Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Water Gap 600k/New Holland 200k Ride Report

Photo courtesy of Greg Keenan
Preliminary results for the Water Gap 600k have been posted at:

Preliminary results for the New Holland 200k have been posted at:

Please let me know of any corrections or other issues.  Results will be submitted shortly, and become final, pending RUSA certification.

The Water Gap 600k is tough.  The course itself is no cakewalk and the 600k typically falls at a time of the year when hot weather is arriving.  This year was no different with the conditions being a bit more than 4 riders cared to weather.  Saturday did not turn out as hot as originally forecast, but the stormy conditions on Sunday made up for any benefits of a slightly cooler first day.  As seems to be customary, a first-time PA participant, Nick Gigliotti from New York showed up to claim first finisher status.  He seemed to be most motivated by finishing before the afternoon storms arrived on Sunday.   

Congratulations also to James Haddad and Michael Gorman for completing their first Eastern PA SR series and joining the elite group of randonneurs on the PA Honor Roll.  This is also James' first-ever SR completion.  He should be well-prepared for anything randonneuring throws his way.   In addition the following riders added another PA SR to their list of accomplishments:

Greg Keenan (3)
Gil Lebron (2)
Bill Olsen (7)
Bob Torres (4)

The week leading up to the 600k was quite hot and sticky.  This was most apparent when half of the 600k course checkout crew DNFd after a hot day on Wednesday.  As we all looked toward the weekend and wondered how best to support riders in the heat, we made sure to have a strong volunteer presence, both on and off course. Chris Nadovich arrived early to get everything set up at the hostel for the arriving riders on Friday.   Gil Lebron leapfrogged the group for much of the day Saturday with an endless supply of ice water, PayDay bars, and other goodies.  Later, as riders traversed the DWGNRA, Len Zawodniak staffed a secret controle complete with ice cream and made sure everyone safely returned to the hostel.

Guy Harris, who helped serve breakfast at the start, and Bill Olsen greeted the riders at the overnight hostel controle, feeding them both an arrival dinner and a departing breakfast for the 600k riders and the arriving 200k riders.  Later on Sunday, proving that one can ride and help all in the same day, Patrick and Cecilie Gaffney prepared a wonderful post-ride feast to welcome all returning riders to the end of the brevet after completing the 200k themselves.

Greg Keenan writes:  "a special thanks to you and all the volunteers who made it possible for me to run the PA SR series.  It is an amazing lift when Len treats you to ice cream on the side of the road.  My vote for the most travelled award goes to Gil and his magic blue pickup truck with an endless supply of ice water.  And not to forget the many hour put in by the hostel crew who kept us feed at all hours.  Thanks to all."

Of his first 600k and first SR, CJ Arayata  says, "Wow. What can I say about my first 600k? Many of the segments have now become familiar to me by this point, and the weather on Day 1 was very cooperative, so was able to really soak in the scenery and enjoy the route, as well as the company of James, George, and Dan. Having Gil on course at multiple controles kept morale pretty high (someone give that man a raise!), and Len providing ice cream during a period of 100% humidity going through DWG was exactly what I needed. Eventually, it shook out to Dan and I riding together towards the end of the day, and most was smooth... except for the part when trying to navigate Stony Garden in steady rain at 3am, when headlamp beams were getting sucked up into the damp ground. Not so fun.
Day 2 started with a melted brain, pushing hard on an empty stomach, and bonking my brains out in Morgantown on the outbound leg. Andrew greeting me in Blue Ball with a pat on the back and a "How is it going?" was easily the highlight of my ride. After some encouragement and the best-tasting McDonald's Fruit Parfait in my life (and trust me, I eat a lot of them), I found my legs heading back towards Limerick. Along Swamp Creek, the skies opened up on myself and Dan with no mercy. We rode for about 10 minutes through practically white-out conditions before finding shelter under someone's carport, only 13 mi from the finish. After it subsided to a steady rain, we headed back out in rain gear and finished with no precipitation and big smiles.

Overall, I have to say I found my first 600k easier than my first 400k! Taking it one controle at a time (as I have done via my GPS files since my first brevet) was a very effective strategy, as at no point I felt overwhelmed or unprepared in tackling the whole ride. Just staying in the moment, and chipping away at each 25-40 mi stretch while metering my energy level/effort got me back to the hostel on both days.

I was truly impressed with the volunteer support during these longer brevets, going above and beyond the call of the duty to make sure the riders are doing well physically as well as mentally. A very big big big thank you!

I took most of my pictures on Day 1, hopefully everyone enjoys.

James Haddad reports:  "Thanks to you and all the volunteers organizing and executing last weekends 600k. Gil and Bill O. went truly above and beyond looking out for us on the first day and night. Again, the cue sheet was perfect and the route was a flawless combination of safe, quiet roads, with beautiful views. I think my favorite part of the ride was riding along the Lacawaxen river and then the Upper Delaware. While I have driven along the Lacawaxen many times, I’ve never crossed the Delaware there and was particularly blown away by the beauty of the Hawk’s Nest area."

From Patrick and Cecilie, "Just a quick note to say thanks for another great ride.  It has been a while since Cecily and I rode this loop and we really enjoyed it.  I have to say that doing it as only a 200K, with fresh legs, made me appreciate just how challenging a course it is for the second day of a 600.  The weather was near perfect for me as the cloud cover kept the heat at bay and, of course, we missed the rain.  Thanks to Bill and Guy as well for sending us on our way and welcoming us back.  Thanks again.

Pat and Cece"

Check back periodically as this report will be updated with some of the better Limericks from the Day 2 post office control.

With the conclusion of the traditional SR series, PA Randonneurs leaves the rando clubhouse and returns to the road.  The next event, part of the R12 series, will be held on July 30.  The event and location have not been finalized, but Hawk's Nest is a good bet for those hot summer events.  Looking ahead, Chris Nadovich has developed a new 200k route out of Easton that is begging to be ridden.  It is tentatively on the schedule for August.  In September we will return to Lancaster County for a route TBD that finishes at Cafe Metzler.  Check the PA Randonneurs website and this blog periodically for updates.

Finally, we would like to thank the crew of volunteers that have helped to make the 2016 PA SR series a success.  As RBA transition planning and preparation continue, it is nice to know that there are many people willing to pitch in and assure the continued success of the region.

-Tom Rosenbauer
Eastern PA RBA
- Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA Designate