The revised cue sheet and RWGPS route have been posted. Be sure you have version R1.
The major change was from mile 182 through 195. The use of the harrowing PA724 and PA23 (a.k.a roads of doom) has been eliminated in favor of Wall St through Spring City. Better I hope. Also, the Phoenixville controle is now an open controle on Bridge St in downtown Phoenixville. There are no traditional convenience stores on that street, but many establishments (of all sorts) are sure to be open. There's an ATM if you can find it. An "interesting" experience is nearly a certainty as you attempt to have your controle card signed or stamped someplace amidst the Phoenixville nightlife on a Saturday night. Tattoos need to have the date, time, and brevet name, or they don't count. Wild stories aren't sufficient; photos or it didn't happen.
-- Chris N
*** Original Post
On Saturday, 6 March, Bill Olsen and I conducted a pre-ride of the New Blue Redeux 400K course. As a result of information gathered on this ride, there are some course changes. Expect a revised cue sheet and RWGPS to be published soon. Watch this space for updates.
PreRide Course notes:
It was a most excellent cool-nice-cool Spring sandwich of a pre-ride. We started out in chilly drizzly fog, ended in the clear and chilly early morning hours, and caught some sunburn from the many pleasant hours of warm sunshine during the mild daytime temperatures. We can only hope that the day-of-event weather is just as agreeable.
Flowers and trees are definitely in bloom. Both of us had some trouble with alergies. Consider adding some non-drowsy antihistamine to your kit.
The course itself, similar in structure to Blue Mountain 400's of yesteryear, seemed somewhat easier to me than those past versions. There are some tough climbs, of course, but they aren't as frequent or relentless as the climbs incorporated into the 200K and 300K this year. If old-farts like Bill and I could finish this 400K with ample time in the bank, then I think most anybody can.
Mile 2.1 -- We found the wooden bridges on the Two Rivers trailway to be quite slippery when wet. As the group will still be together at this point, please be careful to hold your line on the bridges, especially if it's been raining, and to go through the chicanes and bollards with ample space between riders.
Mile 7.9 -- By now most riders should be familiar with the trail entrance here. As the cue says, it's just past the electrical substation, which is lit up. The paved parking lot at the trail entrance is not lit. There are several trail like paths here. The real trail is the middle one: a paved path that doesn't have a private drive or do not enter sign.
Mile 52.6 -- The controle at Blondies is an old favorite for a sit-down meal. The food is great, but many riders might feel it's too early in a 400K to be sitting down for a meal. No worries. Bill and I didn't sit down. We did, however, use the convenient outdoor seating area (with bathroom access) to strip layers and refill water bottles.
Mile 68.7 -- Instead of Blondies, consider the Boyer's Food Mart at Orwigsburg. It's a little hard to spot on the left (by the Santander bank), but it's a great place to grab something to eat. Juices by the entrance, fruits and baked goods just beyond. Bill bought 5 fruit pies for $1. There's a bathroom immediately after the checkout. Girl Scouts selling cookies. Jersey barriers for drying clothes.
Mile 87.5 -- There's a Turkey Hill just off course to the right. This has been the controle in the past. It's the last service you'll see for quite a while. If you haven't stopped at Blondies or Boyers, you pretty much have to stop here for something. That said, since you'll soon be bumping along on the rail trail, maybe you shouldn't fill your belly too much.
Mile 93.4 -- Who's riding a fat bike? They'll be happy with this horse trail. Everybody else will have a saddle sore 911 bumping along a few miles on the pock-marked gravel and dirt surface. Hang in there. When you reach the "No Horses" sign things get much better. Until they don't. There's a short stretch of soft gravel at the very end from the AT iron bridge (99.1) to route 72. Keep pedalling steady through the soft stuff and you should be OK. But riding a fat bike on a 400K doesn't seem so silly now, does it? Nevertheless, Bill was on 23mm tires and he says: "I had no trouble".
Mile 117.8 -- There are at least five pizza joints in Palmyra. Take your pick.
Mile 143.1 -- Follow the cue directions to get through on the left side of the parking lot. After this bit of confusion the Warwick/Ephrata opens up to a very, very nice multi-use trail. The whole thing is quite pretty with trees and other interesting touches. Most of it has a wide, very smooth, crushed stone surface. If you have any of those pies left over from Boyer's, this is the place maybe you'd want to picnic for a while. Maybe take a nap.
Mile 173.4 -- I think it's easy to miss this right turn onto Harmonyville Rd, especially in the dark, but beyond here there's no excuse for missing any turn. Until the unmistakable tee left onto Laurelwood (181.8), you pretty much remain on Harmonyville Rd, which is marked as such. There are lots of twists and turns and crossings, but it's really just still Harmonyville Rd. Even after you reach the town of Harmonyville, you still want Harmonyville Rd.
Mile 191.2 -- We didn't like riding on PA724/23. Didn't like it at all. This section of course will be changed. Make sure you use the new version of the route soon to be posted.
Mile 195.5 -- Downtown Phoenixville is hoppin' on a Saturday night. What a hoot. Look out for drunks on foot and drunks in cars.
Mile 201.8 - 202.1 -- Germantown Pike road surface is terrible. Take the lane and be on the lookout for potholes, rapid-fire, on this descent. Hold on to the bars firmly with both hands, yet somehow signal a left turn. The beginning of Skippack Creek Rd after the left is even worse (if that's possible). Very bad surface. Even worse than the Swatara Horse Trail. Take your time to pick through it and then suddenly, poof! ... beautiful, smooth pavement begins again. There are a few potholes on the park roads (204.5), but not nearly as bad as the beginning of Skippack Creek.
Mile 224.6 -- We had trouble finding the Speedway Controle. Part of the problem is that you will approach it from the back, so you can't really see it till you are right there. And the roads are more like shopping center driveways than actual roads. The cues and GPS will guide you correctly. Trust them. Be aware that you do NOT cross route 309. Once you pass the St Luke Bone and Joint place on your left, you'll see the Ciocca Service Center lit up. The Speedway is just to the right of Ciocca.
|Like this, but at night.|
Mile 243 -- Countryside Lane. The final big climb. The erudite Bill was reminded of Ulysses, Episode Two, “Nestor”, where Mr. Deasy pays Stephen his wages and shows off his savings box. Deasy lectures Stephen on the satisfaction of money earned and the importance of keeping money carefully and of saving it. Deasy remarks that an Englishman’s greatest pride is the ability to claim he has paid his own way and owes nothing. Stephen mentally tallies up his own abundant debts. Bill says, "Chris and my greatest pride on this ride was we rode every climb! (Couldn’t say this about the 300K ...or probably the 600K!) "