Sunday, December 8, 2019

Thanks to the 2019 PA Rando Volunteers

2019 has been an amazing year for Pennsylvania Randonneurs. We have managed to continue our tradition of running high quality and challenging brevets in Eastern PA. We introduced a totally new SR series and a new Fleche venue. Our unbroken string of R12 series events allow riders to stay on their bikes seeking rando glory all year long. Such accomplishments for this club would not be possible without volunteer help. In 2019, the  Pennsylvania Randonneurs would like to thank volunteers:
  • CJ Arayata 
  • Gavin Biebuyck
  • Janice Chernekoff
  • Tom Dermody
  • Matt Farrell
  • Bill Fischer
  • Nigel & Joyce Greene
  • Greg Keenan
  • Eric Keller
  • Steve Kraybill
  • Patrick & Cecilie Gaffney
  • Nick Manta
  • George & Erin Metzler 
  • Andrew Mead
  • Chris Nadovich
  • William Olsen
  • Susan Proulx
  • George Retseck
  • Tom Rosenbauer
  • Steve Schoenfelder
  • Len Zawodniak
Thanks to all of you who volunteered this year. (Let us know if we missed anybody.) If you rode a PA event this year, people on this list made it possible. Please thank them for their effort. But to really thank them, to really, really thank them, you (yes, I mean you) should volunteer for a PA Rando event.

Hope to New Hope Ride Report

It was about as hopeful a December day as could be expected, riding along the Delaware. Chilly, a little breezy at times, but there was a good amount of sunshine. Of those that clipped in at the Blairstown Diner, 13 of the 14 made it to the finish at the Blairstown Inn within the time limit for a 93% completion rate.   Preliminary results for the December 2019 edition of the Hope to New Hope 200K have been posted on the website.  Please review the results and let me know if they align with your memory.  The results will be submitted to RUSA later in the week and will become official once certified.

James Haddad enjoys a gyro at the Market in New Hope

Riders had little trouble navigating the relatively straight and flat course (for PA Rando) from Blairstown, beyond Hope, on to New Hope, and back through Hope to Blairstown. The only DNF was Tom Keenan, who's navigation device was lost till Spring somewhere in a snowbank after an unfortunate glove maneuver.

The Hope to New Hope route is not the most scenic PA Rando route. H2NH uses larger secondary roads such as 519 and 29. The higher traffic on these roads is tolerated in the hopes that the shoulder remains snow and ice free through the Winter. On this occasion, there was little issue with snow and ice (other than in Footbridge Park). Any "stickyness" on the shoulder was limited and manageable. The biggest annoyance reported was, in fact, the traffic: specifically all the cars with Christmas trees on the roof. The consensus was that 1 in 3 cars was carrying a tree.

And here's some Blairstown Diner trivia you might not have known. December 13th is a Friday! Whooo...

Winter riding protective facemask with rando mottos.

First finisher Iwan Barankay writes...

Thank you for putting together this brevet. Perfect start and end controls and ideal conditions for a December brevet. I particularly enjoyed the meditative and muscle relaxing walk across Stockton bridge and the warm coffees at each control. Glorious day to end the 2019 brevet season. Next year I hope we will put together a brevet to start in Philly.

Hey Philly Gang, did you hear that "brevet to start in Philly" part? Time to get crackin' on this!

This brevet completes the 2019 season for Pennsylvania Randonneurs. Thanks to all the volunteers, this year has been an amazing success. Congratulations to all the riders -- especially those who went on to PBP this year.  I wish you all the best over the holidays and hope to see you next year at our first event, which will be held on 4 January 2020. Details coming soon on the PA Rando website.

Chris Nadovich
Brevet Organizer

Monday, December 2, 2019

December R12: Hope to New Hope **Update

Update: 4 December

I scouted the northern extent of the course today. There is a LOT of tree-branch debris on the shoulders on 519 above Belvedere. Also some shattered ice shards. This will affect the start and the finish -- especially the finish for riders finishing after sunset. People need to be extra vigilant to scan for "sticky" areas as they ride in the dark. These roads are relatively low traffic on Saturday, but they DO have traffic. Blinding by oncoming car headlights may make spotting the debris difficult. Please stop and wait for traffic to clear if you can't verify that the road in front of you is safe. 

The parking lot at Footbridge Park was NOT plowed, nor was the footbridge. These areas are flat, wide, and the snow/ice isn't deep. We can still park there. But if it turns out these are still frozen and unridable on Saturday, I'll want everyone to walk bikes through the frozen mess. Please don't try to ride over an ice covered footbridge unless you have spiked tires.

The rt 97 highway bridge is still under construction, with a one-way traffic light robot flagperson that has a silly long wait time. Normally the workaround has been to use the road through Footbridge Park, but if the footbridge is still frozen (see above) it's hard to say which way is better. The final decision will be made at the riders meeting after consulting with everyone's guardian angel.

Original Post...

Yes, yes, yes. Despite RUSA insurance gyrations we are indeed running the Hope 2 New Hope 200K brevet on 7 December starting from the Blairstown Diner at 7AM. Don't park at the Diner. Please park across the creek in Footbridge Park.  The finish is at the Blairstown Inn, across the street from the diner. All the information, and an online registration link, are on the event web page.

There has been no pre-ride of this event, but we believe that the roads in question are very reliable with little chance of issue. Famous last words.

Unlike previous editions, the Milford and New Hope controles are open controles. Milford baker is no more. If you want breakfast in Milford, go to the Bridge St Deli. If you want something quick go to the Milford Market. The cued route through New hope takes you past the brewery (which may not be open yet -- penalty for fast riding). There's a Starbucks, a Dunkin', and numerous small establishments. If you want Wawa or McDonalds or the diner in New Hope, these are a right turn at mile 62.8, about 0.5 mile off course.

The start and finish extend during night hours. The organizer will strictly enforce the rules regarding lighting and reflective gear.

Bonne route!

Chris Nadovich

Monday, November 4, 2019

PAR Rusty Rail 200 Ride Report

Nineteen riders clipped-in to brave the challenge that is the Rusty Rail 200.  The autumn day dawned crisp and clear, a hard frost whitening farmers' fields and pastures as randonneurs charged across the valley floor to the foot of Jacks Mountain, the first of four epic ascents.  Yet, in spite of the low temperatures and the strenuousness of the route, all participants who embraced the task prevailed, completing the course within the allotted time.

The Rusty Rail Brewing Company proved to be the ideal reward for our victors where tales and legends were shared, where spirits were consumed and spirits restored, and where woes of the day were soon forgotten.

Kudos to first finishers Tim Creyts and Chris Maglieri who made the route look easy, rolling into the finish in only eight hours and ten minutes.  Additional recognition is due Chris for achieving his 2019 K-Hound distance on this ride.

Chapeau to Mark Caplan for completing his first brevet with an astonishing time of nine hours and thirty-five minutes.  And thanks to Iwan Barankay for introducing Mark to the insanity that is PA randonneuring.
Iwan writes:

Thank you for an outstanding route. I was so happy to have made the long trip out there plus give Mark a proper introduction to the world of randonneuring with his first brevet.

The first hours were stunning but my toes felt positively Siberian. (I ordered new overshoes but they did not arrive in time. Grrr/Brrr).
The route was so beautiful that I did not take pictures as they could not have done the colors justice.

Chris Nadovich writes...

Central PA is a decidedly different cycling experience than the Pocono
plateau and Delaware gorge region we normally ride. Well worth the
trip. In Central PA, it seems the big climbs are combined with long,
easy spins through flat valleys and sojourns alongside meandering
creeks. There are tailwinds, sunshine, and beautiful foliage.  The
four giant climbs in Rusty Rail were seriously painful undertakings
(they seemed equivalent in difficulty to Fox Gap or Millbrook), yet
there was so much beautiful, easy riding in-between that I felt almost
completely recovered (and thawed out from the screaming descent)
before my battle began with the next climb.

Speaking of those painful climbs, in my agony while struggling up some
of those relentless grades I might have called one or both of the
organizers a foul name or two. Out loud. Really loud. I hope they
forgive me because I very much enjoyed their event. What a beautiful
course! Let's ride out there again. Thank you Eric and Steve.

And now...this:

Iwan warming his toes
Bill Fisher spins up Jacks
Greg remembered to wear his shoe covers
Matt fighting cramps
Gary rolling along
Paul has got this!
Tim is first over Ulsh Gap
Chris is next in spite of pausing for cattle photos
Gavin being Gavin
Jeff leads the chase group over the climb
A great day for Joe Ray
George Retseck represents with a classic ride and club colors
Bill Knowles-Kellett cresting Ulsh Gap

First Finisher Chris earns his K-Hound!
First Finisher Tim celebrates
Newly-minted randonneur Mark and bad influence Iwan in with a time of 9:35!
Bill Fisher!
Gavin still smiling in spite of a missing chainring
Joe Ray throws down an awesome ride!
Greg after crushing the course into submission
Nick is in!
Gavin, Gary, and Matt in resuscitation mode
Jeff and Greg: still friends after the hate-drop incident
De'Anna & Rudi triumphant

George and Paul: still smiling after all those miles!
Chris survives!

Let's do this again next year!

-Steve Schoenfelder

A tremendous thank you to first-time organizer Steve Schoenfelder who enthusiastically responded to my request for new event organizers even though he had no idea what all that might entail and to Eric Keller who greeted weary riders with a friendly face and encouraged them the rest of the way home.  Next up we return to the Delaware River with the Beyond Hope to New Hope brevet starting in Blairstown, NJ on December 7.  This out and back route has the distinction of being one of the flatter routes in the PA Rando catalog which should be a welcome relief after the challenges of the central Pennsylvania mountains.  Event details and registration are available on the website.

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA

Friday, October 25, 2019

November PA R-12 Event: The Rusty Rail

The November R-12 brevet heads west into central Pennsylvania.  New organizer Steve Schoenfelder serves up The Rusty Rail 204 starting and finishing in Mifflinburg, PA.  This route promises to be one not soon forgotten.  Registration is open on the PA Randonneurs website through October 31.

Fall foliage was at its peak during the October 24 pre-ride of the Rusty 204 with the mountains awash with color.  A hard frost awaited me in Buffalo Valley with the temperature dropping to 29 degrees along Penns Creek.  Surprisingly, it was warmer atop Jacks Mountain, probably because it catches the early morning sunlight.  Riders are encouraged to bring along cold weather gear.  I lost feeling in a few of my fingers in spite of wearing insulated winter gloves.

The route is entirely paved, so if your are riding over dirt or gravel, you are off course. There is the usual smattering of chip seal well known to PA riders.  The stretch between Coburn and Woodward (mile 102-108) has a lot of loose gravel.  Weiler Road (mile 61) gets my vote for the worst road surface.  Be particularly careful on descents as there are potholes and gravel patches aplenty. 

The route lands on a few highways where riders are encouraged to ride the shoulder or stay as far right as possible.  Be careful on route PA-305 as you climb Stone Mountain (mile 53) where there is not much of a shoulder.  Try to stay in the shoulder as you struggle up Tussey Mountain on PA 26 (mile 67) as cars whiz by at ridiculous speeds.  Ditto for PA-45 as you leave Woodward (mile 109).  Fast descenders usually occupy the lane on the way down as speeds of 45-55 can be easily achieved in an aero tuck.

Rutters at the Milroy control is undergoing a facelift and construction activity limits access.  I elected to use the Subway.  Don’t pass on the homemade chips at Doan’s Bones BBQ in Whipple Dam.  My achievement of the day was keeping down the cheese and pulled pork BBQ sandwich as I ground my way up Tussey Mountain.

There are four epic climbs on the route separated by even more climbing.  I used a 34 in the front and back and wished for a lower gear at times.  I didn’t have to push my bike up any of the grades in spite of my advanced age and mass.

All in all, the Rusty Rail 204 combines a magical mix of beauty and suffering.

Bonne Route!


Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Ride Report: Fall Classic

Sunrise at Cafe Metzler

It was a near-perfect day for cycling said most of the 13 riders who clipped in for the 14th annual PA Randonneurs Fall Classic brevet & populaire.  All 13 riders completed their chosen routes within time for two 100% completion rates.  Congratulations to all!  Preliminary results are posted on the website (200k and 150k) and will become final once submitted to RUSA.

We haven't ridden the Brandywine route in quite a few years though bits and pieces of the route were used in last year's RUSA 20th Anniversary Brevet.  Everyone enjoyed the routes now that they had a chance to experience it in the daylight.  Cool morning gave way to comfortable cycling temperatures with partly cloudy skies and very light winds to make it pleasant for all.  The always popular Cafe Metzler awaited finishers with a burgers and beverages to cap off great rides.  We even managed to get pictures of the field.

Kathleen C.

Eric K.
Jeff L.
Jeff B.

Tim C.
Paul C.
Tom D.
Pernot H.
Greg K.
Joe R.
George R.
Steve S.
Paul W.
As always I owe much thanks to George and Erin Metzler for hosting this brevet.  This year was the 11th year that George and I have collaborated on a brevet featuring Cafe Metzler.  All have been well received by the riders and all have been great fun to put on.  Thanks George!  We even managed to get out during the day to scope out some new roads that might appear in a future brevet .

Next month we head a little further west to Miflinburg, PA where Steve Schoenfelder is organizing the inagural Rusty Rail brevet on November 2.  Word has it that the Rusty Rail Brewery is home to the largest brewpub in Pennsylvania.  You wont want to miss it.  Registration is open on the website through Halloween.  We plan to return to Easton in December.  Stay tuned for details.

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

The 14th Annual PA Randonneurs Fall Classic

** October 6 Update **
The course checkouts are finally complete.  Updated cue sheets for the 150 and 200 routes are available on the website.  You'll want to make sure you're using the October 7 update versions.

Course notes:

Both routes are the same until they reach the control in New London (around mile 56).  Here the 200k riders will head south into Maryland while the 150k riders will take a more direct route to a control in "the Buck."  This control is shared with the 200k route so riders may overlap on the approach to the control.  Riders are cautioned that the two routes do NOT follow the same roads leaving that control.  The routes do rejoin for the final miles into the finish at mile 118/88.

The 200k route uses the Enola Low Grade Trail for approximately 8 miles.  This portion of the trail has a very nice compacted stone dust surface that is suitable for even the skinniest of bike tires.  There is an information control as you enter the control.  You'll want to follow cue instructions carefully to make sure you're heading in the correct direction.  Leaving the trail is the tricky part since visual cues are difficult.  There are three spotting cues provided on the cue sheet ahead of the trail head where you'll want to exit.  It is technically possible to continue on the trail past that point, but you'll notice rapidly deteriorating surface conditions.  And unless you're extremely familiar with the trail and surrounding area, finding the little path you'd need to take to get back on course would take lots of luck.  This picture shows the rather nondescript nature of the exit trail head.

Careful review of the cue sheet and route before the brevet is strongly advised.  I don't expect you'll have to deal with foggy conditions in the photo.

Both courses are challenging, but very enjoyable.  The cue sheets will guide you well.

Registration remains open for both events through this Thursday, October 10 at midnight. 

Andrew Mead
event organizer
Eastern PA RBA

** Original Post **

The 2019 Edition of the PA Randonneurs Fall Classic 200k Brevet and 150k Populaire is next on our event calendar.  Details for the events are up on the PA Rando website as well as directions to the start-finish.  Registration remains open through midnight October 10.  This year's venue is Cafe Metzler in Atglen, PA.  We've finished quite a few brevets here over the years with great success.  The Fall Classic seemed to be a logical step.  We freshened up good brevet route and incorporated a short cut for the popluaire riders.  The routes are the same for the first 100k which should give everyone time to ride together.

Speaking of schedules and traditions, the 2020 calendar of events to RUSA and  loaded the dates into the PA Rando website.  You can find a convenient calendar-style version HERE.  The RUSA database will soon reflect this schedule along with an initial guess at the proposed route.  The dates are firm; the routes may change as we continue to develop new routes.

There are 16 events on the schedule, including our SR Series, a monthly brevet, the Fall Classic 200/150, and the Fl├Ęche.  We're going to try the Velodrome finish again and hope for dryer weather.

There is a populaire scheduled on March 8 (Sunday) for International Women's Day.  Dawn Pietch of Wisconsin Randonneurs is working to  draw a little attention to women in our sport; a commemorative patch is promised to all participants.  It is likely that one or two more populaires will be added to the calendar as the year progresses, but I hope to take advantage of RUSA's short-turnaround event addition policy and cherry pick some good weather dates.  In the meantime, I'm working on several new populaire routes to bolster our capability.

The biggest news for 2020 is that five different organizers will help turn the schedule into reality.  It promises to be a good year.

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA