Monday, July 16, 2018

PA R12 Series: RUSA's 20th Anniversary, The Midnight Express

*** UPDATE 8/5/2018 ***

A course checkout ride was completed on Saturday and you will all be glad that it was.  Both the original cue sheet and the original GPS track contained errors that would have left you wondering.  BOTH have been updated and posted on the website.  If you are planning to ride, make sure you have the version marked REVISION 1.

We started the checkout ride in the rain.  There are several metal grate bridges and railroad crossings along the way that are especially treacherous when wet (one rider went down in spite of all the warnings).  The bridges and railroad crossings are marked in the cue sheet.  You will want to heed those precautions, even if it's not raining.  Summer humidity usually means a heavy dew settling just after dark.  These hazards will be slippery. 

ALSO NOTE:  there is a short (~1/2 mile) section of gravel road on this route.  Earlier recon rides found a wonderfully smooth stretch with near stone-free wheel tracks that made for nice riding.  It appears that new gravel was added not long before the checkout ride.  We had to deal with loose stones, but not deep gravel.  My hope is that the road condition will return to its normal state by the time of the brevet.  The gravel section is noted on the cue sheet.  

Thanks to a very understanding group of volunteers who added about 5 extra miles of wandering about as I reworked the route on the fly in the steamy afternoon heat.  


RUSA 20th Anniversary Commemorative Medal

We are going to do something really different in honor of RUSA's 20th Anniversary: an evening brevet start.  Why?  A few reasons, but most notably because night riding, in case you don't already know, is a lot of fun.  The tunnel of light cast by a bicycle headlight limits what you see clearly.  Clouds or a moonless night mean you might not even seen anything outside of the headlight beam.  Other senses must pick up the slack to satisfy you mind's craving for stimulus.  Sounds and smells you might otherwise ignore are suddenly at the fore.

An evening start has better potential to avoid the heat of the day that is typical in August without necessitating a trip to the Poconos.  It is rare for overnight temperatures to remain above 80.  You might even want to bring along a pair of arm warmers as overnight lows in the 50s are not beyond possibility.

PBP starts are generally in the evening.  What better way to discover how your body will respond than to try an evening start event?

Night riding encourages riding with with others.  During the longer events we usually recommending grouping up as darkness falls.  There is safety in numbers.  A group of reflector-clad randonneurs stands out to motorists.  There are more eyes scanning the road ahead for gravel, potholes, and the occasional nocturnal animal scurrying across the road.  Navigation is usually easier with more people; some can read cues while other scan the darkness for road signs.  Camaraderie!

Starting with one of PA Randonneurs' perennial favorite routes, The Brandywine 200, a few changes were added to simplify navigation in the dark and to adjust controls to locations that will be open regardless of the hour of your arrival (well, save for one info control).  While a full moon is a week away, the First Quarter coincides with our ride so riders will enjoy a decent amount of moonlight providing the skies are clear.  There are numerous vistas along the route that should be spectacular in the moonlight.

This event will also allow lighting systems to be tested.  Riders are cautioned that this route covers predominately rural areas.  Street lamps are few and far between.  Portions of this route were scouted during a New Moon which further emphasized the absence of artificial lighting.   A helmet-mounted 1000+ lumen auxiliary lamp helped, added so I could read road signs while checking a cue sheet, but anything not directly in my light beams remain unseen (though not always unheard).

All riders are required to have at at least one bike-mounted headlight and two taillights.  A backup headlight is strongly encouraged.  Battery powered lights are excellent choices for your backup headlamp since it is very hard to deal with mechanicals using dyno-powered lighting alone.  You'll also want a light for reading a cue sheet.  Fresh batteries are recommended for all of your battery powered lights.  You will also find batteries at the control locations. 

Full reflective gear is also required.  Requires are listed on the event page.  Lights and reflective gear will be checked at the start before you receive your brevet card.

A post-ride breakfast is planned for the finish.  Not since a snowy December day in 2009 has PA Randonneurs visited Cafe Metzler for breakfast.  Thankfully, we do not anticipate any wintry weather this time.  George will be cooking up a variety of breakfast items that will surely include pancakes, bacon, and eggs along with plenty of drinks to replenish you after a long night's effort.  Breakfast will most likely be ready around 6am (our current plan).  You could end up having to wait for breakfast if you return to the finish significantly faster than 11 hours.  A post-ride nap could be risky since Cafe Metzler does not offer a wake-up service.

With all this in mind, the organizers emphasize that this brevet is not a speed contest.  Average speeds should be lower owing to the increased challenge of nighttime navigation.  Route changes in the interest of simplifying navigation also mean it is possible to ride the route more quickly.  This is especially true compare to the Brandywine route from which it is derived.  This route has decidedly fewer vertical challenges in the second 100k.  Our hope is that all riders will resist the urge to shoot for a course record and instead enjoy the adventure.  Ride at a more relaxed pace, take a little extra time at the controls or interesting places along the way, have a conversation with your fellow randonneurs as you ride, and finish closer to 11-12 hours than 8-9.   To help, the second control in West Chester is an open control.  It was noted on an early scouting adventure that there are a number of streetside cafes and pubs along Market St. which are quite inviting in the evening.  You can still control at the 7-Eleven if you wish, but a receipt/initials from any of the eateries along Market St will suffice.  You should treat the 7-Eleven as a point of no return.  There are almost no options for a West Chester control beyond that point.

It promises to at least be something different.  This is not your ordinary R12 brevet.  Also different is that there will be unique hardware passed out to successful finishers.  Like may RUSA events occurring in August of this year, we celebrate RUSA's 20th anniversary.  So you'll get a really cool medal (see image above) when you finish.  What more could you ask?

Registration is open.  Check out the event page and sign up now.

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Ride Summary: YARRRR 2018

A miraculous break in the heat-wave created near perfect weather for riding through the Philly suburbs. Other than one unexpected obstacle, the reverse, revised, and nearly detour-less river to river route provided a fun day on the bike.

Preliminary results have been posted at the PA Rando web site.
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!

First finisher Scotty S set the YARRR course record with his 7:47 minute effort, with Don J and Tim C in under 9 hours and also beating the previous record. That's quite an achievement for a course with so little flat, straight road.  The shock wave of their passing through may have downed a tree in Evansburg State Park.

Guy H through the fallen tree in Evansburg SP
Although it's not proven that the force of Scotty, Don, and Tim's wake was the cause, the tree did, in fact, fall sometime during the day of the ride. Early finishers did not encounter it and it was not down during either of the pre-rides. Riders that were blocked used a variety of strategies to get around. Some bushwhacked through the adjacent poison ivy, some slogged through a muddy horse trail, others reversed course and logged some bonus miles in a roundabout road detour.

Because of the electrical wires entwined with the branches, most riders wisely kept their distance. As a general rule, this is the  approach to possibly electrified downed trees.  Rule, or more like guideline? Fixed gear rider Joe D, along with fellow Sinister Nut, Guy H, made a careful evaluation of  the wreckage and weighed the risks. They chose to ignore the warnings of nearby "ranger Rick" and simply went through the tree --- with no problem. Very interesting.

A modification in this year's edition of YARRR included more of the Saucon Rail trail, eliminating some climbs around DeSales University. This new section of trail currently requires navigating a town park, which can be a little confusing. Most riders didn't require nav assistance from the secret controle volunteer. All riders eventually made it through. We understand that plans are in the works for a trail bypass to be built that will eliminate this confusion in the future.

Congratulations to James H who pre-rode the route the prior weekend when it was nearly 20 degrees warmer.  His finish completed his second PA-R12.  James has a string of 24 consecutive months with PA Randonneurs event completions.  Chappeau, James!

Next up is the RUSA 20th Anniversary ride on August 18.  Registration is open.  Watch this message board for additional details.

Chris Nadovich
Ride Organizer

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

July 200K YARRR (Update 7/3... 7/5)

*** Update 7/5 ***
Another pre-ride was conducted on 5 July by Nadovich and Mead. Here are a few up-to-the-minute notes:

0.0 The first parking lot at the start is small and may fill -- there is additional parking further down the island. 

13.8 Unlike previous versions of YARRR, we stay on the rail trail and navigate through the town park, re-entering the woods and following the trail again, until Flint Hill Rd. If you follow the old route you'll climb a few unnecessary hills and possibly be DQed should there be a secret controle in that town park. 

33.4 The right onto rt 29 is easy, but the two subsequent lefts are difficult, uphill, cross-traffic turns. Don't be too proud to dismount and cross on foot if necessary.

40.1 Fresh chip seal on Reifsnyder Rd -- not to bad, but be careful on turns.

53.5, 54.1 Quarry Rd and Wall St. These are downhill right turns that are NOT at the bottom of the hill. Both are easy -- and painful -- to miss. The Wall St sign is hidden by trees. 

58.9 Artisans Cafe was closed. They should be open on Saturday but as this is an open controle, feel free to choose another place. James H reported that the place next to Artisan's has excellent iced kombucha. 

68.3 Good News! The water fountains at Evansburg Park now dispense potable water (notice dated 7/3/18)

74.6 The first left after Bunton Rd is unmarked and looks like a private road into a park -- because it is. It's really the first feasible left. The cue is accurate in my opinion. Don't miss it or you'll have a painful merge onto busy Rt 63. 

80, 82.1  The Wawa is not a controle, but you may want to stop here for water. Don't eat too much or you'll spoil your appetite for dessert at Sundae School just 2.1 miles further.

84 Where Branch Rd crosses Schwenksmill we observed paving in progress. You should have a nice new paved section of Branch to ride on by Saturday. If, however, Branch is blocked, navigate North (left) to 5th street, cross 313, and then navigate south on Old Bethlehem to rejoin the course turning left at Sweetbriar.

108.2  Delaware River Fish and Boat access ramp. Excellent for a refreshing swim. By the time you walk across the bridge you'll stop dripping and won't leave wet footprints around Milford Market. 

124.7  Jimmy's at the finish controle has ice cream, doggies, and other decent food. Across the street by the river is the outdoor Sand Bar pavillion that has cold beer. If you don't see the finish controle volunteer at Jimmy's, check at the Bar.  

*** Update 7/3 ***
A pre-ride was conducted on 30 June by James Haddad. He reports the course is in good shape.  Cue sheet and RWGPS on the event page have been updated to reflect his observations.

Several of the bridge closures that required detours in previous versions of YARRR have been eliminated.  The infamous Keim St bridge in Potstown is exactly in the state we left it last year -- maybe some more rust and weeds. The construction/demolition they have been threatening is still motionless. Thus, with positive waves we expect these bridges to be there on Saturday. Enjoy a somewhat shorter route!

Well, not all the bridges were OK. A bridge at about mile 72 near Fourty-Foot Rd is out, out. No bridge, just creek. James decided to ford the creek, which seemed to him like a great idea in the 90+ temps last Saturday. In case biking through creeks is not something you want to try, the latest cue sheet incorporates a simple detour. 

There are several rail trail segments in this ride. The first one you encounter is in Hellertown. In past versions of YARRR, we exited the trail early to avoid some confusion near a town park beginning at mile 13.8. In this version, we transit the park to stay on the trail all the way to Flint Hill, thus avoiding several small climbs. The confusion in the town park seems more manageable now. Signs and paved paths have been added. You proceed generally on the left side of the parks and fields and eventually the trail returns to the woods. Cues and RWGPS have been updated to guide you through the park. 

Given the expected heat, you will need more than just the controles for cooling and hydrating supplies. Consider using the fountain at Evansburg, mile 68.3,  Wawa at mile 80,  and the Milford Market at mile 108.  

Have a great ride!

Chris Nadovich, organizer 

*** New Start Time ***

Given the probability of very hot weather for the YARRR 200K on 7 July, I have moved up the start time to 6AM, the earliest we can reasonably start from Hugh Moore Park. This will save an hour of riding in the heat.
Chris Nadovich, organizer

*** Original Post ***

For the R-12 series on 7 July we will be running the much preferred counter-clockwise version of the YARRR  200K brevet with all the difficult climbs incorporated into the first 100K during cool morning hours. The second half, ridden in the heat of the day, mostly uses moderate, shady roads along creeks, and finally along the Delaware. You'll visit three rivers, traveling from an island in the Lehigh, to the Schuylkill, to the Delaware. Along the way there are numerous food and drink options, and points of interest. The finish controle, at Jimmy's Doggie Stand, has readily available ice cream and cool beverages.

Event details are posted at the PA Randonneurs  web site.

*** 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, if this is the first time you've driven to Hugh Moore Park as a start controle, consider that 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.

- 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:
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.

- 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:

Keep the rubber side down!
Chris Nadovich 

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Ride Report: Hawk's Nest 200k

Preliminary results for the New Holland 200k are also posted on the website at:
Please let me know of any corrections or changes necessary.  These results will be submitted to RUSA in a few days and will become official pending ACP certification.

Congratulations and many thanks to long-time PA Rando regular and now first-time event organizer Bill Fischer for handling the duties for the Hawk's Nest 200.  Any brevet resulting in a 100% finish rate and 0% emergency RBA call is successful in my book.  If you aren't aware, Bill sandwiched the inaugural Blue Ride to Bay 1200k in between his course check-out ride on Memorial Day weekend and the Hawk's Nest 200.  Knowing Bill, I'm certain he would have enjoyed riding again yesterday just as much.

It was a great day for a ride.  Sixteen riders clipped in for the start and all sixteen returned for a 100% completion on the day.  Many new folks joined us for this beautiful ride in the Poconos, up through Canadensis and Promised Land to Lake Wallenpaupak before leisurely working their way down along the Lakawaxan and Delaware Rivers back to the Village Farmer & Bakery (Apple Pie Deli) for their delicious fresh smoked barbecue.  Congratulations to newly minted randonneurs Robin Rootkin and Darryl Southwood as well as first-time PA brevet finishers Brian Hanson-Harding, Jim Vreeland, and Oliver Zong.

The weather cooperated and several of those riding last weekend’s events in NJ and DC commented it was nice to be able to finish a ride in dry gear.  Temperature were in the mid-70s and between the shade coverage provided by the vegetation in the Poconos and the late afternoon cloud coverage, riders were treated to relatively mild Summer (Late-Spring) riding conditions.

The ascent up Old Mine Road was still marked by the rough road surface from multiple years of superficial patching but riders noted that the loose gravel on the initial steep pitches was noticeably missing.  As it was still on the upper, more level top of the climb it was concluded that all of the rain this Spring may have washed the gravel off this section.

The Spring weather also had resulted in numerous new potholes on River Road as it enters the last Worthington State Forest section along the Delaware.  While riders needed to watch for the potholes, and could steer around them, it did also serve to slow the automobile traffic down as they avoided the potholes, and although still not down to the ‘posted’ 15 MPH, was conserably less that what drivers have been previously noted speeding through this area. (Not a proponent of lousy roads, but in this section it was nice to see it slow down the excessive speeds.)

Those that weren't too busy watching the road apparently spent a lot of time nature watching.

Tim Creyts writes, Thanks to all the volunteers and organizers who made yesterday's ride run smoothly. That was a great day for riding.  One if the highlights of the ride for me was the porcupine crossing Old Mine Road (yes, it was alive) and a mile or two farther down the road, a quail hen and her chicks crossed in front of me. (Not so secretly, I am envious of Don Jagel's bobcat sighting).

Bill Olsen observed, I saw a turkey hen w/ about 8 chicks.  When she saw me she stopped and squatted down in the grass.  I could still see her but the chicks disappeared in the grass.

Two riders completed the route on fixed gears:  James Haddad and Rudi Mayr.  James reports, Joe and Greg we behind us for a little bit (then they blew past us) and commented that it was hysterical watching us, Rudi was riding ~67 gear inches and I am riding ~55 inches prepping for some hilly rides, I was spinning out of control on everything that wasn't a climb. Congrats to you both!  It's not the worst, but it's far from the most fixie-friendly route in the PA Rando catalog.

Under the heading of Rando Camaraderie comes this story from CJ ArayataIn the haze that was post-Hawks Nest, my partner and I managed to forget the dynamo front wheel to our tandem in the Park-N-Ride lot. I don't think there are any extremely close randos in the area, and I don't have much hope, but does anyone know anyone that might be able to swing by and potentially retrieve?  He posted his plea early Sunday morning and by mid-day, local rando Scott Steingart who lives in nearby East Stroudsburg had retrieved the forgotten wheel.

Next up we head to Easton for the Yet Another River to River Ride 200k organized by Chris Nadovich on July 7.  Event details are on the website.  Registration will open soon.

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA

Friday, May 25, 2018

PA R-12 Series Resumes: Hawk's Nest 200k

*** UPDATE June 8 ***
The Hawk's Nest route enjoys generally low traffic roads and cooler temperatures.  The cost of those benefits is that control locations can be scarce as many local businesses in the region maintain limited hours.  Some have folded altogether. 

You will likely want to grab breakfast before reaching the start on Saturday.  We depart 90 minutes before the Village Farmer opens.  Our early start gives all riders a good chance to reach the Flats Deli control before it closes at 4pm and return to the finish while the Village Farmer BBQ is running (until 8pm).  The downside to our early start is that fast riders may reach The Corner at Eldred before it opens at 11am. 

You have options.  You can take a more relaxed pace to Eldred so you arrive near 11am.  There is plenty of beautiful scenery along the route to enjoy.  You can relax and wait for The Corner to open.  You've obviously been riding hard if you arrive closer to the control opening time of 9:37 and deserve a rest.  If you arrive before 9:37, you must wait until then to check into the control.  While waiting, you can contemplate stepping up your game in one of the endurance cycling competitions that occur each June.  Or you can use an alternate control due to the primary control being closed.  Unlike the Flats Deli location, Eldred offer options.  There is a diner on Rt 55 just before the control and the C-store and grocery across Rt 55 from The Corner which are all open during the open times of the control.  Have them initial and time stamp your card, save a receipt to indicate where you controlled, and ride on.

Hope this helps.

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA

*** UPDATE May 29 ***
Course checkout rides were completed over the weekend.  An updated cue sheet has been posted.

Our original plans for a leisurely late-morning start have been changed due to limited operating hours of Flat's Deli and the closure of the Apple Pie Cafe.  There is also summer heat to consider.  As such, the ride will begin at 6:30am, NOT 8:30 as previously mentioned.  While this means we will miss breakfast with the Village Farmer, we have confirmed that it's summer BBQ will be operating in the front yard until 8pm.

We are also strongly recommending that all riders park in the Park-N-Ride lot near the I-80 Interchange, across the street from the Pennsylvania Welcome Center. It's just a short roll down Broad St from there to the Village Farmer.

*** Original Post ***
Details and registration links for the Hawk's Nest 200k have been posted on the website.  This event will take place on June 9 under the organizational skills of Bill Fischer.  Please note that the start time for this popular event has been changed to a leisurely 8:30 am so that all riders can enjoy a hearty pre-ride breakfast at the Village Farmer & Bakery.

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA

Registered Riders (as of June 7)
1 Charles J Arayata
2 Timothy T.  Creyts
3 Natalie Felice
4 William Fischer - organizer
5 James R Haddad
6 Brian Hanson-Harding
7 Donald Jagel + membership
8 Greg Keenan
9 Rudi Mayr
10 Chris Nadovich - volunteer
11 William Olsen
12 Joseph Ray
13 Robin Rootkin
14 Paul G Shapiro
15 Daryl Southwood
16 Scotty Steingart
17 Jim Vreeland
18 Oliver Zong

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Water Gap 600 / New Holland 200 Ride Report

Preliminary results for the Water Gap 600k have been posted on the website at:

Preliminary results for the New Holland 200k are also posted on the website at:

Please let me know of any corrections or changes necessary.  These results will be submitted to RUSA in a few days and will become official pending ACP certification.

Weather has been a big factor in the 2018 PA SR Series and the 600k was no exception.  Rain was the big story for the 600.  Lots of rain.  Fifteen riders clipped in for the 600k and rolled out into light rain with the thermometer registering around 48F.  Temperatures climbed only sightly and the rain persisted throughout the day and into the night.  A tropical air mass moved in Sunday morning and steamed the riders who had shivered the day before.  By Sunday afternoon only nine of the fifteen completed the adventure to qualify their 600k effort.  These fellows are a tough bunch of randonneurs.

With the completion of the 600, five riders have earned the prestigious PA SR award:  Jimmy Aspras (2), James Haddad (3), Jeff Lippincott, Chris Nadovich (2), and Bill Olsen (9).  Congratulations to you all!  Noteworthy is that James Haddad notched his third PA SR in the difficult Fixed Gear class.  He's not the first, but joins a very select (and small) group of riders to brave the PA Series with only 1 gear.

Chris Nadovich also joined the more exclusive list of PA Randonneurs who have completed an R-12 comprising only PA Randonneur events.  Chapeau Chris.  Well done! [Oops, not yet.  While Chris has a string of 12 consecutive PA events, the PA 400 and PA 600 both occurred in May leaving him with one month to go.  Here's hoping he can squeeze in a finish on the June event.]  Chris has this to say:

Many rides are hard to finish, and this 600K certainly was tough to complete. But, given the certainty of at least 24 hours cold rain as we pedaled over uncompromising terrain, this 600K was also hard to start. Congratulations are due to anyone who finished, or started, on that miserable Saturday morning. I can't count how many times in the days leading up to the ride, and even minutes before the start,  I almost decided to not clip in. 

Out in that rain I saw some old-school rando heroism. You've been told James gutted it out on a fixie, but I actually saw him do it. It was incredible to watch. Somehow he never seemed tired. He was always in good spirits, cracking jokes, and just having a great old time. Unbelievable.  And then there was Hans Evan Jatzke who was completely waterlogged and frozen to the core at Canadensis. Doug Haluza and I spent some time with him at the nice deli there. Doug and I were OK, but Hans was suffering. Sometimes being old and encased in some blubber has its advantages; I never really felt the cold other than in my hands. Anyway, without protective rando-flab Hans was really feeling it and was pondering a DNF. To me he seemed done for.  Nevertheless I watched him do all the right rando things: he ate, he drank warm fluids, he dried off gear, making no rash decisions he burned as much time from the bank as he needed to get his mind, body, and soul back into the game. A flawless pro move! Soon he was back on the bike and riding better than ever, finishing in great style. 

Jimmy Aspras offered these comments:
A big thank you to all volunteers on this year's 600k. Additional kudos to Len who hadn't even planned to be at his usual spot before the climb up Old Mine Road but showed up anyway despite the weather just to make everyone's day a little brighter.

Well, Saturday was a nice day to be a fish. It took us (Mario, Cuneyt, and Joe Ray) about 23.5 hours, and all of it was either light rain, heavy rain (a couple notches shy of a downpour), or mist The chilly and wet weather made for slow moving and poor motivation. Mario, Cuneyt, and Joe were great riding partners for the 18 and some odd hours that we spent together. and that was the only perk that made the day any kind of bearable. Misery loves company.

My shoes' rain covers failed within the first hour or so leaving me wondering why I even bothered to buy them, but worse than that was the cold. I think the coldest part of the day was at the Exxon after the climb to Promised Land. We were all shivering. On Gavin's recommendation, we turned the directional attachment on the hand dryer in the bathroom to hit our torsos/faces. Probably the best feeling of the day.

We rolled into the hostel at around 3:30 am. After a quick clothing change and food cramming, I got to roll out for day 2 with Gavin and CJ, Ryan, and George, who were riding the 200. We ended up riding together on and off the whole day. The light rain and cloudy skies quickly gave way to sun. Day 2 was remarkably better, with the exception of Route 23, which I loathe. I was very happy to be done this ride.

Congratulations to everyone who attempted this 600!

Joe Ray had this to say:

Thanks to you and the fine volunteers for managing this so well.  
I was disappointed to dnf Sunday but at least it was mechanical and I feel pretty confident I could have finished in time otherwise.  I was really happy with being able to see the course from near Limerick to the finish in daylight.  The only other time I had been there was at night - beautiful spots with a rushing river.  
Speaking of limerick, my fingers weren’t working very well Sunday morning so I am forwarding what I recall writing on my postcard in case it is illegible:

The first lady, of considerable allure
Wanted to show the President the door.
She said with no mirth
As she studied his girth
“Should have wed a Randonneur.”

Cuneyt, Mario, Jimmy & Joe at Hawks Nest -- in the rain
Speaking of Limericks, I will be updating this report as the Limerick postcards arrive.  Check back often.

Rudi Mayr was among the DNFs.  A mis-aligned derailleur found its way into the spokes and ended his day.  Gil Torres was riding with Rudi and missed a control cutoff time by staying to help Rudi.  True rando spirit.  Coincidentally, Rudi and Al Dolich experienced a mishap on the way to the start that could have been the root cause.  Al's ride before it even started when his rear wheel was taco'd in the mishap.

Many thanks for the SR series!  I am sorely disappointed that I couldn't finish the 600k this weekend.  I can't say I was enjoying the ride, but I had no thoughts of quitting until I shifted my derailleur into my spokes.  By the time Gilbert and I had the bike rideable, we had already missed the cutoff at the next controle.  And the bike wasn't really rideable at all; a single speed with one brake and a badly wobbling rear wheel, it was unsafe on the hills, especially in the rain.

My congratulations to everyone who finished, and profound thanks to all the volunteers, especially Bill for organizing our rescue from Wind Gap, and Jeff for driving up there to collect us.  I would also like to thank Alf for giving me a ride on Saturday morning; Rajesh for driving me home Saturday afternoon; and above all to Gilbert for heroic efforts to get my bike riding again, good cheer, and staying with me when in trouble in miserable weather.

I would also like to put in a kind word about Cycle Masters bike shop in Wind Gap, where Marvin, the owner, replaced my broken spokes and trued my wheel while we waited.  It's a mountain bike oriented shop, but I got brilliant service and it was good fun to hang out there for a little while.  Highly recommended!

Among the 200k riders, Guy Harris wrote this:
Thanks to Bill for pulling extended duty over the weekend. Many thanks to you, Jeff, and others for organizing. I wanted to try the 200K course on fresh legs for once rather than as day 2. It's amazing! The hills aren't as steep, it doesn't take 13 hours, there are tailwinds, the birds sing,.... 
Also, Congratulations to James for completing a fixed gear SR series!

Guy is one of two (now three) riders to complete a PA SR using only one gear and knows what it takes.

Pat & Cece Gaffney had to abandon their planned 600k due to scheduling conflicts, but came out to enjoy Sunday's 200k.
Just a quick note to thank everyone for the 200K yesterday. We find this course to be much more enjoyable when we are not doing a 600K. Hats off to the 600 riders for putting up with some seriously tough conditions.  Also, thanks to Bill for sending us off and greeting us when we returned with his usual wonderful hospitality.

Special thanks to the volunteers for this event.  Bill Olsen and Jeff Lippincott handled the course checkout ride as well as most of the hostel operations.  Michael Poveman and Len Zawodniak monitored soggy riders on Saturday and covered arrivals in Delaware Water Gap after all the shops had closed for the evening.  Chris Nadovich gathered the PA Randonneurs "stuff" and de-camped the hostel after finishing the 600k!  These brevets would not happen without volunteers like these.  Remember to thank them the next time you ride with them.

This concludes the 2018 PA Randonneurs SR series events.  Thanks to all who participated and to the volunteers who made it happen.

Our regular monthly R-12 brevets will continue with the Hawk's Nest 200k on June 9.  Bill Fischer will be handling organizer duties.  Registration is open.  Chris Nadovich is organizing his Yet Another River to River Ride yet again in July.  August promises a new route in Lancaster finishing at Cafe Metzler to celebrate RUSA's 20th Anniversary. 

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

2018 PA Randonneurs SR Series, Round IV: The Water Gap 600k

*** Update May 15***
The cue sheet has been updated to reflect tweaks from the pre-event course checkout ride.  Be sure to download the version labeled Draft 3, 5/9/2018.

*** Original Post***
The final round of the PA Randonneurs Super Randonneur Series will be held on May 19-20, 2018:  The Water Gap 600k.  Event details and registration are available on the website.  The brevet will start and finish at our rando clubhouse, the Weisel Youth Hostel near Quakertown, PA.  The route returns riders to the hostel after about 400k before heading west toward Lancaster for the final 200k loop.

The course checkout ride was completed the same weekend as the 400k.  The cue sheet is being updated and will be available on the website in the coming days.

As has been customary for several years, we will also stage the New Holland 200k on Sunday, May 20.  This route follows the same route as the final 200k of the 600k.  History has shown that the relatively fresh 200k riders can be welcome company and cheerleaders for the weary 600k riders.  It also assures a larger crowd to cheer at the finish.  Event details and registration for the New Holland 200k are also available on the website.

Registered 600k Riders (as of May 18)
1 Jimmy Aspras
2 Gavin Biebuyck
3 Mario Claussnitzer +Fr
4 Alfred Dolich
5 Cuneyt Eviner +Fr
6 James R Haddad +Fr
7 Doug Haluza +Fr
8 Hans Evan Jatzke +Fr
9 Eric E. Keller +Fr, Su
10 Jeff Lippincott  - volunteer
11 Rudi Mayr
12 Lawrence A Midura
13 Chris Nadovich - volunteer
14 Rajesh Nayak
15 William Olsen - organizer
16 Joseph Ray +Fr, Su
17 Jim Vreeland +Fr

Registered 200k Riders (as of May 18)
1 Charles J Arayata
2 Marc Bernardo
3 James Bondra +Sa
4 Chris Errico
5 Cecilie Gaffney
6 Patrick Gaffney
7 Guy Harris
8 George Michael Retseck
9 Edward T Schantz
10 Ryan J Stanis
11 Gilbert Torres +Sa