Monday, August 31, 2015

Hawk Mountain 200k

We head west for the September R12 event, the Hawk Mountain 200k.  Last run in 2012, this route begins at the K-Mart in Ephrata, PA and heads northeast toward the Blue Mountain range and the namesake climb.  We skirt around Reading and the Blue Marsh Lake in the early miles, wind through a few villages along the Schuylkill River, and eventually reach the first controle in Kempton at the base of the Blue Mountain range.  The controle is now and information controle, but remains open for nibbles and drinks.  Restraint is urged as everything you pack on your bike at his controle has to be carried OVER Hawk Mountain.  Veteran Hawk Mountain riders will know to study the cue sheet and take advantage of the additional food/drink services identified along the route (hint: Shoemakersville) so they minimize bike weight for the climb.

Once over the mountain, we drop into the village of Deer Lake.  Construction along SR61 has greatly improved our crossing of this road; no longer does the route follow the shoulder of SR61.  I'm sure no one who's ridden this before will miss that part of the route.  We climb to Summer Hill Road with its scenic vistas of the Blue and Second Mountains and travel west along the ridge line to Pine Grove.

The biggest routing change comes after the Pine Grove controle.  We've given up the unshaded, deeply rolling SR 443 and the monstrous climb along Rt 645.  In their place is the shaded and generally downhill Swatera Rail Trail.  The trail features roughly five miles of compacted crushed limestone trail that is easily traversed with skinny tires as you ride alongside the Swatera Creek through Indiantown Gap. While the cue is easy to follow, signage at the trailhead is minimal.  Here's the view of the trail entrance from Swopes Valley Rd.
There is a sign identifying the trail about 100 feet in, so make sure you're on the correct trail.  The Bear Hole Trail trailhead is nearby.  Both trails end up at the same controle location, but you'll want the Swatera Trail.  The Bear Hole Trail has hills.

Sadly, we have to bypass the Lickdale Hess Express and its deli due to bridge construction.  You'll want to stock up in Pine Grove or check out the pizza or sub shop in Fredericksburg.  Regardless, make sure you have plenty of water as the final miles travel mostly through farmland with little shade.

A course checkout ride was completed on August 30.  The updated cue sheet has been posted on the website.  Roads are generally in great shape with several stretches of fresh asphalt, including much of the descent from Hawk Mountain.  Of course, there were also a few stretches of fresh oil & chips.  This is Pennsylvania, after all.  I don't expect any changes to the cue sheet before the event.  As always, follows this board for any last minute updates.

The ride starts at 7am, shortly after sunrise.  Sunset is 7:19pm.  While it certainly is possible to finish before then, unforeseen circumstances may keep you out on course longer than anticipated, so lights and reflective gear are strongly recommended.  If you are out riding past sundown without lights and reflective gear, a DQ will be the least of your problems!

It's always a good idea to start with a hearty breakfast and The Pancake Farm in Ephrata is just around the corner from the starting location.  It opens at 5:15am.  Directions are on the event webpage.

One final note:  please park along the east side of the K-Mart parking lot (furthest away from the Turkey Hill) so we minimize our impact on K-Mart's customer parking.

Additional details on on the event page
All riders must be registered.  Pre-registration is open until September 10 at 5pm.
Click HERE to pre-register.

Andrew Mead

*** Roster (as of 9/10) ***
1 Michael Anderson -
2 Gavin Biebuyck -
3 James Bondra -
4 Frederick R Collins -  Guest
5 Larry  Thomas Collins -  Guest
6 Paul Currie -  Guest
7 Jono Crane Davis -  Guest
8 Patrick Gaffney
9 Jeffrey A Gregg -
10 James R Haddad -
11 Eric  K Hannon Ford -  Guest
12 Donald Jagel -
13 Greg Keenan -
14 Jeffrey H Lord -  Guest
15 Andrew D Mead - Organizer
16 Ralph V Miller III - Volunteer
17 Chris Nadovich
18 William Olsen -
19 Peter C Phillips -
20 Edward T Schantz -
21 Steven J Schoenfelder -
22 Isaac (Julius) Silberman-Gorn -  Guest

Monday, August 10, 2015

August Hawk's Nest 200k Ride Report

Preliminary results have been posted at:
Results will be submitted in a couple of days to RUSA, and then become final pending ACP certification.

With low humidity and wind, mild temperatures, and some partial cloud cover, weather conditions for an August brevet were just about ideal. All 15 riders who made it to the start finished in good time for another 100% completion -- well done to all! Of note, newcomers Eric F. and Michael S. completed their first PA brevet -- congratulations, and hope to see you both again soon.

Although perhaps it is a question that might have been better left unanswered, we now know the terminal velocity of a velomobile on the decent from Eldred: 62 MPH.  Len Z writes: " ...  I was so concerned about getting my 60 pound velo up to the first controle on time, but actually made it there 20 minutes sooner than last time! After that, the ride was essentially in the bag. As opposed to last time, this ride was a ride of real extremes. extraordinarily slow up the steeper hills , and on steep uphill parts of mine road ,I felt my rear wheel start to slip if didn't pedal smoothly. The downhills were literally and figuratively a rush! I had hit 52 mph during the first segment. The 62 coming down from Glen Spey was an all time record for me. I felt fine on that run, the velo felt very stable, but considering the way the velo handled with a blowout at 30 mph later in the ride, I will be more circumspect about the very high speeds until I upgrade my rear tire. It seems my "guardian Angel" really is a "speed Demon"..."

Grace P. writes: "... an absolutely perfect ride!  Well, never mind that nasty piece of Old Mine Rd. .  ...."

Jim B writes "...Great day and a great route! I have wanted to do this one for years and it somehow has never fit into my schedule. If the NPS could fill it all the potholes on the climb it would be perfect. Thanks again for putting on this ride. ..."

After two visits to Hawk's Nest, the summer series wraps up with the Hawk Mountain 200k on September 12th.  Event details have been posted at:

-Tom Rosenbauer
Eastern  PA RBA

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

August Hawk's Nest 200k

With summer weather upon us, the August 8th Hawk's Nest 200k course will be heading north into Promised Land, where the temperatures are typically several degrees cooler than points south.  Most of the route is shaded, which will also bring some relief from the heat.  Riders typically finish this course about an hour faster than other Eastern   PA 200k's.  

As some of you may be aware from an earlier event page on the website, the original plan was to run this course in the reverse direction, heading counter-clockwise through the Water Gap Recreation Area first and up to Port Jervis and returning through Promised Land and Canadensis.  This past weekend, your RBA completed a volunteer check-out ride of this reverse loop.  While it was nice to ride through the sharp rollers in the park with fresh legs, that was about the only thing that worked better than the original clockwise loop.  And unfortunately, the reverse loop has many disadvantages and problems, including:
- The climb out of Port Jervis up to Hawk's Nest has lots of fast traffic
- The Hawk's Nest scenic overlook area is an uphill stretch with narrow shoulder, and poor views of the overlook.
- The climb to Eldred is harder from this direction, and has lots of exposed sections that many riders will see in the midday heat.
- The stretch along Rt 6, Rt 507, and Rt 309 are uphill with lots of late afternoon traffic
The original course works much better in these areas.  So the August event will be in the same clockwise direction as the July event, however, it'll be the 2014 course without the climb up Snow Hill Rd this time.

Event details are at:

If you would like to join the roster, please use the online registration form by 5PM Thursday, August 6th.  

*** Start/Finish ***
The start/finish is at the Water Gap Diner. The diner has promised to have the grill fired-up by 6AM, so you can top off with a good breakfast before the start.  
Important Reminder: Do not leave your car at the diner -- Parking is in an empty lot behind the Water Gap Diner -  Directions are posted here:

Course Notes:

Mile 42.1, Kimbles Rd is in pretty rough shape with many potholes -- please take extra caution.

At mile 45.2 on Kimbles Rd, there is a bridge across the Lackawaxen River that is closed to automobile traffic, but when last checked, is passable by foot.  Last weekend, the construction was in the same state as it was nearly two weeks ago, and the latest word is that the bridge will not be demolished after all.  However, in the unlikely event that it is not at all passable, use the following detour:

1) Backtrack to Rt 6 and turn right
2) Right at TFL to remain on Rt 6
3) Right on Rt 590 (after passing through the town of Hawley)
4) Bear right onto (unmarked?) Towpath Rd
5) After passing Kimbles Rd on right, you are back on course
A map of the detour is posted here:

Controle 4 in Port Jervis is at a diner, but you may instead stop at the MiniMart on the opposite corner.

Lights are not mandatory since the event is starting after sunrise, and except for 14 minutes at the end, the time limit is before sundown.  That being said, I recommend bringing along some lights and reflective gear just in case circumstances keep you out on course longer than expected.

If you've never been across the Rt 80 bridge near Water Gap, it's a little bit tricky.  You need to look for a sidewalk/ramp about 50 yards past the Rt 80 underpass which you will cross under. The picture below shows the ramp on the left, which is in between the road you will be traveling (on the right) and Rt 80 (far left):

You will be facing on-coming traffic as you go across the bridge.

*** Ride Safely ***
Your safety is the number priority on an Eastern PA event.  While the risks outlined in the event waiver cannot be completely eliminated, the following will hopefully help keep you as safe as possible.

Your responsibility as the rider includes:
- Showing up in reasonable physical condition for the event
- Bringing a reliable bike in good working order
- Complying with all traffic laws along the course 
- Respecting the rights of all other users of the route (including pedestrians)
- Planning for the situation where you can’t finish the ride

Although every effort has been made to provide you with a scenic route that minimizes car traffic and other hazards, the following list highlights some areas to take some extra care:

- Summer weather has arrived with a vengeance with a forecast calling for heat and humidity.  Be mindful of your fluid and electrolyte levels and it might also be a good idea to carry an ice sock with you if you need to cool down.
- With the rough winter we just had you should be extra vigilant for potholes and rough road surfaces.
- One of the most dangerous things you will encounter on the road just might be another cyclist.  Keep a safe following distance when riding with other cyclists you are not familiar with.  Please avoid forming a large bunch at the st
art of the ride.

- Helmets are mandatory.
- Please note that the bike inspection checklist includes redundant lighting for both the front and rear lights.
- Bringing along a cell phone is highly recommended.
- Mechanical assistance is not provided.  
- SPOT trackers will be handed out to selected riders. If you are given one, they have a feature to call for help if you need it and are out of cell phone range -- if you are unfamiliar with how to use this feature, a volunteer will be happy to explain it to you.  If you have a personal unit not already listed on the PA Randonnerus SPOT Tracking webpage:
please send me a link to your SPOT webpage.

Food / Hydration
- In general, the route heads you into some desolate areas, with limited opportunities for food and water.
- Plan on replenishing supplies at the controle stops.  The controles are typically at a store or restaurant.

- If you feel like abandoning the ride, it may be an indication that you are not eating and drinking enough.  Take a break, eat something, and it's likely that your outlook will improve.  Before you know it, you'll be making that last turn back to the finish.  And remember the golden rule of "… eat before you're hungry and drink before you're thirsty."
If you are still riding past the ride time limit or if you intend to abandon the ride, please contact me on my cell phone: (610) 417-7161
- It is your responsibility to make arrangements for alternate transportation

In case of accident  
Should you become injured, or arrive just after an accident resulting in an injured person (rider, motorist, or passer-by):
- Call 911 for an ambulance, describing where you are and the condition of the injured person(s)
- Contact me along with any other organizers listed on the cuesheet 
- Be sure to carry identification along with your emergency contact information in case you are knocked unconscious

Please mention any safety hazard you might have spotted, or near-miss incident you saw. We value this feedback highly and it will help PA Randonneurs improve the next edition of the event.

Driving after the event
If you are very tired when you reach the finish, it may be a good idea to take a nap before a long drive home, so you don't end up with serious injuries like David Nakai did: 

Have a safe ride! 

*** Roster (as of 8/7) ***

1 James Bondra -
2 Cecilie Gaffney -  Volunteer
3 Patrick Gaffney -  Volunteer
4 Zachary R Goodrich -
5 Jeffrey A Gregg -
6 Eric  K Hannon Ford -
7 James P. Holman -
8 Paul S Kramer -
9 John McMonagle -
10 Chris Nadovich -
11 William Olsen -
12 Althea Grace Pineda -
13 Tom Rosenbauer -  Volunteer
14 Scotty Steingart -
15 Michael Syracuse -
16 Leonard Zawodniak -