Friday, January 18, 2019

PA Randonneurs Fleche Registration

Greetings PA Randonneur Flèche Teams!

As previously announced, PA Randonneurs has secured use of the Trexlertown Velodrome (officially the Valley Preferred Cycling Center) near Trexlertown,PA as a finish venue for the 2019 PA Flèche. We are very excited by the possibilities this new venue offers.  To participate in this new edition of the PA Randonneurs Flèche, your first step is to register. 

Along with the many other enhancements to the PA Randonneurs website, the capability for Flèche Team registration is now available. You'll find registration links on the Flèche event page, and on the main PA Randonneurs web page.

Registering for the Flèche requires many adjustments from the relatively straightforward brevet registration.  Teams must be created by captains. Team members aren't people, but bikes.  There are limits to the number of team members.  And since each team rides it's own route with specific requirements, the registration system must also know whether a given team has an approved route, all riders have paid, and whether I have completed release paperwork from all riders on the team.

The basic process is as follows:

1. The Captain must register first.  The Captain creates the Team by opting to "Create New Team" and then completing the requested information about the route on the screen that appears.  The information Captains enter, like the team name and team description, will be published on the public web site. Be proud of them. Think carefully about your start time. Preferred start time is 8-9 AM on Saturday so as to finish in time for the breakfast buffet on Sunday.

Part of registration is to specify an on-line link to a map.  Captains should enter the link to the map of the actual route that the team intends to ride so that your team riders can access your ride plan and spectators can be in awe of your audacious journey.  I keep all the map links for initial submittals and control distance checks safely sequestered elsewhere.  Confirm your data entry. As the Team is created, the Captain is also automatically registered through that process. Captains don't need to return again to register themselves.

2.  Once the Captain has formed the team and registered, additional riders can now register.  Each additional rider should opt to "Join Existing Team" which then allows choosing from the list of teams that have already been created.  Hint:  If you do not see your team name with your captain listed, stop and come back later.  That means your Captain hasn't finished the critical first tasks.

3. All riders must select whether riding a solo or tandem bike and list their intended tandem partner. Our system assumes all tandems are two-rider affairs. If anybody is riding a three or greater, let us know. After selecting solo or tandem, the registration process is the same as for brevets and easy to follow.

We have tried to make the process as simple as possible while gathering the necessary information.  The system has been tested to remove most of the bugs.  If you run into problems, drop a line to webmaster Chris Nadovich or to me.  Sometimes a code error screen simply means that Chris was tweaking code at the time you happened by.  Closing the session and trying again in half an hour will usually work.

As registrations proceed, Captains and Team riders will be able to check on the status from the Team Page linked from the main Flèche event page.  All teams are identified, complete with a roster.  Team status is given in real time. There is even a way for riders in search of a team to contact the captains directly with their inquiry, taking the RBA out of the middle of things.

Registration status includes four hurdles:  1) Route approval, 2) Member count (3-5 bikes),  3) receipt of payment, and 4) receipt of release paperwork.  Complete all four and you will be given a green light to ride shortly after rider registration closes.

Outside of the PA Randonneurs website, there are a few other refinements to the process.

I am requesting that the list of controls be submitted in the form of a Flèche card prepared in Jake Kassen's Card-O-Matic application.  If you've never used this system, it's easy and well explained.  I suspect that most of you have used the system before,  If not, now is the perfect time to learn.  Captains so far have been identifying controls on the initial GPS maps they submit for review or in a separate spreadsheet list.  These methods are fine for the initial submittals.  Typical route reviews often require minor adjustments.  Captains can take the final agreed-upon list of controls accomplaying route approval and enter them into the CoM system.  When you complete the card, use the CoM program to "copy" the card to my user account (RUSA ID 3981) which creates a nice record of the approved controls.  Plus you now have your card.

Current guidance from RUSA dictates that I have hard-copy waiver for EVERY RIDER prior to the start.  As the Captains register I will email waiver forms to them which can then be distributed to the team riders.  Captains are responsible to obtain signed waivers from team riders and mail them to me at the earliest possible opportunity.  Even if a rider is not 100% certain they can ride, I can always toss an extra waiver, but I cannot allow riders to start without one.  My only option for any rider arriving at the finish for whom I do not have a signed waiver is to DNS the rider.   

In addition to the RUSA waiver, Captains will receive a copy of the waiver from Valley Preferred Cycling Center, operator of the Velodrome.  Riders wishing to take a victory lap(s) on the Velodrome are required to sign this waiver as well.  I'm asking for these in advance as well so the package of waivers covering the entire field can simply be delivered to VCC representatives and we don't have to concern ourselves with whether one is or isn't permitted to take a few laps.

While it looks like a lot, teams have been taking these same steps for the past 11 years. Get your teams created and routes approved early. The final deadline for team creation is 4 April. That date will be upon us soon. Don't delay, Captains! Our hope is that this will be easier to execute and provide more direct indication of interim status.  Suggestions for improvement are welcomed.  Follow the PA Randonneurs website, email list and Facebook page for updates.

I am looking forward to a very fun Flèche this year.  I hope you are, too!

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA

Monday, January 7, 2019

January R12 Ride Report: Morgantown-Middletown 200

Preliminary results for the first PA R12 brevet of 2019 have been posted on the PA Rando website.  Please review the results and let me know if something doesn't agree with your recollections.  The results will be submitted to RUSA for certification later in the week and become final at that time.

The weather was unseasonably warm for a January brevet.  It was also characteristically (at least for this past year) WET.  Still, all six of the riders who clipped in on Saturday morning finished within the time limit.  A perfect completion record was messed up by the pre-rider who re-learned an important lesson about checking equipment BEFORE the ride.  Changing a tube along the route is NOT a good time to discover that one's pump doesn't work.  There's much more to the story; you'll have to coax it out of me.

Always looking for a silver lining in the situation, Saturday's ride had the following going for it:
- temperatures were in the 40s, not the teens
- the weather forecasters overstated the rain chances.  Instead of non-stop rain, riders faced mostly damp conditions with a scattered shower or two.
- the winds shifted during the day to remain generally at riders' backs all day, a rarity on a loop route.
- it was a great way to test rain gear

Hearty souls gather in the cold drizzle at the start.

Chris Nadovich had this to say:
With the weather forecast predicting a cold, rainy day, some might have worried that the Morgantown-Middletown 200K would be too much of a "character building" experience. Yet it turned out to be a fine ride. How often do you experience the luxury of a tailwind for an
entire 200K loop? Yes, it was a wee bit rainy at times, but the temperatures in the mid 40s kept my raingear from feeling too hot grinding up the endless rollers in Lancaster County. I was comfortable
and happy all day, and when the skies cleared and the morning tailwind turned to remain at my back at the Middletown controle, it was all rainbows and unicorns...

Well, maybe just rainbows, and just till sunset.  After sunset, it was Castor and Pollux on the horizon guiding me back to Morgantown. 

Thanks, Andrew, for yet another excellent tour of Amish country. The Amish in their buggies and bicycles were out in force, especially after dark. I'm very impressed with their lighting systems. The Amish may eschew other tech, but the lights they use on their bikes are as up-to-date as anything a randonneur employs. 

And thanks, Andrew, for hanging out with me, waiting for AAA to come to fix the dead battery on my car. Pro tip for other randonneurs: check to be sure  your lights are off and doors not ajar before leaving your car all day.

At 7 events, Chris is well on his way to a second consecutive PA R-12 event with this brevet.  He is currently the only PA Randonneur with a streak of more than a few rides.

Joe Ray commented,  We had a great brevet yesterday!  Despite the rain it was not a washout, though it was a good test of gear selection.  My hands found their brand new showers pass gloves to be ineffective, but the rest of me was quite happy to spend a day out in the wet.  Anyone have a pair of favorite winter/wet gloves?

The route was quite nice - I had only been thru Cornwall Furnace one prior time and that one did not involve the rail-trail which was quite nice.  Bill, Jan & I passed the pubs along the river around lunch time and I thought for a moment of ducking in for a bite but we were moving along so well it probably would have cost a significant amount of time.  Rutters at the penultimate control may have lacked the ambience of one of those pubs, but I needed some extra carbs and sat for a few minutes after Bill and Jan headed for the finish. 

The sun came out soon after I departed that control around 3:30, along with the wind.  I got a little, er, disoriented in Intercourse but an Intercourse woman helped get me back on track.  Really pleased with finishing the route just as it was getting dark.  The pizzeria had great food and the discussion at the table with Patrick, Jan and Andrew was fun, sharing stories of prior adventures and goals for the year - all in all a super start to 2019. 

Special thanks to volunteer Pat Gaffney who staffed the finish control for the early arrivals.  Even though his plans to conduct a course-checkout pre-ride fell through, he offered a friendly face at the finish until the organizer arrived.

Next up is the Little Britain Brevet on February 2 (Groundhog Day).  Registration is open.  You may notice that the on-line payment option is now live. 

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA