Monday, September 17, 2018

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

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.

Equipment 
- 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.

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 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.
https://www.relive.cc/view/1782841991

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




Monday, July 16, 2018

PA R12 Series: RUSA's 20th Anniversary, The Midnight Express

*** UPDATE 8/5/2018 ***

A course checkout ride was completed on Saturday and you will all be glad that it was.  Both the original cue sheet and the original GPS track contained errors that would have left you wondering.  BOTH have been updated and posted on the website.  If you are planning to ride, make sure you have the version marked REVISION 1.

We started the checkout ride in the rain.  There are several metal grate bridges and railroad crossings along the way that are especially treacherous when wet (one rider went down in spite of all the warnings).  The bridges and railroad crossings are marked in the cue sheet.  You will want to heed those precautions, even if it's not raining.  Summer humidity usually means a heavy dew settling just after dark.  These hazards will be slippery. 

ALSO NOTE:  there is a short (~1/2 mile) section of gravel road on this route.  Earlier recon rides found a wonderfully smooth stretch with near stone-free wheel tracks that made for nice riding.  It appears that new gravel was added not long before the checkout ride.  We had to deal with loose stones, but not deep gravel.  My hope is that the road condition will return to its normal state by the time of the brevet.  The gravel section is noted on the cue sheet.  

Thanks to a very understanding group of volunteers who added about 5 extra miles of wandering about as I reworked the route on the fly in the steamy afternoon heat.  

*** ORIGINAL POST ***


RUSA 20th Anniversary Commemorative Medal

We are going to do something really different in honor of RUSA's 20th Anniversary: an evening brevet start.  Why?  A few reasons, but most notably because night riding, in case you don't already know, is a lot of fun.  The tunnel of light cast by a bicycle headlight limits what you see clearly.  Clouds or a moonless night mean you might not even seen anything outside of the headlight beam.  Other senses must pick up the slack to satisfy you mind's craving for stimulus.  Sounds and smells you might otherwise ignore are suddenly at the fore.

An evening start has better potential to avoid the heat of the day that is typical in August without necessitating a trip to the Poconos.  It is rare for overnight temperatures to remain above 80.  You might even want to bring along a pair of arm warmers as overnight lows in the 50s are not beyond possibility.

PBP starts are generally in the evening.  What better way to discover how your body will respond than to try an evening start event?

Night riding encourages riding with with others.  During the longer events we usually recommending grouping up as darkness falls.  There is safety in numbers.  A group of reflector-clad randonneurs stands out to motorists.  There are more eyes scanning the road ahead for gravel, potholes, and the occasional nocturnal animal scurrying across the road.  Navigation is usually easier with more people; some can read cues while other scan the darkness for road signs.  Camaraderie!

Starting with one of PA Randonneurs' perennial favorite routes, The Brandywine 200, a few changes were added to simplify navigation in the dark and to adjust controls to locations that will be open regardless of the hour of your arrival (well, save for one info control).  While a full moon is a week away, the First Quarter coincides with our ride so riders will enjoy a decent amount of moonlight providing the skies are clear.  There are numerous vistas along the route that should be spectacular in the moonlight.

This event will also allow lighting systems to be tested.  Riders are cautioned that this route covers predominately rural areas.  Street lamps are few and far between.  Portions of this route were scouted during a New Moon which further emphasized the absence of artificial lighting.   A helmet-mounted 1000+ lumen auxiliary lamp helped, added so I could read road signs while checking a cue sheet, but anything not directly in my light beams remain unseen (though not always unheard).

All riders are required to have at at least one bike-mounted headlight and two taillights.  A backup headlight is strongly encouraged.  Battery powered lights are excellent choices for your backup headlamp since it is very hard to deal with mechanicals using dyno-powered lighting alone.  You'll also want a light for reading a cue sheet.  Fresh batteries are recommended for all of your battery powered lights.  You will also find batteries at the control locations. 

Full reflective gear is also required.  Requires are listed on the event page.  Lights and reflective gear will be checked at the start before you receive your brevet card.

A post-ride breakfast is planned for the finish.  Not since a snowy December day in 2009 has PA Randonneurs visited Cafe Metzler for breakfast.  Thankfully, we do not anticipate any wintry weather this time.  George will be cooking up a variety of breakfast items that will surely include pancakes, bacon, and eggs along with plenty of drinks to replenish you after a long night's effort.  Breakfast will most likely be ready around 6am (our current plan).  You could end up having to wait for breakfast if you return to the finish significantly faster than 11 hours.  A post-ride nap could be risky since Cafe Metzler does not offer a wake-up service.

With all this in mind, the organizers emphasize that this brevet is not a speed contest.  Average speeds should be lower owing to the increased challenge of nighttime navigation.  Route changes in the interest of simplifying navigation also mean it is possible to ride the route more quickly.  This is especially true compare to the Brandywine route from which it is derived.  This route has decidedly fewer vertical challenges in the second 100k.  Our hope is that all riders will resist the urge to shoot for a course record and instead enjoy the adventure.  Ride at a more relaxed pace, take a little extra time at the controls or interesting places along the way, have a conversation with your fellow randonneurs as you ride, and finish closer to 11-12 hours than 8-9.   To help, the second control in West Chester is an open control.  It was noted on an early scouting adventure that there are a number of streetside cafes and pubs along Market St. which are quite inviting in the evening.  You can still control at the 7-Eleven if you wish, but a receipt/initials from any of the eateries along Market St will suffice.  You should treat the 7-Eleven as a point of no return.  There are almost no options for a West Chester control beyond that point.

It promises to at least be something different.  This is not your ordinary R12 brevet.  Also different is that there will be unique hardware passed out to successful finishers.  Like may RUSA events occurring in August of this year, we celebrate RUSA's 20th anniversary.  So you'll get a really cool medal (see image above) when you finish.  What more could you ask?

Registration is open.  Check out the event page and sign up now.

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Ride Summary: YARRRR 2018

A miraculous break in the heat-wave created near perfect weather for riding through the Philly suburbs. Other than one unexpected obstacle, the reverse, revised, and nearly detour-less river to river route provided a fun day on the bike.

Preliminary results have been posted at the PA Rando web site.
Results will be submitted in a couple of days to RUSA, and then become final pending ACP certification. A total of 21 out of 21 riders finished in good time for a 100% completion rate -- congratulations and well done to all!

First finisher Scotty S set the YARRR course record with his 7:47 minute effort, with Don J and Tim C in under 9 hours and also beating the previous record. That's quite an achievement for a course with so little flat, straight road.  The shock wave of their passing through may have downed a tree in Evansburg State Park.

Guy H through the fallen tree in Evansburg SP
Although it's not proven that the force of Scotty, Don, and Tim's wake was the cause, the tree did, in fact, fall sometime during the day of the ride. Early finishers did not encounter it and it was not down during either of the pre-rides. Riders that were blocked used a variety of strategies to get around. Some bushwhacked through the adjacent poison ivy, some slogged through a muddy horse trail, others reversed course and logged some bonus miles in a roundabout road detour.

Because of the electrical wires entwined with the branches, most riders wisely kept their distance. As a general rule, this is the  approach to possibly electrified downed trees.  Rule, or more like guideline? Fixed gear rider Joe D, along with fellow Sinister Nut, Guy H, made a careful evaluation of  the wreckage and weighed the risks. They chose to ignore the warnings of nearby "ranger Rick" and simply went through the tree --- with no problem. Very interesting.

A modification in this year's edition of YARRR included more of the Saucon Rail trail, eliminating some climbs around DeSales University. This new section of trail currently requires navigating a town park, which can be a little confusing. Most riders didn't require nav assistance from the secret controle volunteer. All riders eventually made it through. We understand that plans are in the works for a trail bypass to be built that will eliminate this confusion in the future.

Congratulations to James H who pre-rode the route the prior weekend when it was nearly 20 degrees warmer.  His finish completed his second PA-R12.  James has a string of 24 consecutive months with PA Randonneurs event completions.  Chappeau, James!

Next up is the RUSA 20th Anniversary ride on August 18.  Registration is open.  Watch this message board for additional details.

--
Chris Nadovich
Ride Organizer

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

July 200K YARRR (Update 7/3... 7/5)

*** Update 7/5 ***
Another pre-ride was conducted on 5 July by Nadovich and Mead. Here are a few up-to-the-minute notes:

0.0 The first parking lot at the start is small and may fill -- there is additional parking further down the island. 

13.8 Unlike previous versions of YARRR, we stay on the rail trail and navigate through the town park, re-entering the woods and following the trail again, until Flint Hill Rd. If you follow the old route you'll climb a few unnecessary hills and possibly be DQed should there be a secret controle in that town park. 

33.4 The right onto rt 29 is easy, but the two subsequent lefts are difficult, uphill, cross-traffic turns. Don't be too proud to dismount and cross on foot if necessary.

40.1 Fresh chip seal on Reifsnyder Rd -- not to bad, but be careful on turns.

53.5, 54.1 Quarry Rd and Wall St. These are downhill right turns that are NOT at the bottom of the hill. Both are easy -- and painful -- to miss. The Wall St sign is hidden by trees. 

58.9 Artisans Cafe was closed. They should be open on Saturday but as this is an open controle, feel free to choose another place. James H reported that the place next to Artisan's has excellent iced kombucha. 

68.3 Good News! The water fountains at Evansburg Park now dispense potable water (notice dated 7/3/18)

74.6 The first left after Bunton Rd is unmarked and looks like a private road into a park -- because it is. It's really the first feasible left. The cue is accurate in my opinion. Don't miss it or you'll have a painful merge onto busy Rt 63. 

80, 82.1  The Wawa is not a controle, but you may want to stop here for water. Don't eat too much or you'll spoil your appetite for dessert at Sundae School just 2.1 miles further.

84 Where Branch Rd crosses Schwenksmill we observed paving in progress. You should have a nice new paved section of Branch to ride on by Saturday. If, however, Branch is blocked, navigate North (left) to 5th street, cross 313, and then navigate south on Old Bethlehem to rejoin the course turning left at Sweetbriar.

108.2  Delaware River Fish and Boat access ramp. Excellent for a refreshing swim. By the time you walk across the bridge you'll stop dripping and won't leave wet footprints around Milford Market. 

124.7  Jimmy's at the finish controle has ice cream, doggies, and other decent food. Across the street by the river is the outdoor Sand Bar pavillion that has cold beer. If you don't see the finish controle volunteer at Jimmy's, check at the Bar.  



*** Update 7/3 ***
A pre-ride was conducted on 30 June by James Haddad. He reports the course is in good shape.  Cue sheet and RWGPS on the event page have been updated to reflect his observations.

Several of the bridge closures that required detours in previous versions of YARRR have been eliminated.  The infamous Keim St bridge in Potstown is exactly in the state we left it last year -- maybe some more rust and weeds. The construction/demolition they have been threatening is still motionless. Thus, with positive waves we expect these bridges to be there on Saturday. Enjoy a somewhat shorter route!

Well, not all the bridges were OK. A bridge at about mile 72 near Fourty-Foot Rd is out, out. No bridge, just creek. James decided to ford the creek, which seemed to him like a great idea in the 90+ temps last Saturday. In case biking through creeks is not something you want to try, the latest cue sheet incorporates a simple detour. 

There are several rail trail segments in this ride. The first one you encounter is in Hellertown. In past versions of YARRR, we exited the trail early to avoid some confusion near a town park beginning at mile 13.8. In this version, we transit the park to stay on the trail all the way to Flint Hill, thus avoiding several small climbs. The confusion in the town park seems more manageable now. Signs and paved paths have been added. You proceed generally on the left side of the parks and fields and eventually the trail returns to the woods. Cues and RWGPS have been updated to guide you through the park. 

Given the expected heat, you will need more than just the controles for cooling and hydrating supplies. Consider using the fountain at Evansburg, mile 68.3,  Wawa at mile 80,  and the Milford Market at mile 108.  

Have a great ride!

--
Chris Nadovich, organizer 

*** New Start Time ***

Given the probability of very hot weather for the YARRR 200K on 7 July, I have moved up the start time to 6AM, the earliest we can reasonably start from Hugh Moore Park. This will save an hour of riding in the heat.
--
Chris Nadovich, organizer

*** Original Post ***

For the R-12 series on 7 July we will be running the much preferred counter-clockwise version of the YARRR  200K brevet with all the difficult climbs incorporated into the first 100K during cool morning hours. The second half, ridden in the heat of the day, mostly uses moderate, shady roads along creeks, and finally along the Delaware. You'll visit three rivers, traveling from an island in the Lehigh, to the Schuylkill, to the Delaware. Along the way there are numerous food and drink options, and points of interest. The finish controle, at Jimmy's Doggie Stand, has readily available ice cream and cool beverages.

Event details are posted at the PA Randonneurs  web site.

*** Start/Finish ***


Parking at the start is the lot on Hugh Moore Park island in the Lehigh River, home of the National Canal Museum. Many previous PA Rando brevets pass by this location, so it should look familiar. Nevertheless, if this is the first time you've driven to Hugh Moore Park as a start controle, consider that it may be difficult to find, so be sure to allot a little extra time.





Iron bridge at entrance of Hugh Moore Park
The entrance to the park is an iron bridge that T's onto Lehigh Drive. There are no food services at Hugh Moore Park. 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 something in Hellertown at about mile 10.

*** 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 National Canal Museum parking lot on an island in the Lehigh River, the climbing begins immediately as you head up over South Mountain. After descending the mountain, the route is generally flat through Hellertown, including a few miles of crushed stone rail trail (suitable for most tires). Upon reaching Coopersburg, you'll return to climbing mode through several bumpy areas before reaching the new controle (a super Wawa) in downtown Pottstown, and the Schuylkill River.

Here the course turns South East, following the Schuylkill on mildly rolling terrain to the Artisan's Coffee controle in downtown Phoenixville. Now you turn to the North East, climbing away from the river on "Level Road" till the terrain moderates through the heart of Bucks and Montgomery counties, including some paved trails in Evansburg State Park. Soon thereafter you will find yourself on familiar randoneuring roads approaching the info controle at Erwinna, where the course turns North West along the Delaware river for an easy riverside spin back to the finish controle at Jimmy's Doggie Stand near the Free Bridge over the Delaware between Philipsburg and Easton.

After handing in your brevet card and replenishing at Jimmy's, there's a short, flat ride back through downtown Easton (and yet other replenishment options) to return to your car at Hugh Moore Park.


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