The usual suspects have built a solid team for the Northeast Flèche 2009, have scouted, mapped, and controlled a route, and sent in our application. The ride is patterned on the Flèche Vellocio that has run in France since the late 1940′s. The modern ACP Flèches USA is a 24 hour team randonneuring event that takes place each spring with groups of 3-5 randonneurs embarking on rides of a minimum of 360 kilometers over a period of 24 hours. There are subtle rules about control points, brevet card verification for proof of passage, two hours maximum stopping time at any one control, and the need to document your location at the 22 hour and 24 hour mark.
The spirit of the ride is simple – head off into the day (or night) and keep moving as a team for 24 hours. Most routes are designed as one way ‘arrows’ targeting the regional destination where all teams meet. The Northeast rides have historically ended in Westfield, Massachusetts – teams from Vermont, Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, and New Hampshire all point their wheels to this location. Routes are devised by each team – so groups may try to get in as many miles as they can, while others ride the minimum required for certification (note that everyone gets ‘credit’ for the same 360k). All savor the time on the bike and the chance to tell the sometimes epic tales that come from being in motion through day and night in all weather over varying terrain.
We’ve called our route a ‘Green Mountain Ramble’. We plan to leave from Burlington and head south along Vermont Route 100 to Ludlow (passing through Waitsfield, Warren, and Killington). After dinner in Ludlow (and as night falls) we climb to Grafton and then cross into familiar territory at Saxton’s River and on to Putney where we will have a planned two hour sleep control at the West Hill Shop. As the moon rises we head into Brattleboro, cross into New Hampshire and flow down the Connecticut River Valley to Northfield, Massachusetts (for late night coffee at a friend’s), Amherst for breakfast, and then on to the finish in Westfield.