Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Ride Report: Fall Classic


Sunrise at Cafe Metzler

It was a near-perfect day for cycling said most of the 13 riders who clipped in for the 14th annual PA Randonneurs Fall Classic brevet & populaire.  All 13 riders completed their chosen routes within time for two 100% completion rates.  Congratulations to all!  Preliminary results are posted on the website (200k and 150k) and will become final once submitted to RUSA.

We haven't ridden the Brandywine route in quite a few years though bits and pieces of the route were used in last year's RUSA 20th Anniversary Brevet.  Everyone enjoyed the routes now that they had a chance to experience it in the daylight.  Cool morning gave way to comfortable cycling temperatures with partly cloudy skies and very light winds to make it pleasant for all.  The always popular Cafe Metzler awaited finishers with a burgers and beverages to cap off great rides.  We even managed to get pictures of the field.

Kathleen C.

Eric K.
Jeff L.
Jeff B.


Tim C.
Paul C.
Tom D.
Pernot H.
Greg K.
Joe R.
George R.
Steve S.
Paul W.
As always I owe much thanks to George and Erin Metzler for hosting this brevet.  This year was the 11th year that George and I have collaborated on a brevet featuring Cafe Metzler.  All have been well received by the riders and all have been great fun to put on.  Thanks George!  We even managed to get out during the day to scope out some new roads that might appear in a future brevet .

Next month we head a little further west to Miflinburg, PA where Steve Schoenfelder is organizing the inagural Rusty Rail brevet on November 2.  Word has it that the Rusty Rail Brewery is home to the largest brewpub in Pennsylvania.  You wont want to miss it.  Registration is open on the website through Halloween.  We plan to return to Easton in December.  Stay tuned for details.

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA




Wednesday, September 25, 2019

The 14th Annual PA Randonneurs Fall Classic

** October 6 Update **
The course checkouts are finally complete.  Updated cue sheets for the 150 and 200 routes are available on the website.  You'll want to make sure you're using the October 7 update versions.

Course notes:

Both routes are the same until they reach the control in New London (around mile 56).  Here the 200k riders will head south into Maryland while the 150k riders will take a more direct route to a control in "the Buck."  This control is shared with the 200k route so riders may overlap on the approach to the control.  Riders are cautioned that the two routes do NOT follow the same roads leaving that control.  The routes do rejoin for the final miles into the finish at mile 118/88.

The 200k route uses the Enola Low Grade Trail for approximately 8 miles.  This portion of the trail has a very nice compacted stone dust surface that is suitable for even the skinniest of bike tires.  There is an information control as you enter the control.  You'll want to follow cue instructions carefully to make sure you're heading in the correct direction.  Leaving the trail is the tricky part since visual cues are difficult.  There are three spotting cues provided on the cue sheet ahead of the trail head where you'll want to exit.  It is technically possible to continue on the trail past that point, but you'll notice rapidly deteriorating surface conditions.  And unless you're extremely familiar with the trail and surrounding area, finding the little path you'd need to take to get back on course would take lots of luck.  This picture shows the rather nondescript nature of the exit trail head.


Careful review of the cue sheet and route before the brevet is strongly advised.  I don't expect you'll have to deal with foggy conditions in the photo.

Both courses are challenging, but very enjoyable.  The cue sheets will guide you well.

Registration remains open for both events through this Thursday, October 10 at midnight. 

Andrew Mead
event organizer
Eastern PA RBA



** Original Post **

The 2019 Edition of the PA Randonneurs Fall Classic 200k Brevet and 150k Populaire is next on our event calendar.  Details for the events are up on the PA Rando website as well as directions to the start-finish.  Registration remains open through midnight October 10.  This year's venue is Cafe Metzler in Atglen, PA.  We've finished quite a few brevets here over the years with great success.  The Fall Classic seemed to be a logical step.  We freshened up good brevet route and incorporated a short cut for the popluaire riders.  The routes are the same for the first 100k which should give everyone time to ride together.

Speaking of schedules and traditions, the 2020 calendar of events to RUSA and  loaded the dates into the PA Rando website.  You can find a convenient calendar-style version HERE.  The RUSA database will soon reflect this schedule along with an initial guess at the proposed route.  The dates are firm; the routes may change as we continue to develop new routes.

There are 16 events on the schedule, including our SR Series, a monthly brevet, the Fall Classic 200/150, and the Flèche.  We're going to try the Velodrome finish again and hope for dryer weather.

There is a populaire scheduled on March 8 (Sunday) for International Women's Day.  Dawn Pietch of Wisconsin Randonneurs is working to  draw a little attention to women in our sport; a commemorative patch is promised to all participants.  It is likely that one or two more populaires will be added to the calendar as the year progresses, but I hope to take advantage of RUSA's short-turnaround event addition policy and cherry pick some good weather dates.  In the meantime, I'm working on several new populaire routes to bolster our capability.

The biggest news for 2020 is that five different organizers will help turn the schedule into reality.  It promises to be a good year.

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA


Sunday, September 8, 2019

Ride Report: Portland-Stillwater 200K

It was a beautiful day for a bike ride along the Delaware River and through the hills and dales of Northeast New Jersey. All 19 of the 19 riders that clipped in made it to the finish in good time for a 100% completion rate.  Preliminary results for the Portland-Stillwater 200K have been posted on the website.  Please review the results and let me know if they align with your memory.  The results will be submitted to RUSA later in the week and will become official once certified by the ACP.

Although sunny and mild, the weather wasn't entirely perfect, as there were some reports of swirling gusts and destabilizing crosswinds. Perhaps these were remnants of hurricane Dorian, or perhaps  they were the wake of Scotty Steingart who zoomed through the 202.8 km course in six hours and fifty-three minutes.

An interesting fact is that Chris Maglieri, who clipped in to ride the Portland-Stillwater today, also clipped in the last time this course was ridden. That was back in November 2013, when Chris rode this brevet as his first PA event. Back then, he joined fellow riders Tom Matragano and Peter Phillips to set the course record of 7:58. Chris actually broke his old record this go-around with a 7:36, which is a  pretty darn fast time too. 

Several newly minted (and newly re-minted) PBP anciens were in attendance. Riveting stories of glory and woe in France were shared over pizza and beer at Theresa's after the ride. Congratulations and well done to all.

George Retseck and Andrew Mead (on right)
think about riding PBP in 2023.

Steve Schoenfelder writes:  "Thanks for organizing a great ride!  The most memorable aspect was the absence of suffering.  The course was picturesque passing through shaded country roads and the weather was ideal, with bands of clouds keeping the temperatures in the pleasant range.

Andrew Mead not suffering.


Vadim Gritsus writes:  "Thank you for organizing yet another glorious brevet!  PA rocks!     

One of the Lackawanna Tunnels
Whatever the cause of the winds, the approach of Autumn was clearly visible on the trees along the course. In a little more than a month, Fall colors should be here in earnest. That will be just in time for you to enjoy the foliage riding your bike over a new, relocated Fall Classic course, this one starting and finishing at Café Metzler in Atglen, PA. Both a 150K populaire and 200K brevet distance will be offered, along with a post-ride food buffet and selection of re-hydration options. See you there!


Monday, August 26, 2019

September R12: Portland-Stillwater Oldie but Goodie

The R12 event for September revisits a route we haven't ridden in over five years: a loop up to Stillwater Lake that starts/finishes in Portland, PA. You will travel over familiar roads, but at unfamiliar states of fatigue (or lack thereof). It's a beautiful loop with two significant climbs. The finale of the ride passes under the Paulinskill Viaduct and through two Lackawanna tunnels. For full information about the ride, and to register online, see the event web site.

Paulins Kill Viaduct


The old route out of Portland has held up pretty well over the years. The start controle, once a diner, then a bagel shop, is now a Dunkin'.  Nevertheless, some issues on the course needed to be addressed. The cuesheets and RWGPS route have been updated with detours and important safety notes. Make sure you have at least version 3 of the cues, and GPS route updated on or after 26 August 13:17 EDT.

Note that parking at the start of the ride in not at the Dunkin' Donuts. Rather, please park at the Portand Park-N-Ride lot just south of the toll plaza and the railroad tracks crossing River Rd. Speaking of those tracks, you'll likely cross them three times: too and from the Dunkin' and then after the finish. They are angled a bit, and might be slippery, so be careful when you cross them.

The finish of the ride is at Theresa's Pizza.  This is not where your car is parked. There is a very short, all downhill coast back to your car at the Park-N-Ride.




Organizer Chris Nadovich conducted a course check-out pre-ride on August 24th. Here are some course notes:

I lucked out for my pre-ride. It was ideal weather: high 50s at the start moving to low 70s by mid-day. I hope the day of event has equally nice weather so everyone can appreciate this beautiful course.

There was very little of concern on the course, roadway wise. Most of the pavement was in good to excellent condition. Mind the railroad tracks near the start/finish. Stay alert for the occasional gravel patch, pothole or storm grate, and take care riding on or crossing busy roads. Otherwise, enjoy the ride.

mile 40.8 -- Originally, Bridge St bagel was listed as the controle stop in Milford, and this is an excellent place for breakfast. Unfortunately, later in the day I found it quite busy. When I was there (10 AM) the line was out the door. To mitigate against this problem, the Milford controle is now listed as an open controle. If the bagel shop is too busy, good alternatives are the Milford Market and the Citgo. 

mile 70.7 -- This Shell station is the last controle with services sure to be available. Please replenish here, as there are slim pickens for the next 45 miles. The RDJ deli at this Shell makes a decent sandwich.  When I arrived there was only one person minding the store (the woman owner who's kids are named R, D, and J). She was very nice. I had no trouble getting my order quickly, there were few customers, but be sensitive to the possibility of delay if the place is busy.

mile 95 -- Slower riders may not reach the  Millside Cafe (mi 95) before the kitchen closes (3PM). And the Geo. D. Garris General Store in Stillwater (mi 109) closed years ago.  If you're desperate for provisions and Millside is closed, there are services in either direction on Rt 15 about a mile off course. Also, if Millside is closed so you can't get a signature for your card, please answer the info question.

mile 115 -- The Rt 94 bridge in Blairstown is still under construction. There was only one lane open and a traffic light meters one-way traffic through in alternating directions. Instead of waiting your turn and braving the highway traffic, the cues have been revised to take you over the Paulins Kill via the Footbridge in "Footbridge Park". It adds a little distance but is a much more pleasant way to cross the creek. Note too that the Paulins Kill is the same creek crossed by the Paulins Kill Viaduct (121.2), and you will re-cross the Paulins Kill on the Station Rd bridge (121.6).

Entrance to Footbridge Park in Blairstown


Monday, August 5, 2019

Ride Report: YARRR 200K

The relatively small field make quick work of a the challenging course through the Philly suburbs. All 5 of the 5 riders that clipped in made it to the finish in good time for a 100% completion rate.  Preliminary results for the 2019 edition of the Yet Another River to River Ride (YARRR) 200K have been posted on the website.  Please review the results and let me know if they align with your memory.  The results will be submitted to RUSA later in the week and will become official once certified by the ACP.

The YARRR route is challenging both for the climbing and for the hot summer weather that usally accompanies it. Route detours to avoid  flood damaged roads added some to the climbing, but the weather was better than usual. A threat of storms (that never arrived) kept temperatures in the tolerable range.

One of the highlights of the YARRR route (especially in the warm weather) is the Sundae School ice cream shop. They run their air conditioning at full blast, have good places to sit down, and serve a wide variety of flavors. Joe Ray opted for some  salted-something-smores confection in a shake. "It was delicious," he reported, "but the chunks of graham cracker kept getting stuck in the straw." Ahh, the hardships we randonneurs face.

A few of the "hardships" at Sundae School
With PBP only a couple weeks away, most riders are tapering their miles and getting ready for travel to Paris. Nevertheless, three of the five riders that clipped in for YARRR are bound for France: Greg Keenan, Joe Ray, and Paul Weaver. All three seemed most prepared for that grand randonnee. Bonne route to all three of you, and to all Pennsylvania Randonneurs and rando friends throughout the rando community!



Coming up next, the September event is the final ACP brevet on the calendar, a very old 200K route out of Portland, PA that we haven't run in a long time. Visit the event web page for all the details.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

August R12 Event: Yet Another River to River Ride (YARRR)


The R12 event for August is a special edition of the Yet Another River to River Ride (YARRR) 200K that highlights the destructive power of rivers. For full information about the ride, and to register online, see the event web site.

As a result of damage from recent flooding, there were numerous issues on the course that needed to be addressed. The cuesheets and RWGPS route have been updated with detours and important safety notes. Make sure you have at least version 2 of the cues, and GPS route updated on or after 7/25 10:09.

Note that parking at the start of the ride has changed. There are several parking lots on Hugh Moore Island. We gather for the start at the museum parking lot, farthest from the iron bridge. Do not park at the doggy park lot nearest the bridge (where, in previous years, we used to park).

The finish of the ride is at Jimmy's Doggie Stand, just across the Free Bridge from Easton.  This is not where your car is parked. There is a short (3.2 mi) and flat (91 ft) trip back to your car at the Canal Museum. This is a RWGPS route of the return trip to your car.



Organizer Chris Nadovich conducted a course check-out pre-ride on August 24th. Here are some course notes:

Bike riders generally view "Road Closed" signs with some skepticism. Closed to cars, sure, but to bikes? In most cases, bikes can safely sneak through where our four-wheeled companions fear to tread.  Unfortunately, in this year's version of the YARRR 200K, almost all the road closures meant: closed for everyone. Unless you include rock climbing gear and an inflatable kayak in your rando kit, these closed roads were convincingly closed to bikes.

In addition to the busted-up roadways and bridges, several road segments had patches of sand and gravel deposited by recent flooding. Please keep an eye out for these, especially on turns.  

Mile 6.6 -- The first big obstacle I encountered was on Easton Rd, at what would have been mile 6.6 on last year's route.  Where previously there had been smooth pavement, now there is a 100 foot wide, 50 foot deep gap. Errr... not going that way.   Unfortunately, "that way" led to a smooth, downhill glide into Hellertown. The only reasonable detour turned out to be Apple Rd, which is a climb over the flank of the Kohlberg. Sorry. Although it should be said that Apple Rd is very pretty. It is. Really.

Mile 15.3 -- Most of the crushed stone surface of the Saucon Rail Trail is very firm and easy to ride, but there's a short bit of soft stuff just past the library in the town park. It looks like they very recently put down this junk. It feels more like beach sand than suitable riding surface material. I made it through upright with my 35mm tires. Skinny tire riders might feel more comfortable on foot. It's a very short section. 

Mile 34.1 -- Last Friday the Macoby Creek flooded and corrugated a section of Hoppenville Rd adjacent to the bridge.  Although there are "Road Closed" signs, in this case bike riders should be able to dismount and make it through on foot. The bridge seems intact enough, although I wouldn't go too near the potholes -- some of them are portholes for quick access to the creek below. The detour for this damaged bridge is Reihman Rd, a big climb and a bonus mile. I felt the bridge was worth crossing.  You make up your own mind.

Mile 34.9 -- Immediately after the Macoby Creek ford, you cross PA29, Gravel Pike, and go straight onto the Perkiomen Trail. The trail is unmarked here. It looks like a gravel driveway for the industrial and trucking equipment facility to the right. Soon enough you'll see a Perk Trail sign and cross the creek on a trail bridge, so you'll know you are an the right path.  The Perk trail is nice here, except the last bit approaching Green Lane Park, where the surface becomes a little soft. Pedal steady through it and you should be OK. Taking this piece of the Perk trail avoids a very difficult uphill left turn off PA29 onto Hill Rd, which has been a problem in the past.

Mile 48.3 -- Speaking of dicey bridges, we again cross the defunct Keim St bridge. This may be the last time we cross it, as they have recently constructed a beautiful bike and pedestrian walkway on the new 422 bridge. Unfortunately, although the new bikeway on 422 is beautiful, it's also inaccessible, locked behind tall chain-link fencing. The approach ramps to the bikeway are not yet complete, delayed by (you guessed it) issues caused by flooding in and around the Schuylkill River. This is the last major missing piece of the Schuylkill River Trail. When it is complete (real soon now) you'll be able to ride from Philly to beyond Reading, all on trail.

Mile 48.8 -- After crossing the Keim St bridge and turning left, you'll find that PA724 is under construction. I had to walk my bike through on the sidewalk. I don't know what the state of things will be on Saturday, but I think you should be able to get through somehow.

Mile 49.1 -- This right turn onto Vaughn Rd and subsequent detour bonus miles are courtesy of an obliterated bit of Old Schuylkill Rd. Trust me that I tried to make it through the "Road Closed" segment on Old Schuylkill, but I felt that there was no safe and legal way to do it. Nor would I advise cheating this detour by means of PA724.  That "road of doom" concentrates high speed car traffic and does not have a viable shoulder.

Mile 54.0 -- At the PA724 crossing in Parker Ford we join the Schuylkill River Trail. In the past, the YARRR route used a rolling, zig-zaggy path through Spring City. The new routing on the SRT smooths this all out and brings us into downtown Phoenixville on a mixture of pavement and firm gravel.

Mile 71.0 -- There is water in Evansburg SP to the right down past the pavillion. Pull the well handle up and then reverse it a little bit -- it's cold and very wet.

Mile 76.9 -- It looked like they were getting ready for some re-paving here, but I had no trouble getting through. A detour, if required, should be easy and obvious (probably Morris Rd to Upper Mainland).

Mile 82.7 -- It's not a controle, but there's a WAWA here. My guess is you will be hot and thirsty and in need of a break. You can stop here, or you can ride a little further to the ice cream shop at mile 85.

Mile 110 -- Milford Market. Food, water, ice, and beer.

Mile 122.4 -- Oberly Rd.


 -------
Chris Nadovich



Sunday, July 14, 2019

Ride Report: Hawk's Nest 200 (The Bushkill-Lackawaxen Variation)

Preliminary results for the Hawk's Nest 200k have been posted on the website.  Please review the results and let me know if they align with your memory.  What is normally one of the easier routes on the schedule challenged a few riders with only 16 of 19 starters finishing in the allotted time.  At least all were accounted for at the finish.  The results will be submitted to RUSA later in the week and will become official once certified by the ACP.

The inaugural running of the Bushkill Lackawaxen 200k got off to an incredibly inauspicious start when Steve Castellano crashed at mile .1 while crossing the RR tracks just past the PA Welcome Center (this was not welcome).  Steve hit his head and cut his lip but, in true Randonneur style, lobbied hard to continue his ride.  Fortunately intelligence quickly ensued in the form of George Retseck who dissuaded Steve from that questionable decision.   We took Steve back to the start and with a little ice against his upper lip, Steve got home safely after a short stop for coffee.  I suspect we’ll see Steve on the next Pa Rando event, he was still pretty mad that he couldn’t continue the ride…..  Steve’s recount can be seen on his blog here: https://danceswithgears.wordpress.com/2019/07/13/the-shortest-brevet-ever/

After sandbagging the ride organizer with some story about riding “easy”, Scotty Steingart set a blistering pace on the event.  Scotty set this time in spite of (1) talking to me at the Bushkill Post Office for about 5 minutes, (2) assisting Ed Bernasky with his first flat repair and (3) riding his “heavy” bike.

Unfortunately for Ed Bernasky, the “first” flat repair with the assistance of Scotty was not his last.  Ed double flatted on the gravel section of the Port Jervis bypass.  Ed decided that fixing flats wasn’t great training for PBP so elected to take a direct route back to the start.

Lamar Chandler’s GPS sent him left on Towpath Road at mile 43.  I suspect his GPS was attempting to be kind to Lamar as that hard right onto Towpath is a steep little kicker.  Unfortunately taking the left on Towpath has 2 unfortunate consequences:

1.       It’s the wrong direction
2.       Towpath turns into SR 590 (just as it does if you’re proceeding in the correct direction).

These 2 facts, combined with a malfunctioning GPS and fatigue after riding hard for 43 miles with a lot of climbing, resulted in Lamar going a long distance off route (mostly uphill).  After getting turned around and climbing up to Eldred, Lamar performed the technique now known as “the Joe Ray” and returned to the Delaware Water Gap with the assistance of the Uber App.

Otherwise, the inaugural running of the Bushkill Lackawaxen 200k was completed without a hitch.   I must say that assisting with organizing this ride was great fun and I want to encourage all PA Randonneurs to take some of the burden off of Chris and Andrew and volunteer to help run these fabulous events.   It’s worth it just to see the incredible organization of the website – it’s pretty amazing.

Bill Fischer
organizer

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Special thanks to Bill Fischer for organizing the July brevet assisted by Matt Farrell.  Winter and spring were especially busy this year; it was nice to have a month off.  Next up we will return to Easton for Chris Nadovich's popular Yet Another River to River Ride on August 3.  Registration is open now.

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA
Andrew Mead