Monday, January 8, 2018

2018 PA R12 Series Kickoff: Beyond Hope to Hopewell 200k

***. Update 4 ***

We will try again.  The Beyond Hope to Hopewell brevet will be run on Saturday January 20.  All other details remain unchanged.  There will be no further postponements.

I have updated the registered riders list based on confirmations received since January 13.  If you still intend to clip in this weekend, please send me an email or re-register on the event page.  Thanks!

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA


*** Update 3 January 12 ***

It's hard to fathom that I was out in shirt sleeves at lunch and now I'm drafting a notice of winter weather impact on a brevet.  Such is the nature of winter brevet scheduling.
The Beyond Hope to Hopewell brevet scheduled for tomorrow, January 13, is POSTPONED AGAIN.  It appears as though the advancing cold front will bring a significant period of sleet and freezing rain early in the day with plummeting temperatures after that.  Rider safety is paramount and there's no way to assure that in such conditions.  We are investigating a postponement at the moment. Should that prove to be too difficult, the event will not be rescheduled.  Riders chasing the elusive PA R-12 can talk to me about options for a January completion to keep a streak alive.


Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA


*** Update 2 January 7 ***
The Beyond Hope to Hopewell brevet has been rescheduled to Saturday, January 13, 2018.  All other aspects remain the same.  The on-line registration form should be working; you can email your request to register me if you have problems.

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA

*** Update 1 January 4 ***

The Beyond Hope to Hopewell brevet has been POSTPONED due to weather conditions that have made travel on roadways dangerous.  A reschedule date will be announced soon.


*** Original Post ***
Welcome to the 2018 PA Randonneurs R12 series.  It seems not so long ago that we were struggling against the weather to get our 2017 R12 series kicked off and here we are again.   We will reprise the Beyond Hope to Hopewell 200k, a route that usually benefits from excellent winter maintenance.  Fingers are crossed.  Organizer Bill Olsen will greet riders at the Bridge Street Bagel & Deli in Milford, NJ.  Parking is in the US HealthCare lot across Church St. from the Milford Market.  Ride details have been posted on the website.  Registration is open and will remain so through Thursday, January 4.

The route map link is here:  https://ridewithgps.com/routes/18343570
As always, riders are cautioned that the official route remains the cue sheet.  Navigation by GPS is at your own risk.

This year's kickoff promises to be memorable with forecast single-digit temperatures.  Riders will want to make sure that their winter riding gear is fully sorted before clipping in.  You'll know whether you make the proper selections relatively quickly.  The key word for the day is layers, and lots of them.

Riders are also reminded that lights and reflective gear are mandatory in view of the limited daylight hours and frequent overcast skies.

As in years past, PA Randonneur members will ride for free.  It you haven't renewed your membership for 2018, you can simply renew it at registration and enjoy the benefits for the rest of the year.  For those of you who have already renewed check-in will be quick.

Gear up, register, and get your 2018 randonneuring season started.

Andrew Mead
-Eastern PA RBA

Registered Riders (as of 1/15/2018)

1 Jimmy Aspras
2 Matthew Farrell
3 Jeff Lippincott
4 Rudolf Mayr
5 William Olsen - organizer
6 George Michael Retseck





Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Cold Weather Riding Challenges: It's Not Just Clothing

Winter 2018 is looking to redefine epic weather for our January brevet.  Ironically the next issue of American Randonneur will include an article on clothing for winter riding which is likely to be a little late for near-term challenges.  Hint:  LAYERS and lots of them.

The challenges of cold weather brevets are not limited to clothing.  Bill Beck of DC Randonneurs recently offered his experiences on a New Year's Day permanent.  I've reproduced the essence of his findings below, with permission.

Yesterday, Emily Ranson, Jack Nicholson, and I set off on a New Years adventure on the Woodbine-Dillsburg permanent. Indicated temperatures at the start ranged from -0.3F on Emily's Garmin to +1F on my Wahoo Bolt. Temperatures warmed to around 19F at one point, and then dropped back to the single digits after it got dark. Here were some observations and lessons learned.

1) The "Extreme" Bar Mitts worked. I used light wool gloves inside the Bar Mitts, and my hands were pretty comfortable. With the standard Bar Mitts, my hands get cold below 20 degrees. I think Emily's hands were cold yesterday in the standard Bar Mitts.

2) Standard plastic "insulated" bottles were no match for the cold. Jack's Gatorade froze solid. Emily added salt to her water bottles, and there was some liquid remaining, but it was inaccessible since the top had frozen. Two things that worked: My Camelbak was underneath two out layers of clothing and remained liquid. Unzipping the two layers and pulling out the hose allows drinking while riding. Before pushing the hose back inside the clothing, it's worthwhile to close the lever at the bite valve to prevent leakage. (I know from bad experience.) Two stainless steel, vacuum thermos water bottles were also fully liquid at the end of the ride. The Ibera models are really nice since the valve is recessed into the bottle where it's protected from freezing, but sadly it doesn't seem that they make them anymore.

3) Much of our electronics was not happy in the cold! I brought along my new Gear 360 camera and wanted to try it riding along Cemetery Ridge at Gettysburg. Would have been pretty cool, right? But it turned on for about 5 seconds, went off, and would not revive. Both Jack and my phones were dead by the end of the ride. When I tried to connect my USB charger to the phone, the phone said it was too cold to charge! Please try again when it's warmer. (Emily's phone was still working, as of 100 miles into the ride.) The battery in my Wahoo Bolt ran down much faster than normal. Connecting a USB power pack had no effect, so the Bolt ended up running out of battery and turning off around 10 miles from the finish. Once things were warmed up at home, the Bolt charged and ran fine off of the USB power pack, so the no-charging problem was definitely cold-related. (Jack's Bolt performed much better. When my Bolt was down to 10%, his still had over 40% left.) So you think that you are protected by having a USB power pack, but it was no protection for either my phone or my Wahoo Bolt.

While I've not tried Bar Mitts, I can speak to the second and third points.  A CamelBak under my jacket has made quite a few cold weather rides possible.  It allows me to stay hydrated AND I get to enjoy relatively warm fluid which helps to maintain a comfortable core temperature.  Most convenience stores have a hot water available.

It's not just GPS and phone batteries that suffer in the cold.  Most important is your headlight if you rely on battery-powered lighting.  My own headlight battery, normally good for 6 hours, gave me the 30-minute reserve warning about 45 minutes into my New Year's Day adventure. As you'll likely need your light at the end of the ride, you might consider carrying the battery in your pocket for an hour or so before dark to warm it for use.

As you prepare for this weekend's brevet, plan ahead.  You and your gear will be tested. A solid plan will get you through to the finish.

Andrew Mead
-Eastern PA RBA