Tuesday, November 13, 2018

November PA R-12 Ride Report: Blue Mountain 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

Monday, October 22, 2018

October PA R-12 Ride Report: NeoClassic 154/200k

Preliminary results for the Neo Classic 200K and 154K 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.  Thirty riders clipped in for the 200K, with 28 finishing for a 93% completion rate of a very challenging brevet. All 4 riders who started the 154K finished in good time for a 100% completion of the very challenging populaire.

It was a blustery fall day with northwest winds upwards of 30 mph and temperatures ranging through the fifties. There were slight sprinkles of rain and mist every now and then, but the sun also peaked out from time to time. All in all these were reasonable riding conditions for this time of year.

Sadly, the hoped-for Fall foliage wasn't yet on display. Mid-Atlantic foliage changes have been moderate thus far this year. Other than the bright yellows of ready-to-harvest corn and soybeans, most of the foliage was still green.

Even without the full Fall colors, riders generally reported that the Neo-classic was just as scenic as the original classic. The start on the Two Rivers Trailway received high marks for a pleasant beginning. Scenic, of course, is bike rider code for hilly as a #)*&$#^@!.  Lower Saucon Rd was a decidedly un-pleasant ending, several riders commenting about its difficulty.

Randonesia in the form of food and drink was in ample supply at the finish, with many riders enjoying gourmet snacks provided by the club at the Cask Tavern. After a few bites and a pint, I heard many a tale of bold adventure recounted by rejuvenated riders that seemed ready to hop back on their bikes and ride on.

The sprinkles of rain were directly responsible for a mishap experienced by Jon C. As he descended from the summit of Fox Gap,  the thin layer of oil and water on one of the curves denied his tires traction and he slid off the curve, careening into a barrier. Amazingly, he sustained only minor road-rash and walked the rest of the way into the controle. I guess he didn't outpace his guardian angel. Bike wise, his carbon fiber fork blades snapped clean in half. Other than a new fork he reports the bike will need little more than a wheel truing.

Next up in November is another brevet and populaire, this time on different dates. The routes are somewhat kinder and gentler. We hope the November weather will be kind and gentle to us as well.

Chris Nadovich

Monday, September 17, 2018

The Fall (Neo) Classics: PA 200K & PA 150K

*** Update 1 ***

A course checkout ride was completed on 6 October by Chris N.  The cue sheets for both the 200K and 154K have been updated to make some important corrections.  Be sure you have the latest version linked on the event pages. The current versions are both marked R.2. As always, the cue sheets define the course and contain important warnings. GPS routes are provided for amusement purposes only. Read the cue sheet.

Pre Ride Notes: 

In past versions of the Fall Classic, pain began early with the big climbs of Lower Saucon Rd. Since this version starts past these climbs,  and all the climbing out of Easton has been eliminated through use of the Two Rivers trailway, you will hit each of your other favorite climbs with less accumulated-fatigue in your legs. This created, for me, a feeling of unexpected power as each climb felt just a little easier than I remembered it.

Pavement is in good condition for almost the entire course. The only significant exception is the Fox Gap climb, where an amazing variety of debris is scattered over the meager shoulder. I saw unused road flares, chip seal, deep piles of soft gravel, kerosene cans, lumpy hardened concrete spill, horizontal fallen trees sawn just above the roadway white line, downed power lines, and a big, buzzy hornets nest.  If you climb Fox Gap at the ultra-low speed I climb Fox Gap, dodging these is not too difficult, but you might want to carry an extra tube, fire extinguisher, and an epi pen.
The Columcille info controle explores the legend of St Oran. "The way you think it is may not be the way it is at all."
The new section of course from Milford to Dublin to the Hostel are classic Bucks county cycling roads. We should venture
through there more often. There are some long flat sections through
farms b/c suburban sprawl. Many pretty ravines with ledgy streams
alongside.Very easy riding.

Till you get near the Hostel, that is. Now the fun begins. All
those climbs that used to be easy -- either because you had just started and felt strong and fresh or because you were almost done and could smell the barn at the Hostel -- no... longer... are....

I hit the Hostel just around sunset, so I had the pleasure of
doing those final climbs in the dark. And did I mention it was foggy
and raining? I wish for better weather on the date of the event.

The trickiest part of the route is at the very end. The last few cues avoid a direct climb up 25th street by means of the public bike trail through the private campus at the Children's Home of Easton. Do not attempt to short-cut the cued route as a nighttime climb up twisty, narrow, shoulder-less, 25th street is highly inadvisable.

The endgame cues begin shortly after the somewhat harrowing left turn to cross two lanes of Berger Rd at the 3-way SS. This puts us onto the large, 4-lane, 25th Street bridge over the Lehigh. Past routes turn left immediately at the end of this bridge. Instead, now we turn right immediately into the Children's Home of Easton. The sign is brightly lit and easy to spot. Easy right turn.

This is private property, but I was assured that the public bike path has a right of way. Please follow the dashed white line marking the trail uphill through the Children's Home campus and do not trespass outside the right-of-way.

After leaving the Children's Home campus at the top of the climb, the route T's left, and then T's right back onto the nastiness of 25th street again. Check for cars and start pedaling up the street. The upcoming left turn onto the Two Rivers trailway is only 600 feet up on the left, and is plainly marked with various signs. It comes quickly. Signal a left turn and move to the left side of the lane when safe. As you near the left onto the trail there's a small painted median within which you can take refuge as you wait for an opportunity to turn. Please don't miss this turn. We are trying to avoid 25th street.

After that exciting TR+QL on 25th street, you return to the safety of the trail only briefly. You'll soon encounter the crossing of busy Freemansburg Rd. I've seen every possible reaction from drivers here. Some will stop and wave you on, others will coal-roll you where you stand. Be careful crossing.

After Freemansburg is the last bit of trail. Take the first left exiting the trail into a development. Now you are on relatively quiet, manageable roads for the rest of the way (about a mile) to the finish.

Enjoy the ride!

Chris Nadovich
Ride Organizer

*** Original Post ***

Since its beginnings in 2006,  Pennsylvania Randonneurs has hosted a fall brevet and populaire.  Those events have been staged every year since 2007 from the Weisel Hostel that served as our rando clubhouse.  There are undoubtedly many fond memories from our time there.

Fear not!  The PA Randonneurs Fall Classics will continue.  Just as in 2006, the routes begin and end in Easton, PA (not in front of Tom's house, though) and the routes reprise most of the familiar favorites.  Our goal was to retain the feel of the old favorites with a revised start-finish location.  Yes 200k riders, you WILL get Fox Gap.  And Lomasson's Glen.  And the beautiful descent along Sweet Hollow Road into Milford.  Both routes will pass the Weisel Hostel so everyone will have a chance to pose for one more photo in front of the house.

We will finish at The Cask Taphouse in Easton where all can gather to replenish expended calories and swap stories about the year's accomplishments.  We will also take time to recognize those riders who have joined (or rejoined) the PA SR club and the PA R-12 club this year.  Plan to spend a little time after finishing to enjoy the camaraderie of randonneuring and getting to know other riders who you typically only pass in controls.  It will also be a good time to corner the RBA and give him your wish list for future PA Randonneurs events.

With less than 11 hours of daylight available, 200k riders will need lights and reflective gear unless you have a history of faster finishes.  All riders are encouraged to get into the winter habit of riding with lights and reflective gear.

Event and registration details for both events are available on the PA Rando website.  Make plans to attend.  It is always a good time.

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

September PA R-12 Ride Report: Hawk Mountain 200k

Preliminary results for the Hawk 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 ACP certification.  Thirty-four riders clipped in and all made it around the course, though one rider opted to lighten the load by leaving his brevet card in his vehicle at the start resulting in a DNQ.  Still, a 97% completion rate with no lost riders is a good day.

While a clear, sunny day would have been nice, the clouds brought a dramatic drop in temperatures (some riders reported donning arm warmers) which made for an enjoyable day of cycling and likely contributed to the finish successes.  The group featured  a nice mix of new randonneurs and long-time PA Randonneurs.  The Philadelphia Dynamo Headlight Society was well represented.  Special congratulations go out to newly minted randonneurs (and randonneuses) Chris Bella, Linda Gross, Robert Noll, and Tracy Skorka.  Hawk Mountain is challenging yet these riders came around in fine form. 

We also recognize Mario Claussnitzer for his completion of the prestigious PA-SR.  Mario missed the March 200k and struggled with scheduling of the remaining ACP 200ks all through the summer.  Perseverance paid off as Mario become one of only 6 PA Randonneurs to complete an SR comprising solely PA Rando events this year.  Chappeau!

Ron and Barb Anderson wrote:

Thanks to you, Rich, Steve and all the volunteers for putting on yet another fine PA Rando event.

The classic Hawk Mountain course was wonderful - full of Pennsylvania Dutch charm, the usual PA vertical challenges and the weather even cooperated nicely with enjoyable cooler temperatures and only sparse showers throughout the day. The St. Boniface Brewery provided a cozy, friendly gathering place for the crew post-ride, and the chance for a good craft brew after a long day in the saddle is always welcome by this tandem team.

Like always, it was a fine gathering of riders too, almost like a PA Rando homecoming with some of the veterans (us included) coming out to join the fun. It was also fun to meet and have a chance to talk with some of the newer riders that Barbara and I haven't had the opportunity to meet in person before.

 Barb and I had a pretty good ride on the Bilenky, all things considered. I've got to say though, that the 4am wake up call, and the effort required to get the big bike around a hilly 200k course is really testing the limits of our definition of "fun" these days. We need to pick and choose our rides and we'll never get back to a steady diet of brevets like back in the day... That said, yesterday's Hawk Mountain ride has already begun the transition in the rando brain to good memories of type II fun. Captain-stoker negotiations as to the October classic brevet are expected to commence shortly...

Thanks again for putting on a great ride!

From CJ Arayata:

A ton of fun on Saturday. Somehow that was my first time on the Hawk Mountain course, and it was great! Lots of hard climbing, smooth and clear descents, great views throughout the day (especially on Summer Hill Rd), and great company... everything I want in a brevet. A few flats between our group of Nick, Ryan, George, and Shawn, but we took it easy and enjoyed ourselves. A little cold with the intermittent rain but nothing some armwarmers couldn't fix. It was also really nice to see some of the old guard along with many new faces! Hoping these larger fields keep up for future brevets.

James Haddad had this to say:

Hawk Mtn was one of the first brevets I rode several years ago, I forgot how beautiful the course is, and challenging. The Hawk Mountain climb and descent was the perfect mid-day pick me up and Summer Hill road was beautiful and totally justified the climbing to get there.

Big thanks to Rich and Steve for volunteering. I look forward to clipping in with everyone at the Fall NeoClassic.

Chris Nadovich stumbled into a companion event (unsanctioned by RUSA) while in Pine Grove.

It was a day of moderate temperatures and winds that always seemed to be 
at our back. An occasional sprinkle did not dampen the good times. Even 
the endless rollers on 443 -- one of my least favorite parts of that route -- 
were tolerable. 

Hawk Mountain is tough, but consensus was that the worst hill was that 
short, sharp corkscrew of contour lines at the beginning of Summer Hill, with 
the second worst climb being the "last little grunt" up Leed Hill. 

The adolescent bike culture in Pine Grove was in full display, with 
the informal Turkey Hill Criterium and Cyclocross race circling the 
controle through backyards, broken sidewalks, and alleys. The peloton 
comprised a collection of local ragamuffins on a variety of machines: 
BMX bikes, 10-speeds, and a two-passenger drift car inspired tricycle 
with splayed wheels. 

This event would have been much different without the assistance of Rich Lucchese, Steve Schoenfelder, Mike Lutz, and Steve Kraybill.  The RBA's original plan for availability was impacted by a late addition to the family calendar.  These fellows stepped up and, by all accounts pulled off the event like a well-oiled machine.  Thanks to you all.

Next up is the Fall Classic on October 20.  Sadly, we will not be gathering at our favorite rando clubhouse.  We have come up with the next best thing:  a route reminiscent of the "Fall Classics" (150k and 200k) that visit all the familiar places (including a ride past the Weisel Youth Hostel).  The start finish is in Easton.  Long-time PA Randonneurs may recall a time when the many events started from Burke Street in Easton, so our change represents somewhat of a return to our roots.  Organizer Chris Nadovich has developed modified routes that look to be as memorable as ever with a finish at a small brew pub in Easton where we've arranged for some gathering space.  Check out the website for details.  We hope to see you there.

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA

Thursday, August 23, 2018

PA R12 Brevet Series: Hawk Mountain 200k

*** Update 1 ***
A pre-ride course checkout ride was completed on August 26.  The cue sheet has been updated to make some minor corrections on road signage and to incorporate several cautionary warnings.  The current version is Rev. E, Draft 3 dated 8/26/2018.

A few highlights:

~8.0 Reinholds:  There are two RR crossings as you enter Reinholds.  The crossings are perpendicular, but very rough.  Use caution.

14.6  A sewer replacement project had Hill Rd in Wernersville closed.  There is a short detour marked.  You can also walk your bike along the left side of the road and get around the construction.  Given the state of the project you may encounter nothing but fresh pavement patches.

15.6 The RR crossing leaving Wernersville has been given a caution notice.  Not only is the crossing quite rough, trains pass through at least hourly.  This is one where you really should look both ways before crossing.

21.2 It bears repeating that the metal deck bridge just before the turn onto Pallisades can be tricky.  Even when dry the grating grabs at bike tires.  If it is wet, please walk.

29.8 As long as we've used this route there has been loose gravel in a downhill turn on Gin Mill Rd just before the intersection with Grove Rd.  There have been crashes and near-crashes all along. The gravel is especially deep this year.  A caution note has finally been added to the cue.

52.5 The descent from Hawk Mountain has been tarred and chipped.  The good news is that it is one of the nicest T&C jobs I've seen.  The bad news is that loose stones remain, especially in a few of the turns.

~56.0 The final mile or so of Pheasant Run leading to the turn onto Lake Front Dr has been freshly tarred and chipped.  While it may clear somewhat by the brevet, much gravel is likely to remain.  Use a LOT of caution making the turn onto Lake Front.

78.3 There is a Stop Sign intersection at the bottom of the long descent into Pine Grove.  It has been noted on the cue sheet.  You'll want to pay attention as there may be traffic entering that intersection from your left as you arrive.

79.9 After years of being a crappy road, Long Stretch Road has fresh asphalt.  You can let it rip on the descent to Oak Grove Rd.

85.8 - 94.0 Sadly, Swatera State Park remains in rough shape and we're forced to rely on Suedberg Road and Rt 72 to get though the Gap.  There is a generous shoulder in many places, but not all.  Traffic is fast.  Be careful when moving between the shoulder and the lane as there is a milled rumble strip in the fog line.

109.3 Use caution when making this turn.  For reasons unknown, the right-of-way has been given to Prescott-Reistville Rd instead of remaining with Prescott.  Cars approaching from the opposite direction on Reistville may swing wide and into your lane (first-hand knowledge) so you'll want take a wide line through this turn.

Have a safe ride!

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA

*** Original Post***
The PA Randonneurs R12 Brevet Series continues in September with the Hawk Mountain 200k on September 8.  Event details are on the website. and registration is open.  New member Rich Lucchese is rapidly embracing randonneuring and will be the Organizer for the event.  He even conducted an advance route check (one advantage of using routes that are approved as both brevets and permanents) so the event announcement could contain an updated and checked cue sheet.

A few notes about this route:

The start/finish venue has changed compared to past runnings of this route that some might remember.  The start is now located at Martin's Country Market on the west side of Ephrata (similar to last February's Loop Around Lancaster brevet).  We will finish at the nearby St. Boniface Brewery.  This is much improved over the K-Mart parking lot we once used.  I took the opportunity of a cue update to address a few other parts of the route.

If you downloaded a cue sheet or copied the GPS track prior to August 23, 2018 you will have a difficult time completing the route.  PennDOT has once again tossed a spanner in the works and decided to replace a bridge near the start.  More significant, though is that the DCNR has closed significant portions of the Swatera State Park.  The seemingly never-ending summer deluge has washed out portions of the Swatera Trail.  A repair schedule remains uncertain, so we will revert to the original (and not as nice) descent along Rts. 443/72 through the Swatera Gap.  Links for the latest cue sheet and GPS are available on the event page.

Hawk Mountain remains a very scenic route, especially on clear days.  If you liked it before, chances are you will still enjoy the adventure.  It also remains a very challenging route.  Most believe the rewards are well worth the effort.  We will be starting just after sunrise so everyone will get to enjoy sunrise vistas in the early miles.

*** 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 often means heat and humidity.  The route includes several stretches of unshaded roads that can get very warm in the afternoon sun.  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 summer of non-stop rain you should be extra vigilant for debris that has washed onto the road and perhaps even washouts of the road surface.
- 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.

- Helmets are mandatory.
- Please note that the bike inspection checklist includes redundant lighting for both the front and rear lights.  The finish cutoff is roughly an hour after sunset.  While many may finish in the daylight, you don't want to risk disqualification by showing up lightless at the finish due to a mechanical-induced delay.
- 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.

- 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 the organizer or the RBA.  Phone numbers are provided on the cue sheet.
- 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 the RBA 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.

Registration remains open until 11:59pm on September 6.  Register now!

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA

Monday, August 20, 2018

Midnight Express Ride Report

Preliminary results of the inaugural Midnight Express 200k have been posted on the PA Rando website.  The results will be submitted to RUSA in a few days and become final pending ACP certification.  All riders who clipped in to start finished the route and 20 of 22 finished within the time limit for a 91% finish rate.  Well done to all.

Finishers showing RUSA medals (and handlebar bags), photo by George M.
PA Randonneurs celebrated RUSA's 20th Anniversary with something different.  Instead of the traditional early-morning start, riders clipped in and rolled out at 7PM to embark on a 200k adventure on a new route.  Skies were overcast, but the rain held off and skies cleared somewhat allowing moonlight to guide the riders for a while.

Riders first encountered volunteer Ivan Umble along the route at a Secret Controle.  Just checking on you guys.  Anyone who looked at the route map would understand the need for this check.  It has been a while since we've had a secret control it just seemed to add more interest to the ride.  In an effort to expose riders to a wide array of route controls, the brevet also featured an Open Controle and an Information Controle.  Variety is the spice of life.

Secret(?) Controle, photo by Greg K.
From it's inception, the Midnight Express route was conceived as one to be ridden at night.  Roads that are heavily trafficked during the day become private pathways at night.  Some of the roads experience bumper-to-bumper traffic during the day, even weekend days.  During an late night recon trip as I was developing the route, I encountered exactly 3 cars over the course of 45 miles of riding which gave me hope that the concept would work.  Based on rider comments afterward, the route was a success.  Riders avoided typical August daytime heat.  Not so lucky were the volunteers on the course checkout ride.  The checkout ride was conducted during daylight hours two weeks earlier, starting in a cool rain, but finishing in sweltering heat and humidity as afternoon temperatures reached the mid-90s.  Temperatures for the brevet remained around 70 for the entire evening.  Rain held off until the morning.  It was definitely nicer for the brevet riders despite some early morning rain in the closing miles.

The route was challenging as is typical for Southeastern Pennsylvania routes.  Also as is often the case, an unknown talent shows up and aces the route.  First-timer Jason Blome blazed around the route to become a randonneur and the first finisher.  Jason is no novice; he owns a nearby bike shop and logs many miles every year.  Night riding is one of his favorite types of riding and what piqued his interest with this event.  Hopefully he will join us again.
PA Randos at Port Deposit Controle, Photo by Greg K.
In addition to Jason, riders James Hultquist-Todd and Gary Wilpizeski became randonneurs, each finishing their first brevets in fine fashion.  How many randonneurs can say that their first brevet was an overnight event?  Congratulations to you all!

We saw a new entity at this brevet:  The Philadelphia Dynamo Headlight Society.  It seems that CJ Arayata has been promoting nighttime riding and secretly recruiting unsuspecting cyclists to join the ranks of randonneuring by hosting overnight adventures to various eateries around Philadelphia.  In addition to CJ, Society members included Shawn Bowles, Luke Elrath, Alex Manta, Ryan Stanis, and Gary Wilpizeski.  Could CJ be planning a two-team Fleche campaign for 2019 ?

CJ sent an interesting link showing his progress around the course.

Keith Spangler sent this concerning his ride with long-time PA Rando Bill Slabonik:  Andrew, thank you for giving all of us the opportunity to ride the Midnight Express.  When I downloaded our ride results I was shocked at the "mph" ~ 11.  We normally ride that and make the finish so it must have been the stops and the three missed cues we made early on.  Anyway, we had a great time riding together again.  Like I mentioned, I'm focused on a solo tour of the Gulf of Mexico so maybe I can revisit brevets.  Please share my appreciation with George for a great experience!  Keith
Keith and Bill rolled in about 30 minutes after the time cut-off, wet, tired, but smiling.

Post-ride relaxation.  Photo by George M.
This event would not have happened without the encouragement and brainstorming contributions of George Metzler.  He and I have cooked up a few interesting events over the years and this one was no exception.  It started as a "what if" when RUSA announced the 20th Anniversary celebration and grew from there with our usual quest to do something totally different.  Thanks George!

George has posted his collection of photos on the web.  Check them out.

Thanks also to pre-ride volunteers Paul Currie, Rich Lucchese, Chris Nadovich, and Gilbert Torres.  These guys all rode about 5 bonus miles without complaint as I re-routed on the fly during the course checkout ride. Gilbert stationed himself at the West Chester controle Saturday evening to offer a friendly face of encouragement as riders set off into the nighttime darkness.  Had the cue error not been discovered, riders would have faced a difficult loop around in early morning darkness.  As it was, only a few bonus miles were reported on the brevet.  Even though he could not make the pre-ride, long-time PA Rando Mike Lutz arrived at the finish at 5am to help with breakfast.

Next up is the Hawk Mountain 200 starting in Ephrata, PA on September 8.  Details are posted on the PA Rando website.  Registration is open.

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA