Monday, March 15, 2021

Ride Report: Portland Paxinosa 200K


After a rough February with snow and ice causing the cancellation of our R12 event for the month, everyone was ready to ride their bike on a sunny day in March.  It wasn't particularly warm, but it was sunny and a lot warmer than it was in February.  Of those that clipped in at the start/finish at Portland, PA, all 21 of 21 completed the whole course within the time limit for a 100% completion rate.  Congratulations to all!  Preliminary results have been posted on the website.  Please review the results and let me know if they align with your memory.  The results will be submitted to RUSA after review and will become official once certified.

As it turned out, the closure of NPS615 and State St had little impact on the riders. Although a detour alternative was offered (and pre-ridden, see below),  all riders I spoke to reported that they chose to simply brave the "tilted barn" on NPS615, and the construction gear on State Street. Much ado about nothing, it seems.

Still tilted on the day of the ride.

Kudos and thanks go to Jimmy Aspras who volunteered to check out the course Friday afternoon/evening before the event. Finishing up a little before midnight, Jimmy grabbed some sleep in his car, and officiated the start at 6AM.  It should also be noted Jimmy's pre-ride of the course scouted both NPS615 alternative detours (one of them hilly, the other upaved and still somewhat snow covered) in the dark. He did all this riding on a fixed gear fat bike.  This is rando!  

Thanks also to Tom Rosenbauer who assisted at the Paxinosa control (Sue Proulx's control sign still serving us well... but where were the brownies?!?), and to Bill Olsen who staffed the finish control for the first few hours.

I'm always impressed when a new randonneur turns up at a tough Winter brevet for their first-ever 200K. This is exactly what Jeremy Sieg did, finishing the difficult course with such aplomb that you'd think he's been doing this stuff for many years. Welcome to randonneuring Jeremy! Clearly you have what it takes.


Riders puzzled over the info control question in Wind Gap. The correct answer was "too many".

Iwan Barankay writes...

What a spectacular brevet today. Fantastic scenery and I loved the secret control at your home. So nice to see Tom Rosenbauer there - a bonus surprise. Coffee taste so great and I was impressed to see Lara bars, a true upgrade yet a departure from classic Payday.  The hills kept coming but they were gentle and I think  the cool temperatures made climbing easier. I stuck to the route to go past the "leaning barn" which was still standing and I enjoyed that empty stretch of  road which compensated for the somewhat busy River Rd sections. I wanted to  burn through all the controls since I brought all my foods and drinks with me (including half a gallon of Gatorade balanced on my aero bars with slender    rubber bands) but no Hercules could resist the calls of the pies and Walnut bread at the penultimate control. Looking forward to the next one. Oh and last bit not least thanks also to Jimmy Aspras for sending us off at the start.

Iwan's special Gatorade reservoir attachment technology

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Portland Paxinosa 200K (update)

*** Update 2:

It appears that a "tilted barn" is the hazard that has caused 10 miles of NPS615 to be closed just past the right turn in Flatbrookville at the T-right mile 75.2 at the base of the newly paved Old Mine Road descent. You can read the news story here.  The barn in question is at mile 79.2 of the route. During the pre-ride, this tilted barn did not impede passage of a bicycle on NPS 615, but riders should consider the risk of the situation. 

Tilted barn that has NPS 615 closed for 10 miles.

The official detour is to T-left at mile 75.2 and to stay on Old Mine Road around the other side of the mountain. This routing is not that much longer than the official route and maybe only slightly hillier.  It's a perfectly nice detour and you can't go wrong by taking it.


***Update 1:

The info control in Blairstown (mi 65.5) at Dale's Market was not correctly highlighted on the cue sheet.  This has been corrected in version 4 of the cuesheet.   Be aware that there is a control in Blairstown, NJ at Dale's Market.


Original Post:

This is a classic tour of the the Delaware Water "Gaps", both the namesake "big water gap" between Mt Minsi and Mt Tatamy, and the "mini water gap" at the Paxinosa ridge.  The route extends all the way north to Dingman's Ferry, and as far south as Easton, PA, hugging the Delaware River most of the way. 

Eating any of these pies is not required.


The route start/finish is at the center of this figure-8 course, allowing you to resupply from your car at the halfway point if you prefer not to enter any business for food/drink, like, for example you won't need to enter the Hainsville General Store that specializes in Home Made Pies. No need to do that.  All controls are either staffed or are Info controls.

This version of the route is now on all paved roads. Even the infamous Old Mine Rd that lay in ruin for decades has now been resurfaced. 


The Walpack Inn is Out

A pre-ride was conducted on 3 March by Chris Nadovich. As a result of observations on that pre-ride the course cues have been revised. The latest cuesheet is version 3 and the RWGPS was last modified 2021-03-4 10:24:09 EST. 

Course Notes:

It's still winter on Marshfield Drive, so this gravel climb (and the gravel descent on Shady Lane) have been deleted from the course. There in no longer any unpaved road on the course. And a major climb has been eliminated. On the downside, the course is now 2 miles longer, but those miles are all flat and pretty. 

Most of the winter debris has been cleared from the roads. Most.   The Old Mine descent was smooth but sticky. Look out for sticks and rocks on the shoulders, especially on 611 South out of Water Gap. Some riders will hit this stretch of 611 at dusk, when the debris will be harder to see. 

There was a lot of black ice during the first hour of the pre-ride when temperatures were near 20F.  The weather should be warmer on the day of the event, but definitely keep a lookout for black ice at the start and end of the ride if the temperature is below freezing. There is a lot of snow melting on the shoulders leaving puddles that freeze over at night. 

There are two "Closed Roads" on the course as of the pre-ride inspection date. These both bear special discussion. 

Mile 54.4 -- The first possible blockage is just before returning to Portland at the crossover point. The old State St bridge -- a 100 year old bridge that was in disrepair and closed to traffic for the last decade, inconveniencing no one,  has suddenly become a priority to repair. (?) The course does not cross this bridge, but there is now a collection of parked cars, dumpsters, rebar, and construction equipment blocking the end of Jacoby Creek Rd.  As of the date of the pre-ride it was possible to thread one's way, on foot (watch your step!), through all this junk and emerge safely onto State Street beyond the bridge construction.  If, for some reason, this clutter transit is not possible for you (or you want to avoid it), backtrack to Middle Village Rd, which takes you over to 611 (Traffic!), turn left (northbound), then follow signs for 611 Portland, then left on River Road to rejoin the route with hardly any bonus miles.

Mile 75.2 -- This blockage presents more imagined psychological terror than concrete fear of tripping over construction gear. At the base of the freshly re-paved Old Mine Rd descent, the course does a T-right. As of the date of the pre-ride, there's a sign to the right that says: Closed to Through Traffic.  If you choose to ignore this sign and make the right turn anyway, you'll ride for about 10 miles in quiet, trafficless solitude, wondering if you will encounter a blockage or hazard that will turn you around. During the pre-ride there were a few snow drifts that made it partway across the lane, and a section of telephone wire that was rather "droopy" crossing the road, but other than the "Road Closed" signs, nothing seemed to impede traffic. No bridges were under construction. No trees were down. No rock slides. Nothing. That having been said, the real terror is that you'll ride about 8-9 miles and find you do need to turn around. If that happens, the only choice is to ride all the way back to mile 75.2 and now go left, rather than right, at the base of the descent. That will take you around the other side of the mountain on Old Mine Rd -- a perfectly good route -- that rejoins the course at Blevans Rd (mile  84.9) for a possible 20 bonus miles. The pre-ride based recommendation is to think positive, turn right, and follow the usual route passed the Road Closure sign to enjoy that beautiful, quiet road. But if you can't stand the thought of possibly needing a 20 mile backtrack/detour, you can turn left at the base of the descent and enjoy the alternative route that is a little longer and hillier (but not much more) than the main route.