Saturday morning, my old Heart of the South teammates and I will start our 2010 spring adventure: A fleche.
A fleche is a 24-hour point-to-point ride. Multiple teams converge on a single point, like arrows flying towards a single target. That's why it's called a fleche, which is a French word for "firing squad."
Just kidding, of course. The sharpshooting abilities of the French are second only to Imperial Stormtroopers and Enterprise Security Guards, so that if "fleche" meant "firing squad" then the four teams participating would likely end up in Des Moines, Philadelphia, Tuscaloosa, and Paducah. We're going to Chattanooga ... I think.
Fleche really means arrow, but what arrow takes 24 hours to hit it's target? I guess that would be an arrow that has to go 360 KM (224 miles) and cannot stop at any one location for more than two hours. Arrows usually stop when they stick into something, and only start up again when someone reloads them and "plucks yew" (heh-heh).
There are other rules, like we have to be at one of our checkpoints (called a "control") exactly 22 hours before we do the last 25 KM (about 15 miles) or more. Another rule is that we all have to ride penny farthings backwards, wearing Victorian wigs, hula skirts, and Crocs (with SPD cleats, of course).
Regardless (or irregardless, if you are French), we are going to have fun. Here is my plan for the day:
7 am: Meet at Vida and Lynn Greer's house. Eat pancakes. Make sure we have our stuff ready. Give our bags to RandoGirl, who will be driving down to Chattanooga Sunday morning to pick us up. Goof off.
8 am: Roll out.
9 am: About this time, we'll be passing Henpeck Grocery. Stop for a muffin or two.
11 am: Should be near Eagleville about now. Stop at the grocery store for a chocolate milk.
1 pm: Arrive at control (or "controlle" if you are French) in Bell Buckle. Go for ice cream.
3 pm: Should be on a series of "new" roads that I found that run from Bell Buckle/Wartrace to McMinnville. These are some really pretty, open country roads with nice gentle climbs and good surfaces. I'm really looking forward to showing them to my friends.
4 pm: Arrive in McMinnville. Our control is a Hardee's, but hopefully we can find someplace better to eat downtown.
6 pm: Should be getting to Old Baker Mountain Road. This is the only tough climb on the route, and we've all done it so many times that we know what to expect. Afterwards, we will go through Fall Creek Falls State Park, which is always pretty.
8 pm: We will probably be at the A&H Market now, 150 miles and 12 hours into the ride. I'm thinking a cheeseburger with fries, then put on night-riding gear and head on.
9 pm: Descend into Pikeville. This is a tricky descent, but since it will be dark we will just go very slowly.
10 pm: The only other long climb on this route is on Hwy 30 coming out of Pikeville. It's not steep -- just long.
11 pm: Descend into Dayton, and go to the Huddle House control. Hang out there for a couple of hours. Probably have some pancakes, and maybe a cup of coffee.
4 am: After a nice ride near Chickamauga Lake, arrive at the Huddle House control in Soddy-Daisy. This is the 22-hour control, so we can't leave before 6 am. Maybe I'll take a nap, and then have more pancakes and coffee.
7 am: As the sun rises, we should be entering the suburbs north of the river in Chattanooga. We will end up in the neat pseudo-Bohemian (which is French for "unemployed mimes") village along Fletcher, and cross the Walnut Street bicycle/pedestrian bridge into downtown. Where we will arrive at the Tennessee Aquarium at ...
8 am: Get our cards signed, go to the hotel, shower, change clothes, load up our bikes, and go eat another breakfast.
At the end of all this, I should be very "fleshy." Maybe that's the right way to pronounce it.