Sunday, June 22, 2008

Hollowtop 200 Permanent (203 kilometers, 126 miles)

Entry and Waiver Form

Route Map

Cue Sheet

I am pleased to present my first RUSA permanent route-The Hollowtop 200. For more information on just exactly what a permanent route is go to the RUSA Permanents Page.

The route combines a few of my local favorites, including the Gallatin Valley Bicycle Club's Tour de Jefferson and Three Rivers Century-with an out and back to the town of Whitehall for good measure. The ride starts from the Town Pump C-Store on East Main Street in Belgrade (next to Lewis and Clark Park) and takes you to Three Forks via the Frontage Road (MT 205) parallel to I-90. At Three Forks you will take Montana Highway 2 to the Lewis Clark Caverns and the first checkpoint. After the Caverns you'll proceed to Whitehall and the next checkpoint. From Whitehall you'll head back the way you came for about 7 miles and then head over the very lightly traveled and scenic MT Highway 359 towards Harrison and Norris. The third checkpoint is the gas station in Norris. The last stretch goes past the very scenic Bear Trap Recreation Area along the Madison River before going over some rollers as you get back to the Gallatin Valley and Belgrade.

The route takes the randoneuring cyclist along and across all three of the tributaries that form the the Missouri River-the Gallatin, Madison, and Jefferson-and past the spectacular Tobacco Root Mountain Range-featuring Hollowtop Mountain (10,604 ft). Hollowtop is plainly visible from most of the route-including the start/finish in Belgrade. It can be recognized by a distinctive dish-shaped formation at its apex. The photo above shows Hollowtop on the right and Mount Jefferson on the left.

There are no mountain passes on this route, but there are some pretty good rollers. My Garmin GPS unit tells me there's about 6000 feet of climbing. It's a very pleasant route that any cyclist will love!

To ride this permanent you must first be a member of Randonneurs USA (RUSA). Annual membership is only $20 and you get a lot of useful information, including a handbook and a terrific newsletter.

Next-contact me via email at belgradebobcat @ msn dot com and let me know when you want to ride the route. I will charge no fee, but I will need each rider to fill out an entry form and provide a signed waiver before the ride. I will provide you with a brevet card and up-to-date route sheet.

Next-arrive at the starting location, the Main Street Town Pump in Belgrade (305 E. Main Street) at the agreed upon start time. Have the clerk stamp your card in the appropriate box with a rubber store stamp and sign and note the time, or instead of a stamp obtain a cash register receipt and have the clerk note the time and initials in the appropriate box.

Next-ride the route...At checkpoint No. 2 at the Lewis and Clark Caverns you will have to answer a question on your card, at the Whitehall and Norris checkpoints you will follow the same check-in procedure as you did in Belgrade. Make sure you verify arrival at the checkpoints during the open times for that checkpoint as noted on your card.

Next-finish your ride at the Belgrade Town Pump within the prescribed time period, obtain time and date verification, fill-out the rest of the card, including your RUSA member number and name and address, and get the card back to me within 10 days. I'll take care of it from there.

That's all there is to it!

I successfully rode this route as a permanent for the second time on April 18, 2009 and mapped it with my Garmin GPS unit. The map and a little more info are provided below (click on trip details):

Friday, June 6, 2008

To the Participants Belong the Spoils

Both my son Jackson and I are proud to display our participant awards in our most recent athletic events. I received my very cool medal for successfully completing my first 200k brevet bike ride, and Jackson received a participant ribbon for running the 400 meters in his school's 6th grade track and field day.

As is mentioned on any website dealing with such-randonneuring is not racing. Each participant who successfully completes a brevet or longer randonee within the time limit is congratulated. If results are published, it is always alphabetically and never by the fastest time. So by finishing my first brevet within the required time limit of 13.5 hours I was eligible for my medal-which I promptly ordered.

Randonneuring awards are based on finishing and the more prestigious awards are for finishing many and varied events. I'm just getting started-but I've got my sights set on the "Super Randonneur" award for next year. I can earn that by completing a full brevet series (200k, 300k, 400k, and 600k) within one calendar year. Once again-it doesn't matter who's the fastest-just that you complete the rides as per the rules and finish within the time limits. I think it's a neat way to go for riders like me who don't have the fast twitch muscles needed for racing-but still like to push ourselves, strive towards a goal, and be recognized for our efforts by an organizing body.

Not unlike my award-which was for participating and finishing my 200k brevet, Jackson participated and finished his 400 meter run. He didn't get a first place ribbon, or a second place ribbon...or any ribbon for finishing amongst the top in his class-but he ran the whole thing and he finished-and I couldn't have been prouder. You see-Jackson isn't an athletic kid and he is especially not a runner (neither am I). So it was with much concern that I heard him say he signed up for the 400. I asked him if he had ever run all the way around the track and he said he's only run on the straight-aways and walked on the curves. Oh great! I thought. He's going to be embarassed as he struggles around that track and holds up the entire meet waiting for him to finish...or worse he won't finish at all. So when the starter's pistol fired I was as nervous as I could be. Off they went-Jackson in the first lane started out at a nice steady pace. He kept chugging and even caught up to a kid who had started walking on the third turn. He plugged away down the stretch. And he crossed the finish line to the cheers of the entire class who was watching the race. I couldn't get out of the stands and down to the track fast enough to give him a high five. As I was walking with him every kid that we met said, "Great job Jackson! Way to go!"

Just like when I was a kid-everybody got a participant ribbon. When I got mine I usually discarded it right away-it didn't mean anything compared to the blue, red, or white ribbon for finishing in the top three. But Jackson's heroic effort changed that attitude for me. His participant ribbon represented an effort and achievement he had never attained before. I couldn't have been happier if he had been the first one over the line. Finishing strong and running around the track the whole way was a sweet victory in itself-just like finishing a brevet.