2023 Announcements

Smoketown Brawler Reprise populaire on Nov. 18 - Ride Report

by Mimo DeMarco

Our veteran pre-rider was very worried about all of us making it across a long-standing, semi-sketchy detour on the C&O, but most of us on the ride were more concerned about having time for coffee and using the facilities at the start. Luckily, Emily R allotted us a luxurious thirty minutes to TCB in the morning which afforded me a gingerbread latte and piece of flourless chocolate cake. It’s offseason folks, time to get insulated!

Only five of us rolled out from Beans in the Belfry Saturday morning, but it was a fun group with lots of chatting and no hammering off the front. In other words, Dan P was taking it easy on the rest of us while he tested a new bikepacking rig. Thank you Dan P!

Mark M insisted that we skip the 7-11 in Marshall and go straight to the Red Truck Bakery. His partner Mary whom we unexpectedly rolled up on somewhere in Virginia seconded the recommendation. And it was a good suggestion with fantastic baked goods, pristine bathrooms, and strong coffee on tap. Thank you Mark M!

From Marshall, we turned mostly into the wind (20-30 mph). Luckily, we were riding in our usual terrain and were often hidden from the strongest blasts while doing the usual non-stop rollers. Multiple HUGE fox hunting parties were spotted in Virginia! Dozens of baying hounds, 60+ riders in properly coordinated attire, and even some bugling. It was quite the sight and sound.

At the end, Smoketown Brewery lived up to expectations. Dozens of libations on tap including some low and non-alcoholic options. They’ve finally opened up a kitchen, so I got the stink eye for bringing my King’s Pizza order in with me, but I wasn’t kicked out after pleading ignorance. And in a pleasant surprise, Gardner D and Jason K rolled in a few minutes after we arrived to create a true round table of Randos where many lies were shared about our respective adventures.

Tubman Blackwater 200K Brevet Nov. 4

by Frank DiCarlantonio

Big Ring, Bald Eagles, and …..Pie!!!

If you haven’t ridden the “Flatbread” routes on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, you’re in for a treat. I consider this one the best of the three, and this brevet allows riders to enjoy flat and lightly traveled roads. The calmness lends itself to reflection on the historical significance of this region, where Harriet Tubman lived and worked heroically to free slaves using the Underground Railroad. If you’re looking for additional inspiration to complete this brevet, be sure to visit the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Historical Park along the way. But more on that later.  

Keep a keen eye when you ride through Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge and the surrounding area as you might spot a bald eagle, a sika deer, or a fox squirrel. I was a little disappointed to see that most of the waterfowl have vacated the area for warmer temps, but I did see a few bufflehead ducks that migrate down from Canada. I was also lucky enough to spot two bald eagles. At mile 75, you will turn onto Decoursey Bridge Road. Pay close attention as I’ve seen an eagle here numerous times. He seems to be very curious of cyclists as he’s swooped down on me on two occasions and gave me an escort down the road for a few hundred yards.

The ride starts from Royal Farms (no bathroom!) in Denton at 7am, but for early risers who want to grab breakfast, I recommend Bullock’s Deli just a few blocks away at 422 N 6th Street. They open at 5am so there’s plenty of time to enjoy a quick bite from this small-town business before clipping in at 7am. I had a scrapple, egg and cheese sandwich and a chocolate donut. They also have restrooms available. I gave them a heads up that they might have some cyclists stopping in early, so they should be ready for you.

As you leave the Royal Farms, you’ll ride through several Denton city blocks and a short stretch on Rte. 404 before finding the country roads we covet. I rode on a Friday, so traffic was fairly heavy on Rte. 404, but I anticipate much less for the Saturday ride. The shoulders are wide and mostly debris-free.  

If you skipped eating significant calories before the ride you have a chance to fuel up at mile 32.9 where you will find Cindy’s Kitchen. They can be very busy, however, so if time is a factor you might want to consider other options.

Emily’s Produce is only 10 more miles down the road and always a fun stop. They serve lunch between 10am and 2pm. If you want grab-and-go food, they have plenty of baked goods and fruit. I highly recommend the pepperoni and cheese rolls. All the filling is baked inside, and they are individually wrapped.

I usually devour one at Emily’s and stuff one in a jersey pocket for later. You’ll be happy you grabbed some food as there’s not a lot of options over the next 46 miles. I ate my second roll at mile 67 and wished I had grabbed a third.    

At mile 67.6 you’ll find the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Historical Park. In addition to historical information, a lovely park and facility, they have restrooms and water fountains to refill bottles. Outside they have a bottle fill station that I’ve used many times in the summer months. They close the water valve when the temperature drops, but it was open for me on Friday. I suggest riders stop to appreciate this special place and encourage you to donate a few bucks to help keep the lights on. Their hours of operation are 10am to 4pm on Saturdays.   

At mile 88.7 is the Vienna Foodmart, but just before that is one of the best things about this ride……Mandala Pies located at 115 Old Ocean Gateway. Their hours on Saturdays are 11am to 4pm. As you travel on Market Street through Vienna the route will prompt you to make a left on Old Ocean Gateway Rd. To get to Mandala Pies you will make a right instead. It’s about half a block away. Trust me, you’ll be happy you made this detour. They have a few picnic tables outside….so relax and enjoy some delicious pie with your cycling friends. The burst of sugary calories will serve you well over the last 40 miles. Unfortunately for me they had a baking class going on Friday and didn’t have individual slices for sale. They offered me a whole pie……tempting, but no!!! On a side note, the pie shop is hosting a 5k foot race that Saturday from 9am to 1pm. Fast riders might have to contend with that, but Mandala assured me there will be pies to be had!!    

If pie isn’t your thing and you wish for a more significant lunch, 12 miles down the road is Goose Creek at mile 100. This is a typical convenience store but has a Subway sandwich shop.   

Your last opportunity for services comes at mile 107, which is 23 miles from the end. Plan accordingly!

As long as you don’t encounter any Eastern Shore hills (aka the wind) your only “climb” of the day will be the Dover Rd Bridge at mile 113. The view from the top overlooks the marsh and is quite spectacular.     

So, get in that big ring and stay there. This is a really fun, flat, fast, and scenic route. Or slow roll it if you prefer.    

Last year many cyclists gathered at Pizza Empire, the final control. I did not, so I can’t tell you if the pizza is any good. There is also the Market Street Public House a few blocks away. I have eaten there on several occasions, and it hasn’t disappointed.

I plan to ride the Underground Railroad 200k perm on November 4 which shares some miles with your route. I will likely see you all at the start and ride until my route deviates. I’ll meet up with everyone at the end.

Have a great ride!!!

Frank DiCarlantonio

Old Rag 200K Oct. 7

I hope you're planning to do this ride because it's one of the most beautiful we have. It's tougher than the numbers let on and the climbing is back loaded so pace yourself early and bring climbing gears. The pavement is all good and I didn't encounter bad traffic anywhere.

I have my fingers crossed that the forecast improves, though actually it's only calling for morning showers.

Just a reminder that sunrise on Saturday is after 7 AM (7:11), so lights and reflective gear is required. Sunset is 6:43pm.

I plan to be at Wawa by 6:30 am for check in, IF YOU REGISTER BUT WON'T BE STARTING PLEASE TEXT OR CALL! 703 568-0424.

I plan to be at Foster's Grille by 4 pm, if you finish before then please text or call.

And remember, gird your loins when you leave Syria!


High-Low HoCo on Sept. 30

by Emily Ranson

High-Low HoCo is a fun little 100K route that starts at the Woodbine (Md.) Park & Ride and visits the (almost) lowest point in Howard County and highest point in Howard County, and also visits the headwaters of both the Patapsco and Patuxent Rivers. In the morning you will ride downhill to Ellicott City, leaving rural Howard County for suburban. After the fast downhill through Old Ellicott City, riders turn around just across the border into Baltimore County. The High's does not have a bathroom.

What goes down must come up, and riders are treated with the long slog back up and out of Old Ellicott City and back towards rural Howard County. At mile 30 riders can stop at either a High's or Royal Farms. The Royal Farms has unlocked restrooms around the left side of the store and a ready supply of hot food. From here you get to enjoy rural Howard County, finally crossing into the Montgomery County agriculture reserve. If there's wind you'll hear the dry corn rustling with the good scents of fall.

Then the route takes you to the 'High' of High Low HoCo, an antenna tower that is at the highest point of Howard County. You'll then go through a quick succession of counties: Montgomery, Carroll, and back to Howard County. After you make the turn back onto MD-144, there is a farm to your right that has an excellent vegetable stand. From here, we roll back to the High's and you've completed the shortest distance for the rouleur series.

Double Ox Audax 200K on Oct. 1

by Gardner Duvall

Note: this event was postponed from Sept. 23.

On Oct. 1 we again run the Double Ox Audax, under the unique UAF rules.  The gist is that riders have to ride audax – together – in order to get credit for the ride.  The prescribed pace is 14 mph/22.5 kph.  I designed a route out of Frederick to help achieve these goals.

The route fills the bill by providing fine roads and good services with the modest climbing that can allow us to keep a group together for a whole brevet.  Breaking the route into 25-mile chunks, the hardest one comes first, which is important to know, because the hardest climbing is done first, and you don’t have to be discouraged that the whole ride will be as hard.  Even at that, RWGPS counts less than 56 feet of climbing per mile in that first leg.

