By March, the distance/base mile phase of my training is over. It is time to work on speed and strength. This transition is hard every year. I remember how strong I felt when I climbed mountain passes last September, and now it seems like even small hills have grown into mountains over the winter. Wouldn’t it be easier to continue our nice rides in the valleys at a social pace?
At that point, my friend Ryan usually says: “We’ll be so glad we rode these hills when we are riding the next event, feeling great after 20 hours on the road.” Goals really are a great motivator. After all, last September’s form did not come out of nowhere.
Our next goal is the Flèche Vélocio. The Flèche is a 24-hour team ride in spring. Each team plans their route in order to ride the maximum distance they can in 24 hours. At the end of the ride, all teams congregate at a scenic location to enjoy each other’s company.
Today, the Flèche is one of the last traditional randonneuring events. It focuses on teamwork and performance, as is spelled out in the official rules of the Flèche:
- Create a team spirit during training and during the ride.
- Complete the longest route possible in 24 hours.
- Arrive at a symbolic place to meet with like-minded cyclists.
As a 24-hour ride, the Flèche is a great dry run for PBP since it includes all-night riding. However, the Flèche is a great event in its own right. Follow this link for a list of Flèche rides organized in the U.S.
To increase participation in the Flèche, the Cyclos Montagnards are proposing the Flèche Challenge: Form a team and design a Flèche ride in the original spirit of the event. Challenge yourself how far you can go, but with a focus on a scenic course. After completing the ride, send in your route and ride report (and photos, if you have any). They will be published on the Cyclos Montagnards web site, so they can serve as inspiration to others. More information about the Flèche Challenge is at the Cyclos Montagnards web site.
(The photo above shows the start to the very first Flèche Vélocio in 1947. The original ride report was translated and reprinted in Bicycle Quarterly Vol. 3, No. 1. And Paulette Callet/Porthault (second from left) today is a sprightly 97-year-old and invaluable resource when I research articles about the history of randonneuring.)