Sunday, May 12, 2019

Philly - Pagoda - Pocono 600K -- Course Notes

The following are some important notes regarding the course.

mile 36 -- When leaving the bike trail around Lake Galena, the road up from the lake starts immediately as VERY SOFT GRAVEL.  Don't ride on this. DON'T RIDE.  Don't attempt to make the right turn here while riding. Don't! Dismount, turn right, and walk up the gravel road till you reach a surface you can safely ride. I walked all the way to the top (TL Creek Rd) before I remounted, despite the fact that I have super amazing gravel skillz and 38mm tires. You ain't better than me. DON'T RIDE.

mile 37.7 -- You will need to temporarily become a pedestrian again to go straight across US202 using the pedestrian crosswalk.  Then immediately return to the road.  Don't follow the bike trail yet.

mile 39.5 -- After crossing US202, turn right onto the bike trail. To be precise, this is the multi-use trail off US202 to the left while heading south, not the "bike lane" physically on US202. The multi-use trail is generally nice, but it does require you to follow pedestrian rules at every crosswalk. Please use the buttons and follow the signals. Cars are generally sensitive to the presence of bikes at the crossings, but keep your eyes peeled.

mile 53.9 -- OK, pay attention, especially if you don't know this stretch of Germantown Pike, which passes through one of the busiest Interstate Highway interchanges in the country. Traffic should be relatively light early Saturday, but there will be traffic,  fast traffic hostile to bike riders, despite the ludicrous "Share the Road" signs that indicate PENDOT thinks this is a fine route for bikes.

The fun begins with the left turn at the traffic light at the end of Walton Rd. Choose the middle lane here, allowing you to make the left and get immediately onto the right lane/shoulder. Be cautious about cars entering from side streets and driveways, or right hooks by passing cars, but this right lane/shoulder is usable all the way to the controle.  So far so good.

mile 54.4 -- Don't remove your reflective vest at the controle. Keep it on at least another 0.7 miles.  Remaining super visible on the upcoming leg is important. If for some reason you've removed your vest earlier, put it back on.  Also, now would be a good time to review the terms of the waiver you signed before the ride.

There is still somewhat of a shoulder after you exit the controle, but now you want to start establishing yourself visibly in the right lane. By the time you reach the main mall entrance, the shoulder vanishes. Here you really must be fully occupying the right lane and signalling vigorously a desire to move left to the next lane.  At the Dunkin Donuts the road is five lanes wide and maybe you've made it to  lane 2, second from the right, in 5-4-3-2-1. Almost there. You should try to move left again.

When I say try, I mean try. Don't do anything erratic. With those eyes in the back of your head make sure there isn't fast overtaking traffic before you move left. You want the through lane to Germantown Pike East, which is lane 3, third from the right, in 5-4-3-2-1.

Lane 3 is your best route
At the TFL near Starbucks you will feel like a corpuscle sucked into the atrium of a beating heart that is this interchange. If you've managed to make it safely to lane 3, establish yourself forcibly and visibly. Don't make any quick moves or do anything stupid. Ignore any shouts or horn blasts.   On the other hand, if when passing Starbucks you are still stuck on the right edge of the road by lane 1, perhaps now's the time stop for a salted carmel macchiato, regroup, and try again.

If you are now bravely in lane 3, Germantown Pike East, just hold your line and follow that lane under the three overpass bridges: I-276, I-476, and a railroad bridge.  Should you not be in lane 3, there will be trouble. The two right lanes peel off to the PA Turnpike, and I-476 south.  Not what you want. Even worse is the rumble band that separates exiting/merging traffic between lanes 2 and 3.  It's hidden in the shadows under the middle bridge. B-b-b-b-b-b-bad, bad, bad to ride on. You really want to be in lane 3 all the way.

When you pass under the railroad bridge, you've made it! Make your first right into Metroplex Corporate Center. Phshew! Now you can relax. The next 100K is mostly car-free bike trail. 
mile 66.8 -- There is likely to be a regatta on the river the day of the 600K. They usually close Kelly drive to most traffic beyond the first boathouse (Temple U).  From hereon it make a lot more sense to ride your bike on Kelly Drive than on the trail, as the trail is full of regatta spectators.

mile 126.4 -- Perkiomen Ave has been under construction. It's difficult to know what state it will be in during the 600K. Real Soon Now they will finish the paving. If that happens before the event, you will have a beautiful, smooth Perkiomen Ave to ride on. If not, you will need to figure out where the safest lane is. During the pre-ride, the lanes were in varying states of completion. We chose the light traffic rightmost lane (still unpaved) rather than the paved inner lanes. In some spots we were forced to use the sidewalk to avoid being detoured.

mile 195 -- The section from Wind Gap to the overnight controle will be ridden at night. The roads are dark, twisty, and narrow. Please bank enough time earlier in the brevet so you aren't pressured to ride faster than your guardian angel through this difficult section.  Be especially cautious of the descents, as there are many potholes.

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