Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Pagoda 200K Pre Ride Course Notes

*** UPDATE 1 ***

On 14 March, another pre-ride was conducted by yours truly, Chris N, checking out  some of the tweeks proposed by Monday's pre riders and verifying the cue sheet.

As did the pre-riders, I found this scenic course to be challenging.
Here are some detailed course notes.

mile 12.8 -- The sign says Sedersville 1 (trivial cue typo -- not a big issue).

mile 26 -- Bad storm drain at corner

mile 54.7 -- There is a "well intentioned" bike lane on Skyline Drive. Unfortunately, this lane is covered with debris in many spots, especially at the beginning and at the end. It reminded me of the crap found on the Fox Gap shoulder. There are also annoying rumble strips separating the path from the road. The most hazardous section seemed to be the descent just past the fire tower. There is a large fallen tree in the bike lane that might be hard to spot in time. Climbing on the clear sections of bike path should be fine, but be wary of the Skyline bike path on the descent.

mile 57.4, 58.5 -- there are three switchback triangles on the Duryea Drive descent. You make turns at the first triangle near the top and the third triangle (1.1 miles later), and there are cues for these turns. You don't turn at the second switchback triangle (just past the first) and there is no cue to indicate this lack of turning. I found that situation a little confusing as these first two turns come quick, so I slowed down. Should you mistakenly turn at the second triangle you'll be sorry as you could end up 500 feet down the mountain in a jiffy and you won't be anywhere near the course. Pro tip: take your time going down those switchbacks and put a priority on navigating correctly.

mile 58.6 -- Clymer Rd is after the switchbacks. Clymer is a pretty steep descent too. Unlike the Duryea switchbacks, which are wide and clear, Clymer has lots of parked cars. Take the lane, be alert, and control your speed.

mile 59.1 -- Perkiomen Ave is a key part of the route change that avoids the Schuylkill River Trail. Ironically, the road surface on Perkiomen/bus422 is pretty bad. Not quite Old Mine Rd bad, but pretty bad. The irony is that we switched the course to this "paved" road to avoid some issues on the unpaved SRT. So, when you are bumping along, climbing up Perkiomen Ave, console yourself with the thought that at least there's pavement to bump along on.

mile 61.6 -- I totally missed Hearthstone Dr. Try not to do this, but should you make the same mistake I did, at the bottom of the steep hill that you really don't want to climb back up, you'll see a "Closed" tunnel under the RR tracks on your left. Go through that short tunnel if possible (it was easy when I did it) and you'll find yourself back on course at mile 63.1

mile 77.9 -- I had no trouble crossing the dam. Can't say the same about climbing Hemlock.

mile 84.0 -- The street sign for Lane Rd is blocked by a tree. As you are probably descending fast on Weisstown, it's pretty easy to miss this turn.

mile 87.2 -- In truth, Hemlock isn't all that bad in itself, but it's one of many climbs that are all bunched up between Danial Boone and Longacres.  When you make it to Longacres, I assure you, you will deserve that  ice cream.

mile 110.1 -- I hit PA412 at weekday rush hour. It was very, very busy. My hope is that on Saturday traffic won't be nearly as bad.  If I'm wrong, I recommend you use your best city traffic bike skilz to make sure the cars see you and take you into consideration.  That's what I did. It's only a 1.2 mile segment. I didn't piss off too many of them.

mile 122.0 -- The endgame cues from the 25th St bridge onward are all designed to avoid climbing up 25th street, which is always busy. Still, there's a 600 ft section of 25th street that you must climb to make a Left onto the bike trail. The way I do it is to wait patiently at the stop sign at the end of Front St till there's a big gap in uphill traffic. A BIG gap -- as in no cars coming at all. If you do that, you'll have no trouble safely climbing and getting set up for the left turn. 

There is considerable gravel and grit on many turns.

-- Chris Nadovich

*** Original Post ***

On Monday, 11 March, a pre-ride of the Pagoda 200K course was conducted by volunteers Janice Chernekoff, Cecilie Gaffney, and Patrick Gaffney. As a result of their observations, there has been a significant route change for the Pagoda 200K.

Because of lingering deep snow and the possibility of flooding, all the rail trail segments in the Pagoda 200K have been bypassed with paved routing. Specifically, the Schuylkill River Trail segment out of Reading, and the Saucon Rail Trail segment out of Coopersburg have been bypassed.

Cue sheets and RWGPS routes have been updated. Be sure you use the R3 route. See the event page for all the latest details.

Pre-riders report conditions on the route are fine otherwise. Be alert for grit and gravel on many turns, remains of winter maintenance. Most of the roads are low traffic, but there are a few crossings of busy streets without the assistance of a traffic light. Take your time and pick a safe moment to cross -- walk your bike if necessary.

Although construction equipment was present on the Trout Run Reservoir spillway (mi 78), no construction activity was seen. If at all safe to do so, cross the reservoir here and climb Hemlock Rd. Hemlock is steep, but the detour is longer and just as steep.

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