Friday, December 23, 2022

Thanks to our 2022 Volunteers, Best Wishes for the New Year

Ahh, to see lots of people riding big brevets again! Dare I say that the pandemic is over? For the first time since 2019 we ran a full slate events, 18 in total, including a 1000K. There were 295 total finishes by 152 different riders collectively riding over 80,000 Km. The last time we had more rider finishes was 2018. I don’t know if the pandemic is “really” over, but people are riding brevets again, that’s for sure. I hope this excellent trend will continue in 2023. As this will be a PBP year, I’m pretty confident it will.

Another trend, which I also think is a good one, is that more and more of our events are starting in or near Center City Philadelphia. This leads to more participation by riders from Philly, but also now we are seeing riders from the New York City and other metro areas at our events. I think a Philly area start makes an event more accessible to riders in nearby cities, especially to those who prefer to travel without using a car. 

The Covered Bridges 200K in March of 2022 was the best-attended PA Rando brevet ever. There were 55 finishers in this event, which started and ended in Manayunk. An epic course, the brainchild of Brad Layman, crossed ten covered bridges in a scenic tour of Bucks County. There were waffles at the start near Cadence Cycles, a “gourmet” brunch control at Tinicum Park, and a finish at Manayunk Brewing Company. Of course, such Philly area starts wouldn’t be possible without continuing efforts and willingness of the Philly volunteers (specifically Iwan Barankay, Pat Gaffney, Ben Keenan and Brad Layman, and the folks at Keystone and Cadence Cycles) to support events in or near Center City. Thank you!

In contrast to events that start in the city, the 2022 edition of the PA Randonneurs SR series was hosted in an extremely rural venue, Flint Hill Farm. This was possibly the most unusual start-finish venue we have ever used. Thanks go to Kathleen Fields, president of Flint Hill Farm Education Center, who hosted us and wrangled her horses, cows, and chickens to safety as our bike riders passed through the farm. Congratulations to the nine SR series finishers who rode the tough SR courses, with that grueling finish climb up Flint Hill to the farm at its summit. 

 

Travis Berry

Cecilie Gaffney (5)

Patrick Gaffney (5)

Benjamin Keenan

Brad Layman (2)

Amy Lippe

Bill Scanga

Ryan J Stanis (2)

Benjamin Thompson

The SR Finisher received commemorative laser-cut Super Randonneur Plaques courtesy of Nicole Aptekar, who is an artist living in Brooklyn with the necessary lazer skillz. In fact, Nicole personally owns a very excellent laser and was nice enough to cut the PA Rando SR plaques for us this year. As a newly minted randonneur who's first 200K was the TK in November, Nicole looks forward to riding longer events and earning one of these plaques in the future.



Another good trend to emerge in 2022 was the return of the grand brevet in the form of the Endless Mountains Liberty Bell 1000K. Congratulations to the nine EMLB 1000K finishers. Tough riders all:

 

Iwan Barankay

Darren Bartels

Jose Blanco

Ed Felker

Misha Heller

Dale Houck

Ben Keenan

Steve Kunsak

Brad Layman


The last time PA Rando ran an event longer than 600K was in 2013. When planning the 1000K for 2022, there was concern about whether PA Rando volunteers still had “what it took” to run such a big, multi-day event. Such concern was unfounded. As it turned out, many great people volunteered to support the event, and the organization was excellent. Significantly, these volunteers included some veteran randonneurs who stepped up to support the overnight controls in far-away towns, and who performed the lonely (but essential) duty to monitor riders on the course.

We continue to be a strong randonneuring club. Without a doubt this is a result of a large collective of volunteers who organize and host events, create and check routes and cue sheets, staff controls, and/or prepare/serve food. Please be sure to thank them the next time you see them. In 2022 our crew of event volunteers included: 

 

CJ Arayata

Susan Arisumi,

Jimmy Aspras

Mike Anderson

Iwan Barankay

Travis Berry

Gavin Biebuyck

Jim Bondra

Cadence Cycles

Bob Dye

Woody Felice

Bill Fischer

Cecilie Gaffney

Patrick Gaffney

Oleksiy Guslyakov

Ben Keenan

Greg Keenan

Sean Keesler

Keystone Cycles

Mackenzie King

Amanda Jones-Layman

Brad Layman

Jeff Lippincott

Ag Manta

Nick Manta

Matt McLoone

Andrew Mead

George Metzler

Phil Mitch

Andrea Mules

Chris Nadovich

Bill Olsen

Zach Rachell

George Retseck

Tom Rosenbauer

Steve Schoenfelder

Ryan Stanis,

Ivan Umble

Len Zawadniack



Iwan Barankay and Brad Layman expanded their role as event organizers in 2022. Organizing a brevet is no small task and the future of our club depends on volunteers “leveling up” to the rank of organizer. Along with Iwan and Brad, Steve Schoenfelder reprised his organizer duty for the Rusty Rail 200K, and Bill Fischer ran the 2022 edition of Hawk’s Nest and the Portland Opulent Outhouse 200Ks. Both Bill and Steve also ran overnight controls on the 1000K.

Leadership roles in the club were somewhat rearranged in 2022. Andrew Mead stepped down as RBA, with yours truly, Chris Nadovich, taking over the RBA job. Andrew continues to serve on the PA Rando board, along with Chris and another RBA emeritus, Tom Rosenbauer. The passing of the RBA baton was celebrated at the October “Fall Classic” event held at Cafe Metzler. There was a cake decorated with the PA Rando keystone, along with gifts for retiring RBA Andrew Mead that included an engraved mug and a brevet card enumerating Andrew’s accomplishments during his tenure. Thank you Andrew for serving the club all these years. Our club remains strong because of your dedicated work. I hope I can live up to the standard that Tom and you have set.

As the new RBA, I will be depending on a high level of volunteer support in 2023, as we have a full slate of brevets scheduled for the coming year. Please help. Contact me, or any organizer, if you can help us at any level.

The full calendar of events, available online at parando.org, includes the Endless Mountains 1000K, a complete SR series with all new routes, a Fleche, and our R-12 series of monthly 200k’s. Current plans are to stage the SR series and the 1000K out of Chamounix Carriage House in Philadelphia. The Fleche is on the schedule for early April. It’s unclear at this time where the finish will be located. Alternative finish venues are being explored and will be announced as soon as settled. Follow the website, message board, and other social media outlets for the latest updates.

It promises to be another exciting year. I look forward to seeing you on the road, and by my side volunteering to help run events!


Chris Nadovich,

Eastern PA RBA

December 2022

Sunday, December 4, 2022

R-YARRR Ride report

It was a brisk and cool morning. The sun was rising behind the stripped-down trees to catch the morning mist rising from the Schuylkill just so. A rabbit hushed across the trail and a squirrel dug up a nut. Wait, that was a different morning.

Instead, fifteen brave randonneurs, some novices along with the usual suspects hailing from around Philadelphia, Reading, Brooklyn, and New Jersey, gathered on Saturday at the Port Providence Schuylkill River Trail parking lot in rather wet conditions minutes before sunrise. Twelve riders finished the brevet in addition to three pre-riders. Results have been posted on the website and will be submitted to RUSA after review.  Please check your result and let me know if it doesn't align with your recollections.

First of many downpours right at the start

After a short rider meeting, in which I implored riders not to do anything stupid, the rain started in earnest just to make sure that we did not get our hopes up too much about the weather.  There were also positive surprises in that the wind wasn’t as gusty as predicted. The wet weather and the hills which wouldn’t want to roll were the themes of the day.  I lost count of the number of flats reported from the peloton.

The counter-clockwise Rotated-Yet-Another-River-to-River route passed by the Upper Tinicum Lutheran church where riders were asked to redraw a design with wet and clammy hands. It was a gorgeous display of dexterity and artistry - guess which of these drawings is by a German civil engineer.

Randonneur cartoons

After a second bagel breakfast in Milford, our newly minted RBA Chris Nadovich awaited our riders at the National Canal Museum with hot soup, coffee, and PayDay bars.

I think all the Wawas and Coffee places were visited by the riders on the route back via Hellertown, Coopersburg, and Pottsdown. A point of discussion was whether the muddy dirty trails would have been better than the constant hills but all riders remained faithful to the route. After all, hills keep you warm and focused. Amie Gibson, on her second brevet, got unlucky on a descent and had to abandon near Bethlehem after further mechanicals. Joshua Han and Daniel Oh also struggled with numerous flats and ran out of time and thus abandoned shortly after the Canal Museum control. The remaining twelve riders completed the course to be greeted by our walrus-moustached Pat Gaffney at the Fitzwater Station pub for some well-deserved drinks and grub. 

The first finisher was Ben Keenan in 10:59, a time testament to the tough conditions of the day, followed by Max Atkins for his first-ever brevet. Congratulations Max! I wish I could say to Max that all our other brevets are downhill with pleasant weather but where would be the fun in that? The vegan riders stayed but briefly at the pub for lack of food options but I was pleased to catch up with all the other riders just as Bob Olsen finished in 12:48. In the end, riders completed the ride within a short span of time which made for a nice gathering at the finish control.

Fitzwater Station contrĂŽle

Ben Keenan writes: 

"Rain, hills, and 126 miles with people crazy and great enough to head out into it undaunted. It was a grand adventure! Thanks a million to everyone that shared it, and special thanks to Iwan, Chris and Pat for volunteering to make it possible. There is a solitude in the countryside this time of year that is as beautiful as a day of spring riding just different. RIP to my trusty Suntour downtube shifters that after countless rides and years of loyal service gave up the ghost about 15 miles in so the rear derailer slipped and stuck in high. Adjusting the limiting screw left two gear selections, 46-15 and 34-15, which proved more or less doable with a special combination of zigzagging/walking/complaining bitterly and feeling sorry for myself up the numerous hills. Special note to Max Atkins for pulling me along the later miles and to Annie Gibson for a really excellent ride until having to deal with a crash. Hope you are healing up quickly Annie, and hope to see everyone on the road before much time passes in the new year!"

Ello Shertzer reported: 

"Thank you so much for organizing this ride!! I was pretty apprehensive about the weather going into it, and rightfully so—I think we only got a couple hours of respite from the rain in the afternoon before getting completely dumped on again. When we stopped in Milford and got bagels, getting back on the bike in a totally soaked kit was quite difficult, and I remember asking Erik to tell me that I could do it—I was fully shivering and teeth uncontrollably chattering. But once we started pedaling again, I was able to warm up pretty quickly. It was certainly rough at times, but I found myself looking forward to climbs for the warmth that they provided! And given the amount of climbing on this route, it was pretty amazing to actually want to continue climbing!

Overall I had a blast riding with my friends all day! We joked about silly things to take our minds off of the rainy misery, proclaimed our love for Wawa, and appreciated some really scenic moments. It was a lovely day of camaraderie and positive vibes.

Big thanks also to Chris for his hospitality at the second controle, and thank you Chris for not murdering me when I handed you my soggy brevet card 😂"

Chris Nadovich wrote:

I was very impressed with the equal measures of cold toughness and warm camaraderie I saw in the riders rolling into my "soup control" at the National Canal museum.   I thought I had it tough on my own pre-ride with temps in the mid 20's at the start, but starting in a 50 degree wet mess definitely out-rule-9s my effort. 

The riders probably didn't notice the small contingent of homeless people who were watching their arrival at the control. They would cautiously approach me between rider arrivals.  All very nice people, I was told some facinating stories about the history of Easton and Phillipsburg. I had no idea that the owner of the now defunct yet still infamous Boxcar nude-dance club in Phillipsburg continues to be a pillar of the community and now owns the Sand Bar at the Free bridge. The things you learn staffing controls. 

Anyway, I can assure you that none of the leftover soup went to waste.


The next ride is on January 7 and we have a full 2023 calendar to look forward to with a Philadelphia based SR series in preparation for PBP 2023 and the PA1000 in the fall.

 

Thursday, November 24, 2022

R-YARRR 200K Pre-Ride Course Notes ***Updated

*** Update 1

Another Pre-ride was conducted on 26 Nov by Cecilie and Patrick Gaffney. Some minor comments were added to the course.  RWGPS was update 2022-11-28 14:35:00 EST, and the cues are Version 7. Download the latest. Here are Patrick and Cecilie's course notes.

It was a tough course.  Definitely one that looks much easier on paper.  We were mostly slowed by technical issues (two flats, both of our wahoos crashing on numerous occasions, and a bike that could probably use a tune up).  Similar to the Pagoda 200, there seemed to be a lot of stop signs,  where stopping really was necessary, at the bottom of descents, which  reduces our magic tandem powers and becomes frustrating; making it difficult for us to get into a good rhythm.  I am sure it won't be as           
annoying for singles.                                           

  • The right turn onto Hollow Road - there was a fair amount of gravel and a shallow cut out in the road where some utility work may be going on.  Very easy to see and navigate, but it is early enough in the ride where it might be a group situation and could get a little sketchy.  
  • I noticed a good sized pothole in the left turn onto Summit Ave @ mile 20.2   
  • Along with the Milford Market there is also Bridge Street Bagel a little off course.  We stopped there for a breakfast sandwich, which might be worth mentioning on the cue.
  • When leaving Pottstown I believe there is a protected bike lane on Industrial road that goes up to the bridge, on the river side of the road  (maybe part of the SRT?).  I think you can get on it where Moser Road  becomes Industrial Road.  After dark some people may want to use this?  We  did not, and some of the cars that passed us on the road seemed annoyed   that we weren't on the path.

[Ed: Patrick is talking about mile 113. There is a SRT segment accessible on the left.  It begins at the traffic-light triangle intersection between Moser and Industrial Rd, just before the sewer plant on the right and the sports dome on the left. You might consider crossing over (cautiously) using it as it leads directly to the Keim St bridge and puts you in a "protected" space (look out for broken glass and barriers "protecting" you there), and if you don't use it, auto drivers might give you the stink eye, but personally I don't like the awkward left turn required to get on it. You could just as well stay right on Industrial and cross over (cautiously) when you reach Keim St.  If you decide to cross over earlier rather than later, maybe it's safest to do it at the intersection: merge onto left-turn lane but continue straight onto the sidewalk on the left side of the rode which will become two lane bike path.]

Optional cross over to SRT at mile 181.9
 

  • The usual large amounts of glass and crap on the outbound  side of the 25th street bridge. 
  • In our opinion the omission of the [bike] paths doesn't change too much.              

*** Original Post

A pre-ride of the Rotated Yet Another River to River Ride, Port Providence Start, was conducted on 23 November 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 5, and the latest RWGPS route was modified 2022-11-24 11:13:18 EST. Both are available online.

Spectacular holiday display through Phoenixville at the finish

Albeit a tad chilly to start out, with temperatures in the mid 20's, as the sun rose the frost evaporated and it became a great day to be on the bike. This YARRR route has always been a little too hot in the summer; as a Winter route the warmth is a lot more welcome.

This edition of the YARRR has been rotated so that the start/finish is now at Port Providence, near Phoenixville. I hope that this change makes this classic route more accessible to riders from Philly and the nearby suburbs.  The finish in Port Providence has the advantage of allowing a finish gathering in the warmth of Fitzwater Station pub, rather than at the previous outdoor pavilion.  The route also has been altered to eliminate virtually all of the bike trails, routing instead on nearby roads. This makes the course a little more Winter friendly.  

