Monday, August 22, 2016

August YARRR 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.

The refrain at the YARRR finish was "That was too harrrd", referring, no doubt, to the four, significant climbs in the last 50 miles. Particularly detested was the hot, exposed Country Side Lane over the top of South Mountain, and the (uncalled for, gratuitous, unnecessary, sadistic...)  High Street climb across the hill in South Side just 2 miles from the finish.

Despite the hot conditions and tough climbing, all 15 out of 15 riders finished in good time for a 100% completion rate -- congratulations and well done to all!  Of note, Joe Dille completed his first PA Randonneurs brevet, leading the field, and setting an initial course record that will be harrrd to beat.

Unfortunately, the Weyerbacher brewery was closed for an unusual, unanticipated private event, so the anticipated "free beer" stop was unavailable. By way of apology for this, Weyerbacher donated a case of beer and a pile of free beer coupons to PA Randonneurs. Most of these were distributed to riders at the end of YARRR, but we still have several more. If you missed getting one of these coupons, We'll have them to hand out at future events.

The start/finish at Jimmy's Doggie Stand seems to be a good place to finish a brevet. The picturesque site alongside the Forks of the Delaware had a beach like atmosphere in the warm summer sun. Many riders lounged on the picnic tables and napped on the grass after the ride -- occasionally waking up to order another ice cream or to complain yet again to the organizer that the High Street climb was too harrrrd.

Stephen Schoenfelder writes: 

Thanks to Chris for hosting a great ride! In spite of all of the whining at the finish, it was a fun, but challenging course, with just a hint of sadism near the end as the course veered sharply from the Lehigh River to climb over a steep ridge???twice!

Recently, someone told me that redemption is only a ride away. My R-12 attempt, started last September, came to a screeching halt when I waited until the end of July to DNF on my own 200K perm. Pretty embarrassing, right? So this YARRR 200K was my redemption ride.

We headed south with lights ablaze along the Jersey side of the Delaware through moist, but comfortable temperatures. As promised, we spotted herds of deer grazing in the morning mist. It was great to hit Milford early before the town woke up and to race across the bridge into PA (sorry-must have missed the ???walk bike??? cue). Shortly afterwards, my lungs announced their presence as the grade grew ever steeper during the climb up aptly-named Red Cliff Road. My energy level always seems to be high at the start of brevets and I tend to maintain a spirited pace near the front of the pack. Reality usually hits home at the first controle where my cadence settles into a more sedate rhythm. I enjoyed the solitude of riding the next 24 miles alone through rolling pastoral countryside followed by suburban landscape. I was caught by my group, which is to say, the one immediately behind me, at the WaWa in Souderton at mile 46. Thanks to the advanced randonneuring skills of one of my colleagues, we discovered portable toilets at a park behind the police station across the street from WaWa (these may be worth mentioning on next year???s cue sheet as restroom facilities are few and far between).

A group of riders gradually assembled along the way after heading out from the refueling stop. After the quiet of the last leg, it was great to chat as we pedaled. I am just about a year into randonneuring, and still have a lot to learn. Getting to know experienced riders is a highlight of these brevets for me. Before I knew it, we were at our lunch stop in Phoenixville. There was a long line at the Artisan Cafe, so our group decided to share a pizza at a restaurant a few doors down. I think it was here that the climbs that awaited us outside of Pottstown were discussed in hushed tones. Temperatures were starting to tip into the 90???s at this point in time, so I figured ???we???re all going to die.???

Long story short, we made it, experiencing a good mix of type 1 and type 2 fun along the way. I really enjoyed the varied terrain and scenery, crossing two ???closed??? bridges and a covered bridge, the wildlife sightings, the gently graded gravel rail trail, and the collegiality of my fellow randonneurs. Thanks to Gil, Bob, Raz, and Michael, redemption was easily achieved in regulation time. Now, it???s one month down and eleven to go on my R-12 attempt!

Raz, Gil, and Bob at the lunch stop in Phoenixville
RBA, Tom Rosenbauer writes: 
Special Thanks to organizer Chris Nadovich for a super job of putting together the event and executing it perfectly.  Thanks also to all the well wishes I got from the postcard controle -- it certainly brightened up my day.  It's been exactly one year since I finished my last brevet, and realized that my riding days would be over for a good while. Although its been a very long, slow process, I believe I'm finally beginning to see some positive results from my treatment.  I remain hopeful to some day clipping-in with you for a brevet -- I truly do miss the camaraderie of sharing the miles with my fellow randonneurs.
The PA summer series concludes on September 10th with a another new 200k route: A Victory to Remember. Take a looping tour of Lancaster County with a strong motivation to finish since this one finishes at a pub.  Long time riders may recognize bits and pieces of this route, but it has been at least seven years since we took a clockwise tour around Lancaster county.  Event details have been posted at  To join the roster, use the electronic registration by 5PM on the Thursday before the event.  And as always,  be sure to monitor the PA Randonneurs website and this blog periodically for updates.

-Chris Nadovich, organizer

Monday, August 8, 2016

August 200K Yet Another River to River Ride

*** Update 1***

A volunteer pre-ride was conducted by Chris Nadovich on 9 August. He reports:

"The route is challenging but good to go. Only minor cue sheet edits for clarifications and typo corrections were needed. The latest version is 1.2 dated 10 August. I spotted no unusual hazards not noted on that cue sheet."

It was yet another pre-ride in HHH conditions. Actually, it the HHH wasn't so bad.  The Delaware was shrouded in cool, dense fog and I made such good time on the south-eastern leg that I was able to catch the last of the fog dissipating over the Schuylkill.  Be careful with the fog, though. I encountered many a bevy of deer along the Delaware.  They are hard to spot even in the best visibility.

Milford Baker beckoned, but my breakfast strategy was to ride past these treats and hit the Wawa at mile 46. Even if you have a full belly, this Wawa is a good spot to refill water bottles. An alternative strategy I've used in the past is to buy some pastry at Milford and eat it an Brig-O-Doon in Ottsville, where the coffee is better.

The controle Lunch-stop at Artisan's in Phoenixville was delicious, as always. From there it's a relatively short digestif ride to the controle at the Sunoco in Pottstown. Be sure to fill up with water in Potstown, even if that means carrying the weight up the hill out of town. The course is somewhat barren of services on the final leg. 

And what a difficult final leg it is! Definitely allocate extra time for this segment.

This route uses several bridges that are, or have been, in a state of transition. All seemed fine on my pre-ride. After suffering its absence for a couple years,  brand-spanking-new Arcola Rd bridge is now a thing of majestic, faux-stone beauty. On the declining side of bridge life-span, the 'closed' bridges on Headquarters Rd and Keim St remain both perfectly acceptable for bike riders (on foot).  Speaking of bridges and walking, I recommend staying on foot to cross the street into the finish controle after walking across the Free Bridge at the end of the ride.  Don't try to dart across that traffic on your bike.

*** Original Post ***

PA Randonneurs sets off in a new direction on 20 August at 6AM with this challenging 200K brevet through rural suburbia. Beginning and ending at the public parking on the NJ side of the Northampton St "Free" Bridge joining Easton and Phillipsburg, the route traces a rectangle bounded by the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers. Along the way there are numerous food and drink options, and points of interest. 

Event details are posted at the PA Randonneurs web site:

*** Start/Finish ***

The public parking at the start/finish is at Union Square in Phillipsburg NJ behind Jimmy's Doggie Stand on the NJ side of the river immediately across the Free Bridge. Please WALK across traffic through Union Square at the end of the ride.  I don't expect any breakfast places to be open at Union Square for the 6AM start. The nearest 24 hour Diner is the Key City Diner
985 US-22, Phillipsburg, NJ. There's a 24 hour Wawa in Easton at 310 Larry Holmes Dr.  Alternatively, stop for pastries at Milford Baker, mile 16.5

Course Notes

The cue sheet for this ride is long. This complexity was made necessary by the difficulty navigating through suburbia. Nevertheless, the cue sheet provides the official course directions. GPS routing is known to fail or be unsafe at several places along this course. Please refer to the cue sheet as your canonical authority.

Starting from the Free Bridge, you travel generally South East, following the easy, scenic, well known riverside roads along the Delaware. The route soon reaches Milford, NJ, with the Milford Baker as a perfect breakfast stop. Here you turn to the South West, crossing the heart of Bucks and Montgomery counties on moderately rolling, low traffic roads, including some paved trails through Evansburg State Park. After first fording the Perkiomen by means of the newly rebuilt Arcola Rd bridge, you reach the Schuylkill River and the lunch controle at Phoenixville. From there the route turns North West, following the Schuylkill up and back through the center of Potstown with even more replenishment options. 
But don't dally too much over second lunch. The return crossing of Montgomery and Bucks is decidedly more difficult, and you'll need to cash in some banked time. The hilly North Eastward segment begins with a tough climb out of Potstown to Ringing Rocks, some more hills passing Green Lane (but not Eichele), and another big climb before Coopersburg. There are a few miles of flat, smooth crushed stone rail trail (suitable for most tires) where you can rest before the final big climb over South Mountain and back into Easton. You'll need to finish all this climbing with at least an hour in the bank to have the option to stop for free samples at the Weyerbacher brewery, located less than two (mostly downhill) miles from the finish.

There are several steep, extended climbs.  A triple or 39x27 is highly recommended.

*** Ride Safely ***

Your safety is the number one 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 start 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: (267) 218-0418
- 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:

Keep the rubber side down!
Chris Nadovich  

Registered Riders (as of 8/18/2016) 
1 Michael Anderson
2 Peter Bakken - guest
3 M Bernado
4 Mario Claussnitzer - guest
5 Joseph C Dille - guest
6 Matthew Farrell
7 James R Haddad
8 Gil Lebron
9 Chris Nadovich - organizer
10 William Olsen - volunteer
11 Althea Grace Pineda
12 Michael Povman
13 George Michael Retseck
14 Gary Rollman
15 Steven J Schoenfelder
16 Bob Torres

Monday, August 1, 2016

July 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.

During our pre-ride of the Hawks nest course, the blazing sun and extremely hot temperatures had Bill and I wishing for more water. Well, always be careful what you wish for, you might get it! Although not quite a "total washout", riders reported heavy downpours and rumbles of thunder during the second half of the ride. The silver lining in those rainclouds were the moderated temperatures they enjoyed, although I was told that extra caution was needed to avoid wheel-eating, invisible potholes on Old Mine Rd submerged under flash floods.

A total of 14 out of 16 riders finished in good time for a 88% completion rate -- congratulations and well done to all!  Of note, Patrick Gaffney completed an Eastern PA R-12 series, becoming only the 10th person to accomplish this rare feat.  Pat writes "....Just a quick thanks for putting together another great ride, and to Chris for seeing us off and welcoming us back. It really is a nice route.   One added benefit of the torrential downpour was the all the gravel on the Old Mine climb got washed to the bottom of the hill before I got there. I think it was the first time I was able to stand whenever I wanted on that climb without my rear wheel slipping. ..."

Maybe some of those distant rumbles of thunder were actually the sonic boom of Scotty S. totally demolishing his old course record of 7:33 with a new record time of 7:07, an amazing achievement given the foul weather, the climbs, the bridge construction, and the rough roads.

Scotty S. writes: "...Why is the Hawks Nest 200k my favorite Randonneur route?

1: It's only got 3 pages of q sheets. Some routes have 6 pages+ of directions making the challenge more navigation than cycling. 

2: The course has everything. Ascending, descending, rough road sections. New paved sections fast and smooth. Take your bike on a hike around bridge closures. There always seem to be one on the course. 

3: The Organizers. Thanks to Bill, Tom, and Chris for all your efforts to make this as awesome as it is. 

4: It's the best kept secret. With many millions of people living within a few hours by car, only [16] people showed. Wouldn't want it to get too popular. 

5: The first hour is mostly climbing. This stratifies the participants by ability reducing the big group wheel touching issues of all being together. 

6: The Water Gap Bakery is the final control. Talk about motivation to finish.

7. It keeps getting better. New smooth black top on Kimble's and rt. 31.

8 The course is run twice a year 3 weeks apart. If Want a rematch, try again while the memory is still fresh.

9. Mostly low traffic roads. Tom and crew have tweaked this route to keep it as safe and fun as possible. 

10. Its scenic. The views of mountains, rivers and wildlife can't be beat.

Looking forward to the next Hawk Nest 200

The next event, part of the R12 series, will be held on August 20th.  It's a new 200k route with a start/finish at the Free Bridge at Easton, PA.  The route crosses from the Delaware to the Schuylkill and back again through the heart of Bucks and Montgomery counties, passing many points of interest along the way, including Weyerbacher Brewery (free samples).   Event details are at:

In September we will return to Lancaster County for another new route that finishes at a pub.  Check the PA Randonneurs website and this blog periodically for updates.

-Chris Nadovich, organizer