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Thread: Flèche Rules?

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    Senior Member lonesomesteve's Avatar
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    Flèche Rules?

    Any experts out there on the rules of a Flèche?

    I've read the rules here on the RUSA site, but I'm still not clear on one part of this.

    My question is, can a team take more than 24 hours to get to the finish point as long as they:
    1. complete at least 360km by the 24 hour point,
    2. reach the finish point by the required time, and
    3. follow all the other rules?

    In other words, if the team starts at 7:00pm Friday and reaches the destination at 9:00pm Saturday, but they completed their 360km by 7:00pm, is that okay?
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    Randomhead
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    The 24 hour checkpoint is sacrosanct and the 22 hour checkpoint must be at least 25km distant from the finish. The 24 hour controle is the finish and is chosen by the RBA. You should review your proposed route with your RBA. In your example, you could ride 2 hours to the official start of your fleche. Route choice to meet the rules is part of the attraction of a fleche.

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    generally ok.

    if you submit an itinerary with a start at 7pm on Friday and your finish point is town A, with your 22 hour control at town B, but find that, at 5pm on Saturday, you're at town C, you must treat Town C as your 22 hour control and get your cards signed there.

    Then, when 7pm arrives, you must have:

    1. Ridden a minimum of 360 km.
    2. Travelled at least 25 km from Town C.
    3. Get your cards signed by the nearest available authority regardless of your distance to Town A.

    It is highly desirable to actually finish in Town A at 7pm, but if you don't it wont' break your fleche or keep it from being certified. On a fleche I did in 2008, we aimed to finish in a bike shop in Westfield, MA and had Windsor Locks,CT as our 22 hour. Due to difficulties enroute, we were running behind schedule and had only arrived in Ellington, CT (five miles from our intended destination), so just got our cards signed there and kept going. We just got into the Westfield town limits at the 24 hour mark, and got our cards signed at a nearby golf club. We didn't arrive at the finish until 24:20, but that was generally ok for us. Submitting an itinerary where you're already planning on finishing 2 hours late might be a little unconventional and require you to revise it -- but the main point of a fleche is to get you to spend 24 hours on the road and arrive at a common destination. Everything else past that is gravy.

    You must, btw, have at least three members of your team arrive in good order at the finish, regardless of time taken to get there. If, for example, you have a three man team and you've completed items 1 and 2 above, but one of your teammates crashes before you arrive in Town A, then you're still going to be disqualified because you didn't finish the fleche together. We had a five man team in 2007 that, due to attrition, was whittled down to three in the final stretch but then had one of the team members crash about six miles from the finish, and so were disqualified.

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    Senior Member The Octopus's Avatar
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    What spokenword said.

    Note that you can be well over the 360K mark at 24 hours and still not finish for a variety of reasons. I was part of a team that did 560K a few years ago and we struggled to satisfy the 25K rule and the finishing 3 machines together rule (we did both and got the sweet certificate to prove it, but it was touch-and-go there for a while at the end).

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    Randomhead
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    thanks for correcting my misunderstanding. Trying to ride 560k with 2 hour max stops is a fairly impressive accomplishment.

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    Senior Member skiffrun's Avatar
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    Gee, it seems that there are even more rules that one apparently doesn't need to follow.

    Article 2 of Fleche rules states "The Flèches-USA are regional events whereby teams of cyclists all head to a common destination from various starting points. The RBA in each region establishes the finishing destination each year."

    But apparently one need not reach the destination for the ride to count. Why even have a "common destination", then?

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    Quote Originally Posted by skiffrun View Post
    Gee, it seems that there are even more rules that one apparently doesn't need to follow.

    Article 2 of Fleche rules states "The Flèches-USA are regional events whereby teams of cyclists all head to a common destination from various starting points. The RBA in each region establishes the finishing destination each year."

    But apparently one need not reach the destination for the ride to count. Why even have a "common destination", then?
    skiffrun, to clarify: you do not really need to reach the common destination within the 24 hour period. It is best to do so within 24 hours for matters of form, but arriving at the destination in 24:30 or 25:00 shouldn't disqualify your ride. As I noted earlier, your ride will not be certified if, for some reason, you do not get three machines on your team to the common destination.

    To use the earlier example: if your team arrives at town C at 22:00 and then gets to point A1 at 24:00, still 10 miles away from town A -- you have to get your cards signed by someone at point A1, but assuming that A1 is more than 360 km from your start, and more than 25 km from town C, you don't get to say, "oh we're done then, let's go home!" You still need to reach the common point with your three vehicles, and finish without spending more than two hours resting at A1.

    The point of the common destination is to get all the teams together for Sunday brunch. This is also not strictly required by the rules, and you won't be disqualified if you ditch brunch; but it's best to do so for tradition. And, usually, pancakes.

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    Hey Steve, glad to see you found a fleche team - what's the approx. route? A little Mt. Rainier loop doozy? =]

    Good luck out there.
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    Senior Member Pedal Wench's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spokenword View Post
    ...
    The point of the common destination is to get all the teams together for Sunday brunch. This is also not strictly required by the rules, and you won't be disqualified if you ditch brunch; but it's best to do so for tradition. And, usually, pancakes.
    I'm doing my first fleche in a few weeks. Can I have waffles?

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    Uber Goober StephenH's Avatar
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    "The point of the common destination is to get all the teams together for Sunday brunch. This is also not strictly required by the rules, and you won't be disqualified if you ditch brunch; but it's best to do so for tradition. And, usually, pancakes."

    Here locally, there was some discussion of this, and it was pointed out that the teams have enough latitude on starting time that they don't necessarily all finish at the same time, hence, the common brunch can be iffy.
    "be careful this rando stuff is addictive and dan's the 'pusher'."

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    Senior Member lonesomesteve's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mattm View Post
    Hey Steve, glad to see you found a fleche team - what's the approx. route? A little Mt. Rainier loop doozy? =]

    Good luck out there.
    Thanks, Matt. We're basically doing a loop around the Olympic mountains starting in Winslow. The distance is pretty... um, optimistic which is why I'm asking, "what if we don't make it to the destination in 24 hours?" I'm looking forward to it. Should be fun and a challenge.

    Thanks everyone for your help. My concern was primarily, "what if we bite off more than we can chew and it takes 25 hours to get to the final destination?" Sounds like that's okay as long as we record where we are at 22 hours and 24 hours, and all the other rules are followed (25 km between hour 22 and 24, three machines finish together, etc.).

    This will be my first Flèche and I'm pretty excited. Nothing like riding through the night.
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    Quote Originally Posted by spokenword View Post
    skiffrun, to clarify: ......You still need to reach the common point with your three vehicles, and finish without spending more than two hours resting at A1.

    The point of the common destination is to get all the teams together for Sunday brunch. This is also not strictly required by the rules, and you won't be disqualified if you ditch brunch; but it's best to do so for tradition. And, usually, pancakes.
    I don't think this is correct. Once you've controlled at town C at 22 hours and then ridden 25Km further to control three vehicles at town A1 with a total of >=360Km then you are done. You can just go home if you want, and that's exactly what some fleche teams have done when they have conflicting time demands like Sunday church. For that matter, if your region's fleche target is for Sunday AM but you start on Friday morning and finish Saturday morning, controlling on the fly at C and A1, there is no reason to continue to a target A that has no one there.

    However, controlling on the fly at towns C and A1 can be a very iffy procedure at 4 am when sleep-deprived people are trying to interpret the fleche rules. My first fleche, two team members including the captain dropped out, leaving one experienced rider who didn't fully understand the rules and two newbies who understood them even less. We knew we were in behind schedule and in trouble, so when we saw an open 7-11 at a "town C" at 21:50 with probably about 35km to the official end we controlled there, hoping that two hours later we'd be able to find a town A1. Then we scooted to try to get back on schedule, although we probably were still only just leaving the control at 22:00 but did not get a receipt or signature stamp at that time. We controlled again at our official 25km control at about 22:30. Then we spent some time getting lost and further behind schedule so that at 24:00 we were still about 10km from the end. Fortunately we rode right by an open grocery store for our A1 and controlled there. A couple days later we found out: DNQ. We couldn't prove that we had ridden 25Km in the final two hours from C to A1.

    After that, I always carry the fleche rules with me. Though at 4 am I'm not sure they'd make any sense to me.

    Nick

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    Senior Member skiffrun's Avatar
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    I certainly claim no familiarity with RUSA Fleche Rules. But why have "rules" that aren't actually rules? Why have to get your course approved (I'm not sure that a team has to do that) if you don't have to follow it?

    Again, why have "rules" that aren't actually rules? Isn't that what NASCAR is for?

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    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    I don't really care for a lot of rules, but the fleche is one of my favorite of all rides. I can't even count how many I have done. I get to ride a little...eat a little, ride some more...eat some more...eat a little more...what could make for a better day on the bike? Somehow, I always end up at the finish line at near enough to what ever time I'm supposed to be there. There is so much extra time built into fleches that it isn't funny. Unless you design a route that is much longer or harder than required, then that is your fault. All the fussing about the 22hr control is a waste of time IMHO. Just go out, ride your bike to some great restaurants and adventures! Heck , one year we had a control at an Indian casino. Partook of a pretty good buffet,played some blackjack and turned in some $1 chips as proof of our arrival at the control. Don't forget, this is supposed to be fun!!!!!
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

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    Senior Member Pedal Wench's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Homeyba View Post
    I don't really care for a lot of rules, but the fleche is one of my favorite of all rides. I can't even count how many I have done. I get to ride a little...eat a little, ride some more...eat some more...eat a little more...what could make for a better day on the bike? Somehow, I always end up at the finish line at near enough to what ever time I'm supposed to be there. There is so much extra time built into fleches that it isn't funny. Unless you design a route that is much longer or harder than required, then that is your fault. All the fussing about the 22hr control is a waste of time IMHO. Just go out, ride your bike to some great restaurants and adventures! Heck , one year we had a control at an Indian casino. Partook of a pretty good buffet,played some blackjack and turned in some $1 chips as proof of our arrival at the control. Don't forget, this is supposed to be fun!!!!!
    Apparently your RBA is pretty loose. $1 chips would not pass muster as proof of passage, here. Brevet card with signature and time stamp, plus a receipt, is required out here. You could get chips anytime, so they prove nothing. As to the "fussing" about the 22 hour control being a waste of time ... just what on earth are you talking about? Either you do the 22 hour control properly or you don't, and then you DNQ or DNF. I know ten people whose fleche teams screwed this up, and one of those teams was captained by our former RBA. I already told the story of how my first fleche got screwed up.

    Maybe the weather is nicer out there, so it isn't a factor. But out on the east coast, in recent years, we've had snow, freezing rain, high winds, 95 degree heat w/95 percent humidity, etc. The team I have been riding with has a 70-year-old, a 68-year-old, a 58-year-old, and two young guys in their early 50's (one of those is me). These are some very tough guys, but you still gotta cut some slack for a 70-year-old with two artificial hips. That kind of takes care of the "so much extra time built into fleches."

    So while riding a fleche may be trivial for people who can ride fast enough to RAAM qualify, for the rest of us mere mortals, it is a long event, early in the season, often with very tough weather conditions, and when many people have not had much of a chance to train. Heck, we still have snow on the ground from the four feet that got dumped on us a month ago. It's only in the last couple of weeks that the roads have cleared enough that you could get out and ride a 200Km.

    All that said, the fleche is still my favorite event.

    Nick

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    Senior Member skiffrun's Avatar
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    I was / am NOT a member of the team in the following link, but the story is good, and is a well-written tongue-in-cheek report.
    Complete with COLD rain, SNOW, and 2 guys from "New England" with almost no previous rides under their belts.
    http://ncrandonneur.blogspot.com/200...severance.html

    I thought I knew where there was a report of another team "at" the above Fleche that did pull the plug. But no can find.


    A year later, much better weather:
    http://ncrandonneur.blogspot.com/200...eam-nc-dc.html


    2009, another "laundry ride":
    http://ncrandonneur.blogspot.com/200...ul-fleche.html

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    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thebulls View Post
    Apparently your RBA is pretty loose...
    The RBA at the time was a founding member of RUSA and is still very active. At the time he thought it was pretty cool. You can call it what you want but it is just a bike ride and what would be the point of cheating anyway???? If you are going to cheat on something like this you have much bigger issues. Some people get so tied up in the rules and forget what we are out there for...


    Quote Originally Posted by thebulls View Post
    As to the "fussing" about the 22 hour control being a waste of time ... just what on earth are you talking about?...Maybe the weather is nicer out there, so it isn't a factor....These are some very tough guys, but you still gotta cut some slack for a 70-year-old with two artificial hips. That kind of takes care of the "so much extra time built into fleches."...
    I've ridden fleche's in all kinds of weather including snow, wind, heat and on dirt roads. You're not going to get any sympathy out of me for that. The 70yr old with two artificial hips I'm willing to cut some slack but the vast majority of us are in significantly better shape than him. You can't take the experiences of one geriatric team (I'll be on that team soon!) and throw that blanket over everyone. Jeez, it's only a 223+/- mile ride!!!!!!!! If you can't ride 223 miles in 24hrs maybe it's time to reconsider your training plan or your hobby. You don't need to be any kind of racer to ride 224 miles in 24hrs. Thousands of people do double centuries every year in 18 hrs or less. That's nine hour centuries, not very fast. If you are a rider in average cycling shape this is not a difficult ride distance!

    Most of the fleche teams that fail do so because they made their routes too long or too hard not because they couldn't ride 223 miles in 24hrs.
    Last edited by Homeyba; 03-12-10 at 09:23 PM.
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    Senior Member Pedal Wench's Avatar
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    Uh-oh. That's the fleche I'm doing. Was hoping for warm sunny weather - don't like hearing about SNOW!

    Oh - and I know a few of those last folks. Hope to see them in Emerald Isle this year.
    Last edited by Pedal Wench; 03-12-10 at 09:14 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Homeyba View Post
    ... You can't take the experiences of one geriatric team (I'll be on that team soon!) and throw that blanket over everyone. Jeez, it's only a 223+/- mile ride!!!!!!!! If you can't ride 223 miles in 24hrs maybe it's time to reconsider your training plan or your hobby. ...
    Nor can you take the experiences of yourself, a RAAM rider, and your teammates, who are presumably equally elite, and assume that they apply to everyone. And since this is a team event, you can't ride much faster than your slowest team member.

    More generally, the trouble with always writing your advice as if everyone else is as strong a rider as you is that most new randonneurs are not RAAM speed and never will be. So while you may think that it is an encouraging thing to tell people that what we do is trivial, and that successful randonneuring is all mental, those newbies who you are advising go out there and find that, indeed, this is one tough sport, both physically and mentally. If they actually take your advice to heart, then they might just quit because they think something is wrong with them and they're just not up to it. It's better to advise people as if they are the average rider, or as if they are on the weaker tail of riders. If they're an elite rider, it's less likely that they'd be posting questions in the first place.

    Just my perspective.

    Nick
    Last edited by thebulls; 03-15-10 at 03:37 PM.

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    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thebulls View Post
    Nor can you take the experiences of yourself, a RAAM rider, and your teammates, who are presumably equally elite, and assume that they apply to everyone. And since this is a team event, you can't ride much faster than your slowest team member....
    I appreciate your perspective but you are making some incorrect assumptions. First of all I've never done a fleche (or any other brevet that I know of) with a fellow RAAM racer. I will do and have done a fleche with anyone who asks. As you are aware, fleches are team events and half of the fun is getting all of the teammates to the finish line. Second, I am not an "elite" rider by any means. I appreciate the compliment though. I'm just an average cyclist who is a little more headstrong than most. Ultimately, the only difference between you and I is that I've tried it!

    I get the impression that you think I race my brevets and that is very wrong. All of my 1200k's have been done between 80 and 90hrs, five of which I did before I did my first RAAM. If you knew me, you'd know that I make a habit of riding in the back and helping struggling riders. I've been doing that for 15+years. I have a very good perspective of what's going on at the back of the pack and the vast majority of people who are back there struggling aren't doing so because they can't ride fast enough or don't have the physical ability. They are struggling because they are carrying too much,carrying too little, are on poor fitting bikes, have very poor time management skills, have nutrition issues or are generally suffering from poor planning!

    I'm an optimist and firmly believe that anyone who is reasonably fit can do these rides with relative ease if they are properly prepared. I've personally ridden with some people who are far less than the "average" cyclist and watched them become successful riding brevets. The sport hasn't grown to the levels it has because it is so difficult!!!

    Sometimes I miss the days of just five or six of my buddies out enjoying a weekend 400 or 600k. Nowadays you show up for a 400k and there could be 150 people there. Maybe I should just tell people how incredibly hard it is just to make people go away. Too many people messes things up. Now there's people arguing about the fine points of this rule or that rule instead of riding their bikes. There are people saying you shouldn't do brevets because you ride the wrong kind of bike or you don't have fenders blah blah blah. Go have a look at the Google Randon group, what a mess... Sorry, off on a tangent there.
    Last edited by Homeyba; 03-15-10 at 10:40 PM.
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Homeyba View Post
    I appreciate your perspective ...
    Hmm, it seems like you have different people at the back of your pack. Sure, there are some who are in the back of our pack because they've made mistakes, eating or equipment. But most of the time the people I ride with who are at the back of the pack are there because they just are not in good enough overall physical shape to be further ahead. In most cases, they are experienced randonneurs who know what to do (though that doesn't always mean that they do it -- eating can be a problem for anyone at any time in any event, almost randomly, in my experience). But they're just not in the kind of shape that they need to be in to have an overall faster average speed. They're not back there because they're lollygagging, they're riding as hard as they can.

    They are still way fitter than the "average" cyclist. But they are less fit than the average randonneur (and thus are in the back of the pack).

    When I say "they" I include myself. At various stages of my rando life and training I've often been a back-of-the-packer (not from choice like you but because that was the best I could do). At peak training, before BMB & PBP, my strength to weight ratio gets higher and I can start finishing events somewhat ahead of the average rider. At that stage, I can finish "shorter" (up to 600Km) events with "relative ease", and if I lollygag to ride with a slower friend, riding in the back of the pack, then the event turns into a cakewalk.

    I'd be willing to bet that if you were to measure, across all of your club members, each randonneurs' strength to weight ratio (e.g. by taking average wattage on a 30-minute time trial pace and then divide by the total weight of them plus their fully-loaded bicycle), and then record their average speed across an SR series, that you would explain more than two-thirds of the variation in average speed just by knowing their strength to weight ratio at the ride start. In my case, I'm a pretty strong rider, but my strength to weight ratio of about 1.6 watts / kg would increase by about a quarter if I were closer to the "ideal weight" tables. That would translate to notably quicker finishing times with less effort. All the effort would have taken place earlier ... losing that damn weight!

    Nick
    Last edited by thebulls; 03-16-10 at 08:35 AM.

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