Monday, August 5, 2019

Ride Report: YARRR 200K

The relatively small field make quick work of a the challenging course through the Philly suburbs. All 5 of the 5 riders that clipped in made it to the finish in good time for a 100% completion rate.  Preliminary results for the 2019 edition of the Yet Another River to River Ride (YARRR) 200K have been posted on the website.  Please review the results and let me know if they align with your memory.  The results will be submitted to RUSA later in the week and will become official once certified by the ACP.

The YARRR route is challenging both for the climbing and for the hot summer weather that usally accompanies it. Route detours to avoid  flood damaged roads added some to the climbing, but the weather was better than usual. A threat of storms (that never arrived) kept temperatures in the tolerable range.

One of the highlights of the YARRR route (especially in the warm weather) is the Sundae School ice cream shop. They run their air conditioning at full blast, have good places to sit down, and serve a wide variety of flavors. Joe Ray opted for some  salted-something-smores confection in a shake. "It was delicious," he reported, "but the chunks of graham cracker kept getting stuck in the straw." Ahh, the hardships we randonneurs face.

A few of the "hardships" at Sundae School
With PBP only a couple weeks away, most riders are tapering their miles and getting ready for travel to Paris. Nevertheless, three of the five riders that clipped in for YARRR are bound for France: Greg Keenan, Joe Ray, and Paul Weaver. All three seemed most prepared for that grand randonnee. Bonne route to all three of you, and to all Pennsylvania Randonneurs and rando friends throughout the rando community!

Coming up next, the September event is the final ACP brevet on the calendar, a very old 200K route out of Portland, PA that we haven't run in a long time. Visit the event web page for all the details.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

August R12 Event: Yet Another River to River Ride (YARRR)

The R12 event for August is a special edition of the Yet Another River to River Ride (YARRR) 200K that highlights the destructive power of rivers. For full information about the ride, and to register online, see the event web site.

As a result of damage from recent flooding, there were numerous issues on the course that needed to be addressed. The cuesheets and RWGPS route have been updated with detours and important safety notes. Make sure you have at least version 2 of the cues, and GPS route updated on or after 7/25 10:09.

Note that parking at the start of the ride has changed. There are several parking lots on Hugh Moore Island. We gather for the start at the museum parking lot, farthest from the iron bridge. Do not park at the doggy park lot nearest the bridge (where, in previous years, we used to park).

The finish of the ride is at Jimmy's Doggie Stand, just across the Free Bridge from Easton.  This is not where your car is parked. There is a short (3.2 mi) and flat (91 ft) trip back to your car at the Canal Museum. This is a RWGPS route of the return trip to your car.

Organizer Chris Nadovich conducted a course check-out pre-ride on August 24th. Here are some course notes:

Bike riders generally view "Road Closed" signs with some skepticism. Closed to cars, sure, but to bikes? In most cases, bikes can safely sneak through where our four-wheeled companions fear to tread.  Unfortunately, in this year's version of the YARRR 200K, almost all the road closures meant: closed for everyone. Unless you include rock climbing gear and an inflatable kayak in your rando kit, these closed roads were convincingly closed to bikes.

In addition to the busted-up roadways and bridges, several road segments had patches of sand and gravel deposited by recent flooding. Please keep an eye out for these, especially on turns.  

Mile 6.6 -- The first big obstacle I encountered was on Easton Rd, at what would have been mile 6.6 on last year's route.  Where previously there had been smooth pavement, now there is a 100 foot wide, 50 foot deep gap. Errr... not going that way.   Unfortunately, "that way" led to a smooth, downhill glide into Hellertown. The only reasonable detour turned out to be Apple Rd, which is a climb over the flank of the Kohlberg. Sorry. Although it should be said that Apple Rd is very pretty. It is. Really.

Mile 15.3 -- Most of the crushed stone surface of the Saucon Rail Trail is very firm and easy to ride, but there's a short bit of soft stuff just past the library in the town park. It looks like they very recently put down this junk. It feels more like beach sand than suitable riding surface material. I made it through upright with my 35mm tires. Skinny tire riders might feel more comfortable on foot. It's a very short section. 

Mile 34.1 -- Last Friday the Macoby Creek flooded and corrugated a section of Hoppenville Rd adjacent to the bridge.  Although there are "Road Closed" signs, in this case bike riders should be able to dismount and make it through on foot. The bridge seems intact enough, although I wouldn't go too near the potholes -- some of them are portholes for quick access to the creek below. The detour for this damaged bridge is Reihman Rd, a big climb and a bonus mile. I felt the bridge was worth crossing.  You make up your own mind.

Mile 34.9 -- Immediately after the Macoby Creek ford, you cross PA29, Gravel Pike, and go straight onto the Perkiomen Trail. The trail is unmarked here. It looks like a gravel driveway for the industrial and trucking equipment facility to the right. Soon enough you'll see a Perk Trail sign and cross the creek on a trail bridge, so you'll know you are an the right path.  The Perk trail is nice here, except the last bit approaching Green Lane Park, where the surface becomes a little soft. Pedal steady through it and you should be OK. Taking this piece of the Perk trail avoids a very difficult uphill left turn off PA29 onto Hill Rd, which has been a problem in the past.

Mile 48.3 -- Speaking of dicey bridges, we again cross the defunct Keim St bridge. This may be the last time we cross it, as they have recently constructed a beautiful bike and pedestrian walkway on the new 422 bridge. Unfortunately, although the new bikeway on 422 is beautiful, it's also inaccessible, locked behind tall chain-link fencing. The approach ramps to the bikeway are not yet complete, delayed by (you guessed it) issues caused by flooding in and around the Schuylkill River. This is the last major missing piece of the Schuylkill River Trail. When it is complete (real soon now) you'll be able to ride from Philly to beyond Reading, all on trail.

Mile 48.8 -- After crossing the Keim St bridge and turning left, you'll find that PA724 is under construction. I had to walk my bike through on the sidewalk. I don't know what the state of things will be on Saturday, but I think you should be able to get through somehow.

Mile 49.1 -- This right turn onto Vaughn Rd and subsequent detour bonus miles are courtesy of an obliterated bit of Old Schuylkill Rd. Trust me that I tried to make it through the "Road Closed" segment on Old Schuylkill, but I felt that there was no safe and legal way to do it. Nor would I advise cheating this detour by means of PA724.  That "road of doom" concentrates high speed car traffic and does not have a viable shoulder.

Mile 54.0 -- At the PA724 crossing in Parker Ford we join the Schuylkill River Trail. In the past, the YARRR route used a rolling, zig-zaggy path through Spring City. The new routing on the SRT smooths this all out and brings us into downtown Phoenixville on a mixture of pavement and firm gravel.

Mile 71.0 -- There is water in Evansburg SP to the right down past the pavillion. Pull the well handle up and then reverse it a little bit -- it's cold and very wet.

Mile 76.9 -- It looked like they were getting ready for some re-paving here, but I had no trouble getting through. A detour, if required, should be easy and obvious (probably Morris Rd to Upper Mainland).

Mile 82.7 -- It's not a controle, but there's a WAWA here. My guess is you will be hot and thirsty and in need of a break. You can stop here, or you can ride a little further to the ice cream shop at mile 85.

Mile 110 -- Milford Market. Food, water, ice, and beer.

Mile 122.4 -- Oberly Rd.

Chris Nadovich

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Ride Report: Hawk's Nest 200 (The Bushkill-Lackawaxen Variation)

Preliminary results for the Hawk's Nest 200k have been posted on the website.  Please review the results and let me know if they align with your memory.  What is normally one of the easier routes on the schedule challenged a few riders with only 16 of 19 starters finishing in the allotted time.  At least all were accounted for at the finish.  The results will be submitted to RUSA later in the week and will become official once certified by the ACP.

The inaugural running of the Bushkill Lackawaxen 200k got off to an incredibly inauspicious start when Steve Castellano crashed at mile .1 while crossing the RR tracks just past the PA Welcome Center (this was not welcome).  Steve hit his head and cut his lip but, in true Randonneur style, lobbied hard to continue his ride.  Fortunately intelligence quickly ensued in the form of George Retseck who dissuaded Steve from that questionable decision.   We took Steve back to the start and with a little ice against his upper lip, Steve got home safely after a short stop for coffee.  I suspect we’ll see Steve on the next Pa Rando event, he was still pretty mad that he couldn’t continue the ride…..  Steve’s recount can be seen on his blog here:

After sandbagging the ride organizer with some story about riding “easy”, Scotty Steingart set a blistering pace on the event.  Scotty set this time in spite of (1) talking to me at the Bushkill Post Office for about 5 minutes, (2) assisting Ed Bernasky with his first flat repair and (3) riding his “heavy” bike.

Unfortunately for Ed Bernasky, the “first” flat repair with the assistance of Scotty was not his last.  Ed double flatted on the gravel section of the Port Jervis bypass.  Ed decided that fixing flats wasn’t great training for PBP so elected to take a direct route back to the start.

Lamar Chandler’s GPS sent him left on Towpath Road at mile 43.  I suspect his GPS was attempting to be kind to Lamar as that hard right onto Towpath is a steep little kicker.  Unfortunately taking the left on Towpath has 2 unfortunate consequences:

1.       It’s the wrong direction
2.       Towpath turns into SR 590 (just as it does if you’re proceeding in the correct direction).

These 2 facts, combined with a malfunctioning GPS and fatigue after riding hard for 43 miles with a lot of climbing, resulted in Lamar going a long distance off route (mostly uphill).  After getting turned around and climbing up to Eldred, Lamar performed the technique now known as “the Joe Ray” and returned to the Delaware Water Gap with the assistance of the Uber App.

Otherwise, the inaugural running of the Bushkill Lackawaxen 200k was completed without a hitch.   I must say that assisting with organizing this ride was great fun and I want to encourage all PA Randonneurs to take some of the burden off of Chris and Andrew and volunteer to help run these fabulous events.   It’s worth it just to see the incredible organization of the website – it’s pretty amazing.

Bill Fischer

Special thanks to Bill Fischer for organizing the July brevet assisted by Matt Farrell.  Winter and spring were especially busy this year; it was nice to have a month off.  Next up we will return to Easton for Chris Nadovich's popular Yet Another River to River Ride on August 3.  Registration is open now.

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA
Andrew Mead

Sunday, July 7, 2019

July R12 Event: Back to the Mountains

Event details for the Bushkill-Lackawaxen 200k have been up on the website for a while and registration remains open through Thursday July 11.  Many of you will recognize this as mostly our favorite summer route, Hawk's Nest.  Variety is the spice of life.

Organizer Bill Fischer conducted a course check-out pre-ride on the 6th.  The cue sheet has been updated on the website.  Make sure the version you download is the July 7 update.  Bill's notes follow:

The course is in excellent shape with plenty of new pavement and, other than our favorite climb on Old Mine Road, very few potholes.

A few minor issues to keep in mind:

Mile 38.8 – Control 2/402 CafĂ© – We warned the owner that a gaggle of hungry cyclists will be descending on their establishment Saturday.  The staff is friendly and hospitable but warned us that they are typically busy during the time of our arrival and we shouldn’t expect ultra fast service.  We ordered 2 breakfast sandwiches to go and they took about 15 minutes (they were excellent!).  If you are in a hurry, they have a nice selection of muffins and bottled water/Gatorade that will get you in and out in a jiffy.  If you’re not in a hurry, this is a great place to spend a little time and enjoy a great breakfast.

Mile 55.6 – The shoulder of Rte.  97 is under construction at the right turn after crossing the Roebling Aqueduct.   Take extra caution to scan for traffic when making this turn as it’s easy to move into the lane while avoiding the construction.

Mile 59.7 – There is a farmers market starting at 10:00 Saturday in Barryville.   We passed by before it was open but the proprietor was already placing cones in the road.  If you see a backup of traffic next week it may be prudent to take the lane as you approach Barryville to pass stopped traffic and prepare for the Left turn onto Rte. 55 toward Eldred.

Mile 63.7 – The Corner Store in Eldred does not open until 11:00.  Fast riders may arrive before opening.  If you are there early, make the Right hand turn on to Rte 32 and control at Peck’s Market Grocery Store on the left.

Mile 78.2 - Long-time riders of the Hawk's Nest route will want to pay attention as the route takes a quieter, more scenic path through Port Jervis.  While Port Jervis remains an open control, there is a nice ice cream shop along Water St that is recommended.

Mile 81.9 – The Neversink River bridge (after you control in Port Jervis) is still under construction.   Although there is a pedestrian walk on the East side of the bridge, I would recommend that you take the lane and cross the bridge in the traffic lane.  The right turn onto Maple Ave occurs very quickly after crossing the bridge and you won’t want to be crossing both traffic lanes after crossing the bridge in the pedestrian lane.

Mile 109.9 – The pavement on the Old Mine climb is as bad as you remember.

Mile 123.4 – The single lane section of River Rd. aka “the mine field” has been paved Yippee!

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Ride Summary: A Victory to Remember

Preliminary results have been posted on the website.  Please review the results and let me know if they align with your memory.  15 of 15 starters finished in the allotted time for another 100% finish rate.  Among them were three freshly minted randonneurs who complete their first-ever brevets.  Congratulations to all finishers.  The results will be submitted to RUSA later in the week and will become official once certified by the ACP.

The weather was ideal for a bike ride.  Clear skies in the morning helped to knock off the overnight chill and afforded excellent viewing from atop White Oak Road.  Some clouds developed as the day progressed which helped to keep the temperatures comfortable. 

We congratulate Bob Hallinger, Will Mahler, and Jeff Pyle for finishing their first brevet and becoming official randonneurs.  Bob is no stranger to the sport; he earned a P-12 award in 2018.  This was the first exposure for Will and Jeff.  Both are strong cyclists.  Their equipment of choice was gravel bikes, Jeff even shod with 50mm tires.  These surely came in handy in around Cornwall where some last minute roadwork removed the pavement leaving a couple gravel pits about 100 yards long. 

First finisher Tim Creyts sped around the route in typical fashion, even beating finish line volunteers CJ Arayata and Nick Manta to the brewery by about 10 minutes.  Many thanks to CJ and Nick for stepping up to help which allowed me to ride.  Their finish procedure was top notch.

Next up is the Hawks Nest brevet starting at the Park & Ride lot in Delaware Water Gap on July 13.  Bill Fischer will be organizing.  Current plans are to unveil a new twist on an old favorite route.  I'm still waiting for RUSA approval of the route.

Andrew Mead
event organizer
Eastern PA RBA

Saturday, June 8, 2019

PA R12 Series Continues: A Victory to Remember

The R12 events resume with A Victory to Remember 200k brevet on June 15.  A course checkout was completed on June 8 and the cue sheet has been updated with a few tweaks.  The route is in very good shape with a surprising number of the roads having been repaved within the past year. 

One segment of the route has signs indicating it will be closed for repaving June 13 - 25.  Knowing that paving schedules often change, I am leaving the route alone for now.  In the event that you reach the construction location next Saturday and the road is really closed, then you'll need to take the following detour.  It adds only a few tenths and is downhill almost exclusively.

The decision point occurs at mile 14.9.  You will be on White Oak Road at this point.  If the road is closed, then:

14.9  R onto Stively Rd
15.6  L onto Winter Hill Rd
16.7  TL onto Old Rd
17.0  X PA-222/Beaver Valley Pike onto Main St in New Providence

You can view the detour here:

Registration is open and will remain so until midnight on Thursday June 13. 

Hope to see you there!

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA

Monday, May 20, 2019

Philly - Pagoda - Pocono 600K Ride Report

Preliminary results for the fourth and final ride in our ACP Super Randonneur series, the Philly - Pagoda - Pocono 600K brevet, have been posted on the PA Rando website.  Although several riders claimed this event was one of the most difficult PA 600K events ever, I think this may be the toughest bunch of randonneurs ever, as 27 of 28 starters finished under the time limit for a 96% completion rate. Congratulations and well done to all. Please review the results and let me know if something doesn't agree with your recollections.  The results will be submitted to RUSA for certification later on and become final at that time.

Sixteen riders completed the full 200/300/400/600 Pennsylvania Super Randonneur series in 2019, seven of them for the first time. The honorees are:
Charles J Arayata (2)
Jimmy Aspras (3)
Iwan Barankay
Gavin Biebuyck (5)
Shawn Bowles
William Fischer (3)
Cecilie Gaffney (4)
Patrick Gaffney (4)
Vadim Gritsus
Greg Keenan (5)
Nicholas Manta
Chris Nadovich (3)
Steven J Schoenfelder
Ryan J Stanis
Gilbert Torres (3)
Nicolaas van Rhede van der Kloot 
Many of these riders are using this early PA SR series completion as a qualifier for Paris-Brest-Paris. There is no doubt that each and every one of these PA Super Randonneurs has what it takes to complete PBP in fine style.

Additional commendations and special accolades go to Jimmy Aspras, who completed the entire PA SR series on a fat bike. Chapeau to Jimmy and his compatriots. When I asked Jimmy whether the fat bike afforded him any advantage on the gravel and dirt sections of the course, he agreed that it did help, but "other times it was just really heavy."

Some riders had trouble with punctures. First finishers Ann and John Jurczynski had six flats on their tandem. By fortunate coincidence they were re-united with their drop bag at the Wind Gap controle and could stock up on tubes. And Joe Ray wins the rim-abuse award, riding a flat tire the last few miles from the Free Bridge to the final controle in an attempt to finish by the cutoff.

Riders take a break at the Wind Gap Controle
Volunteers for the 600K deserve special thanks. With the loss of the Hostel, the organization of this year's PA SR series required entirely new routes and venues. As we were intent on maintaining event quality at the high level established by Tom Rosenbauer in previous years, the daunting reorganizational logistics would not have been possible without the hard work of several volunteers. Pennsylvania Randonneurs owes a debt of gratitude to all those who helped out along the way.

Specifically at this 600K, the volunteer support began early with route auditing/editing/vetting by Gavin Biebuyck, Matt Farrell, and Janice Chernekoff. Pre-rides by Chris Nadovich, Bill Olsen, and Steve Schoenfelder were assisted by volunteer support. Tom Dermody escorted the pre-riders through his home turf near Philly and then all the way to Reading, where he scouted some alternative routes for future events. The pre-riders had staff support at the Rocky statue, including Patrick Gaffney and CJ, who were bearing gifts in the form of iced coffee and brownies -- much appreciated! On event day, Tom and Sue Proulx were staffing the Rocky controle.

The start controle was opened, stocked with groceries, and set up by Matt Farrell with some help by Bill Fischer. Matt's support at the start was critical as the organizer pre-ride was pushed to Thu/Fri, meaning that Matt had to open the start venue all by himself and stand ready to run the event if need be. After setting up the start, when the organizer survived the pre-ride, Matt moved on to staff the Gibraltar controle. An additional good deed for Matt was somehow retrieving a lost document from the women's rest room in Gibraltar and returning the document to it's owner at Fleetwood.

The northern portion of the course, beyond Wind Gap, was staffed by roving purveyor of spring water and bananas, Len Zawodniak. Len clocked 276 miles on the course, supporting and monitoring riders all through the Poconos. I believe that the high completion rate for this difficult event was partly due to Len's volunteering.

The other reason for the high completion rate was the skillful staffing of the overnight controle by Andrew Mead. I heard numerous compliments from finishing riders recounting how Andrew helped them through their struggle to find some replenishment and return to the bike a second day. Andrew also staffed the finish for some hours, and has toiled behind the scenes with me on many different logistical issues, pulling together a totally new SR series in a PBP year.

The finish controle was staffed by Bill Olsen, Eric Keller, Andrew, and myself. Bill assisted with the pre-ride, did a grocery run, and served as the impartial, late finisher arrival umpire -- unbelievably Bill's eyes are so good he can see riders finishing all the way to the Free Bridge.  Myself, Bill, and Greg Keenan did the final clean up and gear packing at the Holiday Inn. 

Yours truly also did a lot of volunteering for the series. No doubt some people will be thanking me in words, in writing, or in beer for my effort. To that, I say: "you're welcome". Thanks enough for me was seeing all the tough bike rider friends who finished a worthy 600K. But to really thank me, to really, really thank me, you (yes, I mean you) should volunteer for a PA Rando event. In fact, we could really use an organizer/start/finish volunteers for the July event (Hawk's Nest).  Contact Andrew or me for more information.
Chris Nadovich, Event Organizer