Sunday, August 13, 2017

Ride Summary: YARRRR

Although the humidity was high,  the temperature was pleasantly moderate.  Other than a few sprinkles in the late afternoon, the predicted T-storms never materialized.  Even the dreaded Pottstown Detour of Doom was un-needed, as the scheduled construction still is yet to begin.  Based on the smiling faces I saw eating ice cream at Jimmy's, the general consensus seemed to be that the reversed, revised, river to river ride was a good day on the bike, and much improved over last year's edition.

Preliminary results have been posted at:
http://parando.org/PA200k_Results170812.pdf
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!

I personally want to thank Jeff Lippincott who printed all the paperwork, manned both the start and finish controles, and basically dedicated a couple days of his life to helping run this event. Awesome volunteering.  

Also, a special PA-Rando round of applause and thanks goes to George Retseck's wife Beverly who set up a secret controle with home-made snacks at the top of the climb out of Coopersburg. Yummy!

Snacks courtesy of Beverly. Yeah!

-- Chris Nadovich, organizer

CJ Arayata Writes...  I offer many thanks for the work you put into developing the genuinely  beautiful YARRR course! Pleasantly surprised by the scenery considering it was much more "suburban" than the tried-and-true PA course library. Also, I know you and Jeff are solely responsible for keeping the nearly-certain  rain at bay, so for that I offer you my thanks as well. 
                                                                            
James planted the single-speed-seed a week or so before the brevet, and it  had more than adequate amount of time to germinate for this weekend's brevet. The front-loaded climbing was BRUTAL on cold legs but I was able to settle into a rhythm for the rest of the day. It was a pleasant surprise  that the front group stayed together for the first 2-3 hours, and I had a   great time chatting and catching up with everyone, as I really haven't been riding since the conclusion of the SR series. Coming into Pottstown, it was  Rudi, first-timer Anne, Scott, George and I. We decided to lunch in Phoenixville at a real cafe vs. the Wawa options, and made great time for  the first half of the ride. Rudi pressed on without a panini, and we were  down to 4. The skies, while looking quite ominous at times, turned into  clear and sunny skies which I enjoyed thoroughly (but my skin did not).  Most of the climbs in the later part of the day were totally fine.... I   mean bearable in 46x18, save for one steep kicker that had me racing Scott  to beat him up the climb using my 24-inch gear! Things got ugly for me  leading up to the church controle (although that particular climb was  gorgeous) and I apologize to my riding partners for having to put up with  me for what felt like an interminable amount of time.
                
My spirits rose dramatically after a watermelon break at Milford Market  with George. We took it easy on the last leg, knowing that even if it started pouring any second, we were close enough to the finish that it was the least of our worries. A hot dog and milkshake at Jimmys, plus Anne's  alternate canal path back to our cars was a perfect way to end the day   [always trust the local!].                                                  

Pictures for your viewing pleasure: https://goo.gl/photos/Y4E1bnKeJa523LUMA 


Crossing the historic Keim Street Bridge in Pottstown.


Really glad to see new faces coming out, and really excited about new  routes into previously-unexplored territory! Had a great time and excited to see everyone again in the fall.

-- CJ  

James Haddad writes...  Andrew, Chris, Jeff and all the EPA randomly volunteers -- Thanks for putting together another great ride. The 500 cues, two appendixes and  epilogue were worth it as we gently meandered through the suburban sprawl of  Eastern PA on the most scenic and calm roads. Riding the route in reverse didn't just add an extra R to the name, but, it made for a much appreciated gentle afternoon after a challenging morning. 
-- James  

James Haddad Earns PA R12

In the mayhem that typically follows a brevet weekend, it's sometimes easy to overlook the accomplishments of our members.  Last month was one of those times.

While I'm sure that he is quite aware of his accomplishment, we should all offer congratulations to James Haddad for completing one of the tougher recognition awards in PA Randonneurs:  the
PA R12.

James began his streak last August and completed his stretch on last month's Hawk's Nest brevet.  All the more impressive is that James lives in Binghamton, NY which means he normally faces at least a 2-hour drive each way before he even gets on his bike. 

Chappeau James.  Well Done!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

August 200K Yet Another River to River to River Ride (Reversed)

***UPDATE 1***

A pre-ride was completed on 8/5 by myself, Bill O, and Jeff L.  Bill shattered his front deraileur cage with a missed shift, but somehow afterward he could still shift chainrings. Telekinesis? Rando chi? Anyway, weather conditions were perfect so yours-truly didn't wilt too badly. The early morning clouds and occasional sprinkle kept temperatures moderate as we sailed though the much improved routing of this brevet. Most of the climbing is in the first 50 miles and is heavily shaded. Even if temperatures rise, I think the course will still be pleasant. 

The cue sheet has been updated here. And the RWGPS course has been updated accordingly here.  There have been two significant changes since the original draft. Make sure you hit refresh on your browser and get the latest info if you use the event page http://parando.org/2017-08-12-200K.html

The first major update is immediately after the controle in Pottstown at mile 47.5. it appears that the city may be closing Industrial Hwy on the day of the brevet. This makes access to the Keim St bridge across the Schuylkill decidedly problematic. We have added two possible detours to the cue sheet. We will not know which detour is needed, if any, until the day of the ride.   

The other change is to move the info controle in Erwinna from the Post Office to the Upper Tinicum Lutheran Church. This removes a gratuitous backtrack and puts the brief stop at a very nice location. If its a hot day, you'll find the mild ascent of the heavily shaded Upper Tinicum Church Rd to be a welcome relief from the heat. This is surely one of the prettiest roads in PA. 

