Clermont 200/300 Brevet Weekend — Update


I hope you are excited about this weekend! Here is some information to update you on what to expect:

— The final cue sheets have been posted to the Events page for each ride. We’ll have printed copies at the start. Please let me know if you have any questions.

— Expect it to be colder than we’re used to. Saturday’s start-time temps will bottom out at freezing in the countryside and it will struggle to warm into the 50s. For our slower riders, be prepared for a chilly night Saturday night, too. On the plus side, you’ll have 95 miles of tailwind to Avon Park. On Sunday, the 200K will start in temps in the 30s. Dress appropriately.

— Please arrive in plenty of time to check in, futz with your bike, hit the head, etc.  Brevets start on time, with or without you. There will be pre-ride announcements five minutes before the ride, and then we’ll be off, on-time.

Lights and a reflective vest or sash are required on the 300K, which starts in the dark.  Please set your tail light to solid, non-flashing.  Flashing tail lights are illegal in Florida (they are not legal on PBP, either). Lights/reflective stuff is not required on the 200K, but you will be disqualified if you ride in low-light or dark conditions without using those items.

— Scotch?  Yes, by God.

— It’s not too late!  Bring a friend or three. Just be sure to have them register by this evening!  And if you registered but can’t come, that sucks, but please drop a note to let us know not to expect you.

— Upcoming rides!  Our next event is an audax (UAF-sanctioned) 200K brevet on February 11. It’s at my house and there will be amazing food, beverages, and a new lunch spot.  If you’ve not done an audax brevet before, please join us!  The rest of the ACP and UAF rides (and a 100K RUSA populaire) are up on the calendar. Check ’em out and come ride!

See you this weekend,

Upcoming brevets — NEFR


Our neighbors over in the brand-new Florida region — Northeast Florida Randonneurs — are hosting two randonnees this upcoming weekend — a 200K on 11/12 and a 100K populaire on 11/13. Head over to their website (linked above) and check it out! They’re also hosting a brevet week in February, which is a great way to get some additional riding in or meet some or all of the PBP qualification requirements.

See you on the road,

News and Updates in 2022

All y’all–

After two years of relative dormancy, here’s where we’re at:

(1)  Our first proper brevets were held over the MLK Jr. long weekend. We had 27 complete the 200K and 9 hardy randonneurs completed a seriously wet, windy, and cold 300K the next day.  100% finish rate on both rides. You guys are awesome!

(2) Next up for the ACP brevet calendar are the 400K in March and a 600K in April. Registrations are either up on the website or soon will be.

(3)  We’re also playing host for the Gainesville club this year, administering their 200, 300, and 400.  Thank you to Scott Manning and Susan Gryder for stepping up and being the boots on the ground to run these events. Please support them by riding those events and offering your help to them if you can spare it. Florida is best served by having three independent, healthy randonneuring clubs offering brevets and whatever we can all do to help keep it that way, the better off we — and the sport — will be.

(4)  We had our first audax brevet in two years earlier this month.  Seventeen folks including some brand-new to randonneuring enjoyed a glorious day and even some ouzo in Tarpon Springs. Next up on the UAF (audax) calendar is a 400K in March and a 600K in May.  Those are special rides. The 400K rides like a large fleche. We did one three years ago and it drew 16 people. It was a total blast. There has never, ever been a 600K audax held in the United States (and I believe one has not been held outside of France).  So that will be a very special ride. It’s 2x300K, with a legitimate overnight and meals, all in under 40h.  If you miss this, well . . . you’re doing randonneuring wrong.

(5)  Speaking of special stuff, PBP is next year. It sounds like it’s far off, but it’s not.  Your ability to participate will be determined, in part, by the longest ACP brevet you complete in 2022. So if you want to do PBP, I recommend that you ride at least a 300K this year to ensure yourself a spot on the ride.

(6)  I know I have a ton of stuff to send back to you all.  Medals, brevet cards, … it’s an impressive stack on my desk.  The weather sucks today and so I’m diving into that. It’ll take weeks to get through it, but it’s coming. I’m going in; wish me luck!


Cracker Swamp Update

It is less than three months until the Cracker Swamp 1200 and registration still hasn’t opened. I wanted to update you on why that is and to let you know the status of the ride.

Executive Summary: The go/no-go decision on the Cracker Swamp will be made on August 31. Either registration will open that day or the event will not be held in 2021. If it is not held in 2021, the next Cracker Swamp will take place in Fall 2024.

Why the Delay and Uncertainty? I really thought that widely available vaccines would have brought us to a good place where normalcy would prevail and we could move forward without the constant pandemic umbrella hanging over our heads at every turn. I never anticipated that the vaccination rates would be so low and the pandemic is back, or remains as the case may be, with a vengeance.

As a result, Central Florida’s hospitals and EMS systems are currently overwhelmed. As of yesterday, according to our medical director, my county had several hospitals at or beyond capacity with ER bed wait times at seven hours. Nearly 50% of admissions to a floor are for COVID; more than 96% of those admissions are unvaccinated. Our EMS can no longer transport from a call to the hospital; fire/rescue is providing that service and they are at capacity. Conditions are worse, in some cases much worse, in the parts of the state the Cracker Swamp runs through.

There are consequences to an uncurbed pandemic. The consequence of full emergency departments, overflowing hospitals, and potentially delayed EMS response is that it would be irresponsible, in my opinion, to hold a four-day ultracycling event when it’s foreseeable that someone might need medical care and help either wouldn’t be there or we’d be taxing an already overburdened system. Overnight brevets, where people are riding at night, sometimes alone, and sometimes without the best situational awareness after days in the saddle, present heightened risk. In the face of at- or near-capacity medical and EMS resources, those risks are unacceptable to me. If the Cracker Swamp were taking place in August or September, it’d be cancelled for this reason alone.

But who knows what November will bring. The pandemic has taught me that predicting the future is a fool’s errand. However, we’re fast approaching a time when significant money must be firmly committed and an educated guess about the impacts of the pandemic on rider and community safety must be made. That deadline is the end of this month.

Give It to Me Straight; What Are the Odds? Not good. Unlike during the previous spikes in pandemic-induced hospitalizations, this time there are no state or local efforts to try to curb the spread of the disease. The other downer, of course, is that infectious disease doesn’t respect state boundaries or care about politics. What’s raging in Central Florida right now will soon enough be coming to your communities, too, and that could negatively impact the prospects of holding the Cracker Swamp, even if things begin to improve in Central Florida.

Why Not Hold a No-Frills/DIY/Rider-Capped Cracker Swamp?  Principally for the same reason. While reducing or eliminating volunteers, food, swag, overnight support, on-course support, and other organized aspects of the Cracker Swamp would move the go/no-go date slightly later, it would not change the fundamental calculus when it comes to the impact of an unchecked pandemic on our first responders and hospitals.

Secondarily, the Cracker Swamp is not a no-frills ride or a permanent. It was conceived as a large social event that emphasized community and camaraderie and not just as another bike ride or excuse to bag miles and medals. Preserving the character of the event is key, second only to making reasonable decisions about participant and community safety.

This Sucks. Tell me about it.

Got Any Good News? Absolutely. Keep things in perspective: This, too, shall pass, (although I sure thought it would have by now). Randonneuring isn’t going anywhere. Paris-Brest-Paris survived two invasions and a pandemic. What the ACP and their forbearers and the early organizers of PBP didn’t do, though, was try to run big, long cycling events during wars and out-of-control pandemics.

If you’ve read this far, thank you and thank you especially for your patience and understanding. If you have questions, please contact me. If you would like to be taken off this distribution list, or know someone who would like to be added to it, please let me know that, too.

Thanks and stay safe and healthy,

Brevet Updates: 2021


Long time, no events. Some good news, all around:

(1)  San An 100K this Saturday, 8am. No fee; registration required. Hope to see you there. This likely didn’t make it on to many of your calendars and that’s fair. So we’ll do it again toward the end of the month.

(2)  Up! All Night ACP 200K registration is also posted. Hope to see you there.

(3)  Cracker Swamp? But of course. Registration and Details coming June 15, 2021.

(4)  What about other brevets? Make-ups likely in the Fall. Stay tuned.

(5)  Audax? Yes, returning in January 2022. And it’s not just a Florida thing anymore.

2021 Brevet Updates

Here’s where we stand as we approach a year into pandemic life here:

(1)  This upcoming weekend’s 400K is postponed. We’ll host it later in the year when we have a better chance of more people feeling comfortable with overnights, night riding, and when we’ve all been riding distance a bit more than most of us have been lately.

(2) In it’s place, we’ll host a 200K RUSA brevet on March 6. Registration here. If this is successful, we’ll host more 200Ks this Spring to get folks back into the swing of things.

(3)  Plan on the 600K in April not taking place in April. Plan on another ride(s) that weekend. If we’re lucky, it’ll be a 200/300.  If not, it’ll be one of those rides for certain (unless things take an unfortunate, and unexpected turn for the worse with the pandemic). We’ll reschedule the 600K later in the year, if we have time and if/when more folks are more comfortable with that distance (many of us have not been riding as much) and with the overnight and, hopefully, for when we can confidently offer support.

(4)  What about the Cracker Swamp? Keep holding the dates. It’s looking like it’ll be good-to-go. We’re waiting for some better intel on what the lay of the land will look like for what overnight accommodations and support can reasonably be (and thus how to price the ride so we’re both fair yet don’t go broke). Good news: if you want to ride, you’ll be in the ride: no queues; no waitlist; no nonsense. We’ve all had enough stress lately.

(5)  Where’s my stuff from 2020? In a pile on my desk. Mea maxima culpa.

Stay safe and healthy,

Remembering Jacquie Schlitter, 1967-2020

We are sad to report Jacquie Schlitter’s recent passing after her fight with cancer. Jacquie became a randonneur in 2011 and completed a full series that year, culminating in a joyous and successful, if somewhat sleep-deprived, Paris-Brest-Paris (a result of “Too many French cafés”). That little vignette, which she shared with me as we approached Villaines-la-Juhel, typified Jacquie’s awesome nature. Jacquie would be in the middle of doing something really tough, really extraordinary, and totally wiped out and yet there she was, despite being on the edge, with a huge smile on her face and not only having a good time, but spreading positive energy to everyone she came in contact with no matter who they were. Anytime you saw her pig-tails flying in the breeze (usually up the road!), you knew you were witness not only to one of the strongest riders ever to put a bike on the line, but to someone who knew how to have a great time and always supported others.

Several years later, Jacquie completed the infamous beer-and-wine-soaked loop-style 1000K we ran in October 2014 to gauge interest in such a route design. Would returning to the start/finish each night be too boring? Or would riders enjoy having a basecamp and starting each day together? Leave it to Jacquie to prove the concept of an event that emphasized camaraderie (see above, taken after Day 2). The ride and route design were huge successes in no small part thanks to Jacquie and John whose enthusiasm for ultracycling and sharing its joy with others were positively infectious. Jacquie completed the 2016 Cracker Swamp in the same grand, enthusiastic style.

Jacquie, we sorely miss your spirit, your speed, and your hugs. May all your roads from hereon out be freshly paved and the wind forever at your back.

January 2021 200k/300k Brevets Postponed

The 200k and 300k brevets scheduled for January 16-17, 2021 are postponed. The pandemic is out of control and there is no evidence that it will continue to be anything other than out of control six weeks from now.

While I remain committed to the principle that your safety on these rides is ultimately your responsibility, not mine, I am equally aware of my duties to public safety and public health as an event organizer. There are a finite number of doctors, nurses, and other health care workers and a finite number of paramedics and other first responders who can bring you to them. People get hurt on brevets and over the years a number of riders have required paramedic and hospital services, including in-patient care. We will not organize brevets at a time when doing so risks adding to the historic overburden on our healthcare system and runs the unacceptable risk that you or someone else doesn’t get prompt care or care that they would have otherwise received were we not in the midst of a once-in-a-century public health crisis.

We will reschedule the 200k and 300k if possible, in the Spring if we’re lucky and in the Summer or Fall if we’re not. You’ll still get ACP credit for them: the ACP has been wonderfully flexible with rescheduling because of the realities of the pandemic. Our first event, then, will likely be the March 6 400K. March is hopefully far enough away that the holiday surge of sickness, hospitalizations, and death is waning and that a more responsible, selfless public response to the directions given by healthcare professionals has lessened the public health and safety risks associated with organized cycling events.

No one is more disappointed by this decision than I am. This will be my 17th season riding brevets, which is longer than almost everyone reading this, and I miss our organized events terribly. But doing the right thing isn’t about feeling good or making people happy or giving people what they want. Doing the right thing is usually hard and it makes people upset and disappointed. I share your frustration.

In the meantime, by all means, get outside and ride your bike. If you’re desperate for organized rides and RUSA credit for riding your bike, ride in other regions or ride permanents. Please continue to be smart. Now more than ever, be attentive and mindful of your safety and the safety of anyone you’re riding with or around. Be well, stay safe, and see you on the road.


Update on 2021 Brevets


You can probably tell from our silence that we remain in the midst of a global pandemic. Here’s where our region stands:

1. The 2021 calendar is available on the RUSA website and it’s also below:

200 — Jan. 16, 2021 (Tavares/Eustis)
300 — Jan. 17, 2021 (Tavares/Eustis)
400 — Mar. 6, 2021 (TBD)
600 — Apr. 17, 2021 (TBD)
100 — June 5, 2021 (San An 100K)
200 — July 23, 2021 (San An Night Ride)
200 — Sept. 11, 2021 (RM Anniversary Ride; St. Petersburg)
1200 — Nov. 4, 2021 (Cracker Swamp)

2.  You’ll notice a couple of things about the calendar. There’s no flèche. There are also no audax brevets. These are my favorite events and they’re also incompatible with a pandemic. I await their riotous, gluttonous return in 2022!

3.  Where’s the registration pages / How firm are these events? These are related questions. Do not expect registration information for the January brevets to be posted until mid-December at the earliest and possibly as late as the end of the year. It’s possible these rides will not be held. They could be rescheduled to the Fall. We simply don’t know now. We could have national/state/local stay-home orders or other circumstances that require cancellation or make it the responsible thing to do. RUSA could require cancellation. I could be sick. Trust that we’ll have the rides if we can and trust that I’ll communicate more information as soon as it’s reasonably responsible to do so. What I don’t want to do is to announce that everything is on!!!11!1! now only to have to pull the plug later and leave folks disappointed, out money, and with their time wasted.

4.  What changes can we expect for the brevets? Specifics will be announced when registrations open and expect that they may change from one ride to the next as circumstances necessitate. I can say with certainty that in January there will be no support or SAG of any kind before/on/after the ride, you will be required to wear a mask at the start/finish and while inside any building, and brevet cards will be replaced with another method of validating your passage through controls.

5.  As for the Cracker Swamp, we’re certainly hoping that we can have it. It’s 11.5 months away, which is like 3 eons in Covid Time. What is certain at this point is that registration will NOT open in February as I’d hoped. I think it’ll be impossible to say what the ride can look like — or, as is most germane to an organizer, cost — in November as soon as February. So if you’re interested in the ride, save the dates but stay flexible otherwise. And don’t sweat it: everyone who wants to ride the Cracker Swamp will be able to.

6.  Stay safe.

RBA, Central Florida

Events and Permanents Update: Where We Are

Today RUSA announced that it has reopened permanents, effective August 1. All the details are here, and you should study them carefully. The program is totally different than what we’re used to. Consider it a brand new thing; we’re all figuring it out together.

RUSA also announced that brevets remain suspended. There is no plan for resuming brevets; assume brevets will remain suspended for the foreseeable future. RUSA has made no announcement on events, but it’s presumed that they will remain suspended for the foreseeable future. As soon as I have more any information, I’ll share it.

Here are my thoughts on the current state of affairs, in my usual blunt style, but offered in the spirit of keeping both you and our beloved sport alive:

–First, don’t be idiots. The effect of what RUSA did here was to turn every member into an RBA. Anyone can organize a group perm, anytime, on any existing route, with any number of people and you guys are free to provide all the awesome support and post-ride festivities we’re used to. According to RUSA, “[Y]ou may ride a Permanent in a group with other RUSA Members.” Pay your ten bucks, gather up all your friends, and go ride together as much as you like. Same as an event, but you get to pick your riding companions and you don’t have to deal with me. But, with great power comes great responsibility.

To be frank, this is completely idiotic and I disagree with what RUSA did here totally. 40 people on a perm? You’re good. 2 people on a brevet? Nope. So here’s the deal: use common sense, which is tragically in short supply these days. If you guys start organizing large perms, … you’re going to kill the golden goose. Someone, somewhere is going to screw this all up and they’re going to screw it up for everyone and then RUSA will shut it all down again. Please, please, please don’t let it be any of us who is the cause of this going away. Let me be clear: don’t organize group perms, period. If you do, keep it quiet, keep it off the socials/Strava, and keep it to you and one or two other riders.  If you guys organize the massive perms that you’ve done in the past, let’s just say that this isn’t going to last long. Plus, that’s just dumb: Florida is currently an international pariah state for its level of unchecked community spread. Stay safe and don’t carry on as usual, because we’re pretty far from what’s usual and heading in the wrong direction. RUSA’s announcement today doesn’t help at all.

–Second, please don’t cannibalize our region. According to RUSA’s new rules, there are no perm owners and anyone can get any route certified as a permanent. Out of respect, please don’t add any of the Central Florida Randonneurs brevet routes to the perm library. And when, someday, we’re allowed to host events again, please ride them and support them and don’t offer up competing group-ride perms of your own. The effect of RUSA’s new perm program is to let y’all go out and do your own thing, and I know many of you will cherish that, but please reflect on the 149-year history of randonneuring which is brevets, and the connection that brevets have to that history, and that we have a duty to pass that tradition and history on to the next generation. So I hope you value that somewhat and that you’ll help rebuild this region when the time comes for it. It’ll be a long road back.

Third, above all else, be smart and safe. This is just riding bikes. It’s not worth dying for, or causing harm to others. We’ll get through all this and I’m looking forward to seeing you on the flip side.

Take good care,