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


  1. After a hiatus of approximately 4 years from the randonneuring fraternity I dutifully signed up for the "fall classic" knowing that this would be a good test of fitness and mental strength and would be a shakedown ride to assess where I am with view to getting back to doing long rides.

    Well, shakedown it was, as many of you saw the aftermath of my nerve racking spill at the 2nd control at Columucille Park. So here are the nuts and bolts. I will start off by saying this was entirely "operator error" and down to my poor judgement and not paying attention to a greasy road. After turning onto the steep decent on Fox Gap Road I was carrying too much speed and misjudged the right hander just before the quick left onto Quaker Plain Road. So Newton Laws took over and I was on the end of the "equal and opposite reaction" I careened into the barrier on the opposite side of the road and was thrown from my bike. Fortunately I did not sustain any serious injuries except for some minor road rash and was able to get up and walk down to the park which was 1/2 mile away. It would have been curtains if there had been oncoming traffic so my guardian angels were watching out. The damage was ride ending as the front fork was completely severed off about 6 inches above the front hub, almost guillotined if I had to describe it. Other than that the bike is in reasonable fettle given the impact, the wheels need truing but a new fork will get me back in the game.

    I would like to thank everyone who came to check on me and give support as it took a while for the nerves to calm down. There are several pictures of the aftermath floating around so I am sure one will find its way onto here. being a techno neanderthal I am not sure how to get mine posted.

    I would especially like to thank Chris N for taking time out to come and rescue me and take me back to the start which was above and beyond the call of duty. He was immediately available and was at my side within 20 minutes. This is what makes the ride when fellow randonneurs put themselves into your shoes go the extra miles to make sure that you are safe and sound. I did notice that Chris had a First aid kit in his car as well so kudos for being prepared.

    I will be back riding and will chalk this down to hubris, but I have learned a valuable lesson and thanks again for all the help.

    Jon Clamp

  2. Thanks for the kind words. Glad you were OK.