Monday, January 7, 2019

January R12 Ride Report: Morgantown-Middletown 200

Preliminary results for the first PA R12 brevet of 2019 have been posted on the PA Rando website.  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 in the week and become final at that time.

The weather was unseasonably warm for a January brevet.  It was also characteristically (at least for this past year) WET.  Still, all six of the riders who clipped in on Saturday morning finished within the time limit.  A perfect completion record was messed up by the pre-rider who re-learned an important lesson about checking equipment BEFORE the ride.  Changing a tube along the route is NOT a good time to discover that one's pump doesn't work.  There's much more to the story; you'll have to coax it out of me.

Always looking for a silver lining in the situation, Saturday's ride had the following going for it:
- temperatures were in the 40s, not the teens
- the weather forecasters overstated the rain chances.  Instead of non-stop rain, riders faced mostly damp conditions with a scattered shower or two.
- the winds shifted during the day to remain generally at riders' backs all day, a rarity on a loop route.
- it was a great way to test rain gear

Hearty souls gather in the cold drizzle at the start.

Chris Nadovich had this to say:
With the weather forecast predicting a cold, rainy day, some might have worried that the Morgantown-Middletown 200K would be too much of a "character building" experience. Yet it turned out to be a fine ride. How often do you experience the luxury of a tailwind for an
entire 200K loop? Yes, it was a wee bit rainy at times, but the temperatures in the mid 40s kept my raingear from feeling too hot grinding up the endless rollers in Lancaster County. I was comfortable
and happy all day, and when the skies cleared and the morning tailwind turned to remain at my back at the Middletown controle, it was all rainbows and unicorns...

Well, maybe just rainbows, and just till sunset.  After sunset, it was Castor and Pollux on the horizon guiding me back to Morgantown. 

Thanks, Andrew, for yet another excellent tour of Amish country. The Amish in their buggies and bicycles were out in force, especially after dark. I'm very impressed with their lighting systems. The Amish may eschew other tech, but the lights they use on their bikes are as up-to-date as anything a randonneur employs. 

And thanks, Andrew, for hanging out with me, waiting for AAA to come to fix the dead battery on my car. Pro tip for other randonneurs: check to be sure  your lights are off and doors not ajar before leaving your car all day.

At 7 events, Chris is well on his way to a second consecutive PA R-12 event with this brevet.  He is currently the only PA Randonneur with a streak of more than a few rides.

Joe Ray commented,  We had a great brevet yesterday!  Despite the rain it was not a washout, though it was a good test of gear selection.  My hands found their brand new showers pass gloves to be ineffective, but the rest of me was quite happy to spend a day out in the wet.  Anyone have a pair of favorite winter/wet gloves?

The route was quite nice - I had only been thru Cornwall Furnace one prior time and that one did not involve the rail-trail which was quite nice.  Bill, Jan & I passed the pubs along the river around lunch time and I thought for a moment of ducking in for a bite but we were moving along so well it probably would have cost a significant amount of time.  Rutters at the penultimate control may have lacked the ambience of one of those pubs, but I needed some extra carbs and sat for a few minutes after Bill and Jan headed for the finish. 

The sun came out soon after I departed that control around 3:30, along with the wind.  I got a little, er, disoriented in Intercourse but an Intercourse woman helped get me back on track.  Really pleased with finishing the route just as it was getting dark.  The pizzeria had great food and the discussion at the table with Patrick, Jan and Andrew was fun, sharing stories of prior adventures and goals for the year - all in all a super start to 2019. 

Special thanks to volunteer Pat Gaffney who staffed the finish control for the early arrivals.  Even though his plans to conduct a course-checkout pre-ride fell through, he offered a friendly face at the finish until the organizer arrived.

Next up is the Little Britain Brevet on February 2 (Groundhog Day).  Registration is open.  You may notice that the on-line payment option is now live. 

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA

Monday, December 31, 2018

2019 R12 Begins: Morgantown-Middletown 200

Greetings PA Randonneurs,

It is time to begin a new year of randonneuring adventures.  The PA R12 series kicks off with the Morgantown-Middletown 200k on January 5, 2019.  Start time is 7:30am.  Details are available on the website.  The cue sheet has been updated as of Dec. 30.  Be sure you ave the version identified as Revision 2, dated 12/30/2018.  The cue sheet should be in good shape though a mechanical on the course checkout ride leaves me with a few miles yet to confirm.  Recent openings on the NW River Trail in Marietta may have altered signage.  I plan to swing through there on my New Year's Day ride to make sure all is well.

As in past years, PA Randonneurs members in good standing ride for free.  Even more convenient is that the website now allow you to renew your membership on line.  If you take advantage of this new feature, the system work better if you renew your membership BEFORE you register for the brevet.  Registration remains open until midnight on Thursday, January 3. 

Good luck to all in the new year.

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Year-End Announcements

It seems time as the year draws to a close to update you on a few changes in the works.

On line event registration was rolled out earlier and appears to be working well. It has certainly streamlined the behind-the-scenes administration administration of brevets. One area that I want to call attention to is the waiver portion. You must check off each paragraph in the waiver in order to complete the registration. You must complete the registration by the registration deadline in order to participate in the ride. Fortunately, the process is easy and takes very little time. Registration deadlines are typically midnight on the Thursday prior to the event for weekend brevets; HOWEVER, those deadlines may be moved up for some events to allow more organizing time with an accurate event headcount. This will be the case for the Fleche and very likely the 600k. The event registration deadlines will always be provided on the website event page.

Some of you may have already noticed that the website now includes the capability to renew annual membership on line, including payment. Currently only the annual PAR membership renewal has this capability, but brevet registration will soon follow. You will still have the option of paying at registration or sending your registration to the RBA by pony express, but my hope is that the majority will opt for the convenience of an on-line system. One important note in this matter: If you are planning to take advantage of the "members ride free" January brevet, please renew your membership BEFORE registering for the brevet.

Planning for the Super Randonneur series is well under way. The base of operations (starts/finishes) will be Easton, PA in the area around the Holiday Inn Express at the 25th St exit. Participants of the Fall Classic events will recognize the location. The routes will obviously be different than before, but you are sure to recognize at least a few parts of most of them.

Event listings and registration for the January and February events is live on the website. January will stage from Morgantown, PA using a route we haven't ridden in ~5 years. February will stage from Lancaster, PA using the Little Britain route.

Brevet cards for all 2018 brevet finishes have been sorted, collated, stuffed in envelopes, and will soon be in the mail to you. The Fleche certificates will be mailed out separately since I don't normally receive these until late January.

I find this annual cleaning of the brevet card file quite cathartic. The slate has been wiped clean and is ready to record another year's worth of randonneuring adventures. The possibilities are endless.    Thank you all for continuing to support this region though your participation. Best wishes in the new year.

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA

Monday, December 3, 2018

December PA R-12 Ride Report: Back to Our Routes

Preliminary results for the BTOR 200K have been posted on the website.  Please review the results and inform me of any necessary corrections.  The results will be submitted to RUSA in the coming days and become final pending RUSA certification.  A lucky thirteen riders clipped in for the last PA Randonneurs 200K of 2018, with all 13 finishing for a 100% completion rate. Congratulations to all.

In 2018, PA Randonneurs has organized 18 events, 15 brevets, 2 populaires, and one fleche. Riders completed a total of 77,756 KM.  Of the 322 riders starting an event, 308 finished, for an excellent completion rate in 2018 of 95.7%. Given the tough courses and challenging weather presented by Pennsylvania, it's certainly a brave and hearty bunch that attend our rides. 

Indeed it was a brave and hearty crew that clipped in at the start of the BTOR 200K. Temperatures were around freezing with expected highs to be around 40F. Winds were expected to be light. Not a terrible forecast for a December brevet  except for one thing:  near 100% certainty of rain after 4PM. Every rider that started knew what they were in for -- a wet, raw finish. Even the first finishers didn't escape the rain.

James Haddad writes:

Thanks for another great ride. The route was a nice mix of familiar and new roads for me. This route had some of the highest quality food at controles, and kombucha was even available at the Blairstown controle, a major plus. The climb out of Blairstown was great, just what I needed to warm up. After that, Old Mine Rd. was a piece of cake. A flat in the poconos slowed me down, but, Eric gave me some much needed tips on flat repair. By the time I got to Apple Pie Cafe, any hope of a "fast" time had vanished, the rain was beginning and it was dark. I enjoyed a delicious Rueben sandwich on sourdough and lounged around with Paul and Chris before the three of us set out together into the wet night. All in all, it was a great finish to another great year of riding with PA randonneurs.

Steve Schoenfelder writes:

We shivered in the gloom of daybreak during the safety briefing. “Strongly consider walking your bike down Old Mine Road and beware of the ditch before the bridge,” warned Chis, the ride organizer.

At 7 am, I found myself pedaling down the backside of College Hill, home of Lafayette University in Easton, finger tips a bit numb, but otherwise reasonably comfortable.  I was happy with my choice of winter boots and full-length insulated tights as I sailed through the 28 degree chill. It took some effort to maintain contact with the riders ahead who were moving at a spritely pace, perhaps because of the cold, or maybe the threat of impending rain in the afternoon.  Suffering a bit now might reduce the misery of riding through frigid rain in the dark.

These roads were familiar. The course to Wind Gap followed the Blue Mountain 200K route ridden a few weekends earlier. At least this time we were not met with oppressive head winds and snow squalls.
Crossing the Delaware on the Columbia Pedestrian Bridge
Fourteen miles in, we arrived at controle 2 where we hurried to refuel and get our cards signed. Bill caught up with our small group here. I enjoyed chatting with him as we ground our way over the Wind Gap climb into Pen Argyl. We had a shared strategy of moving efficiently in order to mitigate the impact of the impending bad weather that was forecast to blow in around dusk. As it turned out, Bill was the perfect riding buddy for the remainder of the ride.

We hit the crux of the figure eight at mile 28, just before crossing over the pedestrian bridge into New Jersey.  I made our small group stop for a photo op with the Delaware Water Gap in the background.
Once on the New Jersey side, the fun began as we climbed away from the Delaware River to Blairstown.  Gourmet Galleries was the control in this quaint town. They offered a variety of tempting baked goods.  Rudi recommended the macaroons: “the best I ever tasted”.  Bill was kind enough to have my card signed as I used the facilities, and we headed out soon afterwards, agreeing that today was not the day to relax and sample these gustatory delights.

One climbs at various degrees of difficulty for the next six miles or so until the Appalachian Trail is crossed near the crest of Kittatinny Mountain.  After an exhilarating descent down the other side, we hit the wall of Old Mine Road where my Garmin displayed a grade of 19%, quickly followed by “auto-pause”, even though I was still upright and pedaling.  Thanks to Bill’s ability to pick a good line through the mine field down the other side, we descended at a surprisingly good pace without getting bucked off our steeds.  I saw a water-filled trough of indeterminate depth before the concrete slab of the bridge, and remembering Chris’ warning during the pre-ride discussion, jumped my front wheel across the gap to safety.  The thud of my rear tire in the hole suggested that I made the right move.

The Hainesville General Store was the revelation of the ride.  Here, I indulged in a soul-restoring cup of split-pea and ham soup, a bottle of milk, more than a few of Joe’s proffered fries, and a couple of raspberry-filled cookies.

After passing the troll guarding the Dingman’s Ferry bridge, we jammed pace-line style down the highway to the DWG.  Controlling briefly at the Apple Pie Bakery, we headed out to face our ultimate destiny of riding the last two and a half hours in a 41 degree rain.

And finally, the climb up College Hill, a damp entrance into the glow of the College Hill Tavern, and a celebratory Lager (or two) in hand.
Warming and and replenishing at the College Hill Tavern

Thanks to organizer Chris Nadovich and volunteer pre-rider George Retseck for putting on a ride that will not be soon forgotten.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

December Event: Back to Our Routes 200K

We dug through our old archives of routes and found an interesting 200K brevet to run on the first of December. It's good old RUSA route #680, a figure-eight course along the Delaware River, starting in Easton, crossing itself in Portand, and reaching as far North as Hainesville and Dingman's Ferry. We haven't run this route for a long time. Dating back to the roots of PA Randonneurs,  originally this course started at Tom's front porch. I considered moving the start to my front porch, 300 feet higher up the Paxinosa Ridge, but decided instead to start it lower at the Wawa on Cattell Street in College Hill.

Along with the usual rolling hills along the Delaware, this route has one very significant climb: a Westbound transit of Kittatinny Mountain.  This is a double-hump climb beginning immediately after the controle in Blairstown, the first hump on Millbrook Rd crossing the AT and the second hump comprising a reversal of the usual Old Mine Road climb.

Just one example of graffiti lampooning the state of Old Mine Road
That means this route descends the Old Mine Road hill. To describe what passes for "pavement" down that hill as "rough" is an extreme understatement. I recommend a descending speed roughly equal to your climbing speed, which is to say, just around walking pace. In fact, even if you can pedal up the steep slope from Millbrook Village, unless you have mountain biking skills and suitable tires, this hill merits dismounting and walking down. Even at the very bottom, where the slope flattens and it seems like the pavement has become smooth, there is a bone-jarring gap at the creek bridge that always catches me by surprise.

Immediately before these major climbs and descents, is the controle in Blarstown at the Gourmet Gallery. This tiny little luncheonette has some seriously delicious food. I'd recommend sampling lightly, though, given the work that follows.

Beyond the Kittatinny transit, is the usual beautiful NPS615 route up to Hainesville. Because of the intermittent service at Flats Deli, the Hainesville controle has been moved to the Hainesville General Store, which (IMHO) is a much nicer venue.

The return down the Ho-Chi-Minh (Rt 209) and then River Rd, Hidden Lake, passing Shawnee, leads back to Delaware Water Gap and the Village Farmer and Bakery. Note that the traffic light at the end of River Rd by the I-80 entrance has been replaced by a traffic circle. The circle is passable by bike, but is under construction. Please obey the signage, and yield to traffic as you ride counter clockwise 3/4 lap.

South from the Gap we follow the usual route through the "little bastard" climbs next to Foul Rift. The route stays along the Delaware (not taking the usual left toward Harmony). After one or two final grunts, it rolls on flat roads into Easton.

Parking at the Start

Please park on the Wawa side of Cattell street, but not too near Wawa itself. Go back one block to Porter street or beyond to find a place for your car. Most of the parking spots are legal, although signage is confusing.

Sign on Porter Street indicating a legal (sic) parking spot.
The finish controle, College Hill Tavern, is only a block away from Wawa. After a long, hard, chilly ride, please come in to warm up and share your tales of epic adventure before heading home.


Chris Nadovich

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

November PA R-12 Ride Report: Blue Mountain 200K

*** Update 1 (100K)
Five riders started, and finished, the Milford 100K Populaire on 17 November. Results have been posted.

*** Original Post (200K)

Preliminary results for the Blue Mountain 200K have been posted on the website.  Please review the results and inform me of any necessary corrections.  The results will be submitted to RUSA in the coming days and become final pending RUSA certification.  Ten riders clipped in for the 200K, with all 10 finishing for a 100% completion rate. Congratulations to all, especially to Michael Fitzsimmons who completed his first ever brevet. Not an easy ride to cut ones randonneuring teeth on. Chapeau!

At long last, the colors of Autumn have arrived and for much of the day we were treated to glorious Fall scenery. The ride through the Aquashicola and Cherry valleys was splendid -- what with the warm sun, invigorating tailwind, rainbows, unicorns...

Ummm, well... I was really nice once we made it over Blue Mountain, but that was mile 60. There was somewhat of a battle through epic adversity prior to that.

Like the 30-40 mph headwind. Fortunately, much of the first 100K is protected by forest and ravine. Only in a few unfortunate exposed locations did we ride fully out into the open to be buffeted by that gale. One of those locations was the final drop off Blue Mountain, where the stiff crosswind, made hazardously intermittent by passing vehicles, added extra white knuckle interest to an already exciting descent. At the bottom of the mountain we turned to the East, and that was the end of the wind.

Eric K and Chris N struggle against the headwind as snow clouds roll in. (Photo by Steve S)

Also somewhat special (to use Ed Bernasky's word) was the snow squall that accompanied the wind. Not anywhere near as treacherous  as the Hope to Hopewell snowpocalypse, but my jersey was significantly powdered by the big, white flakes.

The blissful Cherry Valley (aka, The Land of Unicorns) led us inevitably to a palace of happy treats at the Village Farmer in Delaware Water Gap. The lavatory facilities there may leave a little to be desired, but I've never had a disappointing meal there.

At DWG we turned South. With a rear quarter tailwind, riding remained easy. Soon we reached of my favorite views along the Delaware: the view from a high point on River Rd down into the gorge at Belvidere. Blocked by thick green foliage Spring and  Summer, this view only appears in Fall and Winter. Being surprised by unexpected views like that are one of the compensating benefits of off-season rides.

After the penultimate controle at Skoogy's, the sun started to fade and the last of the rainbows and unicorns abandoned us to find a warmer, brighter place to frolic.   The climb-before-the-climb in Harmony preceded the Turkey Hill final grind. Together these hills generated the ideal amount of sweat to induce a serious chill in me during the Sweet Hollow descent. Brrrrr...

But then, suddenly, we were done. There was Bill Olsen with rainbow pizza. Steve Schoenfelder treated me to some wonderful orange drink. A quick change into dry clothes and soon my shivvers stopped. Great ride! Let's do it again!


Steve Schoenfelder writes...

Many thanks and kudos to Bill Olsen for administering the Blue Mountain 200k.

It was cold, snowy (for about 10 minutes), windy, and climby, but the camaraderie common to PAR events came  through to make the Blue Mountain 200 a fun ride.  I really enjoyed riding with Eric, Chris, Paul, and Mike (who was riding his first brevet!)  Lunch at the Apple Pie Bakery was a highlight with great homemade chicken soup to warm the innards, and a restorative grilled cheese sandwich.  It was here that Chris demonstrated how you can increase the sodium content of a sugar donut by dunking it in chicken soup, a fad sure to be adopted by serious randonneurs everywhere.

This was my first grind over Turkey Hill Road.  It arrived very late in the route when my thighs were  screaming “enough already”, but at time when temperatures were plunging into the 30’s, and a two mile climb  was precisely the remedy for frostbite prevention.  The real trick was keeping warm on the brief six mile  decent into Milford that followed.

Volunteer and randonneur extraordinaire Bill was patiently waiting for us with pizza at Pipolo’s: a great     place to warm up, fill our bellies, and recount the adventures of the day.

Time after time I found myself saying:  there is no place that I would rather be.

Thanks again to PA Randonneurs for putting on a great event!

Carpe diem quam minimum credula postero

Next weekend Bill will be hosting another brevet out of Milford, NJ, this one a 100K populaire. Then on 1 December PA Randonneurs will return to our roots, with a 200K brevet starting at College Hill WaWa, and finishing in College Hill Tavern in Easton PA.  Hope you'll join us.

Chris Nadovich

Friday, November 2, 2018

November Events: The Blue Mountain 200k and the Milford 100k

November brings another two-fer for randonneurs in pursuit of both the R-12 and the P-12 awards.  The Blue Mountain 200k will be held on November 10, starting from the Bridge Street Bagel & Deli in Milford, New Jersey.  Organizer Bill Olsen completed a course checkout ride and reports that the cue sheet is in good order.  Bill notes that the bridge on Grand Central Road approaching the Wind Gap control remains under construction, so we will continue to approach the control along Merwath and Mack Roads instead of better known Pen Argyl Road approach.

The finish will be at Pipolo's Pizza in Milford.  While they do not serve adult beverages, it is a BYOB establishment.  Any riders with special preferences for post-ride carbo replenishment should plan accordingly.

Due to the limited parking spaces at the Bridge Street Bagel & Deli, please do not park your car there. Parking is available in a parking lot off of Church St (across the street from the Milford Market). 

Daylight will be in short supply on this last day of Daylight Savings Time.  Riders should come equipped with lights and reflective gear consisting of a bike-mounted headlight, two bike mounted taillights, reflective vest, and reflective ankle straps.  A back-up headlight is strongly recommended and may be carried in a bag.  See Article 10 of RUSA's Rules for Riders.

The following weekend returns to Milford for the Milford 100k, also organized by Bill Olsen.  Bill's common practice is to scout the 100k route while riders are out on the Blue Mountain 200, so any notes on the cue sheet will be added later, if necessary.

Registration for both events is active on the website. 

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA