Sunday, May 11, 2014

Blue Mountain 400k

Riding along Blue Mountain
photo compliments of Nigel Greene
*** Update #2 (5/16) ***
Controle 4 in Water Gap is listed as the Village Farmer and Bakery.  If you want something more substantial, you can instead go next door to the Water Gap diner for a sit-down meal and to get your card stamped.

*** Update #1 (5/14) ***
The cuesheet has been updated to draft 14 (5/14) with changes and corrections from the volunteer preride. The pre-ride was completed this past Sunday by Pat and Cecilie Gaffney.

Pat reports: "...Our ride got off to a bit of a rocky start.  As we turned onto 313 I noticed that our cyclometer was not working properly and by Ridge Road it had stopped working all together.  After about 10 minutes or so of fiddling, fumfering and cursing we got it working again (some water had gotten into the wireless transmitter).  Now, we were on our way.

The first segment was nice and I am sure that most riders will recognize many of the roads from the return on the 200K.  We did notice that we hit Deep Run Road before the SS at Kellers Church (mi 9.4).  Irish Meetinghouse merges with Deep Run about 1/4 mile before the intersection at Kellers Church.  Crossing 611 (mi 11.3) is a TFL and there are a lot of pot holes and rough road on Carversville Rd.  We actually hit one hard enough to screw-up our cyclometer up again for a few minutes. (It did work fine the rest of the day).  Riders, particularly in a group, should use caution! Route 202 had a little bit of rough pavement as well, but nothing to drastic.

The ride from New hope to Milford went quickly.  We had to deal with some heavy fog that got us pretty wet, but other than that nothing out of the ordinary.  I think that most riders will be traversing this section early enough that traffic won't be an issue.

Milford to Water Gap was very pleasant as well.  The sun had burned off all the fog and traffic was very light.  There also seemed to be a nice trailing wind pushing us along 519.  Crossing back into PA we noticed that Sandy Shore Dr (mi 73.9) is unmarked.  There was also a bit of gravel on the shoulder of 611 in between Portland and Water Gap.

Fun time ended as we headed out Cherry Valley Road on our way to New Ringgold.  The road was fine but the winds picked up and the sun started to get hot.  The cue indicated to follow the PA Bike V sign( at mi 92.1), but i believe bike route V makes the left onto Blakeslee Rd there not Cherry Valley, which is the TL.  Riders should also be careful crossing Rt 115: it is busy with fast traffic. As we made the turn onto Little Gap Road the sun and the wind slapped us in the face.  A stop at the diner in Bowmanstown helped, but the last 15 miles to Blondies were rough.  The roads were fine, just hilly and hot.  

We left New Ringgold feeling better, but we had looked at the profile and were riding with less than eager anticipation for the spikes ahead.  The construction at Rt 61(mi 151.1) is complete and crossing was easy.  Hickory Lane didn't seem as troublesome as I remembered, but the views at the top were fantastic as usual.  The right turn onto Martins Rd (mi 167.5) is unmarked and easy to miss.  We both agreed that the climb up 645 was the steepest we ever road/walked up.  It made Millbrook Road on the 300k seem like a mere bump in the road.  Everyone should be careful on the decent, it is extremely steep (14% grade) and the TL is pretty sharp.  Once we made the turn it was easy riding into the control.  

Frystown to New Smithville was easy.  The road was in good shape with the exception of the shoulder for about the last three miles to the control, which was kind of rutty.  It was nice to not have to worry about navigation too much as we were on the same road for 34 miles.

We were pretty beat as we headed out on the last segment, but in good spirits as we knew the hostel was not too far off.  The traffic on 222 is fast-moving, but the shoulder is nice and wide, so it is not such a big deal.  The navigation on this segment is pretty straight forward and most of the roads are quiet.  The right turn onto Kumry/Fels from Rt 663 was easy to miss.  It's more like a right and an immediate bear right, and there are a few potholes.  Camp Rock Hill, Catch Basin and Green Top are in somewhat rough shape.  As most everyone will be coming through there in the dark they should ride with caution.  We had no problems on the remaining few miles and made it back to the hostel a little tired and weary, but happy to have completed such a challenging ride. -Cecilie and Pat

Cue Sheet Notes;
mi 9.4 - actually on Deep Run when you cross Kellers Church  
mi 13.4 - 16.8 Carversville Road - lots of potholes
mi 20.8 - Rt 202 - rough pavement
mi 73.9 - Sandy Shore Dr - unmarked
mi 92.1 - Bike Route V goes left on Blakeslee before T intersection
mi 97.9 - Rt 115 - busy intersection.
mi 167.5 - Martins Rd - unmarked easy to miss
mi 174.7 - 645 - dangerous decent
mi 237.1 - Kumry/Fels - easy to miss - bear onto Fels
mi 242 - 245 - intermittent rough pavement

*** Additional Course Notes ***

Rick Carpenter offered the following route suggestion: "...One cautionary thought I have is on the evening return, and concerns the section from Macungie to King’s Hwy/Zionsville.  Before permanently moving South I had developed a bike commuter route from my mom’s new place in Sellersville to Air Products in Ttown. I have ridden many times the Rte 100 / merge with 29 / cross St Peters Rd @ TFL then make left onto King’s Hwy, but never liked this section owing to the amount of traffic both coming up the windy hill from Macungie and then after the merge with traffic coming up 29 from Emmaus having to make the left onto King’s Hwy at Zionsville.  The bulk of riders could be encountering this busy section around the 10-11 pm time-frame on a Saturday night (or later), so will need to keep their wits about them for distracted drivers - particularly since most riders will also be weary by this point in the course. For my commute, I modified this section as follows to provide relief from (in my case) AM & PM rush hour traffic:

After entering Macungie on 100 and crossing the RR Tracks, I make the 2nd major right onto Chestnut Street ( at TFL - Buckeye Rd terminates left at this intersection).  Chestnut St turns into Sweetwood Dr then climbs out of Macungie, where after the climb I make the first “real” left onto Macungie Mtn Road, then cross St Peters Road (becomes Furnace Hill Rd) and make 1st left onto Indian Creek Rd.  At the intersection with Rte 100, you can turn left onto 100 then bear right onto Fountain Rd which connects with Kings Hwy...."

Rick's alternate routing through Macungie has been incorporated into Draft 14.

As one of the more challenging routes on the Eastern PA schedule, participants in the past who have not been able to finish have opted to check into a hotel.  With this year's revised course, there are hotels off-course in Pine Grove as noted on the cuesheet.  It would be a good idea to pack a credit card for this eventuality.

With the idea of making the course a bit "kinder and gentler", this year's edition follows the Delaware River for a longer stretch in the beginning segments.  Note that the first controle stop in New Hope is an un-timed information controle.  There is a 24-hr WaWa nearby, if you need anything, but most riders will probably want to make this a quick stop-and-go.

The additional mileage along the Delaware River means that you'll be seeing the big climbs between Bowmanstown and Pine Grove a bit later in the day.  As noted on the cuesheet, you should replenish your supplies at Bowmanstown before heading into this hilly terrain.  After the controle stop in New Ringgold, you can replenish your supplies in Orwigsburg.

Volunteer Norman Smeal will be checking you in at the start, cooking you oatmeal, and sending you on your way on Saturday morning.  If you are staying at the hostel on Friday night, arrivals before 9PM should use the Woman's dorm.   Arrivals between 9 and 10:30 PM should head to the Men's dorm.  Later arrivals should use the Family dorm.  I'll be attending my daughter's recital on Friday night, so you won't see me at the hostel.  If you have any questions or issues, the house parents John and GerryAnne will be happy to help you.  Volunteers Pat Gaffney and Norman Smeal will be greeting you at the finish.

Please park your car in the gravel lot half way down the driveway on your right, between the road and the hostel.  The few parking spots next to the house are reserved.

*** Original Post ***
The May 17th Blue Mountain 400k has been significantly updated for this year's edition.  New Hope, Milford, and Water Gap have been added to the initial route segments, allowing for a visit to our favorite bakeries along the Delaware River.  At Pine Grove, the course heads directly south for a challenging climb over the Appalachian Trail via Rt 645.  But instead of heading into Lancaster county, the course now follows Old Rt 22 a.k.a. the "Hex Highway" back to Northampton county, where we pick up the "Kings Highway" back to Quakertown.  Details have been posted at:

Pat and Cecilie Gaffney are once again checking out the course this Sunday with a volunteer preride.  Be sure to check back on the message board and website for any updates.  And as usual, drop me a note by Thursday if you would like to join the roster. Please indicate any hostel reservations in your note.

*** Roster (as of 5/16) ***
1 Daniel Aaron -
2 Michael Anderson -
3 Richard G Carpenter -
4 Patrick Chin-Hong - Friday Night Hostel
5 Jan P Dembinski - Friday & Saturday Night Hostel
6 Ed Dodd -
7 Joe Fillip -
8 Cecilie Gaffney - Volunteer
9 Patrick Gaffney - Volunteer
10 Doug Haluza -
11 Guy Harris -
12 Donald Jagel -
13 Greg Keenan - Saturday Night Hostel
14 Eric Keller -
15 Lawrence A Midura -
16 William Olsen -
17 Peter C Phillips -
18 Susan Rodetis -
19 Tom Rosenbauer - Friday Night Hostel
20 Norman Smeal - Volunteer
21 Bob Torres - Friday Night Hostel
22 Gilbert Torres - Friday Night Hostel

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