Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Chamounix Fall Classic 200K -- Course Notes (updated)

*** Update 1

An additional pre-ride was conducted 11 October by Andrew Mead and Nick Manta. This resulted in a few small adjustments to the cues and the route. The latest cuesheet is Version 4,  from RWGPS route last modified 2020-10-12 17:55:30 EDT.

 *** Original Post

The Chamounix Classic randonneuring events in Philadelphia are almost upon us. For full details on these events, refer to the event pages for the 200K brevet and the 107K populaire.  Check back here at the PA Rando blog for any last minute announcements.

These events will be run with a Free Start procedure under the Covid safety plan. Here's how free starts work:

1) Park your car. Most people will want to park on the left in front of the stables just before you get to the Carriage House. Let's assume this is what you do.

2) Get ready. Since it will technically still be night when we start, you should have reflective gear on.

3) Coffee, water, juice and packaged goodies will be set out by the Carriage House. Help yourself (but don't bunch as you munch). Take the food back to your car or elsewhere in the park.

3) Sometime between 6:30 and 7:30 AM for the 200K (8:30 -- 9:30 for the 107K) casually walk by yourself with your bike and your signed event waiver to the start line.  The idea is that people should come over to start gradually, in onezie-twozies. Not in a bunch. 

4) Drop your signed waiver in the container on the ground. If you forget your waiver, you'll need to ask a Chamounix Cat for forgiveness. If the cat forgives you, go retrieve a blank waiver from somewhere, fill it out, and try again.

5) After you drop your waiver, the starter will record your time on the log and on your card. The starter will then give you your brevet card. Hold it up with your name facing forward. Someone will take a picture of you. You are now started.  A few people will also be given satellite trackers. If you get one of these, put it someplace where it can "see" the sky. It can be in a bag or pocket, just don't pile stuff on top of it.

6) Ride your bike!  And don't go faster than your guardian Angel!

Pre Ride Notes

An official pre-ride of the new Chamounix Classic 200K brevet course was conducted on Saturday 3 October by Iwan Barankay and Chris Nadovich. There were several major course changes that resulted from lessons learned by this pre-ride. At this time, all these changes have been incorporated in our online route data. Make sure you have the latest Cue Sheet (version 3) or GPS route last modified 2020-10-6 12:42:21 EDT. 

Iwan and I started almost exactly at dawn from the Chamounix Carriage house. The weather was cool but not excessively cold. The area at the end of Chamounix Drive was almost completely deserted of people, but there were several cats wandering about the stables. A few of these cats visited us as we were clipping in, curious about the unusual "horses" we were riding. 

Unforgiving Chamounix cat

The first 50 miles of the course is scenic, meandering through the suburban side-streets that give way to country roads in the spectacular countryside West of Valley Forge. There are several classics, like Yellow Springs Rd and Goshen Rd. Be alert at the end of Goshen for the info control, a white cottage house behind a fence on the right just before the turn.

Scenic is also cyclist code for hilly. Slower riders should expect to reach the Morgantown control with only a small amount of time in the bank. Of course, given that all controls are info-controls under the Covid rules, there is no official closing time in Morgantown. Nevertheless, be aware of the front-loaded climbing and don't worry too much if you arrive in Morgantown a little later than you might have expected.  Riders should also be prepared with enough food and water to make it through this tough 50 (although there is no official replenishment along this segment, there are a few Wawas noted on the cue sheet if you are willing to go a bit off course and enter a convenience store).

At Morgantown the course passes several fast food joints and a Sheetz on the left side of 23, but after considering these during the pre-ride, and disliking their high-traffic and the need for a double-left turn to access them across the busy road, the control location was finally set at the more isolated Joanna Store Sunoco. This is on the right at the end of Joanna Rd. It's a relatively quiet location. We hope to have a volunteer at this spot to distribute water to those unwilling to enter the convenience store. Of course those who do decide to enter should wear a mask, even if this store is relatively low-traffic compared to the businesses on the main PA23 corridor.  

After Morgantown the course returns to a familiar route through French Creek that long time PA Rando riders will know well from many 400Ks and 600Ks.  There are a few minor climbs, but most of the route is flat or downward. I found this section to be quite relaxing after the 50 miles of slogging up hills we had just completed. And it was daytime for a change!

Upon reaching the Perkiomen, instead of beginning the climb up to Quakertown as we have done so many times before, the hard work of the ride is now almost completely over as the route joins the Perkiomen Trail to follow creeks and rivers all the way back to Philadelphia. There is a control here as the route joins the Perk trail (smooth crushed stone, mostly firm, suitable for most tires), an info question answered by the wooden signboard at the Crusher Rd trailhead. 

When reaching the Perk Trail control at Crusher, instead of turning right and following the course South, if you turn left and follow the Perk trail North (off course) you'll soon reach Green Lane Park with water and bathrooms. You can then U-turn around, get back on a southbound course, and brag to your friends that you rode the whole Perk trail to the SRT (not just a mere 99.5% of it). 

Chris Nadovich finds the answer he seeks

There are a few spots on the Perk trail where the gravel is a bit soft, so keep pedaling if you hit any this "non Newtonian fluid". Generally speaking, the trail is well marked and easy to follow. Although most of the Perk is through the woods along the creek,  there are a few busy road crossings with traffic signals. Please use the pedestrian call buttons at the traffic signals and wait till the pedestrian sign lights up, white, signalling that it's safe to cross the road.

The Perk trail eventually becomes paved, and then joins the Schuylkill River Trail at an info control (a park bench just after the trail junction). The route is then all paved through Valley Forge and Norristown. At Conshohocken, the route leaves the Schuylkill for a significant climb up Barren Hill away from the Schuylkill, over to the Wissahickon watershed and the renowned Forbidden Drive trail through the gorge.  Again the route is crushed stone, perhaps a little better in quality than the Perk trail surface. Forbidden Drive is one of the most spectacular city park trails in the world. No matter how many times I go through there, I'm always amazed that Philly has such a wonderful resource.

At the base of the Wissahickon gorge, the route Tees left at Ridge. You are now returning to busy car traffic so wake up! But it's not much further. Just over the Falls Bridge, and then one last little grunt up to Chamounix.

There was also a Pre, pre-ride of this course, previously conducted by Iwan and the "Rat Pack". Please refer to those notes as well.  

Thanks for a great route, Iwan. Enjoy the ride everyone. 


Chris N

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