Monday, August 22, 2016

August YARRR 200K Ride Report

Preliminary results have been posted at:
http://parando.org/PA200k_Results160820.pdf
Results will be submitted in a couple of days to RUSA, and then become final pending ACP certification.

The refrain at the YARRR finish was "That was too harrrd", referring, no doubt, to the four, significant climbs in the last 50 miles. Particularly detested was the hot, exposed Country Side Lane over the top of South Mountain, and the (uncalled for, gratuitous, unnecessary, sadistic...)  High Street climb across the hill in South Side just 2 miles from the finish.

Despite the hot conditions and tough climbing, all 15 out of 15 riders finished in good time for a 100% completion rate -- congratulations and well done to all!  Of note, Joe Dille completed his first PA Randonneurs brevet, leading the field, and setting an initial course record that will be harrrd to beat.

Unfortunately, the Weyerbacher brewery was closed for an unusual, unanticipated private event, so the anticipated "free beer" stop was unavailable. By way of apology for this, Weyerbacher donated a case of beer and a pile of free beer coupons to PA Randonneurs. Most of these were distributed to riders at the end of YARRR, but we still have several more. If you missed getting one of these coupons, We'll have them to hand out at future events.

The start/finish at Jimmy's Doggie Stand seems to be a good place to finish a brevet. The picturesque site alongside the Forks of the Delaware had a beach like atmosphere in the warm summer sun. Many riders lounged on the picnic tables and napped on the grass after the ride -- occasionally waking up to order another ice cream or to complain yet again to the organizer that the High Street climb was too harrrrd.

Stephen Schoenfelder writes: 

Thanks to Chris for hosting a great ride! In spite of all of the whining at the finish, it was a fun, but challenging course, with just a hint of sadism near the end as the course veered sharply from the Lehigh River to climb over a steep ridge???twice!

Recently, someone told me that redemption is only a ride away. My R-12 attempt, started last September, came to a screeching halt when I waited until the end of July to DNF on my own 200K perm. Pretty embarrassing, right? So this YARRR 200K was my redemption ride.


We headed south with lights ablaze along the Jersey side of the Delaware through moist, but comfortable temperatures. As promised, we spotted herds of deer grazing in the morning mist. It was great to hit Milford early before the town woke up and to race across the bridge into PA (sorry-must have missed the ???walk bike??? cue). Shortly afterwards, my lungs announced their presence as the grade grew ever steeper during the climb up aptly-named Red Cliff Road. My energy level always seems to be high at the start of brevets and I tend to maintain a spirited pace near the front of the pack. Reality usually hits home at the first controle where my cadence settles into a more sedate rhythm. I enjoyed the solitude of riding the next 24 miles alone through rolling pastoral countryside followed by suburban landscape. I was caught by my group, which is to say, the one immediately behind me, at the WaWa in Souderton at mile 46. Thanks to the advanced randonneuring skills of one of my colleagues, we discovered portable toilets at a park behind the police station across the street from WaWa (these may be worth mentioning on next year???s cue sheet as restroom facilities are few and far between).


A group of riders gradually assembled along the way after heading out from the refueling stop. After the quiet of the last leg, it was great to chat as we pedaled. I am just about a year into randonneuring, and still have a lot to learn. Getting to know experienced riders is a highlight of these brevets for me. Before I knew it, we were at our lunch stop in Phoenixville. There was a long line at the Artisan Cafe, so our group decided to share a pizza at a restaurant a few doors down. I think it was here that the climbs that awaited us outside of Pottstown were discussed in hushed tones. Temperatures were starting to tip into the 90???s at this point in time, so I figured ???we???re all going to die.???


Long story short, we made it, experiencing a good mix of type 1 and type 2 fun along the way. I really enjoyed the varied terrain and scenery, crossing two ???closed??? bridges and a covered bridge, the wildlife sightings, the gently graded gravel rail trail, and the collegiality of my fellow randonneurs. Thanks to Gil, Bob, Raz, and Michael, redemption was easily achieved in regulation time. Now, it???s one month down and eleven to go on my R-12 attempt!

Raz, Gil, and Bob at the lunch stop in Phoenixville
RBA, Tom Rosenbauer writes: 
Special Thanks to organizer Chris Nadovich for a super job of putting together the event and executing it perfectly.  Thanks also to all the well wishes I got from the postcard controle -- it certainly brightened up my day.  It's been exactly one year since I finished my last brevet, and realized that my riding days would be over for a good while. Although its been a very long, slow process, I believe I'm finally beginning to see some positive results from my treatment.  I remain hopeful to some day clipping-in with you for a brevet -- I truly do miss the camaraderie of sharing the miles with my fellow randonneurs.
The PA summer series concludes on September 10th with a another new 200k route: A Victory to Remember. Take a looping tour of Lancaster County with a strong motivation to finish since this one finishes at a pub.  Long time riders may recognize bits and pieces of this route, but it has been at least seven years since we took a clockwise tour around Lancaster county.  Event details have been posted at http://parando.org/R12ClubVictory.html  To join the roster, use the electronic registration by 5PM on the Thursday before the event.  And as always,  be sure to monitor the PA Randonneurs website and this blog periodically for updates.

-Chris Nadovich, organizer

Monday, August 8, 2016

August 200K Yet Another River to River Ride


*** Update 1***

A volunteer pre-ride was conducted by Chris Nadovich on 9 August. He reports:

"The route is challenging but good to go. Only minor cue sheet edits for clarifications and typo corrections were needed. The latest version is 1.2 dated 10 August. I spotted no unusual hazards not noted on that cue sheet."

It was yet another pre-ride in HHH conditions. Actually, it the HHH wasn't so bad.  The Delaware was shrouded in cool, dense fog and I made such good time on the south-eastern leg that I was able to catch the last of the fog dissipating over the Schuylkill.  Be careful with the fog, though. I encountered many a bevy of deer along the Delaware.  They are hard to spot even in the best visibility.

