Wednesday, February 21, 2018

2018 PA Randonneurs Flèche

In keeping with tradition, PA Randonneurs will host its 11th Flèches-USA with riders converging on the Weisel Youth Hostel near Quakertown, PA on April 22, 2018.  Event details have been posted on the website.  All participants (captains AND team riders) should complete an entry form and waiver.  These should be mailed with entry fee to the RBA.

A few team captains have already started floating route ideas my way which is most appreciated.  Earlier is good as April is a busy time for brevet organizers.

Important Dates:

March 30    Team Captain registration closes
April 6        Route submission deadline
April 13      Brevet cards mailed to team captains
April 18      Rider registration closes
April 19      Noon: Earliest start time
April 21      8AM - 9AM: Preferred start time
April 21     10AM: Latest start time
April 22     7AM - 11AM: Brunch Banquet

Please contact me with any questions.

Andrew Mead
-Eastern PA RBA

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Lancaster Loop Results

Preliminary results for the Loop Around Lancaster in Reverse 200k have been posted on the website and will be submitted to RUSA later this week.  Please have a look and point out anything amiss.

The day wasn't too bad for a winter brevet day.  Sunny skies made it feel warmer.  It's all relative since it was 14F at the start.  Everyone was dressed accordingly and as a result notched another 100% completion rate.  Congratulations!!  Finishers enjoyed food and drink at the St. Boniface brewery In Ephrata.  The personal pizzas were a big hit.

The field saw a little more of first finisher Tim Creyts than usual as a flat had him off the bike for a while.  The combination of cold hands with a tubeless rim/tire setup made dismounting the tire a real chore.  James Haddad notched another completion aboard his fixed gear bike.  Tom Dermody persevered though a few (a dozen by his estimate) bonus miles resulting from a failure to print ALL pages of the cue sheet to complete his first brevet.  He resorted to reviewing the cue on-line and trying to memorize the next few turns.  Those who regularly ride in this area know how daunting a task that can be as the criss-cross maze of roads makes for lengthy cues sheets.  Chappeau Tom!

Speaking of perseverance, Saturday's finish marked Rudi Mayr's completion of the difficult PA R-12 award.  The R12 is challenging enough, but Rudy managed to clip in for a dozen PA events, including January's moving schedule target, to join the small group of Randonneurs who have earned this award.  Well Done!

The most unusual happening involved Bill Fischer and SPOT2.  I routinely check on rider progress during brevets.  Its what organizers do.  I noticed that Bill had stopped along the NW River Trail near Bainbridge and remained there all afternoon.  No calls for help so I assumed he had the situation under control.  Turns out the SPOT fell out of his bag.  He had no idea where, but I did.  Thankfully, the SPOT was still pinging away and was easily recovered the next morning.

We will take a short break to regroup before diving into the ACP SR events commencing with the 200k on March 24.  The 300k will be held on April 14, the 400k on May 5, and the 600k on May 19-20.  All of the spring ACP SR events will be staged out of our unofficial rando clubhouse at the Weisel Hostel near Quakertown, PA.  Details will be posted on the website.

The PA Randonneurs Flèche will be held on April 19-22, with our traditional Flèche finish breakfast at the Weisel Hostel on April 22.  Details and registration deadlines will be announced soon in a separate communication. Teams and captains should already be talking.

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Hopewell Finish and February R12 Announcement

Results of the January 20 Beyond Hope to Hopewell 200k have been posted and, following a correction to include a missing Bill Fischer, have been submitted to RUSA.  The results tabulation is on the website:

By all accounts the weather finally cooperated and riders enjoyed a nice day, especially compared to weather conditions on our cancelled event dates.  The organizer and RBA are both thankful for another 100% completion rate.

Michael Povman commented: Thanks again to you and the other organizers for putting on another well-run ride yesterday.  The third time was the charm!  The weather was about as good as I could have expected for a January brevet, although the strong wind gusts from the west (along with Tunnel Road and all the rollers) made the section between the third and fourth controls particularly challenging.  After that, Brick Farm Market was a welcome break – an excellent choice for a control.  Great job all around!<

PA Randonneurs will head west in February to reprise last year's popular Lancaster Loop in Reverse using the St. Boniface Brewery as the finish destination.  Details will be posted on the website soon.  In the meantime, you can check out the details from last year's event ( as little has changed.  A course checkout ride was completed on Saturday (1/27) and an updated cue sheet will be posted soon.  You can view the route here:

Notes from the course checkout ride:

Mile 61.8: River Rd was closed at Blue Rock Rd due to flooding. River Rd and Water St were wet and muddy but safely rideable on the crown of the closed road. The wettest section was at mile 65.0 where Water St crossed an ice jammed Strickler Run. Ice jam flooding is not expected to worsen in the coming week so the route should remain passible.

Mile 66.2: The Northwest Lancaster River Trail is entered by crossing to the left shoulder of the new section of SR441:
Entrance to NWLCRT in Columbia (looks like a sidewalk here)


The Northwest Lancaster River Trail is gorgeous.  With the exception of a few very short sections of gravel it is paved the entire route and is well marked.  There are a few tricky sections but the cues provided are accurate.  I would recommend that riders follow the trail signs as seen in the photo. 

Mile 67.7: Furnace road is a little confusing as it looks like a private drive when approaching on the bike path.  It’s certainly easy enough to figure out. 

Mile 68.9: Here the River trail diverts away from the river and onto city streets as it passes through Marietta.  Riders should refuel at one of the pubs or off route stores as the next services are another 30 miles away in Annville. 

Mile 74.4: The River trail was wet and muddy where it dips under the Shanks Mills railroad bridge.

Mile 112.9: The shoulder of 322 had some branches and minor debris that should be OK in daylight but will need some caution for those hitting this section in darkness.

Thanks to volunteer Scott Franzen for handling the pre-ride duties.  You can thank him when you finish on Saturday.

The cue sheet has been posted on the website.
Make sure you have a draft that is dated in 2018.

The registration link is already live on the website.  Registration will remain open until Friday, Feb 2 at 5pm.

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA

Registered Riders (as of 2/1/2018)
1 Jimmy Aspras
2 Gavin Biebuyck
3 Timothy T.  Creyts
4 Jan Peter Dembinski
5 J Thomas Dermody
6 Matthew Farrell
7 William Fischer
8 Gregory W Forshey
9 J Scott Franzen - volunteer PR
10 James R Haddad
11 Greg Keenan
12 Rudolf Mayr
13 Chris Nadovich
14 George Michael Retseck

Monday, January 8, 2018

2018 PA R12 Series Kickoff: Beyond Hope to Hopewell 200k

***. Update 4 ***

We will try again.  The Beyond Hope to Hopewell brevet will be run on Saturday January 20.  All other details remain unchanged.  There will be no further postponements.

I have updated the registered riders list based on confirmations received since January 13.  If you still intend to clip in this weekend, please send me an email or re-register on the event page.  Thanks!

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA

*** Update 3 January 12 ***

It's hard to fathom that I was out in shirt sleeves at lunch and now I'm drafting a notice of winter weather impact on a brevet.  Such is the nature of winter brevet scheduling.
The Beyond Hope to Hopewell brevet scheduled for tomorrow, January 13, is POSTPONED AGAIN.  It appears as though the advancing cold front will bring a significant period of sleet and freezing rain early in the day with plummeting temperatures after that.  Rider safety is paramount and there's no way to assure that in such conditions.  We are investigating a postponement at the moment. Should that prove to be too difficult, the event will not be rescheduled.  Riders chasing the elusive PA R-12 can talk to me about options for a January completion to keep a streak alive.

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA

*** Update 2 January 7 ***
The Beyond Hope to Hopewell brevet has been rescheduled to Saturday, January 13, 2018.  All other aspects remain the same.  The on-line registration form should be working; you can email your request to register me if you have problems.

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA

*** Update 1 January 4 ***

The Beyond Hope to Hopewell brevet has been POSTPONED due to weather conditions that have made travel on roadways dangerous.  A reschedule date will be announced soon.

*** Original Post ***
Welcome to the 2018 PA Randonneurs R12 series.  It seems not so long ago that we were struggling against the weather to get our 2017 R12 series kicked off and here we are again.   We will reprise the Beyond Hope to Hopewell 200k, a route that usually benefits from excellent winter maintenance.  Fingers are crossed.  Organizer Bill Olsen will greet riders at the Bridge Street Bagel & Deli in Milford, NJ.  Parking is in the US HealthCare lot across Church St. from the Milford Market.  Ride details have been posted on the website.  Registration is open and will remain so through Thursday, January 4.

The route map link is here:
As always, riders are cautioned that the official route remains the cue sheet.  Navigation by GPS is at your own risk.

This year's kickoff promises to be memorable with forecast single-digit temperatures.  Riders will want to make sure that their winter riding gear is fully sorted before clipping in.  You'll know whether you make the proper selections relatively quickly.  The key word for the day is layers, and lots of them.

Riders are also reminded that lights and reflective gear are mandatory in view of the limited daylight hours and frequent overcast skies.

As in years past, PA Randonneur members will ride for free.  It you haven't renewed your membership for 2018, you can simply renew it at registration and enjoy the benefits for the rest of the year.  For those of you who have already renewed check-in will be quick.

Gear up, register, and get your 2018 randonneuring season started.

Andrew Mead
-Eastern PA RBA

Registered Riders (as of 1/18/2018)

1 Michael Anderson
2 Jimmy Aspras
3 Marc Bernardo
4 Gavin Biebuyck
5 Sean P Connelly
6 Timothy T.  Creyts
7 Matthew Farrell
8 J Scott Franzen
9 Jeff Lippincott
10 Rudolf Mayr
11 Cameron O'Mara
12 William Olsen - organizer
13 Michael D Povman
14 George Michael Retseck
15 Darin Stine

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Cold Weather Riding Challenges: It's Not Just Clothing

Winter 2018 is looking to redefine epic weather for our January brevet.  Ironically the next issue of American Randonneur will include an article on clothing for winter riding which is likely to be a little late for near-term challenges.  Hint:  LAYERS and lots of them.

The challenges of cold weather brevets are not limited to clothing.  Bill Beck of DC Randonneurs recently offered his experiences on a New Year's Day permanent.  I've reproduced the essence of his findings below, with permission.

Yesterday, Emily Ranson, Jack Nicholson, and I set off on a New Years adventure on the Woodbine-Dillsburg permanent. Indicated temperatures at the start ranged from -0.3F on Emily's Garmin to +1F on my Wahoo Bolt. Temperatures warmed to around 19F at one point, and then dropped back to the single digits after it got dark. Here were some observations and lessons learned.

1) The "Extreme" Bar Mitts worked. I used light wool gloves inside the Bar Mitts, and my hands were pretty comfortable. With the standard Bar Mitts, my hands get cold below 20 degrees. I think Emily's hands were cold yesterday in the standard Bar Mitts.

2) Standard plastic "insulated" bottles were no match for the cold. Jack's Gatorade froze solid. Emily added salt to her water bottles, and there was some liquid remaining, but it was inaccessible since the top had frozen. Two things that worked: My Camelbak was underneath two out layers of clothing and remained liquid. Unzipping the two layers and pulling out the hose allows drinking while riding. Before pushing the hose back inside the clothing, it's worthwhile to close the lever at the bite valve to prevent leakage. (I know from bad experience.) Two stainless steel, vacuum thermos water bottles were also fully liquid at the end of the ride. The Ibera models are really nice since the valve is recessed into the bottle where it's protected from freezing, but sadly it doesn't seem that they make them anymore.

3) Much of our electronics was not happy in the cold! I brought along my new Gear 360 camera and wanted to try it riding along Cemetery Ridge at Gettysburg. Would have been pretty cool, right? But it turned on for about 5 seconds, went off, and would not revive. Both Jack and my phones were dead by the end of the ride. When I tried to connect my USB charger to the phone, the phone said it was too cold to charge! Please try again when it's warmer. (Emily's phone was still working, as of 100 miles into the ride.) The battery in my Wahoo Bolt ran down much faster than normal. Connecting a USB power pack had no effect, so the Bolt ended up running out of battery and turning off around 10 miles from the finish. Once things were warmed up at home, the Bolt charged and ran fine off of the USB power pack, so the no-charging problem was definitely cold-related. (Jack's Bolt performed much better. When my Bolt was down to 10%, his still had over 40% left.) So you think that you are protected by having a USB power pack, but it was no protection for either my phone or my Wahoo Bolt.

While I've not tried Bar Mitts, I can speak to the second and third points.  A CamelBak under my jacket has made quite a few cold weather rides possible.  It allows me to stay hydrated AND I get to enjoy relatively warm fluid which helps to maintain a comfortable core temperature.  Most convenience stores have a hot water available.

It's not just GPS and phone batteries that suffer in the cold.  Most important is your headlight if you rely on battery-powered lighting.  My own headlight battery, normally good for 6 hours, gave me the 30-minute reserve warning about 45 minutes into my New Year's Day adventure. As you'll likely need your light at the end of the ride, you might consider carrying the battery in your pocket for an hour or so before dark to warm it for use.

As you prepare for this weekend's brevet, plan ahead.  You and your gear will be tested. A solid plan will get you through to the finish.

Andrew Mead
-Eastern PA RBA

Monday, December 4, 2017

Ride Results: Little Britain 200k

Welcoming the sun's warmth.  Photo by R. Mayr

Preliminary results have been posted on the website at  Results will be submitted to RUSA in a few days and become final at that time.

Fifteen riders clipped in for the final R-12 brevet of 2017.  All fifteen eventually returned for another organizer's favorite 100% completion rate.  Temperature at the start was in the upper 20s which had many riders hopping around to keep warm.  Clear and sunny conditions allowed a quick warming to the mid-40s where it remained for much of the day.  The sun and light winds made conditions about as good as could be expected for a December brevet and most riders enjoyed themselves.  All but the earliest of finishers were treated to a few miles riding under a beautiful full moon which rose at sunset.  So while first finishers Gavin Biebuyck and Cameron O'Mara can claim first finisher bragging rights, those of us who took a bit longer were treated to more of nature's beauty.

Finishers were greeted by volunteer Steve Kraybill at the Highland Pizzeria.  I'm sure he was regaled with many great stories.  Steve rode the brevet route as a permanent earlier this year and is familiar with each and every hill it has to offer.  He would know embellishment.

Regular James Haddad once again decided he needed only one gear to get around the route and brought his fixed gear bike.  After hearing stories of Jim Holman's exploding cassette, James sat back as smiled rather smugly.  One can only wonder what thoughts ran through his mind while climbing Hill Rd or spinning down Yellow Mountain Rd.  To his credit, he uttered not one complaint to the route designer.

Congratulations to Jeff Lippincott who with this completion notched his first R-12 award and a PA R-12 at that.  It is notable that Jeff is following the path of several other PA randonneurs who commenced an R-12 string with their very first brevet.  Jeff's first was in January 2017 on the Beyond Hope to New Hope brevet and he has completed nearly every event on the PA calendar since.  He also found time for 1000k and 1200k events which allowed him to complete a RUSA Cup award.  Jeff has been busy in his first year of randonneuring and is well-positioned to notch the ACP R-5000 award.  Chappeau Jeff!

From Rudy MayrMany thanks for this and all the other brevets you've put on in 2017!  Yesterday's ride had beautiful scenery, acceptable weather, memorable aromas, great camaraderie  and excellent beer and pizza at the end.  Well done all round! 

Rudy's ride pictures can be viewed online.

Michael Povman commented:  Thanks again to you and the team for organizing yesterday’s ride.  While it was challenging I enjoyed the terrific farmland scenery and the well-maintained, quiet roads.  In fact on some I counted more Amish buggies than cars!  The weather was as good at it could have been for a December brevet, and after sunset the full moon lighting up mostly deserted roads made the last couple of hours a highlight for me.  Looking forward to doing this one again sometime.

Joe Ray had this to say:  Had a great ride yesterday - perfect weather, cold but calm winds, great roads and scenery.  It was also a treat being able to see the only Supermoon of 2017, both as it was setting on the drive west to get to the start and again on our right heading north to the finish as it rose.   Pizzeria finish is a definite plus.  Thanks to you and volunteers for making it all possible. 

Matt Farrell:  Thanks for running the course again. It was a near perfect Dec day to do the ride. I struggled for most of the middle of the ride but came around at the end. Sorry to have missed you at the end of ride celebration. 

Once again, fellow PA Randonneur organizer Chris Nadovich and I lead from the back of the field, though perhaps a bit further back than intended.  Chris arrived from Easton sans helmet.  Fortunately volunteer Ned Schantz was able to retrieve a helmet that fit while I wrapped up the registration details.  Ned showed up to offer his help at the start and saved Chris' ride.  Thanks Ned!  

We return to the east in January with the Beyond Hope to Hopewell brevet on January 6.  Details will be posted soon.

Thanks to everyone who participated in 2017 and to all the volunteers who have pitched in to make the year such a success.  Hope to see you all in the coming year.

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA

Sunday, November 26, 2017

December R12 Brevet: Little Britain

*** Update 1 ***
The cue sheet has been updated and posted on the website.  Make sure you have the version dated 11/26/2017.  For those of you familiar with the route, we are using the "winter bypass" that avoids a couple short stretches of gravel road.  The route is entirely paved in the broadest meaning of the term.

Please make note that the section crossing Texter Mountain following Control 2 (miles 29 - 40) has already seen some slick conditions prompting the application of anti-skid materials.  Avoid outrunning your guardian angel on the descents.

*** Original Post ***
Details and event registration for the final R12 brevet of 2017 have been posted on the website.  Registration will remain open through 5pm on November 30.

This route offers a different twist on Lancaster County by looping generally north and south from a central start-finish location.  The route is laid out generally as a figure-8 and returns to the start location after 60 miles providing a safety bail-out should weather conditions or rider conditioning take a turn for the worse.  The route map is here.

Breakfast is available nearby at the Oregon Dairy Restaurant, approximately 1 mile north of the start location along SR 272.  The food is good and plentiful and there's even a breakfast buffet.  The baked oatmeal is one of my favorites.  The restaurant opens at 6am which leaves ample time for breakfast and to make you way to the start.  Please note that the starting time is 7:30 am to avoid having to start in the dark and allow plenty of time for a hearty breakfast.

Our finish controle will be at the Highland Pizzaria in the shopping center.  It offers a decent selection of food for hungry riders and an excellent selection of beer for those wanting a few liquid carbs to assist in post-ride replenishment.

Parking is not abundant at the start finish area, but there should be enough to manage.  We will be staging for the start at the north side entrance along Landis Valley Rd   You should park in that general area away from the store fronts.  Carpooling will help.  There is ample additional parking at the Landis Valley Farm Museum about 1/4 mile from the start on the opposite side of Oregon Pike.

Finally, as the end of the year approaches you should take the time check your RUSA and PA Randonneurs membership status and renew, if necessary.   You can renew your RUSA membership at:   The PA membership list is posted on website at: .

Andrew Mead
- Eastern PA RBA

Registered Riders (as of 11/30/17 )
1 Jimmy Aspras
2 Marc Bernardo + membership
3 Gavin Biebuyck
4 Matthew Farrell
5 J Scott Franzen
6 James R Haddad
7 James P. Holman
8 Greg Keenan
9 Jeff Lippincott
10 Alexander Manta
11 Nicholas Manta
12 Rudi Mayr
13 Andrew D Mead - organizer
14 Chris Nadovich
15 Cameron O'Mara + membership
16 Michael D Povman + membership
17 Joseph Ray + membership
18 George Michael Retseck