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.


  1. What a cast. Congratulations to Tom; it is great to hear he's back on the bike!


  2. Well done Tom - great to see you on the bike!!!