Sunday, March 28, 2010

PA200k Preliminary Results and Ride Report

Preliminary results for the March 27 200k have been posted here. The results reflect a 15 minute adjustment to the starting time, due to delays from the rider meeting and the staggered start. Please let me know of any corrections or other issues -- results will be submitted to RUSA shortly, and then become final, pending ACP validation.

After a week of above average temperatures, another shot of cold Canadian air made for a chilly day of riding. Temperature's were in the mid 20F's at the start, only getting to the mid 40F's in the afternoon. But at least the skies were clear with plentiful sunshine.

Mile for mile, this is probably one of the tougher routes on the PA series. But the 35 riders that made it to the start proved even tougher, recording yet another 100% finish rate. Don Jagel made it to the finish first in just under 9 hours. Bob Casciato was not far behind, coming in just 6 minutes later. Bob, along with riders Patrick Gaffney, Judson Hand, Linda McAdams and yours truly, all participated in the 2003 edition of the NJ600k. As many of you know, the hilly segment of that particular NJ600k was largely based on what is now the PA200k. There was a good mix of veteran riders and newcomers, with some riding their very first brevet ever. Once again, a large group of riders from the NY Southern Tier came to ride, joining well represented contingents from Lancaster, NJ, and NY city. I was also impressed by the number of EM1240 jerseys I saw. One of those jerseys was worn by Michael Anderson, who came all the way down from the Boston area.

Adding to the variety of participants, 20% of the riders were female and there were 3 tandem teams. Of note, the tandem team piloted by Victor Urvantsev and stoked by Kate Marshall turned in an impressive result on a decidedly tandem un-friendly course -- they finished in 9:39 with the first group of finishers. And also of note, tandem pilot Patrick Gaffney made a marriage proposal to his stoker, Cecillie Adams at the top of Fox Gap (pictured below):

Best of luck to you both! And now that you have a wedding to plan, this link may give you some ideas

Thanks to Bill Olsen for the picture of Patrick and Cecillie, and thanks to Don Jagel, for leading the way with the sign-in sheets. Special thanks to Jon Clamp's wife, Carrie, for helping with the post-ride BBQ at the hostel. It was great being back to our rando base at the Weisel Hostel -- I really enjoyed catching up with several of you I haven't seen in a while. And I appreciate many of the kind remarks I got on the course and event organization. One of the funniest comments was made by Eric Keller, who in trying to describe the part of the course where he had to turn around for a lost item, said it was the part where "... it went up, and then down, and then up again ..." And I think it was Dan Aaron who then quipped: "Eric, you just described the entire course!"

Other Rider Comments
Long time participant Guy Harris comments: "...Has to be one of the best 200K’s in the US...". Bob Casciato writes: ".... Personally, it was the most challenging of the 15 or so 200Ks I have completed. It was quite scenic with very light traffic….a perfect combination!! Andrew Mead writes: "...I'm glad you opted to keep all the climbs. Apparently I needed a refresher on a few of them. .... The challenge of the course makes the finish all the more memorable. Scenery was top notch. Grace Pineda writes: "...It was all great: route, terrain, pavement, cue sheet, people at controles & weather." Judson Hand has posted a good write-up on his Rando Training BlogRon Anderson has posted a great write-up about the "Modest Proposal" on his DSSTRS blogMichael Anderson writes: "...By far the most challenging 200K I've ever completed. I'm glad I made it down to be a part of it. I enjoyed many of those hills, steep enough to get a good speed going, and short enough to not become overwhelmed...."  Kate Marshall has posted a great write-up on her Pscycles Blog.

If you have any other comments, stories, or pictures to share, you can post them on the message board or e-mail them to me.

Next up, is the PA300k (with a 200k option) in 3 weeks. I'll be updating the PA300 event page this week. Meanwhile, those of you planning on the Eastern PA Fleche need to finalize your routes and rosters very soon.

If anybody wants to claim the helmet left at the hostel, you can drop me a note and I'll ship it out to you.

-Tom Rosenbauer
Eastern PA RBA

Monday, March 22, 2010


"...the PA200K was my favorite route in PA so far. Not only challenging, but also scenic..." -- Juan Salazar commenting on last year's event.

There's still time to register for the March 27th PA200k -- reminder: if you are a PA R-12 Club member, you can just drop me an e-mail to let me know if you plan to ride and optionally stay at the hostel.  You can pay me the $25 entry fee when you sign in, which includes both the $5 membership discount AND the automatic early registration discount of $9 -- a $14 savings.

Regarding lights:

They are "highly recommended" -- although it will be possible for many riders to complete the course before sundown, unforeseen circumstances may keep you out on course past sundown (in which case, you will be DQ'd, which will be the least of your problems). That being said, any veteran PA200k riders who have completed the course in less than 11 hours can forego a headlight, if they are willing to take that chance.

For those of you only familiar with the R-12 events, this event is a bit different: 

The start/finish is at the Weisel Hostel in Quakertown, our "rando clubhouse".  There are dorm rooms available for $25/night on both Friday and Saturday nights -- if you are traveling far, this might be a cost effective option to consider to avoid a lot of driving right before and after the event.  Please note that the start time is now 7AM.

A breakfast buffet of hot oatmeal and other breakfast items is available 1 hr before the start, in the hostel's great room.  This is also where the sign-in area is.  After the ride, there are 2 showers available in the upstairs bathroom.  Also included is a postride BBQ, where you can swap your war stories and share your goals for the 2010 season.

Please note that the hostel is located in a "rustic" area -- cell phone coverage is poor, if you need to reach me, be sure to try the hostel phone number (listed on your cuesheet and brevet card) if I don't answer my cell phone.  Also, the dirt driveway has a lot of potholes and rocks -- take caution.  You should park your car in the large parking area on the right of the long driveway between the road and hostel.  If it is wet, be sure to park on the gravel area, NOT the grassy areas -- it is easy to get your car stuck if you wander into a soft grassy area.  The few parking spots next to the hostel are reserved for event personnel and the hostel parents: John and GerriAnn.

Course notes:

I completed a volunteer preride this past Saturday ... an updated cuesheet (draft 5) was posted on the website on 3/21.  A small routing change was made around mile 14.8 of the previous draft -- the bridge construction from last year is now complete, so the Woodline/Kichline/Buttermilk detour is no longer needed.  Some other minor clarifications were also made in various spots.

I gave some thought about tweaking the course a bit. I could've taken out the Lower Saucon climb, now that River Rd is good between Riegelsville and Phillipsburg. And I got a lot of complaints last year about the Cafferty/Tohickon Hill stretch at the end, which is quite a bit harder than the original routing along the south shore of Lake Nockamixon.  But after doing a preride this past Saturday, I'm happy with the way it is -- yes, a very challenging route with lots of big climbs, and plenty of "other stuff in between". However, it is an extremely quiet route with minimal traffic (putting aside the occasional pack of the motorcycles that are just unavoidable).  It is what it is ... a hard 200k that will offer a good early season challenge for most riders.

In general, the roads are in fair shape ... there is still plenty of gravel on the shoulders, so be mindful of that, especially on the corners.  Also, the gravel made some of the very steep pitches a bit harder -- so if you are unsure of your ability to handle this, you should unclip and walk.  While some roads are a bit worse after the harse winter, one bit of good news is that Rt 32 has been repaved -- this is a relatively busy, narrow road but the small shoulder is now at least rideable and no longer cratered with potholes.

Have a safe ride!


-Tom Rosenbauer
Eastern PA RBA

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Spring Forward 200k - Preliminary Results & Ride Report

Preliminary results for the March 6 Spring Forward 200k have been posted at:
... please let me know of any corrections or other issues. Results will be submitted to RUSA shortly, and will then become final, pending ACP validation.

22 riders clipped in at the start with 19 official finishers. First time rider, Lew Hershey could only ride part of the day this time. Ixsa Golibur and William Reagan made their way back to the finish, after putting in a good 100+ miles.

Special thanks to organizer, Andrew Mead, for not only putting together an excellent route, but for ordering up the spring-like weather we had. Temperature was about 29F at the start, and warmed up to the low 50F's by the afternoon, with bright sunny skies all day. And thanks to Bill Fischer and Don Jagel for once again carrying the sign-in sheets. And a big thank you to George Metzler for hosting the Atglen controle, which was well stocked with his favorite energy drinks.

There were certainly a bunch of steep climbs on course. But apparently, the steepest climb must've been George's driveway, where my riding partner Steve Hanes broke his chain as we departed the Atglen controle. Or perhaps it was just the randonneuring gods frowning on us, as we projected finishing *before* sunset. Typically, a broken chain is a relatively quick fix. But this time, it seems that everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. After burning through a couple of links, by pushing the pin out too far, we thought we were good to go. But chain break #2 happened right on the driveway again. George then dug out a quick link from his spare parts bin for us. This at least got us out of the driveway and about 4 miles down the road. Then the chain froze up -- upon closer inspection, we see that the chain had not be routed through the pulley cage correctly. That quick link went together quick enough, but despite our best efforts, it was not coming unclipped. So we disassembled the pulley cage to route the chain. And after getting the thing reassembled, we see that it's still not right -- so we take the thing apart and try again. Finally, we think we have a good repair, so back on the road we go. But now, the chain starts skipping. As we get closer to the penultimate controle, the skipping is getting so bad, that Steve decides his ride is over. Steve reasons that it's better to stop near civilization rather than risk getting stranded at night in the middle of nowhere. But with just a little over 20 miles to go, fellow rider Mark Kaufman and I urge him to press on. We find a gear combination that seems to work a bit better, and Steve brings it on home for his first official finish. A happy ending after all, and perhaps some lessions learned on the value of camaraderie and equipment maintenance ...

