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 Note that the traffic light at the end of River Rd by the I-80 entrance has been replaced by a traffic circle.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