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.

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