Monday, June 29, 2020

RUSA Soft Opening Put on Hold

RUSA President Dave Thompson made the following announcement on June 28.

Since making our decision for a soft reopening the pandemic has taken a turn for the worse. New cases are up 65% over the past two weeks. New restrictions are being instituted including more restrictive social distancing, statewide mask requirements and new state regulations to mandate quarantining for interstate travel. With all this in mind our soft reopening will be postponed.
I know that many of you have put a lot of thought and effort into your pandemic riding plans. I've been through all of them and have had discussions with some of you. We all hope that the picture will soon change for the better and we can put those plans into effect. We will continue to monitor the pandemic and keep you updated.

Since making our decision for a soft reopening the pandemic has taken a turn for the worse. New cases are up 65% over the past two weeks. New restrictions are being instituted including more restrictive social distancing, statewide mask requirements and new state regulations to mandate quarantining for interstate travel. With all this in mind our soft reopening will be postponed.

I know that many of you have put a lot of thought and effort into your pandemic riding plans. I've been through all of them and have had discussions with some of you. We all hope that the picture will soon change for the better and we can put those plans into effect. We will continue to monitor the pandemic and keep you updated.

It seems unlikely that conditions will improve in the near-term to the extent that the July brevet will be  permitted as a sanctioned event.  For that reason we will be refunding ride entry fees for July.  
August remains a wait and see, but expect that brevet to shift to the Free Bridge route. It's a really interesting new route.  
 
Remember that RUSA must make decisions that are best for the entire membership.  In April when RUSA first cancelled rides, our region was one of the national hotspots driving that decision.  Thankfully we are not the driver this time.  Hopefully we will not become complacent and the virus and its effect will remain somewhat under control.  In the meantime we should all keep in mind the people in the regions where COVID-19 cases are on the rise.  We've traveled that road and know first-hand the challenges they face.

The only certainty is that Pennsylvania Randonneurs will resume R-12 brevets as soon as permitted.  In the meantime, get out and ride.  Expand your quarantine horizons. Our routes are accessible and offer many miles of scenic byways that can be enjoyed without a brevet card.

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA





Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Let's Ride: Re-Opening in a Pandemic

Pennsylvania Randonneurs is proud to announce the return to randonnering with the Free Bridge 200k on July 11, 2020.  We’re easing back into things owing to a 3-month hiatus, an abundance of caution, and limitations imposed by RUSA.  For now there are some changes to normal procedures.  I'll try to cover the highlights.

1. ALL registrations for our events will be on-line.
2. Registered riders must arrive at the start with a signed waiver, a cue sheet, a writing instrument, and appropriate safety equipment in addition to the usual cycling gear.  For the July event this means that you must wear a mask or suitable face covering to the start.  You'll want to have this with you for the ride as many stores require face coverings in order to enter.  Hand sanitizer, gloves, etc. are up to you.  Riders are expected to follow any CDC, state, or requirements imposed by businesses.  If the store says mask required, wear a mask.
3. Riders should bring their own cue sheet.  Our goal is to be near-contactless.  We want to minimize exchanging "things." Bring your own pen/pencil.
4. Riders will be encouraged to observe social distancing while at the start.
5. In the event the pre-registrations indicate a large crowd, the group will be split into groups that will be started 30 minutes apart.  You will be notified of your start group in advance.  If you are starting in the second group we ask that you arrive late or separate yourself from the first wave starters.  Second wave starters will not be checked in and given a brevet card until the first wave departs.
6. Each rider will be photographed with his/her brevet card at the start.  We are finally putting those barcodes we've printed on the cards for the past year to good use.
7. Merchant Controle: Routes may have merchant controles, but merchant entry and controle signature/receipt is entirely optional. Alternatively, rider can self-sign controle card and text to organizer selfie photo showing rider face and brevet card (name forward) with merchant in background, or provide atm receipt (if outdoor ATM available), or info answer (if question provided), accepted as alternatives to wet signature or receipt from merchant.  We are NOT using RUSA's EPP procedure.
8. Staffed Control on route:  Rider will be photographed by volunteer holding brevet card to display printed name and barcode in the picture.  Volunteers will keep a list, but riders do not sign in.
9. Finish Controle:  Riders will sign their brevet card at the finish and then be photographed by the finish volunteer with the printed name and barcode visible in the picture. Once photographed, riders will deposit their brevet cards in an envelope.
That's it!

Our first two events will use Figure 8 courses to allow riders to resupply from their cars at the mid-point if desired.  Staffed controls are also planned so that riders can conceivably complete the entire route without entering a business.

We fully expect to refine our process as we all learn together.  Please be patient with us.

Finally, for now RUSA is permitting brevets of 225k or less.  As a result I've had to make the difficult decision to fully cancel the remaining ACP SR events and the Fleche for 2020.  On the bright side, we have two new routes to offer and are planning more to make the most of whats left of the 2020 cycling season.

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA

Monday, June 15, 2020

Pensylvania Mondial Award: Bill Olsen

Congratulations to Bill Olsen for being the first rider ever to complete over 40,000 KM in PA Rando Events, earning him the very first PA Rando Mondial award. The riding distance of 40,000 KM is approximately the circumference of the Earth (or about 20 laps around the perimeter of Pennsylvania).


As of March 2020, Bill has ridden 40,565 KM in the 136 PA events he has finished -- more events than any other rider.  Bill is the only person to have earned two Pennsylvania R-5000  awards. He also has the most Pennsylvania Super Randonneur awards with nine, and shares a tie with Don Jagel having won a club leading four PA R-12 awards, including a PA R-36!

In addition to his riding prowess, Bill has been a tireless volunteer supporting countless PA Rando and NJ Rando events.

Chapeau Bill! Bonne route for your second lap around the Earth!

Friday, March 20, 2020

SUSPENSION OF BREVETS DUE TO COVID-19


Pennsylvania Randonneurs is suspending all of its events effective immediately.  We find it impossible to offer randonneuring events of the high quality our members and guests have come to expect from Pennsylvania Randonneurs.  It is time to accept the inevitable realization that proceeding with our schedule is not socially responsible behavior and might constitute prohibited behavior under current mandates.  We will continue to monitor conditions and make an announcement when we believe resuming brevets is legal, feasible, and responsible.

Obviously a resumption of activities depends upon current mandates requiring closure of "non-life sustaining businesses" and directing individuals to shelter in place or practice social isolation to be lifted.  Our routes are not limited to Pennsylvania, so we must also consider the surrounding states, specifically New Jersey and New York.  If these restrictions are lifted, our hope is to reschedule the SR events and the Fleche in the late summer or early fall.  If these restrictions remain through summer, the ACP events will likely be cancelled altogether.  Much depends on the availability of the resources needed to host such events.  It may take quite a bit of time for the services we rely on (hotels, stores, restaurants) to return to normal and be able to accommodate us once restrictions are lifted.

Please be patient as we work through the details.  We are doing all that we can to resume randonneuring activities as soon as conditions permit and to keep you advised in ample time to make plans.

Thank you for your understanding.  Stay safe!

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Pagoda 200K Ride Report

Miles, Joe, Greg and Elias
celebrating at the Pagoda (photo by Matt)
With the growing concern about the Corona virus pandemic casting a shadow of uncertainty over future events, a brave group of 24 randonneurs clipped in to attempt one of the most difficult 200K routes in the PA Rando menu, the Pagoda 200K brevet. Despite the anxious context and difficult course, 23 of the 24 starters finished under the time limit for  a 96% completion rate. Congratulations and well done to all, especially our first time riders Matthew Harman and Miles PowellWelcome to PA Randonneuring! I can promise you that it will get easier.

Preliminary results for this first event in our ACP Super Randonneur series, 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 for ACP certification later on and become final at that time.

The weather was clear and cool, climbing into the 50s mid day with plenty of sunshine. Several of the riders finished in shorts --- some even in short sleeves. There was enough wind to be annoying, but not the gale force winds that stole the brevet card from Gerry Montague's hand in 2019. This year the wind was weaker. Gerry held tightly to his brevet card and finished in great style.

Difficult climbs can move riders to poetry, it seems. The muse of rando inspired Iwan Barankay to compose this haiku...
Social full distance
We swallowed hills like Hemlock
Pinchflat spring ice-cream
I see what you did there, Iwan, with swallowing Hemlock. Some of those hills do indeed promote thoughts of self harm.  And "pinchflat  spring" refers to a possible flavor available at the Longacres Modern Dairy controle?

Joe Ray had this to say about the day and the quality of the food offerings...
Thanks for putting on a great brevet yesterday!  There were a number of sections on this one that I had completely forgotten from last year, notably the climb to reach the dam [Powder Mill] and the knee-breaker after crossing it [Hemlock]. It was really good to share the suffering with Greg and Miles for the whole route and have Matt join us for the  second half and finish as a group. The views on this route are terrific, with quite a few very noble-looking farms on top of the overlook on skyline/pagoda and other mountain vistas. The banana milkshake at Longacre was fantastic (as expected), but this was my first Wawa waffle egg sausage and cheese sandwich and I’ll give it a “pretty good” (better than the turkey hill thing a couple hours later).  
The difficult course with near 10,000 feet of climbing and an unfair lack of easy descending roll-outs pushed several riders close to the time limit.  I say any finish is a solid finish on this 200K. On this topic Bill Olsen writes...
Thanks for scheduling the challenging PA SR Series again this year. The 200K Included just the right amount of climbing.  Enough to quickly get me back into shape, but not too much that I exceeded the allowable 13.5 hours. 
The Pagoda 200K course has many high points. There are six major climbs and many stunning vistas. In contrast to these scenic wonders, considering the 2020 version avoids traffic and reaches the SRT by routing directly through some squalid sections of downtown Reading, there are also some low points on the course. The lowest of these low-points is Little Wunder Street (really an alley) where riders must get down into the gutter.

Little Wunder riders go down into the gutter

Fortunately there were no punctures or other unpleasantness reported by riders transiting this "interesting" thoroughfare.

Perhaps the biggest surprise  of the day was the peloton of cigarette-smoking, Big Wheel riders descending from the Pagoda on Duryea Drive.  They must've been at it for a long time as many of the passing brevet riders reported seeing them descending and being hauled back up top by pickup truck.

Big Wheelers descending Duryea drive in high gear
And they say randonneurs are crazy!?

One disappointing aspect to the 2020 edition of the Pagoda 200K was the closure of the Cask Taphouse and Grill at the start/finish. The closure appears to be permanent, a consequence of economic factors, not related to the pandemic.  There are other nice pubs and restaurants nearby, but nothing so close and congenial as was the Cask.  Because Cask was closed, PA Rando was unable to provide the finish food we had in the past: a variety of excellent flatbread pizzas from the Cask menu. Instead, we had more typical bike rider food: fruit and pre-packaged snacks.

As things stand at the moment of this writing, the remaining ACP Super Randonneur events are still going ahead as scheduled. It may be necessary to modify the start/finish and overnight accommodations  in order to comply with prudent safety requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Because of the extra requirements, we'll likely need more volunteers than usual. Please contact the RBA or myself if you can help day-of-event (and thereby qualify for a social distanced pre-ride). 

Prudent restrictions and required actions or prohibitions are being considered.  We have no crystal ball and must make decisions based on what is known at the time.  Our current plan is to hold events as scheduled.  We will continue this approach until circumstances dictate otherwise.  We are evaluating each event individually.  Should cancellation become necessary, we will do our best to assure that information is quickly communicated.  Pay attention to this website.  Follow the Facebook group.  Follow our blog.  
Stay safe.
---
Chris  Nadovich
Brevet Organizer





Monday, March 16, 2020

Coronavirus & COVID-19

The impact of coronavirus and COVID-19 on brevet and fleche events is under active discussion among the RBA community.   Prudent restrictions and required actions or prohibitions are being considered.  We have no crystal ball and must make decisions based on what is known at the time.  Our current plan is to hold events as scheduled.  We will continue this approach until circumstances dictate otherwise.  We are evaluating each event individually.  Should cancellation become necessary, we will do our best to assure that information is quickly communicated.  Pay attention to the website.  Follow the Facebook group.  Follow this blog.  All will be updated as soon as any decisions are made.

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Ride Report: International Women's Day Popualire

Riders gather at the Joan of Arc Statue
The weather roller-coaster of 2020 reached a high point on Sunday March 8 and provided a day filled with sunny skies, mild temperatures, and gentle breezes.  All 37 riders who clipped in for the International Women's Day 107k completed the route within time for a 100% completion rate.  This is all the more impressive when one considers that nearly half of the field had never participated in a randonneuring event before.  You will find the preliminary results on the website.  Results will become official once submitted to RUSA later this week.

The group consisted of a good mix of both veteran and first time randonneurs, who braved the chilly early morning temperatures as they headed out from the Joan of Arc statue near the Philadelphia Museum of Art into the north western suburbs.  By the time riders returned to the finish at the Stone Age in America statue most of those early morning layers had been shed, as temperatures became much more mild throughout the day.

The "new to PA Randonneurs" course provided a very good introduction to the many new randonneurs in attendance. With staffed, information, post card, and even a secret control, the riders got to experience every type of control they will come across in longer brevets.  Judging by the smiles and comments of the finishers as they rolled in, the course was well received.  Observant riders might have noticed a continuation of the honoring women theme though careful examination of the post cards mailed at the West Point Post Office controle.

Post ride festivities were graciously hosted by CJ Arayata and Natalie Felice, who live near the finish.  All of those who could make to their house had a great time recapping the day and making plans for future brevets.  A few have already signed up for next weekend's Pagoda 200k.

CJ Arayata has posted a shared photo album where you can stash any additional pictures from the event.

PA Rando veteran Shawn Boyles had this to say of the day:  Thanks again for organizing a ride here in Philadelphia. It was great to ride familiar roads with the PA Rando crew. I hope everyone enjoyed the event. Many thanks to all the volunteers along with CJ and Woody for opening their home up to us.  Shawn had a hand in the route as he was one of the early voices asking for an event starting in the city.

First-time randonneuse Andrea Mules had this to say about the day:  The PA Rando crew is so incredibly warm and welcoming and it was very exciting to join a local ~100k! The route was top notch, and the section between Evansburg and Ambler was probably my favorite section of rollers all day. Perfect weather and great riding companions. Biggest of ups to the folks at the Secret Controle. Those cookies really brought me home to the finish. A cold beer never tasted as good as the one at the afterparty hosted by CJ and Woody. Stoked to do another one of the shorter rando rides with everyone!

Another first-time, Matt Harman writes:  Thank y'all for doing what y'all do. What a wonderful ride, website and company. Thanks for hosting a ride leaving and returning to Philly. I recognize from conversations yesterday this starting location can be limiting. The route was a wonderful way to become acquainted with PA R. 

Matt, like many other of the Philadelphia-based riders, lives car-free. which makes starts in Easton or Lancaster difficult.  Carpools anyone?

Thanks to many people who made this event possible:  To CJ Arayata who became a one-man cheerleader for the event and, along with Woody Felice,  generously opened their home to the post-ride gathering.  To Pat and Cece Gaffney who helped to refine the route and staffed the start and finish controle.
Pat Gaffney at the finish.
To Jim Bondra who staffed the Evansburg controle.  To Sue Proulx and Sue Dasen for staffing a secret controle AND providing tasty treats to energize riders to the finish. 

Secret Sues at the Cemetery
And finally to Chris Nadovich for getting the route ready for RUSA use, organizing the event, and putting up with me through the whole process.  Be sure to thank these people the next time you see them.  They make Pennsylvania Randonneurs' events happen.

Next up is the beginning of the ACP SR Series, the Pagoda 200 on March 14.

Chris Nadovich
- Event Organizer
Andrew Mead
- Eastern PA RBA