The first control and services are at Deja Brew in New Oxford, PA at mile 44.  One basis for its choice is the availability of a bathroom.  Their trade is brisk on Saturday morning, and we’ll have a lengthy stop to get everyone served and otherwise cared for there.  The baked goods are tasty, and when I was there last I spied the addition of some savory choices to the panoply of great sweets.

The next services are at the Wild Hog BBQ in East Berlin, at mile 58.  Outdoor seating is ample and the menu is suitable for hungry randonneurs.  Vegetarians seem to make out acceptably there, too.  A barbeque sandwich is one of my rando favorites.

We’ll stopped in Gettysburg at their inimitable 7-11 for water.  We ride down Confederate Avenue at the Gettysburg Battlefield, and then cross over the battlefield above the closed Little Roundtop, before heading back into Maryland.

 Gorgeous views of South Mountain and Catoctin Mountain carry us into and away from Thurmont, where some ice cream and a coke will launch me for the final leg.  Roads nearly worn smooth by the wheels of DC Randonneurs carry us back to Frederick, after crossing the Utica covered bridge.

Is an audax brevet for you?  If you are committed to riding with the group for 200k, the anticipated 14 mph average is a lesser concern.  If you need to ride faster, or you need to ride self-paced, this is not your brevet.  Some of us may not be able to make this pace, but the group psychology can help you ride a little faster.  When you know the group is there for you and is trying not to ride away, you can pull a little extra speed when needed.

From last year’s ride report: Mostly we just enjoyed the rural roads on a fine fall day, chatting and looking out for each other and smoothly maintaining our expected pace. The prospect of the specified pace of 22.5 kph (14 mph) seemed to jar DCRand members more than any other aspect of the audax brevet. Some of us could have ridden faster Saturday, and some felt they were stretching to go that fast.

But we experienced the magic of riding for each other, and those concerns never surfaced for nine riders each covering 200 kilometers. The group pulled you along not with aerodynamics but with psychology. If you pushed a bit in places to keep up, the group was accommodating rather than discouraging, and at the end of the ride no one seemed tapped out by the effort.

See you there, G

Washington Antietam preride report

by Mimo DeMarco

August 27, 2023

It's a good thing I’m in “training” for the stupid hilly 600K in Ohio in a few weeks, or I’d be mad at Emily for putting this route on the September calendar. Yes, it’s gorgeous. Yes, it visits battlefields that are always awe inspiring. Yes, it has resupply points every two hours. And yes, it starts very close to my house.

But damn, did we have to go over Marlu (both ways), Gapland, and Reno? And what’s with the bonus climb over Sugarloaf. It was a good reminder to take my calorie tracking seriously over the next few weeks.

Not to be just a Debbie-downer, this ride does have some great ice cream. Right after you roll over the top of Reno, you pass South Mountain Creamery (yum) or three miles later you can stop at the LDS (not that LDS) store in Middletown which is the oldest seller of Hershey Ice Cream in the US. They were out of chocolate moose tracks during my pre-ride, but still had the regular vanilla-based version.

With over two weeks of recovery time, the returning PBP riders should crush this route. The rest of us might get crushed a little. But it’s character building, sorta fun, gives good bragging rights, and what Rando is all about.

An update from the DCR president

by Ed Felker

July 20, 2023

Greetings all! I hope you are enjoying the summer months on and off the bike.

Now that we are headed toward August and the fall, this is a good time to review our season and look ahead.

Congratulations to everyone who took on a club brevet and populaire this year. We've really had great rides and it's been special to see the new riders join in with the club veterans.

We had a successful spring brevet series as well as the Firefly 400K, and for that I want to thank our new RBA Emily Ranson along with our ride organizers and volunteers. It's no small feat for an organizer to preride and then stage the event, and for that we have a lot to be grateful for.

We have also had good turnout at the roleur populaire series organized by Gardner Duvall. Let Emily and me know what you think of these rides. They offer the randonneur experience in a shorter format, and the use of brewpubs as finish locations adds a welcome social opportunity.

I'm also happy to report that the club finances are strong. We are already close to our projected income for the year at this time. This is mostly due to additional events being added to the schedule. Raising ride fees for our longer events while keeping the shorter events at low cost has more closely matched  income to cost for each type of ride.

Expenses for 300K/400K/600K rides are largely driven by hotel costs, which have increased substantially in the last couple of years. An important part of DC Randonneurs approach is to provide a hotel room for our volunteers on long brevets, allowing them to be better rested before and during brevets and while in transit.

The club hotel also gives riders a place to shower, some limited opportunity to nap after they finish, and allows riders a place to to wind down with the group and eat and drink at the end of a big effort.

The club’s expenses have been lower than anticipated, largely because this year’s longer brevets have been in less expensive start/finish locations (which won’t always be the case).  

We'll take a close look at our 2023 expenses and projected expenses/income when we start budgeting for 2024 to see if this year’s ride fees were set correctly.

Stay tuned also for a member survey to inform our lineup of rides in 2024.

In the coming months we'll have a great program. After Labor Day, we have a 200K brevet and Audax-style 200K in September, a 200K brevet and the Dart in October, and a 200K each in November and December.

The board has decided, however, to forgo the planned PBP sendoff party. We were unable to arrange a suitable venue and we all have lots of plans for the summer weekends.

We'd like to organize a fall gathering to celebrate our PBP riders and everyone who has participated with DCR this year. More to come on that.

I'll finish with a hearty bonne chance to our PBP riders! We've been a presence at the big ride over the years and I'm glad to see DCR riders will be there again.

As always, reach out directly with any suggestions.

Ed Felker
DCR President

Liberty & Union Populaire Pre-Ride Report

by Gardner Duvall

There is an area in western Carroll County and eastern Frederick County, MD, where everything seems to be named for liberty and union: Libertytown, Uniontown, Union Bridge, Liberty Road, Uniontown Road. That’s where we’re riding July 8.

I rode this 70-mile populaire on Saturday. The event starts and finishes at Frey’s Brewing Company, which has a Mt. Airy address, though it is closer to Libertytown. The route is almost entirely in Carroll County, and it’s true to what that implies. That means rolling terrain, lots of dips and rises around creeks, streams, gullies; lots of farms and forests; and stunning views from ridge lines and of Catoctin Mountain off to the west. Most of the roads are small and lightly traveled, and the rest have full shoulders.

In addition to the usual cows in fields, I saw three fawns crossing roads (beware), a great blue heron in a little creek, a mule, newly planted tobacco (this old country boy has never seen that in these parts), goats, three cows wading in a farm pond, and lots of woods. This route is constantly switching between scraps of favorite rando routes and lovely unfamiliar roads.

Given the distance, it is probably best to plan on eating or re-supply at Taneytown, the halfway point. The route goes by Sheetz, McDonalds, High’s, and Dunkin there. Further on, there is a 7-11 in Union Bridge a few miles from the end, and occasional gas stations along the way.

Frey’s Brewing is an excellent spot to start and finish. I sampled the limited menu, trying the charcuterie and pale ale – the things I do for you! There also looks like excellent soft drink choices, including mocktails. The charcuterie features very nice cured meats and local cheese, and it will easily satisfy two to four hungry randos. There is ample seating outdoors, and with A/C inside.

See you July 8, G

Firefly 400

Coming up this weekend is the Firefly 400 - registration closes on Friday at 15:30. If you still need a 400 for PBP or want to practice a night start, this is the ride for you!

Here is a description from Bob Counts:

The Firefly 400k is a route designed by Nick Bull back in 2011 and it has been run every PBP year since then.  I have ridden this beautiful route twice before as a night start Brevet and find it to be excellent training for those of us doing a Sunday afternoon/evening start for PBP.  The night start provides for some quiet roads that would otherwise be busy during the dark hours through the morning.

The route starts from the Warrenton Hampton Inn at 7:30 p.m. on June 24th.  Lights and reflective gear are required and there will be a safety inspection just prior to the ride start.
Starting in Warrenton, you head north through hilly terrain to Purcellville, then back south to Marshall. From there you traverse gradual rollers and a long climb to Linden, there is a nice 24 hour convenience store past Linden which is a turnaround control.  After you retrace a bit, you head south along quiet roads and encounter some of the tough rollers of Crest Hill Rd.  The terrain moderates from Flint Hill to Madison and on down to Charlottesville.   I can recall an excellent napping location on Fort Valley Road when I last rode this in 2019.  There was a nice picnic bench there, hard to miss, approximately at mile 118.  I think we got a nice 30 minute nap here.  From just north of Charlottesville, you go northeast towards Orange on less undulating terrain but still very scenic.

The route is well controlled with good overnight supply locations.  There is a Sheetz in Madison (mile 140) and another Sheetz in Ruckersville (Mile 166), D’s Market (Mile 179) and then yet another Sheetz in Orange, VA (mile 191).  In fact, I think I recall thinking “this could be called Tour De Sheetz”.  We will have fluids and snacks at the closed-on-Sunday Elk Run Store.

After Orange, you take Twin Mountains Road to bypass 522 and replace a trafficky road with a gentle, low speed one.  After that is the excellent payoff of the lovely Algonquin Trail.  The terrain may get tougher through Kelly’s Ford but will moderate by the time you reach the Elk Run Store. From Elk Run it is about 20 miles on nice roads back to Warrenton.