Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Pagoda 200K (update)

***Update 1:

A second pre-ride of the Pagoda 200K was conducted by Steve Schoenfelder on Saturday 10 April. While most of the course was still in fine shape, Steve discovered that the Turkey Hill in Coopersburg has locked its doors. It's unclear if this is a temporary or permanent shutdown. Nevertheless, we have altered the course and moved the Coopersburg control to the Exxon / Dunkin' up the street. 

Steve also scouted a somewhat better approach to the finish control. After crossing the 25th street bridge high over the Lehigh River, make the first right into the Easton Children's Home private drive. Then after the speed bumps, make a quick right onto the bike trail connector. This is a steep and short downhill section. Go slow.  Then almost immediately T sharp left onto the D&L Trail which leads directly to the iron bridge into Hugh Moore Park. This route through the Children's Home avoids the left turn across 25th street which can be a little troublesome when traffic is heavy. 

The Cue Sheet and RWGPS route have been updated with these changes. The latest cues are version 3 and the latest RWGPS route was last modified 2021-04-10 19:52:13 EDT. These are available from the GPS/Cuesheet link on the event page.


Original Post:

Last year, the  Pagoda 200K was a somber affair. It was the last brevet organized by PA Randonneurs before the Great COVID Pandemic shut down our sport of Randonneuring for many months. To add insult to injury, the congenial start/finish at the Cask brew pub was made doubly impossible when Cask closed its doors permanently that month. 

Fortunately, a year later things are feeling a lot more optimistic.  Pennsylvania Randonneurs is are able to offer this great event again in April 2021 to kick off our full ACP sanctioned Super Randonneuring series of 200, 300, 400, and 600K brevets. Information and online registration is available for all these events.

For the 2021 edition of the Pagoda 200K, the start/finish has been moved to the outdoor pavilion at the National Canal Museum in Hugh Moore Park, Easton, PA. Socially distanced food will be available both at the start and finish. Water and snacks will be available at the Pagoda control, roughly the midpoint of the course. The plan is to have coffee and breakfast stuff at the start, and a BBQ at the finish with burgers (veggie or beef) and other goodies. All other controls are info controls, so if you don't want to enter a convenience store, you don't have to. 

Spectacular scenery (and hills) near Huff's Church.

The scenery on the Pagoda 200K is spectacular. All cyclists know the word "scenic" is code for hilly, and the Pagoda certainly has both scenery and hills in abundance. Although there are steep and sustained climbs from the beginning to end of the route, most riders find that the relentless rollers in the last third of the course, starting soon after Daniel Boone, are the most taxing. Try to remember that there is a 12 mile descent starting at around mile 105, including a long, slightly downhill rail-trail segment, where you can rest and recover to prepare for the last grunt to get over South Mountain at Countryside. Since the start/finish location is at the river, once over Countryside, it's an easy 5 mile coast to the finish. You can do this! 

Course Notes -- 

A pre-ride was conducted on 5 April by Chris Nadovich. As a result of the pre-ride, several small course updates and typo corrections were made to the cues. The latest cue sheet is Version 2, and the latest RWGPS route was modified 2021-04-5 22:36:30 EDT. Both are available online.

Other course notes are as follows:

  • There were no road closures or detours seen anywhere on the course. 
  • Roads were largely clean of winter debris. The one exception was the approach to the Pagoda on Skyline Drive. The weird, right-side but ride-on-the-left "bike lane" is littered with sticks, rocks, and broken glass. It's OK to use this bike lane for the climb when moving slow, but I would consider using the real vehicle lane for the fast descents just before the Pagoda. Whatever you do, use caution.  
  • The condition of the Schuylkill Trail was good. I saw no mud and most of the surface was quite smooth. There were very few soft spots. 
  • The short cut through the Little Wunder Street alley in Reading has been eliminated.  Instead we navigate to Cherry St without having to dodge toilet seats and piles of syringes. The pay phone is still there on the corner, if anyone needs it -- otherwise just ride on by.
  • When you do get to Cherry St via 10th, be aware it's a very small alley at that point, easy to miss. Look for the upside-down one-way sign dangling above the entrance. Cherry St has several stop-signs at intersections with cross traffic and limited view distance. Please stop at all the signs and look both ways. 
  • If the weather is nice, there are several interesting pubs on Cherry that have some outdoor seating.    
  • Although it's easiest, navigation wise, at the Danial Boone park loop road to follow the signs to the Visitor's Center control, and then follow the signs back out to the Exit at the road, you can actually save considerable distance on the exit by starting a second lap of the loop road and then exiting at the locked gate about a quarter of the way around. Of course, if you miss that gate exit, you'll end up doing a bonus loop.
  • The Saucon Rail trail is also smooth and clean, but there are a few sections of softer gravel that those of you with skinny tires might find to be somewhat squirrely. Again, use caution.  
  • The course has many fast, twisty descents. Please don't ride faster than your guardian angel. 


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