Sunday, May 2, 2021

Ride Report: Hawk's Nest 300K

The second event in the 2021 Pennsylvania Super Randonneur Series, was a "full value" 300K version of the Hawk's Nest brevet that began at 5AM in the decidedly  cold and windy parking lot of the Easton, PA, Holiday Inn Express.  Of the shivering bunch that clipped in at that pre-dawn hour, 14 of the 17 completed the whole course within the time limit for a 82% completion rate. Congratulations to all who attempted the challenging course!  Preliminary results have been posted on the website.  Please review the results and let us know if they align with your memory.  The results will be submitted to RUSA after receipt of postal control cards and careful review. They will become official once certified.

Despite the beautiful weather later in the day, it was decidedly cold and windy at the pre-dawn start outside the Holiday Inn.   The low temperature seemed to drop further as the riders climbed up the front of the Pocono plateau, dropping into the high 30s, with wind-chills making the May Day seem more like a date in February.  Not anticipating these conditions, several of the riders were a bit under-dressed and paid a price. The cold and wind gave Chris Maglieri numb feet, but with some supplies he acquired at the Pickerel Lake General Store (chemical hand warmers, plastic bags, and electrical tape) he was able to revive his feet and soldier on. Unfortunately this brilliant fix was not enough, as he shortly ran into unrelated mechanical difficulties.


Chris Maglieri uses rando ingenuity to keep his feet warm.

In fact, two different riders were forced to abandon because of mechanical problem. Soon after he had repaired his feet, Chris had a rear-hub issue that affected his gears and brakes. Sean Connelly suffered a shifter cable failure. Both of these issues occurred in a remote section of the course, precluding a quick trip to a nearby bike shop for repair. Consequently, both riders were forced to abandon. 

Unconcerned about the possibility of shifter failure, Greg Keenan kept warm by completing the challenging course on a fixed gear. Good pedaling Greg! Those derailleurs are so overrated.

Despite the frosty and blustery beginnings,  by the time the riders reached El dred, the sun was shining bright, temperatures had moderated, and the stunning vista from the Hawk's Nest fully lived up to its promise. 

Trio of riders (Joe Ray, Greg Keenan, Dawn Engstrom) each with their own unique way of experiencing the Hawk's Nest. (Steven J. Schoenfelder behind the camera)

First finisher Josh Armstrong made full use of  gears to set a new course record at 12 hrs 59 mins, nipping four minutes off the previous mark set by Tim Creyts in 2019.  It should be noted that this version of the Hawk's Nest 300 course has a smidge less climbing than the edition Tim faced. On the other hand, Josh's record setting time included two laps of the Pump Track in Port Jervis.   This 300K event was also Josh's first-ever brevet!  Congratulations and welcome to randonneuring Josh.  

Two other riders relatively new to the sport, Brad Layman and Jeremy Seig, completed their first 300K.  Excellent work.  

It bears repeating that randonneuring events, especially the longer events, cannot be run without the support of volunteers. Iwan BarankayBrad Layman, and Steve Schoenfelder helped organizer Chris Nadovich set up food and gear. Steve also ran the start while Iwan did bike inspections.  Out on the course, RBA emeritus Tom Rosenbauer ran a roving secret control with water and snacks. Bill Olsen staffed the Blairstown control later in the day providing encouragement and sustenance for the slower riders. Bill also helped clean up and pack up at the finish, along with some help from Dawn Engstrom.  Thanks to these volunteers, quality events can happen. 

Please consider volunteering at a future event. Both the upcoming 400K and 600K are badly in need of more helpers. Contact the Organizer to volunteer. 

Iwan Barankay writes:

A glorious day once the toes thawed at around 11am. Very rewarding scenery. Thank you for the careful route and the wonderful hospitality at the start and finish.
Iwan also contributed the Haiku of the Ride:

Gusts swaying resolve
Asphalt acne from times when
Roads like us were young


Iwan at the Roebling Aquaduct fighting the cold with Sheldon Brown helmet vent covers.

Vadim Gritsus writes:

Thank you for organizing yet another perfectly orchestrated PA brevet. My late arrival due to road closure outside NYC in combination with a failed front tire pressure sensor were surely looking like the ride would be going bad. However it actually went amazingly well! Things improved immediately after I spotted Tom offering delicious candy bars at a secret control as well as his luxury ride as a bike rack. Never underestimate his dedication!

Tom made another much-needed appearance, this time on his bike intercepting me just before one of the controls and pacing me through difficult miles. The weather was pretty cold for the better part of the morning, however things dramatically improved later on. This surely provide a big opportunity to dial in your outfit based on almost 35 degree span during the ride.

This was a combination of previously ridden roads but somehow felt very new and exciting. A pleasant bonus was to see 21% on my GPS during that infamous climb.

Once again, thank you for organizing this beautiful event!

A randonneur's view of Port Jervis (photo by V Gritsus)

Regarding Vadim's photo, Tom Rosenbauer writes:

The gritty post-apocalyptic ruins make a striking contrast to the clear ski and pristine mountains in the background. A barren landscape that is completely void of any life is a metaphor for the lonely emptiness one can experience at a low point of a challenging brevet.

Joe Ray writes:

Thanks to you, Tom Rosenbauer and Bill Olsen for yesterday’s 300k.  It was a tough finish for me, but with Greg having handicapped himself a bit on fixed gear I had someone to cover the last 30 miles with.  Coming up Northampton had me reminiscing about the 2019 600k flat-tire finish, but I’m glad we still had plenty of time in the bank yesterday.   As bad as that wind was for the first half, the course was pretty and I really love the stretch following the Lackawaxen down to the Delaware Aqueduct.  Hotel breakfast and swapping enjoyable stories and thoughts there this morning with Steve and Greg got me at least partly back on track. 


Steven J. Schoenfelder writes: 

Thanks to ride organizer Chris Nadovich and volunteers Tom Rosenbauer and Bill Olsen for making the Hawk’ s Nest 300K an epic ride.

The theme of the first leg of our journey was headwinds.  The gusts of the prior evening turned Two Rivers Trailway into a cyclocross course that included a quick dismount to clear a horizontal pine tree. Wind Gap lived up to its name, but offered some relief at the Turkey Hill where Dawn and I could go through our gear and realize that we didn’t bring enough clothing to contend with the wind chill.   

We battled our way over the Appalachian front, battered by headwinds as we inched up the ascents.  Just as I was feeling that I would never get warm again, and all was lost, we were greeted by rando legend Tom Rosenbauer at Controle 4 who restored us with water, delicious pastries, and kind words of encouragement.  It was the turning point that I desperately needed to salvage my ride.  

By Eldred, the sun was coming out, skies were blue, and the winds were now behind us.  And..we finally caught other riders: Joe and Greg.  Soon, it was party time at Hawks Nest where we enjoyed camaraderie,  great views, sunshine, and photo ops. 

That positivity powered me through the ensuing miles.  The new pavement on the infamous Old Mine Road climb made it seem easier than ever before.  Maybe I will be able to pedal over the dreaded Millbrook Road climb!  But alas, after a short stretch of 14-16% grade, I looked up the road, and unclipped, keeping my streak of never pedaling over that climb alive. 

I felt exhausted and defeated after crossing the Appalachian Trail, but knew that we would achieve our goal of arriving at the Blairstown controle in daylight.  We were greeted by volunteer Bill Olsen at the Inn who provided a helpful weather update, encouragement, and his special brand of humor to spur us on.  I would likely still be in Blairstown if not for Dawn who charitably pulled me through the remaining  31.5 miles.   

We were pleased to find Chris and Bill at the finish, ready to revive us with hot soup and pickles.  And so the journey from misery to Hope, and Foul Rift to achievement was complete.

For those of you who want to experience the spectacular Hawk's Nest vista as part of a "pint sized" 200K brevet, the shorter version will be offered in July. 

On the other hand, for those of you seeking a SR medal, the next event in the Pennsylvania Super Randonneur Series is the New Blue Redux 400K on 22 May. Full information is available on the 400K Event Web Site.

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