Monday, December 31, 2018

2019 R12 Begins: Morgantown-Middletown 200

Greetings PA Randonneurs,

It is time to begin a new year of randonneuring adventures.  The PA R12 series kicks off with the Morgantown-Middletown 200k on January 5, 2019.  Start time is 7:30am.  Details are available on the website.  The cue sheet has been updated as of Dec. 30.  Be sure you ave the version identified as Revision 2, dated 12/30/2018.  The cue sheet should be in good shape though a mechanical on the course checkout ride leaves me with a few miles yet to confirm.  Recent openings on the NW River Trail in Marietta may have altered signage.  I plan to swing through there on my New Year's Day ride to make sure all is well.

As in past years, PA Randonneurs members in good standing ride for free.  Even more convenient is that the website now allow you to renew your membership on line.  If you take advantage of this new feature, the system work better if you renew your membership BEFORE you register for the brevet.  Registration remains open until midnight on Thursday, January 3. 

Good luck to all in the new year.

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Year-End Announcements

It seems time as the year draws to a close to update you on a few changes in the works.

On line event registration was rolled out earlier and appears to be working well. It has certainly streamlined the behind-the-scenes administration administration of brevets. One area that I want to call attention to is the waiver portion. You must check off each paragraph in the waiver in order to complete the registration. You must complete the registration by the registration deadline in order to participate in the ride. Fortunately, the process is easy and takes very little time. Registration deadlines are typically midnight on the Thursday prior to the event for weekend brevets; HOWEVER, those deadlines may be moved up for some events to allow more organizing time with an accurate event headcount. This will be the case for the Fleche and very likely the 600k. The event registration deadlines will always be provided on the website event page.

Some of you may have already noticed that the website now includes the capability to renew annual membership on line, including payment. Currently only the annual PAR membership renewal has this capability, but brevet registration will soon follow. You will still have the option of paying at registration or sending your registration to the RBA by pony express, but my hope is that the majority will opt for the convenience of an on-line system. One important note in this matter: If you are planning to take advantage of the "members ride free" January brevet, please renew your membership BEFORE registering for the brevet.

Planning for the Super Randonneur series is well under way. The base of operations (starts/finishes) will be Easton, PA in the area around the Holiday Inn Express at the 25th St exit. Participants of the Fall Classic events will recognize the location. The routes will obviously be different than before, but you are sure to recognize at least a few parts of most of them.

Event listings and registration for the January and February events is live on the website. January will stage from Morgantown, PA using a route we haven't ridden in ~5 years. February will stage from Lancaster, PA using the Little Britain route.

Brevet cards for all 2018 brevet finishes have been sorted, collated, stuffed in envelopes, and will soon be in the mail to you. The Fleche certificates will be mailed out separately since I don't normally receive these until late January.

I find this annual cleaning of the brevet card file quite cathartic. The slate has been wiped clean and is ready to record another year's worth of randonneuring adventures. The possibilities are endless.    Thank you all for continuing to support this region though your participation. Best wishes in the new year.

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA

Monday, December 3, 2018

December PA R-12 Ride Report: Back to Our Routes

Preliminary results for the BTOR 200K have been posted on the website.  Please review the results and inform me of any necessary corrections.  The results will be submitted to RUSA in the coming days and become final pending RUSA certification.  A lucky thirteen riders clipped in for the last PA Randonneurs 200K of 2018, with all 13 finishing for a 100% completion rate. Congratulations to all.

In 2018, PA Randonneurs has organized 18 events, 15 brevets, 2 populaires, and one fleche. Riders completed a total of 77,756 KM.  Of the 322 riders starting an event, 308 finished, for an excellent completion rate in 2018 of 95.7%. Given the tough courses and challenging weather presented by Pennsylvania, it's certainly a brave and hearty bunch that attend our rides. 

Indeed it was a brave and hearty crew that clipped in at the start of the BTOR 200K. Temperatures were around freezing with expected highs to be around 40F. Winds were expected to be light. Not a terrible forecast for a December brevet  except for one thing:  near 100% certainty of rain after 4PM. Every rider that started knew what they were in for -- a wet, raw finish. Even the first finishers didn't escape the rain.

James Haddad writes:

Thanks for another great ride. The route was a nice mix of familiar and new roads for me. This route had some of the highest quality food at controles, and kombucha was even available at the Blairstown controle, a major plus. The climb out of Blairstown was great, just what I needed to warm up. After that, Old Mine Rd. was a piece of cake. A flat in the poconos slowed me down, but, Eric gave me some much needed tips on flat repair. By the time I got to Apple Pie Cafe, any hope of a "fast" time had vanished, the rain was beginning and it was dark. I enjoyed a delicious Rueben sandwich on sourdough and lounged around with Paul and Chris before the three of us set out together into the wet night. All in all, it was a great finish to another great year of riding with PA randonneurs.

Steve Schoenfelder writes:

We shivered in the gloom of daybreak during the safety briefing. “Strongly consider walking your bike down Old Mine Road and beware of the ditch before the bridge,” warned Chis, the ride organizer.

At 7 am, I found myself pedaling down the backside of College Hill, home of Lafayette University in Easton, finger tips a bit numb, but otherwise reasonably comfortable.  I was happy with my choice of winter boots and full-length insulated tights as I sailed through the 28 degree chill. It took some effort to maintain contact with the riders ahead who were moving at a spritely pace, perhaps because of the cold, or maybe the threat of impending rain in the afternoon.  Suffering a bit now might reduce the misery of riding through frigid rain in the dark.

These roads were familiar. The course to Wind Gap followed the Blue Mountain 200K route ridden a few weekends earlier. At least this time we were not met with oppressive head winds and snow squalls.
Crossing the Delaware on the Columbia Pedestrian Bridge
Fourteen miles in, we arrived at controle 2 where we hurried to refuel and get our cards signed. Bill caught up with our small group here. I enjoyed chatting with him as we ground our way over the Wind Gap climb into Pen Argyl. We had a shared strategy of moving efficiently in order to mitigate the impact of the impending bad weather that was forecast to blow in around dusk. As it turned out, Bill was the perfect riding buddy for the remainder of the ride.

We hit the crux of the figure eight at mile 28, just before crossing over the pedestrian bridge into New Jersey.  I made our small group stop for a photo op with the Delaware Water Gap in the background.
Once on the New Jersey side, the fun began as we climbed away from the Delaware River to Blairstown.  Gourmet Galleries was the control in this quaint town. They offered a variety of tempting baked goods.  Rudi recommended the macaroons: “the best I ever tasted”.  Bill was kind enough to have my card signed as I used the facilities, and we headed out soon afterwards, agreeing that today was not the day to relax and sample these gustatory delights.

