Sunday, December 8, 2019

Thanks to the 2019 PA Rando Volunteers

2019 has been an amazing year for Pennsylvania Randonneurs. We have managed to continue our tradition of running high quality and challenging brevets in Eastern PA. We introduced a totally new SR series and a new Fleche venue. Our unbroken string of R12 series events allow riders to stay on their bikes seeking rando glory all year long. Such accomplishments for this club would not be possible without volunteer help. In 2019, the  Pennsylvania Randonneurs would like to thank volunteers:
  • CJ Arayata 
  • Gavin Biebuyck
  • Janice Chernekoff
  • Tom Dermody
  • Matt Farrell
  • Bill Fischer
  • Nigel & Joyce Greene
  • Greg Keenan
  • Eric Keller
  • Steve Kraybill
  • Patrick & Cecilie Gaffney
  • Nick Manta
  • George & Erin Metzler 
  • Andrew Mead
  • Chris Nadovich
  • William Olsen
  • Susan Proulx
  • George Retseck
  • Tom Rosenbauer
  • Steve Schoenfelder
  • Len Zawodniak
Thanks to all of you who volunteered this year. (Let us know if we missed anybody.) If you rode a PA event this year, people on this list made it possible. Please thank them for their effort. But to really thank them, to really, really thank them, you (yes, I mean you) should volunteer for a PA Rando event.


Hope to New Hope Ride Report

It was about as hopeful a December day as could be expected, riding along the Delaware. Chilly, a little breezy at times, but there was a good amount of sunshine. Of those that clipped in at the Blairstown Diner, 13 of the 14 made it to the finish at the Blairstown Inn within the time limit for a 93% completion rate.   Preliminary results for the December 2019 edition of the Hope to New Hope 200K have been posted on the website.  Please review the results and let me know if they align with your memory.  The results will be submitted to RUSA later in the week and will become official once certified.

James Haddad enjoys a gyro at the Market in New Hope

Riders had little trouble navigating the relatively straight and flat course (for PA Rando) from Blairstown, beyond Hope, on to New Hope, and back through Hope to Blairstown. The only DNF was Tom Keenan, who's navigation device was lost till Spring somewhere in a snowbank after an unfortunate glove maneuver.

The Hope to New Hope route is not the most scenic PA Rando route. H2NH uses larger secondary roads such as 519 and 29. The higher traffic on these roads is tolerated in the hopes that the shoulder remains snow and ice free through the Winter. On this occasion, there was little issue with snow and ice (other than in Footbridge Park). Any "stickyness" on the shoulder was limited and manageable. The biggest annoyance reported was, in fact, the traffic: specifically all the cars with Christmas trees on the roof. The consensus was that 1 in 3 cars was carrying a tree.

And here's some Blairstown Diner trivia you might not have known. December 13th is a Friday! Whooo...

Winter riding protective facemask with rando mottos.

First finisher Iwan Barankay writes...

Thank you for putting together this brevet. Perfect start and end controls and ideal conditions for a December brevet. I particularly enjoyed the meditative and muscle relaxing walk across Stockton bridge and the warm coffees at each control. Glorious day to end the 2019 brevet season. Next year I hope we will put together a brevet to start in Philly.

Hey Philly Gang, did you hear that "brevet to start in Philly" part? Time to get crackin' on this!



This brevet completes the 2019 season for Pennsylvania Randonneurs. Thanks to all the volunteers, this year has been an amazing success. Congratulations to all the riders -- especially those who went on to PBP this year.  I wish you all the best over the holidays and hope to see you next year at our first event, which will be held on 4 January 2020. Details coming soon on the PA Rando website.

--
Chris Nadovich
Brevet Organizer

Monday, December 2, 2019

December R12: Hope to New Hope **Update

Update: 4 December

I scouted the northern extent of the course today. There is a LOT of tree-branch debris on the shoulders on 519 above Belvedere. Also some shattered ice shards. This will affect the start and the finish -- especially the finish for riders finishing after sunset. People need to be extra vigilant to scan for "sticky" areas as they ride in the dark. These roads are relatively low traffic on Saturday, but they DO have traffic. Blinding by oncoming car headlights may make spotting the debris difficult. Please stop and wait for traffic to clear if you can't verify that the road in front of you is safe. 

The parking lot at Footbridge Park was NOT plowed, nor was the footbridge. These areas are flat, wide, and the snow/ice isn't deep. We can still park there. But if it turns out these are still frozen and unridable on Saturday, I'll want everyone to walk bikes through the frozen mess. Please don't try to ride over an ice covered footbridge unless you have spiked tires.

The rt 97 highway bridge is still under construction, with a one-way traffic light robot flagperson that has a silly long wait time. Normally the workaround has been to use the road through Footbridge Park, but if the footbridge is still frozen (see above) it's hard to say which way is better. The final decision will be made at the riders meeting after consulting with everyone's guardian angel.


Original Post...

Yes, yes, yes. Despite RUSA insurance gyrations we are indeed running the Hope 2 New Hope 200K brevet on 7 December starting from the Blairstown Diner at 7AM. Don't park at the Diner. Please park across the creek in Footbridge Park.  The finish is at the Blairstown Inn, across the street from the diner. All the information, and an online registration link, are on the event web page.

There has been no pre-ride of this event, but we believe that the roads in question are very reliable with little chance of issue. Famous last words.

Unlike previous editions, the Milford and New Hope controles are open controles. Milford baker is no more. If you want breakfast in Milford, go to the Bridge St Deli. If you want something quick go to the Milford Market. The cued route through New hope takes you past the brewery (which may not be open yet -- penalty for fast riding). There's a Starbucks, a Dunkin', and numerous small establishments. If you want Wawa or McDonalds or the diner in New Hope, these are a right turn at mile 62.8, about 0.5 mile off course.

The start and finish extend during night hours. The organizer will strictly enforce the rules regarding lighting and reflective gear.

Bonne route!

--
Chris Nadovich
Organizer

Monday, November 4, 2019

PAR Rusty Rail 200 Ride Report

Nineteen riders clipped-in to brave the challenge that is the Rusty Rail 200.  The autumn day dawned crisp and clear, a hard frost whitening farmers' fields and pastures as randonneurs charged across the valley floor to the foot of Jacks Mountain, the first of four epic ascents.  Yet, in spite of the low temperatures and the strenuousness of the route, all participants who embraced the task prevailed, completing the course within the allotted time.

The Rusty Rail Brewing Company proved to be the ideal reward for our victors where tales and legends were shared, where spirits were consumed and spirits restored, and where woes of the day were soon forgotten.

Kudos to first finishers Tim Creyts and Chris Maglieri who made the route look easy, rolling into the finish in only eight hours and ten minutes.  Additional recognition is due Chris for achieving his 2019 K-Hound distance on this ride.

Chapeau to Mark Caplan for completing his first brevet with an astonishing time of nine hours and thirty-five minutes.  And thanks to Iwan Barankay for introducing Mark to the insanity that is PA randonneuring.
Iwan writes:

Thank you for an outstanding route. I was so happy to have made the long trip out there plus give Mark a proper introduction to the world of randonneuring with his first brevet.

The first hours were stunning but my toes felt positively Siberian. (I ordered new overshoes but they did not arrive in time. Grrr/Brrr).
The route was so beautiful that I did not take pictures as they could not have done the colors justice.

Chris Nadovich writes...

Central PA is a decidedly different cycling experience than the Pocono
plateau and Delaware gorge region we normally ride. Well worth the
trip. In Central PA, it seems the big climbs are combined with long,
easy spins through flat valleys and sojourns alongside meandering
creeks. There are tailwinds, sunshine, and beautiful foliage.  The
four giant climbs in Rusty Rail were seriously painful undertakings
(they seemed equivalent in difficulty to Fox Gap or Millbrook), yet
there was so much beautiful, easy riding in-between that I felt almost
completely recovered (and thawed out from the screaming descent)
before my battle began with the next climb.

Speaking of those painful climbs, in my agony while struggling up some
of those relentless grades I might have called one or both of the
organizers a foul name or two. Out loud. Really loud. I hope they
forgive me because I very much enjoyed their event. What a beautiful
course! Let's ride out there again. Thank you Eric and Steve.

And now...this:

Iwan warming his toes
Bill Fisher spins up Jacks
Greg remembered to wear his shoe covers
Matt fighting cramps
Gary rolling along
Paul has got this!
Tim is first over Ulsh Gap
Chris is next in spite of pausing for cattle photos
Gavin being Gavin
Jeff leads the chase group over the climb
A great day for Joe Ray
George Retseck represents with a classic ride and club colors
Bill Knowles-Kellett cresting Ulsh Gap

First Finisher Chris earns his K-Hound!
First Finisher Tim celebrates
Newly-minted randonneur Mark and bad influence Iwan in with a time of 9:35!
Bill Fisher!
Gavin still smiling in spite of a missing chainring
Joe Ray throws down an awesome ride!
Greg after crushing the course into submission
Nick is in!
Gavin, Gary, and Matt in resuscitation mode
Jeff and Greg: still friends after the hate-drop incident
De'Anna & Rudi triumphant

George and Paul: still smiling after all those miles!
Chris survives!

Let's do this again next year!

-Steve Schoenfelder


A tremendous thank you to first-time organizer Steve Schoenfelder who enthusiastically responded to my request for new event organizers even though he had no idea what all that might entail and to Eric Keller who greeted weary riders with a friendly face and encouraged them the rest of the way home.  Next up we return to the Delaware River with the Beyond Hope to New Hope brevet starting in Blairstown, NJ on December 7.  This out and back route has the distinction of being one of the flatter routes in the PA Rando catalog which should be a welcome relief after the challenges of the central Pennsylvania mountains.  Event details and registration are available on the website.

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA



Friday, October 25, 2019

November PA R-12 Event: The Rusty Rail

The November R-12 brevet heads west into central Pennsylvania.  New organizer Steve Schoenfelder serves up The Rusty Rail 204 starting and finishing in Mifflinburg, PA.  This route promises to be one not soon forgotten.  Registration is open on the PA Randonneurs website through October 31.

Fall foliage was at its peak during the October 24 pre-ride of the Rusty 204 with the mountains awash with color.  A hard frost awaited me in Buffalo Valley with the temperature dropping to 29 degrees along Penns Creek.  Surprisingly, it was warmer atop Jacks Mountain, probably because it catches the early morning sunlight.  Riders are encouraged to bring along cold weather gear.  I lost feeling in a few of my fingers in spite of wearing insulated winter gloves.

The route is entirely paved, so if your are riding over dirt or gravel, you are off course. There is the usual smattering of chip seal well known to PA riders.  The stretch between Coburn and Woodward (mile 102-108) has a lot of loose gravel.  Weiler Road (mile 61) gets my vote for the worst road surface.  Be particularly careful on descents as there are potholes and gravel patches aplenty. 

The route lands on a few highways where riders are encouraged to ride the shoulder or stay as far right as possible.  Be careful on route PA-305 as you climb Stone Mountain (mile 53) where there is not much of a shoulder.  Try to stay in the shoulder as you struggle up Tussey Mountain on PA 26 (mile 67) as cars whiz by at ridiculous speeds.  Ditto for PA-45 as you leave Woodward (mile 109).  Fast descenders usually occupy the lane on the way down as speeds of 45-55 can be easily achieved in an aero tuck.

Rutters at the Milroy control is undergoing a facelift and construction activity limits access.  I elected to use the Subway.  Don’t pass on the homemade chips at Doan’s Bones BBQ in Whipple Dam.  My achievement of the day was keeping down the cheese and pulled pork BBQ sandwich as I ground my way up Tussey Mountain.

There are four epic climbs on the route separated by even more climbing.  I used a 34 in the front and back and wished for a lower gear at times.  I didn’t have to push my bike up any of the grades in spite of my advanced age and mass.

All in all, the Rusty Rail 204 combines a magical mix of beauty and suffering.

Bonne Route!

-Steve


Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Ride Report: Fall Classic


Sunrise at Cafe Metzler

It was a near-perfect day for cycling said most of the 13 riders who clipped in for the 14th annual PA Randonneurs Fall Classic brevet & populaire.  All 13 riders completed their chosen routes within time for two 100% completion rates.  Congratulations to all!  Preliminary results are posted on the website (200k and 150k) and will become final once submitted to RUSA.

We haven't ridden the Brandywine route in quite a few years though bits and pieces of the route were used in last year's RUSA 20th Anniversary Brevet.  Everyone enjoyed the routes now that they had a chance to experience it in the daylight.  Cool morning gave way to comfortable cycling temperatures with partly cloudy skies and very light winds to make it pleasant for all.  The always popular Cafe Metzler awaited finishers with a burgers and beverages to cap off great rides.  We even managed to get pictures of the field.

Kathleen C.

Eric K.
Jeff L.
Jeff B.


Tim C.
Paul C.
Tom D.
Pernot H.
Greg K.
Joe R.
George R.
Steve S.
Paul W.
As always I owe much thanks to George and Erin Metzler for hosting this brevet.  This year was the 11th year that George and I have collaborated on a brevet featuring Cafe Metzler.  All have been well received by the riders and all have been great fun to put on.  Thanks George!  We even managed to get out during the day to scope out some new roads that might appear in a future brevet .

Next month we head a little further west to Miflinburg, PA where Steve Schoenfelder is organizing the inagural Rusty Rail brevet on November 2.  Word has it that the Rusty Rail Brewery is home to the largest brewpub in Pennsylvania.  You wont want to miss it.  Registration is open on the website through Halloween.  We plan to return to Easton in December.  Stay tuned for details.

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA




Wednesday, September 25, 2019

The 14th Annual PA Randonneurs Fall Classic

** October 6 Update **
The course checkouts are finally complete.  Updated cue sheets for the 150 and 200 routes are available on the website.  You'll want to make sure you're using the October 7 update versions.

Course notes:

Both routes are the same until they reach the control in New London (around mile 56).  Here the 200k riders will head south into Maryland while the 150k riders will take a more direct route to a control in "the Buck."  This control is shared with the 200k route so riders may overlap on the approach to the control.  Riders are cautioned that the two routes do NOT follow the same roads leaving that control.  The routes do rejoin for the final miles into the finish at mile 118/88.

The 200k route uses the Enola Low Grade Trail for approximately 8 miles.  This portion of the trail has a very nice compacted stone dust surface that is suitable for even the skinniest of bike tires.  There is an information control as you enter the control.  You'll want to follow cue instructions carefully to make sure you're heading in the correct direction.  Leaving the trail is the tricky part since visual cues are difficult.  There are three spotting cues provided on the cue sheet ahead of the trail head where you'll want to exit.  It is technically possible to continue on the trail past that point, but you'll notice rapidly deteriorating surface conditions.  And unless you're extremely familiar with the trail and surrounding area, finding the little path you'd need to take to get back on course would take lots of luck.  This picture shows the rather nondescript nature of the exit trail head.


Careful review of the cue sheet and route before the brevet is strongly advised.  I don't expect you'll have to deal with foggy conditions in the photo.

Both courses are challenging, but very enjoyable.  The cue sheets will guide you well.

Registration remains open for both events through this Thursday, October 10 at midnight. 

Andrew Mead
event organizer
Eastern PA RBA



** Original Post **

The 2019 Edition of the PA Randonneurs Fall Classic 200k Brevet and 150k Populaire is next on our event calendar.  Details for the events are up on the PA Rando website as well as directions to the start-finish.  Registration remains open through midnight October 10.  This year's venue is Cafe Metzler in Atglen, PA.  We've finished quite a few brevets here over the years with great success.  The Fall Classic seemed to be a logical step.  We freshened up good brevet route and incorporated a short cut for the popluaire riders.  The routes are the same for the first 100k which should give everyone time to ride together.

Speaking of schedules and traditions, the 2020 calendar of events to RUSA and  loaded the dates into the PA Rando website.  You can find a convenient calendar-style version HERE.  The RUSA database will soon reflect this schedule along with an initial guess at the proposed route.  The dates are firm; the routes may change as we continue to develop new routes.

There are 16 events on the schedule, including our SR Series, a monthly brevet, the Fall Classic 200/150, and the Flèche.  We're going to try the Velodrome finish again and hope for dryer weather.

There is a populaire scheduled on March 8 (Sunday) for International Women's Day.  Dawn Pietch of Wisconsin Randonneurs is working to  draw a little attention to women in our sport; a commemorative patch is promised to all participants.  It is likely that one or two more populaires will be added to the calendar as the year progresses, but I hope to take advantage of RUSA's short-turnaround event addition policy and cherry pick some good weather dates.  In the meantime, I'm working on several new populaire routes to bolster our capability.

The biggest news for 2020 is that five different organizers will help turn the schedule into reality.  It promises to be a good year.

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA


Sunday, September 8, 2019

Ride Report: Portland-Stillwater 200K

It was a beautiful day for a bike ride along the Delaware River and through the hills and dales of Northeast New Jersey. All 19 of the 19 riders that clipped in made it to the finish in good time for a 100% completion rate.  Preliminary results for the Portland-Stillwater 200K have been posted on the website.  Please review the results and let me know if they align with your memory.  The results will be submitted to RUSA later in the week and will become official once certified by the ACP.

Although sunny and mild, the weather wasn't entirely perfect, as there were some reports of swirling gusts and destabilizing crosswinds. Perhaps these were remnants of hurricane Dorian, or perhaps  they were the wake of Scotty Steingart who zoomed through the 202.8 km course in six hours and fifty-three minutes.

An interesting fact is that Chris Maglieri, who clipped in to ride the Portland-Stillwater today, also clipped in the last time this course was ridden. That was back in November 2013, when Chris rode this brevet as his first PA event. Back then, he joined fellow riders Tom Matragano and Peter Phillips to set the course record of 7:58. Chris actually broke his old record this go-around with a 7:36, which is a  pretty darn fast time too. 

Several newly minted (and newly re-minted) PBP anciens were in attendance. Riveting stories of glory and woe in France were shared over pizza and beer at Theresa's after the ride. Congratulations and well done to all.

George Retseck and Andrew Mead (on right)
think about riding PBP in 2023.

Steve Schoenfelder writes:  "Thanks for organizing a great ride!  The most memorable aspect was the absence of suffering.  The course was picturesque passing through shaded country roads and the weather was ideal, with bands of clouds keeping the temperatures in the pleasant range.

Andrew Mead not suffering.


Vadim Gritsus writes:  "Thank you for organizing yet another glorious brevet!  PA rocks!     

One of the Lackawanna Tunnels
Whatever the cause of the winds, the approach of Autumn was clearly visible on the trees along the course. In a little more than a month, Fall colors should be here in earnest. That will be just in time for you to enjoy the foliage riding your bike over a new, relocated Fall Classic course, this one starting and finishing at Café Metzler in Atglen, PA. Both a 150K populaire and 200K brevet distance will be offered, along with a post-ride food buffet and selection of re-hydration options. See you there!


Monday, August 26, 2019

September R12: Portland-Stillwater Oldie but Goodie

The R12 event for September revisits a route we haven't ridden in over five years: a loop up to Stillwater Lake that starts/finishes in Portland, PA. You will travel over familiar roads, but at unfamiliar states of fatigue (or lack thereof). It's a beautiful loop with two significant climbs. The finale of the ride passes under the Paulinskill Viaduct and through two Lackawanna tunnels. For full information about the ride, and to register online, see the event web site.

Paulins Kill Viaduct


The old route out of Portland has held up pretty well over the years. The start controle, once a diner, then a bagel shop, is now a Dunkin'.  Nevertheless, some issues on the course needed to be addressed. The cuesheets and RWGPS route have been updated with detours and important safety notes. Make sure you have at least version 3 of the cues, and GPS route updated on or after 26 August 13:17 EDT.

Note that parking at the start of the ride in not at the Dunkin' Donuts. Rather, please park at the Portand Park-N-Ride lot just south of the toll plaza and the railroad tracks crossing River Rd. Speaking of those tracks, you'll likely cross them three times: too and from the Dunkin' and then after the finish. They are angled a bit, and might be slippery, so be careful when you cross them.

The finish of the ride is at Theresa's Pizza.  This is not where your car is parked. There is a very short, all downhill coast back to your car at the Park-N-Ride.




Organizer Chris Nadovich conducted a course check-out pre-ride on August 24th. Here are some course notes:

I lucked out for my pre-ride. It was ideal weather: high 50s at the start moving to low 70s by mid-day. I hope the day of event has equally nice weather so everyone can appreciate this beautiful course.

There was very little of concern on the course, roadway wise. Most of the pavement was in good to excellent condition. Mind the railroad tracks near the start/finish. Stay alert for the occasional gravel patch, pothole or storm grate, and take care riding on or crossing busy roads. Otherwise, enjoy the ride.

mile 40.8 -- Originally, Bridge St bagel was listed as the controle stop in Milford, and this is an excellent place for breakfast. Unfortunately, later in the day I found it quite busy. When I was there (10 AM) the line was out the door. To mitigate against this problem, the Milford controle is now listed as an open controle. If the bagel shop is too busy, good alternatives are the Milford Market and the Citgo. 

mile 70.7 -- This Shell station is the last controle with services sure to be available. Please replenish here, as there are slim pickens for the next 45 miles. The RDJ deli at this Shell makes a decent sandwich.  When I arrived there was only one person minding the store (the woman owner who's kids are named R, D, and J). She was very nice. I had no trouble getting my order quickly, there were few customers, but be sensitive to the possibility of delay if the place is busy.

mile 95 -- Slower riders may not reach the  Millside Cafe (mi 95) before the kitchen closes (3PM). And the Geo. D. Garris General Store in Stillwater (mi 109) closed years ago.  If you're desperate for provisions and Millside is closed, there are services in either direction on Rt 15 about a mile off course. Also, if Millside is closed so you can't get a signature for your card, please answer the info question.

mile 115 -- The Rt 94 bridge in Blairstown is still under construction. There was only one lane open and a traffic light meters one-way traffic through in alternating directions. Instead of waiting your turn and braving the highway traffic, the cues have been revised to take you over the Paulins Kill via the Footbridge in "Footbridge Park". It adds a little distance but is a much more pleasant way to cross the creek. Note too that the Paulins Kill is the same creek crossed by the Paulins Kill Viaduct (121.2), and you will re-cross the Paulins Kill on the Station Rd bridge (121.6).

Entrance to Footbridge Park in Blairstown


Monday, August 5, 2019

Ride Report: YARRR 200K

The relatively small field make quick work of a the challenging course through the Philly suburbs. All 5 of the 5 riders that clipped in made it to the finish in good time for a 100% completion rate.  Preliminary results for the 2019 edition of the Yet Another River to River Ride (YARRR) 200K have been posted on the website.  Please review the results and let me know if they align with your memory.  The results will be submitted to RUSA later in the week and will become official once certified by the ACP.

The YARRR route is challenging both for the climbing and for the hot summer weather that usally accompanies it. Route detours to avoid  flood damaged roads added some to the climbing, but the weather was better than usual. A threat of storms (that never arrived) kept temperatures in the tolerable range.

One of the highlights of the YARRR route (especially in the warm weather) is the Sundae School ice cream shop. They run their air conditioning at full blast, have good places to sit down, and serve a wide variety of flavors. Joe Ray opted for some  salted-something-smores confection in a shake. "It was delicious," he reported, "but the chunks of graham cracker kept getting stuck in the straw." Ahh, the hardships we randonneurs face.

A few of the "hardships" at Sundae School
With PBP only a couple weeks away, most riders are tapering their miles and getting ready for travel to Paris. Nevertheless, three of the five riders that clipped in for YARRR are bound for France: Greg Keenan, Joe Ray, and Paul Weaver. All three seemed most prepared for that grand randonnee. Bonne route to all three of you, and to all Pennsylvania Randonneurs and rando friends throughout the rando community!



Coming up next, the September event is the final ACP brevet on the calendar, a very old 200K route out of Portland, PA that we haven't run in a long time. Visit the event web page for all the details.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

August R12 Event: Yet Another River to River Ride (YARRR)


The R12 event for August is a special edition of the Yet Another River to River Ride (YARRR) 200K that highlights the destructive power of rivers. For full information about the ride, and to register online, see the event web site.

As a result of damage from recent flooding, there were numerous issues on the course that needed to be addressed. The cuesheets and RWGPS route have been updated with detours and important safety notes. Make sure you have at least version 2 of the cues, and GPS route updated on or after 7/25 10:09.

Note that parking at the start of the ride has changed. There are several parking lots on Hugh Moore Island. We gather for the start at the museum parking lot, farthest from the iron bridge. Do not park at the doggy park lot nearest the bridge (where, in previous years, we used to park).

The finish of the ride is at Jimmy's Doggie Stand, just across the Free Bridge from Easton.  This is not where your car is parked. There is a short (3.2 mi) and flat (91 ft) trip back to your car at the Canal Museum. This is a RWGPS route of the return trip to your car.



Organizer Chris Nadovich conducted a course check-out pre-ride on August 24th. Here are some course notes:

Bike riders generally view "Road Closed" signs with some skepticism. Closed to cars, sure, but to bikes? In most cases, bikes can safely sneak through where our four-wheeled companions fear to tread.  Unfortunately, in this year's version of the YARRR 200K, almost all the road closures meant: closed for everyone. Unless you include rock climbing gear and an inflatable kayak in your rando kit, these closed roads were convincingly closed to bikes.

In addition to the busted-up roadways and bridges, several road segments had patches of sand and gravel deposited by recent flooding. Please keep an eye out for these, especially on turns.  

Mile 6.6 -- The first big obstacle I encountered was on Easton Rd, at what would have been mile 6.6 on last year's route.  Where previously there had been smooth pavement, now there is a 100 foot wide, 50 foot deep gap. Errr... not going that way.   Unfortunately, "that way" led to a smooth, downhill glide into Hellertown. The only reasonable detour turned out to be Apple Rd, which is a climb over the flank of the Kohlberg. Sorry. Although it should be said that Apple Rd is very pretty. It is. Really.

Mile 15.3 -- Most of the crushed stone surface of the Saucon Rail Trail is very firm and easy to ride, but there's a short bit of soft stuff just past the library in the town park. It looks like they very recently put down this junk. It feels more like beach sand than suitable riding surface material. I made it through upright with my 35mm tires. Skinny tire riders might feel more comfortable on foot. It's a very short section. 

Mile 34.1 -- Last Friday the Macoby Creek flooded and corrugated a section of Hoppenville Rd adjacent to the bridge.  Although there are "Road Closed" signs, in this case bike riders should be able to dismount and make it through on foot. The bridge seems intact enough, although I wouldn't go too near the potholes -- some of them are portholes for quick access to the creek below. The detour for this damaged bridge is Reihman Rd, a big climb and a bonus mile. I felt the bridge was worth crossing.  You make up your own mind.

Mile 34.9 -- Immediately after the Macoby Creek ford, you cross PA29, Gravel Pike, and go straight onto the Perkiomen Trail. The trail is unmarked here. It looks like a gravel driveway for the industrial and trucking equipment facility to the right. Soon enough you'll see a Perk Trail sign and cross the creek on a trail bridge, so you'll know you are an the right path.  The Perk trail is nice here, except the last bit approaching Green Lane Park, where the surface becomes a little soft. Pedal steady through it and you should be OK. Taking this piece of the Perk trail avoids a very difficult uphill left turn off PA29 onto Hill Rd, which has been a problem in the past.

Mile 48.3 -- Speaking of dicey bridges, we again cross the defunct Keim St bridge. This may be the last time we cross it, as they have recently constructed a beautiful bike and pedestrian walkway on the new 422 bridge. Unfortunately, although the new bikeway on 422 is beautiful, it's also inaccessible, locked behind tall chain-link fencing. The approach ramps to the bikeway are not yet complete, delayed by (you guessed it) issues caused by flooding in and around the Schuylkill River. This is the last major missing piece of the Schuylkill River Trail. When it is complete (real soon now) you'll be able to ride from Philly to beyond Reading, all on trail.

Mile 48.8 -- After crossing the Keim St bridge and turning left, you'll find that PA724 is under construction. I had to walk my bike through on the sidewalk. I don't know what the state of things will be on Saturday, but I think you should be able to get through somehow.

Mile 49.1 -- This right turn onto Vaughn Rd and subsequent detour bonus miles are courtesy of an obliterated bit of Old Schuylkill Rd. Trust me that I tried to make it through the "Road Closed" segment on Old Schuylkill, but I felt that there was no safe and legal way to do it. Nor would I advise cheating this detour by means of PA724.  That "road of doom" concentrates high speed car traffic and does not have a viable shoulder.

Mile 54.0 -- At the PA724 crossing in Parker Ford we join the Schuylkill River Trail. In the past, the YARRR route used a rolling, zig-zaggy path through Spring City. The new routing on the SRT smooths this all out and brings us into downtown Phoenixville on a mixture of pavement and firm gravel.

Mile 71.0 -- There is water in Evansburg SP to the right down past the pavillion. Pull the well handle up and then reverse it a little bit -- it's cold and very wet.

Mile 76.9 -- It looked like they were getting ready for some re-paving here, but I had no trouble getting through. A detour, if required, should be easy and obvious (probably Morris Rd to Upper Mainland).

Mile 82.7 -- It's not a controle, but there's a WAWA here. My guess is you will be hot and thirsty and in need of a break. You can stop here, or you can ride a little further to the ice cream shop at mile 85.

Mile 110 -- Milford Market. Food, water, ice, and beer.

Mile 122.4 -- Oberly Rd.


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Chris Nadovich