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
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
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!