Otherwise, the course seems to be solid. Roads are in good shape except for some fresh chipseal here and there -- be careful in sharp corners. Fast riders will probably want to eat lunch in Phoenixville. There are a dozens of possible choices for eatery, or brewery, or distillery, in Phoenixville, as well as the cue sheet suggestion, Artisans, which is also quite nice. Slower riders will probably want to lunch at the Wawa in Pottstown at mile 47.5; there is also a Wawa at mile 81.1, perfect for second lunch, or an ice cream place at 83.2 for dessert. 

-- Chris Nadovich


--- Original Post ---

For the R-12 series in August, we will be running an improved, and reversed version of the YARRRRR  200K brevet. You'll visit three rivers, traveling from the Lehigh, to the Schuylkill, to the Delaware. Along the way there are numerous food and drink options, and points of interest.

Event details are posted at the PA Randonneurs web site: http://parando.org/2017-08-12-200K.html

*** 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, this is the first time we've used Hugh Moore Park as a start controle.  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  


Registered Riders (as of 8/11/2017) 
1 Charles J Arayata
2 Jimmy Aspras
3 M Bernardo
4 Gavin Biebuyck
5 George Brandt
6 Jane M  Brown
7 Joe A Brown
8 Lamar W Chandler
9 Joseph C Dille
10 Chris Errico
11 J Scott Franzen
12 James R Haddad
13 Eric  K Hannon Ford
14 Greg Keenan
15 Eric E. Keller
16 Robin C Landis
17 Jeff Lippincott - pre-ride volunteer
18 Rudi Mayr
19 Chris Nadovich - organizer
20 William Olsen - pre-ride volunteer
21 Althea Grace Pineda
22 George Michael Retseck
23 Steven J Schoenfelder
24 Bob Torres

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Ride Summary: Hawks Nest 2017

Preliminary results have been posted at:
http://parando.org/PA200k_Results170722.pdf
Results will be submitted in a couple of days to RUSA, and then become final pending ACP certification.

Well, it wasn't that hot this time, the clouds and shade kept the heat manageable, and all riders made it in before the heavy rain
began.

A total of 23 out of 24 riders finished in good time for a 96% completion rate -- congratulations and well done to all!

Finishers were in good spirits. Although Hawk's Nest isn't an easy course, somehow it's a fast course, and as usual there were many excellent times. Unfortunately, course record holder, Scotty S, had a minor mechanical, preventing him from lowering the record below 7 hours. Maybe next time.

The next event, part of the R12 series, will be held on August 12th.  It's a reversed version of last year's infamous YARRR 200k route with a start/finish in Easton, PA.  The route crosses from the Delaware to the Schuylkill and back again through the heart of Bucks and Montgomery counties, passing many points of interest along the way. Of course, because of the reversal, this time we will instead go from the Delaware to the Schuylkill and back again. Also, because of the reversal, we decided against Beer for Breakfast at Weyerbacher , cutting the much maligned South Side hill the brewery sits on. Also eliminated is the Pottstown Controle of Doom, replaced with a clean, new Super Wawa.   Event details will be posted soon at the parando.org web site.

-Chris Nadovich, organizer

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

July Hawks Nest 200K

*** Update 2 ***

The Village Farmer has agreed to open extra early on the 22nd to feed us. Please patronize them if you can. The VF breakfast sandwich is heavenly and will power you for at least 100K, maybe further. They have awesome pies to bring home. Organic honey. Locally made cheese. And many other goodies. 

After the ride, the Apple Pie Cafe has delicious Bar-B-Cue.   Please patronize them as well -- both establishments are owned by the same person who is getting out of bed early just for us. Thanks.
 --
Chris N


*** Update 1 ***

A pre-ride was completed on 16 July by James H and I. James was on a fixie -- his first 200K without a deraileur. Chapeau!  It also should be noted that James recently completed the Catskills SR600 -- one of just a handful of people to have done so. Double chapeau!

The Hawk's Nest course is in good shape. Your main concern will be water. Water should be available at most  controles, but this will not be enough if the weather is ultra hot. Monitor you water bottle fluid levels and take advantage of the numerous "non-control" facilities along the way, including, but not limited to those noted as additional cues on the cue-sheet.


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

19.4 Deli on Left

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

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


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


Also of note are the various unofficial swimming facilities. There is public access to the Delaware across from the Zane Gray Museum (mi 57) and slightly off course to the right at mile 76.3. At Lake Wallenpaupack (mi 38) the sign says "no swimming" but James told me if you keep your feet on the bottom, that's not swimming. Also, at mile 111.5 it's pretty easy to get into  Flat Brook just before the big climb.

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

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

45.3 Towpath Rd, REPAVED! Not airport grate asphalt, but a lot better than it was.

76.3 Rt 97 to Hawks Nest. The shoulder was clean of debris. Stayed on the shoulder till reaching Hawks Nest, then took the lane. 


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

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


--
Chris N
  


*** Original Post ***

Once again, to avoid the summer heat the July  22nd Hawk's Nest 200k course will be heading north into Promised Land, where the temperatures are typically several degrees cooler than points south.  Most of the route is shaded, which will also bring some relief from the heat. Fortunately, positive waves have restored the bridge across the Brodhead Creek allowing us to use the classically "fast" Hawks Nest route. Riders typically finish this course about an hour faster than other Eastern   PA 200k's.  Event details are posted at the PA Randonneurs web site:  http://parando.org/2017-07-22-200K.html   

If you would like to join the roster, please use the online registration form http://www.parando.org/RegistrationForm.html , by 5PM Thursday, July 20th.  

*** Start/Finish ***

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


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

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





You will be facing on-coming traffic as you go across the bridge.
Given the hot weather, hydration is key. There are several opportunities for obtaining water and ice along the course in between the controles. Keep a sharp eye out, monitor your water supply, and think ahead!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Keep the rubber side down!

Registered Riders  (as of 7/20/2017)
1 Jimmy Aspras
2 M Bernardo
3 Gavin Biebuyck
4 George Brandt
5 Sean Burgess
6 Kathleen  A Casner
7 Gregory W Forshey
8 J Scott Franzen
9 James R Haddad - volunteer
10 Eric  K Hannon Ford
11 Robin C Landis
12 Jeff Lippincott
13 Christopher Maglieri
14 Rudi Mayr
15 Andrew D Mead - RBA
16 Chris Nadovich - organizer
17 William Olsen
18 Althea Grace Pineda
19 Michael D Povman + membership
20 Rudi E Saldia
21 Steven J Schoenfelder
22 Daniel T Schreck
23 Scotty Steingart
24 Aleksey M Vishnyakov 


--
Chris Nadovich 
Organizer 

Monday, June 12, 2017

Ride Summary: Water Gap 600 & New Holland 200

Preliminary results for the June brevets have been posted on the website.

600k Results:  http://parando.org/PA600k_Results170610.pdf
200k Results:  http://parando.org/PA200k_Results170611.pdf

Results will be submitted to RUSA in a few days and will become final upon ACP certification.

After a season of below average temperatures and generally bad weather for our SR events, the weather cleared for the final leg of the PA ACP SR series.  Riders enjoyed sunny and dry conditions.  that was the good news.  The weekend also ushered in the first official heatwave of 2017 pushing temperatures toward 90F and beyond.  That was the cost for beautiful skies.

Eleven of the thirteen riders who clipped in for the Water Gap 600k managed two returns to the hostel within time limits.  More impressive is that of the eleven, nine are now Eastern PA Super Randonneurs.  Congratulations to CJ, Arayata, Jimmy Asparas, James Haddad, Guy Harris, Greg Keenan, Rudi Mayr, Bill Olsen, Bob Torres, and Aleksey Vishnyakov for this significant accomplishment.  There are no cakewalks in the Eastern PA brevet series.

First finisher Sean Connelly blazed around the course in his usual fashion, trimming over 2 hours from Don Jagel's long-standing record.  His secret is not just speed, but efficiency.  He arrived at the overnight control just after 8:30 pm on Saturday, ate, freshened up, and was headed toward New Holland by 9:15.

Favorite quote came from Jimmy Asparas who finished his first 600k and thus first SR this weekend.  When asked at the finish about his experience on his first 600, he could only muster the words, "pretty brutal," and headed off for a shower.

The well-oiled organizer crew of Bill Olsen and Guy Harris managed a just-in-time course checkout ride Thursday and Friday before the brevet which necessitated some creative route adjustments to the 600 Day 1 route and a complete cue update for the 600 Day 2/200k route.  The fact that these two got a mere 2 hours of sleep Thursday night, managed to get the riders fed and started at 4am on Saturday, feed all the riders Sunday morning, and cover the finish (which spanned from 6:30am to 7:30pm on Sunday) is truly incredible and shows their dedication to maintaining quality brevets.  Making it all work, Chris Nadovich, after having spent the entire week in his kayak on the Schuylkill River,  made the grocery run and opened the hostel Friday night while Guy & Bill got some sleep.

Special appreciation goes to Len Zawodniak for knowing the 600k route so well that he could locate the secret control just where riders needed him the most.  Most credited Len for their being able to finish the first leg.

As Sunday dawned and some 600k riders were still making their way back to the hostel, nine additional riders showed up for the New Holland 200k which is the Day 2 route for the 600k as well. All nine 200k riders finished for a 100% completion rate.  This format provides an interesting opportunity an intermingling of riders.  Being among the "fresh" riders, I can say with confidence that the 600k riders are a strong bunch.  There were more than a few times when I was pushing my own limits to keep a 600k rider within sight.  Topping it all off, Steve Kraybill joined the ranks of randonneurs as he finished his first brevet.

We will give the hostel a rest for awhile and resume the monthly R-12 brevet series beginning July 22 with Hawk's Nest.  Registration details will be posted once we recover from this past weekend.

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA

From the riders:

Nigel Greene: Thanks again to you, Len, Bill and Guy, for putting on this event. I enjoyed the route and especially like how the format allows for interaction between the two different rides and the riders. Looking forward to doing the full 600 again at some point in the future.

You will find Nigel's own report on his blog, Iron Rider. Always interesting reading there.

Jimmy Asparas also completed his first 600k and thus conquers the SR with the prestigious Eastern PA SR.  He writes:

I want to give a big shoutout to all of the volunteers for the 600k; you, Bill, Guy, Len, Chris, hope I didn't forget anyone. I'm always impressed that our core group is always willing to devote so much time.

This was my first 600 and the hardest ride I've ever done. I felt that the whole leg after the Snydersville diner was the hardest of the first 400k. Just a constant uphill struggle into the controle. I welcomed the company of Greg, Rudi, Bob, and Mario at the Exxon controle, and we rode together most of the rest of the day and night. The unusually hot weather made for a very difficult day. The heat completely stole away my energy during the day, and then on the way from Bloomsbury to the hostel, saddle sores stole my ability to ride in the saddle comfortably.

It had initially been my plan to ride through the night to take advantage of the cool weather and calm winds, but as is often the case with this kind of riding, plans didn't sync up with reality. I dozed off at the hostel for a few minutes - not really sure how long - until the 200k crew came in. The demons in my head made me briefly entertain abandoning the ride in light of the saddle sores, but I collected myself and rolled out with CJ shortly after the 200k riders. It was a rough ride, especially the 27 mile stretch on Route 23, which in retrospect was the most difficult part of the entire 600k to me.

The best view hands down as always was the Delaware River from Hawk's Nest. I'm looking forward to it again on next month's "short" ride.

Congratulations to everyone who tried and/or completed this ride; it wasn't easy for any of them!

Thanks
Jimmy 

CJ Arayata has posted his photo album for the 400 and 600 brevets here.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

PA ACP SR Series Concludes with the PA 600k

*** UPDATE 2 ***
An updated 200k cue sheet has been posted on the website to incorporate the Trumbauersville Rd detour and to correct the departure route from the New Holland Control.  Please be sure you get the revision dated 6/10/2017 (a browser refresh may be necessary).


*** UPDATE 1 ***

A pre-ride was completed on Friday, just in the nick of time for Saturday's start.

Two road construction detours were noted.  The first is along Rt 97 in New York between Hawk's Nest and Port Jervis, roughly mile 144 on the cue.  Riders are advised to follow the car detour signs directing them left onto Bolton Basin Rd, right onto Rt 42 which then rejoins Rt 97 prior to the Port Jervis control.  The second is near the Bloomsbury controle, roughly mile 222.  Again riders are advised to follow the car detour signs and they will be returned to the route.

Additional details will be provided at the pre-ride meeting.

A final change, again due to road construction, was noted near the end of the route.  This change affects both the 600k and 200k riders.

The following changes are noted to the cue (200k mileages in parenthesis):

360.3 (113.2) TR Upper Ridge Road(following car detour)
361.3 (114.2)  L Old Woods Rd (immediately after PA turnpike overpass)
362.0 (114.9)  L Wright Road
362.7 (115.6)  TR Esten Road
365.2 (118.1)  R Rich Hill Rd

The normal cue cue has a QL onto Trumbauersville Rd following the TR onto Upper Ridge Rd, but Trumbauersville is closed.  Old Woods is the first left after going over the turnpike.  You are back on cue after making the TR on Esten.  Mileage will be slightly off.


*** Original Post ***

The 2017 ACP SR series concludes with the PA 600k scheduled for June 10-11 and staged from the Weisel Hostel outside of Quakertown, PA.  The 600k route follows what has become a classic favorite traveling northward through Promised Land State Park to Hawley.  From there the route follows the Lackawaxen River down the Delaware River at the Roebling Aquaduct where we enter New York with controls in Eldred and Port Jervis and the always scenic Hawk's Nest overlook.  From Port Jervis, the route turns south through the Delaware Water Gap Recreation Area and eventually returns to Quakertown.  The second day features an out-and-back loop to New Holland.  A 200k brevet will also be offered on Sunday June 11 covering the same loop as the second day of the 600k.

Ride details have been posted on the website.

The cue sheets are available on the website:
The 600k cue sheet is at:  http://parando.org/PA600K_K_cue.pdf
 The 200k cue sheet is at:  http://parando.org/NewHolland200K_A_cue.pdf

Links to the route maps are also available.
600k
200k

Registered 600k Riders (as of  6/8)
1 Charles J Arayata  + Fr
2 Jimmy Aspras
3 Mario Claussnitzer
4 Sean P Connelly
5 James R Haddad  +Fr
6 Guy Harris  - organizer
7 Greg Keenan  + Fr
8 Eric E. Keller  +Fr, Su
9 Rudi Mayr
10 Lawrence A Midura
11 William Olsen - organizer
12 Bob Torres  + Fr
13 Aleksey M Vishnyakov  + Fr


Registered 200k Riders (as of  6/8)
1 James Bondra  +Sa
2 Paul I Currie
3 Gregory W Forshey
4 Nigel Greene
5 Eric  K Hannon Ford  +Sa
6 Stephen M Kraybill
7 Jeff Lippincott
8 Andrew D Mead
9 Steven J Schoenfelder

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Ride Summary: Blue Mountain 400


Photo by Rudi Mayr
Preliminary results from the 400k brevet have been posted at:
http://parando.org/PA400k_Results170520.pdf

Preliminary results from the 200k brevet are posted at:
http://parando.org/PA200k_Results170520.pdf

Results will be submitted in a couple of days to RUSA, and then become final pending ACP certification.

By all accounts the reverse running of the Blue Mountain 400 (dubbed Mountain Blue by some) was a success.  There was a little rain and the winds were never really favorable all day, but all 18 riders who clipped in at Quakertown unclipped after negotiating 400 kilometers of viewing the Blue Mountain from all angles.   Several riders finished in 20 hours or less, always a significant accomplishment, led by ultra-racer speedster Sean Connelly who flew around in 16:21. 

Aleksey Vishnyakov writes:  

Just wanted to thank you and all volunteers, especially Guy H and Bill for such a great brevet. That was my first 400K and first ride west of the Little Gap. An excellent course and scenery. My favorite in the late evening view of Delaware Water Gap from Portland bridge.
Also thanks to Eoghan for towing me from second controle to Wind Gap!
I placed my recap here: http://alwayseasygear.blogspot.com/2017/05/mountain-blue-400k-eastern-pa-brevet.html


Well worth the read as Aleksey had a little more excitement that he lets on.

Rudi Mayr also sent in a note:
I took quite a few photos on Saturday, and uploaded some of them to Flickr.  Please feel free to share as you see fit.
Here's the album: https://flic.kr/s/aHsm1eKQPK
(The photo of me is by Greg Keenan.)

After two separate course checkout rides with three sets of eyes, Rudi managed to find a remaining miscue in the cue sheet which resulted in an additional scaling of Second Mountain (that steep ridge to the north on the return legs).  Sorry about that Rudi.

And Jimmy Asparas writes:
Thanks to you (I understand how monumental of a task it is to rewrite an entire cue sheet) and all of the volunteers that put this ride on. It is definitely a huge sacrifice to donate your time to waiting around for hours for riders to come in.

As was the case with the 300k, the forecast promised no rain and cloudy skies, and mother nature delivered wet roads and drizzling rain, though not enough to soak any of us through. I had the misfortune of breaking a spoke about 20 miles in. Sean gave me some electrical tape to keep the spoke from doing any damage, and I loosened my brake cable. But when we started up again, it was clear that the tire was rubbing the frame, so I told Sean to ride ahead and thanked him for his offer of help. It was nice in a way though because when I was just about done, CJ rolled up, and we had the opportunity to catch up all the way to the first controle.

Sometime after this I caught up to Doug, and we rode about 50 or so miles together. I had initially thought about just trying to breeze through Blondies. Doug kept talking about egg salads and other great food there, and as we got closer, the idea of sitting down for a few minutes grew more and more appealing. I had a great black and white milkshake with sweet potato fries that powered me through the rest of the ride. After the truck stop, I ran into Matt F. & co and briefly rode up ahead before they caught me again and helped me limp back to the hostel.

Two things about the course that I think most people will have a similar opinion on: thank you, thank you, thank you for not taking us down Foul Rift Rd/River Rd after the crossing into Belvidere. Belvidere Rd was a bit more highly trafficked, but my legs were thankful for the gentler climb. Also, I definitely have a better understanding of the animosity that riders have for Gallows Hill Rd. I never thought it was all that bad, but riding on it in the dark after a day of hard riding really adds a whole other element to it.

Finally, thanks to the organizing team of Bill Olsen, Guy Harris, and Chris Nadovich for pulling off yet another successful brevet.  Volunteers Bob Torres and James Haddad also stepped up and pitched in to make sure things went smoothly and provide a little relief to the organizers.  We all should appreciate their dedication to the event:  Bob rode the initial course checkout ride on a cold, rainy day a couple weeks ago.  James and Guy conducted a second check a few days before the brevet in 90+ degree heat.

Next up is the 600k on June 10 with the 200k companion ride scheduled for June 11.  We will be using the traditional 600k route and are currently checking cues and making our usual minor refinements based on lessons learned.  Watch this space for more details.

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

ACP SR 400k: Mountain Blue 400



Mist in the Valley Along the Blue Mountain
*** UPDATE 1 ***
Two pre-rides have now been completed on the 400k route and one pre-ride of the 200k route.  The cue sheets have been updated and posted on the website.
http://parando.org/BlueMtn400K_CW_A_cue.pdf
http://parando.org/PA200K_K_cue.pdf
Please make sure that you have the draft dated 5/19 for the 400 and 5/18 for the 200.

Guy Harris provided these notes following his and James Haddad's completion on May 18 in the sweltering heat:

James and I completed our pre-ride at 4:15 for a 24:15 total time.
Surprisingly, we averaged +/- 12.7mph overall when moving. Didn't break it down but controle times were:

C1 - 4:00
C2 - 8:00
C3 - 12:15
C4 - 17:45 (but see Orwigsburg long stop here)
C5 - 10:53
C6 - 4:15 (but see Columbia sleep stop here, didn't leave Columbia until after midnight)

The story for us was the heat. James saw 94 on his Garmin. Only mid-70's at night. We were in a seemingly constant search for water. After Lickdale we just could not go the 50miles between controls without getting refills. I was still 4-5 lbs lighter than normal this morning. James though he went through 15-20 bottles with not much coming out. Same for me, plus a couple ice loaded quart sodas. Our ride time, on the bike, was 19:22 so we spent almost 5 hours off the bike!. The pizza place in Orwigsburg was a major culprit. Nice place, very air conditioned - probably an hour there. Next was > 1hour at Columbia - this is where we turned it into a mini-600 with what amounted to be a sleep stop. Residual effects of the day of heat.

Reverse course - I like it. The section between Lickdale and Columbia is no worse in reverse. In fact, I think it is easier. The backloaded climbing exists mostly on ridewithgps IMHO. Ridewithgps is not a good indicator of the constant little bumps that make a ride like this challenging (again, IMHO). Climbing up to AT at Wind Gap was easy this way. Routing on 519 instead of Foul Rift, etc. from Belvidere a good choice to ease difficulty. But this was weekday at 2:00AM

There were a couple minor confusions on cuesheet. A few notes:

33.8 - (TFL) not (SS)
114.3-114.6 - the direct to go after crossing 443 is a little confusing; straight on is not thinking direction. Need to bear a little left and go down to get to Swatara bridge. Not sure how to cue this. Perhaps we leave it alone, should be obvious a bridge 0.3miles away is downhill?
165.1 - There is a deli in Bowmanstown. It is on left just after left turn onto White St. and before BR at 165.2 He is open until 9 PM Saturday. Minimal but has water, soda, sandwiches, etc.

Finally, Swatara Trail. James had his wide tire 650B and I had 700x23. NO problems. I could ave. 11-12mph. It was dry though. There were some minor horsehoe divets in middle but could avoid all. We only saw two people on whole length but I am sure this changes on Saturday.

The cue sheet has been updated to reflect the change at mile 33.8.  The route at mile 114 is one of those that looks different from the ground.  Once across SR 443 in Pine Grove, the route follows Mill St generally straight toward a bridge crossing the Swatera Creek.  There are several side streets that intersect along the way, some in a bear right sort of way.  Most are not marked.  There is only ONE bridge across the Swatera Creek in this area, so if you've gone much more than a quarter mile after crossing 443 without crossing the creek, you're not on the right street.  You should pass a public park on your right just prior to the bridge.

A 24-hour diner allegedly exists in Bowmanstown (mile 165) as well as the deli.  The diner remains unverified, but is something to keep in mind.  It is noted on the cue sheet. 

Finally, please note that the 400k start time is 04:00 and that the 200k starts 2 hours later at 06:00.

Thankfully, the heat looks like it will break for the weekend and provide near-ideal riding conditions.  Still, if you take one thing from Guy's report, pay careful attention to your food & water.  Options on the return leg are very limited, especially after 9pm.

Bonne route to all!


*** Original Post ***

The 2017 ACP SR series continues with the 400k, scheduled for May 20, 2017.  We are trying something a little different this year in that we will be running the traditional Blue Mountain 400 route in the reverse direction.  This will enable riders to enjoy the sights of French Creek and Lancaster County in the daylight hours and hide all those hills along the Allegheny Front under cover of darkness.  We have dubbed the ride the Mountain Blue 400k.  Event details have been posted on the webpage at:  http://parando.org/2017-PA400K.html
We will also be offering a 200k event for those not wanting to tackle the challenge of a 400k.

Registration details for both rides are on the webpage.

Reverse routes are tricky; it is not as simple and simply transposing a cue sheet.  Road names changes, tee intersections become turns from main roads.  The effort is almost the same as developing a new route from scratch.  Bob Torres completed the first of two planned course checkout rides on May 6th.  He reports:

All in all, a pretty ride for the eyes but a hard ride for the body. With the 4 am start, the roads were pretty empty to deal with Ridge Road, some minor pot holes but nothing to worry about since I had plenty of room to avoid them with hardly any traffic on the road.

Going east towards Lancaster was pretty nice and the further west I rode, I was able to enjoy it more when I got to the open farm lands. Most of the road traffic was in Morgantown but it was not too bad because the route goes back into the back roads to avoid most of the high speed traffic. From Morgantown to Jonestown was the flattest part of the entire ride. Around mile 90 is started to rain and the closer I got to Control #3, it rained the hardest. The roads for the most part was almost traffic free.

After leaving the Speedway mini mart in less than two miles I entered the Swatara rail trail. Now to be honest, I usually love trails and always want to go through all of them but on this one things were okay until getting off the old asphalt road into the second gravel path and here I started not liking this section of the trail. My bike is set up with 650b 38mm wide tires and even with this I felt every bumps created by the horses that has gone through this path. If I was riding a 23 mm tire bike, I do not know if I could ride a bike through it. I ended up riding on the sides as much as possible, it was a bit loose but I managed to keep rolling along. To me it felt like I was putting my bike through a metal fatigue test....

Later while riding on Summer Hill Road and Crossing route 183 use extreme caution while crossing this road. This crossing is easier to do while riding the opposite direction but on this year's route, it is harder to see the oncoming traffic to your left and then to your right. So again use extreme caution.    

The next big crossing was onto route 61, watch out for high speed oncoming traffic to your left before making a right onto route 61 and then crossing over to the left lane. From here I was able to then make a left turn onto S. Liberty Street.

At mile 150 stopping at Blondies to have a burger, fries and vanilla milk shake was a pleasure that I normally try to avoid. I was happy to sit down and enjoy my meal before pressing on for the final 100 miles.

From here I basically just took my time, enjoyed the views, the rain was on and off but it was mostly light. 

Again for the most part of this part of the ride traffic was pretty relaxed and as the day progressed into night not too many cars to worry about.

From Columbia to Quakertown the roads were pretty dead. Since I left Columbia after midnight I pretty much owned the roads.

It is close to 50 miles to the finish from here so I highly recommend to carry an extra bar or two since everything is closed unless at mile 226 a left turn onto Route 173 and head to the Citgo in Bloomsbury might be an option to warm up or get something to eat or drink. This is not part of the route but keep it as a note just in case.

Caution: On the cue sheet, mile 227.2 /T R onto Rt 639 / Warren Glen, the roads were rough, road work in progress. Looks like they are starting to resurface but not yet finished removing the top layer so we'll see what the next group on their preride will see.

When getting ready to cross the Riegelsville Bridge the guard came up to talk and see why I was out so late. I told her of my mission and she really liked the whole madness. I told her that in two weeks she will see a bunch crossing so she is looking forward for that day.

I was pretty happy to finish this ride on my converted 650b Trek 420 that I have owned since 1993. This bike has travelrf to many of the job's journeys in the past and hopefully I will complete the PA SR series this year on it.

It was a blast.  I hope everyone has a safe ride.  Bob

Another checkout ride for the 400k route as well a a checkout of the 200k route is scheduled for May 13.  Check back after that for any updates.  You may also want to spend time reviewing the route map.  Services are rather sparse, especially in the second half of the route.  We have marked services on the RWGPS map and on the cue sheet.

You should also be aware that everyone's favorite family eatery, Blondies in New Ringgold is only open until 8pm on Saturday.  The official control closing time is 8:12, so you may miss out if you're riding on the limit.  We're hoping the relatively easier riding during the first 100 miles of this route will allow all riders to reach Blondies with plenty of time in the bank.  Should you reach Blondies after closing time, make a note of the time on your card and proceed toward the 24-hour diner in Bowmanstown, 15 miles up the road.

Registered 400k Riders (as of May 18)
1 Michael Anderson  +Fr
2 Charles J Arayata  +Fr
3 Jimmy Aspras
4 Eoghan Barry
5 James Bondra  +Fr
6 Joe A Brown
7 Mario Claussnitzer
8 Sean P Connelly
9 Alfred Dolich
10 Matthew Farrell
11 James R Haddad  - volunteer
12 Doug Haluza  +Fr
13 Guy Harris  - organizer
14 Greg Keenan  +Fr
15 Eric E. Keller  +Fr
16 Rudi Mayr
17 Lawrence A Midura
18 William Olsen - organizer
19 Bob Torres - volunteer
20 Aleksey M Vishnyakov  +Fr

 
Registered 200k Riders (as of May 18)

1 Peter Bakken
2 Jeff Lippincott
 
3 Chris Nadovich - organizer


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

PA Randos Get Around: Carolina Spring 1200k

James Haddad & Chris Slocum
The Brothers Olsen, Bill & Mark
It is often said that the PA Randonneurs prepares its randonneurs for anything they might encounter in a brevet.  This past weekend was no exception as PA regulars James Haddad, Chris Slocum and Bill Olsen completed the Carolina Spring 1200 Grand Randonnee in North Carolina.  Conditions there were only slightly better than here:  it was a little warmer, but the weekend was filled with lots of rain and lots of wind.  While it was "just another brevet" for Bill, though we are glad to see his return to form, it marks the first 1200k for both James and Chris.  Congratulations to you all!!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Crush the Commonwealth - 2017


CJ in Pittsburgh
Even though the CtC is not a traditional brevet, the skills developed by riding brevets serve randonneurs very well for such events.  C.J. Arayata started riding with PA Randonneurs in 2014 and has been a regular ever since.  C.J. didn't ease into randonneuring, but jumped in with both feet and completed a tough PA R-12 commencing with his very first brevet.  He notched his SR medal in 2016 and has three successful fl├ęches to his credit.  He added CtC to his palmares this year and offered the following report:

Crush the Commonwealth, Friday, April 28th to Sunday, April 30th, 2017.

Was excited and nervous going into Crush the Commonwealth. Odds stacked in our favor: Eastbound = upfront climbing and tailwinds, plus the weather forecasts were calling for nighttime lows of 65 degrees, and mid-70s to 80s during the day. I’ve heard many horror stories from a PHL bike friend Eric G. about relentless rain, freezing temps, and strong winds going Westbound; no thanks.
About 20-30 at the start, including PA Rando / CtC veteran Chris N., but unsure how many were there to “race” vs. how many locals to lead us out and see us off. Fun to mill about and meet some of the other riders; a quick look around indicated that touring/rando-types were in the vast minority, and most everyone were on road or gravel bikes with bikepacking saddle bags, frame bags, etc.

Started shortly after 5am, and the large group immediately stretched out along the various trails leading to the GAP. I told my long-time friend and roommate, Gary W., “This is probably the last we will see of any of those people.” I emphasized our need to just ride our own ride. Crush the Commonwealth would be Gary’s first ride over 150 miles, and I wanted to make sure I could see him through.

The GAP trail was initially nice and scenic. Fog and haze, the sun peeking through, and a small group to while away the miles. Trailside bike repair stands, water fountains, and tons of bathrooms (or at least porta-pottys) had me impressed and not worried about services. We ‘controlled’ at Connellsville Sheetz [mile 60]. Most riders had already been through or were just leaving, but I did get to chat with a rando from NY on a 650b. Finishing out the GAP to get to Rockwood [105] was tough; we had picked up the pace, were gradually climbing upward, and I started developing weird pains in my left leg that I had never felt before. Somewhere in this stretch, a large rock had gotten sucked up into my front fender, but my quick-release fender tabs did their job, and detached the stays without any damage. I managed to wiggle and snap them back into place, and we were rolling with little delay. Could have been ugly with the traditional hardware…

After a few random water stops and getting on pavement(!) in Rockwood to join Bike Route S, our next proper stop was Somerset [115]. Chris N. rode past, but we caught him and eventually passed him on the next fairly hilly stretch to Bedford. At this point, Gary had developed some stomach issues which dictated an emergency CVS stop. Dinner around 6:30 or 7pm at Subway, and we were back on the road, now as a group of 5-6 after linking up with a few PGH-ers, who we subsequently dropped on the first climb and then never saw again.

Night fell and we managed to get to Breezewood [~175; sometime before 9pm]. Really crappy to ride through. We saw 3 riders ahead getting honked at, but luckily it’s not very far to get to the abandoned turnpike. Our new crew of 5 enjoyed the tunnels a lot, but hated the busted pavement sections between. Even with 5 lights, hard to navigate, and we were all thankful that no one flatted during this section. I’ve heard many times that getting to this section in daylight can be crucial if you’re actually racing.

Gary and I stopped at Sideling Hill [185, 9:45pm] before the long push to Chambersburg [225]. I love PA Turnpike rest stops and thoroughly enjoyed the rest time, knowing that a warm shower and a bed were waiting after Cowan’s Gap. It started to drizzle during this leg, but it was warm enough that we didn’t need layers. Gary got pretty quiet and we weren’t feeling that great, but we managed to make it to Rt. 30 and felt much better being back around civilization. A stop at Sheetz to get a few hotel room snacks, and we were checked in, showered, and asleep by 2:45am.

Loose plan was to wake up 5am, eat breakfast at Chambersburg Diner, and start rolling at 7am. That plan went out the window when we woke up at 6:57am. We got dressed and looked outside; apparently a huge storm rolled through and we had managed to miss nearly all of it. We would later find out that groups both ahead and behind us got stuck in torrential storms and would eventually DNF after having to sleep outside or pushing too hard and burning out.

After a relaxed breakfast at the diner, we rolled out into light drizzle around 8:45am for 40 miles to East Berlin. The sun came out, we had a tailwind, and we were on smooth pavement. Everything was going swimmingly, until I realized I had dropped Gary, hard. After getting him back, he dropped the bomb that he was going to abandon, about 35 miles into Day 2. I tried to talk him into pressing on, but he was steadfast. It didn’t help that we were at Rutter’s, which is MUCH nicer than Sheetz, and definitely wins my vote for “best not-Wawa convenience store”. A super-nice dining area, upscale finishes, a shower stall in the spacious bathroom…. All in the size not much larger than a Super Wawa. A++!! But I digress. I refueled, we said our goodbyes, and I pressed on. Noon and 200k left to go for me.

The early stop threw off my planned segments the rest of the day. The sun was also beating hard, so I stopped early at Roburrito’s York, force fed a burrito and tons of ice water, and laid down for awhile in a booth, much to the dismay of the staff and maybe some of the other diners. Burnt up and my skin hurt; the sunscreen I had bought and had been reapplying all day had just been sweating off, or terribly ineffective, or both. After an hour of collecting myself, continued around 3pm.
Section through York, Columbia, and Lancaster wasn’t great. At least there’s a shoulder? But as I got through familiar territory/undergraduate stomping grounds, a bit of a morale boost. However, after checking the internet, I found out that the one person I knew behind me has leapfrogged me at York, and I was now lanterne rouge (for the two-day riders at least). I decided to ride past Lancaster and stop at the Turkey Hill at Jct. 340. 5:45pm, and I had about 2 hours of daylight to make the next ~25mi stretch to Morgantown, my last planned stop before Philly.

Was enjoying Lancaster County farmlands, but eventually this section got pretty demoralizing, as it felt like everything just looked the same. A car passed me and then pulled over to flag me down. It’s Clair Beiler! He recognized my PA jersey and figured there was a very good likelihood he’d know who it was. He was my assigned-by-Tom riding partner for my very first brevet in 2013. It was great to catch up and inform him of what exactly I was doing in his neck of the… farms since seeing him so long ago. A much-needed boost, as I had only been talking to convenience store employees all day.
Morgantown Sheetz at 8pm on Saturday. Was determined to make it different this time around: On the 400k, I crawled back the 50 miles to the hostel on what was (and still is) the hardest ride I’ve ever done; on the 600k, I was again bonking and barely made it to the Blue Ball turnaround by closing time. But this time, I relaxed, making sure to eat as much as I could comfortably to get me to Valley Forge. Back on the road at 9pm. No cut-off time = no pressure.

Quick work of Rt. 23 and was so glad to be getting closer. However, some missing Bike Route signs near VF had me second-guessing my GPS and consulting my phone. Eventually, I found my way on Pawlings Road, and laughed at fact I was semi-lost maybe only a quarter-mile from the SRT, my red-carpet home.

Weird things on the trail late at night, especially around Norristown and Conshohocken, but otherwise was in the drops hammering away all alone. Made the mistake of thinking it would be better to ride on road through Manayunk….. at midnight. D’oh. One block of that quickly set me back on the towpath as far as it goes. The Parkway was closed due to the NFL Draft, so I ended up hopping off at Race St., then onto Market for a “proper” ride around City Hall and then to Independence Mall. Arrived at 12:57am Sunday [43:57], snapped a few pictures, and then sat down reeling. Did I really just ride from Pittsburgh to about a mile from my house in 44 hours?

Really glad to have finished Crush the Commonwealth. Experienced so much of my home state by bike, and met a ton of new and interesting people that might never come out for an official brevet. Also something to be said about the straightforwardness of the ride: Outsiders can grasp the distance between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, vs. telling friends and co-workers “400km” or “600km”. After scouring around, found out there were basically 3 groups: the one-day racers (sub-30), the two-day randos (35 – 45hrs), and a few three-day tourists (60hrs) including Chris N., who had decided to break off at Morgantown to get to Easton. I don’t blame him at all for riding straight to his house; that’s exactly what I did.


Thanks for lending the SPOT! It was great to be able to link family and friends, and receive so much support on so many different communcation streams. The PA Series was great preparation, and now I'm thinking Westbound doesn't sound *that* bad...


CJ's pictures are here:  https://goo.gl/photos/dWNAM4Cqt9T7SULZ6


Congratulations CJ, and thanks for the story.