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.

Chris Nadovich

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Ride Report: Hawk's Nest 200 (The Bushkill-Lackawaxen Variation)

Preliminary results for the Hawk's Nest 200k have been posted on the website.  Please review the results and let me know if they align with your memory.  What is normally one of the easier routes on the schedule challenged a few riders with only 16 of 19 starters finishing in the allotted time.  At least all were accounted for at the finish.  The results will be submitted to RUSA later in the week and will become official once certified by the ACP.

The inaugural running of the Bushkill Lackawaxen 200k got off to an incredibly inauspicious start when Steve Castellano crashed at mile .1 while crossing the RR tracks just past the PA Welcome Center (this was not welcome).  Steve hit his head and cut his lip but, in true Randonneur style, lobbied hard to continue his ride.  Fortunately intelligence quickly ensued in the form of George Retseck who dissuaded Steve from that questionable decision.   We took Steve back to the start and with a little ice against his upper lip, Steve got home safely after a short stop for coffee.  I suspect we’ll see Steve on the next Pa Rando event, he was still pretty mad that he couldn’t continue the ride…..  Steve’s recount can be seen on his blog here:

After sandbagging the ride organizer with some story about riding “easy”, Scotty Steingart set a blistering pace on the event.  Scotty set this time in spite of (1) talking to me at the Bushkill Post Office for about 5 minutes, (2) assisting Ed Bernasky with his first flat repair and (3) riding his “heavy” bike.

Unfortunately for Ed Bernasky, the “first” flat repair with the assistance of Scotty was not his last.  Ed double flatted on the gravel section of the Port Jervis bypass.  Ed decided that fixing flats wasn’t great training for PBP so elected to take a direct route back to the start.

Lamar Chandler’s GPS sent him left on Towpath Road at mile 43.  I suspect his GPS was attempting to be kind to Lamar as that hard right onto Towpath is a steep little kicker.  Unfortunately taking the left on Towpath has 2 unfortunate consequences:

1.       It’s the wrong direction
2.       Towpath turns into SR 590 (just as it does if you’re proceeding in the correct direction).

These 2 facts, combined with a malfunctioning GPS and fatigue after riding hard for 43 miles with a lot of climbing, resulted in Lamar going a long distance off route (mostly uphill).  After getting turned around and climbing up to Eldred, Lamar performed the technique now known as “the Joe Ray” and returned to the Delaware Water Gap with the assistance of the Uber App.

Otherwise, the inaugural running of the Bushkill Lackawaxen 200k was completed without a hitch.   I must say that assisting with organizing this ride was great fun and I want to encourage all PA Randonneurs to take some of the burden off of Chris and Andrew and volunteer to help run these fabulous events.   It’s worth it just to see the incredible organization of the website – it’s pretty amazing.

Bill Fischer

Special thanks to Bill Fischer for organizing the July brevet assisted by Matt Farrell.  Winter and spring were especially busy this year; it was nice to have a month off.  Next up we will return to Easton for Chris Nadovich's popular Yet Another River to River Ride on August 3.  Registration is open now.

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA
Andrew Mead

Sunday, July 7, 2019

July R12 Event: Back to the Mountains

Event details for the Bushkill-Lackawaxen 200k have been up on the website for a while and registration remains open through Thursday July 11.  Many of you will recognize this as mostly our favorite summer route, Hawk's Nest.  Variety is the spice of life.

Organizer Bill Fischer conducted a course check-out pre-ride on the 6th.  The cue sheet has been updated on the website.  Make sure the version you download is the July 7 update.  Bill's notes follow:

The course is in excellent shape with plenty of new pavement and, other than our favorite climb on Old Mine Road, very few potholes.

A few minor issues to keep in mind:

Mile 38.8 – Control 2/402 CafĂ© – We warned the owner that a gaggle of hungry cyclists will be descending on their establishment Saturday.  The staff is friendly and hospitable but warned us that they are typically busy during the time of our arrival and we shouldn’t expect ultra fast service.  We ordered 2 breakfast sandwiches to go and they took about 15 minutes (they were excellent!).  If you are in a hurry, they have a nice selection of muffins and bottled water/Gatorade that will get you in and out in a jiffy.  If you’re not in a hurry, this is a great place to spend a little time and enjoy a great breakfast.

Mile 55.6 – The shoulder of Rte.  97 is under construction at the right turn after crossing the Roebling Aqueduct.   Take extra caution to scan for traffic when making this turn as it’s easy to move into the lane while avoiding the construction.

Mile 59.7 – There is a farmers market starting at 10:00 Saturday in Barryville.   We passed by before it was open but the proprietor was already placing cones in the road.  If you see a backup of traffic next week it may be prudent to take the lane as you approach Barryville to pass stopped traffic and prepare for the Left turn onto Rte. 55 toward Eldred.

Mile 63.7 – The Corner Store in Eldred does not open until 11:00.  Fast riders may arrive before opening.  If you are there early, make the Right hand turn on to Rte 32 and control at Peck’s Market Grocery Store on the left.

Mile 78.2 - Long-time riders of the Hawk's Nest route will want to pay attention as the route takes a quieter, more scenic path through Port Jervis.  While Port Jervis remains an open control, there is a nice ice cream shop along Water St that is recommended.

Mile 81.9 – The Neversink River bridge (after you control in Port Jervis) is still under construction.   Although there is a pedestrian walk on the East side of the bridge, I would recommend that you take the lane and cross the bridge in the traffic lane.  The right turn onto Maple Ave occurs very quickly after crossing the bridge and you won’t want to be crossing both traffic lanes after crossing the bridge in the pedestrian lane.

Mile 109.9 – The pavement on the Old Mine climb is as bad as you remember.

Mile 123.4 – The single lane section of River Rd. aka “the mine field” has been paved Yippee!

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA