Cracker Swamp 1200: Details and Registration Info

We’re excited to be hosting the Cracker Swamp 1200K again in 2020. There are some major changes — new hotel! new route! — but what remains the same is a great time riding with great people, great food and beverages, amazing volunteers, and excellent camaraderie all around. Plus some epic swag and medals. Here are the details, which are also found on the event website:

(1)  The ride dates are November 5-8, 2020, out of Tavares, FL. It’s a loop-style 1200 in the traditional format: four distinct days of 400/300/300/200. You’ll return to the start/finish (and your hotel room!) every night, where you’ll be well fed before setting out again the next day.

(2)  Registration opens at 6pm EST on Saturday, February 15, 2020, when the registration link on the event webpage — — will be live and you can register and pay. Registration closes October 4, 2020.

(3)  The entry fee is $550, which includes FIVE nights’ lodging at the event hotel (Weds. 11/4 check-in through a checkout on Monday, 11/9). That’s the day before the event (we start at 0400 on 11/5) until the day after when most people finish (most riders will finish the afternoon of 11/8). Also included are breakfast and dinner during the ride (e.g., all food at the overnight controls) plus some event SWAG, a finisher’s medal, a pre- and post-ride get-together (including dinner Sunday night), and some other righteous goodies that are TBD. You’re on your own for all travel to/from the start and for all meals/supplies/etc. on the route (other than at the overnight controls). There will be volunteers on the route and some intermediate controls will be staffed, but this is not a fully SAG’ed event: self-sufficiency and resourcefulness are key elements of randonneuring.

(4)  For the hotel, your accommodations will include a shared room, but not a shared bed, at the Comfort Inn & Suites, Tavares-North. You will be assigned a same-gender roommate, but you will have your own bed. (You and a roommate can indicate a desire to share a room on the registration form.) Your room will be assigned at rider-check-in and you’ll have it for the duration of the ride — bring whatever you want and leave it in the room.  No drop bags; you’ll be back at your room 3 times during the event! There is a group rate for those wanting to arrive earlier or stay later at the hotel, not included in the entry fee. Contact me, not the hotel, if interested. Also contact me if you want your own room (e.g., no roommate); there is limited availability for an extra charge.

(5)  The rider cap is 80 riders and will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Holding a space on the ride involves completing the online registration form AND receipt of payment. If the rider cap is reached, a wait-list will be established.  We’ll take people from the waitlist in order.

(6)  If you need to cancel, here is the refund policy:
$50 of your registration is nonrefundable
100% remaining balance refundable through March 31, 2020
75% remaining balance refundable through June 30, 2020
50% remaining balance refundable through August 31, 2020
0% remaining balance refundable after August 31, 2020.

If you are waitlisted, your entry fee is fully refundable if you are not offered a spot on the ride or if you cancel your place on the waitlist prior to being offered a spot.

(7)  Qualification requirements: (a) full ACP/RUSA/UAF brevet series in 2020; (b) completion of a 1200K previously; or (3) my permission – e.g., demonstrate that you know what you’re getting into and have the ability and capacity to ride safely and within time. Ultracyclists welcome! You can register for the event before you complete the qualification.

(8)  For registration, know your t-shirt size. You will also need emergency contact information (name, phone number) for someone who is not on the ride. As noted above, you can indicate on the registration form if you have a preferred roommate. This can also be arranged later, if you have a friend/riding companion who signs up later.

(9)  Please note that the entry fee is the same if your plans are to stay at a location other than the event hotel — e.g., no a-la-carte pricing.

(10)  Current RUSA membership is required for all riders. Join here: Renew here: Check your status here:

(11)  The route is totally different than 2016, but it is still flat, compared to most brevets in most other parts of the world. It’s less than 10,000 feet of climbing, and none of it is especially steep (11% max) or long. Road surfaces are generally excellent; 23s are fine here. You’ll see both the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico, pine forests, orange groves, cypress swamps, live-oak canopied roads, wetlands, and undoubtedly a gator or two, plus tons of bird life, deer, nocturnal critters, and maybe even a bear, fox, or coyote. There are some wild places in Florida, and you’ll visit many of them.

(12)  The weather is generally excellent in November. It can still be hot, humid, and rainy, but typically it is sunny and dry with highs in the 70s-80s and lows in the 50s-60s. It can be windy, especially along the coasts. While tropical storms are uncommon in November, they’re not unheard of: hurricane season ends November 30. In the randonneur spirit, we will ride rain-or-shine, but we’re not going to ride in a hurricane or if one is bearing down on us. We reserve the right to change or cancel the event due to circumstances beyond our control that arise, without liability or refund.  Travel insurance for such eventualities is recommended.

(13)  There is a jersey in the works. It’s different than the 2016 version. It’ll be totally awesome. The cost of the jersey is not included in the entry fee.

(14)  For the love of Pete, man, tell me about the food and beverages!  Everything’ll be homemade. There will be plentiful gluten-free and vegetarian options. There will be beverages, including cider, beer, and wine, all brewed/fermented by yours truly (all of which are GF). And, of course, there will be single malts at the finish. The coffee will be excellent. If you need something else (vegan, dairy-free, whatever), just shoot me an email and we’ll make sure you’re taken care of.

See you in the ‘Swamp.
RBA, Central Florida Randonneurs

200 / 300 Updates

The 300K workers’ ride did not reveal any significant issues. The construction on A1A is no longer requiring a detour, so you should be able to follow the route as indicated. As always, be careful! The cue sheet is final and is posted on the Events page for that ride.

See you this evening/tomorrow morning,

200/300 Weekend; Other News

Happy New Year and new brevet season to all!

1.  The list of registered riders has been updated on the events pages and is current as of 7pm, Thursday. You’ve still got some time to register, so come out and ride with us. It’s going to be a good weekend! If your plans have changed and you can no longer make it, please let me know.

2.  Please verify that your RUSA membership is current because RUSA’s insurer requires that all event participants be current, paid-up members of RUSA; no exceptions. Chasing folks down to renew or join RUSA is a drag and I’d rather be cooking and brewing for you guys. So, please take a minute and take care of it now.

3.  Also a reminder that anyone riding any of our events without registering for them or without being a current RUSA member will be DQ’d and permanently banned. That means no “ride alongs” and no having friends meet you anywhere on the route other than at a control. This is the warning.

4.  The 200K workers’ ride took place Wednesday. The cue sheet is now current and final. Here are some notes from the workers’ ride: (1) Although lights and reflective materials are not required, they are STRONGLY recommended; it was very foggy and you should expect the same conditions this weekend; (2) the Howey bridge is still under construction; be careful!; and (3) there is construction on US 301 north of Coleman; be careful!

5.  The 300K workers’ ride is taking place as I write this. Any notes from that ride and the final cue sheet will be posted on Friday.

6.  Although you’re on your own for food during the events, plan on dinner following each ride. You can check-in for the 200K on Friday evening at the hotel or on Saturday morning, before the start, and for the 300K following the 200K on Saturday or on Sunday morning. Reminder that there is no on-route SAG on these rides. If you DNF, your plans for returning to the start/finish should not involve an event volunteer. We will never leave anyone out there, but you will wait many, many hours for a ride.

7.  Other events and news: Remember that we have a full audax series this year as well as 400 and 600km ACP events. We’ll also be putting up information on the Cracker Swamp 1200K very soon, so watch for that; registration will open in February. Speaking of 1200s, get with me ASAP if you’re interested in riding PBP-Audax this year. I’ve not forgotten your 2019 brevet cards; they’re coming soon, as are the last of the 2019 audax medals – I am awaiting the last of them from France and will send them all out together. While the insurance snafu and the suspension of the permanents program may have some of you feeling down or like we’re all lost at sea, I can’t stress enough how much excellent, selfless work the RUSA Board has done to ensure the continuation of randonneuring in the United States. In particular, when you see Dave Thompson this weekend, please be sure to thank him for keeping the ship afloat with a wise, confident, and steady hand on the tiller and congratulate him on his very deserved elevation to the RUSA presidency! We’re lucky to have him and his leadership; thank you, Dave!

8.  Dude, where the are the GPS files? There are not any. The official routes are the cue sheets. I can’t vouch for any GPS files that people put on the internet or share among themselves. Navigation is a fundamental part of the self-sufficiency that is a key pillar of randonneuring. I’m glad to help teach you to navigate and read a cue sheet if they are unfamiliar or confusing to you; just get with me, anytime. However you navigate, please remember that staying on route is your responsibility – not your computer’s or your friend’s – and pay close attention to where you are, ensuring you’re on route and oriented. Every year we have multiple navigational DNFs due to GPS failures or misprogramming or because someone’s (not very good) plan was to follow the group or a friend and they got dropped or the “friend” DNF’d, leaving the person with no idea where they were or where they were going. Please don’t let this be you!

PBP-Audax, June 27 – July 1, 2020

For those Americans seriously considering participating in PBP-Audax in 2020, please contact me to express your interest.

Registration for the event will open in January and the UAF has asked for an approximation of the number of Americans who might be in attendance. We want to make sure that there’s room for all who want to go.

Note that qualification is not required — the first audax brevet I rode was PBP-Audax in 2016. That said, it’s still a very long ride and you should be well prepared to undertake it. Audax isn’t any easier than the randonneur format, it’s just different.  And if you’d like to participate in an audax brevet, we’re hosting a full UAF-sanctioned audax series here in Central Florida in 2020.

I’ve done both PBP formats — the randonneur version four times — and am glad to answer any questions you might have and, for those going, to assist with registration, communication, and advice and help with other logistics.

Central Florida

End of the Year Rides

With the discontinuation of the permanents program, so that folks can get some rides in and keep their R-12s or P-12s going, I just put up the registration for a 100K on this Saturday out of The Bikery in St. Pete and will shortly put up the info for a 200K out of Tavares for 12/21. As usual, preregistration is required. Also, while there is no charge for either ride, being a current RUSA member at the start of the rides is required, and this will also be the case for the 2020 brevet season. This is a new requirement imposed by our insurer and is mandatory. New folks can join RUSA at the start of the ride.

Hope you’re having a great holiday season and see you on the road, Paul

2020 Randonneuring Calendar: ACP & Audax Brevets

Here’s what we have coming in 2020: ACP/RUSA brevets, a full audax brevet series, two series of audax juniors brevets, and of course, the Cracker Swamp 1200! Save the dates!

ACP/RUSA brevets
200 — January 18, 2020 (Sa) — Tavares
300 — January 19, 2020 (Su) — Tavares
400 — March 7, 2020 (Sa) — Tavares
600 — April 4, 2020 (Sa) — Tavares
100 — June 6, 2020 (Sa) — San Antonio
200 — July 17 (Fri.; night ride) — San Antonio
1200 — Nov. 5-8 (Cracker Swamp) — Tavares
fleche — April 17, 2020 (Fri) — Orlando-area finish


UAF audax brevets (start together, ride together, finish together)
200 — January 11, 2020 (Sa) — St Pete
300 — February 1, 2020 (Sa) — Tavares
400 — March 28, 2020 — Dunnellon
600 — May 2, 2020 — Tavares or Dunnellon


Aiglons (juniors’ audax brevets) (St. Pete)
20 — May 23
30 — June 13
40 — July 11
50 — Aug 15
60 — Sept 12
70 — Oct 10

40km Juniors’ Audax — This Saturday

This upcoming Saturday, August 31, is the capstone event in the aiglons de bronze UAF junior audax series: the 40km. I hope you can join us for the ride, as it will be a special one! Information on the ride is here, and please let me know if you have questions about anything.

Note that we’re keeping an eye on the tropics. It’s still too far out to forecast accurately, but it looks like Dorian should spare our ride on Saturday morning. Watch this space for further news; if we need to reschedule the — we’re not going to ride in a tropical storm or pouring rain — we will. At this point, however, we should be “go” for awesomeness. Looking forward to seeing you there!

Paris-Brest-Paris Randonneur

Greetings from Boston, where I am en route to France for my 4th PBP-Randonneur. Many riders are making the journey from Central Florida and if you’re not making the trip yourself, you should follow their progress and wish them well. There’s a very handy rider tracker that you can use to keep tabs on your friends who are riding. The next PBP-Randonneur is not until 2023, so this is a very special time on the cycling calendar. Of course, it is not too soon to begin making your plans for PBP-Audax, which will be held from June 27 – July 1, 2020, … just around the corner. See you in France, if not sooner.


Riding Bikes Is Fun! The 30K Juniors’ Audax Brevet

We had eight intrepid young riders set out for our 30km Aiglons audax brevet on Saturday, July 13, from The Bikery. Five completed the full distance within time. Most importantly, everyone had a great time cycling together as friends and family. Congrats to Megan, Jake, Ginika, Joe, Sally, Gabe, Athicus, and Zohayra for coming out and sharing your Saturday morning together. Special thanks also to Mary S. and her daughter, Kelly, who came out to support the ride and serve as Route Captains.

Our next Aiglons ride is the capstone event of the bronze series — the 40km — on August 31, at 8:30am. Details are here, and we hope to see you on the road!

US & Central Florida Riders at PBP

Courtesy of Mark Thomas (Seattle, RUSA# 64), below are some stats on the 474 U.S. riders participating in PBP this year. A complete list of the U.S. team is here.

Riders by start time:

80h — 63 (16.9%)
84h — 92 (17.7%)
90h — 319 (65.4%)

61 riders are women, or 12.87% of the U.S. field. This is in keeping with all PBPs since 1987, and is about twice the participation rate of women as a whole on the event. Central Florida compares very favorably among 10 largest clubs, coming in second in female participation to New England.

262 riders will be attempting PBP for the first time. The repeat offenders break out as follows by number of prior completions:

1 — 92
2 — 54
3 — 25
4 — 17
5  — 13
6 — 6
7 — 2
8 — 3

Those going for nine are Paul Bacho — who has ridden a number of brevets with us — Tom Gee, and Doug Kirby. Note that the record stands at 11, and at least one of those — Dominique Lamoulier, the President of the FFCT and a frequent participant on UAF brevets — will be going for #12.  Central Florida compares favorably when looking at participants who are prior finishers. Fifteen of our riders are attempting at least their second PBP. Whether this is your first or seventh like Jim Solanick, good luck to all!

Here’s how old the U.S. riders will be at the start:

20-29 — 13
30-39 — 69
40-49 — 84
50-59 — 174
60-69 — 128
70-79 — 6

Note that you must be 18 to ride PBP, and several 18-year-olds have ridden it. There is a junior PBP, which is available to 14-17 year-olds and is quite special in that, unlike PBP, it can only ever be ridden once in a lifetime. Some details on it are here.

Finally, as a state, we represent very well. Only California (119) and Washington (64) are sending more riders than us (28).

Hope your training is going well and see you in France, if not before.