Sunday, January 5, 2020

Little Britain Ride Report

Preliminary results for the January R12 Little Britain brevet are posted on the website.  Please review the results and let me know if they match your recollection.  The results will become final in a week when they are submitted to RUSA.

Riders at the Start.  Photo by Joe Ray's camera.
Saturday proved once again that the weather prognosticators are just guessing.  Forecasts ranging from a day of steady rain, scattered showers, cold temperatures, moderate temperatures reduced gear selection to a crap shoot for most.  Thankfully, the Little Britain route's mid-point return to the start allowed for adjustments.  Eleven riders started out in foggy conditions with temperatures in the upper 40s.  Ten riders completed the route for a 91% completion rate.  Bill Russel hauled his velomobile down from Massachusetts to have a go at a course record, but had to abandon his attempt about 19 miles in when he broke his steering mechanism.  The failure thankfully occurred as he was slowing for a stop sign and not during his earlier 45mph blast through Middle Creek.  The remaining riders pushed on through foggy conditions that persisted into the early afternoon.  Roads remained damp all day, but the rain held off.  Only the later finishing riders had to deal with a few sprinkles after dark.  With the velomobile out of contention, Chris Maglieri blazed around to lay claim to first finisher honors.  With this completion Greg Keenan notched his 70th consecutive month with a brevet finish, but more significantly completed his first PA R-12.  Congratulations Greg!  All riders enjoyed a bit of food and beverage at the Highland Pizzeria finish to wrap up a good day.

Next up is the Beyond Hope to Hopewell brevet on February 1 starting in Milford, NJ.  Registration details are on the posted.  Registration remains open through January 30.

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA

Thursday, January 2, 2020

2020 PA R-12 Series Kickoff: The Little Britain 200

Pennsylvania Randonneurs kicks off its popular R-12 brevet series on Saturday, January 4 with the Little Britain 200k.  This Figure-8 route starts in Lancaster, travels north into Berks county, returns to the start, and then explores the southern end of Lancaster County before finishing at the start.  The start-finish offers several small restaurants, a Turkey Hill convenience store, and the Highland Pizza Shop which will serve as our finish control. 

A few versions of this route exist.  We will be using the "winter" configuration that was used last February which avoids the sometimes slippery assault on Hill Rd near Wommelsdorf and the no winter maintenance gravel Lakeside Drive near Octoraro Lake.

Event details and registration are available on the PA Randonneurs website.   Please park on the north side of the parking lot next to the Landis Valley Road entrance away from the store fronts so we don't inconvenience the businesses or patrons.

The January R-12 event is free to members of PA Randonneurs as a way to promote club membership.  New in 2020 is a requirement from RUSA that all brevet participants be current RUSA members.  So dig out your winter togs and get your 2020 randonneuring season off to a strong start.

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Thanks to the 2019 PA Rando Volunteers

2019 has been an amazing year for Pennsylvania Randonneurs. We have managed to continue our tradition of running high quality and challenging brevets in Eastern PA. We introduced a totally new SR series and a new Fleche venue. Our unbroken string of R12 series events allow riders to stay on their bikes seeking rando glory all year long. Such accomplishments for this club would not be possible without volunteer help. In 2019, the  Pennsylvania Randonneurs would like to thank volunteers:
  • CJ Arayata 
  • Gavin Biebuyck
  • James Bondra
  • Janice Chernekoff
  • Tom Dermody
  • Matt Farrell
  • Bill Fischer
  • Nigel & Joyce Greene
  • Greg Keenan
  • Eric Keller
  • Steve Kraybill
  • Patrick & Cecilie Gaffney
  • Nick Manta
  • George & Erin Metzler 
  • Andrew Mead
  • Chris Nadovich
  • William Olsen
  • Susan Proulx
  • George Retseck
  • Tom Rosenbauer
  • Steve Schoenfelder
  • Len Zawodniak
Thanks to all of you who volunteered this year. (Let us know if we missed anybody.) If you rode a PA event this year, people on this list made it possible. Please thank them for their effort. But to really thank them, to really, really thank them, you (yes, I mean you) should volunteer for a PA Rando event.

Continuing our long-standing tradition, Pennsylvania Randonneurs plans in 2020 to continue the R12 series, the SR series, the Fleche, and a few populaires.  We might add more populaires if there is enough interest and willing volunteers.  Look for a few new routes as well as the revival of some that few may remember.  We kick things off on January 4 with the Little Britain brevet. Event and registration details are posted on the website.

Chris Nadovich
Andrew Mead

Hope to New Hope Ride Report

It was about as hopeful a December day as could be expected, riding along the Delaware. Chilly, a little breezy at times, but there was a good amount of sunshine. Of those that clipped in at the Blairstown Diner, 13 of the 14 made it to the finish at the Blairstown Inn within the time limit for a 93% completion rate.   Preliminary results for the December 2019 edition of the Hope to New Hope 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.

James Haddad enjoys a gyro at the Market in New Hope

Riders had little trouble navigating the relatively straight and flat course (for PA Rando) from Blairstown, beyond Hope, on to New Hope, and back through Hope to Blairstown. The only DNF was Tom Keenan, who's navigation device was lost till Spring somewhere in a snowbank after an unfortunate glove maneuver.

The Hope to New Hope route is not the most scenic PA Rando route. H2NH uses larger secondary roads such as 519 and 29. The higher traffic on these roads is tolerated in the hopes that the shoulder remains snow and ice free through the Winter. On this occasion, there was little issue with snow and ice (other than in Footbridge Park). Any "stickyness" on the shoulder was limited and manageable. The biggest annoyance reported was, in fact, the traffic: specifically all the cars with Christmas trees on the roof. The consensus was that 1 in 3 cars was carrying a tree.

And here's some Blairstown Diner trivia you might not have known. December 13th is a Friday! Whooo...

Winter riding protective facemask with rando mottos.

First finisher Iwan Barankay writes...

Thank you for putting together this brevet. Perfect start and end controls and ideal conditions for a December brevet. I particularly enjoyed the meditative and muscle relaxing walk across Stockton bridge and the warm coffees at each control. Glorious day to end the 2019 brevet season. Next year I hope we will put together a brevet to start in Philly.

Hey Philly Gang, did you hear that "brevet to start in Philly" part? Time to get crackin' on this!

This brevet completes the 2019 season for Pennsylvania Randonneurs. Thanks to all the volunteers, this year has been an amazing success. Congratulations to all the riders -- especially those who went on to PBP this year.  I wish you all the best over the holidays and hope to see you next year at our first event, which will be held on 4 January 2020. Details coming soon on the PA Rando website.

Chris Nadovich
Brevet Organizer

Monday, December 2, 2019

December R12: Hope to New Hope **Update

Update: 4 December

I scouted the northern extent of the course today. There is a LOT of tree-branch debris on the shoulders on 519 above Belvedere. Also some shattered ice shards. This will affect the start and the finish -- especially the finish for riders finishing after sunset. People need to be extra vigilant to scan for "sticky" areas as they ride in the dark. These roads are relatively low traffic on Saturday, but they DO have traffic. Blinding by oncoming car headlights may make spotting the debris difficult. Please stop and wait for traffic to clear if you can't verify that the road in front of you is safe. 

The parking lot at Footbridge Park was NOT plowed, nor was the footbridge. These areas are flat, wide, and the snow/ice isn't deep. We can still park there. But if it turns out these are still frozen and unridable on Saturday, I'll want everyone to walk bikes through the frozen mess. Please don't try to ride over an ice covered footbridge unless you have spiked tires.

The rt 97 highway bridge is still under construction, with a one-way traffic light robot flagperson that has a silly long wait time. Normally the workaround has been to use the road through Footbridge Park, but if the footbridge is still frozen (see above) it's hard to say which way is better. The final decision will be made at the riders meeting after consulting with everyone's guardian angel.

Original Post...

Yes, yes, yes. Despite RUSA insurance gyrations we are indeed running the Hope 2 New Hope 200K brevet on 7 December starting from the Blairstown Diner at 7AM. Don't park at the Diner. Please park across the creek in Footbridge Park.  The finish is at the Blairstown Inn, across the street from the diner. All the information, and an online registration link, are on the event web page.

There has been no pre-ride of this event, but we believe that the roads in question are very reliable with little chance of issue. Famous last words.

Unlike previous editions, the Milford and New Hope controles are open controles. Milford baker is no more. If you want breakfast in Milford, go to the Bridge St Deli. If you want something quick go to the Milford Market. The cued route through New hope takes you past the brewery (which may not be open yet -- penalty for fast riding). There's a Starbucks, a Dunkin', and numerous small establishments. If you want Wawa or McDonalds or the diner in New Hope, these are a right turn at mile 62.8, about 0.5 mile off course.

The start and finish extend during night hours. The organizer will strictly enforce the rules regarding lighting and reflective gear.

Bonne route!

Chris Nadovich

Monday, November 4, 2019

PAR Rusty Rail 200 Ride Report

Nineteen riders clipped-in to brave the challenge that is the Rusty Rail 200.  The autumn day dawned crisp and clear, a hard frost whitening farmers' fields and pastures as randonneurs charged across the valley floor to the foot of Jacks Mountain, the first of four epic ascents.  Yet, in spite of the low temperatures and the strenuousness of the route, all participants who embraced the task prevailed, completing the course within the allotted time.

The Rusty Rail Brewing Company proved to be the ideal reward for our victors where tales and legends were shared, where spirits were consumed and spirits restored, and where woes of the day were soon forgotten.

Kudos to first finishers Tim Creyts and Chris Maglieri who made the route look easy, rolling into the finish in only eight hours and ten minutes.  Additional recognition is due Chris for achieving his 2019 K-Hound distance on this ride.

Chapeau to Mark Caplan for completing his first brevet with an astonishing time of nine hours and thirty-five minutes.  And thanks to Iwan Barankay for introducing Mark to the insanity that is PA randonneuring.
Iwan writes:

Thank you for an outstanding route. I was so happy to have made the long trip out there plus give Mark a proper introduction to the world of randonneuring with his first brevet.

The first hours were stunning but my toes felt positively Siberian. (I ordered new overshoes but they did not arrive in time. Grrr/Brrr).
The route was so beautiful that I did not take pictures as they could not have done the colors justice.

Chris Nadovich writes...

Central PA is a decidedly different cycling experience than the Pocono
plateau and Delaware gorge region we normally ride. Well worth the
trip. In Central PA, it seems the big climbs are combined with long,
easy spins through flat valleys and sojourns alongside meandering
creeks. There are tailwinds, sunshine, and beautiful foliage.  The
four giant climbs in Rusty Rail were seriously painful undertakings
(they seemed equivalent in difficulty to Fox Gap or Millbrook), yet
there was so much beautiful, easy riding in-between that I felt almost
completely recovered (and thawed out from the screaming descent)
before my battle began with the next climb.

Speaking of those painful climbs, in my agony while struggling up some
of those relentless grades I might have called one or both of the
organizers a foul name or two. Out loud. Really loud. I hope they
forgive me because I very much enjoyed their event. What a beautiful
course! Let's ride out there again. Thank you Eric and Steve.

And now...this:

Iwan warming his toes
Bill Fisher spins up Jacks
Greg remembered to wear his shoe covers
Matt fighting cramps
Gary rolling along
Paul has got this!
Tim is first over Ulsh Gap
Chris is next in spite of pausing for cattle photos
Gavin being Gavin
Jeff leads the chase group over the climb
A great day for Joe Ray
George Retseck represents with a classic ride and club colors
Bill Knowles-Kellett cresting Ulsh Gap

First Finisher Chris earns his K-Hound!
First Finisher Tim celebrates
Newly-minted randonneur Mark and bad influence Iwan in with a time of 9:35!
Bill Fisher!
Gavin still smiling in spite of a missing chainring
Joe Ray throws down an awesome ride!
Greg after crushing the course into submission
Nick is in!
Gavin, Gary, and Matt in resuscitation mode
Jeff and Greg: still friends after the hate-drop incident
De'Anna & Rudi triumphant

George and Paul: still smiling after all those miles!
Chris survives!

Let's do this again next year!

-Steve Schoenfelder

A tremendous thank you to first-time organizer Steve Schoenfelder who enthusiastically responded to my request for new event organizers even though he had no idea what all that might entail and to Eric Keller who greeted weary riders with a friendly face and encouraged them the rest of the way home.  Next up we return to the Delaware River with the Beyond Hope to New Hope brevet starting in Blairstown, NJ on December 7.  This out and back route has the distinction of being one of the flatter routes in the PA Rando catalog which should be a welcome relief after the challenges of the central Pennsylvania mountains.  Event details and registration are available on the website.

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA

Friday, October 25, 2019

November PA R-12 Event: The Rusty Rail

The November R-12 brevet heads west into central Pennsylvania.  New organizer Steve Schoenfelder serves up The Rusty Rail 204 starting and finishing in Mifflinburg, PA.  This route promises to be one not soon forgotten.  Registration is open on the PA Randonneurs website through October 31.

Fall foliage was at its peak during the October 24 pre-ride of the Rusty 204 with the mountains awash with color.  A hard frost awaited me in Buffalo Valley with the temperature dropping to 29 degrees along Penns Creek.  Surprisingly, it was warmer atop Jacks Mountain, probably because it catches the early morning sunlight.  Riders are encouraged to bring along cold weather gear.  I lost feeling in a few of my fingers in spite of wearing insulated winter gloves.

The route is entirely paved, so if your are riding over dirt or gravel, you are off course. There is the usual smattering of chip seal well known to PA riders.  The stretch between Coburn and Woodward (mile 102-108) has a lot of loose gravel.  Weiler Road (mile 61) gets my vote for the worst road surface.  Be particularly careful on descents as there are potholes and gravel patches aplenty. 

The route lands on a few highways where riders are encouraged to ride the shoulder or stay as far right as possible.  Be careful on route PA-305 as you climb Stone Mountain (mile 53) where there is not much of a shoulder.  Try to stay in the shoulder as you struggle up Tussey Mountain on PA 26 (mile 67) as cars whiz by at ridiculous speeds.  Ditto for PA-45 as you leave Woodward (mile 109).  Fast descenders usually occupy the lane on the way down as speeds of 45-55 can be easily achieved in an aero tuck.

Rutters at the Milroy control is undergoing a facelift and construction activity limits access.  I elected to use the Subway.  Don’t pass on the homemade chips at Doan’s Bones BBQ in Whipple Dam.  My achievement of the day was keeping down the cheese and pulled pork BBQ sandwich as I ground my way up Tussey Mountain.

There are four epic climbs on the route separated by even more climbing.  I used a 34 in the front and back and wished for a lower gear at times.  I didn’t have to push my bike up any of the grades in spite of my advanced age and mass.

All in all, the Rusty Rail 204 combines a magical mix of beauty and suffering.

Bonne Route!