These changes have resulted in a route that is significantly tougher than the original YARRR, which was not at all easy. Specifically, the new routing from Rieglesville to Easton includes a full-frontal attack on South Mountain, including Stouts Valley Rd and Cider Mill Rd. After humping yet again over South Mountain, this time via Lower Saucon Rd (always a favorite), there is the newly added, and glorious descent on Applebutter Rd into Hellertown. But now, instead of the flat, easy Saucon Rail Trail, the course threads throuh Hellertown via back streets, and then skirts the Kohlberg and Flint Hill via Apples Church and Taylor Rd, which are significantly "rolling".  

Another challenging aspect of the route changes combined with the proximity to the Winter Solstice is that the southwestern course leg is aimed directly toward the setting sun. Don't forget your sunglasses and be very careful to look twice for traffic. The sun glare can make it difficult to see an oncoming car. 

Night Riding

Many riders will be unable to complete this difficult course in the daylight and may need to ride one or more hours after sunset. Please be prepared for night riding. Darkness is only half the problem. It gets cold quickly in the Winter after sunset. Have extra layers. Batteries tend to drain quicker too. If you use batteries for lighting, make sure they are fully charged and you have extras.  Reflective outer wear is a must. I recommend a full reflective vest rather than a Sam Browne sash -- the full vest acts as another wind-shell warming layer. Make sure you wear your reflective vest on the outside of your jacket! And don't forget the ankle bands outside the booties. 

Finishing after dark provides a special treat at the end. You will emerge from the suburban darkness onto the main street of Phoenixville, with it's spectacular holiday light display. Happy Holidays!


 
Look out for cars, pedestrians, and other distracted creatures when riding through Phoenixville at night

Historical Note

The YARRR (Yet Another River to River Ride) has a long history, perhaps longer than my own history as a bike rider. My first encounter with the concept of a bike ride between the Delaware and Schuylkill was when Pennsylvania Bicycle Club organized the River to River Century back in the early 1980s. The R2R  was their second yearly club century, paired with the popular Lake Nokamixon Century. Because of limited resources, PBC eventually dropped the River to River Century from the schedule, but a few years later the Heritage Conservancy revived the same route as a PA Route 113 Heritage Corridor Century between Phoenixville and Tinicum. Their ride continues today, but (because of limited resources) the Conservancy shortened it to a metric century that now doesn't reach both rivers.  Independent of these club centuries, Rick Carpenter created a River to River permanent that followed a similar path.  Upon riding Rick's perm one time, which had somewhat 'utilitarian' routing that seemed to focus on donut shops and former RC homesteads.  I thought I could create a prettier route without loss of calories. Thus was born yet another River to River ride. This new "YARRR" connected Easton (Delaware and Lehigh) with the Schuylkill at Phoenixville and Pottstown using the best parts of all the previous River to River courses.


--

Chris Nadovich

RBA, Eastern PA

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Reflective Vest Order

Many of you ordered a reflective vest through PA Randonneurs, paying $60 in advance (plus optional shipping). You may be wondering what happened to that order and to your money.

The reflective vests ordered through PA Randonneurs were part of a larger order placed by RUSA on behalf of itself and various clubs. Unfortunately, the vest vendor, VOMax, went missing, never delivering any vests. All funds paid to the vendor for this order are lost, with no hope of recovery. This includes all funds paid by RUSA, other clubs, and by PA Randonnours.

You trusted PA Randonneurs with your money for this vest order. Although it's sad that these funds were lost, PA Randonneurs does not want to lose your trust also. Therefore we must make you whole for your lost funds.  

There are two refund options for you to choose from.

Option 1) Your PA Rando membership will be extended three years to repay you for your loss. This is the default option. If we don't hear from you, this is what we will do. If you paid extra for vest shipping, we will extend your membership four years. PA Rando club membership is a donation to support randonneuring in Eastern PA and gives you discounts for PA Rando events.

Option 2) Alternatively, we will use club funds to give your money back through PayPal. If you would like to be repaid in this way, please message me and confirm your PayPal payment email address for the refund.  I will process your payment as soon as I hear from you.

Please don't hesitate to ask for the PayPal refund option if this is what you want to do. Otherwise,
your membership renewal date will be automatically extended and PA Rando thanks you for your donation.

On behalf of PA Randonneurs I apologize for this unfortunate situation.

--
Chris Nadovich
RBA Eastern PA


Sunday, November 6, 2022

Tscheschter Kaundi 200K Ride Report

There was an incredible turnout of 46 riders, with 45 riders completing the course within the time limit. Thank you to all who helped spread the word about this event.

Camp Linden Rd along the Brandywine (photo by Johannes Burge)

We couldn't have asked for better weather for a November ride. The temperature started around 60 degrees as riders passed through the city. They encountered fog in the creek valleys of Delaware County but by the time they arrived on the quiet roads beyond the reach of the city, the sun came out and cleared the fog away. Temperatures reached the upper 70s by late afternoon.

Riders encountered patches of dense fog in Delaware County (photo taken by CJ Arayata)

12 riders completed their first brevet: Nicole Aptekar, John Falcone, Annie Gibson, Fran Hammond, Steve Horvath, Mackenzie King, Max Liang, Sophia Lofaso, Phil Luong, Frank Markey, Andrew Miller, and Daniel Oh. Chapeau to these new randonneurs! Every rider finished with plenty of time to spare.

Tim Gilligan cruised through and set a new course record with a time of 7:33. This was his first 200k but it must have felt like a more pleasant distance compared to his first brevet, which was the 24-hour flĂȘche earlier this year.

Johannes Burge at the Sheeder-Hall Bridge control (photo by Alex Miklasevich)
Riders reach the South Street Bridge control (video by Iwan Barankay)

The Tscheschter Kaundi course is meant to embody the randonnĂ©e, or countryside ramble. After a short ride into Center City Philadelphia, riders eventually found themselves far away from the hustle and bustle and on quiet roads surrounded by scenic landscapes. They encountered two controls located on bridges: one that brought riders face-to-face with the city, and a historic covered bridge where all that can be heard is the peaceful trickle of French Creek. In addition to the scenery changing, the traffic on the road even changed as riders passed horse-and-buggies in Pennsylvania Dutch Country. 

Vadim Gritsus encountered a different kind of traffic (photo by Mario Claussnitzer)
Riders on Apple Grove Rd (photo by CJ Arayata)

A special thank you to George Metzler for opening Cafe Metzler for us. The Cafe is especially helpful on this ride because it provides a friendly spot to recharge at the farthest point from the start/finish. This is part of what makes this event great for riders new to randonneuring. George even opened the cafe the weekend prior to the event for the pre-riders. Along with the October events, he has hosted many randos this season.

Keean Mansour and Ryan Stanis depart Cafe Metzler and begin their attempt to ride back to Philly hands free (photo by CJ Arayata)
CJ displays his stamp from the Cafe Metzler control

Another special thank you to Mackenzie King and Cadence Cycling for opening the shop bathroom and cafe for us at the start. 

Riders gather in front of Cadence Cycling for the start (photo by Ken Cappel)

This ride would not be possible without the support of volunteers. In addition to George's and Mackenzie's help, Ben Keenan participated in the pre-ride and helped with the start control; Iwan Barankay helped with the South St Bridge control; Amanda Jones-Layman helped with the South St Bridge and finish controls; Ivan Umble helped George at Cafe Metzler; Phil Mitch helped with the finish control; and Chris Nadovich provided help with the planning and organizing of the event. Travis Berry completed a pre-ride with the intention of volunteering, but unfortunately fell ill before the event.

Ben Thompson being greeted by Bill Scanga and Pat Gaffney at the finish

The Landing Kitchen made for a great finish as riders and friends gathered to share stories. Thanks to the weather, we did not need to warm up around the fireplaces like we did last year.

Max Liang is checked-in at the finish by volunteers Amanda Jones-Layman and Phil Mitch
Bob Olsen and Gilbert Torres arrive at the finish, along with Dawn Engstrom, Nigel Greene, Ello Shertzer, CJ Arayata, and just out of picture: Erik Wright and Phil Luong

Chris Nadovich, Sophia Lofaso, and Nicole Aptekar reach the finish

Vadim Gritsus writes:

Thank you for organizing a great event. This is by far one of the gentlest PA courses and nice weather did not hurt either. The highlight was a smooth finish on the bike path along Schuylkill River. Great ride and thank you for all the support!

CJ Arayata writes:

Thanks so much for arranging such beautiful weather for yesterday's brevet! I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting many of my old Brandywine Bicycle Club / West Chester Cycling Club stomping grounds, stopping for a rest at *the* Cafe Metzler (now with official brevet card stamp!), enjoying the vast openness of rural riding, and soaking in the scenery and fall colors, It was fun to catch up with the PA Rando veterans and meet many new faces on the same ride. Seeing the "new generation" donning the club colors brought a smile to my face!

Thanks to you, George, Iwan, and Amanda for putting on a great event yesterday. I really appreciate everything you and Iwan are doing to help sustain and grow out our Philadelphia rando community, so another big THANK YOU for running these shows so I don't have to :). My photos from yesterday are here

I recommend checking out CJ's photo album linked above. His photos form a ride report of their own.

Chris Nadovich writes

A great day on the bike with great weather. Spent time catching up with old friends and making some new friends. The scenery was spectacular -- almost more of a Fall Classic than the so-named "classic" last month. 

The day was extra sweet for me (as freshly minted RBA) because Brad Layman ran the whole show and did a flawless job of it. Excellent work Brad! With professional-quality volunteers like Brad organizing great events with expanded attendance, the future of our sport is secure here in Eastern PA.

Preliminary results for the brevet are posted. Please review the results and inform me if anything needs to be corrected. The results will be submitted to RUSA for final verification.

Up next is the Rotated Y.A.R.R. 200k on December 3. The ride will start and finish just outside Philadelphia at the Port Providence trailhead of the Schuylkill River Trail. 

Also, be on the lookout for a new SR series with starts and finishes in Philadelphia in 2023. The dates are on the club website but the details are still in the works. Two of the longer rides (400 and 600) will be paired with a 200k.

Brad Layman
Event Organizer

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Fall Classic - Brandywine 150/200k Ride Report

 The 2022 Fall Classic is in the books.  Eight riders clipped in for the 150k and navigated the route within time.  Of the fifteen riders tackling the longer, and more challenging 200k route fourteen finished in the permitted time; one rider suffered a ride-ending mechanical and was forced to retire early.  Results for the 150K and 200K have been posted on the website and will be submitted to RUSA after review.  Please check your result and let me know if it doesn't align with your recollections.

Pre-ride Briefing as the sun rises

The Fall Classic has long been a favorite among PA Randonneurs.  Though not always called the Fall Classic, PA Randonneurs has hosted a simultaneous brevet/populaire event in October every year since 2006 (the year PA Randonneurs was formed) as a way to introduce new riders to the sport.  Twenty-three riders finished the 2006 events, seven of whom were RUSA guests and presumably first-time randonneurs.    Twenty-four riders participated this year, six of whom were first-timers.  It appears the rationale for the Fall Classic remains just as valid today as it was sixteen years ago.

Early fall was looking quite summer-like.  Rain and cooler temps a few days prior magically transformed the route and brought out the splendor of fall colors for riders to enjoy.  Chilly morning temps offered a good lesson in wardrobe selection for the newcomers, but by early afternoon clear skies and brilliant sunshine had warmed to the low 70s.  It's hard to ask for better conditions for a fall ride.  Brats fresh off the grill and plenty of cold beverages awaited riders at the finish. Everyone looked pleased.

First 150k finisher Gary Rollman snuck in just as the cooks were sneaking a peak at the Phillies which  kick-started the grill into action.  The tail of the 150 field rolled in just ahead of 200k first finisher Ben Keenan which kept George busy on the grill.  

Iwan Barankay was the true rando recruiter, bringing his son Tibor Brankay and friend Shawn Mays for a first-time experience.  

"Big thanks to the organizer Andrew and the host George for staging such a wonderful event. I really appreciated to be able to come to this start/finish location as it is such an iconic and wonderful spot. Thank you again George for allowing us to crash your yard and for the delicious meal at the finish! Next I need to commend you both for the route. As you know I brough two novice riders who also were minors so this route was just perfect for them. Amazing scenery, quiet roads yet in excellent condition, and only very short sections on busy roads. It is also a good time to start doing brevets in PA as I feel car drivers have become much more accommodating.

I came with my son Tibor and his friend Shawn who are both very fit and strong middle-distance runners from the cutthroat Philly Public School Running League but of course are not familiar with riding such long events. We had an epic time: hard, cold hours in the morning but in amazing scenery; wonderful breakfast at the Centerville bakery; and, of course, the ever so gentle no-BS hills of Pennsylvania. Why is it that one ends up feeling that somehow one ascended more than descended during the course of the day? What stayed with us of course was the amazing weather, views, the autumnal colors, and the wonderful warm welcome at the finish. Many thanks!

Important Rando Lessons:  Remember to Eat

Tibor had this to say:  “This was my first ride and I enjoyed the way that the brevet system is set up. I had never done anything like that before, and I thought it was very fun the way that we had to get something at each of the stops. I also really liked the way that it was a challenging route, but that we could take breaks and eat or drink something good at one of these places out there, which made the event very enjoyable. One thing that was very challenging for me was the hills, especially on my bike, which made every hill very tough to get up, but I was able to finish which was very rewarding."

Shawn reflected:  "The bike ride was a splendid experience with the views and experiences all throughout the ride. It was a pleasure seeing all the people and amazing things western Pennsylvania has to offer seeing that I come from the city of Philadelphia. It was hard at times but would soon be reminded to just enjoy the route and not race to the finish line. Seeing this was my first Tour and longest ride to date it was a time to remember.”

Shawn, Iwan, & Tibor at the finish

Congratulations to both of these young men for their accomplishment.  I'm sure it will be the first of many cycling adventures.

Rick Lentz sent this after the ride:

Great job today. I enjoyed my re-visit to PA Rando country. Good seeing several folks from years past. Thank you all for putting on a nice event at the CafĂ©. 

I leap-frogged all day today with five significantly better riders than me who clearly waited up for me at the end. I had a pre-game plan to suffer easy spin on the hills and try to make up time on the descents and shortening the controle stops and consequently minimizing conversation there. These guys always caught me and disappeared up the road only to have me head out of the subsequent controles before them. In the end they rode off ahead of me a few miles after the low grade trail. Then with maybe 10 or so miles to go they not only made a pact to stick together, they slowed up and attempted to pull me in. I just couldn’t hang with them on the climbs, but I worked my butt off trying and then again working the descents to earn my keep. David Coccagna was the only one I knew in that group because he did a NJ 400 route I volunteered where I gave him an ice sock on a wicked hot day. No matter the reason, these fine gentlemen were a class act guiding me in. I sure appreciated that.

This isn't Rick's first time with PA Randonneurs.  He's ridden several FlĂšches over the years and was one of three riders who completed the memorable December brevet in which Cafe Metzler debuted. Bill Fischer and Len Zawodniak were also among the finishers in that memorable brevet.  All three were happy that we skipped the snow this time.

Len in his easy chair

This year's Fall Classic marked another milestone event in the annals of PA Randonneurs history: the  passing of the RBA torch.  Chris Nadovich became the third RBA of the Eastern Pennsylvania Region effective October 1.  He and my co-organizer George Metzler planned a little extra festivity (mostly unbeknownst to me) for the event.  There was cake.  There was ceremony.  In the true French tradition of the sport, Ben Keenan presented a bottle of wine in honor of the occasion!  (Thank you, Ben)  There was even an official brevet card highlighting six years at the helm.

The RBAs of PA Randonneurs

Let them eat cake
The outpouring of gratitude was truly humbling and left this RBA at a loss for words.  I had many doubts when I assumed the role of RBA.  Tom Rosenbauer set the bar quite high.  I wasn't certain I could keep the region going, much less improve anything. Event by event, series by  series, year by year, and with the help of many passionate volunteers, the club not only survived but thrived.  Core offerings such as the spring SR series, the FlĂšche, and the always popular R-12 series continued.  That was always a given.  New routes were conceived.  New organizers were developed.  The administrative functions necessary to stage a brevet were automated.  It wasn't always smooth sailing.  The loss of the Weisel Hostel, our longtime rando clubhouse, rocked the boat but also reminded us that change is healthy.  Thankfully, I had lots of help. 

Tom and Chris Nadovich were always ready to listen and weigh in on challenging decisions.  Few are aware of the behind the scenes activity needed to put on a brevet.  Whether determining a calendar of events, scoping out new bases of operation, developing and reviewing new routes, monitoring winter weather, and generally lending a helping hand whenever or wherever one is needed,  I can always count  on Tom & Chris to bring a wealth of experience and rando knowledge to make tough  calls.
  
Several new event organizers stepped up to join long-timers Chris and Bill Olsen in the ranks of "go-to" event organizers.  Bill Fischer, Steve Schoenfelder, Iwan Barankay, and Brad Layman have all contributed time and routes with the singular objective of maintaining  the traditions of PA Randonneurs.  In a volunteer, hobby sport such as randonneuring, expanding the base of volunteers willing and able to run a brevet is essential to long-term viability.  These guys also expand our geography, bringing in  Philly, mid-state and norther tier routes in addition to the Delaware River-based routes of the early days.  

George Metzler is perhaps the best brevet co-organizer around.  He's always ready to go explore new routes, open his home to host events, or cover for me when last-minute scheduling conflicts arise.  While not fully researched, I know that his house was a control on  the very first brevet I organized and is among the most visited site in all of the Lancaster County based brevets.  

Finally,  the ridership of this club confirms with each event that the effort is worthwhile. My email is generally flooded with upbeat messages after every event.  It is its own form of randonesia: no matter how challenging the arrangements before the start, it's all smiles when all the starters return safely to the finish with accolades and stories of their adventures.  It's motivating and addictive.   Thank you all for your trust and support over the past six years.  It has been an honor and a privilege to be your RBA.

The club is in good hands.  Chris is fully vetted and ready to go.  RUSA's normal approach with new RBAs is to limit them to 200 and 300k events.  Both Tom Rosenbauer and I remain involved to offer guidance, when asked.  Chris has been taking on more of the administrative tasks (apprenticeship).   He's ready to go and  PA Randonneurs will continue its planned  SR series and 1000k in 2023 as usual.   It's an exciting future. 

Next up is a second running of the Tscheschter Kaundi brevet on November 5.  Organized  by Brad Layman, the inaugural event was very popular with the outdoor finish at  Cadence  Cycling Center in Manyaunk.  Details are on  the website.  Registration is open through November 2.

Andrew Mead
- Former RBA & event  co-organizer








Friday, October 14, 2022

Tscheschter Kaundi 200k ***UPDATED with Course Notes

Update from Pre-Ride

On Oct 29, a pre-ride of the Tscheschter Kaundi 200 route was completed by Brad Layman and Ben Keenan. It was a beautiful day and the fall colors were peaking. They should still be peaking in the Philly region next week, while the areas to the west will be starting to fade.

Birch Run Rd

Overall, the course is good shape. Small tweaks were made to some cues to make navigation clearer. The RWGPS file and cue sheet (version 2) are updated.

Course notes:

The parking lot of the theater, Cadence Cycling, and Fine Wine & Good Spirits is easy to spot from Main Street. Please park away from the businesses and close to Main Street. The organizer will be set up in front of the bike shop for check-in. The closest convenience store is the Shell/Dunkin on Ridge Ave in East Falls.

Be prepared for some urban riding at the start. The first six miles are along the MLK Drive, which is closed to cars on the weekends. There are barriers at the intersection of Sweetbriar Dr, but riders can get through by riding around on the left side. After crossing the bridge over the Schuylkill, look for the pergola on the right, where we turn and get on the SRT.

After the staffed control on the South St Bridge, the route moves to city streets with bike lanes. Be careful crossing the intersection of expressway ramps on the South St Bridge - wait for green straight arrows. When turning onto Baltimore Ave at mile 7.7, be extra cautious in the bike lane because there will be parked cars to your right and trolley tracks to your left. Ride slowly when crossing intersections with trolley tracks and when crossing the tracks to turn left onto Whitby Ave (mile 8.9).

Follow signs for "Bicyclists Baltimore Pike"

After crossing Cobbs Creek we leave Philly, enter Delaware County and ride through some of denser communities of the county. Follow the “Bicyclists Baltimore Pike” signs to Swarthmore.

The next section goes through some quiet, leafy neighborhoods around Media. There are road closure signs for Rose Tree Rd which can be ignored. Look for the Giant Sequoia tree in the Tyler Arboretum around mile 23.7.

There is a Wawa on the left side of Dilworthtown Rd near mile 32. This is the last chance to resupply before Cafe Metzler at mile 64. We enter Tscheschter Kaundi upon crossing the busy Wilmington Pike/US 202.

Creek Rd

The next section follows Brandywine Creek. There is a road closure in Embreeville due to a bridge closure. Ignore the closure signs and take a right on Harveys Bridge Rd.

Brad, George, and Ben at Cafe Metzler

Cafe Metzler is easy to spot as you approach on Noble Road. Look for the garage in the back. As you approach the controle, shift to an easy gear to prepare for the steep climb up the driveway on your way out. Be sure to thank George for hosting our midpoint controle.

Once you reach Ludwigs Corner around mile 91, it is mostly downhill and then flat. The next controle is an info controle at Sheeder Hall Bridge - do not cross the bridge. A short and smooth gravel section follows on French Creek Rd. There is a bridge with steel grate surface following a corner at mile 98.3. Once you cross the Schuylkill River, follow Walnut St and Port Providence Rd to the SRT.

The route leaves the SRT at mile 122.7 and takes streets through Manayunk. Once you make the left on Main St,  follow it back to the parking lot where we started. When you turn right into the lot, look for the Pencoyd Bridge. You can use the wide sidewalk or the road to cross the bridge, but note that the roadway is wide enough for only one car so look to make sure the road is clear. Be careful of bollards if using the sidewalk. The Landing Kitchen is on the left after crossing the bridge. Volunteers will be sitting on the patio outside the cafe. If the weather forecast changes to a rainy day, we will change the final controle to the Manayunk Brewery. If necessary, this change would be announced well before the day of the ride.

Riders will need lights and reflective gear at the start of the brevet and when riding after sunset. Sunrise is at 7:36 and sunset is at 17:52.

Event details and registration are available on the website. Registration is open until midnight on Wednesday, November 2.


***Original Post***

The Tscheschter Kaundi 200 is back on the calendar for November 5. The start/finish is in Manayunk, Philadelphia. Only $20 for PA members. And it includes a stop at Cafe Metzler! The last two photos were taken in early November last year on a pre-pre-ride as I was creating the route, so there should still be some fall foliage to enjoy. Event link: https://parando.org/info/event/378

South Street Bridge

Nick M passing a secret control

Entering Lancaster County

Tscheschter Kaundi scenery

Creek Road along the Brandywine


Saturday, October 1, 2022

Brandywine 200K Pre-Ride Course Notes *** Price reduced

Update  2 ***

Its deja vu from the 1000k.  I've learned that construction on the Embreeville bridge used on both the 150 & 200k routes is set to begin this week.  While the bridge has been closed for a while and passible by bike through the barriers as Chris noted, an expedited construction schedule was announced which will likely result in significant construction activity this week.  Not wanting to repeat missing bridge syndrome from the 1000k, the routes have been updated to bypass the bridge.  It's an easy detour, but also easy to miss if you're not paying attention.   The detour departs the route roughly a mile before you'd encounter the problematic bridge.  It's not a huge backtrack if you reach an impassible bridge, but not a great way to start a brevet, either.  

Riders please make sure  you  have the latest versions of the  cue sheet.  The latest 200k Cue  Sheet is Version 4.  The latest 150k Cue  Sheet is Version 4.  Both are last updated 10/8/2022. 

Update 1 ***

The price of both the 200K and the 150K have been reduced to $35. Anybody who paid the original incorrect price has been refunded. 

Original Post ***

A Pre-ride of the Fall Classic Brandywine 200K route was conducted on 30 September by Chris Nadovich. Based on my notes and comments the route has been updated. The latest Cue Sheet is Version 2 and the RWGPS was last modified 2022-10-1 13:15:15 EDT.  Make sure you have the latest route data as there have been some important changes.  Download the latest route info here. 

https://i.pinimg.com/originals/ad/e8/14/ade8141e866bc8c86cfa1b348834e4e1.jpg

I very much enjoyed my pre-ride of the Fall Classic Brandywine 200K. Indeed, there is much to like about this course. Highlights include meandering along Brandywine Creek, lots of foliage, visiting THREE states, riding along numerous roads incorporating the word "Hollow," and an almost unheard of in Lancaster County 3 mile descent. (Actually 2.7 miles)

Oh yeah, and how back-loaded the climbing is. The first half is just this pleasant and flat twiddle along pretty creeks. Then WHAM! So don't slow down too much to admire the pretty scenery in the first half. You'll have many opportunities to go slow in the second half.  

There are several steel deck bridges and bad-angle RR track crossings noted in the cues. Be alert for them. Some of the descents are fast -- please don't go faster than your guardian angel. I saw gravel on a few curves, and wildlife darting across the road. Be careful out there. 

The Embreeville Bridge and road approach is closed, but I found it easy to pass through the barriers.

Maybe the least interesting part of the course in the Enola Low Grade Trail. This is flat and straight, and then it becomes flat and straight, till it's flat and straight, and then -- yeah, flat and straight.  To avoid thoughts of self harm, I played little workout games along its length, trying different gear combinations and different cadences to figure out what gave me the lowest heart rate for a given speed. Maybe you too can invent some innovative way to avoid boredom on the Enola LGT.

--

C