Saturday, October 23, 2021

November PA R-12 Event:

Keystone Brevet Co.

Pennsylvania Randonneurs heads to Philadelphia for a 200K brevet starting out of Philadelphia,  in conjunction with the 6/7 November Philly Bike Expo.  The event is being hosted by Keystone Bicycle Co.,  a bike shop owned and operated by 5 Pennsylvania Randonneurs! Yes, that’s right. The volunteers at Keystone Brevet Co., as they will be known for the day, are very much looking forward to hosting you for the start and finish of this brand new event.  The route heads westward for a large loop through Chester County before returning to the city along the Schuylkill River Trail on the way to KBC.  Enjoy light post-ride snacks, check out the shop, and share tales of your epic adventure.  It promises to be a memorable event.  Additional details and registration can be found on the PA Rando event page.  Hope to see you there.    

C.J. Arayata
- organizer

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Fall Classic 200/154K Ride Report

Preliminary results for the 16th annual Fall Classic 200K brevet and 154K populaire have been posted on the website. Please review the results and inform me of any necessary corrections.  The results will be submitted to RUSA in the coming days and become final pending RUSA certification.  Sixteen riders clipped in for the 200K,  and six started the 154K.  All riders in both events finished in good time for a 100% completion rate of the very challenging brevet and populaire.

Riders gather before dawn at the Hugh Moore Park pavilion (photo by Andreas Prandelli)

This the second running of the "Neo" edition route with an Easton Start/Finish. The last time we ran this out of Easton was in 2018.

Sadly, the hoped-for Fall foliage wasn't quite at peak, although there were plenty of fallen leaves. Even without the full Fall colors, riders generally reported that the Neo-classic was just as scenic ever. Scenic, of course, is bike rider code for a steady diet of hills to consume, the climb up Glendon hill at mile 0 being an appetizer for the many hilly entrees ahead. 

A PA Fall Classic vista (photo by Brad Layman)

The start of the 200 was moved an hour and a half earlier than the 154K to allow the two events to finish approximately at the same time, and to avoid too much night riding at the end. This change was very fortunate as rain developed late in the day and into the night.  Riding in the night or in the rain are bad enough separately, but doing them both together is more than twice as hard.  Perhaps the biggest problem nighttime drizzle creates is the impossibility of reading the directions on a rain soaked GPS or  cue sheet.  This issue sent several riders a little astray in the soggy gloaming of the early evening, but Tom Dermody had it the worst. He was  cursed into a bonus tour of the Hexenkopf Hill country just a few miles from the finish.  I guess he still was hungry for more hills? 

When the visibility became limited, some riders exercised maximum caution and restraint. The 154K  lanterne rouge George Brandt commented that once he realized he wouldn't be setting and speed records, he rode as slowly and carefully as possible to try to avoid a mishap in the deteriorating conditions. He ended up crossing the finish safe and sound with less than a minute to spare. 

An alternative strategy for dealing with the foul weather was simply to ride fast enough to miss it.   First finisher John Park  stayed almost entirely out of the rain as he cranked out a sub-9 effort of 8:57 on the hardest 200K in the PA rando repertoire, setting a new course record for this "neo" classic route. With all due respect to John, it should be remembered that Scotty Steingart holds the overall Fall Classic record of 7:42 set on the very similar "classic Classic" course.

With additional due respect to John Park, smart money had expected speedster Brad Layman to be first finisher and set a new course record, but soon into the ride Brad discovered that his freewheel was a little too free -- the pawls were not catching -- and he thought he would need to abandon. Utilizing the under-appreciated "phone a friend" option in the rando toolkit, Brad called Iwan Barankay and received expert bike mechanic consultation and coaching. Whether a full disassembly and cleaning of the freewheel was accomplished roadside without any tools -- or maybe he just squirted some water and oil into the thing. Whatever he did, it worked. Brad was able to finish the 200K at a "mere" sub-sonic 9:14 clip.  

Despite the day's challenges, the exhausted riders still found camaraderie was in ample supply at the finish, with many riders enjoying a picnic provided by the club at the Hugh Moore Park pavilion. After a few bites of a burger and a some ginger ale, I heard many a tale of bold adventure recounted by rejuvenated riders that seemed ready to hop back on their bikes and ride on. 

There were plenty of leaves (photo by Brad Layman)

Many thanks for the volunteers who made the event possible.  Patrick and Cecile Gaffney provided a pasta salad and a yummy cake. Patrick recently recovered from a terrible bike accident.  Pat was looking nicely healed despite his recent ordeal, but photos he shared showed that his poor bike is not so well.  Self described "randonnette" Susan Proulx staffed both the start control registration sign in and the finish control sign out, keeping the brevet machinery flowing smoothly and allowing the organizer to run around blathering gibberish with nervous OCD. Susan also helped with set up and clean up. Rando veteran and Bar-B-Cue novice Bill Olsen took over grilling operations and helped with the clean-up at the end of the event.  RBA emeritus Tom Rosenbauer repaired a last minute problem with the SPOT trackers and came down to the park at the end of the day to help with the clean up. 

Note about the SPOT trackers. It appears that the SPOT company has introduced a new "maps" feature that makes the old tracker URL links obsolete. If you have a SPOT tracker and you shared your tracker link with PA Randonneurs (or anyone else), you will need to log in, sign up for the new "maps" and obtain your new "shared view" tracker link. You can then update the tracker link in your PA Rando account settings -- or just email it to me and I'll update it for you. 



Pat and Cece Gaffney write...

Thanks again for organizing the ride yesterday. What a lovely ride. It had been quite a while since we have done that course and selective memory made some of those climbs a little more brutal, Mountain View Road comes to mind in that regard.  The fall colors and Halloween decorations provided great scenery and the post ride picnic was very welcomed at the finish. Thanks to Chris and Bill for manning the grill.

Joe Ray writes...

As recently as yesterday I had approached this brevet as “let’s see what happens” - very non-committal. The weather forecast, my knee aching both had me thinking negatively. Well I was wrong on both counts. The rain was heavy for a time, but the vast majority of today was glorious; my knee gently reminded me from time to time that I needed to be careful, but that was all. Bottom line this was maybe my favorite fall classic edition yet. Glad for all the socializing afterward and especially for all the work you and the volunteers put in.

 
Interior of the Frankenfield Bridge, one of several covered bridges on the Classic route (photo by Joe Ray).

 


Join us again next month on 6 November for a 200K brevet starting out of Philadelphia,  in conjuction with the 6/7 November Philly Bike Expo. The event is being hosted by Keystone Bicycles,  a bike shop owned and operated by 5 Pennsylvania Randonneurs! Yes, that’s right. The volunteers at Keystone Brevet Co., as they will be known for the day, are very much looking forward to hosting you for the start and finish of this brand new event that heads westward to Chester County.  Find out all about it at the event web page.

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Fall Classic 200K -- Pre-Ride Notes (UPDATED for 154K)

The starting time for the Fall Classic 200K has been changed to 6AM.  Please take note of this change. We moved the start earlier so as to allow most riders to finish in the daylight. Of course, this means the ride starts before dawn -- everyone must have lights and reflective gear at the 200K start.  The start time for the 154K Populaire remains 7:30 AM.  Register for the 200K or 154K at parando.org.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

October Fall Classic: Return of the Neo-Classics


The former Weisel Hostel aka PA Rando Clubhouse

The 16th installment of the Pennsylvania Randonneurs Fall Classic brevet & populaire returns to Easton and a reprisal of the Neo-Classic routes first used in 2018.  These routes pay homage to many stretches of road that have delighted (?) PA Randos for years.  Yes, you will get the Fox Gap (200k only).  And Lomasons Glen.  And Mountain View.  But you can also get the glorious descent on Sweet Hollow Road into Milford and many other extended downhills that lie just over the crest of those climbs.

With the demise of the short-lived Cask Taphouse, the start finish location has been moved to Hugh Moore Park along the Lehigh River.  This location worked well for the Pagoda 200 earlier this year.  Post-ride food and beverage is planned.  Plan to spend a little time after finishing to enjoy the camaraderie of randonneuring and getting to know other riders who you typically only pass in controls.  It will also be a good time to corner the RBA and give him your wish list for future PA Randonneurs events or discuss volunteer opportunities in 2022. 

With less than 11 hours of daylight available, 200k riders will need lights and reflective gear unless you have a history of faster finishes.  All riders are encouraged to get into the winter habit of riding with lights and reflective gear.

Event details and registration for both events is available on the website.  Registration is open until midnight on Wednesday, October 13.  Make plans to attend.  The Fall Classic is always a good time.

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA

      

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Ride Report: Rusty Rail 204

September 11th, 2021 is the 100th anniversary of the first Audax Club Parisien allure libre 200km brevet in 1921.  Twenty six riders earned a brevet on September 11, 1921 on a 200k loop that traversed Paris-Dreux-Chartres-Paris.  One hundred years later, fourteen riders who accepted the challenge of the Rusty Rail successfully completed the 2021 edition of The Rusty Rail 204 and earned 100th anniversary medals (pictured below).

Commemorative medal for the 100th anniversary of the first Audax Club Parisien allure libre 200km brevet in 1921! 

Weather conditions were perfect for this challenging ride that included over 9,000 feet of ascent, with cool morning temperatures to help prevent overheating on the arduous climbs over Jacks Mountain and Ulsh Gap, and welcome tailwinds out of the west assisting the riders to the finish after they turned the corner at Pine Grove Mills.

Seth powers over Ulsh Gap on his way to setting an amazing course record of 7:14


Angie rolls over Ulsh Gap with a smile


The Amazing Sneaker Squad

Ello cresting Ulsh Gap


The Georges conquer The Gap

Chris is not intimidated by 15% grades

Victorious at the finish!


And...after a great day of spinning the cranks, the Rusty Rail Brewery did not disappoint, serving up delicious food and finely crafted beverages.

Chris Nadovich writes:

What a beautiful, beautiful ride! Yeah, I know, The Climbs. But I don't think the big climbs define the ride -- they are the price of entry. What defines the ride are the many enjoyable miles of mild, river valley riding. And if occasionally we needed to do a 1000 ft climb to get to another valley, so be it. The scenery was amazing. It was big and small: from mountain vistas, to charming little streamside farms.  Much of this was missing last time when I rode the end in the dark. From the summit at Jo Hays Vista to the end, that ALL needs to be in daylight to be enjoyed. Thanks for a great course -- a masterpiece -- and thanks to Eric for the water and chat at Jo Hays.


Thanks to organizer Steve Schoenfelder for pushing the RBA for an earlier-in-the-season event date  which allowed daylight finishes, and then making it happen (including perfect weather).  Thanks also Eric Keller for his on-the-road moral support.  There is nothing better than seeing a friendly face offering a cold drink at the summit of a tough climb.  


