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