Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Four State 400K & Tscheschter Kaundi 200K Ride Reports

The 2024 Pennsylvania Super Randonneur Series continues! Check out the reports for both the Four State 400K and the Tscheschter Kaundi 200K below.

Riders approach a horse carriage in Lancaster County (photo by Mike Gadomski)


Four State 400K Ride Report

16 riders clipped in for the 400K on a cool morning with rain on the way later in the evening. Along with the two pre-riders, we had a total of 15 finishers and a finish rate of 83%.  Please take a look at the preliminary results and let me know if anything does not look right. The results will be submitted to RUSA after review and will become official once certified.

Riders wait patiently on the South Street Bridge as they prepare to depart the city for the countryside (photo by Ron Anderson)

The 400K is a stubbornly difficult event. There is no easy way to tackle it. Pushing past 300K requires riders to dig deep and go beyond their limits. Nobody finishes a 400K and then questions whether they gave it their all. Non-randonneurs look at our Strava accounts in disbelief and assume we have gone crazy. Every rider who attempted this event deserves a kudos.

Riders encountered early morning fog in the Brandywine Valley (photo by Soph Lofaso)

There were four riders who completed their first 400Ks: Tracey Hinder, Greg Jacobs, Paul Schack, and Kalten Walter. They wisely partnered up with experienced randos along the course. Chapeau to these four riders. And they all stated that they are ready to tackle the 600K next month (apparently they don't even need a case of randonesia to make this happen!). There are a total of 11 riders eligible for the PA SR Series Award upon completion of the 600K (SR Series = 200K, 300K, 400K, & 600K).

Soph Lofaso returned to the event this year after abandoning in 2023 and crushed it this time. They also led three of the new 400K riders through the course.

Ron Anderson had a great ride. While he is working on his PA SR Series, he also completed Crush the Commonwealth only two weeks before this event. He is having a tremendous season.

Tim Gilligan flew through the course with a mind-boggling finish time of 17:16, setting a new course record. This was actually Tim's first official 400K, but he and his teammates elected to ride 400K during the 2022 PA Flèche (they added on 40K to the typical 360K Flèche distance). Michael Evangelista was not far behind with an impressive finish time. Greg Lang turned in another solid performance on his fixed gear. Pat Gaffney had a great ride as he works on his 7th PA SR Series. Tristan Dahn completed his second 4S4, improving his time from last year by almost two hours.

Ben Keenan rode strong after riding his bike to the event, from Wilmington to Philadelphia, on Friday evening ("the best way to a brevet"). Alex Estes, fueled by 18 S'mores Pop-Tarts(!), came in under 20 hours. Forget fancy energy gels, he proves all you need are pastries and sheer willpower.

Bob Dye had some bad luck in Birdsboro after he realized he forgot his phone at the Turkey Hill control. He began to backtrack but lost his way. He eventually made it back to the Turkey Hill but by that time, he had ridden quite a few extra miles. He made the difficult decision to ride back along the SRT to Chamounix. Nicole Aptekar dealt with sleep exhaustion for several hours before making the decision to abandon in Coopersburg. Andy Gorman made the decision to abandon at the Wawa in Doylestown after riding through cold rain for several hours late in the night. Kudos to these three riders for putting in a valiant effort, having the guts to put safety first and make the difficult call to cut it short.

Greg Lang took a photo as he passed a horse carriage in Lancaster County

Thank you to everyone who volunteered to make this event happen. Joe Ray and Chris Nadovich were stationed at the penultimate control in Bloomsbury, helping to boost rider morale as they entered the final 100k in the dark. Ken Cappel handled the finish control for the first shift. Iwan Barankay helped at Chamounix on Friday and Saturday nights, and also provided invaluable support to the organizer during the planning stages of this event. Nick Manta completed a solid pre-ride and then handled the finish from 10pm until the last riders came in after 3am. Simona Dwass handled the finish from 4am on and also helped to clean up Chamounix. Ello Shertzer also helped greet riders at the finish. Ello suffered a bad crash at Crush the Commonwealth and her club-mates' spirits were instantly lifted upon seeing her there and on the road to recovery. Multiple riders helped with setting up and cleaning the Chamounix Carriage House. Thank you!

The Most Valuable Volunteer Award goes to Daniel Oh for roving the course late at night. The temperatures dropped and rain moved in after midnight, creating very difficult conditions for tired riders. Dan provided moral support and hot coffee for many tired riders. He also provided lifts back to the start for two of the riders. Dan mentioned that he is appreciative of the volunteers who have waited for him to finish brevets over the years and felt an urge to return the favor. He was essentially up all night driving between riders and Chamounix. Thank you, Dan.


Tscheschter Kaundi 200K Ride Report

A few hours after the 4S4 start, 13 riders set out on the Tscheschter Kaundi 200K and all finished well within the time limit for a finish rate of 100%. Congratulations to all riders.  This group got to enjoy the best of the day's weather as temperatures reached the mid-60s, the sun shined, and the rain held off until after the event concluded. They followed the same route as the Four State 400K for the first 20 miles to Swarthmore before taking a different track towards Lancaster County.

Augie Faller refueling with donuts at the Maple Arch Farm Market (photo by Mike Gadomski)

Several scenic roads were added to the Tscheschter Kaundi 200 for this edition. One of those roads took the route past the Maple Arch Farm Market. It made this organizer's day to hear that almost every TK rider stopped there for fresh cider donuts.

Sarah Johnson passes a farm in Tscheschter Kaundi (photo by Michael Reali)

Three riders completed their first brevets: Augie Faller, Mike Gadomski, and Molly Gleason. Chapeau and welcome to randonneuring!

Ten other riders added another 200K to their resumes: Nigel Greene, Sarah Johnson, Phil Luong, Bryan Niederberger, Jakub Piven, Michael Reali Jr, Maria Thomson, Gilbert Torres, Arrick Underhill, and Erik Wright. Chapeau!

Riders search their bags for postcards at the Christiana postal control (photo by Jakub Piven)

Thank you to volunteer Ken Cappel for checking riders in at the finish. Back at Chamounix, riders enjoyed pizza and snacks as they shared tales of their day in the saddle.

The only gravel section of the 4S4 route, Rosedale Road (photo by Ron Anderson)

Ron Anderson writes of the 400:

Thanks for all your work putting on the 4S400k. I really enjoyed my day out on the roads of Eastern PA, and Delaware, and Maryland, and New Jersey

Although I was no doubt one of the more "seasoned" riders among the crew yesterday, the Four State had the feel of a fresh, new challenge for me. I looked it up, and the last time I completed a brevet at this distance was all the way back in 2011. The routes out of Chamounix are all relatively new to me too.

I really enjoyed the early morning southern loop into DE and MD, watching the world wake up along the way. That was some beautiful territory. The trek through Amish country was delightful, as always. The New Jersey portion of the ride put me on classic PAR roads that are very familiar to me. The descent from Jugtown Mountain to Milford was a delightful carnival ride, even in the dark, possible because of good lighting and knowledge of the roads.

After riding a while together in the afternoon, I met up with Greg J. at the penultimate control in Bloomsbury right at dusk and we stuck together for the rest of the NJ trek and the run in to Philadelphia. It was great to have the company in the dark as the miles piled up and we both reached that point where we just wanted this to be over. We endured a couple chilly rain showers along the way, as the Rando Gods felt the need for an additional test of our spirit.

We chased a 22 hour finish over the last few hours but the accumulated fatigue and a couple short delays saw us miss our goal by just a few minutes. Still, a very good finish for me and a first 400k finish for Greg. (Congrats!!!)

Thanks again to all our ride volunteers, and see you in a few weeks at the 600k!

Postscript: When the RBA and the ride volunteers suggest that you might want to take a little nap before driving home, pay attention! I thought I was okay to drive leaving the carriage house, but I was not. Even when it became clear to me that I was flagging, I pressed on home to Trenton. Somehow I made it safely, but it was, quite bluntly, a really bonehead move. I should know better. Don't let this be you. 

The fawn that was eventually rescued from the road (photo by Michael Evangelista)

Michael Evangelista writes of the 400:

The most interesting thing that happened to me was at mile 213 on Carversville Rd headed into Doylestown. A tiny fawn wobbled out of the grass and lied down right in the the middle of the northbound lane just as I passed. I stopped and attempted to shoo it back into the woods. I clapped, stomped, yelled and it just stared at me. An Uber Eats driver stopped to try to help, but the most we could do was wave traffic around it. I'd read that it's normal for a fawn to lie down and wait for its mother to come back and that you should just leave them be, but this was a really bad place to do that. I didn't want to touch it, so I called the police and asked if they could send animal control. An officer arrived and went to move the deer. As soon as he touched it, it go up and ran away! Argh! I spent 14 minutes trying to make sure that little guy didn't get squashed! (but was glad he was OK and out of the road in the end).

Pat Gaffney writes of the 400:

Thanks to you, Nick, Chris, Joe, and all the other volunteers who put on the four state four hundred on Saturday.  A 400K is quite an undertaking and this course really challenges the riders.  I really liked the reworks from last year's version, the Maryland section in particular was much more pleasant.  The scenery was great and, for most of the day, the weather was close to perfect.  Thanks again, see you at the 600.

A rider prepares to mail their postcard at the Elkton Maryland postal control (photo by Soph Lofaso)

Ben Keenan writes of the 400:

Thanks Brad, Nick, Dan, Joe, Chris and all others for organizing this ride.  This was my second time on this route, and it was no less beautiful and no less challenging.  I’d forgotten the number of quiet back roads and long, winding descents.  Alas, the memory of the hills came back just as quickly!  I think the last thirty miles of this ride may be one of the hardest stretches of miles I’ve ridden.  Congratulations and thanks to all and hope to see everyone for the next ride.

Greg Jacobs writes of the 400:

Just want to say thanks for a great first 400km experience! It was a challenging yet manageable route with plenty of varied scenery. About 20 miles in we passed within a mile of my house. Had I known what was in store on Staats rd 14 hours later, I may have just detoured. Big thanks to Ron A for dragging me along for the last 150kms. Looking forward to attempting the 600km in June. 

Chris Nadovich writes of the 400 MVV Recipient:

It's awesome Daniel Oh volunteered. It's so critical to have good people who are mobile, covering the final third of the course on a long brevet. Riders crumble in the wee hours and it can save a lot of trouble if there's a volunteer nearby who can help. My point is that it's critical we have such volunteers. Hanging out at 2am greeting tired riders, and maybe driving them to/from Philly multiple times - THAT is serious volunteer work. When people ask to volunteer, I'm not sure they think of such "glamorous" duties. But Daniel Oh certainly understood the job.

Nigel Greene writes of the 200:

Just a quick note to say thanks! After more than a year without riding a 200k due to -- well -- you know -- life, the Tscheschter Kaundi 200K, was my re-entry to this great sport. All the things that a ride organizer can control, like the route and the cuesheet, were truly excellent. The scenery and road selection were just what a brevet should be: a visual feast of local scenery on bike friendly roads. As for the cue sheet, I had the unanticipated pleasure of listening to every cue through Ride with GPS as I navigated the course. Quite frankly, I was impressed. Not only was every cue spot on but someone took the time to add additional points of interest along the route which is an extra special treat and something I personally appreciate. I have followed, created, and revised enough cue sheets to know how just how much attention to detail it requires. Well done! As a full value finisher, thanks for a warm welcome and great food selection. That pizza and beer hit the spot. Finally, one more thanks to Ken for that lift to the regional rail after the event. My tired legs were grateful. After such a fine restart, the randonesia is already kicking in. 

Photo by Erik Wright

Erik Wright writes of the 200:

Thanks for putting on the event, and for everybody juggling the two brevets at once. It was a solid day on the bike. Rounded a left hand turn and saw the horses, the beautiful yellow flowers, the picturesque blue skies, the BARN, and could barely contain myself. Shortly after, around mile 47, I was riding alone and saw a horseback rider about 100m in front of me. It was just us in the road, no cars, but I wasn’t totally sure of the etiquette and didn’t want to spook the horse. I slowed as I approached, then dismounted about 30ft from them. The rider sort of laughed, and when I explained I just didn’t know what to do, we had a nice 15 minute chat in the road talking about horses. She used to be a cyclist and rode centuries with her local cycling club, so she was stoked to learn about randonneuring. I don’t think she’ll be signing up for a brevet any time soon, but maybe we’ll see Cheryl again on the next TK200! Thanks again for organizing the ride- I’ll catch you at the next one. 

Photo by Jakub Piven

Jakub Piven writes of the 200:

Thank you for putting together such an outstanding route. From leaving the city on moderately busy roads to the breathtaking rolling hills on the edge of Lancaster County, and finally the quiet return on the SRT, it was clear that the route was well-considered and planned for maximum enjoyment. I was especially grateful for Maple Arch Farm Market halfway through, where I inhaled a few donuts and was tempted by first-of-the-season strawberries. The endless clotheslines in Penn Dutch country were another unexpected and impressive sight. Looking forward to the next one.

A bicycle at Maple Arch Farm Market (photo by Michael Reali)

Maria Thomson writes of the 200:

 Thanks Brad for laying out a total pleasure of a route. This was my first ever brevet one year ago and I left that ride delirious from the scenery and the kindness of my fellow riders who showed me the ropes. This year my pal and teammate Molly Gleason joined me, and Tscheschter Kaundi is now also her first brevet. We're drinking the Kool-Aid/spreading the rando gospel. Huge thanks as well to Arrick, Mike, and Augie -- we found each other organically on the road but ended up sticking together for nearly the entire ride and they were terrific company. Other highlights of the ride included slamming cider donuts at the new stop, finding a field of miniature ponies, saluting a number of kiddos and carriages in Lancaster, and overall lucking out with a freakin beautiful day of sunshine in the middle of two steady weeks of cold and rain. 

Props to the 400kers out on Saturday (maybe one day)!

Molly Gleason takes a selfie with teammate Maria Thomson on the South Street Bridge

Mike Gadomski writes of the 200:

 The first main highlight was that the route was just a pure delight. Really tastefully crafted. It did help that the weather was perfect. 

The second main highlight was riding with the same people the whole time, despite not having met most of them before. Great crew.

Finally, I want to give a special shoutout to the one gravel segment. It’s fair to say that I had genuine moments of euphoria on this ride.

Join us again on June 8 for the grand finale of the SR Series, the Jim Thorpe 600K, and on June 15 for the Keystone Brevet Co. 200K. Both of these rides will start and finish in Philadelphia. Details and registration are on the PA Rando website.

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

UPDATE: 4S4 & TK200 Course Notes

***UPDATE on May 8***

Please read below for additional updates based on a pre-ride of the Tscheschter Kaundi 200k and another pre-ride of the Four State 400k. 

A note on parking: There have been break-ins into cars at Chamounix. If you travel to the event by car, we urge you to park at the nearby parking lot at the Hilton/Homewood (see parking section on event page for details). If you choose not to heed our advice and park at Chamounix, don't leave any bags or items in your car. You can leave them in the hostel.

Four State 400k Update:

Nick Manta completed a pre-ride of the 4S4 on Monday, May 6. He reported an encounter with an angry dog on Walnut Lane in Oley Valley. We will not take any risks, so the route was adjusted to avoid Walnut Ln. He also recommended a few small cue updates, which have been added to cues and the route file. The cue sheet is now version 5 and the RWGPS file is updated as of .2024-05-8 13:46:17 EDT.

Tschechter Kaundi 200k Update:

Brad Layman completed a pre-ride of the TK200 on Tuesday, May 7. There are several scenic roads that are new to the TK in this edition. They include Wylie Rd connecting to Creek Rd in the Brandywine Valley, Runnymede Rd in Springdell, and Bailey Crossroads in Atglen. The addition of Bailey Crossroads also allows us to pass the Maple Arch Farm Market, which has fresh cider donuts for sale on Saturdays. There was a bridge closure on the way into Christiana that requires a short detour. All of these changes are up-to-date in the most recent cue sheet (version 3) and RWGPS file (updated 2024-05-8 11:29:47 EDT).

Runnymede Road in Spring Dell (TK 200)

Riders will enter Lancaster County upon crossing Mercer's Mill Covered Bridge on Bailey Crossroads (TK 200)


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***ORIGINAL POST***

The 2024 Pennsylvania Super Randonneur Series continues with the Four State 400K (aka the 4S4) on Saturday, May 11, starting at 4am. Registration is open until Saturday, May 4, at 11:59pm. Updates have been made to the cue sheet (version 4) and RWGPS file (updated 2024-05-1 09:53:38 EDT). Be sure to check this blog again before the event in case any additional changes are made.

The event starts and finishes at the Chamounix Carriage House in Philadelphia and will take riders through Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and New Jersey. In its second edition, the route features several areas known by PA Randos, including the Brandywine Valley, Lancaster County, Oley Valley, the Reading Prong, Bucks County, and the hills around the Musconetcong Gorge in NJ.

Brad Layman completed a pre-ride of the 4S4 on Sunday, April 28, and found the course to be in good condition. It was a beautiful day with temperatures that climbed into the 80s in the city, but thankfully remained cooler in the mid 70s in the countryside. Spring (and even summer?!) was in the air. The pollen is heavy as the flowers and trees are in full bloom. As the route approaches the farmland of Lancaster County, riders will begin to pick up the scent of ripe fields that have been recently fertilized for the season.

Slifer Valley Rd in Bucks County PA (mile 171)

There were a few road closures that required detours. The cuesheet is updated with these detours included. A couple closures were spotted before the pre-ride, so the Elkton and Bird-in-Hand controls were slightly modified in order to shave off the couple of miles that were added to other parts of the route by closure detours. The Elkton MD control, previously a convenience store in town, is now a postal control at a truck stop on the northern edge of town. I found this to be a pleasant change because it allows us to avoid a couple busy roads through Elkton. For the postal control, use the USPS Drop Box located at the Flying J Travel Center - look for the drop box outside the front entrance of the convenience store. There is also a Golden Corral attached to the Flying J for anyone who has already worked up an enormous appetite. In addition, you might hear messages over the P.A. saying something like “Customer number 49, your shower is now ready,” beckoning you for a mid-ride shower ($12).

Postal Control in Elkton, MD
USPS Drop Box is located outside front entrance of Flying J Travel Center
Showers available!

The Bird-in-Hand PA control, previously a postal control, is now a Turkey Hill merchant control. Using this location allows us to shave off a mile and avoid a difficult left turn onto the busy Old Philadelphia Pike, instead crossing straight through a traffic light.

The first road closure was on Glen Riddle Rd, caused by a rehabilitation project on a bridge over Chrome Run. The detour includes a three mile cruise on the Chester Creek Trail which is nice and empty in the early morning hours.

Another bridge, the Jackson’s Mill Covered Bridge crossing West Octoraro Creek in Lancaster County, is closed for a rehabilitation project, so there is a detour on Hollow Rd.

The only other issue that I ran into on the course was on Joshua Road. The entire stretch from Stenton Ave to Cedar Grove Lane (about 3 miles in length) was milled and very bumpy, which was especially annoying because it is about 239 miles into the ride. Hopefully it is repaved by May 11.

One of two short gravel sections. The surface on this section is smooth and the road scenic (mile 81).

After popular demand, Fleecydale Rd was added to the route at mile 210 (in place of Greenhill Rd). Fleecydale is a classic Bucks County road with a gentle climb, a peaceful creek and beautiful historic homes. It has been closed to cars for two years due to washouts caused by flooding. I hesitated to use this road on last year's 4S4 because we reach it after sunset. However, after several test rides in the dark, it has been determined to be rideable, mainly because the road’s incline keeps the riding to a modest speed through the closed section. It is still closed to cars, but it should be approached with caution. The washouts are on the left side of the road and are noted in the cues.

We plan to have a volunteer set up at the penultimate control in Bloomsbury NJ. The moral support here is usually much appreciated, as most riders will reach it as the sun goes down, with 100k left, and a big climb on Staats Rd coming up right after the control. There aren’t any controls between Bloomsbury and Philadelphia, but there is a 24 hour Wawa in Doylestown (mile 220) which is about halfway between the controls, and another 24 hour Wawa at mile 240.

Take a break as you walk your bike across the Riegelsville Bridge over the Delaware River. Riding is prohibited on this bridge (mile 179)

There are several other convenience stores that provide standard fare but options for different times to eat along the route: Landhope Farms in Oxford PA (mile 76); the Bird-in-Hand Bakery & Miller’s Smorgasbord (slightly off course at mile 98); an Exxon in New Holland (mile 107); an Exxon in Riegelsville (mile 177); across from the Citgo control in Bloomsbury are two truck stops, with a Burger King and Subway (mile 187); Milford Market/Citgo (mile 195); and the 24hr Wawas mentioned above in Doylestown (mile 220) and Lafayette Hill (mile 240).

Spring has arrived in Oley Valley. Limekiln Rd (mile 134)

This is a challenging route that includes a lot of hills. The upside is that there are a lot of fun, winding, long descents. Use these descents to your advantage by coasting. Most of them allow you to coast for several minutes without any stops disrupting your speed. My favorites include Smithbridge Rd descending into the Brandywine Creek Valley (mile 31-33), Mt Pleasant Rd into the Conestoga River Valley (mile 92-94), Cocalico Rd into the Schuylkill River Valley (mile 126-129), Slifer Valley & Lehnenberg Rd into the Delaware River Valley (mile 167-177), and Sweet Hollow after climbing Staats Rd (mile 191-196).

Be prepared to be strategic with your clothing so you don’t overheat on the climbs or get cold on descents. Removable arm sleeves, zip-able vests, and other easily removable gear is very helpful. The route passes over many creeks in the first 100k and the temps can be a lot cooler next to these creeks in the early morning hours. And after a full day of riding, 50 degrees at night feels a lot colder than it did in the morning. Group up with other riders at the Bloomsbury control to ride the final 100k in the dark for increased safety.

Since this ride involves significantly more nighttime riding than the previous rides, RUSA rules (see Article 10) will be strictly enforced at the morning inspection: 

  • reflective ankle straps
  • a reflective vest (which displays at least 30 square inches of rear-facing reflectivity and 27 square inches of forward-facing and shoulder reflectivity)”
  • “a set of working front and rear lights must be firmly mounted on the vehicle and turned on. At least one of the rear lights must be in a steady (rather than flashing) mode. Backup lighting systems and/or spare bulbs are strongly recommended in case the primary system fails and cannot be repaired on the roadside.”

The cue sheet (version 4) and RWGPS file (updated 2024-05-1 09:53:38 EDT) reflect the changes based on the pre-ride. It is recommended that riders break up the route into smaller sections to download to your device. There is cell service on most of the route. There were stretches without cell service but they did not last long.

Not interested in riding all day and most of the night? Join us for a ride that will only take most of the day, the Tscheschter Kaundi 200K. Another route with beautiful scenery, it will begin at 7am on the same day as the 4S4. We are still looking for a volunteer to scout out the route with a pre-ride. Please let me know if you are interested! If we find a volunteer pre-rider, this blog will be updated with any course notes.

Brad Layman
Event Organizer


Monday, April 22, 2024

Water and Wind 300K Ride Report

The morning started cold and drizzly, but developed into a beautiful, mild day for bike riding.  Of the 35 who clipped in for the brevet, 33 finished in good time (94%).  A very good turnout for a non-PBP year. Congratulations and well done to all. Preliminary results have been posted on the website.  Please review the results and let us know if something is not quite right.  The results will be submitted to RUSA after review and will become official once certified.  

I was very happy to see new riders conquer a 300K. In fact, fourteen riders finished their first 300K. Congratulations and welcome to randonneuring. This group of newly minted 300K riders included Marcus Bonner and Samuel Weitekamp who skipped over a "mere" 200K and took on a 300K a their first brevet ever! 

A round of applause for start control volunteer Ron Anderson who organized the start with the assistance of Brad Layman. The finish was organized by Chris Nadovich with assistance from Bryce Lackey. Sunday morning cleanup was accomplished by Brad along with Iwan Barankay and a crew of other helpers wrangled by Nicole Aptekar.

Additional  thanks go to Nicole for pied-pipering into Pennsylvania so many new riders, particularly from Brooklyn. This is a wonderful contribution to our club, and to randonneuring, that will grow into something really special in the next few years, I believe. 

Ben Keenan writes...

Thanks Ron, Brad, Chris and everyone for a wonderful day of riding. I had a great time! The late April conditions made the course especially beautiful, though my legs are still aching courtesy of the hills after Easton. Congratulations to everyone on completing a challenging day with aplomb and hope see you at the 400.


Join us again in May at Chamounix Carriage House for the next event in our Super Randonneur series, the Four State 400K. This event heads south through Maryland and Delaware before returning to PA and NJ. Four states. More than four hills. 

Never rode a 400K? Why not? They really aren't that much different than a 200K. It's just a 200K plus another 200K. You have successfully ridden a 200K, right? So ride one. Then take a break. Have a nice sit down meal. Then go ride another 200K. I mean, how much recovery do you really need?  You'll do fine! 

OK, if you really don't want to ride a 400K (??!!) we are also offering the TK 200K brevet in parallel with the 400K. 

Information and online registration can be found online:  400K and 200K.

Monday, April 15, 2024

Water and Wind 300K Pre-Ride Course Notes *** Update 3

The Water and Wind 300K -- a classic brevet course -- starts at 5AM this Saturday. Registration is now closed. Information about the event appears on the event website. Make sure you have read and understood all of it. If you have any questions, contact the organizer.

Ron Anderson completed a pre-ride on Wed 18 April. Some small changes were made in the route, particularly to follow the 200K routing into the SRT rather than use Harts Ln (which has a construction closure).  The latest route data is Version 2 and the GPS route was last updated on 2024-04-18 10:19:15 EDT
 
Ron writes...

I completed my pre-ride on Wednesday, and found it to be a very pleasant tour from Philadelphia to the namesake Water Gap and Wind Gap. Spring is officially in the air with lots of flowering trees and plants everywhere.

The only course notes a feel like I can add are these:

1. The first really ripping good descent comes on Staats Rd. at around mile 60. There are a couple cued turns on the descent, so be prepared to control your speed. I almost overshot the left onto Milford Rd....

2. Be careful on the closed-to-traffic potion of Rt. 611 in Delaware Water Gap, mile 89-90. The roadway is littered with debris. Watch where you put your front wheel.

3. Use care on the Wind Gap climb/Rt. 115, mile 104-107. There is a shoulder but not what I would call a generous one and always a steady stream of 50 mph traffic coming up from behind.

The forecast for Saturday looks nice enough. I hope everyone enjoys their ride as much as I did mine.


A limited selection of PA Rando Wool and Synthetic jerseys will be available for purchase at the start and finish of the 300K. These are new, never worn jerseys. Only certain sizes are available and  quantities are very limited. First come (and paid in full), first served. Prices are $80 for wool, $40 for synthetic. Cash or PayPal.  See one of the PA Rando organizers at Chamounix Carriage house if you are interested. 

Lodging at Chamounix Carriage House is SOLD OUT before and after this event. Beds are available only to riders who booked a bed when registering. Although there should be ample bedding and towels available, it would be wise to bring your an extra towel and/or bedding just in case we run out.

There has been a complaint that people have left the bathrooms at Chamounix in an "untidy" state. Please, if there's a plumbing malfunction, tell an organizer so we can notify the Chamounix staff. 

If you booked lodging at Chamounix and are arriving Friday, please plan to arrive at the Carriage House no sooner than 4:30PM. This is the earliest someone will be there to unlock the door for you. And please no later than 9PM -- or even better, before 8PM, so that your arrival does not disturb riders trying to sleep.

Bonne route!

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Covered Bridges 200K Ride Report

The 24 hour postponement to avoid the monsoon on Saturday was definitely the right move.  There were some issues in the morning as the dip in temperature froze some of the puddles, but we successfully dodged a truly miserable day. Of the 76 registered, 61 actually rode. Had the event started on Saturday, it's unlikely that more than 6 would have ridden.  Of the 61 who clipped in for the brevet, 58 finished in good time (95%).  This is an excellent finish rate for a course that is "sneaky difficult". Congratulations and well done to all. Preliminary results have been posted on the website.  Please review the results and let us know if something is not quite right.  The results will be submitted to RUSA after review and will become official once certified.  

Not raining.
 

At least a week out we saw that the weather forecast was going to be problematic for Saturday. The RBA kept hoping the forecast would improve, but it never did. It just got worse. On Friday RBA Emeritus Tom Rosenbauer commented...

I think we may have gone beyond “character building” conditions and we now are looking at “epic”.

By then the need for a postponement was clear to everyone, but PA Rando "luxury" brevets are tricky to reschedule. As we offer both food and lodging with the event, and volunteers have time constraints, it's hard to "just change the date". Fortunately, the various logistical gears and levers were possible to re-engineer for a Sunday event. That and the volunteer workforce found a way to adapt.

Speaking of volunteers, a massive thanks goes to Iwan Barankay for handling both the start and finish as organizer. Once again, a Philly-based PA Rando event is made possible by Iwan's generosity with his time.  Iwan,  you always seem to be stepping-up when nobody else does.  

Other people who helped Iwan at Chamounix include:

  • Ben Keenan: breakfast help at start, finish control
  • Pat Gaffney: breakfast help and dinner help
  • Brad Layman: Costco run
  • Soph Lofaso: breakfast help (cooked oats without causing gaffneysian mess!)
  • George "grandpa" Metzler: Gear delivery 
  • Ryan Stanis: Chamounix concierge on Saturday night
  • Everybody: really helped keeping the space neat and clean minimizing work for organizers.       

The brunch control at Tinicum was staffed by Chris Nadovich and Joe Ray, along with special guest star Bill Olsen who plied us with freeze dried Milk Dud "meatballs".

There were several newly minted randonneurs. Perhaps a record number! Noah Cason, Tim Crouch, Molly Gleeson, Carrie Grief, Karen Jablonski, Lucio Palazzo, Jakub Piven, Paul Schack,  Kevin Sohnly, Arrick Underhill, and Mark Wilson all completed their first brevet (did I miss anyone?) Welcome to randonneuring!

Once again, we were able to rent the Chamounix Carriage House for the club offering a wonderful space for riders to stay the night before and after the ride and to have a comfortable space to gather in after a long, hilly brevet. Ten riders from Brooklyn and Manhattan arrived Saturday (instead of Friday) to stay at the Carriage House.  

Despite the vastly improved weather on Sunday, it was still difficult to ride. Temperatures had dipped into the high 20's at the 6:30 AM start time, and runoff from the previous day's flooding froze into black ice on some road surfaces.  

Frozen runoff made riding treacherous in the morning
 

The ice caused at least three riders to crash. These wrecks were at slow speed, so there were no serious injuries -- other than to Ken Cappel's rim which was bent beyond rideability and Ken was forced to DNF. Sorry about your run of bad luck on PA brevets, Ken. 

Things might have been a lot worse at the black ice had Pat Gaffney, Noah Cason, and Nick Manta not stopped to warn the groups of riders as they came through.  Thank you Pat, Noah, and Nick. 

Later in the day the sun rose high in the clear sky and warmed things up. It became a fine day to ride a bike. 

There was some concern that there would be downed trees, power lines, and flooded roads in the aftermath of Saturday's rain, but for the most part roads were found to be in reasonable shape. There was kind've a close call with Tohickon creek near the Cabin Run covered bridge, the creek being almost exactly at road level. Fortunately, it wasn't quite over the road. 


 

One of the great things about randonneuring is how riders congratulate and acknowledge each other's accomplishment with little regard for the finish time. This especially includes a lanterne rouge who rolls in DFL.  In this case, the honor fell on Daniel Oh. It should be noted that Dan stopped for some time to render assistance to Ken Cappel. Thank you Dan!

Lanterne Rouge Daniel Oh is greeted at Chamounix

 CJ Arayata writes...

THANK YOU to both Iwan for doing all of the things that needed to be done, and to Chris for the faith in the Philadelphia brevets and a great sausage-egg-potato-pepper lunch at Tinicum! For real, I enjoyed that WAY more than the french-toast-with-bacon situation that was served last time. It felt good to dust off the RUSA number and use eBrevet for the first time (would recommend!), and also great to see record-breaking registration and a lot of new faces.

Besides the OG PA 200k, this may be one of the hardest PA courses I have ridden! The farther distance between controles coupled with very concentrated climbing in the middle left me in a calorie deficit for most of the day. The nice thing about riding with friends is that everyone can lift each other out of dark periods with camaraderie, positive vibes, and snack-sharing! Shout out to my riding companions Zack R., Rob D., and Mike R., and especially to Rob for the delicious brown-rice-and-Bragg's rice cakes and tuna sandwich at Tabora. It was great to enjoy a tailwind for the last stretch and especially wonderful to hang at the finish, meet new folks, and celebrate people's first brevet completions. I also wanted to give a special shout-out to Nicole and Soph for rallying an ever-growing Brooklyn squad to (hopefully) initiate into the dark side that is the PA Super Randonneur series! Thanks again to all of the volunteers, and until next time...  
Pat Gaffney writes...

Thanks to you, Brad, Joe, Chris and Ben for all the hard work on the ride this weekend. While I was mentally prepared for a tough slog through the rain on Saturday, I was much more pleased with a sunny Sunday ride. Thanks for making the switch. The icy patches made the first thirty or so miles interesting and the tailwind on the way back made for a nice afternoon. Thanks again, see you at the 300.

Collected photos here.

Some Strava Links.

  • Nick Rogoff                                                                     
  • Ross Parfetti                                                                   
  • Maria Thompson                                                                  
  • Chris Kline                                                                     
  • Best sunglasses: Zachary Rachell                                                
  • Robert dePaolis 
  • Greg Lang 
  • Matthew Willet                              
Join us again next month, 20 April, at Chamounix Carriage House for the next event in our Super Randonneur series, the Water and Wind 300K. This event follows the classic PA rando route to Blue Mountain, heading up through Delaware Water Gap and back through Wind Gap. 

Never rode a 300K? Why not? They really aren't that much different than a 200K. It's just a 200K plus another 100K. You have successfully ridden a 200K, right? And you know you can ride a measly100K. Why not give the 300K a go? You'll do fine! 

Information and online registration can be found on the event info website.

Monday, March 18, 2024

***UPDATE (Postponement): Covered Bridges 200K Pre-Ride Course Notes

The event has been postponed by 24 hours due to forecasted heavy rain and potential flooding. The ride will begin at 6:30am on Sunday 24 March. See the email from Iwan for more details.

************************************

The Covered Bridges 200K is back for a third edition as the 2024 PA Super Randonneur Series kicks off. We are very excited to have 76 riders registered for the brevet, making it our largest-ever event in PA Randonneur history! We welcome a number of riders who are new to the club and/or riding first brevets. Below is a report compiled after three club volunteers completed a "pre-ride" of the route.

Van Sandt Covered Bridge, the first of eight bridges

George Metzler, Joe Ray, and I [Brad Layman] completed our pre-ride on Saturday 16 March. Joe and I rode together, while George started about an hour earlier and rode solo. We did not encounter any road closures along the route. The latest cue sheet is Version 2 and the latest RWGPS route was updated on 2024-03-18 12:59:05 EST.

The route begins from the Chamounix Carriage House Hostel and follows suburban roads out of the city. On the way to New Hope, gently rolling hills will help riders warm up before the big hills. The second control is any business in the town of New Hope. The New Hope Ferry Market on the righthand side of Main Street has public bathrooms (open at 8am) and a coffee shop (open at 9am). There is also a Starbucks and Dunkin in the center of town (both open at 5:30am). Sadly, the beloved French bakery, C’est La Vie, permanently closed last year. Keep in mind that there is a brunch provided by the club about 20 miles later. Since the pre-riders miss out on the club brunch, we stopped at the Lumberville General Store for a nice breakfast (about 6 miles past New Hope).

Joe Ray passes the Stover-Myers Mill next to Tohickon Creek

After moving on from New Hope, the route follows the Delaware River and reaches the heart of the course, which means hills. The first is Tohickon Hill, followed by a control at Cabin Run Covered Bridge. Enjoy the reward of climbing with some nice descents on beautiful roads like Hollow Horn and Dark Hollow.

Riders will later emerge from the hills next to the river again where the club brunch is located in Tinicum Park. Club RBA Chris Nadovich and Joe Ray will be there serving food and drinks (including a vegan option). Unfortunately the park bathrooms are not available at this time of year.

From Tinicum Park, riders can see the wall-like ridge at the edge of the river valley. Shortly after brunch, riders will be heading up that ridge on the notorious Uhlerstown Hill Rd. This climb is the steepest of the route, with a gradient that reaches over 30%. There is a gate at the bottom and another at the top. I was able to ride around the first gate without dismounting thanks to someone who did some brush clearing recently. The climb doesn’t pick up for a little bit so it is possible to remount if you walk around the first gate. We all had to dismount for the gate at the top. Riders get a short respite after the climb before it picks up again on Perry Auger Rd. There is a reward of a fun descent on Kintner Hill Rd.

Gate at the bottom of Uhlerstown Hill

Ealer Hill Rd and the PAR classic Buckwampum Rd are the next big hills. Another scenic descent on Stifer Valley Rd will lead riders to the control at Knechts Covered Bridge. At this point, the most challenging hills are behind but there are some rollers on the way back to Philly. The last control before the finish is at Tabora Farm, widely known by riders in the Philly region for their baked goods. A bathroom at Tabora is unmarked and located behind the coffee counter, so you have to ask permission to use it.

Knechts Covered Bridge

This is a difficult route due to the steep hills in the middle, particularly between miles 45 and 70. None of them are long, but they are steep enough to provide a real challenge. It can also be tempting to think the last 50 miles will be an easy coast back to the city. The rolling hills and occasional waits at traffic lights can throw off your rhythm. The waits at the intersections along the 202 trail can be especially frustrating. You will probably have more fun if you don't aim for a personal best finish time on this route. Eat and drink throughout the ride, be prepared with the right gearing including a 1:1 ratio, don’t attack early in the ride, and don’t be ashamed to walk a steep section like Uhlerstown. Approach each covered bridge with caution; they are often at the bottom of hills, and the bridge surfaces are uneven and slippery, and some have wide gaps between boards.

RUSA rules (Article 10) state that riders must use a headlight and taillight in steady mode when riding before sunrise or after sunset and in conditions of limited visibility. Riders must also have reflective vests and ankle straps. Though we might have plenty of light from morning twilight, the ride officially begins about 25 minutes before sunrise. There is also a possibility that riders will finish after sunset, as well as the possibility of limited visibility if it rains. Therefore all riders will be checked at the start for functioning lights, reflective vests, and ankle straps.

Riders using the eBrevet app will be provided with a start code at check-in. Be sure to press the “Update GPS” button in the top left corner of the app before checking in to each control on the app. This will work even if the phone’s data is turned off. (Read more about the eBrevet app here.) Riders who forget to check in at a control are subject to disqualification. Riders also have the option of using the Brevet card to check in at controls. ALL riders must keep their brevet card with them throughout the ride, whether using the app or card for check-ins.

Chamounix Carriage House

We discourage you from coming by car. Ride to the start or use public transportation. If you are driving to the event, please be sure to read the parking details on the event page: "We believe that Chamounix is a generally safe place that is convenient and comfortable, but there have been instances of petty theft in the area. Do not leave valuables in your car. There should be nothing visible that might tempt thieves. If you must leave clothes and minor gear someplace during the event, it would be best to leave these inside the Carriage House, but please don't leave anything of great value. Thank you for your understanding." 

For those coming by train from New York and staying until Sunday, please note that the earliest train you can take back to New York is leaving Philadelphia 30th Street Station at 9:35am. A new rule exists that you can't take a bike on the train on Sundays arriving in New York between 9-12am. See schedule here: https://content.njtransit.com/sites/default/files/NEC-WKND-111223.pdf

Lastly, have fun, ride with friends, make some new ones, enjoy the scenery and treats along the way, and be safe. And plan to stick around afterwards at Chamounix for dinner and to share tales of your adventure.

Brad Layman
Co-organizer

Iwan Barankay
Co-organizer

Chris Nadovich
Regional Brevet Administrator

Sunday, February 4, 2024

Wool Endless Mountains Liberty Bell Jerseys

We are now accepting orders for wool Endless Mountains Liberty Bell jerseys. If you order by 15 April 2024 your jerseys should be available to you before the Endless Mountains 1234K grand brevet in September. These jerseys are made by Woolistic and are available in normal weight wool in Philadelphia Eagles Green. Normal weight wool is the warmest longest lasting fabric and is available with long or short sleeves. Graphics are embroidered into these wool fabrics. There is a partial zipper on the front and pockets on the back. There are men's and women's sizes from Small to XXXL. Sizing Chart.

Short Sleeve EMLB       Long Sleeve EMLB

These Event Jerseys are intended ONLY for Endless Mountains Riders and Volunteers. Ordering is on the honor system. If you believe in your heart that you will either attempt to ride or really volunteer for the Endless Mountains Liberty Bell in 2024, then you may purchase one of these special jerseys.  For everyone else, ordinary PA Rando jerseys will be available later in the year, along with a second order of EMLB jerseys that will NOT arrive in time for the EMLB event in September. 

Order your jerseys at the PA Randonneurs Team Store

Thanks go to George Retseck for making arrangements with Woolistic for this new jersey design.