Milford Baker beckoned, but my breakfast strategy was to ride past these treats and hit the Wawa at mile 46. Even if you have a full belly, this Wawa is a good spot to refill water bottles. An alternative strategy I've used in the past is to buy some pastry at Milford and eat it an Brig-O-Doon in Ottsville, where the coffee is better.

The controle Lunch-stop at Artisan's in Phoenixville was delicious, as always. From there it's a relatively short digestif ride to the controle at the Sunoco in Pottstown. Be sure to fill up with water in Potstown, even if that means carrying the weight up the hill out of town. The course is somewhat barren of services on the final leg. 

And what a difficult final leg it is! Definitely allocate extra time for this segment.

This route uses several bridges that are, or have been, in a state of transition. All seemed fine on my pre-ride. After suffering its absence for a couple years,  brand-spanking-new Arcola Rd bridge is now a thing of majestic, faux-stone beauty. On the declining side of bridge life-span, the 'closed' bridges on Headquarters Rd and Keim St remain both perfectly acceptable for bike riders (on foot).  Speaking of bridges and walking, I recommend staying on foot to cross the street into the finish controle after walking across the Free Bridge at the end of the ride.  Don't try to dart across that traffic on your bike.


*** Original Post ***

PA Randonneurs sets off in a new direction on 20 August at 6AM with this challenging 200K brevet through rural suburbia. Beginning and ending at the public parking on the NJ side of the Northampton St "Free" Bridge joining Easton and Phillipsburg, the route traces a rectangle bounded by the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers. Along the way there are numerous food and drink options, and points of interest. 

Event details are posted at the PA Randonneurs web site: http://parando.org/R12ClubYARRR.html

*** Start/Finish ***

The public parking at the start/finish is at Union Square in Phillipsburg NJ behind Jimmy's Doggie Stand on the NJ side of the river immediately across the Free Bridge. Please WALK across traffic through Union Square at the end of the ride.  I don't expect any breakfast places to be open at Union Square for the 6AM start. The nearest 24 hour Diner is the Key City Diner
985 US-22, Phillipsburg, NJ. There's a 24 hour Wawa in Easton at 310 Larry Holmes Dr.  Alternatively, stop for pastries at Milford Baker, mile 16.5

Course Notes

The cue sheet for this ride is long. This complexity was made necessary by the difficulty navigating through suburbia. Nevertheless, the cue sheet provides the official course directions. GPS routing is known to fail or be unsafe at several places along this course. Please refer to the cue sheet as your canonical authority.

Starting from the Free Bridge, you travel generally South East, following the easy, scenic, well known riverside roads along the Delaware. The route soon reaches Milford, NJ, with the Milford Baker as a perfect breakfast stop. Here you turn to the South West, crossing the heart of Bucks and Montgomery counties on moderately rolling, low traffic roads, including some paved trails through Evansburg State Park. After first fording the Perkiomen by means of the newly rebuilt Arcola Rd bridge, you reach the Schuylkill River and the lunch controle at Phoenixville. From there the route turns North West, following the Schuylkill up and back through the center of Potstown with even more replenishment options. 
But don't dally too much over second lunch. The return crossing of Montgomery and Bucks is decidedly more difficult, and you'll need to cash in some banked time. The hilly North Eastward segment begins with a tough climb out of Potstown to Ringing Rocks, some more hills passing Green Lane (but not Eichele), and another big climb before Coopersburg. There are a few miles of flat, smooth crushed stone rail trail (suitable for most tires) where you can rest before the final big climb over South Mountain and back into Easton. You'll need to finish all this climbing with at least an hour in the bank to have the option to stop for free samples at the Weyerbacher brewery, located less than two (mostly downhill) miles from the finish.

There are several steep, extended climbs.  A triple or 39x27 is highly recommended.

*** Ride Safely ***

Your safety is the number one priority on an Eastern PA event.  While the risks outlined in the event waiver cannot be completely eliminated, the following will hopefully help keep you as safe as possible.
Your responsibility as the rider includes:
- Showing up in reasonable physical condition for the event
- Bringing a reliable bike in good working order
- Complying with all traffic laws along the course
- Respecting the rights of all other users of the route (including pedestrians)
- Planning for the situation where you can’t finish the ride

Although every effort has been made to provide you with a scenic route that minimizes car traffic and other hazards, the following list highlights some areas to take some extra care:

- Summer weather has arrived with a vengeance with a forecast calling for heat and humidity.  Be mindful of your fluid and electrolyte levels and it might also be a good idea to carry an ice sock with you if you need to cool down.
- With the rough winter we just had you should be extra vigilant for potholes and rough road surfaces.
- One of the most dangerous things you will encounter on the road just might be another cyclist.  Keep a safe following distance when riding with other cyclists you are not familiar with.  Please avoid forming a large bunch at the start of the ride.

Equipment
- Helmets are mandatory.
- Please note that the bike inspection checklist includes redundant lighting for both the front and rear lights.
- Bringing along a cell phone is highly recommended.
- Mechanical assistance is not provided.
- SPOT trackers will be handed out to selected riders. If you are given one, they have a feature to call for help if you need it and are out of cell phone range -- if you are unfamiliar with how to use this feature, a volunteer will be happy to explain it to you.  If you have a personal unit not already listed on the PA Randonnerus SPOT Tracking webpage:  http://www.parando.org/SPOT_Links.html
Please send me a link to your SPOT webpage.

Food / Hydration
- In general, the route heads you into some desolate areas, with limited opportunities for food and water. 

- Plan on replenishing supplies at the controle stops.  The controles are typically at a store or restaurant.

Abandon  
- If you feel like abandoning the ride, it may be an indication that you are not eating and drinking enough.  Take a break, eat something, and it's likely that your outlook will improve.  Before you know it, you'll be making that last turn back to the finish.  And remember the golden rule of "… eat before you're hungry and drink before you're thirsty."
- If you are still riding past the ride time limit or if you intend to abandon the ride, please contact me on my cell phone: (267) 218-0418
- It is your responsibility to make arrangements for alternate transportation

In case of accident  
Should you become injured, or arrive just after an accident resulting in an injured person (rider, motorist, or passer-by):

- Call 911 for an ambulance, describing where you are and the condition of the injured person(s)
- Contact me along with any other organizers listed on the cuesheet 
- Be sure to carry identification along with your emergency contact information in case you are knocked unconscious
- Please mention any safety hazard you might have spotted, or near-miss incident you saw. We value this feedback highly and it will help PA Randonneurs improve the next edition of the event.

Driving after the event
If you are very tired when you reach the finish, it may be a good idea to take a nap before a long drive home, so you don't end up with serious injuries like David Nakai did:  http://rusa.org/newsletter/04-03-02.html
 

Keep the rubber side down!
Chris Nadovich  


Registered Riders (as of 8/18/2016) 
1 Michael Anderson
2 Peter Bakken - guest
3 M Bernado
4 Mario Claussnitzer - guest
5 Joseph C Dille - guest
6 Matthew Farrell
7 James R Haddad
8 Gil Lebron
9 Chris Nadovich - organizer
10 William Olsen - volunteer
11 Althea Grace Pineda
12 Michael Povman
13 George Michael Retseck
14 Gary Rollman
15 Steven J Schoenfelder
16 Bob Torres

Monday, August 1, 2016

July Hawk's Nest 200K Ride Report

Preliminary results have been posted at:
http://parando.org/PA200k_Results160730.pdf
Results will be submitted in a couple of days to RUSA, and then become final pending ACP certification.

During our pre-ride of the Hawks nest course, the blazing sun and extremely hot temperatures had Bill and I wishing for more water. Well, always be careful what you wish for, you might get it! Although not quite a "total washout", riders reported heavy downpours and rumbles of thunder during the second half of the ride. The silver lining in those rainclouds were the moderated temperatures they enjoyed, although I was told that extra caution was needed to avoid wheel-eating, invisible potholes on Old Mine Rd submerged under flash floods.

A total of 14 out of 16 riders finished in good time for a 88% completion rate -- congratulations and well done to all!  Of note, Patrick Gaffney completed an Eastern PA R-12 series, becoming only the 10th person to accomplish this rare feat.  Pat writes "....Just a quick thanks for putting together another great ride, and to Chris for seeing us off and welcoming us back. It really is a nice route.   One added benefit of the torrential downpour was the all the gravel on the Old Mine climb got washed to the bottom of the hill before I got there. I think it was the first time I was able to stand whenever I wanted on that climb without my rear wheel slipping. ..."

Maybe some of those distant rumbles of thunder were actually the sonic boom of Scotty S. totally demolishing his old course record of 7:33 with a new record time of 7:07, an amazing achievement given the foul weather, the climbs, the bridge construction, and the rough roads.

Scotty S. writes: "...Why is the Hawks Nest 200k my favorite Randonneur route?

1: It's only got 3 pages of q sheets. Some routes have 6 pages+ of directions making the challenge more navigation than cycling. 


2: The course has everything. Ascending, descending, rough road sections. New paved sections fast and smooth. Take your bike on a hike around bridge closures. There always seem to be one on the course. 


3: The Organizers. Thanks to Bill, Tom, and Chris for all your efforts to make this as awesome as it is. 


4: It's the best kept secret. With many millions of people living within a few hours by car, only [16] people showed. Wouldn't want it to get too popular. 


5: The first hour is mostly climbing. This stratifies the participants by ability reducing the big group wheel touching issues of all being together. 


6: The Water Gap Bakery is the final control. Talk about motivation to finish.

7. It keeps getting better. New smooth black top on Kimble's and rt. 31.


8 The course is run twice a year 3 weeks apart. If Want a rematch, try again while the memory is still fresh.

9. Mostly low traffic roads. Tom and crew have tweaked this route to keep it as safe and fun as possible. 

10. Its scenic. The views of mountains, rivers and wildlife can't be beat.


Looking forward to the next Hawk Nest 200
...."

The next event, part of the R12 series, will be held on August 20th.  It's a new 200k route with a start/finish at the Free Bridge at Easton, PA.  The route crosses from the Delaware to the Schuylkill and back again through the heart of Bucks and Montgomery counties, passing many points of interest along the way, including Weyerbacher Brewery (free samples).   Event details are at: http://parando.org/R12ClubYARRR.html

In September we will return to Lancaster County for another new route that finishes at a pub.  Check the PA Randonneurs website and this blog periodically for updates.

-Chris Nadovich, organizer

Friday, July 15, 2016

July Hawk's Nest 200k

*** Update 1 ***

A pre-ride was completed on 17 July by Bill and I, yet again under difficult (hot & humid) conditions.  

Water should be available at all controles, but this will not be enough
if the weather continues to be ultra hot. Monitor you water bottle fluid levels and take advantage of the numerous "non-control" facilities along the way, including, but not limited to those noted as additional cues on the cue-sheet.


Here are the main non-controle water stops I know about:

19.4 Deli on Left

55.0 Spring by wood fence on Left
61.9 Convenience Store on Right
65.8 Supermarket opposite controle
71.5 Convenience Store on Right near top of climbing

99.7 Bar and Deli on right (useful if Controle was closed)
105.7 Wallpack Inn on left (not last water)
113.6 ***Millbrook Vilage on left (pump/fountain back behind gate near tables)


That last one, the water at Millbrook Village, is not obvious. Few riders seem to be aware of it. Nevertheless, it's not far from the road, near some shade, and very excellent water. You need to pause at the stop sign at mile 113.6 anyway.  You just finished a tough climb. Why not cool off? It'll make the last 10 miles of the brevet so much more enjoyable. Also, there's really no reason to carry full water bottles up the climb. You can fill immediately after the climb.

Road conditions are relatively good, but there are a few difficulties of
note.

40.6 Rt-6, The edge of the road has 28mm wide cracks that weave in and out of the shoulder. Because of the traffic on this road, riding the shoulder is recommended, but be aware of the cracks. When riding in a group, space out so that everyone can see to pick out a safe line.

45.3 Towpath Rd, rough as usual.

76.3 Rt 97 to Hawks Nest. The shoulder is rideable all the way up, although it is covered with gravel and other debris. The main pavement is better, but this is a busy road. I stayed on the shoulder till reaching Hawks Nest, then I took the lane.

95.6 The small bridge here is marked for repair. We are watching the situation but it appears that even if there is construction at this bridge, cyclists will be able to walk around it safely.

111.5 Old Mine Rd is as bad as ever. Lots of potholes. The good news is that you'll be riding past them at 3 mph. Keep in mind that there's water at Milbrook Village just on the other side of this mountain.

115-125 Old Mine Rd continues to be potholed, but now you are riding at 15-25 mph, dizzy from the heat, and the dappled late day shade makes these holes hard to spot. Please be careful.


*** Original Post ***

With summer weather upon us, the July  30th Hawk's Nest 200k course will be heading north into Promised Land, where the temperatures are typically several degrees cooler than points south.  Most of the route is shaded, which will also bring some relief from the heat. Fortunately, positive waves have restored the bridge across the Brodhead Creek allowing us to use the classically "fast" Hawks Nest route. Riders typically finish this course about an hour faster than other Eastern   PA 200k's.  Event details are posted at the PA Randonneurs web site:  http://parando.org/R12ClubJul1-A.html

If you would like to join the roster, please use the online registration form http://www.parando.org/RegistrationForm.html , by 5PM Thursday, August 28th.  

*** Start/Finish ***

The start/finish is at the Village Farmer and Bakery, right next to the Apple Pie Cafe (formerly the Water Gap Diner). The Bakery has promised to open early 6:30AM, so you can top off with a good breakfast before the start. Please show your appreciation to the Bakery manager who is getting out of bed extra early to help feed us. At the end of the ride, also consider patronizing the Apple Pie Cafe (same management).


IMPORTANT Note: Do not leave your car at the Cafe or the Bakery. Parking is in an empty lot behind the Cafe -  Directions are posted here: http://parando.org/WaterGapParking.pdf

Course Notes:
If you've never been across the Rt 80 bridge near Water Gap, it's a little bit tricky.  You need to look for a sidewalk/ramp about 50 yards past the Rt 80 underpass which you will cross under. The picture below shows the ramp on the left, which is in between the road you will be traveling (on the right) and Rt 80 (far left):




You will be facing on-coming traffic as you go across the bridge.

Given the hot weather, hydration is key. There are several opportunities for obtaining water and ice along the course in between the controles. Keep a sharp eye out, monitor your water supply, and think ahead!


*** Ride Safely ***
Your safety is the number priority on an Eastern PA event.  While the risks outlined in the event waiver cannot be completely eliminated, the following will hopefully help keep you as safe as possible.

Your responsibility as the rider includes:
- Showing up in reasonable physical condition for the event
- Bringing a reliable bike in good working order
- Complying with all traffic laws along the course 
- Respecting the rights of all other users of the route (including pedestrians)
- Planning for the situation where you can’t finish the ride

Although every effort has been made to provide you with a scenic route that minimizes car traffic and other hazards, the following list highlights some areas to take some extra care:

- Summer weather has arrived with a vengeance with a forecast calling for heat and humidity.  Be mindful of your fluid and electrolyte levels and it might also be a good idea to carry an ice sock with you if you need to cool down.
- With the rough winter we just had you should be extra vigilant for potholes and rough road surfaces.
- One of the most dangerous things you will encounter on the road just might be another cyclist.  Keep a safe following distance when riding with other cyclists you are not familiar with.  Please avoid forming a large bunch at the st
art of the ride.

Equipment
- Helmets are mandatory.
- Please note that the bike inspection checklist includes redundant lighting for both the front and rear lights.
- Bringing along a cell phone is highly recommended.
- Mechanical assistance is not provided.  
- SPOT trackers will be handed out to selected riders. If you are given one, they have a feature to call for help if you need it and are out of cell phone range -- if you are unfamiliar with how to use this feature, a volunteer will be happy to explain it to you.  If you have a personal unit not already listed on the PA Randonnerus SPOT Tracking webpage:  http://www.parando.org/SPOT_Links.html
please send me a link to your SPOT webpage.

Food / Hydration
- In general, the route heads you into some desolate areas, with limited opportunities for food and water.
- Plan on replenishing supplies at the controle stops.  The controles are typically at a store or restaurant.

Abandon  
- If you feel like abandoning the ride, it may be an indication that you are not eating and drinking enough.  Take a break, eat something, and it's likely that your outlook will improve.  Before you know it, you'll be making that last turn back to the finish.  And remember the golden rule of "… eat before you're hungry and drink before you're thirsty."
If you are still riding past the ride time limit or if you intend to abandon the ride, please contact me on my cell phone: (267) 218-0418
- It is your responsibility to make arrangements for alternate transportation

In case of accident  
Should you become injured, or arrive just after an accident resulting in an injured person (rider, motorist, or passer-by):
- Call 911 for an ambulance, describing where you are and the condition of the injured person(s)
- Contact me along with any other organizers listed on the cuesheet 
- Be sure to carry identification along with your emergency contact information in case you are knocked unconscious

Near-miss
Please mention any safety hazard you might have spotted, or near-miss incident you saw. We value this feedback highly and it will help PA Randonneurs improve the next edition of the event.

Driving after the event
If you are very tired when you reach the finish, it may be a good idea to take a nap before a long drive home, so you don't end up with serious injuries like David Nakai did: 

 Keep the rubber side down!

Registered Riders (as of 7/28/2016)
1 Ed Bernasky
2 Gavin Biebuyck
3 Christoph Boeckeler - PA lapsed
4 Jono Davis
5 William Fischer
6 Patrick Gaffney
7 Vadim Gritsus - guest
8 Eric  K Hannon Ford
9 Kenneth E Herbert - PA lapsed
10 Gil Lebron
11 Christopher Maglieri
12 Chris Nadovich - organizer
13 William Olsen - volunteer
14 Michael Povman
15 Alan Richer -guest
16 Scotty Steingart - guest
17 Bob Torres


Chris Nadovich 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Water Gap 600k/New Holland 200k Ride Report


Photo courtesy of Greg Keenan
Preliminary results for the Water Gap 600k have been posted at:
http://parando.org/PA600k_Results160604.pdf

Preliminary results for the New Holland 200k have been posted at:
http://parando.org/PA200k_Results160605.pdf

Please let me know of any corrections or other issues.  Results will be submitted shortly, and become final, pending RUSA certification.

The Water Gap 600k is tough.  The course itself is no cakewalk and the 600k typically falls at a time of the year when hot weather is arriving.  This year was no different with the conditions being a bit more than 4 riders cared to weather.  Saturday did not turn out as hot as originally forecast, but the stormy conditions on Sunday made up for any benefits of a slightly cooler first day.  As seems to be customary, a first-time PA participant, Nick Gigliotti from New York showed up to claim first finisher status.  He seemed to be most motivated by finishing before the afternoon storms arrived on Sunday.   

Congratulations also to James Haddad and Michael Gorman for completing their first Eastern PA SR series and joining the elite group of randonneurs on the PA Honor Roll.  This is also James' first-ever SR completion.  He should be well-prepared for anything randonneuring throws his way.   In addition the following riders added another PA SR to their list of accomplishments:

Greg Keenan (3)
Gil Lebron (2)
Bill Olsen (7)
Bob Torres (4)

The week leading up to the 600k was quite hot and sticky.  This was most apparent when half of the 600k course checkout crew DNFd after a hot day on Wednesday.  As we all looked toward the weekend and wondered how best to support riders in the heat, we made sure to have a strong volunteer presence, both on and off course. Chris Nadovich arrived early to get everything set up at the hostel for the arriving riders on Friday.   Gil Lebron leapfrogged the group for much of the day Saturday with an endless supply of ice water, PayDay bars, and other goodies.  Later, as riders traversed the DWGNRA, Len Zawodniak staffed a secret controle complete with ice cream and made sure everyone safely returned to the hostel.

Guy Harris, who helped serve breakfast at the start, and Bill Olsen greeted the riders at the overnight hostel controle, feeding them both an arrival dinner and a departing breakfast for the 600k riders and the arriving 200k riders.  Later on Sunday, proving that one can ride and help all in the same day, Patrick and Cecilie Gaffney prepared a wonderful post-ride feast to welcome all returning riders to the end of the brevet after completing the 200k themselves.

Greg Keenan writes:  "a special thanks to you and all the volunteers who made it possible for me to run the PA SR series.  It is an amazing lift when Len treats you to ice cream on the side of the road.  My vote for the most travelled award goes to Gil and his magic blue pickup truck with an endless supply of ice water.  And not to forget the many hour put in by the hostel crew who kept us feed at all hours.  Thanks to all."

Of his first 600k and first SR, CJ Arayata  says, "Wow. What can I say about my first 600k? Many of the segments have now become familiar to me by this point, and the weather on Day 1 was very cooperative, so was able to really soak in the scenery and enjoy the route, as well as the company of James, George, and Dan. Having Gil on course at multiple controles kept morale pretty high (someone give that man a raise!), and Len providing ice cream during a period of 100% humidity going through DWG was exactly what I needed. Eventually, it shook out to Dan and I riding together towards the end of the day, and most was smooth... except for the part when trying to navigate Stony Garden in steady rain at 3am, when headlamp beams were getting sucked up into the damp ground. Not so fun.
Day 2 started with a melted brain, pushing hard on an empty stomach, and bonking my brains out in Morgantown on the outbound leg. Andrew greeting me in Blue Ball with a pat on the back and a "How is it going?" was easily the highlight of my ride. After some encouragement and the best-tasting McDonald's Fruit Parfait in my life (and trust me, I eat a lot of them), I found my legs heading back towards Limerick. Along Swamp Creek, the skies opened up on myself and Dan with no mercy. We rode for about 10 minutes through practically white-out conditions before finding shelter under someone's carport, only 13 mi from the finish. After it subsided to a steady rain, we headed back out in rain gear and finished with no precipitation and big smiles.

Overall, I have to say I found my first 600k easier than my first 400k! Taking it one controle at a time (as I have done via my GPS files since my first brevet) was a very effective strategy, as at no point I felt overwhelmed or unprepared in tackling the whole ride. Just staying in the moment, and chipping away at each 25-40 mi stretch while metering my energy level/effort got me back to the hostel on both days.

I was truly impressed with the volunteer support during these longer brevets, going above and beyond the call of the duty to make sure the riders are doing well physically as well as mentally. A very big big big thank you!

I took most of my pictures on Day 1, hopefully everyone enjoys.

James Haddad reports:  "Thanks to you and all the volunteers organizing and executing last weekends 600k. Gil and Bill O. went truly above and beyond looking out for us on the first day and night. Again, the cue sheet was perfect and the route was a flawless combination of safe, quiet roads, with beautiful views. I think my favorite part of the ride was riding along the Lacawaxen river and then the Upper Delaware. While I have driven along the Lacawaxen many times, I’ve never crossed the Delaware there and was particularly blown away by the beauty of the Hawk’s Nest area."
 

From Patrick and Cecilie, "Just a quick note to say thanks for another great ride.  It has been a while since Cecily and I rode this loop and we really enjoyed it.  I have to say that doing it as only a 200K, with fresh legs, made me appreciate just how challenging a course it is for the second day of a 600.  The weather was near perfect for me as the cloud cover kept the heat at bay and, of course, we missed the rain.  Thanks to Bill and Guy as well for sending us on our way and welcoming us back.  Thanks again.

Pat and Cece"


Check back periodically as this report will be updated with some of the better Limericks from the Day 2 post office control.

With the conclusion of the traditional SR series, PA Randonneurs leaves the rando clubhouse and returns to the road.  The next event, part of the R12 series, will be held on July 30.  The event and location have not been finalized, but Hawk's Nest is a good bet for those hot summer events.  Looking ahead, Chris Nadovich has developed a new 200k route out of Easton that is begging to be ridden.  It is tentatively on the schedule for August.  In September we will return to Lancaster County for a route TBD that finishes at Cafe Metzler.  Check the PA Randonneurs website and this blog periodically for updates.

Finally, we would like to thank the crew of volunteers that have helped to make the 2016 PA SR series a success.  As RBA transition planning and preparation continue, it is nice to know that there are many people willing to pitch in and assure the continued success of the region.

-Tom Rosenbauer
Eastern PA RBA
- Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA Designate

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Water Gap 600k

*** UPDATE #1 ***
A pre-ride was completed on June 1-2 under difficult (hot & humid) conditions.  Fortunately the cue sheet is in good shape in terms of directions.  The weather highlighted the need to identify a few contingencies.

Good news is that Kimballs Road descending toward the Lackawaxen River bridge has finally been repaved.   Not so good news is that Towpath Road (the other side of the bridge down to Lackawaxen) has not, but at least the major potholes have been filled in.  Not really news at all is that Old Mine Road remains in the same poor condition as always.

Controls are generally well-spaced, but trying to cover two legs on a pair of water bottles could leave you wanting for something to drink.  Monitor you water bottle fluid levels and take advantage of the numerous "non-control" facilities along the way, including, but not limited to those noted as additional cues on the cue-sheet.  Check your food and fluids at each controle and keep you tank topped off.  If you have the capability, it would be wise to carry additional stores as the hour grows late.

It is also advised to buddy-up for the night riding if possible.  There is safety in numbers.  Not everyone will have empty bottles at the same time (hopefully), and extra eyes on the road are useful for navigating and locating poor road conditions.  There are more than a few locations with wheel-eating potholes.

Some riders may be arriving at Controle 7 (Delaware Water Gap) later in the day.  The Apple Pie Cafe officially closes at 8pm, though it may be open longer on the weekend with an outdoor barbecue going.  Alternatives include Doughboy's Pizza (also on Broad St) and a couple of convenience stores past the Apple Pie Cafe along Broad St.  In a pinch, The Deer Head Inn located along Rt 611 near where the road comes up from the river crossing should be available at most any hour.  In the event you arrive after the cafe closes, treat Water Gap as an open controle.

There are also 24-hour services in Columbia, NJ just across the river from Portland.  While these are off course, they are known to be open at any hour.  Simply cross the pedestrian bridge at Portland, turn left on Decatur St at the other side of the river, and follow the road across the interstate.  You should see all of your options there.

We plan to have volunteers on course Saturday to monitor your progress.  It is sometimes magical how you arrive at a secret controle just after you drink the last little bit of water in your bottle.  While you shouldn't plan on this, you should be aware that you're not totally alone in the middle of nowhere.

The second loop out toward Lancaster County includes the ever-popular postcard controle at the Limerick Post Office.  Tradition requires that you provide a snappy Limerick on your postcard to entertain the RBA during results tabulations.  You will find a few examples in the 2014 600k Ride Report if you need inspiration.  The 600k riders have all day Saturday to work on theirs, so expectations are high (TIP:  write them down early. You may not be able to remember much more than your name on Sunday morning.)  The 200k riders have less time but should be mentally sharp having only covered 25 miles before reaching the Post Office.

Give the beautiful green foliage on the hedges along the road on your right from Limerick down to the Skuylkill (600k miles 281-282, 200k miles 27-28) a WIDE berth!!! The hedges have no leaves of their own and "Those shiney green leaves of three" are poison ivy.

The Sunday turn-around controle is located in Blue Ball, PA and is located in a convenience store that is more of a gas station.  Depending on your arrival time, it may be the ONLY location that can sign your brevet card.  Carini's Italian restaurant is across the intersection from the controle, but doesn't open until 11am.  Otherwise, Morgantown offers a good selection, including a Dunkin Donuts, Sheetz, Turkey Hill and several joints.  Remember that you will pass only those establishments west of the Rt 10 intersection in town on your return trip so if you have a hankerin' for some Dunkin Donuts coffee, stop on the outbound leg. 

Ride Safety

Your safety is the number priority on an Eastern PA event. While the risks outlined in the event waiver cannot be completely eliminated, the following will hopefully help keep you as safe as possible.
Your responsibility as the rider includes:
- Showing up in reasonable physical condition for the event
- Bringing a reliable bike in good working order
- Complying with all traffic laws along the course
- Respecting the rights of all other users of the route (including pedestrians)
- Planning for the situation where you can’t finish the ride

Although every effort has been made to provide you with a scenic route that minimizes car traffic and other hazards, the following list highlights some areas to take some extra care:
 - Summer weather has arrived with a vengeance. Be mindful of your fluid and electrolyte levels and it might also be a good idea to carry an ice sock with you if you need to cool down.
- Roads remain in poor condition in many locations after the winter. You should be extra vigilant for potholes and rough road surfaces.
- One of the most dangerous things you will encounter on the road just might be another cyclist. Keep a safe following distance when riding with other cyclists you are not familiar with. Please avoid forming a large bunch at the start of the ride.

 Equipment
- Helmets are mandatory. Riding without a helmet will result in an immediate disqualification.
- Please note that the bike inspection checklist includes redundant lighting for both the front and rear lights.
- Bringing along a cell phone is highly recommended.
- Mechanical assistance is not provided.
- SPOT trackers will be handed out to selected riders. If you are given one, they have a feature to call for help if you need it and are out of cell phone range -- if you are unfamiliar with how to use this feature, a volunteer will be happy to explain it to you. If you have a personal unit not already listed on the PA Randonnerus SPOT Tracking webpage: http://www.parando.org/SPOT_Links.html please send me a link to your SPOT webpage.

 Food / Hydration
- In general, the route heads you into some desolate areas, with limited opportunities for food and water.
- Plan on replenishing supplies at the controle stops. The controles are typically at a store or restaurant.
- Take advantage of non-controle stores, many of which are noted on the cue sheet.

 Abandon 
- If you feel like abandoning the ride, it may be an indication that you are not eating and drinking enough. Take a break, eat something, and it's likely that your outlook will improve. Before you know it, you'll be making that last turn back to the finish. And remember the golden rule of "… eat before you're hungry and drink before you're thirsty."
- If you are still riding past the ride time limit or if you intend to abandon the ride, please contact me on my cell phone: (610) 417-7161 It is your responsibility to make arrangements for alternate transportation.  

In case of accident
Should you become injured, or arrive just after an accident resulting in an injured person (rider, motorist, or passer-by):
- Call 911 for an ambulance, describing where you are and the condition of the injured person(s)
- Contact me along with any other organizers listed on the cuesheet
- Be sure to carry identification along with your emergency contact information in case you are knocked unconscious.

Please mention any safety hazard you might have spotted, or near-miss incident you saw. We value this feedback highly and it will help PA Randonneurs improve the next edition of the event.

If you are very tired when you reach the finish, it may be a good idea to take a nap before a long drive home, so you don't end up with serious injuries. Dorm rooms are available at the hostel finish, and we'll find a spot for you whether you have made a reservation or not.

*** Original Post ***
The Eastern Pennsylvania SR series wraps up with the 600k on June 4.  Event details have been posted on the website at http://parando.org/PA600K.html.  The cue sheet is also posted.  We return to earlier variations of the opening day which include Promised Land State Park, Hawk's Nest, Port Jervis, and a return through the DWGNRA on the New Jersey side before returning to the overnight controle at the hostel.  The second day includes a generally out and back loop to Lancaster which shares some of its routing through the French Creek area with the recent 400k return.  It should be a great route.  A pre-ride is scheduled and updates will be posted.

Organizers Bill Olsen, Guy Harris, and Chris Nadovich will once again be on hand to take care of you.  Breakfast items available at 1 hour prior to the start on Saturday and as usual, there will be post-ride food available.   The route returns to the Weisel Hostel (stat/finish) at approximately the 400k point where our volunteers will be ready to feed you dinner on Saturday.  Showers are available (bring your own towel) and sleeping accommodations for Saturday night are included in the entry fee.  While linens are provided, you might want to bring your favorite pillow, earplugs or a sleeping mask to make the most of the overnight.  Since your car will be close by, a drop bag is highly recommended.

When you awake on Sunday, breakfast will again be offered at 4am so you are well fueled for the final 200k.  A post-ride meal awaits your return to allow sharing of tall tales and anything else.  You will have access to the showers (maybe you want to bring two towels) and the dormitory should you want to take a nap before heading home.

A 200k option is also offered on Sunday using the same route as the second day of the 600k.  Event details for the 200k option are also posted on the website:  http://parando.org/R12ClubJun2.html

Pre-registration is required for both rides.  Use the Pre-Registration Form.

You can also make arrangements to spend Friday and/or Sunday night at the hostel should you wish.  Please make those selections when you register.  It's $25 for the first additional night; $40 if you choose to stay Friday AND Sunday nights.

Finally, a reminder about registration fees.  The registration fee is $75 ($25 for 200k) for riders who are PA Randonneurs members AND have a current RUSA membership.  The fee is $80 ($30 for 200k) for guests or those without a current RUSA membership.

Please take a moment to double check the hostel reservations and course option I have listed for you.


600k Roster (as of 6/1)
1 Charles J Arayata  +F/S Nt
2 Dan M Barbasch  +F Nt
3 George Brandt 
4 Nicholas Gigliotti  +F Nt
5 Michael J Gorman 
6 James R Haddad  +F Nt
7 Guy Harris  - organizer
8 Greg Keenan 
9 Eric E. Keller  +F/S Nt
10 Gil Lebron  - volunteer
11 Chris Nadovich  - volunteer
12 William Olsen  - organizer
13 Bob Torres  +F Nt

200k roster (as of 6/1)
1 Daniel Aaron
2 R Scott Cone  - guest
3 Cecilie Gaffney  - volunteer
4 Patrick Gaffney  - volunteer
5 Eric  K Hannon Ford  + Sat Nt


Tom Rosenbauer - Eastern PA RBA
Andrew Mead - Eastern PA RBA Designate





Monday, May 16, 2016

Blue Mountain 400k Ride Report


Photo compliments of CJ A.

Preliminary results for the 400k have been posted at:
http://parando.org/PA400k_Results160514.pdf

Preliminary results for the 200k have been posted at:
http://parando.org/PA200k_Results160514.pdf

Please let me know of any corrections or other issues.  Results will be submitted shortly, and become final, pending RUSA certification.

There are some randonneurs that say the 400k is the most difficult of the brevets since it is the longest distance that has to be completed without the benefit of an overnight sleep stop.  Since it's appearance in 2010, The Blue Mountain 400k has proven to be one of the more challenging of the 400ks.

Organizers Bill Olsen & Guy Harris along with "master starter" Chris Nadovich once again pulled off a fantastic brevet.  Seventeen riders clipped in for a 4am start from the hostel and headed out into the damp darkness for a full day of brevet adventure.  By sunrise the weather was improving and provided a few hours of sunshine.  And wind.  As the day progressed, a pair of fronts passed through each with a line of rain squalls.  By evening, the rains had passed and most riders were benefiting from a tailwind assist toward Quakertown.  Sixteen riders finished the 400k course within the time limit while all three 200k starters finished.

Keeping the riders company were volunteers Gil Lebron and Doug Haluza.  Gil pre-rode the route earlier in the week, helped out at the start, and then spent time out on the course encouraging everyone as a revitalment control.  Doug spent most of the day Saturday keeping tabs on the riders as a sweeping observer.  You can find Doug's photo album from the day at https://flic.kr/s/aHskAicF8xPat Gaffney, rode the 200k route, handled food prep for his fellow 200k riders, and then set out to watch over the 400k riders in the final miles of the course.  Seeing these friendly faces out on a tough course often provides that extra little bit of motivation to keep tired riders pedaling onward.  Thanks to these volunteers for adding that extra bit that makes PA brevets so successful.

Three strong riders, Bill Fischer, Gavin Biebuyck, and Geoff Brunner, managed to claim first finisher spots.  Writes Gavin:  "Great ride. The route tweaks made the ride very different from my first 400k six years ago on this same general route.  Much quieter and yet relentless rollers!  Panther Valley gets my vote for best new road. I also was surprised to view Route 23 to Morgantown from the clouds on a northern ridge I have only ever viewed from below - quiet pretty reroute that avoids the busy main road - thanks Andrew! Leisurely stops at Lickdale and the BK in Morgantown during rain squalls kept us drier than expected.  Ended up with some sunburn. Thanks to great volunteer effort!"

We also note that Geoff Brunner, while notching his first RUSA 400k finish, is no stranger to the distance.  Geoff will be starting his third RAAM next month.  We wish him well. Geoff writes: "...Just wanted to share a note of thanks directed to those who made yesterday a good experience for me.  I finished my first 400k, and I was fortunate to have two strong riders and even better guys assist me through the last fifty miles of the course.  Bill led the perfect navigation and Gavin came up "big" allowing me to use his spare headlight when my feeble excuse for a nighttime vision device wasn't going to "cut it" during the wet, winding descents in the dark throughout this stretch.  I was concerned about the last 30 miles when Limerick turned into a bit of a ghost town at 9:30pm, but they helped pull me through.  Chris, Gil, and Doug were great in their support of the event and Bill's friendly energy after we arrived made the satisfaction of finishing that much more enjoyable (never has lasagna tasted so good!).  Lastly, thanks to you for your efforts in creating this great day of riding with good people on mostly peaceful roads with mostly courteous drivers sharing their space with us. Hope to be a part of future endeavors with the PA Randonneurs. ..."

CJ Arayata, James Hadad and Nick Manta also notched their first 400k finishes.

I don't have much else to say, still physically and mentally recovering.... but that was the hardest ride I have ever done up to this point. Just wanted to link some pictures.
Also, it was much appreciated to have Gil and Doug as roving volunteers. Not that I don't appreciate all of the work that Chris, Bill, and Guy put into it with the preride/hostel, but something about seeing a familiar face out on course that can give a much needed boost...
James adds:  This weekends' 400k was one of my favorite rides ever. The cue sheet was perfect. The roads were fantastic. I had a great time and loved every minute of the ride! Please pass on my thanks to the other volunteers, Chris, Bill, Guy, Bob and Gil (and anyone I may have inadvertently skipped). It was particularly great seeing Gil sitting on his tail gate with jugs of water in Bowmanstown. 

It was noted during the pre-ride checkout that the closing miles were almost devoid of any support facilities at the hour in which most riders would be passing.  A last-minute cue sheet change involved adding notes for two off-course oases in the final miles near Linfield.  Volunteer Pat Gaffney stationed himself near there to direct tired randonneurs to off-course food in Linfield lest their reading skills at the late hour fail them.  At least one randonneur's ride was saved through the restorative power of a little food, rest, and time off the bike.

Joe Ray was among the front-runners for much of the day until suddenly he wasn't.  Joe found the Limerick Diner, a 24-hour randonneur's dream, and managed a recovery in the face of what briefly appeared  a certain DNF.  Joe reports:
"Thanks for such an incredible day yesterday.  The route took me thru areas I have never visited by car, much less by bike.  The approaching storms and what they would be like and where would we be when they hit added a bit of drama.  I had to stop, escorted from mile 196 by Greg Keenan and Callista Phillips, at the diner near mile 225, which saved my ride.  There's quite frankly not many other options!  The diner set me back on track with oatmeal, water and a booth to sleep in for two hours.  It was somewhat slow going at 3am but it's done and I am quite pleased.  Thanks to the volunteers for all their hard work and hospitality, at the hostel and at the controls."
His experience proves the old randonneuring advice that when you think you can't go any further, get off the bike for a bit, relax, eat a bit, and then start again refreshed.  Many-a-brevet has been saved using these sage words.

Safety is always a big concern for us, especially as distances increase and we know riders will be tired. Please mention any safety hazard you might have spotted or near-miss incident your saw.  Your feedback will help us to improve things for next time. Cue sheet warnings and countless re-routes to avoid problems help but cannot fully eliminate the risk.  One rider found a large pothole along Neiffer Road in the closing miles and took a spill.  Fortunately the rider seems OK, but it reminds us all to stay alert and don't be afraid to take a few minute power nap to restore your perception if necessary.

Long time PA Randonneur Rick Carpenter returned for one of his periodic visits and enjoyed the 200k route.  He and George Brandt had a great time judging from the pictures by Rick

Next up is the 600k.  Details are posted on the website at:  http://parando.org/PA600K.html
You can register on line at:  http://parando.org/RegistrationForm.html Registrations closes at 5PM on the Thursday before the event.
Or if you'd like to find out what happens behind the scenes and help out, we are looking for a couple of more volunteers to be out on course for support.  Just drop a line to either of us or use the volunteer sign-up page at: http://www1.mysignup.com/cgi-bin/view.cgi?datafile=pa_volunteers2016

Tom Rosenbauer, Eastern PA RBA
Andrew Mead, Eastern PA RBA Designate