Sunday, September 9, 2012

September R12 Hawk Mountain 200 Report

Preliminary results have been posted at:
... please let Tom know of any corrections or other issues.  Results will be submitted this week, and become final, pending RUSA/ACP certification.

Weather conditions at the start were warm and very humid, due to remnants of Hurricane Issac which had been lingering in the area for the better part of a week.  A strong cold front swept through in the middle of the afternoon, and triggered an impressive display of rain, wind, and some lightning.  Thankfully, the front came through very quickly, and the heavy rain lasted only about 20 minutes or so.

First finishers Matt Farrell, Bill Fischer, and Don Jagel were on the southeastern leg of the course when the storms hit.  With the favorable shift of wind when the front came through, they decided to keep riding and take advantage of the strong winds that pushed them along, despite the deluge of rain falling down on them.  The rest of the field was strung out between the Pine Grove and Jonestown controles as the front passed, generally meaning either the second climbing of the Blue Mountain or descending into the strong winds, pouring rain, and flying debris.  Tom Rosenbauer and Clair Beiler waited in Pine Grove for the worst to pass only to report a near-miss when a large branch fell within 3 feet of Clair as they tackled the Rt 645 climb.

Whether storm related or not, first-time participant Tim Creyts experienced the failure of a vintage 7-speed freewheel, which was problemmatic for most of the day and finally gave out completely and allowed freewheeling in both directions.  Despite the best efforts to make repairs, this unfortunately was the end Tim's ride -- just 20 miles from the finish:  just a tad far for a kick-bike.  Tim writes: "...The 'peloton' was mainly together for the first 10 miles or so.  Eventually, we hit Galen Hall road after about 45 minutes.... my body was not warmed up, so I went up this set of hills slowly. This was the first time I had used the bail out gear on the Univega for any length of time. ..."
Read the rest of Tim's very detailed report at:

Special thanks to organizer and volunteer prerider, Andrew Mead, for putting together a fantastic ride -- without a doubt, one of the more challenging courses on the PA series, and arguably, one of the most scenic.  Special thanks also, to Bill Slabonik for manning all the controles and making sure every one cleared the course, safely.  Bill Slabonik, Keith Spangler, and Mike Lutz also completed prerides to make sure that the cue sheet was as accurate as possible and the course was in good shape.

Bill Olsen writes: "... Thanks again for the great ride yesterday.  Hawk Mountain didn't seem so long this year.  Perhaps it was the cooler temperatures and overcast that made the climb quite pleasant. ... Although I like the original Swatara Gap route, this new routing was a nice change, and makes this brevet a great training ride for anything we might encounter on other brevets.   There was even a silver lining with the rain we encountered at the Jonestown controle as the steady headwinds we had all morning changed to a tailwind when the front blew through ..."

Don Jagel writes: "...Thanks for putting together the Hawk Mountain brevet yesterday.  It was a day of good riding, good company, and good conversation.  What started as an overcast day with 100% humidity turned to 110% humidity (rain) by the end of the day.  Matt, Bill and myself encountered heavy, sometimes stinging, rain for the last 20 miles, or so of the ride, but it also provided a welcome tail wind.  As I write this, all of my equipment and clothing is drying in the sun.

For me, the big surprise of the day was the climb out of the Pine Grove control.  I had not really paid much attention when folks were talking about the route modification, and I did not look at that portion of the cue sheet until we were leaving the Pine Grove Turkey Hill.  Up to that point, I had just assumed we were going through Swatera Gap as was done in the past.  I have ridden the "new" climb a couple of times in the past, and knew that it was a grunt, but yesterday I did not have myself mentally prepared for it (my mistake).

Bill, Matt and I think you should consider updating the name of this brevet route to more accurately reflect the new nature of the course.  Hawk Mountain is relatively easy and constant grade, and is only a warm-up for the crux climb later in the ride.  A name like "AT Double-Cross", or "Blue Mountain Double-Cross" would suggest to potential riders in the future that there is more than one crossing of this geographical feature. [And if we keep the original route discription the same, which of course mentions the Swatara Gap, the Double-Cross is even more appropos! -Tom R]
Overall the ride was a fitting way for me to finish up an R-12.  It had heat, humidity, rain, and climbing, all of which added to the sense of satisfaction at the completion of the ride.  Thanks for organizing and running the show, and many thanks to Bill S. for being at the controls to make sure everything was going smoothly. ..."

Newly minted randonneur Eric Dahl began his first brevet by riding to the start from Newark, DE setting out around 9:30pm Friday evening.  He arrived at the Pancake Farm around 5:45 after a mis-cue in his route extended it to around 75 miles and catching a few winks along the side of the road.  Eric then went on to complete the brevet in fine form with a 9:00 finish.  After grabbing some serious chow at the Turkey Hill finish and debating whether to press on Saturday, he finally set out for home around 5:30pm and felt like he could finish by midnight for a 27-hour 400k finish.  Did he make it?  Eric replies at 12:06am:  "Yes he did.  Albeit, after a certain point, I had to coax myself to keep on riding with skittles.  My brain was very tired and my feet hurt and all I wanted to do was lie down.  But I made it back just a few minutes ago."    We will see more of this randonneur.

If you have any other comments, you can forward them to Tom or Andrew for inclusion to the message board ride report.

Next up, we head back to the Weisel Hostel in Quakertown on October 20 for the classic 150/200k rides followed by a post ride BBQ -- come share your epic tales of the past season, and start looking forward to the 2013 calender of events:

-Andrew Mead, Organizer
-Tom Rosenbauer, RBA

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