If you have any comments or stories to add, pass them along to me. And stay tuned for some additional comments and notes from Andrew ...

Next up, is the PA200k out of the Quakertown hostel. This is the one with all the big climbs .... Lower Saucon Valley, Fox Gap, and Lommasson's Glen to name a few, so be sure to bring some low gears. Starting this year, PA Members can register by just sending me an e-mail. You can pay when you sign-in, and you get both the early registration discount and $5 member discount. For those of you who've only done R-12 events, this "regular" SR series event offers a breakfast buffet 1 hour before the start, and a post-ride gathering with food at the hostel. If you're traveling far, you can also stay at the hostel dorm for $25/night. Additional event details are posted here.

-Tom Rosenbauer
Eastern PA RBA

Thanks to all who came out to clip in for the second Spring Forward 200k in Lancaster. It seems that my efforts to avoid any and all discussions about weather prior to the event paid off. I was even pleased with road conditions. February’s record-breaking snowfalls and news reports showing several of the roads along the route made impassable with 10-15 feet of drifted snow left me concerned with what we might encounter. My planned pre-ride scouting trip was impacted by the snow as well, so I was pleasantly surprised by generally clear roads. My apologies for the remaining inconsistencies in the cue sheet; honestly some of those missing signs were there in December.

Better up-front preparation allowed me to complete the sign-in process and start with the main group instead of my more typical 5 minutes late. I discovered a frisky pace among the front-runners, but hung on so I could enjoy the Pa Rando camaraderie.The group witnessed Rick "RAAM" Carpenter's new mileage training plan which involved periodic part jettisoning, a much later “oh, I dropped something,” and a turn back to retrieve the item. He used his cue sheet twice (c’mon Rick, you know this route), a rear fender, and a pump. We were at the Bainbridge controle when he realized his pump was missing. I mentioned seeing a pump along the road some 6 miles before the controle and Rick set off retracing his steps. Curtis somewhat jokingly predicted that we’d be passed by him later on. That prediction came true when Rick passed us at the top of the Welsh Mountain, nearly 16 miles from the finish. Unfortunately for Rick, the only identifiable part remaining when he arrived was the pump head which he dutifully brought along and showed off at the finish.

Riding with the group also allowed me to see Guy Harris in action on his fixie. Having ridden one brevet on my fixie, I have a deep respect for Guy’s ability. I can attest that his 24-inch gear was NOT engaged at any point on Frogtown Rd. Very impressive indeed. More impressive was the way he pulled away after scaling the second steep pitch on Frogtown while I was trying to swallow my lungs.

I hope all riders took a few moments to look around from the top of White Oak Road. This particular stretch was added for the 2009 Fall Backward to bypass Quarryville. Unfortunately, December’s weather was not conducive to visual enjoyment of the vista. Saturday’s crystal clear skies made for fantastic views. You can see almost the entire course from there if you know where to look.

Thanks again to George Metzler for providing a well-stocked information controle (energy drinks, yeah that's what they were!). I tested the chairs this time and found them to be extremely comfortable.

And in what seems to be a developing trend in Pa Randonneurs brevets, always keep a close eye on those newcomers. Pa rookie Roger Rabey kept Bill Fischer and Don Jagel company at the front all day and took home first finisher honors. He also set a new course record by trimming 5 minutes from the mark set last year by Juan, Rick, and Curtis.

The true test of the brevet organizer is to finish with the same number of riders that started. Bill and Ixsa had us a bit worried, but they managed to self-navigate back to the start from the southern end of the loop in time for pizza at the finish.

As before, if anyone has corrections, improvements, or whatnot for the cue sheet, please send them. I am still striving for the perfect cue sheet. Current plans are to return to Lancaster County for a Fall Backward event in November. Route TBD.

Until next time. . .

-Andrew Mead

Friday, March 5, 2010

Eastern PA Fleche

The Eastern PA region is offering a Fleche on April 22-25. Event details are posted here.

Check out last year's ride report (with maps of the different team routes).

Route submissions are due by April 9 ... so now would be a good time to get your plans together!

The following riders are looking for a team:
- Daniel Aaron