Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The ACP SR Series Begins: Pagoda 200k

PA Randonneurs moves in to the ACP sanctioned events beginning in March with the Pagoda 200k Brevet scheduled for March 16.  Event details are posted on the PA Randonneurs website.  This brevet will be staged from the Holiday Inn Express/Cask Restaurant near the 25th St exit off of Route 22 in Easton that was used for last year's Fall Classic events, but the route is all new.  Chris Nadovich will be handing the organizer responsibilities.  As with all PA Randonneurs brevets, pre-registration is required.  Registration will remain open until March 14.

The route has been slightly refined since it was originally posted, so be sure to check back if you downloaded a map and cue sheet prior to February 18.

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Ride Report: Little Britain 200k

Preliminary results for the February PA R12 brevet have been posted on the PA Rando website.  Please review the results and let me know if something doesn't agree with your recollections.  The results will be submitted to RUSA for certification later in the week and become final at that time.

The roller coaster weather continues.  A week ago saw a postponement resulting from a 3-inch "dusting" of snow and single digit temperatures.  By Friday temperatures were back into the 50s, but didn't stay there long.  It was a brisk 20 degrees when 17 riders clipped in to start the Little Britain brevet.  Fifteen riders finished which is not bad under the circumstances.  Unlike the last running of this route which also saw temperatures around 20 degrees with little wind, riders this time faced a stiff wind out of the northwest for most of the day making the first leg up to the Wommelsdorf control a real struggle.  The winds generally helped everyone for the next 50 miles, but at a cost of once again facing the winds for the final push home from Little Britain.  Combined with temperatures that never rose much above freezing all day made for challenging conditions.

The field had quite the international mix in addition to well-known regulars.  Ultra racers Anton Lindberg (Sweden) and Amy Lippe, both veterans of the Trans America Bike Race (4200 miles across the US) and the Transcontinental (4000 kilometers across Europe), were looking for some early season training miles and decided to join us.  They write:
Thank you for making us feel very welcomed! We really enjoyed the ride. Great ride, great people and a perfect place to finish with beers and pizza! Everyone was super welcoming, and we hope to join you guys again in March! 

Also of interest was Iwan Barankay (Germany) who, prior to this event had only posted a RUSA finish on a 600k.  I didn't get a chance to ask Iwan how this 200 compared.   Iwan had this to say:
Just wanted to drop a line to thank you for putting together an stunningly scenic route yesterday.
I was glad that I installed the arm rests (not the bars) from my tri-bars as that way I could stay low and out of the wind by leaning on my bars. Nevertheless the wind really drained me. I was first at the first control but then struggled with cramps despite copious hydration and nutrition. So I had to ease off the pace and things went better. I was “stuck” between the first rider and the next group so I was quite proud of myself of having completed the entire ride without being able to hide behind someone’s wheel.  I was happy to finish second just after sunset.
This being but my second brevet I noticed that previewing the route and the details of each control could have helped. I got confused about what to do at the first control (I thought it would be staffed) and wasted time figuring that out (Chris helped me). Then I got lost on my way out from control one. Oh well, lesson learned. In terms of equipment I was so happy I bought Barmitts (inaugural ride!), brought my ski goggles, and wore my snow boots. I never really felt cold but I think the chill really froze my thighs especially on the way up to the first control.
The sandwich bar at the Little Britain store really hit the spot. My tuna sandwich thoroughly re-lubricated all my joints from the inside.  
I can’t wait to come out again for the next ride in March.

The conditions didn't seem to phase first finisher Tim Creyts all that much as he blazed around the route at an only slightly slower than normal pace (for him).  Tim writes:

Thanks to you and all the volunteers for making yesterday's brevet a success.  
The wind was a friend and a foe.  The tailwind in the middle seemed largely unnoticed except in the gain in speed relative to effort. I think the wind caused more mental stress than physical. I think we were all pedaling but felt like we were not moving fast enough. The covered bridges were a nice touch.  I'm glad they weren't listed on the cue, as they were a welcome surprise.  A couple highlights included the long, long line of cars parking for Witmer Fire Co ox roast near the at the Mt. Sidney--Stumptown intersection.  There was also a large group (more than 20) turkey vultures early in the last segment.  A few were soaring, but mainly they were on a fence staying warm.  Then, there was the Red Caboose Motel, which I had never ridden near --- so weird but friendly. 
Thanks for a great ride.

The organizer had forgotten about the Witmer Fire Company Ox Roast (over 3,000 served yesterday) and might have thought to detour that intersection if he had.  As it was, riders could get around the long lines of stopped cars waiting to park.   

Thanks Patrick & Cecilie Gaffney for completing the final course checkout a couple weeks earlier and to Steve Kraybill for staffing the finish control for ~4 hours while the organizer crawled around the course.  Steve filled in for Patrick who couldn't make it out for the rescheduled event.  Teamwork!

With winter somewhat behind us (hopefully), we move into the ACP events.  Next up is the first of the SR Series events on a totally new route:  the Pagoda 200 on March 16.  Event details and registration information for the Pagoda 200 as well as the other SR Series events is active on the web site. 

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA

Friday, February 1, 2019

February R12: Little Britain 200

*** February 1 Update ***
The Little Britain Brevet is postponed until February 9 due to unsafe road conditions on the route.  Registered riders have been automatically transferred to the new date.  Contact the RBA if you cannot make the new date.  If you were not registered for tomorrow's brevet, you now have until Thursday, Feb 7 to register.

*** January 30 Update ***
Winter weather is nothing new on our January and February brevets.  Each year at least one of these brevets causes a few headaches for the RBA.  I am monitoring weather and road conditions on the Little Britain brevet route and will make a final decision on whether to hold the brevet on Saturday as scheduled no later than noon on Friday, February 1.  An announcement will be posted on this message board regardless of the call.

*** January 28 Update ***
A pre-ride and course checkout ride was completed this past weekend.  Minor edits to the cue sheet have been incorporated and the updated cue sheet posted on the website.  Thanks to Pat & Cecilie Gaffney for a wheels-on-the-ground check and to Bill Fischer for his eagle-eyed check from afar.  Make sure you have the revision dated 190128.

Forecasters promise the coldest temperatures so far this winter in the coming week.  The weekend should moderate a bit, but it will still be quite cold.  Live by the rando creed:  there is no bad weather, only bad gear.

The brevet starts at 7:30 am on Saturday.  Registration remains open through this Thursday.

*** Original Post ***
Event details for the Little Britain 200k to be held on February 2, 2019 are available on the PA Randonneurs website.  In case you haven't visited the website in a while, you can (and should) register on the website.  You can even pay on-line now.

For those that have already registered or checked out the route and/or cue sheet, please return and look at the UPDATED route and cue.  In light of the long-range forecasts indicating winter may have finally arrived and the tendency for this particular route to harbor icy patches on certain roads long after the skies have cleared, I've adjusted the route a bit to bypass the worst.  This re-route along with a required adjustment to bypass a long-term bridge construction project should result in a noticeably easier route. Riders should thank Matt Farrell for reminding me that this route has many options.  Be sure you are looking at the Rev. 1A cue sheet with a 190116 date code.

I look forward to seeing a good crowd for what has historically been a fun ride.

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA

Friday, January 18, 2019

PA Randonneurs Fleche Registration

Greetings PA Randonneur Flèche Teams!

As previously announced, PA Randonneurs has secured use of the Trexlertown Velodrome (officially the Valley Preferred Cycling Center) near Trexlertown,PA as a finish venue for the 2019 PA Flèche. We are very excited by the possibilities this new venue offers.  To participate in this new edition of the PA Randonneurs Flèche, your first step is to register. 

Along with the many other enhancements to the PA Randonneurs website, the capability for Flèche Team registration is now available. You'll find registration links on the Flèche event page, and on the main PA Randonneurs web page.

Registering for the Flèche requires many adjustments from the relatively straightforward brevet registration.  Teams must be created by captains. Team members aren't people, but bikes.  There are limits to the number of team members.  And since each team rides it's own route with specific requirements, the registration system must also know whether a given team has an approved route, all riders have paid, and whether I have completed release paperwork from all riders on the team.

The basic process is as follows:

1. The Captain must register first.  The Captain creates the Team by opting to "Create New Team" and then completing the requested information about the route on the screen that appears.  The information Captains enter, like the team name and team description, will be published on the public web site. Be proud of them. Think carefully about your start time. Preferred start time is 8-9 AM on Saturday so as to finish in time for the breakfast buffet on Sunday.

Part of registration is to specify an on-line link to a map.  Captains should enter the link to the map of the actual route that the team intends to ride so that your team riders can access your ride plan and spectators can be in awe of your audacious journey.  I keep all the map links for initial submittals and control distance checks safely sequestered elsewhere.  Confirm your data entry. As the Team is created, the Captain is also automatically registered through that process. Captains don't need to return again to register themselves.

2.  Once the Captain has formed the team and registered, additional riders can now register.  Each additional rider should opt to "Join Existing Team" which then allows choosing from the list of teams that have already been created.  Hint:  If you do not see your team name with your captain listed, stop and come back later.  That means your Captain hasn't finished the critical first tasks.

3. All riders must select whether riding a solo or tandem bike and list their intended tandem partner. Our system assumes all tandems are two-rider affairs. If anybody is riding a three or greater, let us know. After selecting solo or tandem, the registration process is the same as for brevets and easy to follow.

We have tried to make the process as simple as possible while gathering the necessary information.  The system has been tested to remove most of the bugs.  If you run into problems, drop a line to webmaster Chris Nadovich or to me.  Sometimes a code error screen simply means that Chris was tweaking code at the time you happened by.  Closing the session and trying again in half an hour will usually work.

As registrations proceed, Captains and Team riders will be able to check on the status from the Team Page linked from the main Flèche event page.  All teams are identified, complete with a roster.  Team status is given in real time. There is even a way for riders in search of a team to contact the captains directly with their inquiry, taking the RBA out of the middle of things.

Registration status includes four hurdles:  1) Route approval, 2) Member count (3-5 bikes),  3) receipt of payment, and 4) receipt of release paperwork.  Complete all four and you will be given a green light to ride shortly after rider registration closes.

Outside of the PA Randonneurs website, there are a few other refinements to the process.

I am requesting that the list of controls be submitted in the form of a Flèche card prepared in Jake Kassen's Card-O-Matic application.  If you've never used this system, it's easy and well explained.  I suspect that most of you have used the system before,  If not, now is the perfect time to learn.  Captains so far have been identifying controls on the initial GPS maps they submit for review or in a separate spreadsheet list.  These methods are fine for the initial submittals.  Typical route reviews often require minor adjustments.  Captains can take the final agreed-upon list of controls accomplaying route approval and enter them into the CoM system.  When you complete the card, use the CoM program to "copy" the card to my user account (RUSA ID 3981) which creates a nice record of the approved controls.  Plus you now have your card.

Current guidance from RUSA dictates that I have hard-copy waiver for EVERY RIDER prior to the start.  As the Captains register I will email waiver forms to them which can then be distributed to the team riders.  Captains are responsible to obtain signed waivers from team riders and mail them to me at the earliest possible opportunity.  Even if a rider is not 100% certain they can ride, I can always toss an extra waiver, but I cannot allow riders to start without one.  My only option for any rider arriving at the finish for whom I do not have a signed waiver is to DNS the rider.   

In addition to the RUSA waiver, Captains will receive a copy of the waiver from Valley Preferred Cycling Center, operator of the Velodrome.  Riders wishing to take a victory lap(s) on the Velodrome are required to sign this waiver as well.  I'm asking for these in advance as well so the package of waivers covering the entire field can simply be delivered to VCC representatives and we don't have to concern ourselves with whether one is or isn't permitted to take a few laps.

While it looks like a lot, teams have been taking these same steps for the past 11 years. Get your teams created and routes approved early. The final deadline for team creation is 4 April. That date will be upon us soon. Don't delay, Captains! Our hope is that this will be easier to execute and provide more direct indication of interim status.  Suggestions for improvement are welcomed.  Follow the PA Randonneurs website, email list and Facebook page for updates.

I am looking forward to a very fun Flèche this year.  I hope you are, too!

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA

Monday, January 7, 2019

January R12 Ride Report: Morgantown-Middletown 200

Preliminary results for the first PA R12 brevet of 2019 have been posted on the PA Rando website.  Please review the results and let me know if something doesn't agree with your recollections.  The results will be submitted to RUSA for certification later in the week and become final at that time.

The weather was unseasonably warm for a January brevet.  It was also characteristically (at least for this past year) WET.  Still, all six of the riders who clipped in on Saturday morning finished within the time limit.  A perfect completion record was messed up by the pre-rider who re-learned an important lesson about checking equipment BEFORE the ride.  Changing a tube along the route is NOT a good time to discover that one's pump doesn't work.  There's much more to the story; you'll have to coax it out of me.

Always looking for a silver lining in the situation, Saturday's ride had the following going for it:
- temperatures were in the 40s, not the teens
- the weather forecasters overstated the rain chances.  Instead of non-stop rain, riders faced mostly damp conditions with a scattered shower or two.
- the winds shifted during the day to remain generally at riders' backs all day, a rarity on a loop route.
- it was a great way to test rain gear

Hearty souls gather in the cold drizzle at the start.

Chris Nadovich had this to say:
With the weather forecast predicting a cold, rainy day, some might have worried that the Morgantown-Middletown 200K would be too much of a "character building" experience. Yet it turned out to be a fine ride. How often do you experience the luxury of a tailwind for an
entire 200K loop? Yes, it was a wee bit rainy at times, but the temperatures in the mid 40s kept my raingear from feeling too hot grinding up the endless rollers in Lancaster County. I was comfortable
and happy all day, and when the skies cleared and the morning tailwind turned to remain at my back at the Middletown controle, it was all rainbows and unicorns...

Well, maybe just rainbows, and just till sunset.  After sunset, it was Castor and Pollux on the horizon guiding me back to Morgantown. 

Thanks, Andrew, for yet another excellent tour of Amish country. The Amish in their buggies and bicycles were out in force, especially after dark. I'm very impressed with their lighting systems. The Amish may eschew other tech, but the lights they use on their bikes are as up-to-date as anything a randonneur employs. 

And thanks, Andrew, for hanging out with me, waiting for AAA to come to fix the dead battery on my car. Pro tip for other randonneurs: check to be sure  your lights are off and doors not ajar before leaving your car all day.

At 7 events, Chris is well on his way to a second consecutive PA R-12 event with this brevet.  He is currently the only PA Randonneur with a streak of more than a few rides.

Joe Ray commented,  We had a great brevet yesterday!  Despite the rain it was not a washout, though it was a good test of gear selection.  My hands found their brand new showers pass gloves to be ineffective, but the rest of me was quite happy to spend a day out in the wet.  Anyone have a pair of favorite winter/wet gloves?

The route was quite nice - I had only been thru Cornwall Furnace one prior time and that one did not involve the rail-trail which was quite nice.  Bill, Jan & I passed the pubs along the river around lunch time and I thought for a moment of ducking in for a bite but we were moving along so well it probably would have cost a significant amount of time.  Rutters at the penultimate control may have lacked the ambience of one of those pubs, but I needed some extra carbs and sat for a few minutes after Bill and Jan headed for the finish. 

The sun came out soon after I departed that control around 3:30, along with the wind.  I got a little, er, disoriented in Intercourse but an Intercourse woman helped get me back on track.  Really pleased with finishing the route just as it was getting dark.  The pizzeria had great food and the discussion at the table with Patrick, Jan and Andrew was fun, sharing stories of prior adventures and goals for the year - all in all a super start to 2019. 

Special thanks to volunteer Pat Gaffney who staffed the finish control for the early arrivals.  Even though his plans to conduct a course-checkout pre-ride fell through, he offered a friendly face at the finish until the organizer arrived.

Next up is the Little Britain Brevet on February 2 (Groundhog Day).  Registration is open.  You may notice that the on-line payment option is now live. 

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA

Monday, December 31, 2018

2019 R12 Begins: Morgantown-Middletown 200

Greetings PA Randonneurs,

It is time to begin a new year of randonneuring adventures.  The PA R12 series kicks off with the Morgantown-Middletown 200k on January 5, 2019.  Start time is 7:30am.  Details are available on the website.  The cue sheet has been updated as of Dec. 30.  Be sure you ave the version identified as Revision 2, dated 12/30/2018.  The cue sheet should be in good shape though a mechanical on the course checkout ride leaves me with a few miles yet to confirm.  Recent openings on the NW River Trail in Marietta may have altered signage.  I plan to swing through there on my New Year's Day ride to make sure all is well.

As in past years, PA Randonneurs members in good standing ride for free.  Even more convenient is that the website now allow you to renew your membership on line.  If you take advantage of this new feature, the system work better if you renew your membership BEFORE you register for the brevet.  Registration remains open until midnight on Thursday, January 3. 

Good luck to all in the new year.

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Year-End Announcements

It seems time as the year draws to a close to update you on a few changes in the works.

On line event registration was rolled out earlier and appears to be working well. It has certainly streamlined the behind-the-scenes administration administration of brevets. One area that I want to call attention to is the waiver portion. You must check off each paragraph in the waiver in order to complete the registration. You must complete the registration by the registration deadline in order to participate in the ride. Fortunately, the process is easy and takes very little time. Registration deadlines are typically midnight on the Thursday prior to the event for weekend brevets; HOWEVER, those deadlines may be moved up for some events to allow more organizing time with an accurate event headcount. This will be the case for the Fleche and very likely the 600k. The event registration deadlines will always be provided on the website event page.

Some of you may have already noticed that the website now includes the capability to renew annual membership on line, including payment. Currently only the annual PAR membership renewal has this capability, but brevet registration will soon follow. You will still have the option of paying at registration or sending your registration to the RBA by pony express, but my hope is that the majority will opt for the convenience of an on-line system. One important note in this matter: If you are planning to take advantage of the "members ride free" January brevet, please renew your membership BEFORE registering for the brevet.

Planning for the Super Randonneur series is well under way. The base of operations (starts/finishes) will be Easton, PA in the area around the Holiday Inn Express at the 25th St exit. Participants of the Fall Classic events will recognize the location. The routes will obviously be different than before, but you are sure to recognize at least a few parts of most of them.

Event listings and registration for the January and February events is live on the website. January will stage from Morgantown, PA using a route we haven't ridden in ~5 years. February will stage from Lancaster, PA using the Little Britain route.

Brevet cards for all 2018 brevet finishes have been sorted, collated, stuffed in envelopes, and will soon be in the mail to you. The Fleche certificates will be mailed out separately since I don't normally receive these until late January.

I find this annual cleaning of the brevet card file quite cathartic. The slate has been wiped clean and is ready to record another year's worth of randonneuring adventures. The possibilities are endless.    Thank you all for continuing to support this region though your participation. Best wishes in the new year.

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA