, but it can be held from one week before Easter until seven weeks after. Flèches are regional events where teams of cyclists all head to a common destination from various starting points. No individual entries are allowed. The RBA in each region establishes the finishing destination each year. Each team must start its ride between noon Thursday and 10:00 AM on Saturday. The minimum distance required for the 24-hour period is 360K (224 miles). No rest stop may exceed two hours in any one location. Each team is limited to a maximum of five and a minimum of three members. The ride is patterned after the Flèche Vélocio held by the Audax Club Parisien (ACP) in France.

We left St. Joe in the rain, which continued until just before we crossed the Missouri River into Leavenworth, KS (2nd control). We also had an 8 to 10 mph wind out of the SSE. Spencer had three flats just before the river. They appeared to be caused by road debris.

Brian began to slow on the hills between Eudora and Wellsville because of knee pain. He decided to abandon in Wellsville. He made a wise decision because even though we soon turned east and only had a crosswind, there were several long, uphill pulls. This was the toughest part of the ride for me. The sky was completely clear, and the temperature had risen to about 76 degrees. While that temperature will not seem very hot later in the summer, it was too hot for me on Friday. I was glad when we pulled into Louisburg, KS for a break.

We made good time the rest of the evening and into the morning. The temperature stayed in the 60s the remainder of the ride, but whenever we stopped I would get chilled and bundled up in all the clothes I had. Of course, I would warm up again when we started riding and had to take clothes off. We pulled into the 22-hour control in Odessa just after 2:00, which gave us to two hours to rest before riding the final 25K (about 17 miles) into Grain Valley. Spencer had a pinch flat that he fixed before we left. We pulled into the Casey's at Grain Valley about 5:30. Brian and Arlys Minear showed up a short time later, but we had to wait until 6:00, when the Casey's open, before we could go to breakfast at IHOP, complements of Bob Burns.

I did not have any mechanical problems the entire ride, and my new, homemade LED light worked great.

More pictures and video from the ride taken by Spencer.

Flèche Lives at the start:
Spencer, Brian, Bob & Ralph

Photo by Arlys Minear

Brian & Spencer heading south out of St. Joe

Fixing one of Spencer's flat tires

Crossing the Missouri at Leavenworth, KS

Drexel control

Heading east out of Drexel

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Springfield, MO, 300K Brevet

Nine riders started the 300K brevet from York Elementary School at 6:00 on April 17. This was four more riders than last year. Skies were partly cloudy with a NE wind. The wind got us off to a good start, and I rode the first 100K in just over four hours. I started out with two of the faster riders, but they pulled ahead before we got to Hood's on I-44. One of the riders needed to get home for his wedding anniversary.

I had to alter the route from last year due to a road closure between Alba and Webb City. The new route was slightly longer, but much more enjoyable because it followed lower-traffic-volume roads, including portions of Historic Route 66. An interesting sight between Carterville and Webb City was the old bridge retaining walls for Route 66 where the road bridged a former rail yard. The bridges and tracks are all gone, and so is the dirt, leaving just the retaining walls.

All of the riders, except one, caught up with me at the control in Pierce City, so I waited and left with three of them. One of the riders stopped on MO 14, but he said he was okay so Dan Pfaff and I went on. We stopped and waited for a while at the turn onto MM Hwy. They did not show up, and we went on. Apparently one rider had a tire problem, and while they were working on it, the last rider caught up with them.

I completed the brevet just before 22:00. This gives me ten months towards the RUSA R-12 award.

Rae and Doug Nickell and Tom Barnett were at the final control again this year to greet and sign in riders. Much thanks to them.

Rail trestle along Historic Route 66

Former Route 66 bridge retaining wall

Brian Hawkins & Wayne Hanno

Dan Pfaff

The following photos by Doug Nickell

Rae & friend at last control

Mike & Nancy Meyers

Ralph checking Dan's brevet card