At long last, the colors of Autumn have arrived and for much of the day we were treated to glorious Fall scenery. The ride through the Aquashicola and Cherry valleys was splendid -- what with the warm sun, invigorating tailwind, rainbows, unicorns...
Ummm, well... I was really nice once we made it over Blue Mountain, but that was mile 60. There was somewhat of a battle through epic adversity prior to that.
Like the 30-40 mph headwind. Fortunately, much of the first 100K is protected by forest and ravine. Only in a few unfortunate exposed locations did we ride fully out into the open to be buffeted by that gale. One of those locations was the final drop off Blue Mountain, where the stiff crosswind, made hazardously intermittent by passing vehicles, added extra white knuckle interest to an already exciting descent. At the bottom of the mountain we turned to the East, and that was the end of the wind.
|Eric K and Chris N struggle against the headwind as snow clouds roll in. (Photo by Steve S)|
Also somewhat special (to use Ed Bernasky's word) was the snow squall that accompanied the wind. Not anywhere near as treacherous as the Hope to Hopewell snowpocalypse, but my jersey was significantly powdered by the big, white flakes.
The blissful Cherry Valley (aka, The Land of Unicorns) led us inevitably to a palace of happy treats at the Village Farmer in Delaware Water Gap. The lavatory facilities there may leave a little to be desired, but I've never had a disappointing meal there.
At DWG we turned South. With a rear quarter tailwind, riding remained easy. Soon we reached of my favorite views along the Delaware: the view from a high point on River Rd down into the gorge at Belvidere. Blocked by thick green foliage Spring and Summer, this view only appears in Fall and Winter. Being surprised by unexpected views like that are one of the compensating benefits of off-season rides.
After the penultimate controle at Skoogy's, the sun started to fade and the last of the rainbows and unicorns abandoned us to find a warmer, brighter place to frolic. The climb-before-the-climb in Harmony preceded the Turkey Hill final grind. Together these hills generated the ideal amount of sweat to induce a serious chill in me during the Sweet Hollow descent. Brrrrr...
But then, suddenly, we were done. There was Bill Olsen with rainbow pizza. Steve Schoenfelder treated me to some wonderful orange drink. A quick change into dry clothes and soon my shivvers stopped. Great ride! Let's do it again!
Steve Schoenfelder writes...
Many thanks and kudos to Bill Olsen for administering the Blue Mountain 200k.
It was cold, snowy (for about 10 minutes), windy, and climby, but the camaraderie common to PAR events came through to make the Blue Mountain 200 a fun ride. I really enjoyed riding with Eric, Chris, Paul, and Mike (who was riding his first brevet!) Lunch at the Apple Pie Bakery was a highlight with great homemade chicken soup to warm the innards, and a restorative grilled cheese sandwich. It was here that Chris demonstrated how you can increase the sodium content of a sugar donut by dunking it in chicken soup, a fad sure to be adopted by serious randonneurs everywhere.
This was my first grind over Turkey Hill Road. It arrived very late in the route when my thighs were screaming “enough already”, but at time when temperatures were plunging into the 30’s, and a two mile climb was precisely the remedy for frostbite prevention. The real trick was keeping warm on the brief six mile decent into Milford that followed.
Volunteer and randonneur extraordinaire Bill was patiently waiting for us with pizza at Pipolo’s: a great place to warm up, fill our bellies, and recount the adventures of the day.
Time after time I found myself saying: there is no place that I would rather be.
Thanks again to PA Randonneurs for putting on a great event!
Carpe diem quam minimum credula postero
Next weekend Bill will be hosting another brevet out of Milford, NJ, this one a 100K populaire. Then on 1 December PA Randonneurs will return to our roots, with a 200K brevet starting at College Hill WaWa, and finishing in College Hill Tavern in Easton PA. Hope you'll join us.