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.
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:
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

1 comment:

  1. I'm gettin excited and very impatient for the next year to pass reading your posts. I live on the other side of the state but am planning to try to get involved with y'all in spring'18 I'm recovering from a stroke and not on the bike yet but I'm very stubborn and even if I embarrass myself in a major way I'll be rolling next year