Monday, August 31, 2020

Return of the R12 Series: September 2020, The Free Bridge 200K

After many frustrating months in lock-down, and after some false starts, finally Pennsylvania Randonneurs is able to offer a real, physical-world brevet -- a bridge to freedom, so to speak: the Free Bridge 200K to be held on September 12.   Register online now.

The route is a completely new (and challenging) 200K that visits many familiar places through unfamiliar routes. Terrain is about as varied as can be, including idyllic creekside glides down picturesque hollows, desperate struggles up 18% grades, and bone-shaking rumbles along gravel roads.  The overall course design is a figure-8, allowing riders to return to their cars at roughly the 100K mark to resupply if they choose to.  The route passes Wawas and Turkey Hills, but all controles are optionally info controles; riders are not required to enter any businesses.  That said, all riders must have masks at the start and finish. Masks are required if you do choose to enter any of the businesses.

Pre Ride Report and Course Notes
A pre ride was conducted on 30 August by a very distinguished bunch:  our former RBA, our current RBA, our wannabe RBA, and our don't-wannabe RBA:  Rosenbauer, Mead, Nadovich, and Olsen.  The weather was about as perfect as anyone could want for a bike ride, with moderate temperatures in the mid 70s, and intermittent sunshine.

The pre-riders found the course to be in good shape with one significant exception. River Rd, south of Portland, is closed. Impassible bridge construction blocks our usual route along the river. This blockage is expected to last up to 18 months.  We found a new way to go. Maybe a better way -- assuming you like gravel roads. Although adding about 200 ft of climbing (including some up gravel) the detour route cuts about a half mile of distance and includes Shady Lane, a wonderful creekside road that rivals Upper Tinicum Church or Dark Hollow for beauty. 

Indeed there's quite a bit of gravel road on this course. Be prepared. Although one of the pre-riders completed all the gravel-grinds with 25mm tires, most riders will be more comfortable with wider tread.  Some of the gravel road is significant downhill with narrow, blind turns (eg National Park Drive).  Be cautious on these gravel descents.

Tom Rosenbauer grinding gravel on 25mm tires.
The epic climb of the route is the one-two punch of Cyphers-Shire. This occurs about 8 miles after the midpoint controle, which seemed to be almost enough digestion time for a Jimmy's Hot Dog. All the pre-riders liberally deployed their 24" gears.

The cue sheet and GPS files have been updated with notes and changes from the pre-ride, including the route change south of Portland. Be sure you have version 12 of the cues, modified 2020-08-31 11:10:56.

See all the details, including special COVID-19 rules, on the event web page.  Let's ride our bikes!

Special Note: By completing this ride, Tom Rosenbauer completed his first 200K ride in five years. And he completed a properly challenging route to underscore the accomplishment, at that. As many of you know, Tom has struggled with some health issues. We are all very happy and proud to see him battle his way back into the tough sport of randonneuring. Bravo Tom!! Chapeau!!

Special Note P.S.
It was truly a great day to ride a route that is likely to become a crowd favorite.  To revisit many of the well-known places of PA Randonneurs with the man who first introduced us to them was special indeed.
I also recommend the Easton Dog at Jimmys (listed on the menu as a hot dog with everything) and a black & white shake.  Just the right amount of intake to tackle Cyphers.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

RUSA Soft Opening, Take 2

Let's try this again.  Pennsylvania Randonneurs is proud to announce the return to randonnering with the Free Bridge 200k on September 12, 2020.  We’re easing back into things owing to a 5-month hiatus, an abundance of caution, and limitations imposed by RUSA.  For now there are some changes to normal procedures.  I'll try to cover the highlights.

1. ALL registrations for our events will be on-line.
2. Registered riders must arrive at the start with a signed waiver, a cue sheet, a writing instrument, and appropriate safety equipment in addition to the usual cycling gear.  This means that you must wear a mask or suitable face covering to the start.  You'll want to have this with you for the ride as many stores require face coverings in order to enter.  Hand sanitizer, gloves, etc. are up to you.  Riders are expected to follow any CDC, state, or requirements imposed by businesses.  If the store says mask required, wear a mask.
3. Riders should bring their own cue sheet.  Our goal is to be near-contactless.  We want to minimize exchanging "things." Bring your own pen/pencil.
4. Riders will be encouraged to observe social distancing while at the start.
5. In the event the pre-registrations indicate a large crowd, the group will be split into groups that will be started 30 minutes apart.  You will be notified of your start group in advance.  If you are starting in the second group we ask that you arrive late or separate yourself from the first wave starters.  Second wave starters will not be checked in and given a brevet card until the first wave departs.
6. Each rider will be photographed with his/her brevet card at the start.  We are finally putting those barcodes we've printed on the cards for the past year to good use.
7. Merchant Controle: Routes may have merchant controles, but merchant entry and controle signature/receipt is entirely optional. Alternatively, rider can self-sign controle card and text to organizer selfie photo showing rider face and brevet card (name forward) with merchant in background, or provide atm receipt (if outdoor ATM available), or info answer (if question provided), accepted as alternatives to wet signature or receipt from merchant.  We are NOT using RUSA's EPP procedure.
8. Staffed Control on route:  Rider will be photographed by volunteer holding brevet card to display printed name and barcode in the picture.  Volunteers will keep a list, but riders do not sign in.
9. Finish Controle:  Riders will sign their brevet card at the finish and then be photographed by the finish volunteer with the printed name and barcode visible in the picture. Once photographed, riders will deposit their brevet cards in an envelope.
That's it!

Our first event will use a Figure 8 course to allow riders to resupply from their cars at the mid-point if desired.  Staffed controls are also planned so that riders can conceivably complete the entire route without entering a business.

We fully expect to refine our process as we all learn together.  Please be patient with us.

The new restrictions would allow running of the PA 300k, but at this point we are focusing on the remainder of the normal fall brevets, including the October Fall Classic with 200k and 150k options.

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA