Wednesday, January 25, 2017

February R-12: Tempting Fate with the Lancaster Loop in Reverse

*** Update 1 ***

The course checkout rides occurred over the weekend.  The cue sheet has been updated and placed on the website.  Make sure you have the version dated 1/29/2017.

Although not easy, the Lancaster Loop is actually a little "kindler and gentler" than the historic "Spring Forward" route.

Mile 5.6: The covered bridge is being repaired.  The repairs appear to be primarily to the roof. The bridge deck is in good condition; riders can ignore the "road closed" sign and proceed across bridge.

Mile 66.2: The Northwest Lancaster River Trail is entered by crossing to the left shoulder of the new section of SR441:
Entrance to NWLCRT in Columbia (looks like a sidewalk here)

The Northwest Lancaster River Trail is gorgeous.  With the exception of a few very short sections of gravel it is paved the entire route and is well marked.  There are a few tricky sections but the cues provided are accurate.  I would recommend that riders follow the trail signs as seen in the photo. 
Mile 67.7, Furnace road is a little confusing as it looks like a private drive when approaching on the bike path.  It’s certainly easy enough to figure out.

Mile 68.9: Here the River trail diverts away from the river and onto city streets as it passes through Marrietta.  Riders should refuel at one of the pubs or off route stores as the next services are another 30 miles away in Annville. 

All of the roads seem to be in fine shape, even the shoulder on 322 was clean enough to allow us to go 50mph without any issues.

Thanks to Bill Fischer, Pat and Cecilie Gaffney for braving challenging winds to check out the route cue sheet.

The weather outlook remains dry this week.  That will be helpful since temperatures next weekend are due to return to seasonable norms (COLD).  Check this message board for any updates.

Andrew Mead

*** Original Post ***
After a snow-impacted January, I really struggled to settle on a route for our February R-12 brevet.  February is typically the most winter weather challenging month and, as we all now know, it only takes a little snow to make riding a bike hazardous.   For this reason we've typically opted for the Hopewell route in the winter months.  After two back-to-back riders there, it's time for a change of scenery.

We've ridden numerous variations of the Lancaster Loop route over the years, typically under the name "Spring Forward" as it generally occurred around the spring time change.  Ironically, the traditional forward direction for the loop is counter-clockwise (setting a clock back), but that a trival topic for a post-ride discussion sometime.  Only once have we ever used the route in the reverse direction, in December 2009.  We called it "Fall Backward" in keeping with the time change theme even though our December running was over a month after clocks had shifted and our reverse direction actually mimicked moving the clock forward.  While the brevet started out well and was a great hit with a Cafe Metzler breakfast about 25 miles in, it soon became a brevet that 20 riders will likely never forget.  Wet snow started falling as most left the breakfast control and never stopped all day.  It began accumulating as the sun set and deposited roughly 4 inches of snow on the road at the top of the final climb for the day.  PA Randonneurs contingency planning has come a long way since then.

Against this historical backdrop, you can understand the struggle I faced once I decided on this route.  I spent a lot of time trying to make it a little more weather friendly:  a few climbs have been bypassed and roads that get more timely winter maintenance were chosen.  There is a fantastic new recreational trail that bypasses a busy section of roadway (and a big hill) that has been beckoning me to use on a brevet.  And at the persistent insistence of one particularly fast rider who happens to live somewhat locally, I have chosen an alternate start-finish venue.  So with a long-range forecast looking generally favorable and what I hope is a season's worth of weather impacts occurring in January, I am happy to announce the Lancaster Loop in Reverse on February 4.

Details of the February brevet and the cue sheet will soon be on the website.  You can look at the map of the route HERE.  Please note that our starting location has been moved from the normal Ephrata K-Mart parking lot to Martin's Country Market, a small shopping center along US 322 just west of downtown Ephrata.  It's only a couple miles from the K-Mart, so those of you with a yearning for the Pancake Farm breakfast can still have breakfast with plenty of time to get to the start.  The payoff for this change is that Martin's is next door to the St. Boniface Craft Brewery which will serve as our finish location.  If pub fare isn't your thing, there are numerous other options along 322, so I'm hopeful that everyone will find this change an improvement.

The event registration link is already active on the PA Rando website, so you can make plans now.

Registered Riders (as of 2/2/2017)
1 Michael Anderson
2 Jimmy Aspras
3 Peter Bakken
4 Gavin Biebuyck  - volunteer
5 Sean P Connelly
6 Timothy T.  Creyts
7 Matthew Farrell
8 William Fischer  - preride volunteer
9 J Scott Franzen
10 Patrick Gaffney  - preride volunteer
11 Cecilie Gaffney  - preride volunteer
12 James R Haddad
13 Dale E Houck
14 Greg Keenan
15 Jeff Lippincott
16 Andrew D Mead  - organizer
17 Chris Nadovich
18 Joseph Ray
19 George Michael Retseck
20 Edward T Schantz
21 Steven J Schoenfelder

Andrew Mead
- Eastern PA RBA/Organizer

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Ride Results: Beyond Hope to Hopewell, Take 2

The top of Tunnel Rd, January 14, 2017 (photo by Guy H.)
Preliminary results for the 200k have been posted at:

Results will be submitted to RUSA for certification in a few days.

Persistence and patience finally paid off in January as the postponed replacement brevet for the snow-impacted January 4 event finally got under was on Saturday the 21st.  Twenty-six riders started.  ALL finished within the allotted time for a 100% completion rate.  Congratulations all!

Even though skies remained gray and damp most of the day (there were a few reports of a stray ray of sunshine), temperatures in the 40s and winds that remained calm contributed to some extremely fast times led by the tandem team of Kate Marshall and Victor Urvantsev and Jimmy Aspars caught in the vortex to crack the 8 hour barrier.  The day also minted two brand new randonneurs, Dale Houck and Jeff Lippincott

Organizer Bill Olsen talked with the Milford Bridge Street Bagels & Deli to confirm that it would be open and ready to serve as our starting location.  The owners were delighted to be inundated with cyclists on an otherwise slow Saturday morning and memorialized the occasion on their Facebook Page.  We plan to use this location again in the future.

Chris Nadovich provided a decent summary of the day's events:
Everybody made good time around the course and post-ride festivities developed nicely. We had quite a crowd gathered at the Ships in after the event. We took over the entire corner by the door.
There were several positive reviews of the Brick Farm Market at Hopewell.  The consensus was that Brick wasn't a controle to "blow through". It was worth taking some time and enjoying for a while.
Myself, I enjoyed the chocolate croissants which may now be the best in the land, as the Milford Bakery may be no more.

The epic story du jour seems to have been Doug H's broken spoke. This was a rear wheel, freewheel side spoke on a bike with disk brakes.  Until his spoke failed while climbing Tunnel Rd, Doug had been glued onto the fast wheel of first finishers V&K.  From what I was told, Doug actually FIXED THE SPOKE. That is to say, he disassembled everything to get at the problem -- including pulling the freewheel! He reassembled everything, trued the wheel, and was on his way. Rando mechanical competence at its finest.

Guy Harris reported,  "I too thought the skies lightened for just a brief moment while riding down 579. Generally a blah, foggy, damp day but temperature constant in mid-forties with no real wind. Good day for fast times. Pretty good for January!"

PA Randonneurs heads west in February to tackle a route not used since a certain epic event in December 2009.  I've spent a lot of time refining the course to better suit winter riding.  The starting location will be Ephrata, PA.  Details will be posted soon. 

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA

Sunday, January 8, 2017

January R12 Event: Hopewell Take II


All riders please note that we will be meeting at the Bridge Street Bagel & Deli, 71 Bridge Street, Milford, NJ for pre-ride nourishment and the start of the event.  It is located next to the Post Office and very close to the Ship's Inn finish venue.  Parking location remains unchanged at the US Healthcare lot across Church Street from the Milford Bakery.

An updated cue sheet reflecting the opposite direction approach to the first turn onto Church Street has been posted in the interest of complete navigational accuracy.  Please make sure that you have the cue indicating Draft 3 revised 1/18/2017. 

The weather forecast for Saturday remains promising.  Hopefully all will enjoy a great day for riding.


The forecast for Saturday January 14 has shifted to less favorable owing to an increasing likelihood of wintry precipitation in the afternoon.  Rather than risk a repeat of Hopewell I, Hopewell II has been POSTPONED until January 21.

Registered Riders (as of 1/19/2017)
1 Michael Anderson
2 Jimmy Aspras
3 Gavin Biebuyck
4 Shawn Bowles
5 Joe A Brown
6 Taylor Brown
7 Timothy T.  Creyts
8 Matthew Farrell
9 William Fischer
10 J Scott Franzen
11 Patrick Gaffney
12 James R Haddad
13 Doug Haluza
14 Guy Harris - volunteer
15 Dale E Houck
16 Jeff Lippincott
17 Kate R Marshall
18 Rudi Mayr
19 Chris Nadovich - volunteer
20 William Olsen - organizer
21 Joseph Ray
22 Steven J Schoenfelder
23 Paul G Shapiro
24 Bob Torres
25 Victor Urvantsev
Andrew Mead
- Eastern PA RBA

*** Original Post ***
Winter brevets are always tricky when it comes to weather.  Sometimes we take a gamble and lose.  The Hopewell 200 on January 7 was one of those days.  RUSA rules regarding brevets are quite clear about the handling of this past Saturday.  The Hopewell 200 now has the distinction of having the highest DNF rate of any Eastern PA brevet, displacing the inagural EM1240.

Thankfully all riders returned safely to the start at Milford and will live to rando another day.  That day could be next Saturday, January 14.  RUSA has approved a request to add a new 200k event next weekend to allow hearty PA Randonneurs to maintain their pursuits of R12s, PA12s, or whatever else motivates one to ride in winter weather.  The long-range forecast for next weekend appears favorable.  We will try again to complete the Hopewell route as it remains one of our best for winter brevets.  Start time remains 7:30 am at the Milford Bakery.
This event, like Saturday's, will be free to PA Randonneurs members in good standing.  To register, please send me an email with the subject line "January 14 R12 Entry" in the subject line.

Finally, please be sure to thank organizers Guy Harris and Bill Olsen when you next see them.  They handled everything Mother Nature had to offer with confidence and assured everyone's safe return to Milford.  After all of Saturday's challenges, they were eager to offer themselves for the Take II adventure. 

Andrew Mead
- Eastern PA RBA

Sunday, January 1, 2017

2017 PA R12 Series Kickoff: Beyond Hope to Hopewell

*** Update 3 ***

THE BREVET WILL START AS SCHEDULED ON SATURDAY, JANUARY 7.  We dodged the worst of the snow and roads should be fine for cycling.

*** Update 2 ***
Winter weather often challenges brevet organizers.  Rider safety is paramount.  Randonneurs are hearty cyclists capable of getting though some remarkably nasty weather.  Still, ours is a recreational sport; we don't want to jeopardize rider safety simply to keep an event on the schedule.

As you may be aware, a winter storm is passing through our area Thursday evening into Friday.   This may or may not impact roads.  Bill, Guy, and I are carefully monitoring conditions and will make a final call by Friday afternoon.  Forecasts as of Thursday indicate this should be a minor snow event that should not impede our plans.  Please check this board and your email for any updates.

We are also aware that temperatures will be brutally cold on Saturday, possibly below some riders' low temperatures thresholds.  If you have registered for this ride (your name is on the list below) and you do NOT intend on starting for whatever reason, please send a message to Bill Olsen (organizer) and Andrew Mead (RBA) informing us of your decision.  While the Milford Bakery is a nice place to hang out, no one wants to hang around for an extra hour wondering whether someone is late or just not planning to ride.

This ride may challenge the current PA Rando low temperature at a start record (13F) and will definitely test your low temperature preparations.  Fortunately this route offers numerous places to refuel and warm up along the way.  From my own bag of tricks, placing a CamelBak (and the hose) inside my jacket, where it remain liquid and warm, and covering my face so that I could inhale slightly warmed air have worked well for me. Good luck and stay safe.

*** Update 1 ***

Bill Olsen and Guy Harris pre-rode the Beyond Hope to Hopewell course on Sunday January 1st and, in general found the cue sheets to be in very good order.  Some minor notes were added to the cue sheet (Revision 1/3/2017, Draft 3) currently posted on the PA Randonneurs website.

Comments from their pre-ride include:

While Controle 2 at the US Gas Minimart offers a wide selection of items, please be aware that the facilities consist of two ORF’s (Outdoor Rest Facilities) and if one is looking for more comfort one might consider stopping at the QuickChek located at the Rt 46 intersection (Mile 29.8 and 42.9.) The QuickChek also offers seated dining facilities and a wide selection of hot and cold beverages, soups and sandwiches if one needs to stop to warm up along the way.

The Citgo Minimart at Control 3 used for many of the PA Randonneuring brevets similarly offers a wide variety of food and a warm seating area.  But if one is looking for fast food, there is a Burger King  located in the Travel Centers of America and a Subway located in the Pilot Travel Center truck service facilities located on the LHS of Rt. 173.  If one choses to use these controls as an alternative to the designated Citgo controle a timed receipt will be required for these two facilities.

If the weather forecast of seasonal temperatures for the day of the ride continues to hold, one can be assured that the next section climbing up Tunnel Road following the rolling ridgeline along Rt 579 and then over the Sourlands will warm one up…and yes that sign at the top of the climb on Rt 607 / Rileyville road where Mountain Road and Ridge Road meet IS the last of the big climbs before Hopewell.  On the descent into Hopewell there is a section of older pavement that has many potholes on the RH side of the road, approximately 2 feet out from the shoulder, where one would normally ride.  When traversing this section, make sure that one is comfortable riding to the right of the potholes near to the shoulder, or preferably, taking the lane and riding to the left of the potholes.  (CAUTION: ONE DOES NOT WANT TO RIDE THROUGH THE POTHOLES.)  If one is riding in a group, be sure to call out the hazard.

The Brick Farm Market used for Controle 4 is now open form 8AM to 6PM on weekends so that even riders arriving near the 17:34 controle closing time will find the store open with a selection of hot and cold food and beverage items.

On the last section, please be aware that immediately following the TL onto Rt 605 / Sandy Ridge Rd at mile 107.0, riders should continue straight on Sandy Ridge Rd and NOT take the RHT that Rt 605 takes onto Cemetery Rd.

Although not a controle, riders should be aware that the general store in Stockton will be open if one needs a stop prior to the stretch back in on Rt. 29.  (It is a minor detour requiring a LHT onto Rt 29 / N. Main St at mile 108.8, proceeding approximately 500 feet to take a RHT onto Bridge Street.  The store is on Mill Street, to your left, just beyond the Shell gasoline station.  Reversing this route will return one to the course that follows Rt. 29.  Please also note that the Bull’s Island Recreational Facility located approximately 3 miles down the road offers heated rest room facilities.

Bill and Guy will be there to see you off at the Milford Station Bakery and upon your return to the Ship Inn.

One final note.  As in years past, this kick-off event is offered free of charge for PA Randonneurs members in good standing.  Bundle up and enjoy one on the house.

*** Original Post ***
Get your 2017 randonneuring season started early with the Beyond Hope to Hopewell brevet.  This route features roads that are generally cleared in the winter and not overly challenging, at least compared to others in the PA catalog.  Event details have been posted on the website at

The start is at the Milford Bakery, but you should park your car in the big parking lot on Church St.  There is a sign indicating private parking, but PA Randonneurs has secured permission from the owner, US Health (which will be closed).  The Bakery will be open by 6AM and in addition to baked items, breakfast sandwiches can made to order.  The finish controle is at the Ship Inn just a couple of stores away from the Bakery.

Sunset is at 4:50 PM; riders are required to bring lights and reflective gear, including primary and backup lighting front and rear.  Any riders finishing after sunset without the proper safety gear will be disqualified.

If you're planning to ride, please complete an entry at the PA Randonneurs Event Registration page by 5PM Thursday afternoon.

Andrew Mead
- Eastern PA RBA

Registered Riders (as of 1/5/2017)
1 Michael Anderson
2 Jimmy Aspras
3 Joe A Brown
4 Mario Claussnitzer
5 Matthew Farrell
6 William Fischer
7 Patrick Gaffney
8 Nigel Greene
9 James R Haddad
10 Doug Haluza
11 Eric  K Hannon Ford
12 Guy Harris - volunteer
13 Jeff Lippincott
14 Christopher Maglieri
15 Chris Nadovich
16 William Olsen - organizer
17 Joseph Ray
18 Steven J Schoenfelder
19 Bob Torres