Fleche 2010 began well before the official ride start. According to RUSA, the fleche is a 24-hour event held on or around Easter weekend. This is an ACP-sanctioned event. No rest stop may be longer than 2 hours…A minimum of 360 km must be covered during the event.
First, we had to recruit team members for the adventure. This proved to be fairly difficult but there seems to be no shortage of the mad itchin’ for adventure. We quickly filled our tentative roster only to have 2 randonneurs back out due to prior engagements. They were promptly replaced and one of these had to back out due to prolonged illness. With that, the team ‘Riders on the Bubble,’ was set with team members Gary, Sara, Maria and me.
Next, Gary liaised with RBA Tony over the route and we received updates on the progress as the route evolved. I must point out Gary with Tony as tutor worked hard on the route and it was evident; the route was great.
Logistics was the next obstacle. We decided to drop vehicles at the finish and car pool back to Gary and Sara’s as the start was less than a mile from their home. This would require a full day driving in the car. My car ride tallied 7 hours. It was worth the trip as I had wonderful hosts and received a full and peaceful night’s rest.
After a quick ride to the starting control, we were almost nearly set for the impending adventure. Wait, no…we weren’t. Gary and Maria had to turn around and get a control card. Good to get Murphy out of the way prior to the event right?
Our route took us out of Apex, NC on the American Tobacco Trail before reaching the first control in New Hill. As we wound our way through the country side, we noticed several cyclists out for a Friday morning ride. It was along this stretch that we noticed the sign for a farmer selling ‘tomatoes.’
The winding route took us to Angier then we bopped to Benson. The temperatures kept rising. We reached the Smithfield control and I was cooked but no time to whine we had more miles to cover before sundown.
Arriving in Mt. Olive, home of the pickle fest, around 1800, I completed the chores were found some shade outside the convenience store to cool off and eat. It was cooler at 85F+ outside than inside the store. Note: chores usually include 1) get control card signed; 2) replenish supplies as required. Today it included cooling down. I ditched my civvies in a dumpster that I thought wouldn’t make too much of a difference when the ride began. This helped rid the bicycle of 2-3 lbs and made the rest of the rout mentally easier. I wolfed down a ham sandwich, a Coke and checked in via Twitter. I received a message from Branson who was doing the virtual eFleche from his desk. He stated the temperatures in Smithfield topped out at 90F.
We reached Kinston in the dark and made our way to Ayden for the next Control. Topping off and carrying some extra water we headed out towards Cape Carteret in the dark. We passed through Cove City, Trenton, and Maysville. The most difficult part of this part of the ride was staying awake and not crashing during the micro-dozing. Finally as the sun was rising, we approached Cape Carteret. I smelled sausage coming from the small restaurants.
We reached the 22 hour control with just enough time to sit and have a cup of coffee and a little food. I mistakenly chose to eat an egg and cheese bagel and when we departed the control I left portions of it out the parking lot and all the way over the intercoastal bridge leading to Emerald Isle.
We were truly on Riders on the Bubble as we headed up the island towards Atlantic Beach. Our pace guaranteed a finish baring any mechanicals. All members of Riders on the Bubble completed the ride. We were greeted by several riders that had completed in the previous hours which added to the motivation of finishing. I think I can speak for all of us by saying we would do it again next year. Thank you to RBA Tony Goodnight for setting up the ride and choosing a great location for the finish.
[I will post pictures later today.]