One climbs at various degrees of difficulty for the next six miles or so until the Appalachian Trail is crossed near the crest of Kittatinny Mountain.  After an exhilarating descent down the other side, we hit the wall of Old Mine Road where my Garmin displayed a grade of 19%, quickly followed by “auto-pause”, even though I was still upright and pedaling.  Thanks to Bill’s ability to pick a good line through the mine field down the other side, we descended at a surprisingly good pace without getting bucked off our steeds.  I saw a water-filled trough of indeterminate depth before the concrete slab of the bridge, and remembering Chris’ warning during the pre-ride discussion, jumped my front wheel across the gap to safety.  The thud of my rear tire in the hole suggested that I made the right move.

The Hainesville General Store was the revelation of the ride.  Here, I indulged in a soul-restoring cup of split-pea and ham soup, a bottle of milk, more than a few of Joe’s proffered fries, and a couple of raspberry-filled cookies.

After passing the troll guarding the Dingman’s Ferry bridge, we jammed pace-line style down the highway to the DWG.  Controlling briefly at the Apple Pie Bakery, we headed out to face our ultimate destiny of riding the last two and a half hours in a 41 degree rain.

And finally, the climb up College Hill, a damp entrance into the glow of the College Hill Tavern, and a celebratory Lager (or two) in hand.
Warming and and replenishing at the College Hill Tavern

Thanks to organizer Chris Nadovich and volunteer pre-rider George Retseck for putting on a ride that will not be soon forgotten.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

December Event: Back to Our Routes 200K

We dug through our old archives of routes and found an interesting 200K brevet to run on the first of December. It's good old RUSA route #680, a figure-eight course along the Delaware River, starting in Easton, crossing itself in Portand, and reaching as far North as Hainesville and Dingman's Ferry. We haven't run this route for a long time. Dating back to the roots of PA Randonneurs,  originally this course started at Tom's front porch. I considered moving the start to my front porch, 300 feet higher up the Paxinosa Ridge, but decided instead to start it lower at the Wawa on Cattell Street in College Hill.

Along with the usual rolling hills along the Delaware, this route has one very significant climb: a Westbound transit of Kittatinny Mountain.  This is a double-hump climb beginning immediately after the controle in Blairstown, the first hump on Millbrook Rd crossing the AT and the second hump comprising a reversal of the usual Old Mine Road climb.

Just one example of graffiti lampooning the state of Old Mine Road
That means this route descends the Old Mine Road hill. To describe what passes for "pavement" down that hill as "rough" is an extreme understatement. I recommend a descending speed roughly equal to your climbing speed, which is to say, just around walking pace. In fact, even if you can pedal up the steep slope from Millbrook Village, unless you have mountain biking skills and suitable tires, this hill merits dismounting and walking down. Even at the very bottom, where the slope flattens and it seems like the pavement has become smooth, there is a bone-jarring gap at the creek bridge that always catches me by surprise.

Immediately before these major climbs and descents, is the controle in Blarstown at the Gourmet Gallery. This tiny little luncheonette has some seriously delicious food. I'd recommend sampling lightly, though, given the work that follows.

Beyond the Kittatinny transit, is the usual beautiful NPS615 route up to Hainesville. Because of the intermittent service at Flats Deli, the Hainesville controle has been moved to the Hainesville General Store, which (IMHO) is a much nicer venue.

The return down the Ho-Chi-Minh (Rt 209) and then River Rd, Hidden Lake, passing Shawnee, leads back to Delaware Water Gap and the Village Farmer and Bakery. Note that the traffic light at the end of River Rd by the I-80 entrance has been replaced by a traffic circle. The circle is passable by bike, but is under construction. Please obey the signage, and yield to traffic as you ride counter clockwise 3/4 lap.

South from the Gap we follow the usual route through the "little bastard" climbs next to Foul Rift. The route stays along the Delaware (not taking the usual left toward Harmony). After one or two final grunts, it rolls on flat roads into Easton.

Parking at the Start

Please park on the Wawa side of Cattell street, but not too near Wawa itself. Go back one block to Porter street or beyond to find a place for your car. Most of the parking spots are legal, although signage is confusing.

Sign on Porter Street indicating a legal (sic) parking spot.
The finish controle, College Hill Tavern, is only a block away from Wawa. After a long, hard, chilly ride, please come in to warm up and share your tales of epic adventure before heading home.


Chris Nadovich

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

November PA R-12 Ride Report: Blue Mountain 200K

*** Update 1 (100K)
Five riders started, and finished, the Milford 100K Populaire on 17 November. Results have been posted.

*** Original Post (200K)

Preliminary results for the Blue Mountain 200K have been posted on the website.  Please review the results and inform me of any necessary corrections.  The results will be submitted to RUSA in the coming days and become final pending RUSA certification.  Ten riders clipped in for the 200K, with all 10 finishing for a 100% completion rate. Congratulations to all, especially to Michael Fitzsimmons who completed his first ever brevet. Not an easy ride to cut ones randonneuring teeth on. Chapeau!

At long last, the colors of Autumn have arrived and for much of the day we were treated to glorious Fall scenery. The ride through the Aquashicola and Cherry valleys was splendid -- what with the warm sun, invigorating tailwind, rainbows, unicorns...

Ummm, well... I was really nice once we made it over Blue Mountain, but that was mile 60. There was somewhat of a battle through epic adversity prior to that.

Like the 30-40 mph headwind. Fortunately, much of the first 100K is protected by forest and ravine. Only in a few unfortunate exposed locations did we ride fully out into the open to be buffeted by that gale. One of those locations was the final drop off Blue Mountain, where the stiff crosswind, made hazardously intermittent by passing vehicles, added extra white knuckle interest to an already exciting descent. At the bottom of the mountain we turned to the East, and that was the end of the wind.

Eric K and Chris N struggle against the headwind as snow clouds roll in. (Photo by Steve S)

Also somewhat special (to use Ed Bernasky's word) was the snow squall that accompanied the wind. Not anywhere near as treacherous  as the Hope to Hopewell snowpocalypse, but my jersey was significantly powdered by the big, white flakes.

The blissful Cherry Valley (aka, The Land of Unicorns) led us inevitably to a palace of happy treats at the Village Farmer in Delaware Water Gap. The lavatory facilities there may leave a little to be desired, but I've never had a disappointing meal there.

At DWG we turned South. With a rear quarter tailwind, riding remained easy. Soon we reached of my favorite views along the Delaware: the view from a high point on River Rd down into the gorge at Belvidere. Blocked by thick green foliage Spring and  Summer, this view only appears in Fall and Winter. Being surprised by unexpected views like that are one of the compensating benefits of off-season rides.

After the penultimate controle at Skoogy's, the sun started to fade and the last of the rainbows and unicorns abandoned us to find a warmer, brighter place to frolic.   The climb-before-the-climb in Harmony preceded the Turkey Hill final grind. Together these hills generated the ideal amount of sweat to induce a serious chill in me during the Sweet Hollow descent. Brrrrr...

But then, suddenly, we were done. There was Bill Olsen with rainbow pizza. Steve Schoenfelder treated me to some wonderful orange drink. A quick change into dry clothes and soon my shivvers stopped. Great ride! Let's do it again!


Steve Schoenfelder writes...

Many thanks and kudos to Bill Olsen for administering the Blue Mountain 200k.

It was cold, snowy (for about 10 minutes), windy, and climby, but the camaraderie common to PAR events came  through to make the Blue Mountain 200 a fun ride.  I really enjoyed riding with Eric, Chris, Paul, and Mike (who was riding his first brevet!)  Lunch at the Apple Pie Bakery was a highlight with great homemade chicken soup to warm the innards, and a restorative grilled cheese sandwich.  It was here that Chris demonstrated how you can increase the sodium content of a sugar donut by dunking it in chicken soup, a fad sure to be adopted by serious randonneurs everywhere.

This was my first grind over Turkey Hill Road.  It arrived very late in the route when my thighs were  screaming “enough already”, but at time when temperatures were plunging into the 30’s, and a two mile climb  was precisely the remedy for frostbite prevention.  The real trick was keeping warm on the brief six mile  decent into Milford that followed.

Volunteer and randonneur extraordinaire Bill was patiently waiting for us with pizza at Pipolo’s: a great     place to warm up, fill our bellies, and recount the adventures of the day.

Time after time I found myself saying:  there is no place that I would rather be.

Thanks again to PA Randonneurs for putting on a great event!

Carpe diem quam minimum credula postero

Next weekend Bill will be hosting another brevet out of Milford, NJ, this one a 100K populaire. Then on 1 December PA Randonneurs will return to our roots, with a 200K brevet starting at College Hill WaWa, and finishing in College Hill Tavern in Easton PA.  Hope you'll join us.

Chris Nadovich

Friday, November 2, 2018

November Events: The Blue Mountain 200k and the Milford 100k

November brings another two-fer for randonneurs in pursuit of both the R-12 and the P-12 awards.  The Blue Mountain 200k will be held on November 10, starting from the Bridge Street Bagel & Deli in Milford, New Jersey.  Organizer Bill Olsen completed a course checkout ride and reports that the cue sheet is in good order.  Bill notes that the bridge on Grand Central Road approaching the Wind Gap control remains under construction, so we will continue to approach the control along Merwath and Mack Roads instead of better known Pen Argyl Road approach.

The finish will be at Pipolo's Pizza in Milford.  While they do not serve adult beverages, it is a BYOB establishment.  Any riders with special preferences for post-ride carbo replenishment should plan accordingly.

Due to the limited parking spaces at the Bridge Street Bagel & Deli, please do not park your car there. Parking is available in a parking lot off of Church St (across the street from the Milford Market). 

Daylight will be in short supply on this last day of Daylight Savings Time.  Riders should come equipped with lights and reflective gear consisting of a bike-mounted headlight, two bike mounted taillights, reflective vest, and reflective ankle straps.  A back-up headlight is strongly recommended and may be carried in a bag.  See Article 10 of RUSA's Rules for Riders.

The following weekend returns to Milford for the Milford 100k, also organized by Bill Olsen.  Bill's common practice is to scout the 100k route while riders are out on the Blue Mountain 200, so any notes on the cue sheet will be added later, if necessary.

Registration for both events is active on the website. 

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA

Monday, October 22, 2018

October PA R-12 Ride Report: NeoClassic 154/200k

Preliminary results for the Neo Classic 200K and 154K have been posted on the website.  Please review the results and inform me of any necessary corrections.  The results will be submitted to RUSA in the coming days and become final pending RUSA certification.  Thirty riders clipped in for the 200K, with 28 finishing for a 93% completion rate of a very challenging brevet. All 4 riders who started the 154K finished in good time for a 100% completion of the very challenging populaire.

It was a blustery fall day with northwest winds upwards of 30 mph and temperatures ranging through the fifties. There were slight sprinkles of rain and mist every now and then, but the sun also peaked out from time to time. All in all these were reasonable riding conditions for this time of year.

Sadly, the hoped-for Fall foliage wasn't yet on display. Mid-Atlantic foliage changes have been moderate thus far this year. Other than the bright yellows of ready-to-harvest corn and soybeans, most of the foliage was still green.

Even without the full Fall colors, riders generally reported that the Neo-classic was just as scenic as the original classic. The start on the Two Rivers Trailway received high marks for a pleasant beginning. Scenic, of course, is bike rider code for hilly as a #)*&$#^@!.  Lower Saucon Rd was a decidedly un-pleasant ending, several riders commenting about its difficulty.

Randonesia in the form of food and drink was in ample supply at the finish, with many riders enjoying gourmet snacks provided by the club at the Cask Tavern. After a few bites and a pint, I heard many a tale of bold adventure recounted by rejuvenated riders that seemed ready to hop back on their bikes and ride on.

The sprinkles of rain were directly responsible for a mishap experienced by Jon C. As he descended from the summit of Fox Gap,  the thin layer of oil and water on one of the curves denied his tires traction and he slid off the curve, careening into a barrier. Amazingly, he sustained only minor road-rash and walked the rest of the way into the controle. I guess he didn't outpace his guardian angel. Bike wise, his carbon fiber fork blades snapped clean in half. Other than a new fork he reports the bike will need little more than a wheel truing.

Next up in November is another brevet and populaire, this time on different dates. The routes are somewhat kinder and gentler. We hope the November weather will be kind and gentle to us as well.

Chris Nadovich

Monday, September 17, 2018

The Fall (Neo) Classics: PA 200K & PA 150K

*** Update 1 ***

A course checkout ride was completed on 6 October by Chris N.  The cue sheets for both the 200K and 154K have been updated to make some important corrections.  Be sure you have the latest version linked on the event pages. The current versions are both marked R.2. As always, the cue sheets define the course and contain important warnings. GPS routes are provided for amusement purposes only. Read the cue sheet.

Pre Ride Notes: 

In past versions of the Fall Classic, pain began early with the big climbs of Lower Saucon Rd. Since this version starts past these climbs,  and all the climbing out of Easton has been eliminated through use of the Two Rivers trailway, you will hit each of your other favorite climbs with less accumulated-fatigue in your legs. This created, for me, a feeling of unexpected power as each climb felt just a little easier than I remembered it.

Pavement is in good condition for almost the entire course. The only significant exception is the Fox Gap climb, where an amazing variety of debris is scattered over the meager shoulder. I saw unused road flares, chip seal, deep piles of soft gravel, kerosene cans, lumpy hardened concrete spill, horizontal fallen trees sawn just above the roadway white line, downed power lines, and a big, buzzy hornets nest.  If you climb Fox Gap at the ultra-low speed I climb Fox Gap, dodging these is not too difficult, but you might want to carry an extra tube, fire extinguisher, and an epi pen.
The Columcille info controle explores the legend of St Oran. "The way you think it is may not be the way it is at all."
The new section of course from Milford to Dublin to the Hostel are classic Bucks county cycling roads. We should venture
through there more often. There are some long flat sections through
farms b/c suburban sprawl. Many pretty ravines with ledgy streams
alongside.Very easy riding.

Till you get near the Hostel, that is. Now the fun begins. All
those climbs that used to be easy -- either because you had just started and felt strong and fresh or because you were almost done and could smell the barn at the Hostel -- no... longer... are....

I hit the Hostel just around sunset, so I had the pleasure of
doing those final climbs in the dark. And did I mention it was foggy
and raining? I wish for better weather on the date of the event.

The trickiest part of the route is at the very end. The last few cues avoid a direct climb up 25th street by means of the public bike trail through the private campus at the Children's Home of Easton. Do not attempt to short-cut the cued route as a nighttime climb up twisty, narrow, shoulder-less, 25th street is highly inadvisable.

The endgame cues begin shortly after the somewhat harrowing left turn to cross two lanes of Berger Rd at the 3-way SS. This puts us onto the large, 4-lane, 25th Street bridge over the Lehigh. Past routes turn left immediately at the end of this bridge. Instead, now we turn right immediately into the Children's Home of Easton. The sign is brightly lit and easy to spot. Easy right turn.

This is private property, but I was assured that the public bike path has a right of way. Please follow the dashed white line marking the trail uphill through the Children's Home campus and do not trespass outside the right-of-way.

After leaving the Children's Home campus at the top of the climb, the route T's left, and then T's right back onto the nastiness of 25th street again. Check for cars and start pedaling up the street. The upcoming left turn onto the Two Rivers trailway is only 600 feet up on the left, and is plainly marked with various signs. It comes quickly. Signal a left turn and move to the left side of the lane when safe. As you near the left onto the trail there's a small painted median within which you can take refuge as you wait for an opportunity to turn. Please don't miss this turn. We are trying to avoid 25th street.

After that exciting TR+QL on 25th street, you return to the safety of the trail only briefly. You'll soon encounter the crossing of busy Freemansburg Rd. I've seen every possible reaction from drivers here. Some will stop and wave you on, others will coal-roll you where you stand. Be careful crossing.

After Freemansburg is the last bit of trail. Take the first left exiting the trail into a development. Now you are on relatively quiet, manageable roads for the rest of the way (about a mile) to the finish.

Enjoy the ride!

Chris Nadovich
Ride Organizer

*** Original Post ***

Since its beginnings in 2006,  Pennsylvania Randonneurs has hosted a fall brevet and populaire.  Those events have been staged every year since 2007 from the Weisel Hostel that served as our rando clubhouse.  There are undoubtedly many fond memories from our time there.

Fear not!  The PA Randonneurs Fall Classics will continue.  Just as in 2006, the routes begin and end in Easton, PA (not in front of Tom's house, though) and the routes reprise most of the familiar favorites.  Our goal was to retain the feel of the old favorites with a revised start-finish location.  Yes 200k riders, you WILL get Fox Gap.  And Lomasson's Glen.  And the beautiful descent along Sweet Hollow Road into Milford.  Both routes will pass the Weisel Hostel so everyone will have a chance to pose for one more photo in front of the house.

We will finish at The Cask Taphouse in Easton where all can gather to replenish expended calories and swap stories about the year's accomplishments.  We will also take time to recognize those riders who have joined (or rejoined) the PA SR club and the PA R-12 club this year.  Plan to spend a little time after finishing to enjoy the camaraderie of randonneuring and getting to know other riders who you typically only pass in controls.  It will also be a good time to corner the RBA and give him your wish list for future PA Randonneurs events.

With less than 11 hours of daylight available, 200k riders will need lights and reflective gear unless you have a history of faster finishes.  All riders are encouraged to get into the winter habit of riding with lights and reflective gear.

Event and registration details for both events are available on the PA Rando website.  Make plans to attend.  It is always a good time.

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

September PA R-12 Ride Report: Hawk Mountain 200k

Preliminary results for the Hawk Mountain 200k have been posted on the website.  Please review the results and inform me of any necessary corrections.  The results will be submitted to RUSA in the coming days and become final pending ACP certification.  Thirty-four riders clipped in and all made it around the course, though one rider opted to lighten the load by leaving his brevet card in his vehicle at the start resulting in a DNQ.  Still, a 97% completion rate with no lost riders is a good day.

While a clear, sunny day would have been nice, the clouds brought a dramatic drop in temperatures (some riders reported donning arm warmers) which made for an enjoyable day of cycling and likely contributed to the finish successes.  The group featured  a nice mix of new randonneurs and long-time PA Randonneurs.  The Philadelphia Dynamo Headlight Society was well represented.  Special congratulations go out to newly minted randonneurs (and randonneuses) Chris Bella, Linda Gross, Robert Noll, and Tracy Skorka.  Hawk Mountain is challenging yet these riders came around in fine form. 

We also recognize Mario Claussnitzer for his completion of the prestigious PA-SR.  Mario missed the March 200k and struggled with scheduling of the remaining ACP 200ks all through the summer.  Perseverance paid off as Mario become one of only 6 PA Randonneurs to complete an SR comprising solely PA Rando events this year.  Chappeau!

Ron and Barb Anderson wrote:

Thanks to you, Rich, Steve and all the volunteers for putting on yet another fine PA Rando event.

The classic Hawk Mountain course was wonderful - full of Pennsylvania Dutch charm, the usual PA vertical challenges and the weather even cooperated nicely with enjoyable cooler temperatures and only sparse showers throughout the day. The St. Boniface Brewery provided a cozy, friendly gathering place for the crew post-ride, and the chance for a good craft brew after a long day in the saddle is always welcome by this tandem team.

Like always, it was a fine gathering of riders too, almost like a PA Rando homecoming with some of the veterans (us included) coming out to join the fun. It was also fun to meet and have a chance to talk with some of the newer riders that Barbara and I haven't had the opportunity to meet in person before.

 Barb and I had a pretty good ride on the Bilenky, all things considered. I've got to say though, that the 4am wake up call, and the effort required to get the big bike around a hilly 200k course is really testing the limits of our definition of "fun" these days. We need to pick and choose our rides and we'll never get back to a steady diet of brevets like back in the day... That said, yesterday's Hawk Mountain ride has already begun the transition in the rando brain to good memories of type II fun. Captain-stoker negotiations as to the October classic brevet are expected to commence shortly...

Thanks again for putting on a great ride!

From CJ Arayata:

A ton of fun on Saturday. Somehow that was my first time on the Hawk Mountain course, and it was great! Lots of hard climbing, smooth and clear descents, great views throughout the day (especially on Summer Hill Rd), and great company... everything I want in a brevet. A few flats between our group of Nick, Ryan, George, and Shawn, but we took it easy and enjoyed ourselves. A little cold with the intermittent rain but nothing some armwarmers couldn't fix. It was also really nice to see some of the old guard along with many new faces! Hoping these larger fields keep up for future brevets.

James Haddad had this to say:

Hawk Mtn was one of the first brevets I rode several years ago, I forgot how beautiful the course is, and challenging. The Hawk Mountain climb and descent was the perfect mid-day pick me up and Summer Hill road was beautiful and totally justified the climbing to get there.

Big thanks to Rich and Steve for volunteering. I look forward to clipping in with everyone at the Fall NeoClassic.

Chris Nadovich stumbled into a companion event (unsanctioned by RUSA) while in Pine Grove.

It was a day of moderate temperatures and winds that always seemed to be 
at our back. An occasional sprinkle did not dampen the good times. Even 
the endless rollers on 443 -- one of my least favorite parts of that route -- 
were tolerable. 

Hawk Mountain is tough, but consensus was that the worst hill was that 
short, sharp corkscrew of contour lines at the beginning of Summer Hill, with 
the second worst climb being the "last little grunt" up Leed Hill. 

The adolescent bike culture in Pine Grove was in full display, with 
the informal Turkey Hill Criterium and Cyclocross race circling the 
controle through backyards, broken sidewalks, and alleys. The peloton 
comprised a collection of local ragamuffins on a variety of machines: 
BMX bikes, 10-speeds, and a two-passenger drift car inspired tricycle 
with splayed wheels. 

This event would have been much different without the assistance of Rich Lucchese, Steve Schoenfelder, Mike Lutz, and Steve Kraybill.  The RBA's original plan for availability was impacted by a late addition to the family calendar.  These fellows stepped up and, by all accounts pulled off the event like a well-oiled machine.  Thanks to you all.

Next up is the Fall Classic on October 20.  Sadly, we will not be gathering at our favorite rando clubhouse.  We have come up with the next best thing:  a route reminiscent of the "Fall Classics" (150k and 200k) that visit all the familiar places (including a ride past the Weisel Youth Hostel).  The start finish is in Easton.  Long-time PA Randonneurs may recall a time when the many events started from Burke Street in Easton, so our change represents somewhat of a return to our roots.  Organizer Chris Nadovich has developed modified routes that look to be as memorable as ever with a finish at a small brew pub in Easton where we've arranged for some gathering space.  Check out the website for details.  We hope to see you there.

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA

Thursday, August 23, 2018

PA R12 Brevet Series: Hawk Mountain 200k

*** Update 1 ***
A pre-ride course checkout ride was completed on August 26.  The cue sheet has been updated to make some minor corrections on road signage and to incorporate several cautionary warnings.  The current version is Rev. E, Draft 3 dated 8/26/2018.

A few highlights:

~8.0 Reinholds:  There are two RR crossings as you enter Reinholds.  The crossings are perpendicular, but very rough.  Use caution.

14.6  A sewer replacement project had Hill Rd in Wernersville closed.  There is a short detour marked.  You can also walk your bike along the left side of the road and get around the construction.  Given the state of the project you may encounter nothing but fresh pavement patches.

15.6 The RR crossing leaving Wernersville has been given a caution notice.  Not only is the crossing quite rough, trains pass through at least hourly.  This is one where you really should look both ways before crossing.

21.2 It bears repeating that the metal deck bridge just before the turn onto Pallisades can be tricky.  Even when dry the grating grabs at bike tires.  If it is wet, please walk.

29.8 As long as we've used this route there has been loose gravel in a downhill turn on Gin Mill Rd just before the intersection with Grove Rd.  There have been crashes and near-crashes all along. The gravel is especially deep this year.  A caution note has finally been added to the cue.

52.5 The descent from Hawk Mountain has been tarred and chipped.  The good news is that it is one of the nicest T&C jobs I've seen.  The bad news is that loose stones remain, especially in a few of the turns.

~56.0 The final mile or so of Pheasant Run leading to the turn onto Lake Front Dr has been freshly tarred and chipped.  While it may clear somewhat by the brevet, much gravel is likely to remain.  Use a LOT of caution making the turn onto Lake Front.

78.3 There is a Stop Sign intersection at the bottom of the long descent into Pine Grove.  It has been noted on the cue sheet.  You'll want to pay attention as there may be traffic entering that intersection from your left as you arrive.

79.9 After years of being a crappy road, Long Stretch Road has fresh asphalt.  You can let it rip on the descent to Oak Grove Rd.

85.8 - 94.0 Sadly, Swatera State Park remains in rough shape and we're forced to rely on Suedberg Road and Rt 72 to get though the Gap.  There is a generous shoulder in many places, but not all.  Traffic is fast.  Be careful when moving between the shoulder and the lane as there is a milled rumble strip in the fog line.

109.3 Use caution when making this turn.  For reasons unknown, the right-of-way has been given to Prescott-Reistville Rd instead of remaining with Prescott.  Cars approaching from the opposite direction on Reistville may swing wide and into your lane (first-hand knowledge) so you'll want take a wide line through this turn.

Have a safe ride!

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA

*** Original Post***
The PA Randonneurs R12 Brevet Series continues in September with the Hawk Mountain 200k on September 8.  Event details are on the website. and registration is open.  New member Rich Lucchese is rapidly embracing randonneuring and will be the Organizer for the event.  He even conducted an advance route check (one advantage of using routes that are approved as both brevets and permanents) so the event announcement could contain an updated and checked cue sheet.

A few notes about this route:

The start/finish venue has changed compared to past runnings of this route that some might remember.  The start is now located at Martin's Country Market on the west side of Ephrata (similar to last February's Loop Around Lancaster brevet).  We will finish at the nearby St. Boniface Brewery.  This is much improved over the K-Mart parking lot we once used.  I took the opportunity of a cue update to address a few other parts of the route.

If you downloaded a cue sheet or copied the GPS track prior to August 23, 2018 you will have a difficult time completing the route.  PennDOT has once again tossed a spanner in the works and decided to replace a bridge near the start.  More significant, though is that the DCNR has closed significant portions of the Swatera State Park.  The seemingly never-ending summer deluge has washed out portions of the Swatera Trail.  A repair schedule remains uncertain, so we will revert to the original (and not as nice) descent along Rts. 443/72 through the Swatera Gap.  Links for the latest cue sheet and GPS are available on the event page.

Hawk Mountain remains a very scenic route, especially on clear days.  If you liked it before, chances are you will still enjoy the adventure.  It also remains a very challenging route.  Most believe the rewards are well worth the effort.  We will be starting just after sunrise so everyone will get to enjoy sunrise vistas in the early miles.

*** 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 often means heat and humidity.  The route includes several stretches of unshaded roads that can get very warm in the afternoon sun.  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 summer of non-stop rain you should be extra vigilant for debris that has washed onto the road and perhaps even washouts of the road surface.
- 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.  The finish cutoff is roughly an hour after sunset.  While many may finish in the daylight, you don't want to risk disqualification by showing up lightless at the finish due to a mechanical-induced delay.
- 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 the organizer or the RBA.  Phone numbers are provided on the cue sheet.
- 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 the RBA 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.

Registration remains open until 11:59pm on September 6.  Register now!

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA

Monday, August 20, 2018

Midnight Express Ride Report

Preliminary results of the inaugural Midnight Express 200k have been posted on the PA Rando website.  The results will be submitted to RUSA in a few days and become final pending ACP certification.  All riders who clipped in to start finished the route and 20 of 22 finished within the time limit for a 91% finish rate.  Well done to all.

Finishers showing RUSA medals (and handlebar bags), photo by George M.
PA Randonneurs celebrated RUSA's 20th Anniversary with something different.  Instead of the traditional early-morning start, riders clipped in and rolled out at 7PM to embark on a 200k adventure on a new route.  Skies were overcast, but the rain held off and skies cleared somewhat allowing moonlight to guide the riders for a while.

Riders first encountered volunteer Ivan Umble along the route at a Secret Controle.  Just checking on you guys.  Anyone who looked at the route map would understand the need for this check.  It has been a while since we've had a secret control it just seemed to add more interest to the ride.  In an effort to expose riders to a wide array of route controls, the brevet also featured an Open Controle and an Information Controle.  Variety is the spice of life.

Secret(?) Controle, photo by Greg K.
From it's inception, the Midnight Express route was conceived as one to be ridden at night.  Roads that are heavily trafficked during the day become private pathways at night.  Some of the roads experience bumper-to-bumper traffic during the day, even weekend days.  During an late night recon trip as I was developing the route, I encountered exactly 3 cars over the course of 45 miles of riding which gave me hope that the concept would work.  Based on rider comments afterward, the route was a success.  Riders avoided typical August daytime heat.  Not so lucky were the volunteers on the course checkout ride.  The checkout ride was conducted during daylight hours two weeks earlier, starting in a cool rain, but finishing in sweltering heat and humidity as afternoon temperatures reached the mid-90s.  Temperatures for the brevet remained around 70 for the entire evening.  Rain held off until the morning.  It was definitely nicer for the brevet riders despite some early morning rain in the closing miles.

The route was challenging as is typical for Southeastern Pennsylvania routes.  Also as is often the case, an unknown talent shows up and aces the route.  First-timer Jason Blome blazed around the route to become a randonneur and the first finisher.  Jason is no novice; he owns a nearby bike shop and logs many miles every year.  Night riding is one of his favorite types of riding and what piqued his interest with this event.  Hopefully he will join us again.
PA Randos at Port Deposit Controle, Photo by Greg K.
In addition to Jason, riders James Hultquist-Todd and Gary Wilpizeski became randonneurs, each finishing their first brevets in fine fashion.  How many randonneurs can say that their first brevet was an overnight event?  Congratulations to you all!

We saw a new entity at this brevet:  The Philadelphia Dynamo Headlight Society.  It seems that CJ Arayata has been promoting nighttime riding and secretly recruiting unsuspecting cyclists to join the ranks of randonneuring by hosting overnight adventures to various eateries around Philadelphia.  In addition to CJ, Society members included Shawn Bowles, Luke Elrath, Alex Manta, Ryan Stanis, and Gary Wilpizeski.  Could CJ be planning a two-team Fleche campaign for 2019 ?

CJ sent an interesting link showing his progress around the course.

Keith Spangler sent this concerning his ride with long-time PA Rando Bill Slabonik:  Andrew, thank you for giving all of us the opportunity to ride the Midnight Express.  When I downloaded our ride results I was shocked at the "mph" ~ 11.  We normally ride that and make the finish so it must have been the stops and the three missed cues we made early on.  Anyway, we had a great time riding together again.  Like I mentioned, I'm focused on a solo tour of the Gulf of Mexico so maybe I can revisit brevets.  Please share my appreciation with George for a great experience!  Keith
Keith and Bill rolled in about 30 minutes after the time cut-off, wet, tired, but smiling.

Post-ride relaxation.  Photo by George M.
This event would not have happened without the encouragement and brainstorming contributions of George Metzler.  He and I have cooked up a few interesting events over the years and this one was no exception.  It started as a "what if" when RUSA announced the 20th Anniversary celebration and grew from there with our usual quest to do something totally different.  Thanks George!

George has posted his collection of photos on the web.  Check them out.

Thanks also to pre-ride volunteers Paul Currie, Rich Lucchese, Chris Nadovich, and Gilbert Torres.  These guys all rode about 5 bonus miles without complaint as I re-routed on the fly during the course checkout ride. Gilbert stationed himself at the West Chester controle Saturday evening to offer a friendly face of encouragement as riders set off into the nighttime darkness.  Had the cue error not been discovered, riders would have faced a difficult loop around in early morning darkness.  As it was, only a few bonus miles were reported on the brevet.  Even though he could not make the pre-ride, long-time PA Rando Mike Lutz arrived at the finish at 5am to help with breakfast.

Next up is the Hawk Mountain 200 starting in Ephrata, PA on September 8.  Details are posted on the PA Rando website.  Registration is open.

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA

Monday, July 16, 2018

PA R12 Series: RUSA's 20th Anniversary, The Midnight Express

*** UPDATE 8/5/2018 ***

A course checkout ride was completed on Saturday and you will all be glad that it was.  Both the original cue sheet and the original GPS track contained errors that would have left you wondering.  BOTH have been updated and posted on the website.  If you are planning to ride, make sure you have the version marked REVISION 1.

We started the checkout ride in the rain.  There are several metal grate bridges and railroad crossings along the way that are especially treacherous when wet (one rider went down in spite of all the warnings).  The bridges and railroad crossings are marked in the cue sheet.  You will want to heed those precautions, even if it's not raining.  Summer humidity usually means a heavy dew settling just after dark.  These hazards will be slippery. 

ALSO NOTE:  there is a short (~1/2 mile) section of gravel road on this route.  Earlier recon rides found a wonderfully smooth stretch with near stone-free wheel tracks that made for nice riding.  It appears that new gravel was added not long before the checkout ride.  We had to deal with loose stones, but not deep gravel.  My hope is that the road condition will return to its normal state by the time of the brevet.  The gravel section is noted on the cue sheet.  

Thanks to a very understanding group of volunteers who added about 5 extra miles of wandering about as I reworked the route on the fly in the steamy afternoon heat.  


RUSA 20th Anniversary Commemorative Medal

We are going to do something really different in honor of RUSA's 20th Anniversary: an evening brevet start.  Why?  A few reasons, but most notably because night riding, in case you don't already know, is a lot of fun.  The tunnel of light cast by a bicycle headlight limits what you see clearly.  Clouds or a moonless night mean you might not even seen anything outside of the headlight beam.  Other senses must pick up the slack to satisfy you mind's craving for stimulus.  Sounds and smells you might otherwise ignore are suddenly at the fore.

An evening start has better potential to avoid the heat of the day that is typical in August without necessitating a trip to the Poconos.  It is rare for overnight temperatures to remain above 80.  You might even want to bring along a pair of arm warmers as overnight lows in the 50s are not beyond possibility.

PBP starts are generally in the evening.  What better way to discover how your body will respond than to try an evening start event?

Night riding encourages riding with with others.  During the longer events we usually recommending grouping up as darkness falls.  There is safety in numbers.  A group of reflector-clad randonneurs stands out to motorists.  There are more eyes scanning the road ahead for gravel, potholes, and the occasional nocturnal animal scurrying across the road.  Navigation is usually easier with more people; some can read cues while other scan the darkness for road signs.  Camaraderie!

Starting with one of PA Randonneurs' perennial favorite routes, The Brandywine 200, a few changes were added to simplify navigation in the dark and to adjust controls to locations that will be open regardless of the hour of your arrival (well, save for one info control).  While a full moon is a week away, the First Quarter coincides with our ride so riders will enjoy a decent amount of moonlight providing the skies are clear.  There are numerous vistas along the route that should be spectacular in the moonlight.

This event will also allow lighting systems to be tested.  Riders are cautioned that this route covers predominately rural areas.  Street lamps are few and far between.  Portions of this route were scouted during a New Moon which further emphasized the absence of artificial lighting.   A helmet-mounted 1000+ lumen auxiliary lamp helped, added so I could read road signs while checking a cue sheet, but anything not directly in my light beams remain unseen (though not always unheard).

All riders are required to have at at least one bike-mounted headlight and two taillights.  A backup headlight is strongly encouraged.  Battery powered lights are excellent choices for your backup headlamp since it is very hard to deal with mechanicals using dyno-powered lighting alone.  You'll also want a light for reading a cue sheet.  Fresh batteries are recommended for all of your battery powered lights.  You will also find batteries at the control locations. 

Full reflective gear is also required.  Requires are listed on the event page.  Lights and reflective gear will be checked at the start before you receive your brevet card.

A post-ride breakfast is planned for the finish.  Not since a snowy December day in 2009 has PA Randonneurs visited Cafe Metzler for breakfast.  Thankfully, we do not anticipate any wintry weather this time.  George will be cooking up a variety of breakfast items that will surely include pancakes, bacon, and eggs along with plenty of drinks to replenish you after a long night's effort.  Breakfast will most likely be ready around 6am (our current plan).  You could end up having to wait for breakfast if you return to the finish significantly faster than 11 hours.  A post-ride nap could be risky since Cafe Metzler does not offer a wake-up service.

With all this in mind, the organizers emphasize that this brevet is not a speed contest.  Average speeds should be lower owing to the increased challenge of nighttime navigation.  Route changes in the interest of simplifying navigation also mean it is possible to ride the route more quickly.  This is especially true compare to the Brandywine route from which it is derived.  This route has decidedly fewer vertical challenges in the second 100k.  Our hope is that all riders will resist the urge to shoot for a course record and instead enjoy the adventure.  Ride at a more relaxed pace, take a little extra time at the controls or interesting places along the way, have a conversation with your fellow randonneurs as you ride, and finish closer to 11-12 hours than 8-9.   To help, the second control in West Chester is an open control.  It was noted on an early scouting adventure that there are a number of streetside cafes and pubs along Market St. which are quite inviting in the evening.  You can still control at the 7-Eleven if you wish, but a receipt/initials from any of the eateries along Market St will suffice.  You should treat the 7-Eleven as a point of no return.  There are almost no options for a West Chester control beyond that point.

It promises to at least be something different.  This is not your ordinary R12 brevet.  Also different is that there will be unique hardware passed out to successful finishers.  Like may RUSA events occurring in August of this year, we celebrate RUSA's 20th anniversary.  So you'll get a really cool medal (see image above) when you finish.  What more could you ask?

Registration is open.  Check out the event page and sign up now.

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Ride Summary: YARRRR 2018

A miraculous break in the heat-wave created near perfect weather for riding through the Philly suburbs. Other than one unexpected obstacle, the reverse, revised, and nearly detour-less river to river route provided a fun day on the bike.

Preliminary results have been posted at the PA Rando web site.
Results will be submitted in a couple of days to RUSA, and then become final pending ACP certification. A total of 21 out of 21 riders finished in good time for a 100% completion rate -- congratulations and well done to all!

First finisher Scotty S set the YARRR course record with his 7:47 minute effort, with Don J and Tim C in under 9 hours and also beating the previous record. That's quite an achievement for a course with so little flat, straight road.  The shock wave of their passing through may have downed a tree in Evansburg State Park.

Guy H through the fallen tree in Evansburg SP
Although it's not proven that the force of Scotty, Don, and Tim's wake was the cause, the tree did, in fact, fall sometime during the day of the ride. Early finishers did not encounter it and it was not down during either of the pre-rides. Riders that were blocked used a variety of strategies to get around. Some bushwhacked through the adjacent poison ivy, some slogged through a muddy horse trail, others reversed course and logged some bonus miles in a roundabout road detour.

Because of the electrical wires entwined with the branches, most riders wisely kept their distance. As a general rule, this is the  approach to possibly electrified downed trees.  Rule, or more like guideline? Fixed gear rider Joe D, along with fellow Sinister Nut, Guy H, made a careful evaluation of  the wreckage and weighed the risks. They chose to ignore the warnings of nearby "ranger Rick" and simply went through the tree --- with no problem. Very interesting.

A modification in this year's edition of YARRR included more of the Saucon Rail trail, eliminating some climbs around DeSales University. This new section of trail currently requires navigating a town park, which can be a little confusing. Most riders didn't require nav assistance from the secret controle volunteer. All riders eventually made it through. We understand that plans are in the works for a trail bypass to be built that will eliminate this confusion in the future.

Congratulations to James H who pre-rode the route the prior weekend when it was nearly 20 degrees warmer.  His finish completed his second PA-R12.  James has a string of 24 consecutive months with PA Randonneurs event completions.  Chappeau, James!

Next up is the RUSA 20th Anniversary ride on August 18.  Registration is open.  Watch this message board for additional details.

Chris Nadovich
Ride Organizer

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

July 200K YARRR (Update 7/3... 7/5)

*** Update 7/5 ***
Another pre-ride was conducted on 5 July by Nadovich and Mead. Here are a few up-to-the-minute notes:

0.0 The first parking lot at the start is small and may fill -- there is additional parking further down the island. 

13.8 Unlike previous versions of YARRR, we stay on the rail trail and navigate through the town park, re-entering the woods and following the trail again, until Flint Hill Rd. If you follow the old route you'll climb a few unnecessary hills and possibly be DQed should there be a secret controle in that town park. 

33.4 The right onto rt 29 is easy, but the two subsequent lefts are difficult, uphill, cross-traffic turns. Don't be too proud to dismount and cross on foot if necessary.

40.1 Fresh chip seal on Reifsnyder Rd -- not to bad, but be careful on turns.

53.5, 54.1 Quarry Rd and Wall St. These are downhill right turns that are NOT at the bottom of the hill. Both are easy -- and painful -- to miss. The Wall St sign is hidden by trees. 

58.9 Artisans Cafe was closed. They should be open on Saturday but as this is an open controle, feel free to choose another place. James H reported that the place next to Artisan's has excellent iced kombucha. 

68.3 Good News! The water fountains at Evansburg Park now dispense potable water (notice dated 7/3/18)

74.6 The first left after Bunton Rd is unmarked and looks like a private road into a park -- because it is. It's really the first feasible left. The cue is accurate in my opinion. Don't miss it or you'll have a painful merge onto busy Rt 63. 

80, 82.1  The Wawa is not a controle, but you may want to stop here for water. Don't eat too much or you'll spoil your appetite for dessert at Sundae School just 2.1 miles further.

84 Where Branch Rd crosses Schwenksmill we observed paving in progress. You should have a nice new paved section of Branch to ride on by Saturday. If, however, Branch is blocked, navigate North (left) to 5th street, cross 313, and then navigate south on Old Bethlehem to rejoin the course turning left at Sweetbriar.

108.2  Delaware River Fish and Boat access ramp. Excellent for a refreshing swim. By the time you walk across the bridge you'll stop dripping and won't leave wet footprints around Milford Market. 

124.7  Jimmy's at the finish controle has ice cream, doggies, and other decent food. Across the street by the river is the outdoor Sand Bar pavillion that has cold beer. If you don't see the finish controle volunteer at Jimmy's, check at the Bar.  

*** Update 7/3 ***
A pre-ride was conducted on 30 June by James Haddad. He reports the course is in good shape.  Cue sheet and RWGPS on the event page have been updated to reflect his observations.

Several of the bridge closures that required detours in previous versions of YARRR have been eliminated.  The infamous Keim St bridge in Potstown is exactly in the state we left it last year -- maybe some more rust and weeds. The construction/demolition they have been threatening is still motionless. Thus, with positive waves we expect these bridges to be there on Saturday. Enjoy a somewhat shorter route!

Well, not all the bridges were OK. A bridge at about mile 72 near Fourty-Foot Rd is out, out. No bridge, just creek. James decided to ford the creek, which seemed to him like a great idea in the 90+ temps last Saturday. In case biking through creeks is not something you want to try, the latest cue sheet incorporates a simple detour. 

There are several rail trail segments in this ride. The first one you encounter is in Hellertown. In past versions of YARRR, we exited the trail early to avoid some confusion near a town park beginning at mile 13.8. In this version, we transit the park to stay on the trail all the way to Flint Hill, thus avoiding several small climbs. The confusion in the town park seems more manageable now. Signs and paved paths have been added. You proceed generally on the left side of the parks and fields and eventually the trail returns to the woods. Cues and RWGPS have been updated to guide you through the park. 

Given the expected heat, you will need more than just the controles for cooling and hydrating supplies. Consider using the fountain at Evansburg, mile 68.3,  Wawa at mile 80,  and the Milford Market at mile 108.  

Have a great ride!

Chris Nadovich, organizer 

*** New Start Time ***

Given the probability of very hot weather for the YARRR 200K on 7 July, I have moved up the start time to 6AM, the earliest we can reasonably start from Hugh Moore Park. This will save an hour of riding in the heat.
Chris Nadovich, organizer

*** Original Post ***

For the R-12 series on 7 July we will be running the much preferred counter-clockwise version of the YARRR  200K brevet with all the difficult climbs incorporated into the first 100K during cool morning hours. The second half, ridden in the heat of the day, mostly uses moderate, shady roads along creeks, and finally along the Delaware. You'll visit three rivers, traveling from an island in the Lehigh, to the Schuylkill, to the Delaware. Along the way there are numerous food and drink options, and points of interest. The finish controle, at Jimmy's Doggie Stand, has readily available ice cream and cool beverages.

Event details are posted at the PA Randonneurs  web site.

*** Start/Finish ***

Parking at the start is the lot on Hugh Moore Park island in the Lehigh River, home of the National Canal Museum. Many previous PA Rando brevets pass by this location, so it should look familiar. Nevertheless, if this is the first time you've driven to Hugh Moore Park as a start controle, consider that it may be difficult to find, so be sure to allot a little extra time.

Iron bridge at entrance of Hugh Moore Park
The entrance to the park is an iron bridge that T's onto Lehigh Drive. There are no food services at Hugh Moore Park. 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 something in Hellertown at about mile 10.

*** 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 National Canal Museum parking lot on an island in the Lehigh River, the climbing begins immediately as you head up over South Mountain. After descending the mountain, the route is generally flat through Hellertown, including a few miles of crushed stone rail trail (suitable for most tires). Upon reaching Coopersburg, you'll return to climbing mode through several bumpy areas before reaching the new controle (a super Wawa) in downtown Pottstown, and the Schuylkill River.

Here the course turns South East, following the Schuylkill on mildly rolling terrain to the Artisan's Coffee controle in downtown Phoenixville. Now you turn to the North East, climbing away from the river on "Level Road" till the terrain moderates through the heart of Bucks and Montgomery counties, including some paved trails in Evansburg State Park. Soon thereafter you will find yourself on familiar randoneuring roads approaching the info controle at Erwinna, where the course turns North West along the Delaware river for an easy riverside spin back to the finish controle at Jimmy's Doggie Stand near the Free Bridge over the Delaware between Philipsburg and Easton.

After handing in your brevet card and replenishing at Jimmy's, there's a short, flat ride back through downtown Easton (and yet other replenishment options) to return to your car at Hugh Moore Park.

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