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Fleche 2010

Team 3G - Gears, Gals and Guy

The fleche is my favorite long-distance event. It is a team event, where all members of the team ride together for the entire event. It is 24 hours in duration, with no single stop more than 2 hours. Each team designs their own route, covering a minimum distance of 360km. The idea is that teams from all over a region meet in a common spot. Ideally the various routes might look like the spokes of a wheel, with the hub as the destination. But it is not a requirement that the route be a straight line, or that the team must start far away from the destination. No out and backs (along the same road) are allowed, nor are small loops. A large loop is acceptable. There are lots of other rules about checkpoints and such, but the basic idea is that you and your mates pick a nice route that covers at least 360km, that you end up at the destination 24 hours after you start.

The cool thing is that the team rides and works together, making this a great social event, and there is a party at the end.

In 2005, John and I rode with Max and Chip as Team Cinque Terre. This was a first fleche for all of us. We spent a bit of time devising our name and a route that would work well in the early season in New England. This really meant picking a route that didn't include mountain passes since they might be snow-covered in mid-April. We ended up picking a route that threw lots of hills at us in the beginning, but then turned rolling to flat. We used some roads we knew and others we just picked from the map. Some roads we picked from the map mid-route. The team name was a result of picking a route that includes 5 states: MA, RI, CT, NH and VT, finishing in Westfield MA. It took a bit of persuading to get me to agree, but we started at 10PM and rode our first miles into the night. The temps overnight were well below freezing and during the day it broke 70F! After finishing at 10PM Saturday night, we all got a good nights sleep, then went to brunch and rode 90 or so miles home afterwards.

I enjoyed the event enough come back. And the route was so nice, that we reused it, with some slight variations for several years.

In 2006, John and I rode with Rick, Glen, and David, as Team Two Tyred. We modified the route slightly and I accidentally routed us over Mt Tom in the last 20 miles after a big meal. I was not popular with one teammate for that choice.

In 2007, Jake, Emily, Mel, John and I were Team All for One. Jake and Emily are well known fixed gear riders and asked me if I'd be interested in doing a fleche (fixed or with gears). I hesitated a while before committing to fixed. At some point Mel, another famous fixie joined the team. John rounded out the 5 bike limit, with his Rohloff equipped bike. He had injured himself and was wise to use gears. However I took advantage of him since he had gears and gave him all my spare batteries - and I had lots!

For a while I had talked about putting together an all gals team and in 2008, Dena, Susan and I were the Fixie Chicks. Once we came up with the name, there was simply no turning back. We even had jersey's custom made. We had a blast on the ride, but all decided that next time we would have gears. We also decided that the next year, we would do a 25 mile ride with 5 ice cream or coffee stops, and no sleep deprivation! And we kept to that promise and took 2009 off..

But in 2010, Easter was late enough and the rules were such that our event could be held in late May! Dena's friend, Norm, was interested and Susan was up for another go, so we started planning. We started talking about team names, and naturally "Not the Fixie Chicks" was tossed around. At one point Dena and Susan and I were out on a Sunday riding with studded tires. We joked about doing the fleche on studs and naming the team "Chicks on Studs". I said if we did a fleche on studs, we would be "Studs on Studs". But we quickly dismissed that idea, and eventually we came up with Gears, Gals, and Guy - Team 3G.

We also came up with a new route. The finishing point this year was to be Newton. I live a block from Newton. We talked about a few possibilities with train journeys to a remote start, but all my routes ending up being way too long, so we finally decided on a nice loop starting at my place, heading out to Brattleboro and back across the center of the state to finish a few blocks away. Of course, as is typical for my routes, it had loads of tiny little backroads, a few of which are dirt, and since we'd have gears and it was later in the season, we might as well have some mountains.

As has become tradition, we took and evening start after dinner and coffee at my house. John was doing his own epic event the next day as well, but graciously agreed to make us all espresso and send us on our way.


Susan in her reflective gear

Our route headed northwest out through Westford and Groton before picking up some tiny roads, with dodgy pavement.


Pamela and Norm, taking advantage of the warm evening!


Dean sending SMS updates to the Dudley at home - in bed!

Dena and I had commented on the bumper crop of poison ivy we had observed lining the roads. We said nighttime stops would not involve any venturing off road, given the warm temperatures and exposed flesh along with all that poison ivy. True to our word, when we took this break on a quiet road at 3AM, we sat IN the road.


Susan enjoying some non-saddle time

 


Living up to the 3-G name, Norm pulls out the smart phone to send a text as well!