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

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