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


  1. PA Randonneurs wool jerseys:

    For those of you that own one of these, do they run small, true to size or large? I am 5'9" around 165 with a 39-40" chest. Any recommendations if I should get the medium or the large?

  2. Pulling out it's a 3 hour drive and I don't have money for a hotel. Sorry it's my lost and have a excellent ride!