Results have been submitted to RUSA and will become final pending ACP certification of the event.  If the posted results do not align with your recollections, contact the RBA--soon.


Next up is the Fall Classic on October 16th featuring routes of 200k and 150k starting and finishing at the Hugh Moore Park along the scenic Lehigh River in Easton PA. A cookout in the park will follow the event so plan to hang around and socialize with your fellow randonneurs/randoneuses after you finish riding.  Event details are on the website.  Registration is open and will close on Wednesday, October 13.  Hope to see you there!


Andrew Mead

Eastern PA RBA

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Pub Update


Rusty Rail riders will congregate upstairs (no need to check in at desk) after the ride.  Unfortunately the pub is closing at 8 pm as a consequence of the current pandemic.


Below is a message from Rich Shrader regarding how to order and pay for food and drink at the Rusty Rail:


Hi Steve, the GameRoom will open at 11am on Saturday and will be open until 8pm. you are more than welcome to park in the overflow lot. Best of luck on your ride and we will see you afterwards. Just a few notes on the GameRoom service. I am not sure when you or your other group members were here last. If it was 2019 you will see a different ordering and service method in the GameRoom. It is a QR Code based system that allows you to order from  your phone and pay as you go. The food is then delivered to your location. The same would go for the beer. The menu is similar in size but also has different items on it. If you have any other questions please let us know.

 

Thank you!

 

Rich Schrader

President

Rusty Rail Brewing Co, LLC

570-966-6468

 



Sunday, September 5, 2021

Rusty Rail 204 -- Course Notes


 

Two riders pre-rode "The Rail" on Saturday under ideal weather conditions.  The course was in great shape in spite of hurricane Ida.  The route is entirely paved, but beware of gravel washes on the road from recent rainfall and flooding.

All intermediate controles are information controles (no receipt or initials required, just answer the question) and do not require entry into buildings.  The only timed controles are the start and the finish.  


The Milroy controle at mile 41 (pictured above) features a Rutters/Arbys.  It has good bathrooms, gallon jugs of water, and the usual rando fare.  There is also a Subway located across the street for those who prefer to eat fresh.



Doan's Bones BBQ can be busy when you arrive, so if you have enough gas in the tank to summit Tussy Mountain, you can resupply at a convenience store in Pine Grove Mills (mile 72), located at the bottom of the screaming descent.

Due to the pandemic, the Rusty Rail is only open from 11 am to 8 pm.  So...if you want to kick back and enjoy some local brew after your ride try to finish within a twelve hour timeframe if at all possible.


The Rusty Rail 204 is one of the most beautiful courses you will ever ride and, as an added bonus, features a front yard soda machine (75 cents) at mile 105.

Be sure to use version 5 of the Cue Sheet and use the most up-to-date RWGPS course updated on 9/5/2021.

-Steve Schoenfelder

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

September R12 Brevet: The Rusty Rail 200

The September R-12 brevet heads west (waayyy west) into central Pennsylvania.  Organizer Steve Schoenfelder serves up the second running of The Rusty Rail 204 starting and finishing in Mifflinburg, PA on September 11.  

The route features four epic climbs separated by plenty of rolling farmland and little else.  The finish at the Rusty Rail Brewery* provides an excellent opportunity for carbohydrate replenishment and a time to tell tall tales (some of which might be true).  You can get a sense for what awaits you by reading the ride report from the inaugural event.   Additional details and the registration links are available on the PA Randonneurs website.  Registration is open through Wednesday, September 8.  Don't delay; the registration deadline will be here before you know it.

September also marks the 100th birthday of the Audax Club Parisien (ACP).  Perhaps you read about this event this past winter in American Randonneur (see article on p. 10).  In honor of the occasion, finishers of the Rusty Rail brevet will receive a special medal.

*While we had high hopes of a return to normalcy, it appears that we are not out of the pandemic woods just yet.  For now the planned finish is at the Rusty Rail, but that may be impacted should the brewery shut down or be forced to dramatically curtail indoor patrons.  Be prepared for changes and hope for none.  I will provide any updates here on and the website as they occur.  Don't throw away your cache of masks and hand sanitizer just yet. You might just need them in September.  

Andrew Mead
- Eastern PA RBA

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Ride Report: Hawk's Nest Classic

Results for the August Hawk's Nest Classic R-12 brevet have been posted on the website.  Please review the results to make sure they align with your recollection.  Results will be submitted later in the week and will become official once certified by the ACP.

It is hard to imagine weather conditions more favorable for an August brevet.  Although temperatures were in the 80’s and humidity was high, a slight overcast kept the sun at bay and a light headwind in the afternoon kept cyclists from riding in “stale air”. 

First finisher Scotty Steingart was well on his way to shattering his already impressive course record when he was bitten by the flat bug.  Scotty had a small sidewall tear that was nearly invisible and caused him to exhaust his supply of spare tubes.   Before his flats, the organizers were tracking his progress on his Wahoo locator and were amazed that he had averaged 19.8 mph through the first 110 miles of the course  – truly unbelievable.  Unfortunately, Scotty had to walk the last 5 miles, but he still managed to finish in just over 8 hours.  Chapeau Scotty!

Scotty brings it home.

Oliver Zong gets the teammate of the day award as he stayed with a struggling Paul Weaver.   Paul had to be adieu to Oliver after his legs locked up with cramps at the base of the Old Mine climb.  Oliver soldiered on to the finish but Paul had to terminate his ride.

Greg Keenan managed to finish yet another challenging PA Rando event on a fixed gear bike.  As Henri Desgrange so famously said: "I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five. Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailleur?"

All other starters successfully finished and celebrated their accomplishments with good cheer and burgers, ice cream and pretty much everything else the good folks at the Village Farmer cooked for us.

We’ll see y’all in September for the beautiful and challenging Rusty Rail.  Registration is open  on the website.  The September brevet also coincides with the 100th anniversary of the first ACP brevet.  A special award medal has been commissioned for finishers of brevets on September 11.  More details will follow, but make a note of the significance of the September event for now.

Bill Fischer
- organizer

Andrew Mead
- Eastern PA RBA
 

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

August R12: Classic Hawk's Nest

photo by G. Keenan

Now that summer's heat has arrived Pocono venues continue to offer the best reprieve.  On August 7 we return to Hawk's Nest for our August R-12 brevet with the Classic Hawk's Nest.  This is the original route that follows the Broadhead Creek up onto the Allegheny Front through Canadensis and Promised Land State Park on its way to the headwaters of the Lackawaxen River.  The starting and finishing locations remain the same as in July.  

On July 25, organizer Bill Fischer and Gavin Biebuyck completed a pre-ride of the Hawks Nest Classic Route.  They found all roads in serviceable condition and all control locations open (a welcome relief given the hit-or-miss performance of the Promised Land Exxon over the past three months).

A few course notes:

1.       One lane of Creek Rd/SR 447 is closed in Canadensis.  Please obey the temporary traffic light, the road is too narrow for a cyclist and oncoming car to safely inhabit the lane.

2.       If you didn’t have enough breakfast, at mile 19.2 (shortly after turning onto SR390 on L) First Place Café and Catering has excellent breakfast fare and convenience store items.

3.       At Eldred, the typical control location is not being used and instead there is an info control at the Hero’s Park in front of the Town Hall.  Pay careful attention to the question and ensure you select an answer based on the correct war.  Peck’s Market is open in Eldred, but if you’d like to stop earlier, the Barryville Market at Mile 61.3 (on R) has excellent baked goods and will (fairly rapidly) make you a hot breakfast sandwich.

4.       Speedier riders may arrive at the Riverside Creamery in Port Jervis before their 12:00 opening time.  Woogie’s Deli is 1 block off route at the corner of King St. & US 209/6 – they will gladly initial your card.

5.        Please note that the ride finishes at the Village Farmer and not at the Park-n-ride.

Event registration is open on the website through Wednesday, August 4 so don't delay.  

Andrew Mead
-Eastern PA RBA

Monday, July 12, 2021

Ride Report: Hawk's Nest (Bushkill Approach) 200k

Hawk's Nest Overlook (photo by G. Retseck)

Preliminary results for the July 10 Hawks Nest (Bushkill Falls Approach) have been posted on the PA Rando website.  Please review and advise any discrepancies at your earliest opportunity.

Volunteer Chris Nadovich greeted 16 riders at the start with new riders Olin Johnson and Max Shilvock making their initial appearances at a PA Brevet - Welcome to Randonneuring!

Riders couldn't have asked for better weather for a July brevet.  The skies were slightly overcast and temperatures never exceeded 80 degrees.  A few riders experienced light sprinkles on Old Mine Road but most riders stayed dry throughout the day.

Unfortunately, 6 miles into the ride Shawn Bowles had an unfortunate situation with his rear derailleur and was forced to abandon.  Fellow rider Ello Shertzer accompanied Shawn back to the start.

Sadly this was not to be the last mechanical of the day.  Iwan Barankay had a rear derailleur cable failure but was able to continue with 2 gears. (Experience note:  Avoid the limited gear options when using derailleur limit screws and anchor the derailleur cable to a water bottle cage bolt.  This allows selection of any gear on the cluster.)

The rando award for ingenuity and perseverance goes to Patrick and Cecilie Gaffney who completely wore through their rear tire near Hainesville.  4 more punctures ensued and the team used tubes, patches, boots, wrappers, bank currency and other items from their inventory and borrowed from fellow randonneurs to limp the final 30 miles to the finish.  This author (Bill Fischer) has only witnessed more resourceful tire patching when RUSA#41 completed the Alaska Big Wild Ride on a tire stuffed with grass and tree saplings.

Brad Layman blitzed the course in an excellent time of 7:28.  New riders Olin Johnson and Max Shilvock completed the ride with smiles on their faces and are looking forward to the next brevet.

Also noteable is Nicholas van der Kloot's completion of the PA SR.  This is Nick's second PA SR.  He joins a very elite group of five randonneurs who completed the Pennsylvania series this year.  Chappeau!

The earliest finishers had to navigate around a police roadblock that temporarily closed Broad St..  A knucklehead towing a 28' Sea Ray had a wheel fall off his trailer (another mechanical.....).

Special thanks to organizer Bill Fischer and his able assistant Gavin Biebuyck.  Their individual schedules did not permit a course checkout during the permissible 2-week window.  They rode the route anyway demonstrating that it is possible to ride a long route without a brevet card.

We return to the Delaware Water Gap in August with a repeat of Hawk's Nest using the traditional outbound route along the Broadhead Creek through Canadensis.  Event details and registration are on the website.

Iwan writes:

Thank you for organizing a splendid brevet. As we reached the start we encountered a fog bank on the highway which should have told us how humid the first part of the course would be and indeed before too long we were all soaking in sweat as we rode up to the USPS control. Shortly after the descent I ripped my rear derailleur cable and was stuck in the top gear. Randonneur-style I tightened the rear adjustment-screw to force it into the fourth sprocket so I had two gears 50-14 and 34-14 to choose from which turned out to be fine for 97% of the course with a bit of walking up the steepest parts of the hills.  What pleased me was how little this bothered me as I just enjoyed the much more pleasant temperatures compared to the toaster-600K recently.  Finishing in the shade with a pulled pork sandwich and some rando-banter was a fitting end to a great brevet. Congrats to Brad for an awesome display of athleticism to finish low in the 7h range and to Pat and Ceci for an impressive display of tinkering to make it to the finish despite a whole in their  rear tyre the size of Mars. And congrats to Nic for completing the PA SR series with a big smile on his face!

From Shawn Bowles:
The course was great for the 6 miles I got to ride before my bike decided to break. 
It was nice to see everyone at the start and much thanks to all the organizers and volunteers!

Indeed, Shawn.  It is nice to be riding with friends again.

Bill Fischer
- organizer

Andrew Mead
- Eastern PA RBA

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Hawk's Nest (Bushkill) 200K -- Course Notes (updated)

*** Update 1

Another pre-ride was conducted on 5 July by Chris Nadovich. Some small tweaks to the course were made as a result. The latest cuesheet is version 6 and the latest RWGPS route was modified 2021-07-5 10:53:38 EDT. Full information about this event, as well as online registration, is available on the Event Web Site.

The main change was to use Community Drive at mile 9.5 rather than the segment of US 209. This is the original routing. US 209 was used as a detour for a while (years!) as Community Drive was blocked by numerous tree falls. Now Community Drive is open again. There are a few potholes (not even half as bad as what you'll see on Old Minefield Rd). And it's quiet and pretty -- better than riding on US 209.  

Speaking of rough road, the very end of Railroad Ave -- the segment after the Pump Track -- is rougher than I remember it. The summer plant growth makes the exit at the yellow gateposts harder to see.  Keep a sharp eye for that exit or you will need to switch to a rail bike.
 

*** Original Post

On 6/19 a pre-ride of the Hawks Nest (Bushkill Approach) 200K route was completed by Bill Fisher and Gavin Biebuyck. The cue sheet is spot on with no corrections contemplated. Full information about this event, as well as online registration, is available on the Event Web Site.

Notes on services:

Services are rather limited for the first 60 miles. The Pickerel Inn General Store at mile 25 is open and has convenience store items which you can purchase after browsing their collection of live bait and ammo (spoiler alert, 30-06 shotgun shells are on sale). Sadly the 402 Café (Control 3) fell victim to Covid and appears to be permanently closed. The route organizer will have water and ice for riders.

Port Jervis is an open control with the excellent Riverside Creamery noted on the cue sheet. There is a slop sink in the bathroom of Riverside Creamery for convenient bottle refilling. If riders need additional provisions, Woogie’s Deli is 1 block off route at the corner of US209/Pike St. and King St.

Road Notes:

Traffic on SR402 from mile 24-39 is a little heavier than optimal but the shoulder is generally adequate. After enduring that stretch, riders will enjoy beautiful roads following Decker Creek and the Lackawaxen River.

The Climb to and after Eldred (Control 4) was as challenging as ever; fortunately both The Corner and Peck’s Market are open for business.

The Old Mine Climb at mile 110 has been made somewhat less painful with the recent repaving work. Unfortunately, the last few miles of Old Mine Rd. continues to deteriorate and is rapidly approaching the status of Old Minefield Rd.; be cautious while picking your way around the potholes as you return to the Water Gap.

For riders that have not crossed the I-80 bridge; after crossing under I-80, look to your left and you’ll see a hand rail marking the ramp up to the bridge. At the end of the handrail you’ll take a sharp left to proceed up the ramp and onto the bridge. 

The picture below shows the ramp on the left, which is in between the road you will be traveling (on the right) and Rt 80 (far left):

Ramp up to the I-80 Bridge

You will be facing on-coming traffic as you go across the bridge. This can be somewhat harrowing. It's a very long bridge, which is part of the Appalachian Trail.

 

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Ride Report: Holiday Inn Hollywood 200K

Preliminary results for the inaugural running of the Holiday Inn Hollywood 200K brevet, have been posted on the PA Rando website.  Record high temperatures turned what should have been a cream-puff of a brevet (by PA standards) into a rather difficult affair, as only 6 of the 8 not-heat-acclimated starters finished under the time limit for a 75% completion rate. Congratulations to the finishers and chapeau to all who attempted this event in such hot weather. Please review the results and let me know if something doesn't agree with your recollections.  The results will be submitted to RUSA for certification later on and become final at that time. 

Adam Bowen was riding his first brevet ever. Welcome to randonneuring, Adam!

Daniel Cummings and Oleksiy Guslyakov were riding their first PA brevet. Congratulations on your excellent rides and welcome to Pennsylvania! 

Rando veterans Bob Torres and George Retseck also completed the course in good time. Kathleen Casner had some trouble with the heat and abandoned the brevet in Pineville. Her riding partner Scott Franzen abandoned with her out of comradeship.  

Kathleen and Scott broiled medium rare.

The New Hope control was staffed by yours truly. I found a lovely niche to set up on the side of the road in the shade by a creek.

Despite a helmet glowing red-hot from the record high temperatures, "What heat?" says first finisher Daniel Cummings, pausing for some water and V8 at the New Hope roadside control.

Volunteer Steve Schoenfelder did the pre-ride which involved some on-the-fly rerouting around invisible roads. Steve again went out on the course the day before the event to verify the continued existence of the war torn bridge in Wassergas. After getting up at 2AM Saturday to make coffee for the cranky organizer of the 600K (an event running in parallel with this 200), and after assisting him with the 4AM start of the 600K, Steve ran the start control for this 200, darted out onto the course to staff the Tabora control, and then darted back to the hotel to deal with the caterer of the 600K food and staff the finish for the 200. Steve also did a bunch of other stuff, too extensive to list.  Thanks Steve for your indefatigable support of PA Randonneurs. 

Monday, June 7, 2021

Ride Report: Philly - Pagoda - Pocono 600K

Preliminary results for the final and most epic ride in our ACP Super Randonneur series, the Philly - Pagoda - Pocono 600K brevet, have been posted on the PA Rando website.  The record high heat wilted a good portion of the field, as only 7 of the 12 not-heat-acclimated starters finished under the time limit for a 58% completion rate. Congratulations to the finishers and chapeau to all who attempted this very difficult event. Please review the results and let me know if something doesn't agree with your recollections.  The results will be submitted to RUSA for certification later on and become final at that time. 

Greg Keenan completed a Pennsylvania 600K brevet on a fixed gear, joining an elite club of very few riders who have accomplished this difficult task. 

This ride also completed Greg's sixth Pennsylvania SR series. Only Greg and Guy Harris have ridden six PA SR series. The only person with more PA SR awards is Bill Olsen who has ridden nine. Greg also rode the 400K and 300K fixed, so Greg still needs a fixed-gear 200K this year for a fixed gear SR. For some reason Greg thought the Pagoda 200K would be too hard on a fixie, so he rode that one freewheel. Really? 

If Greg rides a PA 200 fixed this year, he will unseat James Haddad as most recent fixed-gear PA SR badass. James did it in 2018. Records show that Guy Harris and Paul Searce did it in 2013. It's possible that Rick Carpenter also accomplished a fixie SR but Rick doesn't remember for sure and early PA Randonneuring records are spotty. The secret may be locked in ancient rando scrolls buried in the basement of Tom Rosenbauer's house.

Fixed gear fanatic and soon to be sinister nut recruit, Greg Keenan, finishes the PA 600. Volunteers Scott Franzen and Bill Olsen are his welcoming committee.
 

With their 600K finish, three other riders completed the PA SR series this year, albeit on freewheel bikes: Iwan Barankay (2), Vadim Gritsus (2), and newly minted Super Randonneur Brad Layman who was first finisher.

Also, a fifth rider Nicolaas Van Rhede van der Kloot who finished this 600K is still in the PA-SR hunt as he has completed the 300, 400, and 600K PA brevets in 2021 and just needs an PA 200 for his second Pennsylvania SR. He hopes to pick up a PA/ACP 200K later this year. 

Niccolaas is clearly crushed in disappointment upon learning that he doesn't yet qualify for a PA SR despite his achievement in finishing three of the hardest events in the PA rando menu. Just come back and do the Hawk's Nest 200, Nick --- you can ride it with Greg Keenan!

Gavin Biebuyck and Gert Schmitt completed the 600K as well, and are congratulated for their impressive efforts. They are missing a Pennsylvania 300 and/or 400 required for the SR, and these distances will not be offered again by PA in 2021.

Congratulations to these Super Randonneurs, 600K finishers, and all the riders attempting all or part of this difficult event series on any kind of bicycle.
 
And a super randonneur thanks to all the volunteers that made it possible. Volunteer support for this event was phenomenal.  As soon as they were able to speak coherently, the first words out of the mouths of finishing riders was how much they owed to the volunteers. Even the DNF-ing riders were expansive in their praise of the volunteers. With the excessive heat, the inherent difficulty of the course, and the remoteness of some parts of the route,  the volunteers made finishing possible for many, and survival possible for all.
 
Setup and registration at the Holiday Inn Express were handled by Steve Schoenfelder and yours truly, Chris Nadovich

Riders assemble for the start of the Philly-Pagoda-Pocono 600K brevet
 
The first volunteers that riders encountered on the course were the Rah-Rah Rocky Squad at the Rocky statue by the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Members of the squad included: CJ Arayata Woody Felice, Nick Manta, Ryan Stanis, Zack Rachell, Pat and Cece Gaffney, with their volunteer dog, Connie
 
The importance of volunteers at this location is not possible to overstate.  It's not the food and water they supply -- the riders are hardly depleted yet. Rather it's about the energy.  No other moment in this 600K has as much positive vibe, and the impulse of encouragement riders receive here needs to last them more than three hundred miles further.  It's like launching a moon rocket -- you need to give it a forceful shove at the start to be sure it's still moving forward at the end.   
 
Rider George Metzler chats with CJ Arayata at the Philadelphia control. In the background are cats of the Philly Rocky Rah-Rah Squad (PRRRS), and their only dog member, Connie.
 
 Volunteer CJ Arayata, after herding with the Philadelphia RRRS cats for a while at the Art Museum, went out solo to the Morlatton Village control to staff that location, ensuring that riders found their way to the SRT detour, and providing one last impulse of enthusiasm before the climb to the Pagoda ends the party. 
 
Vounteer CJ Arayata helps George and Vadim replenish at the Morlatton Village Control
 
CJ also snapped a bunch of pictures.
 
Bill Slabonik staffed the control in Fleetwood. This location is reached immediately after completing the Pagoda climb and the rolling transit of  the McNight pass through the Reading prong of mountains. The temperature was peaking and riders finally knew that the party was over. Bill was the first in a series of volunteers who helped riders in the battle they would wage against the siren song of quitting the ride. Unfortunately, there were two DNF casualties in Fleetwood and Bill unselfishly drove these lost souls back to the start finish. Thank you so much for your efforts, Bill!
 
 
Jan and Vadim thinking that the canoe might have been a better choice on this hot day.

The course segment Between Fleetwood and Wind Gap is generally flat and can be beautiful and invigorating to ride on a mild day. Unfortunately, the record heat turned the big-sky exposed farmland into a hellish furnace. The volunteer fireman in this course segment was none other than RBA emeritus Tom Rosenbauer, who roved the sun soaked land handing out ice socks, water, and words  of encouragement. Sadly, two more PA SR awards went up in flames here, the riders opting to return to the start by bike, using the cool, shady, D&L trail along the Lehigh.

Wind Gap is the gateway to a final course segment leading to the overnight. This final segment is, without a doubt, a supreme test of mental and physical endurance. There are several big climbs, countless small ones, and many long grinds through a remote area with little or no services.  Most riders do this segment entirely in the dark.  Despite these near insurmountable challenges, all the riders who crossed the mountain at Wind Gap successfully made it to the overnight. Their success is a testament to their will power and their strong legs, but it's also in no small part due to the volunteer efforts of Ed Bernasky who dashed here and there through that darkness,  maximizing every rider's chances of success. 
 
Ed had already helped out at both the Fleetwood and Wind Gap controls, but his real contribution was after midnight  in Promised Land, where the we-are-open-24-hours (but not in a row) Exxon control turned out to be shuttered. As one example of his fine o-dark-thirty volunteer work, Ed had been distributing tea to the riders and this turned out to be so popular and valuable that his supply emptied.  Worrying that Nick and Vadim would go without, Ed darted down to Hawley and back to have two teas waiting when the riders arrived at the service-less Promised Land control. 

4 AM tea delivery courtesy of volunteer Ed Bernasky

Ed shepherded six weary riders to the overnight at Pine Grove Cottages, where volunteers Andrew Mead and Jim Bondra did their best to rest and rejuvenate them. Juevos rancheros del Bondra with a side dish of mac-n-cheese smothered in salsa was washed down with Folgers. The coffee was made with real spring water by volunteer and 2AM coffee artisan Steve Shoenfelder, who helped the 600K several other ways, not to mention almost single-handedly running the simultaneous Holiday Inn Hollywood 200K brevet.
 
Jim Bondra, el burrito jefe at Pine Grove Cottages   
 
The six riders who arrived at the overnight cottages by bike, left the cottages by bike. Iwan and Brad were on the road 6:12 AM, Greg and Gert at 7:08, and Vadim and Nicholas left at 7:48. Andrew reports that Vadim spent exactly 2.0 hours at the control,  1.5 hours of that was sleep. He was the epitome of efficiency, going from snoring to pedaling in less than 20 minutes:
...it was amazingly efficient. He got up, toted his bag out, ate, filled bottles, and left.
RBA Andrew Mead admires rando efficiency experts Nick and Vadim departing the overnight control.
 
At this point in the story a flashback is needed.  It should be remembered that volunteer pre-rider Gavin Biebuyck a few days earlier also arrived and left the Pine Grove Cottages overnight by bicycle and completed the 600K practically solo. At the overnight Gavin had no support, no drop bag, no Juevos del Bondra, and no companionship. The other pre-rider, yours truly, fell prey to the sirens of Wind Gap and abandoned him almost a day earlier, so Gavin was on his own through that difficult segment. Doing a pre-ride alone and unsupported is a step up in difficulty for any course, but for this course it's a serious undertaking. Chapeau Gavin.
 
To be fair, there was some pre-ride support. Cottage owner Donna Grosso  did set out some fresh bagels, bananas, and instant coffee for us that Gavin was forced to take care of alone (glad to help buddy). Donna has been exceptionally accommodating to PA Randonneurs.
 
Pre-ride support also came from the Philadelphia Rah-Rah Rocky Squad, this time from members Iwan Barankay and Brad Layman who were waiting for us at the Rocky statue with coffee, bananas, jambon beurre sandwiches and my favorite pastry of all, sfogliatella. Thanks Iwan and Brad -- those hit the spot. 
 
Iwan and Brad, deliver sfogliatella, jambon beurre, and other essentials to 600K pre-riders.
 
Back to our story. For his day of event volunteer duty, Gavin Biebuyck staffed the control in Port Jervis, an important duty because the ice-cream shop control was closed. Ranging south on Old Mine Road and NPS615, Gavin provided all-important hydration to the riders as the temperature climbed into the mid 90s, helping them make it through another hot, isolated, and hilly course segment with few services -- a segment that ends with the one-two punch of climbs on Old Mine Rd and Millbrook Rd.  Somehow, all riders made it through this segment.
 
Greg and Gert at Gavin's doughnut control in Port Jervis

The penultimate control was staffed by Scott Franzen. With some forays up and down the nearby roads, Scott spent a lot of time in Blairstown administering first-aid and psychological counseling to six heat-exhausted bike riders. The route from Blairstown to the finish is relatively straightforward, without any significant climbs, but it is exposed to the sun with a lot of annoying car traffic. Riders wisely rested-up in Blairstown before the final push to Easton. 
 
For the finish and DNF arrivals, the hotel control in Easton was staffed Saturday by Steve Schoenfelder who also ran the 200K event on Saturday. It was staffed Sunday by myself and Bill Olsen. Bill, along with Tom Rosenbauer, helped with the final cleanup at the hotel. 
 

Newly minted Super Randonneur Brad Layman finishes the 600 in style.
 
Brad Layman writes...
A great start riding through Bucks and Montgomery Counties into Philly and then out the SRT to Reading. There was a nice fog in the early hours and it was very peaceful with little traffic. It was brutally hot from Fleetwood to Wind Gap. The second day started out beautifully before the brutal heat returned. For that, I was grateful that the second leg was under 200k.

Thank you to all of the support from the volunteers. It was extremely helpful to receive encouragement, ice water, and snacks at the staffed controls.

The PA SR Series was an incredible experience. I originally thought I would start with just the 200, but each time I completed one, I couldn't help but look forward to the next. Thank you for welcoming me to the club. Chris always organizes a scenic and carefully designed route, with a perfect balance of support and self-directed adventure. And thank you Iwan for helping me learn my way around randonneuring (still a lot to learn!).

Vadim Gritsus (from the city of Rando love) writes...

Only two weekends ago we were wishing for warm weather and I must say our wishes came through this weekend, and then some. This was truly an amazing event, a combination of fatigue, sleep deprivation, scorching heat and 15% climbs. What more can a rando wish for?!  This event made us truly reevaluate our strategies and certainly made us appreciate our volunteers even more!
 
Special thanks to Ed B who was making jasmine lavender green tea at four o'clock in the morning for two very cold rando guys trying to make it to a sleep control!  Speaking of temperatures, the range was from 50 to 97 in the span of less       
than 24 hours.
 
*An unexpected discovery: O’Doul’s alcohol free beer works wonders for hydration and electrolyte replacement. That certainly takes place of V-8 in my book.* 
 
Once again, many thanks to the organizers for making this potential disaster into yet another smooth experience 
Vadim with the Philly cats
 
Ed Bernasky writes...
Great job organizing [Andrew and Chris], excellent!

PA roads are not unlike those on PBP, old farm roads that inflict with a thousand cuts, none of which is particularly difficult but cumulatively extract a mental challenge that resides close to the core of randonneuring. It was my pleasure to see this courage up close. Canadensis to the Promised Land had to have been quite the test at 3 am. That 600K was one beast of a ride.

Again, great job putting this all together.
 
Our "Angel of the Promised Land", Ed Bernasky, isn't too worried about Iwan.
 

Iwan Barankay writes...

Let me start by thanking from the bottom of my heart all the volunteers who spent countless hours waiting in the heat or darkness to offer refreshments and moral support.  Being able to see a familiar face on the route and have them sit with you for a while was easily the best thing about this 600K. I can only imagine all the glorious chit-chat that happened on the volunteer sms feed.

Everyone who started this 600 was a hero in my book.  I was rather nervous about this 600 and barely slept the previous days and when I did I dreamed about the weather forecast. Shout out to the fixie-SR Greg Keenan! It takes a certain kind of insanity to come up with the idea to do the series on a fixie and special sort of sanity to complete it.  Congratulations also to Brad Layman for his first series. He only started randonneuring this spring and finished first in Easton on Sunday.  It goes to show that riding with a boombox gives you wings – being a supreme endurance athlete also helps. I look forward to many more accolades for him.

This time, allure libre meant how fast one can ride without collapsing from the heat.  The flat undulating stretch on Walpack Flatbrook was when my thermostat finally failed.  I stopped just before Old Mine to put my feet in the water under the bridge whilst a local showed up and waded into the water with his fishing rod. Rando romanticism at its finest. In Blairstown I thought I had suffered enough and just did not want to ride any further. I felt like we were cycling on Mercury. Scott sat with me patiently at that control and talking to Chris and texting with CJ helped me regain my wits. Plus two V8 and a prosciutto sandwich. And a Coke. And a Pepsi. And a coffee.

Also a very special thanks to you, Chris, for having the vision and perseverance to organize this SR series. Not so long ago it was not yet clear how this year would evolve and whether new strains would make vaccines ineffective but you were undeterred and just went for it, went over each route, cue by cue, hauled all the breakfast items from the storage, and drummed up volunteers. That is the difference between commentary and leadership.

 

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Holiday Inn Hollywood 200K -- Course Notes

On 31 May a pre-ride of the Holiday Inn Hollywood 200K course was completed by Steve Schoenfelder. Based on his observations, the route has been updated. The latest cuesheet is version 6 and the latest RWGPS was last modified 2021-06-2 08:08:39 EDT. You will find these, along with other important information on the event web site

The following are some visual notes from the course:

Mile 9.1, bridge out on Lower Saucon Rd (view looking backward after crossing the bridge). You'd better hope that this bridge is still passable because the detour using Apple Rd and Alpine Dr has a big climb.
 

Mile 14.4 Knechts Covered Bridge:  the longitudinal boards have some big tire-eating gaps near the  entrance.  Please walk your bike across this bridge and the extra-bumpy Sherd's Mill bridge at mile 22.5.


Mile 28.7, W Schwenkmill Rd, metal grate bridge


Mile 61.5, mailbox control near Hollywood, hidden in shadows before the CVS. 



Mile 62.3, Pennypack Trail Entrance. This is a multi-use trail and can be crowded. Please be respectful of other trail users. Give wide berth to pedestrians, particularly those wearing sombreros.