6-7 April 2012
What the heck is a Fleche? It is a 24-hour team Randonneuring event held on or around Easter weekend. No rest stop may be longer than 2 hours. Allowable start times are from noon Thursday through 10 AM on Saturday. A minimum of 360 km must be covered during the event. Multiple teams start from various locations and all finish at one location the same time. One additional 'feature' of the event is that the teams must be at a penultimate checkpoint on their route 2 hours and 20 kilometers from the finish. This rule helps to synchronize the finish of the various teams. This was the first year a Fleche was held in Arizona. Two teams formed; one riding from the Grand Canyon to Tempe (Extreme Picnic Society); and the second, consisting mostly of Mormons (Mormon Batalion), riding a loop that started at the finish location (The Boulders Restaurant/Bar).
|Curt, Paul, Steve, and Carlton at the start|
I knew this was going to be tough brevet since I would be responsible for all the team coffee and beer consumption during the event. At the start, I was given the unofficial moniker of 'designated drinker' and we were on our way!
|Interesting Roadside artwork in North Scottsdale|
Our route took us down 9 mile hill, through Rio Verde, to the first official checkpoint at the Denny's in Fountain Hills. Since it was Good Friday, I ordered Clam Chowder and fries. Carlton and Curt ordered the same, not realizing they were doing their part for interdenominational harmony! I used the Rusa.org time calculator so we knew when the checkpoints would 'close' so we didn't get too far ahead of schedule. We had plenty of time, refilled our water bottles and headed out the Beeline highway toward Saguaro Lake and Bush Highway.
|Paul on Bush Highway near Saguaro Lake|
|Curt powering up Bush Highway|
|Paul and Carlton enjoying the fresh pavement on Usery Pass|
|Carlton and Curt at Usery Park|
We stopped at the Red Sage restaurant for dinner and we enjoyed more of Clam Chowder. Much better than the Denny's version. It was a fun local restaurant nestled in the heart of a retirement community. I don't know the average age of our team, but I certainly wouldn't call us young. But it was a crack-up when one of many curious patrons said it was nice to see such a 'clean-cut group of young men' out on a bike ride!
We rolled through Florence AZ (well lit by the various houses of Correction) and noting that we were again an hour ahead of schedule rolled into a Burger King. We were fortunate that the manager let us in the dining room (we arrived at 10:05 and it closed at 10:00 but she said we could stay inside until the drive-though closed at 11:00). Curt made a bike repair and we all enjoyed a snack.
|Curt enjoying an ice cream after his bike repair|
|A mini-PBP scene; eating, sleeping, and chilling in reflective gear|
|Getting a little drowsy in Denny's - Casa Grande|
We rolled into the next checkpoint (Circle K) in Maricopa shivering! I went right to the coffee pot and hot dog grill (now about 5:00 am and Easter Saturday) and enjoyed a hot brevet breakfast. We all plopped down around the soda fountain and enjoyed a break on the floor. Its always fun to see the reaction of folks walking and seeing Randonnuers sprawled out on the floor of a convenience store!
|"A table for four please, oh no tables, the floor will be fine thank you!"|
We rolled through Chandler and Tempe to the finish line at The Boulder's Restaurant and Bar. We arrived at a little after 10:00 am and the other Fleche team rolled into the parking lot just minutes after we arrived.
The Boulders is very bike friendly and even has an indoor bike rack. Our waiter gave us all date/time stamped receipts so we could officially end the ride (10:25) and begin the celebration. Friends and family from both teams joined the fun, food and festivities. We shared stories from ride and had a great time.
|Doing my duty for the BATAlion with Joey and Ryan from the Extreme Picnickers|
Paul Layton writes a great blog and he has his side of the story here.
Here is a little video from the ride: