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

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