Monday, January 8, 2018

2018 PA R12 Series Kickoff: Beyond Hope to Hopewell 200k

***. Update 4 ***

We will try again.  The Beyond Hope to Hopewell brevet will be run on Saturday January 20.  All other details remain unchanged.  There will be no further postponements.

I have updated the registered riders list based on confirmations received since January 13.  If you still intend to clip in this weekend, please send me an email or re-register on the event page.  Thanks!

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA

*** Update 3 January 12 ***

It's hard to fathom that I was out in shirt sleeves at lunch and now I'm drafting a notice of winter weather impact on a brevet.  Such is the nature of winter brevet scheduling.
The Beyond Hope to Hopewell brevet scheduled for tomorrow, January 13, is POSTPONED AGAIN.  It appears as though the advancing cold front will bring a significant period of sleet and freezing rain early in the day with plummeting temperatures after that.  Rider safety is paramount and there's no way to assure that in such conditions.  We are investigating a postponement at the moment. Should that prove to be too difficult, the event will not be rescheduled.  Riders chasing the elusive PA R-12 can talk to me about options for a January completion to keep a streak alive.

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA

*** Update 2 January 7 ***
The Beyond Hope to Hopewell brevet has been rescheduled to Saturday, January 13, 2018.  All other aspects remain the same.  The on-line registration form should be working; you can email your request to register me if you have problems.

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA

*** Update 1 January 4 ***

The Beyond Hope to Hopewell brevet has been POSTPONED due to weather conditions that have made travel on roadways dangerous.  A reschedule date will be announced soon.

*** Original Post ***
Welcome to the 2018 PA Randonneurs R12 series.  It seems not so long ago that we were struggling against the weather to get our 2017 R12 series kicked off and here we are again.   We will reprise the Beyond Hope to Hopewell 200k, a route that usually benefits from excellent winter maintenance.  Fingers are crossed.  Organizer Bill Olsen will greet riders at the Bridge Street Bagel & Deli in Milford, NJ.  Parking is in the US HealthCare lot across Church St. from the Milford Market.  Ride details have been posted on the website.  Registration is open and will remain so through Thursday, January 4.

The route map link is here:
As always, riders are cautioned that the official route remains the cue sheet.  Navigation by GPS is at your own risk.

This year's kickoff promises to be memorable with forecast single-digit temperatures.  Riders will want to make sure that their winter riding gear is fully sorted before clipping in.  You'll know whether you make the proper selections relatively quickly.  The key word for the day is layers, and lots of them.

Riders are also reminded that lights and reflective gear are mandatory in view of the limited daylight hours and frequent overcast skies.

As in years past, PA Randonneur members will ride for free.  It you haven't renewed your membership for 2018, you can simply renew it at registration and enjoy the benefits for the rest of the year.  For those of you who have already renewed check-in will be quick.

Gear up, register, and get your 2018 randonneuring season started.

Andrew Mead
-Eastern PA RBA

Registered Riders (as of 1/15/2018)

1 Jimmy Aspras
2 Matthew Farrell
3 Jeff Lippincott
4 Rudolf Mayr
5 William Olsen - organizer
6 George Michael Retseck

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Cold Weather Riding Challenges: It's Not Just Clothing

Winter 2018 is looking to redefine epic weather for our January brevet.  Ironically the next issue of American Randonneur will include an article on clothing for winter riding which is likely to be a little late for near-term challenges.  Hint:  LAYERS and lots of them.

The challenges of cold weather brevets are not limited to clothing.  Bill Beck of DC Randonneurs recently offered his experiences on a New Year's Day permanent.  I've reproduced the essence of his findings below, with permission.

Yesterday, Emily Ranson, Jack Nicholson, and I set off on a New Years adventure on the Woodbine-Dillsburg permanent. Indicated temperatures at the start ranged from -0.3F on Emily's Garmin to +1F on my Wahoo Bolt. Temperatures warmed to around 19F at one point, and then dropped back to the single digits after it got dark. Here were some observations and lessons learned.

1) The "Extreme" Bar Mitts worked. I used light wool gloves inside the Bar Mitts, and my hands were pretty comfortable. With the standard Bar Mitts, my hands get cold below 20 degrees. I think Emily's hands were cold yesterday in the standard Bar Mitts.

2) Standard plastic "insulated" bottles were no match for the cold. Jack's Gatorade froze solid. Emily added salt to her water bottles, and there was some liquid remaining, but it was inaccessible since the top had frozen. Two things that worked: My Camelbak was underneath two out layers of clothing and remained liquid. Unzipping the two layers and pulling out the hose allows drinking while riding. Before pushing the hose back inside the clothing, it's worthwhile to close the lever at the bite valve to prevent leakage. (I know from bad experience.) Two stainless steel, vacuum thermos water bottles were also fully liquid at the end of the ride. The Ibera models are really nice since the valve is recessed into the bottle where it's protected from freezing, but sadly it doesn't seem that they make them anymore.

3) Much of our electronics was not happy in the cold! I brought along my new Gear 360 camera and wanted to try it riding along Cemetery Ridge at Gettysburg. Would have been pretty cool, right? But it turned on for about 5 seconds, went off, and would not revive. Both Jack and my phones were dead by the end of the ride. When I tried to connect my USB charger to the phone, the phone said it was too cold to charge! Please try again when it's warmer. (Emily's phone was still working, as of 100 miles into the ride.) The battery in my Wahoo Bolt ran down much faster than normal. Connecting a USB power pack had no effect, so the Bolt ended up running out of battery and turning off around 10 miles from the finish. Once things were warmed up at home, the Bolt charged and ran fine off of the USB power pack, so the no-charging problem was definitely cold-related. (Jack's Bolt performed much better. When my Bolt was down to 10%, his still had over 40% left.) So you think that you are protected by having a USB power pack, but it was no protection for either my phone or my Wahoo Bolt.

While I've not tried Bar Mitts, I can speak to the second and third points.  A CamelBak under my jacket has made quite a few cold weather rides possible.  It allows me to stay hydrated AND I get to enjoy relatively warm fluid which helps to maintain a comfortable core temperature.  Most convenience stores have a hot water available.

It's not just GPS and phone batteries that suffer in the cold.  Most important is your headlight if you rely on battery-powered lighting.  My own headlight battery, normally good for 6 hours, gave me the 30-minute reserve warning about 45 minutes into my New Year's Day adventure. As you'll likely need your light at the end of the ride, you might consider carrying the battery in your pocket for an hour or so before dark to warm it for use.

As you prepare for this weekend's brevet, plan ahead.  You and your gear will be tested. A solid plan will get you through to the finish.

Andrew Mead
-Eastern PA RBA

Monday, December 4, 2017

Ride Results: Little Britain 200k

Welcoming the sun's warmth.  Photo by R. Mayr

Preliminary results have been posted on the website at  Results will be submitted to RUSA in a few days and become final at that time.

Fifteen riders clipped in for the final R-12 brevet of 2017.  All fifteen eventually returned for another organizer's favorite 100% completion rate.  Temperature at the start was in the upper 20s which had many riders hopping around to keep warm.  Clear and sunny conditions allowed a quick warming to the mid-40s where it remained for much of the day.  The sun and light winds made conditions about as good as could be expected for a December brevet and most riders enjoyed themselves.  All but the earliest of finishers were treated to a few miles riding under a beautiful full moon which rose at sunset.  So while first finishers Gavin Biebuyck and Cameron O'Mara can claim first finisher bragging rights, those of us who took a bit longer were treated to more of nature's beauty.

Finishers were greeted by volunteer Steve Kraybill at the Highland Pizzeria.  I'm sure he was regaled with many great stories.  Steve rode the brevet route as a permanent earlier this year and is familiar with each and every hill it has to offer.  He would know embellishment.

Regular James Haddad once again decided he needed only one gear to get around the route and brought his fixed gear bike.  After hearing stories of Jim Holman's exploding cassette, James sat back as smiled rather smugly.  One can only wonder what thoughts ran through his mind while climbing Hill Rd or spinning down Yellow Mountain Rd.  To his credit, he uttered not one complaint to the route designer.

Congratulations to Jeff Lippincott who with this completion notched his first R-12 award and a PA R-12 at that.  It is notable that Jeff is following the path of several other PA randonneurs who commenced an R-12 string with their very first brevet.  Jeff's first was in January 2017 on the Beyond Hope to New Hope brevet and he has completed nearly every event on the PA calendar since.  He also found time for 1000k and 1200k events which allowed him to complete a RUSA Cup award.  Jeff has been busy in his first year of randonneuring and is well-positioned to notch the ACP R-5000 award.  Chappeau Jeff!

From Rudy MayrMany thanks for this and all the other brevets you've put on in 2017!  Yesterday's ride had beautiful scenery, acceptable weather, memorable aromas, great camaraderie  and excellent beer and pizza at the end.  Well done all round! 

Rudy's ride pictures can be viewed online.

Michael Povman commented:  Thanks again to you and the team for organizing yesterday’s ride.  While it was challenging I enjoyed the terrific farmland scenery and the well-maintained, quiet roads.  In fact on some I counted more Amish buggies than cars!  The weather was as good at it could have been for a December brevet, and after sunset the full moon lighting up mostly deserted roads made the last couple of hours a highlight for me.  Looking forward to doing this one again sometime.

Joe Ray had this to say:  Had a great ride yesterday - perfect weather, cold but calm winds, great roads and scenery.  It was also a treat being able to see the only Supermoon of 2017, both as it was setting on the drive west to get to the start and again on our right heading north to the finish as it rose.   Pizzeria finish is a definite plus.  Thanks to you and volunteers for making it all possible. 

Matt Farrell:  Thanks for running the course again. It was a near perfect Dec day to do the ride. I struggled for most of the middle of the ride but came around at the end. Sorry to have missed you at the end of ride celebration. 

Once again, fellow PA Randonneur organizer Chris Nadovich and I lead from the back of the field, though perhaps a bit further back than intended.  Chris arrived from Easton sans helmet.  Fortunately volunteer Ned Schantz was able to retrieve a helmet that fit while I wrapped up the registration details.  Ned showed up to offer his help at the start and saved Chris' ride.  Thanks Ned!  

We return to the east in January with the Beyond Hope to Hopewell brevet on January 6.  Details will be posted soon.

Thanks to everyone who participated in 2017 and to all the volunteers who have pitched in to make the year such a success.  Hope to see you all in the coming year.

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA

Sunday, November 26, 2017

December R12 Brevet: Little Britain

*** Update 1 ***
The cue sheet has been updated and posted on the website.  Make sure you have the version dated 11/26/2017.  For those of you familiar with the route, we are using the "winter bypass" that avoids a couple short stretches of gravel road.  The route is entirely paved in the broadest meaning of the term.

Please make note that the section crossing Texter Mountain following Control 2 (miles 29 - 40) has already seen some slick conditions prompting the application of anti-skid materials.  Avoid outrunning your guardian angel on the descents.

*** Original Post ***
Details and event registration for the final R12 brevet of 2017 have been posted on the website.  Registration will remain open through 5pm on November 30.

This route offers a different twist on Lancaster County by looping generally north and south from a central start-finish location.  The route is laid out generally as a figure-8 and returns to the start location after 60 miles providing a safety bail-out should weather conditions or rider conditioning take a turn for the worse.  The route map is here.

Breakfast is available nearby at the Oregon Dairy Restaurant, approximately 1 mile north of the start location along SR 272.  The food is good and plentiful and there's even a breakfast buffet.  The baked oatmeal is one of my favorites.  The restaurant opens at 6am which leaves ample time for breakfast and to make you way to the start.  Please note that the starting time is 7:30 am to avoid having to start in the dark and allow plenty of time for a hearty breakfast.

Our finish controle will be at the Highland Pizzaria in the shopping center.  It offers a decent selection of food for hungry riders and an excellent selection of beer for those wanting a few liquid carbs to assist in post-ride replenishment.

Parking is not abundant at the start finish area, but there should be enough to manage.  We will be staging for the start at the north side entrance along Landis Valley Rd   You should park in that general area away from the store fronts.  Carpooling will help.  There is ample additional parking at the Landis Valley Farm Museum about 1/4 mile from the start on the opposite side of Oregon Pike.

Finally, as the end of the year approaches you should take the time check your RUSA and PA Randonneurs membership status and renew, if necessary.   You can renew your RUSA membership at:   The PA membership list is posted on website at: .

Andrew Mead
- Eastern PA RBA

Registered Riders (as of 11/30/17 )
1 Jimmy Aspras
2 Marc Bernardo + membership
3 Gavin Biebuyck
4 Matthew Farrell
5 J Scott Franzen
6 James R Haddad
7 James P. Holman
8 Greg Keenan
9 Jeff Lippincott
10 Alexander Manta
11 Nicholas Manta
12 Rudi Mayr
13 Andrew D Mead - organizer
14 Chris Nadovich
15 Cameron O'Mara + membership
16 Michael D Povman + membership
17 Joseph Ray + membership
18 George Michael Retseck

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Ride Results: Milford 100k

Preliminary results have been posted at:
Results will submitted to RUSA in a few days and become official at that time.

The prospect of windy, cold, wet weather had many registrants re-thinking their plans for the Milford 100k with half of the field opting to stay inside and warm.  Four hearty randonneurs clipped in and, along with tireless organizer Bill Olsen who completed the course check-out ride the weekend earlier, finished for a 100% completion rate.  Temperatures were moderate compared to the week before and the rain held off for a while so riders at least didn't have to start in the rain.  Congratulations to Sean O'Connor who notched his first populaire finish.  After finishing the Milford course, he should be ready to tackle a brevet. 

Much appreciation goes to organizer Bill Olsen.  You've seen him at a majority of the 2017 brevet events as he is tireless in making sure PA Randonneurs can offer the number of quality events on the calendar.  Bill's insistence that we include populaires on the calendar is the reason the Milford 100 happens.  Not only is it a way to attract new potential randonneurs, but it offers another opportunity for randonneurs pursuing the RUSA Cup. Be sure to thank Bill the next time you see him.  As for populaires in 2018, we scheduled only the October 150k for now.  RUSA has eased the requirements for adding new events to the schedule.  Our intent is to offer a few more populaires in 2018, but consider volunteer availability, rider interest, and weather with the hope that populaires will be well attended and fun.

Next up is the Little Britain 200k on December 2.  Event details have been posted on the website.  A partial course checkout ride yielded a few minor tweeks to the cue sheet.  Look for an update after Thanksgiving.

Andrew Mead
-Eastern PA RBA

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Ride Results: Blue Mountain 200k

Preliminary results have been posted at:
Results will submitted to RUSA in a few days and become official at that time.

After a string of unseasonably pleasant brevets our run of good luck was snapped for the Milford, NJ start of the Blue Mountain 200k.  The mercury had dipped to 20F as riders clipped in.  Riders reported that it was a little slow starting out in the cooler early morning temperatures but once they reached the Wind Gap controle they had tailwinds all the way to Danielsville and the very welcomed Miller's Market controle.  The snow blowing onto the roadway from Blue Moutain was a warning of the tough section ahead up into the headwinds funneling through Lower Smith Gap Road.  Once riders made it to Water Gap and headed south along the river they all knew they had the rest of the ride 'in the bank.'  Sunny skies and moderating temperatures made for a decent day for a brevet and another 100% finish rate.

Congratulations to freshly minted randonneurs Alexander Manta and Zachary Rachell who braved the less than ideal weather to notch their first brevets.  I'm sure we'll be seeing more strong finishes from these two.

Jimmy Asparas typed this after his fingers thawed.

Hey Bill,

Thanks for organizing the ride yesterday. I always appreciate the volunteers that get up so early and hang around all day for us riders.

It was the coldest start since February, and the wind added another element to the mix that made for a slow day. I fought the wind with Chris Maglieri until a couple miles from Miller's Market. I have to give a shoutout to Miller's - the woman working there was super nice and even gave me a free banana because she said they were on the way out. I wouldn't be opposed to making that the stop of our future Danielsville controles.

The climb up Blue Mountain was nice to warm up the body after the controle. The unexpected snow making being blown into the road/my face on the descent was...interesting.

I enjoyed some pretty nice views and was thankful that we made a left onto 191 instead of a right up to Fox Gap. Although maybe if I was feeling better maybe I would have made the right for kicks ;)

I found my legs somewhere right after Water Gap and had a decent ride all the way back, finishing just before it got too dark which was my goal for the day.

With Saturday's completion, Jimmy Aspras he joins an elite group of PA Randonneurs who have earned the PA R-12 honor.  The R-12 is hard enough in its own right, but to complete 12 consecutive monthly PA brevets is quite the accomplishment.  Chappeau, Jimmy!

Special thanks to Bill Olsen and his able assistant Chris Nadovich for their exceptional organizational skill.  Bill even managed to pre-ride next weeks 100k route while everyone else rode the 200.

Next up is the Milford Populaire 100k starting from the same Bridge Street Bagel & Deli venue as this weekend's 200.  Starting time is 7:00am.  Registration is open through 5pm Thursday.

Registered Riders as of 11/16 include:
1 Jimmy Aspras
2 Marc Bernardo
3 Jane M  Brown
4 Joe A Brown
5 Sean O'Connor
6 William Olsen - organizer
7 Michael D Povman
8 Aleksey M Vishnyakov
9 Naomi Wyatt

In December we will head west to Lancaster County for the Little Britain 200k starting from Landis Valley near Lancaster.  Mark your calendar and make plans now for this December 2 season ender.

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA

Sunday, October 29, 2017

November Events: Milford R12 & Populaire

*** Update 1 ***

The Eastern PA Blue Mountain 200k will take place on November 11th leaving out of Milford, NJ. The start is at the Milford Bridge Street Bagels & Deli which will open 6AM on Saturday.  When we first used this facility in January the owner was delighted to be inundated with cyclists on an otherwise slow Saturday morning and is looking forward to seeing us again.

Please note that the municipal parking lot across from the Deli allows only 2 hours parking and please DO NOT do not park your car there. Parking is available in a parking lot off of Church St (down the the street from the Bakery).  There are "No Parking" signs but PA Randonneurs has permission from US Health Care: to use the lot for our event.

The controle in Water Gap is at another bakery.  But right next door, there is the Apple Pie CafĂ©  if you would like a more substantial sit-down meal.  You may get your brevet card signed at either location.

 I want to emphasize taking extra care with those RR crossings early on, as noted on the cuesheet -- especially if you find yourself in a large, fast bunch as you approach these hazards.  The second one at mile 7.2 will be extremely treacherous, especially if it is wet.

The finish controle is at the Ship Inn, just down the street from the Bridge Street Bagel & Deli start, where organizer Bill Olsen will greet you.

SPOT GPS Trackers will be handed out to a couple of riders at the start. The webpage with links to the trackers is here:

A volunteer preride was completed by Bill Olsen this past weekend.  Bill reports:

"... This was the first time we had ridden the Blue Mountain 200K in the Fall, having last run this route in March 2015 and it was great to be able to revisit the course again especially when the leaves were still in their full colors.  Thanks again for choosing this route for our November event.

I particularly enjoy the re-routing at mile 29.2 due to the continued bridge closure on Grand Central Road and original Pen Argyl Road routing.  I also enjoyed the last climb up Turkey Hill Road if only to provide me with a greater appreciation for our more frequent use of Tunnel Road for THAT climb up to Route 579, and the 3 mile descent down Sweet Hollow is a very welcome reward!
Following a very foggy start from Milford it was nice to take the LHT off of Creek Road onto Winters Road and emerge from the fog into the sun.  As with all the Eastern PA rides, the route was a fantastic mix of interesting terrain and beautiful scenery.

In general the cue sheet was pretty much spot on, and, in general, the roads were in pretty good shape, with a couple having been resurfaced since we last rode this route.  There were no real problems with any roads, but there were a few spots you may want to make note of.

-Mile 6.7 Caution crossing the RR Tracks and sharp RHT
-Mile7.2 Bad angle on RR Track crossing
-Mile 16.3 - right turn onto Abbott St - there is a pothole in the turn that could cause some pinch flats as well as other road expansion cracks to be aware of as one rides through Phillipsburg
-Mile 31.9 Merwarth Road is now marked
-Mile 34.3 - QR - Eighth St - There is a sunken metal grate in the turn that takes up almost the entire riding lane.  One should carefully steer around it.
-Mile 44.6 - Delps RD is probably one of the roughest roads on the route.  It is not horrible, but there a few spots areas where one needs to look for a good line and caution should be taken if riding in a large group.
-Mile 51.4 – Rt. 946/ Mountain View Drive is now marked.
-Mile 52.1 – Miller’s Market Controle parking lot is not paved.  Use caution when entering of of Rt. 946.
-Mile 53 - There is a lot of gravel and debris on the shoulder of the climb up Blue Mountain Drive.
-Mile 79.4 -Cherry Valley Rd – This stretch has some areas with broken up road surfaces as one enters town, just prior to 611.
-Mile 93.6 - Sandy Shore Dr. - Gravel in this turn and as well as along the entire shore drive – Note the name of the road.
Mile 94.8 – River Road is now marked
Mile 96.9 – Riverton Road is now marked
-Mile 119.4 - Sweet Hollow Road - Gravel and rough road in this turn.

Other than these spots the course was in pretty good shape, as we mentioned before.   And a couple of other important reminders:
- Lighting and reflective gear will be inspected at the start
- Print out a cuesheet for yourself
...And most importantly, be sure to have a **safe ride***!

Bill Olsen
- organizer

*** Original Message ***
Following the highly enjoyable October Fall Classic, we return to the lower key R12 events for the rest of the year starting with the Milford 200k R12 brevet on November 11 and the Milford 100k populaire on November 18.  Organizer Bill Olsen pleaded to have the two occur on different dates so he could further boost his annual mileage toward K-Hound status.

The website will be updated soon, but the 200k route (we know this is what most of you want to see anyway) is here:

The populaire route is here:

Registration for both is open.

So mark your calendars and make plans for one or both.

Registered Riders, Nov 11 200k (as of 11/10)
1 Jimmy Aspras
2 M Bernardo
3 Timothy T.  Creyts
4 Matthew Farrell
5 William Fischer
6 Gregory W Forshey
7 Diane Goodwin
8 Michael J Gorman
9 Vadim Gritsus
10 James R Haddad
11 Eric  K Hannon Ford
12 Greg Keenan
13 Jeff Lippincott
14 Christopher Maglieri
15 Nicholas Manta
16 Alexander Manta
17 Rudi Mayr
18 Chris Nadovich
19 William Olsen - organizer
20 Michael D Povman
21 Zachary Rachell
22 Chris Readinger
23 George Michael Retseck
24 Bob Torres

Registered Riders, Nov 18 100k (as of 11/16)
1 Jimmy Aspras
2 Marc Bernardo
3 Jane M  Brown
4 Joe A Brown
5 Sean O'Connor
6 William Olsen - organizer
7 Michael D Povman
8 Aleksey M Vishnyakov
9 Naomi Wyatt

The December R12 event on December 2 will return to Lancaster County with a redux of the Little Britain 200k.  I've been following the PennDOT Bridge Work website and believe that all required bridges will be intact.  A planned pre-ride in a couple weeks will confirm.

Thanks for the patience and perseverance this year you've all shown this year.  We focus our efforts on organizing the events so oftentimes the website is a bit slow to catch up.  If you could only see behind the curtain of the PA Randonneurs internet presence ....

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA