Friday, April 14, 2017

ACP SR 300: The Water Gap 300/200

*** Update 2 (4/20) ***

Several astute observers have noted that the old maps link from the event page reflect last year's 300k route with a bridge bypass.  Just remember, the cue sheet ALWAYS controls the route you take.  For those of you wanting a preview, the routes are available on-line.


Also note that personal obligations require that brevet cards be generated today, so PLEASE pre-register now if you intend to ride this weekend.  The registration cut-off is (and always has been) 5pm on the Thursday before any Saturday brevet.

Andrew M.
Eastern PA RBA

*** Update 1  (4/16) ***

A pre-ride of the 300K route was completed on 15 April by Chris N. and George R. Chris' notes: 

The course is in very good shape. No significant cue sheet changes are needed.

I had forgotten how scenic a route this is, and with everything just on the edge of flowering, I'd expect the scenery to be spectacular next Saturday. We saw a little snow still remaining at the ski resorts, but signs of Spring were bursting out everywhere. Forsythia and Azelea were at peak, but most trees still just had swollen buds. It should be really pretty in a week.  

16.9 Somehow there are no longer any railroad tracks here.

68.7 The VF Sandwich. I have no words. 

70.9 The traffic seems to pick up quite a bit in the vicinity of Shawnee. Stay single file, and watch your line through this area. Once you get to the ski resort, things will be a lot calmer. 

78.6 There's no longer a barricade here. The road is open for business, clean and smoothly patched.

98.2 The parking lot at the Flats Deli has been paved! Whoo hoo!

107.4 This actually is not the last water for 25 miles.  There is a water fountain at Millbrook Village, so you really don't need to carry full water bottles up the Old Mine Rd climb.

113.2 Old Mine Rd is now smoothly paved, mountaintop removal has lowered the climb by 500 feet, and there's a Wawa at the summit. Only kidding. This remote hill climb has become even rougher, steeper, and more infested with gnats than ever. Enjoy!

115.4 Just before the bottom of the hill, and before the stop-sign TR, if you turn left into Millbrook Village you'll find a nice water fountain a little way beyond the gate. 

127.1 If you've not done the Rt 80 crossing before, the pedestrian ramp can be a little hard to spot. This is what it looks like on the left as you approach it.

The path follows the handrail back across the bridge.
128.1  Professional BBQ is now offered at the Apple Pie Cafe, and it is well worth a taste. I sampled the beef brisket -- Mmmmm mmm!

174.2 Gallows Hill Rd has been smoothly paved, and so has Stony Garden. (Really!) Sadly, they're just as steep as they always were, but at least you don't need to worry so much about potholes on the rollers.

181.7 Old Bethlehem and some of the other roads past this point are, in fact, somewhat rough. Since many of you will be riding these after dark, please keep a sharp eye for broken sections of pavement.  

*** Original Post ***

Announcing the SR 300k
The 2017 ACP SR Series continues with the Water Gap 300k scheduled for April 22, 2017.  As with all of the traditional SR events, we will be starting and finishing at the Weisel Youth Hostel outside of Quakertown.  A 200k option is also being offered.  Details and registration information are posted on the event page.

A course checkout ride is planned for April 15 so check back for any updates to the cue sheet or notes from the route.

Registered 300k Riders (as of April 20)
1 Michael Anderson  +Fr
2 Charles J Arayata +Fr
3 Jimmy Aspras
4 Dan M Barbasch  +Fr + memb
5 Eoghan Barry
6 Gavin Biebuyck
7 Sean P Connelly
8 Alfred Dolich
9 William Fischer
10 Michael J Gorman
11 James R Haddad  +Fr
12 Guy Harris
13 Dale E Houck
14 Greg Keenan +Fr
15 Eric E. Keller +Fr
16 Gil Lebron
17 Jeff Lippincott
18 Kate R Marshall +Fr
19 Rudi Mayr
20 Chris Nadovich - organizer
21 William Olsen - organizer
22 Joseph Ray +Sa
23 George Michael Retseck - volunteer
24 Steven J Schoenfelder
25 Paul G Shapiro  +Fr
26 Bob Torres +Fr
27 Victor Urvantsev +Fr
28 Aleksey M Vishnyakov +Fr
Registered 200k Riders (as of April 20)
1 Eric  K Hannon Ford  + Fr

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Fléche Wrap-Up

The Tenth Annual PA Randonneurs Fléche was by most accounts a success.  All of the nine registered teams eventually made their way to the Weisel Hostel.  Seven of the teams arrived on their bikes in the allotted 24 hours.

Preliminary results of the 2017 PA Randonneurs Fléche have been posted on the website at:

First to arrive at the Hostel was the Fleshe Eating Rumble Ponies, nee Quesadilla Quest, by virtue of it early starting time.  The team reprised its most fléche-like route from Binghamton, NY and wins the award for most ambitious team.

This award is not based on mileage, but riding conditions.  The team started out on Friday afternoon with snow still flying and rivers still overflowing.  By the second hour the team was on alternate routes when the primary route was discovered to be several feet under the raging Susquehanna.  Cold temperatures, more snow, and plenty of mud couldn't keep the team from finishing this year.  Said Captain James Haddad at the finish, "It was a true adventure."

James sent in this report:
Three out of the four members of the 2016 Quesidilla Questers reunited this year to attempt another Binghamton to Quakertown Fleche. After last year’s DNF, Zach G. and James H. were both seeking their first successful fleches. Fleche veteran Chris N. also returned to rematch the challenging terrain of NE PA, this year joining the team suitably early enough to bring his wisdom and experience to the route planning process. Pete B. joined the team for his first fleche attempt. Ignorance may have been blissful as Pete remained silent while a hundred plus emails circulated debating the planned route, but when the time came, he began to understand why it took the team so long to plan. Challenges came early and often for the FERPs who had already elected to ride Friday into Saturday so that James could make it to church for Palm Sunday. As the route began to take shape, the rains began to pour. The Susquehanna river rose and closed SR 1010, the Lackawanna river impeded rail trail travel and the Delaware river blocked another of the team’s roads. Master route planner Zach prepared nearly 50 miles of possible detours and alternate routes to deal with the inclement weather and sluggish trail conditions. 

At 1 pm on Friday, the team departed Nezuntos Café in Binghamton with light snow and 35º temperatures. Progress was quick as the team followed the Susquehanna river east until Lanesboro, PA. Progress slowed as the team began an 800 ft climb on a dirt road that more closely resembled a flooded trail. After a climb that could only be described as epic, the team was rewarded with fresh pavement for the descent to the Delaware River and their first controle in Hancock, NY. A quick convenience store stop refueled the team in preparation for the climb out of the Delaware River Watershed into the Lackawanna River Valley and controle 2 in Scranton. The team battled a mix of mud and rock with just a few paved roads as they climbed to over 2000 ft of elevation. At the high elevation, strong winds blasted the FERPs with a nasty mix of wintery precipitation as temperatures dropped to 26 ºF; unprepared for such conditions, water bottles began freezing as the team began their descent into the Lackawanna River Valley. A quick stop at a bar for hot water rejuvenated the riders as they continued the descent with images of a warm diner dinner in their heads.

After a delicious and warming meal, the team began the long steady climb out of Scranton towards Moscow PA. After the afternoon’s experience, temperatures in the low 30’s were a welcome change. Progress was slow as they climbed again to over 2000 ft to traverse the Pocono Plateau. Chris had been hurting since the descent to Scranton, and unable to completely recover at the diner, he began falling behind. Eventually, he left the team and headed to a hotel. The remaining FERPs were saddened to lose a teammate, but were thankful for Chris’ contributions, without him, they’d probably have been washed away trying to ford a stream or buried in mud on some dark rail trail. Descending from the Pocono Plateau placed the team in the Cherry Valley, the edge of familiar PA randonneurs territory as the first signs of light appeared on the horizon.

The FERPs began racing towards Portland Bagel, where, despite being a bit crunched for time, they ate a much-needed meal and warmed up. Back on familiar territory, the team made rapid progress, covering the distance to their 22 hr controle fast enough to bank 45 minutes for another quality meal. Despite the steep climbs from Reigilsville back to the hostel, with full bellies and confidence in a successful finish they raced back to the hostel, comfortably finishing around 12:30.

The Fleche Eating Rumble Ponies would like to thank Andrew Mead and all the PA randonneurs volunteers that make wonderful rides like this possible.

Fistful of Xanax V2

First to arrive on Sunday morning was the Fistful of Xanax team under the guidance of Chris Slocum.
The team modified it's traditional route to start near Quakertown and solve some of the logistical issues of pre- and post-ride transportation.  All team members looked in good shape upon arrival.  All commented that low temperatures in the final hours approaching the finish were "much colder" than they expected.

Now You've Gone Too Far

Hot on the wheels of Team Xanax was the three member team from the west under the guidance of Eric Keller.  Eric's route also emulates the more traditional "arrow" by traveling generally east from the State College area.

After years of hoping for a break in the weather, the three-member team enjoyed mostly tailwinds for its ride.  Snow was reported at the start as late as the day before the team started, but that didn't seem to hamper its progress.

Next to arrive was the Fléche Mob under the direction of Rudi Mayr.  

This was another team that adjusted its route to start near the hostel to reduce the post-ride transportation problems.

Captain Mayr had this to say:
A Flash Mob is a group of strangers who come together and do something that surprises and mystifies onlookers, so (judging by the faces of and of the people we meet on our ride) our team name seemed appropriate.  Starting not a mile from my home, we had a welcome tailwind all the way to the Jersey Shore, and it still seemed to be behind us as we rode south, but proved nasty when we turned west.  After a restful dinner at Lower Bank Tavern –the folks there welcoming as usual—we rode up through the Pines, the moon shining brightly behind the trees, the wind having vanished. 

The road from Glass House to Mount Misery is a narrow and broken stretch of uneven pavement, and its prodigious puddles made for a bit more adventure than the team expected, but the real surprise was the cold.  It was much colder under the pines than out on the wide roads!  

At the Wawa near Brown’s Mills, a young man assured us we were “touched,” his manner so earnest that I almost thought he meant it as a compliment.  Burlington County’s farmland proved quiet and lovely in the moonlight as we rode up to Bordentown, where we staked out a corner both at Denny’s for a welcome rest.  Our final controle, the Point Pleasant Food Store, did not open on time, so we sent another post card and headed on our way.  I don’t think I’ll use that place as a controle again.
All in all a great ride! I am thankful to have found a team that worked so well together.  No flat tires, only a couple minor mechanical issues.  Not much wildlife to report; some deer at twilight, and some rabbits surprised by the headlights.

Team member Jeff Lippincott provided a great accounting of the adventure in his blog, jlippinbike.
Rudi's photos are also posted.

Three Rivers of Guiness

Which is what this team consumed on its looping route that was strategically arranged to pass a number of well-known watering holes.  

In a true moment of brilliance and overachieving, the team members converged on the hostel early Saturday morning, parked their cars, and then rode the 16 miles to their START at Mueller's Too restaurant.  Some team members surely questioned the soundness of this reasoning as they battled headwinds for the majority of their ride.  Upon arriving at the finish, Bill Fischer made only two comments:  "wow, it's cold out there," and "that route rode really tough this year."

The Midnight Ride of the Sinister Nuts
Tenth Anniversary Edition

Only one individual has managed to start and complete each and every fléche organized by PA Randonneurs:  Bill Olsen.  Congratulations on this accomplishment, Bill.  Once again the band of Sinister Nuts took a looping tour of southern New Jersey on their fixies.  Only limited use of the 24-inch gear was reported.

 Looking to add a little variety, the group moved its 22-hour control from the familiar Mueller's Too to the Ma-De Chat Shop Restaurant in Milford.  The team reports the food was good.

Escargots Volants

Team Escargots notched another successful fléche finish with a team of seasoned veterans, including now eight-time PA fléche finisher Dawn Engstrom.  Captain Chris Newman stepped in to replace the original captain Paul Shapiro when a personal commitment conflict was discovered shortly after routes were submitted and safely guided the team through the tough neighborhoods of Camden to reach the hostel in fine form.  Escargots Volants, like team Now You've Gone Too Far enjoyed tailwinds for the early going on Saturday and reported that winds subsided substantially as they turned north and west for the return to Quakertown.

Chiots Errants
Unlike teams with routes that benefited from the prevailing westerly winds, Chiots Errants had the distinction of having the most westerly miles of all team.  And they suffered accordingly.  It took its toll and lead to the team arriving at the hostel nearly 2 hours after the cutoff.  We applaud their perseverance. 
Captain CJ Arayata writes of the day:
No sugarcoating: We had a rough ride. I got a rear flat before we even left Philly; upon replacing the wheel back into the frame, I noticed my hub was terribly loose. Stoop repairs at Ryan's house off-course. By the time we got rolling again, it was already 10:45 AM and we would never be able to make this time up. We battled cross-winds and much busier traffic through Chester and Delaware, only to face the direct headwind the entire way from Little Britain to Hershey. Ryan's SRAM shifter met the same fate mine did two weekends ago, forcing him to ride 150 miles on a two-speed, but he did it with a smile on his face! I had to nurse a slow-leak going into Hershey, plus my failing body and morale. The winds died down overnight, just in time for us to climb slowly in the dark over the next 100+ miles to the Delaware River. An I-78 closure shoved 18-wheelers alongside us on Old 22 for what felt like an eternity approaching Shartlesville, and temperatures seemed to plummet right at dawn getting into Allentown. We reached Muller's at 9 AM, and shed some layers before climbing up to the hostel. So glad to be finished; better late than never.

Each brevet is its own learning experience, and I think I learned a lot during this ride. Like the importance of having a well-maintained bicycle, or how only an hour or so can drastically change the traffic patterns through certain segments, or how light rain would probably have been much more preferable to relentless wind. That being said, I also learned that part of being a seasoned randonneur is knowing when to call it and get back to the real reason you're out there: to enjoy the ride and share an unforgettable experience with your teammates.

CJ's pictures can be seen here:

Sins of the Fléche

At some point during the ride, the team members decided that they weren't having fun any longer.  A slow start had them behind the clock and plummeting temperatures promised a miserable evening.  Wisdom prevailed and the team call it quits in the evening while they could easily get to a member's house.  In true rando camaraderie the team appeared at the hostel Sunday morning to greet fellow riders and retrieve their vehicles.

Congratulations to all riders!  Special thanks to Jane Brown and Jim Holman for taking on the task of preparing food enough for 40 people and showing up at the hostel by 6am to get everything set up for the arriving teams.  Thanks also to Len Zawodniak and Chris Nadovich who also helped with the logistics of feeding the hungry masses and cleaning up afterward.  The fléche could not happen without the effort of people like this.  Be sure to thank them the next time you see them.

Until 2018.....

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

2017 Fleche

 *** April 7 Update ***
The 2017 edition of the PA Randonneurs Fléche gets under way today as the first of nine teams  (Fleshe Eating Rumble Ponies) sets out toward our unofficial clubhouse at the Weisel Hostel near Quakertown, PA.  The remaining teams will be starting Saturday morning with plans to arrive for a post-fléche breakfast on Sunday morning.

Below are the routes each team plans to follow to reach the hostel.


A few of the teams have SPOT trackers so you can watch their progress when you know you'd rather be riding.

Chiots Errants
Escargots Volants 1
Escargots Volants 2
Fistful of Xanax V2
Fleshe Eating Rumble Ponies 1
Fleshe Eating Rumble Ponies 2
Now You've Gone Too Far
The Midnight Ride of the Sinister Nuts

We wish all riders a fun and safe journey!

*** April 5 Update ***

The flèche roster has been updated with entries received through April 4 and posted on the website. You must notify me of any last-minute roster changes TODAY.

I am still waiting for several registration forms in the mail.  If your registration shows as pending on the roster, you must email me to confirm that you plan to ride.  The roster will be finalized later today.

Captains should have received either an email containing print masters for the brevet cards or a package in the mail containing the cards.  If you have not received these, please contact me immediately.

Finally, if you have any remaining questions just ask.


*** Original Post ***
Captains, please review the roster to assure that I have the correct team and start time.  Riders, if you have not yet sent in your registration, please do so at your earliest convenience.  If you have NOT mailed your entry to me already, please send me an email confirming your intention.  There are a few individuals for whom I have little contact information.  Gooseeggs in the roster means I do not have key information.  You can always use the Event Registration Form to provide this information easily. 

The flèche team line up for 2017:

Chiots Errants:  CJ Arayata, route approved, start Sa 9:00
Escargots Volants:  Chris Newman, route approved, start Sa 9:00
Fistful of Xanax:  Chris Slocum, route approved, start Sa 8:00
Flèche Mob:  Rudy Mayr, route approved, start Sa 8:15
Flèche Eating Rumble Ponies:  James Haddad, route approved, start Fr 13:00
Now You've Gone Too Far:  Eric Keller, route approved, start Sa 8:00
Sins of the Flèche:  James Bondra, route approved, start Sa 9:00
The Midnight Ride of the Sinister Nuts, 10th Anniversary Edition:
                             Bill Olsen,  route approved, start Sa 9:00
Three Rivers of Guiness:  Bill Fischer, route approved, start Sa 8:00

Follow this post as I will be incorporating route maps showing each team's planned route leading to the hostel.  Two routes remain under review, mostly due to my being behind schedule.

Breakfast plans for Sunday morning are already in the works.  Past participants know what to expect.  New riders will not go away hungry.

Finally, as many of you participated in the 2016 flèche and may be wondering about the results, I will be placing the 2016 year-end packages in the mail today.  All of your 2016 PA Randonneurs brevet cards, flèche certificate, and the year-end results letter are included.  Apparently our flèche certificates were placed on a very slow boat from France.

Andrew Mead
- Eastern PA RBA

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Ride Report: Lackawanna 200K

Preliminary results from the brevet have been posted at:

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

One of the Lackawanna Tunnels (photo courtesy of Joe R)

With the snow from the recent blizzard completely melted off the roadways, mostly dry conditions, and manageable temperatures, it was a great day for an early Spring brevet.  28 riders clipped in at the Weisel Hostel (aka The PA Rando Clubhouse) and all 28 riders made it around the challenging course before the time limit, for a 100% success rate.  Congratulations to all, and well done for that excellent result, to start the Eastern PA spring series. There were some reports of isolated rain sprinkles, and some cold temperatures early on, but we were lucky to have such a good day, especially given how rough things were in early March.

The 100% finish was not obtained without some drama. As riders came in, the word passed along was that Aleksey V. had encountered a mechanical issue with his bottom bracket. Later on there were reports that Aleksey had called a cab and we rashly conjectured he had abandoned the brevet. But his observed activity had another interpretation. Aleksey called a cab for transportation to a nearby bike shop where he obtained what he needed to repair his bike. He then returned to the course and continued the brevet, finishing in good time. Certainly this resourcefulness nominates  Aleksey for the PA Rando Never-Give-Up Award. Hurrah, hurrah Aleksey!

Aleksey, an Uber Randonneur

Finish photos for most riders are here. My apologies to the few riders I missed.

Special thanks to a superb crew of volunteers who made this event possible:  Bill O. and Guy H. did final check-in and clean up; yours truly Chris N. did set-up and check in; but the PA Rando Hungry Cyclist Meal Total Awesomeness Award goes to Joe R. for preparing a postride meal of his scrumptious award winning chili. Mmmmm, mmm.

Joe R, award-winning chili cook at the finish.

CJ A writes: Thanks for the ride yesterday. Couldn't ask for better conditions to kick off the series... mild temperatures, a bit of sun, and even shifting winds to give us a tailwind all day! The course was in great shape with a lot of fresh pavement and extremely quiet roads; I'll chalk part of it to the earlier start time, which was much appreciated at the finish. It was fun to yo-yo throughout the day and actually see many others on the course, which is somewhat unusual for me. The  challenge of finishing out the ride on a 2-speed was actually kind of fun, and I now have even more respect for those who voluntarily tackle these courses on single-speed / fixed-gear!  Joe's chili was excellent, and very much looking forward to whatever he's cooking up for future rides. Ride to eat, and eat to ride.    

Jimmy A writes: I want to thank you and everyone else who helped put this ride on. It was a great day for a ride. The morning was unexpectedly cold, and I had to wear  more layers than I initially thought I would be wearing. Luckily for me, temperatures remained relatively low for most of the day, so I didn't overheat. I rode the whole day with Gavin, Matt, and Bill F., and we enjoyed mostly dry conditions. Some roads had recently seen rain, but the most we ever rode in was a light drizzle. I'm sure we'll get a warm and sunny day soon enough. I think scenically, my favorite view of the ride is at the top of the climb on River Rd before crossing the river into Belvidere. The view of the Delaware from the top is unparalleled, and I always enjoy it. Seeing and riding underneath the Paulinskill Viaduct is  always pretty cool too. It was awesome to see such a good showing at the start of the ride today, and I hope everyone had a great ride. I am looking forward to the next one.

Joe R writes: Thanks to everyone who made such a terrific brevet possible yesterday.  This is now one of my all-time favorite routes!  Stony Garden without potholes is a big plus at the end of a 200k!

A special treat at the finish was a visit by RBA emeritus Tom R.

Tom R says:  I originally wasn't planning on dropping in, until I realized how much I missed the camaraderie of our rando-clubhouse.  It was good  seeing a couple of new faces, along with many regulars.  And it's great to see the series still going strong.  

Next up is the Fleche on the weekend of April 7-8-9th.  After that, the SR series continues with the 300k and a shorter 200k on April 22nd.  There are still some volunteer opportunities we're looking to have filled for the 300K, 400K, and 600K -- if you'd like to take your turn to help out, you can sign up at:

Saturday, March 11, 2017

ACP Series Begins With Lackawanna 200k

 ***Pre-ride Notes (21 March 2017)                                             
A pre-ride of the Lackawanna 200K was completed on Tuesday, 21 March.         
The Hostel parking lot was mostly clear of snow. There were some mushy areas but I was able to park easily without needing to engage 4WD. At 6AM I set off in the dark in a light drizzle at 37F.       
Although the course is generally beautiful, with quiet roads and many interesting sights, it begins with some tense drama almost immediately after leaving the Hostel. Starting from the left turn at the TFL onto  Rt 313 (mile 1.6) the shoulder is rough, and so is the main lane.  The potholes filled with water are hard to see through the glare of  oncoming headlights. Worse yet, there are detour signs with sandbag  bases blocking the shoulder at intervals, forcing you into the lane.          
State highway 313 should be relatively quiet 6AM Saturday, but at any  time of the day or night it can have platoons of cars zooming by at  50+ mph.                                                                      

We ride this segment before dawn. Please ride single file and provide  a good space cushion between riders. Don't ride faster than your  guardian angel OR faster than the range of your headlight. Make sure  your taillight is on and your reflective gear is worn correctly.              
Inexperienced night riders should be extra cautious.        
Approaching the next light at the top of the climb (2.8 mi), carefully  get into the left lane. The turn here onto Ridge Rd is marked the "Car  Detour" for 313.  After completing the turn onto Ridge Rd, the drama   abates. Although there isn't much of a shoulder on Ridge, traffic is low and visibility is good. You will have a generally calm ride for  the next few miles.     
At about mile 8, where Ridge Rd starts to descend to the creek, you'll hear the roaring water going over the Nokamixon dam. Your speed will  increase and the number of potholes will also increase. It still will  be before dawn. Once again, please don't ride faster than you can see ahead to avoid potholes.
That's pretty much all the drama. Once you pass the dam, the sun will come up and you will be able to relax and enjoy this beautiful course with all the interesting Lackawanna civil engineering marvels.   I found the course to be in good shape. Although the woods were still full of snow pack, the roads and most shoulders were completely clear of snow and ice.  Creeks were swollen, but flooding was very limited. There's some sand and salt remaining, so be careful around fast 
At mile 23.1, sadly Milford Bakery is defunct. The building has For Sale signs. Those hungry for second breakfast or coffee might instead steer to the Bridge St Bagels and Deli next to the the TL at mile 23.3

62.0 The Jct of Rt 612 is unmarked. Look instead for the Breyers Ice Cream sign above Chrusz's Store on the right.

117.9 Stoney Garden is freshly paved. The smoothest road of the day. Sadly, some of the roads before and after Stoney Garden have a few potholes.          

No substantive cue sheet changes were made.        

Have a great ride!                     
Chris Nadovich                       

*** Original Post

Now that winter brevets are behind us and hopefully winter itself will soon depart, it's time to turn our attention to the ACP events.  First up is the Lackawanna 200k on March 25, starting from our rando clubhouse at the Weisel Hostel near Quakertown.   Event details have been posted on the website.

Registered Riders (as of 3/23/2017)
1 Michael Anderson
2 Charles J Arayata + Fr, membership
3 Jimmy Aspras
4 Peter Bakken
5 Eoghan Barry
6 Gavin Biebuyck
7 James Bondra +Fr, Sa
8 Mario Claussnitzer
9 Alfred Dolich
10 Chris Errico + membership
11 Matthew Farrell
12 William Fischer
13 Patrick Gaffney
14 Nigel Greene
15 Vadim Gritsus
16 James R Haddad + Fr
17 Steve Harding + Fr
18 Guy Harris
19 Greg Keenan
20 Eric E. Keller + Fr, membership
21 Jeff Lippincott
22 Christopher Maglieri
23 Rudi Mayr
24 Andrew D Mead
25 Chris Nadovich - organizer
26 William Olsen - organizer
27 Joseph Ray
28 Bob Torres
29 Aleksey M Vishnyakov +Fr

If you're considering the fleche, please remember that the deadlines are fast approaching.  Details are also available on the PA Randonneurs website.

The fleche team line up for 2017:

Chiots Errants:  CJ Arayata, route approved, start TBD
Escargots Volants:  Paul Shapiro, route pending, start TBD
Fistful of Xanax:  Chris Slocum, route approved, start TBD
Flesh Eating Rumble Ponies:  James Haddad, route pending, start TBD
Now You've Gone Too Far:  Eric Keller, route approved, start Sa 8:00
Sins of the Fleche:  James Bondra, route pending, start TBD
The Midnight Ride of the Sinister Nuts, 10th Anniversary Edition:
                             Bill Olsen,  route approved, start Sa 9:00
Three Rivers of Guiness:  Bill Fischer, route approved, start Sa 10:00
TBD:  Rudy Mayr, route approved, start Sa 8:15

Routes are due by 3/24.  If your route shows pending, please send it to me (or resend).  If your start time shows TBD, drop me a line and enlighten me. 

Finally, for those of you who finished the fleche in 2016, I am still waiting to receive the certifications from RUSA/ACP and will mail your entire 2016 package of brevet results once those arrive.  Still no official word on a forecast date.

Andrew Mead
- Eastern PA RBA

Monday, February 13, 2017

Notes From The New RBA

Greeting PA Randonneurs,

With the excitement of getting three brevets organized and completed in the first five weeks of the new year behind me, I am catching my breath and want to address a few items concerning the organization of PA Randonneurs.  Perhaps most important is that you should see very little change from your perspective.  Long-established club traditions including the ACP SR Series, the monthly R12 series events, the Fleche, and the always popular fall classic 200/150 in October will continue as before.  There is much discussion within RUSA regarding increasing offering of populaires (rides of 100k-199k) which I believe would be worthwhile and likely quite fun.  I would like to be able to offer the 1000k and possibly the EM1240k at some point in the future, but not before my own circumstances permit me to devote the time necessary to assure that the high standard of excellence of past runnings is maintained.  Organizing these events takes tremendous volunteer support.  A small but dedicated group continues to step up to make the current schedule possible.  New volunteer help is always needed, esspecially if we are to expand our offerings.  There are many ways to help:  rider registration and finish check-in, secret control staffing, standby-by SAG support, route development, and even ride organization (YOU organize the whole event).  If you are unsure of what it takes for any of these roles, just ask any organizer at an event or me.

2017 Fleche
Fleche time is upon us!  The Fleche page is up running at :
All participants (captains AND team riders) should complete the registration form and sign the waiver that is included with the form.  Deadlines are provided, but earlier submissions are encouraged and appreciated.  This is ESPECIALLY true if you are a new team OR you intend to use a completely new route.

Website (
Several of you have noticed and identified several glitches on the website and the event registration page.  The best way I know how to describe these is growing pains.  The website originated with Tom who, from its inception, single-handedly created and maintained its content.  My skills as a webmaster pale in comparison, so I am working with Tom and Chris Nadovich to keep the website up to date.  It will be a work in progress for a while, but our objective is to simplify the site so that updates are less labor-intensive and easy enough for even me to undertake.  Please bear with us and point out any glaring errors you discover.

PA Randonneurs Membership
Many of you have asked about renewing membership in PA Randonneurs.  I have updated the old paper form and posted it on the website:
The on-line form is convenient but, until we can establish an on-line payment system, leaves everyone wondering how to pay and even how much.  By far the easiest way is to renew when registering for your first brevet of the season and many of you have used this approach.  The next best is to print the form and mail it to me along with your payment.  If you are an existing member, please note any changes to your contact information.  If you are a new member, please also fill in the Club Membership Form on the website which feeds the database of rider information.  Club membership remains $20 annually and gains you a free ride in January and a $5 registration discount for all other PA Randonneurs' events for the year.  

2016 Brevet Cards
I am mailing 2016 brevet cards on February 13 for all riders who did NOT complete the 2016 Fleche. You should see those in the coming days.  The fleche certification stickers for Eastern PA and a handful of other regions remain "in transit" for now.  Without them I cannot complete the year-end package assembly.  I will mail the packages for fleche finishers as soon as the missing certifications arrive.

This message board has proven to be the most reliable way for me to disseminate information without disrupting the delicate coding of the website.  It is normally the first location to be updated, at least for now.  You should link this page and check it out. You will also receive periodic email blasts when important notices are posted.   I am always interested in your feedback and am happy to answer any questions.  The best way to assure I see your question or comment is to email me.  Be sure to use a descriptive header so I can ignore it.

Andrew Mead
- Eastern PA RBA

Monday, February 6, 2017

February R12: Results

Preliminary results for the February R12 200k have been posted at:

Results will be submitted to RUSA for certification in a few days.

SUNSHINE was the word of the day as 18 riders set off from Ephrata in the morning chill (16F by some reports).  The sun made it feel warmer.  We were treated to a day with 0% chance of precipitation and riders made the most of it with several strong finishes, including a new course record, and a 100% completion rate.

As seems to be the tradition in PA Randonneurs, an unknown rando rookie, Sean Connolley showed up and aced the course.  He was followed closely by Tim Creyts, Gavin Biebuyck, and another relative newcomer Dale Houck.  Given the persistent northwest wind that picked up just as most were beginning the 50 mile westward trek, chappeau to these strong guys.

My appreciation also goes to Scott Franzen who helped with check-in duties in the morning and Gavin and James Holman who greeted most finishers at the end.  Be sure to thank these guys when you see them next.  Volunteer assistance is vital to this series.

The pre-ride efforts of Bill Fischer, Patrick and Ceclie Gaffney are also greatly appreciated.  Temperatures were a little warmer for them, but the winds were much stronger.  Thanks to them, the cue sheet was spot on.  I heard no reports of lost randos. 

Tim Creyts had this to say of the day:
Thanks for organizing a great ride.  The weather was great and held out for us.  The wind was fantastic when it was at our backs, but brutal when coming from any other direction. Having that tailwind for the last 30 miles was a great way to finish.  
My water bottles turned went into a "deep slush" before the first half, and I got a little dehydrated.  I drained them at the Conestoga controle and refilled them with warm water.  The rehydration was very welcome!  Crunchy snacks were better than soft chewy ones.  My granola bars had no change in texture in the cold, but I felt like I was gnawing on frozen cookie dough when I opened a Clif bar.
Thanks to the other volunteers and pre riders, too.
Jeff Lippincott writes:  Nice meeting you at yesterday's ride.  I wanted to let you know I had a really good time.  A little cold at the start, but the sun that came out around 8 am for almost the entire day made it nice.  Thank you very much for organizing the ride.

Jimmy Asparas sent this message:
Thanks for putting on the ride yesterday. It was the coldest 200k I've ridden to date, and hopefully it is the last time we have to deal with any kind of cold like that until next year. I had a good time riding with Gavin, Matt, and Dale but was eventually dropped after Conestoga due to wind, frozen water/Gatorade, and an inability to eat food with gloves. I thoroughly enjoyed the sights on the ride. I've never been up to Three Mile Island, so that was an interesting bit of history to see. I really liked the old stone houses on Boyd (Street?) a couple miles outside Annville in the old mining town. I also had the opportunity to see a bald eagle on the hunt about 10 miles out from the finish, so I'm going to say it was a pretty good day to ride bikes overall. Hope to see you at the next one!

The old stone houses are indeed on Boyd St as it passes through the old section of Cornwall, site of a historical iron furnace.

Steve Schoenfelder had this to say:  Thanks to Andrew, Gavin, and the volunteers for hosting a great February ride!

For me, brevets are all about exploring new places and gathering with other bicyclists.  Although a brisk 16 degrees at the start, the warm fellowship of the PA Randonneurs more than compensated for the chill.  I found the course to be challenging, with seemingly endless rollers of all sizes, but fun with great scenery including the Lancaster County farms, a covered bridge crossing the Conestoga River, many buggies, historic towns, and a really fun river trail that got me closer to the Three Mile Island nuclear plant than I had ever been before.  There was even time for a leisurely break in a Marietta pub with Joe and Greg.  The final controle proved to be a great venue to recover and socialize.  All in all, it was a wonderful event that I would gladly do again in a heartbeat!

Looking forward to our next adventure in March. 

We return to the Weisel Youth Hostel in Quakertown on March 25 for the beginning of the traditional ACP SR series.  Watch this site and the main PA website for additional details as the event date draws near.

Andrew Mead
- Eastern PA RBA

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

February R-12: Tempting Fate with the Lancaster Loop in Reverse

*** Update 1 ***

The course checkout rides occurred over the weekend.  The cue sheet has been updated and placed on the website.  Make sure you have the version dated 1/29/2017.

Although not easy, the Lancaster Loop is actually a little "kindler and gentler" than the historic "Spring Forward" route.

Mile 5.6: The covered bridge is being repaired.  The repairs appear to be primarily to the roof. The bridge deck is in good condition; riders can ignore the "road closed" sign and proceed across bridge.

Mile 66.2: The Northwest Lancaster River Trail is entered by crossing to the left shoulder of the new section of SR441:
Entrance to NWLCRT in Columbia (looks like a sidewalk here)

The Northwest Lancaster River Trail is gorgeous.  With the exception of a few very short sections of gravel it is paved the entire route and is well marked.  There are a few tricky sections but the cues provided are accurate.  I would recommend that riders follow the trail signs as seen in the photo. 
Mile 67.7, Furnace road is a little confusing as it looks like a private drive when approaching on the bike path.  It’s certainly easy enough to figure out.

Mile 68.9: Here the River trail diverts away from the river and onto city streets as it passes through Marrietta.  Riders should refuel at one of the pubs or off route stores as the next services are another 30 miles away in Annville. 

All of the roads seem to be in fine shape, even the shoulder on 322 was clean enough to allow us to go 50mph without any issues.

Thanks to Bill Fischer, Pat and Cecilie Gaffney for braving challenging winds to check out the route cue sheet.

The weather outlook remains dry this week.  That will be helpful since temperatures next weekend are due to return to seasonable norms (COLD).  Check this message board for any updates.

Andrew Mead

*** Original Post ***
After a snow-impacted January, I really struggled to settle on a route for our February R-12 brevet.  February is typically the most winter weather challenging month and, as we all now know, it only takes a little snow to make riding a bike hazardous.   For this reason we've typically opted for the Hopewell route in the winter months.  After two back-to-back riders there, it's time for a change of scenery.

We've ridden numerous variations of the Lancaster Loop route over the years, typically under the name "Spring Forward" as it generally occurred around the spring time change.  Ironically, the traditional forward direction for the loop is counter-clockwise (setting a clock back), but that a trival topic for a post-ride discussion sometime.  Only once have we ever used the route in the reverse direction, in December 2009.  We called it "Fall Backward" in keeping with the time change theme even though our December running was over a month after clocks had shifted and our reverse direction actually mimicked moving the clock forward.  While the brevet started out well and was a great hit with a Cafe Metzler breakfast about 25 miles in, it soon became a brevet that 20 riders will likely never forget.  Wet snow started falling as most left the breakfast control and never stopped all day.  It began accumulating as the sun set and deposited roughly 4 inches of snow on the road at the top of the final climb for the day.  PA Randonneurs contingency planning has come a long way since then.

Against this historical backdrop, you can understand the struggle I faced once I decided on this route.  I spent a lot of time trying to make it a little more weather friendly:  a few climbs have been bypassed and roads that get more timely winter maintenance were chosen.  There is a fantastic new recreational trail that bypasses a busy section of roadway (and a big hill) that has been beckoning me to use on a brevet.  And at the persistent insistence of one particularly fast rider who happens to live somewhat locally, I have chosen an alternate start-finish venue.  So with a long-range forecast looking generally favorable and what I hope is a season's worth of weather impacts occurring in January, I am happy to announce the Lancaster Loop in Reverse on February 4.

Details of the February brevet and the cue sheet will soon be on the website.  You can look at the map of the route HERE.  Please note that our starting location has been moved from the normal Ephrata K-Mart parking lot to Martin's Country Market, a small shopping center along US 322 just west of downtown Ephrata.  It's only a couple miles from the K-Mart, so those of you with a yearning for the Pancake Farm breakfast can still have breakfast with plenty of time to get to the start.  The payoff for this change is that Martin's is next door to the St. Boniface Craft Brewery which will serve as our finish location.  If pub fare isn't your thing, there are numerous other options along 322, so I'm hopeful that everyone will find this change an improvement.

The event registration link is already active on the PA Rando website, so you can make plans now.

Registered Riders (as of 2/2/2017)
1 Michael Anderson
2 Jimmy Aspras
3 Peter Bakken
4 Gavin Biebuyck  - volunteer
5 Sean P Connelly
6 Timothy T.  Creyts
7 Matthew Farrell
8 William Fischer  - preride volunteer
9 J Scott Franzen
10 Patrick Gaffney  - preride volunteer
11 Cecilie Gaffney  - preride volunteer
12 James R Haddad
13 Dale E Houck
14 Greg Keenan
15 Jeff Lippincott
16 Andrew D Mead  - organizer
17 Chris Nadovich
18 Joseph Ray
19 George Michael Retseck
20 Edward T Schantz
21 Steven J Schoenfelder

Andrew Mead
- Eastern PA RBA/Organizer

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Ride Results: Beyond Hope to Hopewell, Take 2

The top of Tunnel Rd, January 14, 2017 (photo by Guy H.)
Preliminary results for the 200k have been posted at:

Results will be submitted to RUSA for certification in a few days.

Persistence and patience finally paid off in January as the postponed replacement brevet for the snow-impacted January 4 event finally got under was on Saturday the 21st.  Twenty-six riders started.  ALL finished within the allotted time for a 100% completion rate.  Congratulations all!

Even though skies remained gray and damp most of the day (there were a few reports of a stray ray of sunshine), temperatures in the 40s and winds that remained calm contributed to some extremely fast times led by the tandem team of Kate Marshall and Victor Urvantsev and Jimmy Aspars caught in the vortex to crack the 8 hour barrier.  The day also minted two brand new randonneurs, Dale Houck and Jeff Lippincott

Organizer Bill Olsen talked with the Milford Bridge Street Bagels & Deli to confirm that it would be open and ready to serve as our starting location.  The owners were delighted to be inundated with cyclists on an otherwise slow Saturday morning and memorialized the occasion on their Facebook Page.  We plan to use this location again in the future.

Chris Nadovich provided a decent summary of the day's events:
Everybody made good time around the course and post-ride festivities developed nicely. We had quite a crowd gathered at the Ships in after the event. We took over the entire corner by the door.
There were several positive reviews of the Brick Farm Market at Hopewell.  The consensus was that Brick wasn't a controle to "blow through". It was worth taking some time and enjoying for a while.
Myself, I enjoyed the chocolate croissants which may now be the best in the land, as the Milford Bakery may be no more.

The epic story du jour seems to have been Doug H's broken spoke. This was a rear wheel, freewheel side spoke on a bike with disk brakes.  Until his spoke failed while climbing Tunnel Rd, Doug had been glued onto the fast wheel of first finishers V&K.  From what I was told, Doug actually FIXED THE SPOKE. That is to say, he disassembled everything to get at the problem -- including pulling the freewheel! He reassembled everything, trued the wheel, and was on his way. Rando mechanical competence at its finest.

Guy Harris reported,  "I too thought the skies lightened for just a brief moment while riding down 579. Generally a blah, foggy, damp day but temperature constant in mid-forties with no real wind. Good day for fast times. Pretty good for January!"

PA Randonneurs heads west in February to tackle a route not used since a certain epic event in December 2009.  I've spent a lot of time refining the course to better suit winter riding.  The starting location will be Ephrata, PA.  Details will be posted soon. 

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA