Saturday, October 1, 2022

Brandywine 200K Pre-Ride Course Notes

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. 

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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

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

2023 PBP Pre-Registration Info

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Thinking about PBP in 2023?

PBP pre-registrations are open to those who have completed at least one BRM qualifying ride) from Nov 01, 2021 to Oct 30, 2022. The  preregistration date depends on the longest  brevet validated and spots are subject to availability at the time  of preregistration.  Preregistration starts at 12 PM French Standard Time (UTC +1) on the following dates.

1000/1200K: January 14, 2023                                       
600K: January 28, 2023                                                         
400K: February 11, 2023                                                        
300K: February 25, 2023                                                        
200K: March 11, 2023

Here are some details on registration itself:                                   
                                                                                
Registrations can only be made through internet on the Paris-Brest-Paris Randonneur® website  where you can view the status of your registration validation.                                     
                                                                                
You can register as soon as you have completed at least three of the four qualifying brevets which are scheduled between October 31, 2022 and June 30, 2023. 

Registration for preregistered riders, FFCT-licencees,  opens at 12 PM, French Standard Time) May 27, 2023.  For "Others" it opens June 3, 2023. The registration deadline is July 2, 2023.      

Registrations will be processed according to the date of payment until the limit of available places is reached. If said limit of availability is reached, you will be placed on a waiting list and your payment won’t be cashed.

The full rules for registration and other aspects of PBP are given here.

Monday, September 26, 2022

Endless Mountains Liberty Bell 1000K Ride Report

 

EMLB1000Out of 13 starters, nine extraordinarily tough randonneurs  braved mountains, wind, cold, rain, and moonless nights to finish the Endless Mountains Liberty Bell 1000K. In fact, they crushed it -- or rather they CRACKED the EM Liberty Bell with sub-70 times. It's an amazing achievement to finish this event, but to finish sub-70 hours surpasses amazing. Chapeau to these tough nine. Bravo!

  • Iwan Barankay
  • Darren Bartels
  • Jose Blanco
  • Ed Felker
  • Misha Heller
  • Dale Houck
  • Ben Keenan
  • Steve Kunsak
  • Brad Layman

And congratulations and well-done to all who had the confidence and strength of character to even attempt this audacious challenge!  Preliminary results have been posted to 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.

The ride began with an audax-style tour of Center City Philadelphia paced by Patrick and Cecilie Gaffney on their tandem.  There was a control at Independence Hall near the Liberty bell, where riders stopped to take pictures and have there cards stamped. Such a tour would have been impossible during normal hours, but at 4AM the roads were practically empty and the beautiful city could be admired without worrying about the traffic. 

Riders at the start heading past Philadelphia City Hall on the way to the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall

 

Pat and Cecilie stamping brevet cards at the Independence Hall control

After that pleasant beginning, the party was over. The first day of the Endless Mountains series of brevets is among the most difficult of routes. Riders knuckled down to do the work. 

Unfortunatel, two riders DNFed because of crashes early in the event. At roughly mile 84 as the rain began, there was a stretch of road where the oil on the surface combined with the first mist of rain to make a downhill curve slick as ice. Two riders crashed here, Mimo DeMarco and Charles Coldwell, although several riders reported that they almost crashed.   Mimo seemed to be hurt worse and was evacuated by ambulance to the hospital, but turned out to have nothing broken and was released the next day. Mimo's bike didn't fare as well. The handlebars were broken along with other damage.

 

Charles Coldwell had road rash, and a de-trued rear wheel, but was concerned about some back  pain. He was evacuated by the organizer to the nearby train station where he returned home.

The rain got worse and worse into the evening of the first day, and the temperatures dropped. Several riders sought some impromptu rest during the first night as the cold rain wore on them. Travis Berry ditch napped for this purpose, sleeping in a lightweight bivvy. He gave it high marks for keeping him warm despite the wet conditions. What brand of bivvy was that Travis? I want one. 

Dawn Engstrom found a roof to shelter under, protected from the rain as she napped, but awoke to find she was at the muzzle of a shotgun. This shelter she found was the entryway roof of Marchio's Florist and Greenhouses,  which is pretty much the only civilized structure on the soul-sucking gravel climbs of Great Bend Turnpike. Dawn apparently tripped the security motion detector and the owner, who had been robbed several times recently, confronted the sleeping randonneuse with his 12-gauge. Quickly recognizing that he was dealing with a wayward traveler in need of help rather than a criminal, the owner unlocked the shop for Dawn to sleep in, got her a blanket and a warm drink. Thank you Marchio! 

Just a few more miles down the road, Ed Felker and Steven Kunsak chose the Flying J truckstop at the I81 interchange as their sleep spot. As a way to get warm, one of them doffed the wet cycling gear and lounged comfortably in a Flying J hoodie purchased at the gift shop.  

Of course, the goal for sheltering the first day is the overnight hotel in Owego, NY. Past history with the Endless Mountains events has shown time and time again that those riders that can somehow make it to the first overnight will generally finish the event. Control captain Bill Fischer with the assistance of Bill Olsen created a warm and welcoming reception for exhausted riders that were able to reach Owego. 

Speaking of questionable shelter, there was some pre-ride concern that the second overnight, the Aderi Hotel, was a sub-par sh*thole that would be too disgusting to be acceptable. As it turned out, most thought the place was rather nice (albeit a little run down) and the rooms adequately clean and comfortable. Control captain at the Alderi, Steve Schoenfelder and his SO Susan Arisumi, put together a top notch buffet of vegan chili (with meat/cheese option), rice, and other goodies for riders staying at the overnight. 

Steve (with Susan's help) put up a marvelous spread for riders at the Lewisburg control

Maybe the only real annoyance at the Alderi was the labyrinthine entrance navigation through the breezeway and around the pool. To mitigate any confusion, Steve channeled his inner graffiti artist and bombed the whole place with PA Rando signage.   

Some of the signage greeting riders at the Aderi

No riding in Central PA is "easy" but after the challenges of the first day, the second and third days of the EM1000 are more forgiving. Along with the moderating terrain, the weather also moderated. There was some wind initially, and the evening temperatures dipped to the 40s, but generally speaking day two and three offered a considerably better cycling experience. Finally, the riders were able to enjoy the beautiful scenery this region has to offer. 

First finisher Ben Keenan was a model of efficiency and perseverance, achieving his fast time not by riding fast so much, but rather by avoiding unnecessary downtime. This was his first event over 600K but he rode it like a seasoned grand brevet rider.  Kudos Ben!

First finisher Ben Keenan arrives at Chamounix

Dale Houck was riding well on day three when it began receiving credit card fraud alerts on his cell phone. As it turned out, some criminal had broken into his car parked at the start finish and stolen a backpack containing some of his credit cards. After some anxious moments, calls to  the police, insurance companies,  etc... Dale somehow was able to shake off this real world distraction and went back to riding strong and finished along side Misha Heller and Jose Blanco


Dale Houck: brevet rider with banana and bagel

Darren Bartels gave the organizers some concern at the first overnight when he slept almost three hours past the closing time, but Darren clearly knows what he's doing. His strong legs easily made up that deficit and Darren finished the overall event in good time with everyone else. 



The Volunteer team supporting this event was world-class pro. Each of the volunteers was an experienced grand brevet rider who took on the responsibility supporting a significant part of the event and handled their part of the job with cool efficiency.  I've never before seen an event with such a high quality group of volunteers. The main control captains were

  • Iwan Barankay -- start/finish, pre-ride
  • Bob Dye -- Shohola control
  • Bill Fischer -- Owego overnight
  • Steve Shoenfelder -- Lewisburg overnight
  • Greg Keenan -- Lamar control AND Pine Grove control

Assisting these captains were

  • Patrick and Cecilie Gaffney -- Bike inspection, pace-tandem for audax start, and Liberty Bell Control
  • Susan Arisumi -- Lewisburg control food chef
  • Brad Layman -- start/finish, pre-ride
  • Bill Olsen -- consultant to the  organizer

It's a truism that quality randonneuring events aren't possible without volunteers. And super-quality volunteers like these lead to super-quality events. Thank you one and all for your service.

Bill Olsen inspects the "unusual" facilities at the Aderi

 

Darren Bartels has an extensive ride report on Strava.

Ed Felker writes...

Great event, it was fun even when it was something else completely!

Big applause for all who rode, including our intrepid pre-riders and Chris and all the volunteers. All the best to Chip and Mimo as they recover.      

I've uploaded my photos to a Google Drive folder. Feel free to use with credit to me, other than the one of Steven and me that was taken by Darren!                                                                               

Brad Layman writes... 
Chris, thank you for organizing this grand brevet. Iwan, thank you for leading the organizing of the start and finish. Bill and Steve, thank you for being on call for us on the pre-ride. Thank you to everyone else who helped put this event together.

The challenging route made for an epic ride. I really enjoyed the climbing and scenery. My favorite section was the stretch between Liberty and Waterville. The slight downhill gradient, mountain and valley scenery, and quiet roads made that a highlight of an event that was full of great riding. On the pre-ride, Iwan and I were lucky that the rain we dealt with did not bring along cold temps or wind. Chapeau to the riders for dealing with the cold, wet, and windy conditions on their first day. It was a lot of fun greeting and sharing stories with the riders at the finish. Great ride to all!

Nine Finishers, Nine Postcards...




Next month, a much more accessible event for riders with less than liberty-bell-cracking stamina: the Fall Classic 150/200K at Cafe Metzler. This will be a special event as it also represents the first event for new RBA Chris Nadovich, as the EMLB1000K was the last event for previous RBA Andrew Mead who has served from 2016 through 2022. There will be festivities and amusing banter commemorating the passing of the RBA torch -- something you don't want to miss. It's your last chance for you to complain to Andrew about his courses, and your first chance to complain to Chris about his courses. Details for the 150K and the 200K are posted on the event website. We hope to see you there.





Thursday, September 15, 2022

Endless Mountains Liberty Bell 1000K Course Notes *** UPDATE 2

UPDATE 2****

At 255.7 the cue mentions the wrong hotel name. The correct hotel  for the overnight in Owego, NY is given on the brevet card and the main cue. It's the “Quality Inn. There are other hotels nearby, so please make sure you go to the Quality Inn in Owego for your overnight. A bed will be waiting.

We have corrected this error and updated the cue sheet to version 12. As there have been no changes to the route itself other than cue note text, it's not necessary to re-download the RWGPS data if you only use the GPS data for turn navigation. 

In summary, at 115.5 you will need to climb past barriers to proceed on the closed NPS615/Flatbrook Rd, at 255.7 the correct hotel is the Quality Inn. And look out for wildlife.

 

UPDATE 1****

At  mile 115.5, at the bottom of the the steep descent of Old Mine Rd, there is a T right onto National Park Service Road 615 (Walpack   Flatbrook Road). This road is closed with concrete barriers because of some debris.  It seems that riders can just  squeeze past those barriers and keep riding with caution, alert for debris and other road problems.  Preriders report that the debris on the closed road is easily avoided by bikes (no so much for cars).  Since the option to ride NPS615 is viable, there is no change in the cue sheet or GPS route.

If you do not want to squeeze past the barriers and ride the closed section of NPS615, you could conceivably detour T-left back at mile 115.5, follow Old Mine Rd and end up back on course eventually as Old Mine merges back into NPS 615 after the blockage. That detour adds some climbs and bonus miles.

The preriders reported that there is considerable wildlife on the course, especially day 1 and day 2. There are always a lot of deer, as deer are forest "edge" creatures that like to hang out along roads. If you see one deer crossing the road, slow down. There might be another. 

You also have a good chance of seeing black bear. The forests near Old Mine Rd have a large population of this species. They are not typically aggressive or dangerous.

If you encounter a bear, this is what PA DCNR says you should do:

Alert the bear — If you see a bear, make some noise to alert the bear of your presence, giving it ample time and space to turn and leave. Avoid being caught up in the excitement of seeing a bear and inadvertently letting the bear get too close before surprising it.

Get back — If you have a close encounter, back away slowly while facing the bear so you always know where the bear is and how its reacting. Wild bears rarely attack people. Slowly backing away diffuses the situation and gives the bear room to flee.

Stay calm — encountering a bear can be startling, but try to remain calm. While moving away, avoid sudden movements and talk to help the bear keep track of your retreat. Don’t turn and run or attempt to climb a tree. Running may prompt the bear to give chase, and climbing a tree could be interpreted as a threat to any cubs that are present since cubs often climb trees when startled.

Pay attention — Bears will use all of their senses to figure out what you are. If they recognize you as a person, some may stand upright or move closer in their efforts to detect odors in the air currents. Don't consider this a sign of aggression. Once a bear identifies you, it will usually leave. If it begins to slowly approach you, face the bear, wave your arms wildly and shout while continuing to back away. The idea is to intimidate the bear into retreating. Swing a stick, or whatever is handy, if the bear gets close.

If suddenly surprised, some bears may feel threatened and give warning signs that they are uncomfortable. They may clack their jaws together or sway their head; those are signs for you to leave. Some bears have been known to charge to within a few feet when threatened. If this occurs, wave your arms wildly and shout at the bear.

Fight back — Black bear attacks are extremely rare. If a black bear attacks, fight back. Bears have been driven away when people have fought back with rocks, sticks, binoculars and even their bare hands.

 

Original Post ***

A pre-ride of the Endless Mountains Liberty Bell 1000K was conducted on September 9, by Iwan Barankay and Brad Layman. Based on this pre-ride the RWGPS route was  updated 2022-09-15 11:26:19 EDT and the cue sheet is now version 11. All information is on the event web page

Some GPS units may not have enough memory to swallow the full route. For the convenience of those who have such units, the course has been broken into three segments: day 1, day2, and day3. I strongly suggest that you load these three segments into your GPS unit (and check them by starting to nav with them) unless you are 100% sure your unit can handle the whole route. Some GPS gadgets don't complain when the route is downloaded -- but choke when you actually try to nav with the route. Please test thoroughly before you start riding. 

Also, we REQUIRE that you read through the cue sheet in advance, and carry a copy of the cue sheet with you during the ride, even if you intend to use GPS for navigation. The cue sheet is a fool-proof navigation backup. Also, it contains important safety warnings and suggestions for replenishment stops. You MUST read it and we strongly suggest you refer to it often during the ride so you aren't surprised by a hazard or miss an important rest stop. The latest cue sheet can be downloaded from here in landscape or portrait PDF, or CSV suitable for custom reformatting. Please print a copy of the cues in your favorite format and have it with you at the start. We will check that you have a cue sheet at bike inspection.

I wish all of you bon courage for attempting this difficult 1000K brevet. My experience says that if you can somehow get to the first overnight, and then get back on the bike to ride again day 2, you will complete the event without trouble. No matter how bad you feel going into the first overnight, really, really, really try to continue. Once you start riding again after some sleep, you will feel considerably better and I promise your confidence will return. Bonne route!

--

Chris Nadovich 

Eastern PA RBA designate


Course Notes

The following course notes were compiled by Iwan Barankay...

Following sections of the original famed Endless Mountains brevet of the past, this edition is starting and finishing in Philadelphia and is “shortened” to 1000km.

The EMLB1000K is a challenging route. Period. When a brevet is challenging it means something different compared to a challenging Café ride. It implies more forethought, planning, and better pacing. We have written some safety suggestions based on our pre-ride experience and posted them at the end. Ignore them at your peril.

A general note is that construction can spring up at any time especially in the initial and final miles as you ride in and out of Philadelphia. We have placed notes of constructions into the cue sheet but there can always be more. Another general note is concerning bridges. Bridges are slippery, they can have ruts where your wheel can get stuck in or they are dangerous in some other creative way. Please take your time over each and every bridge.

There are multiple gravel sections and the roads can be rough. 28mm or higher tire widths are recommended.


Day 1

The start is at Chamounix Mansions near the center of Philadelphia up on a hill surrounded by horse stables and a park. A very iconic place. As you roll out from the start you might notice some cars parked along the road with occupants doing, I guess, NYT cross-word puzzles.

Philadelphia is dark and quiet at 4am so you get to enjoy riding along some major boulevards without the noise and stress of traffic. Enjoy the tour of the city’s major sights.

Leaving Philadelphia takes you through easy routes along the Schuylkill River Trail and then through the Northern suburbs.

After you cross the Delaware you enter Hunterdon County. Milford is a good stop for a second breakfast either at the convenience store after the bridge or even better just a little further along the road on the left is the Bagel shop where we stopped for breakfast.


Next come some short climbs, reliably getting the steepest just before the summit on Butler Road (79.8), Buttermilk Bridge Road (82.5 and 82.9), Brass Castle Road (87.1 and 88.9). 

It is imperative to refuel at the Dales Market in Blairstown (105.9 - Valero near it has restrooms accessible from the outside) as there is a serious climb afterwards plus a long stretch with no services except for water at 114.1 until the Shohala control (149.3).

After Shohala you ride along the gorgeous Lackawaxen river then refuel again at the Turkey Hill in Honesdale (177.8m). There are many challenging climbs on this route but perhaps the most challenging comes after mile 201 where Old Newburg Tpk becomes a steep dirt road that does not seem to end. One of us unclipped and walked the steepest section of this climb. No shame in that. After that climb the final 40miles along the Susquehanna River to the first overnight are quite easy. Food, drinks, and a room will be ready for you!

Day 2 

The route continues along the Susquehanna River but you might not get to see it as this section features long barrier walls to prevent flooding. (Some communities did not want the walls and chose to keep getting flooded instead. Sigh.)

There is a postcard control in Towanda (292.6) and opposite of it is a Dandy Mart with a sandwich counter and a nice staff. Note: Behind it down by the river is a very nice and quiet picnic shelter. We had a wonderful lunch stop complete with powernap there.

The climb after Canton (318) is long but not that hard considering. McConnell’s Country Store (control at mile 361) makes great burgers on delicious toasted Kaiser rolls. The challenging climb of the day is up Bull Run Road (413.8) before a long descent to the overnight control. Be careful on the stretch to the control as it is a lively road. Make use of the wide shoulder. Our charming and attractive volunteers await you at the Hotel in Lewisburg for the second overnight.

Day 3

The third day is the easiest in many ways. Services and food options become more frequent and you get to enjoy rolling hills where with some luck you can build up enough momentum on the downhills to go up most of the next hills. You get to practice that maneuver some thirty times (actually we lost count) This is perhaps the section with the best views!

The section after the Smoketown control east of Lancaster (554) is a little challenging as it is busy with lots of horse poop on the shoulder. Be careful when drinking from your bottles. After that comes another stunning section towards Phoenixville followed by the Schuylkill River Trail. The moon will have set by the time you reach it and the trail will be pitch black! We rode two abreast to illuminate the path and we encountered a lot of branches, animals, and walkers appearing out of the dark. Always be prepared to stop.

Entering into Philadelphia is a bit of a shock with lively traffic and absent minded (mindless?) drivers. One last push up a hill and you will be back to where you started two days ago at the Chamounix Mansion.

Safety Notes

***Don’t skip reading this section.***

  1. This is not a race.

  2. Use lights and reflective equipment as soon as visibility is poor.

  3. Take extra care on each and every bridge.

  4. Stop at all stop signs and look left and right twice to better judge the speed of oncoming traffic.

  5. At any intersection assume that none of the drivers have noticed or seen you.

  6. Ride single file on busy roads.

  7. Don’t text and ride. You can text much better and faster when stopped preferably at the control: I timed it. We want to avoid any accidents related to distracted riding.

  8. If you are sleepy pull over to drink, eat, have caffeine, take a nap etc. Do not risk falling asleep when cycling.

  9. When you need to stop get off the road.

  10. If you are in trouble, try rolling into the next control. Call or text us at the number on the brevet card. Don’t just vanish. We worry about you, and we want you to have a successful event.

Sleep

The night before the event will be short with crappy sleep. That is an empirical fact. Make sure to get as much sleep as possible the week leading up to the event. Starting September 15 or thereabouts stop drinking afternoon coffee/tea and don’t drink (too much) in the evenings so you have proper and high-quality sleep. This will make the event a much more enjoyable experience!

Check your bike

You need to give your bike a good look especially the brakes. Many of you either did a lot of long routes this year already or none. In either case double-check the bike. Consider getting fresh brake pads, cables and deal with the spongy feeling of your hydraulic brakes by bleeding them. There are many descends with twists and steep sections. This is not a race so take it easy on the downhills to avoid mishaps like on the Coulee Challenge where a rider somersaulted over a side-railing when coming too hot into a corner.

Lighting

Lighting and reflective gear are particularly important on this route as you will have considerable night-riding. You know the drill: lights front and rear, reflective vests, and ankle straps are a must. For this ride we REQUIRE TWO rear and front lights. The second light can be a backup of lesser quality than the main lights, but you MUST have a backup for both head and tail. Lights should be afixed to the bike directly, not clipped to a webbing loop on a bag. 

Day one starts at 4am. Sunrise is at 6:25am and sunset is at 7:35pm. There will 255m and a little over 18,000ft of climbing on day one but the hills are front loaded and the last 40m are downhill and relatively flat. In any case the predicted arrival will be at 2am -1/+3h (!) so your lighting must last 10-13 hours on day one alone. Of course, if you have a dynamo, you are in great shape, but you still must bring back-up lights in case that dyno fails – as it did for PA SR rider Amy Lippe half-way during her Transcontinental Race across Europe this year.

On the pre-ride I had two battery run front lights on my handlebars and three rear lights, of which two were fixed to the frame and one to the helmet. If you are in the market for battery run lights, there has been a productive discussion about it on the RUSA discussion board here. A good model is the Fenix BC26R ($90) as it has a 5000mAh battery and will last a long time. A good alternative, of which I have two, is the Light & Motion Rando 500 ($72). It also has a large battery plus it can be run on low whilst charging at the same time.

Also consider the benefits of a USB power bank not just as a fail-safe but as a great way to save time: it allows you to charge your lights and any other devices whilst riding. I like to charge up my lights and phone on the ride so I reach the overnight fully charged leaving me with just the battery to charge. This does away with hunting for outlets and dealing with all your devices at the end and at the beginning of each ride saving you about 20-30minutes (believe me I timed riders with rando-brains trying to understand how electricity works). Anker makes good quality USB power banks like this $26 Micro-USB 10000mAh (180 g / 6.3 oz) or this one with fast-charging USB-C ($43).

Supplies

We highlighted available gas stations, shops, and cafes along the route. You see them at good intervals but there is about a 40m stretch on day one without anything other than a public restroom with water. We will serve breakfast and dinner at the start/finish and the overnights and will be stationed at some secret controls and can provide some water but make sure to plan to get resupplied at the controls and stores. Self-sufficiency is paramount.

Make sure you have all the tools to retighten each screw and bolt and restock your repair kits. In case you installed something new on your bike double-check you have the tool for it on your multitool. A common trick is to wrap some electric tape around the pump or CO2 cartridge: it will come in handy for something or someone at some point.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

2022 Rusty Rail 200K Ride Report

Eight intrepid riders clipped-in to accept the challenge of the Rusty Rail 200 on Saturday,  conquering four epic ascents and navigating through an impromptu detour on Sawmill Road with aplomb.  The weather was near perfect with minimal headwinds and comfortable temperatures allowing all riders to complete the ride in short order.

Newly-minted randonneurs Nick and Jared



The climb up Stone Mountain


It is not too early to register for the PA Randonneurs Fall Classic on October 15th, featuring 150K and 200K options of the Brandywine: Horses, Houses, and Hollows.  The ride starts and ends at Café Metzler in Atglen, PA.





Monday, August 29, 2022

RUSTY RAIL 200K Pre-Ride Report




For September, PA Randonneurs is offering up the third running of the Rusty Rail 200K on Saturday, the 10th.  Located in Central PA, it ranges between Mifflinburg and State College (Happy Valley), providing a bit of a change from the usual PAR fare.

A pre-ride was conducted by Steve Schoenfelder today who found the course to be as challenging and beautiful as ever.  There is new pavement on scenic Sinking Spring Rd making it one of the best places to ride a bike in the state.  The most significant change to the route is the closure of Subway at the first intermediate control in Milroy.  The dining options are all at one location now: Rutters or Arbys.

The route is 100% paved, so venturing off pavement onto gravel or dirt roads is not recommended during this event.

The ride starts and ends at the Rusty Rail Brewing Company, the largest brewpub in Central PA where great food and beverages may be had.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Endless Mountains Liberty Bell -- Pre-pre Announcement

EMLB1000 

The final day is approaching for  registering for the EM Liberty Bell 1000K out of Philadelphia. Click here for the event info, cuesheets, RWGPS link, and online registration. The final-final date is 8 September, but we might need to advance this. If you intend to ride I recommend registering right now. We have a few more open beds at the overnights. As soon as all those beds are filled, we will cut off registration. So please register now if you want to ride, as I will cut off registration early if we fill up.  

There are a few minor announcements regarding the event:

Second Overnight

The overnight hotel for the second overnight stop has been changed. Formerly, the second overnight was in Pine Grove, but this seemed a little late. We've moved the hotel for the second overnight to be in Lewisburg, PA. This provides a better 400/300/300K split of the 1000K and avoids issues with "check out time". Also, the controls after both overnights have been changed to untimed controls. So if you sleep a little late, you'll have two segments to catch up to the clock.  

GPS Data and Route Splitting

There continue to be minor changes to the route. These have all been published to the website and the latest  cues are version 7. Please be sure you download/print the latest data/cuesheet. There certainly will be more changes in the upcoming weeks and there is a pre-ride scheduled. 

The GPS data for this 1000K route will not fit in many GPS devices. It's too big. My recommendation is to split the route yourself, perhaps into at least three routes, corresponding to the first, second, and third days. Then TEST IT in your GPS unit. Don't just download it to the device and hope it will work brevet day. Rather, well before the start, and immediately after you download it, activate the route and see if there's an error when the device tries to navigate with it.  I will try to split the route into three and publish the three segments after the pre-ride, but the split segments will be "unofficial" and I can't guarantee they will fit in your device. My recommendation is that you do this yourself, and test it.

Vegan Options

PA Rando has always had vegetarian options at meals, but at the request of our vegan riders, we will be trying to have as many vegan options as possible. Our breakfast oatmeal has always been made with no milk.   When we have pasta with sauce the sauce has always been marinara with no cheese. We have had nut based creamer for coffee. And we've usually had hummus. 

But now, we will add vegan yogurt. We will still have peanut butter, but we'll switch from Nutella to Justin's. Tomato pie will be no cheese. We  will try to find at least one vegan baked good. We will try to have good vegan entrees that everyone will like: roasted potatoes, rice and beans, pasta marinara, pierogies, etc.... 

Carnivores please don't panic. There still will be meat options, but we will make the effort to have vegan options alongside. I hope this helps vegan riders do better and encourages them to ride our events (and maybe even volunteer to help out at some ... hint, hint). 

Also, I emphasize that we can only try to do this. I'm afraid PA Rando cannot guarantee that there will be sufficient food that you personally like hot and ready for you at every staffed control. That's not the deal. Fundamentally, randonneuring is self supported. You and only you are responsible for your needs.  PA Rando will try our best to have good food options available at the start, finish, and overnights. If the past is any indication, we do this pretty well compared to some other regions. But it can be difficult to put together a multi-option menu in a remote control location. Have mercy on the very few and very tired and overworked volunteers who in running a complex event have lots of things to worry about.  They don't need more worries. They are doing their best for you.

--

Chris Nadovich


Sunday, August 7, 2022

POO 200k Ride Report

I was recently made aware of the unfortunate (although appropriate) acronym for the Portland Opulent Outhouse ride. We’ll have to change the name in the future…….

8 riders completed this challenging ride for a 100% completion rate.  All riders reported favorably on this new course and concur that it is one of the more challenging routes on the PA docket.  Humidity was high from the beginning and temperatures got quite uncomfortable in the early afternoon but the PA riders were able to overcome these obstacles.

Kerry Moody, in his first ride on a PA Randonneurs course was the first finisher and will hold the course record for the foreseeable future.   Between the high humidity and relentless climbing of this course, I didn’t expect to see a sub 9 hour finish but Kerry Moody snuck in for a 8:59 finish followed closely by Ben Keenan.

It was a wonderful group of tough riders yesterday and it was a blast riding with the group at the start and seeing everyone at the finish.  I hope to see everyone at next month’s Rusty Rail 200k!

Results will be posted on the PA Rando website shortly, please review and report any discrepancies.



From Dale Houke:

Bill, just wanted to drop a quick note to say thanks again for organizing Saturday's brevet.  What a great day of riding - the route was tough but had such a nice flow to it that I hardly noticed all the climbing, and we couldn't have asked for more cooperative late summer weather!

Monday, July 25, 2022

Opulent Outhouse Course Notes

A route checkout was conducted on 7/23.  I’m hopeful the weather will be cooler on 8/6.  Overall, I think riders will enjoy the route although it has a little more traffic than some other PA events.  It should also be noted that this is a very challenging route that probably rides harder than the advertised 8,800 feet of elevation gain would imply.

 There is essentially nothing open in Portland before the ride starts.  Although the Dunkin Donuts opens at 5:00, it ONLY has drive-through service.

 You’ll want to start the ride with adequate provisions to last you through the first 54 miles. The only water you’ll find before Barryville is at the Millbrook Village Historic Site at mile 17.9.  Sadly the eponymous Raymondskill Falls “opulent outhouse” is essentially closed and has 3 portable toilets on its porch therefor no water is available.  You’ll still need to stop at the opulent outhouse to answer the control question which can be seen on the “Forest Restoration Project” sign. 

Road Notes (these are documented on the cue sheets):

Mile 3.8: The Station Road Bridge is closed to traffic and an impenetrable concrete barrier has been installed.   You’ll need to lift your bike over this and a second barrier after crossing the bridge.

 


Mile 17: After crossing the Appalachian Trail, the Millbrook Rd. descent is littered with pot holes (some quite deep).  Take extra precautions on this steep descent and don’t outrun your guardian angel.

Mile 20.1: Walpack Flatbrook Road remains closed and you’ll have to squeeze by the 2 barriers as we did last month.

Mile 30.8: This is a seldom used (by PA Randonneurs) stretch of Old Mine Road that has not been resurfaced.  Much like Millbrook Road, take care on this descent as you slalom around the pot holes.

Mile 31.8: Although cyclists do not pay a toll when crossing the Dingmans Ferry Bridge, please remember to slow/stop as you approach the toll takers lest you draw their ire.

Mile 85: A section of Pa390 has been chip sealed.  The chip seal is relatively well compacted in the lane but some loose gravel is still present along the shoulder.

Mile 116.8: You’ll be crossing a fairly busy stretch of US209 with limited site lines.  Although the speed limit is 35, it appears that the locals think it’s an interstate.  It may be best to walk if (like me) you sometime have trouble clipping in under duress.

Monday, July 11, 2022

Hawks nest (Bushkill Approach) 200k ride Report

20 riders started and completed the Hawks Nest (Bushkill Approach) 200k on 7/9 under sunny skies with little wind and just a little heat later in the day.  All riders completed the event with smiles on their faces and enjoyed post ride food and beverages at the Village Bakery.   Results have been posted on the PA Rando website; please review and advise if you see any errors.  It was especially great to see a mix of experienced riders and some new names to PA Randonneurs.

Congratulations to first time randonneurs Paul Knight and Alisa Olmsted, welcome to randonneuring!  I think most riders would agree that this is a fairly challenging course for a first brevet – chapeau!

Special thanks for Gavin Biebuyck for manning the start and allowing the organizer an extra hour of sleep.

The next event on tap is a new 200k which visits an old favorite site of the past.  See y’all on August 6th!

Chris Nadovich writes....

To be able to ride a brevet as a participant, for a change, is wonderful beyond words. I can just ride my bike, socialize or ride alone to enjoy the day as I choose. Thank you so much volunteers Matt Farrell, Gavin Biebuyck, and organizer Bill Fischer for giving me a day of joy, reaffirming why I love riding my bike.

Except for when my handlebar bag fell off. That wasn't so joyful. It was my own damn fault, of course -- I forgot to fix the velcro straps on the bottom of the bag.  My decaleur doesn't have a lock clip and these straps are the sole retention system. Maybe I should work on that.

I was bombing down River road, just 2.5 miles into the brevet. Just as I was preparing to slow down and make the left onto Hollow Rd I hit some minor bumps and the bag popped off. This itself would have been a mere embarrassment, but the large Swift bag hit the pavement just ahead of my front wheel. Moving at about 20+ mph, too fast to avoid it, I'm pretty sure I rode over the bag square with both wheels.  I had switched my hands fully into the drops a few seconds earlier with my weight shifted back in preparation for breaking, so I was in good position to control the bike through the impact. Nevertheless, it must have been my guardian angel that kept the bag smashing under my wheels from snagging on the bike somewhere and sending me down to the pavement at speed.

The gear from the bag exploded everywhere -- yard sale! Fortunately, I was able to recover everything relatively intact. A few Lara bars were crushed by passing cars unsympathetic to my plight, but the important stuff (phone, wallet, brevet card) were recovered unscathed.

After that inauspicious start, it was all good. What a beautiful day for a bike ride!


From Steve Schoenfelder

Thanks to PAR, and organizer Bill Fischer for yet another spectacular ride through the wilds of PA, NY, and NJ.

 The weather was much better than predicted with clouds parting and blue skies emerging early in the day.  I was feeling youthful at the start and maintained a spritely pace.  After a bit, I found myself  drafting behind Jon, who was sporting a well-worn PA Randonneurs wool jersey.  Turns out Jon, who was planning to ride LEL for a third time, had cut back on his brevets in 2015, the year I started with the club.  At any rate, the fellowship that emerged made for a great ride with the miles flying by.  Jon was instrumental in scoring some water at a firehouse/senior center just before the Roebling Aqueduct when we were running low. 

During most rides, I can recall some periods of enduring (some would call it suffering).  This ride was unique in that I enjoyed every mile.  The sky was blue with puffy clouds.  The traffic on 402 didn’t seem all that bad.  The run along the Lackawaxen was as beautiful as ever.  The potholes on Old Mine Rd were not as bad as feared.  It was, in fact, rainbows and unicorns all the way.  Alright...I would have preferred to ride over the I-80 bridge, rather than push my bike as is required.

And so, thanks again to the volunteers who made this event possible: Bill, Matt, and Gavin.  Special thanks to Chris N for distributing wool jersey orders at the start.


Patrick And Cece Gaffney write:

Thanks to PA Randos, Bill, Gavin, and Matt for putting on a lovely 200 this past weekend.  The weather was great and the course was beautiful.  We saw our first ever rattlesnake on a PA brevet, curled up on the double yellow line on PA 590.  Riding with a nice group of new, old, and regular faces, made for a lovely day.  Thanks again, see you down the road.

 


Thursday, June 30, 2022

Hawks Nest 200k Course Notes

 Hawks Nest (Bushkill) Pre-Ride

A pre-ride of the Hawks Nest (Bushkill Approach) route was completed on a sunny day with tail winds in all directions.   The route is essentially unchanged although the cues are enhanced to document current conditions and services.

 Notes on services:

Services are VERY limited for the first 60 miles.  The only reliable sources of food and water before Eldred are the Pickerel Inn General Store at mile 25 (sorry no ammo on sale this year) and the Rowland Cooperative at mile 50.  Sadly the 402 Café has still not reopened and has been changed to an info control.

 The listed control at Eldred is “The Corner Restaurant” at the Northwest corner of Rte. 55 and 32 which has excellent sandwiches and ice cream.  If riders want a shorter stop, Peck’s Market is a full service grocery store on route shortly after you make the turn East onto Rte. 32. 

 Port Jervis is an open control with the excellent Riverside Creamery listed 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.  If anyone has a serious mechanical issued there is also a well stocked bike shop off route: Action Bikes at 27 Front St.

 The Hainesville General Store is under new management; fortunately the new management has the same excellent baked goods and deli food.  The cashier was genuinely happy to see us and was looking forward to greeting more riders on 7/9. 

 Road Notes:

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

 At mile 103.9, you will see an ugly “Road Closed Sign” and a suggestion to detour by bearing right up hill on Pompey Rd.  Thankfully you can ignore this sign and proceed along NPS 615 as usual.  There has been some erosion of the hillside ahead and there are 2 remarkably robust barricades at mile 108.9 that you’ll need to pass.  The first one is relatively simple, the second one may require you to lift your bike onto the top of the concrete divider and squeeze your thin body between the divider and barrier.


Shortly after this bit of calisthenics, you’ll turn left to cross the bridge over Flat Brook and commence the climb on Old Mine Road. I’m happy to report that the resurfacing of this section of Old Mine road is weathering nicely which makes the climb slightly less horrible.  There has also been some improvement to the road as you near the single lane passage before you approach I-80.

 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.

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Jerseys Have Arrived

 The woolistic jerseys have arrived. We have them all now. 

 

If you chose the "ship it to me" delivery option, then your jersey will be shipped to you USPS. With luck the mailman will bring it to your PA Rando address of record real soon now. 

If you chose the "pickup at event" option, you can pick up your jersey at an upcoming PA Rando brevet. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Philly Pagoda Pocono 600K (and Pagoda 200K) Ride Report


 

The Final event(s) in the 2022 Super Randonneur Series, the Philly-Pagoda-Pocono 600K and Pagoda 200K, were blessed with just about perfect weather: mild temperatures, gentle winds, clear skies, and low humidity. With the moon just a few days past new in the crystal clear night sky, riders into the overnight control reported glorious views of the stars above the dark, sparsely populated Poconos.  There were also some Black Bear sightings (eeek!)  

Of those that clipped in for the challenging  600K course 14 of 20 finished (70%) within the time limit. On the Pagoda 200K, also a challenging course, 2 of 2 finished in time. Congratulations and well-done to all!  Preliminary results have been posted for the 600K and the 200K.  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.

Congratulations to our nine PA Super Randonneurs for 2022.

Veteran endurance rider Amy Lippe, notched her first PA SR and was first finisher on the 600K despite her traditional "leisurely" start, rolling out considerable time after the main group departed the start. A number of riders completed their first SR series, their first 600K, or both. Travis Berry, Ben Keenan, Bill Scanga, and Ben Thompson were all First 600 / First SR achievers.  If any of you head to PBP next year, you will have no problem. Cheng-Hong Li finished his first lifetime 600K. He's missing only an ACP 400K in 2022 to complete his first ACP SR. Brad Layman and Ryan Stanis took their second PA SR award, proving the first wasn't a fluke. And the Gaffney team now has five PA SR awards, putting them in elite PA company. Just another five to beat Bill Olsen's SR total, Pat and Cece, you game? With his PPP 600K finish, Tommy Green achieves an ACP SR award, but is missing a PA 200K for his PA SR award.  Come back in July, August, or September, Tommy, for the remaining PA ACP 200Ks. Dale Houck completed the hardest part of an SR series with his 600K finish in PA, but still needs and ACP 200K for the overall ACP award. Greg Keenan completes his seventh ACP SR with this 600K finish. Greg has six PA SR awards, but missed one this year as he rode his 400K in MD. The Gaffneys are catching you, Greg. And Steve Schoenfelder also grabs his fourth lifetime ACP SR with this 600K finish, his first SR post-Medicare.
 
Hans Jatzke was the solo day-of rider who completed the 200K course. Hans had some bonus miles in Macungie, but was able to bring it in within the time limit.  
 
Chapeau! These are tough riders who triumphed over four challenging PA brevet courses with unflappable aplomb.
 
Five-time PA Super Randonneuse Cecilie undiminished after another tough 600K

Not that there weren't appreciative complaints. The course author received much colorful feedback about the difficulty of certain sections. One particularly despised pitch was the "hill before the hill", a steep city street in Reading that leads up to the Pagoda switchback climb. 

Contemplating the Pagoda from the Hill before the Hill
 

And newly minted Super Randonneur Bill Scanga questioned the moral compass of the route designers, suggesting that they might have some "issues" that should be addressed in therapy. 

 

Newly minted PA Super Randonneur Bill Scanga suggests a fourth "P" should be added to the name of the Philly-Pagoda-Pocono 600K
 

Volunteers are most needed yet hardest to get for a 600K. Fortunately, the necessary crew assembled and did an excellent job running the event. The cornerstone team were the three volunteers at the overnight control: Nick Manta, Mike Anderson, and Jim "breakfast burrito" Bondra. Nick and Mike provided roving "ride saving" support along the most difficult portion of the course, and Jim delivered his namesake food units to appreciative randos who stuffed many of these into their mouths or jersey pockets.  Together, the three volunteers independently managed the overnight cabins. Nick even found time to return drop bags back to the Farm, somehow fitting in some sagging rando passengers with all that luggage.

Also roving the course were pre-rider Brad Layman and the rando-legend Bill Olsen. Brad and Bill concentrated on supporting the course beyond the overnight, at Port Jervis, Millbrook, and Blairstown, encouraging riders through these final miles. Brad also joined CJ Arayata and Woody Felice cheering for passing randos at the Rocky statue, and Brad ran the 200K start and helped set up gear on Sunday.

Riders passing Millbrook Village, a pleasant (albeit brief) resting spot between two major climbs.

Registration at the Flint Hill start was administered by Ben Keenan, who also did some shopping, helped set up the gear Friday afternoon, and slept on the straw without complaint so he could be ready to volunteer again at the 4AM start. As if that wasn't enough, Ben accompanied Brad on the pre-ride. This pre-ride was Ben's first 600K, and first SR. It's not many riders who can say they pre-rode their first 600K to serve as start control volunteer. Pre-riding a 600K without support is a notch-above the normal difficulty. Chapeau to Ben who certainly deserves the Super designation of his first Super Randonneur award -- along with a Super Volunteer award.

Last but not least was finish control captain Jeff Lippincott, who set up the food at the finish, collected and verified brevet cards, and helped pack up at the end. Jeff is a rando veteran and regular volunteer who simply gets the job done.

Well done and thanks to these critical volunteers. We couldn't have run the event without them. You may be tired of hearing it said, but volunteers are essential to these events. If you are an experienced randonneur who hasn't volunteered recently (or ever) please consider giving back to the sport by taking on a significant volunteer responsibility for a brevet, as did the above riders. We have the EM1000K coming up. This will need good volunteers. Is this your turn to help out? 

Pat and Cece write....
 
Thanks to you, Andrew, Brad, Nick, Benjamin, Jeff, Bill, Jim, CJ & Woody and all the other volunteers that helped out with 600 this weekend.  What a ride! We couldn't have asked for better weather and the route was beautiful.  The early morning descent down to the Lackawaxen was really amazing, and we finally saw a black bear, though not as close up as Greg.  Finishing off a PA SR series really does give a feeling of accomplishment and it wouldn't be possible without the help of the volunteers and organizers.  Thanks again.


Patrick finishing the 600K. "Where's Cecilie?" "She's petting a cow".

Brad Layman writes ...

It doesn't get much more challenging than that [Ed: Brad has randonesia -- forgetting his awesome finish in 2021, which was hours faster and when it was a sweltering 90F]. Congratulations to everyone     who finished and an extra congrats to everyone who completed their PA SR series. If you were like me, heading north out of Wind Gap was especially difficult because the thought of turning back to Easton was very tempting.The miles from Wind Gap to Beach Lake were more of a psychological challenge than a physical one. Thank you Ben Keenan for keeping me company on that section of the pre-ride. Thank you Chris and Andrew for organizing this ride. I hope the club can return to Flint Hill Farm for a ride in the future. Lots of fun hanging out at the finish. See ya next time.

Andreas Prandelli writes...

I would like to thank EVERYONE for the fantastic and challenging Philly-Pagoda-Pocono 600K course. Thank you to the organizers and the excellent Volunteers. Thank you Mike for those incredible 2 hot cups of coffee and muffin, that helped me to drag my tired old body to ride the next 28 miles to the Sleep Control. Thank you Nick and..(so sorry I forgot the name but perfectly recognized the face). After missing the Sleep Control in the dark at 4.00 a.m., riding 10 miles down hill and then climbing them back again, while waving hello to Amy already on her way down the remaining 200K, and then finding the Cottage, you fed me burrito and lasagna and a great coffee and then you allowed me to sleep in your car while safely holding the pan of scrambled tofu. Thank you Chris Nadovich, for another great job done.


Andreas captures a unique perspective of the Pagoda

Steve Schoenfelder writes....

The 2022 PA Randonneurs Philly Pagoda Pocono 600K was probably the hardest and most rewarding ride I have ever done.  Finishing with 15 minutes in the bank after over thirty nine hours of challenge and adventure was truly life affirming. 

And then there is the history.  I had two previous attempts at riding the PPP 600k pre-pandemic in 2019.  The first was an ill-fated volunteer pre-ride with Chris N, ending in agonizing defeat when chilling rains developed as we ascended from Wind Gap forcing us to seek refuge in a seedy Bartonsville motel, and then throw in the towel after hypothermia set in as we sheltered shivering in a 24-hour laundromat in Canadensis.  I got my second chance on event day and was able, after much joy and suffering, to complete the ride in regulation time with forty minutes to spare.

There were a couple of twists this time around however.  First, I had earned my Medicare Card since the last riding and may have aged-out of surviving a 600k.  And then there was the Flint Hill Farm start/finish.  When we finished in Easton in 2019, we had a gradual climb from the Delaware River to the finish.  This time, we ended the ride with an exclamation point by first climbing soul-crushing Lower Saucon Road, followed by an extended gravel grind on the mushy (meaning really loose gravel) Saucon Rail Trail, and finally, the struggle to the top of Flint Hill, which in my mind, is really a mountain.

The weather was about as perfect as one could wish for throughout the ride.  It got a bit hotter than predicted, particularly when exposed to the sun, but that would be nitpicking.  I was blessed to have a great riding partner during the first day.  Greg had visions of arriving at the overnight controle by about 2 am.  I knew that was a mathematical impossibility for me, as I usually take about 24 hours to complete a difficult 400K.  And the first 400K were difficult.  We ran the first 200K at fairly brisk pace as we knew we needed to bank time.  Although there was not a remarkable amount of ascent in the first stretch, there was the challenging climb from the Schuylkill River to the Pagoda and extended gravel-grinding at fairly high speeds along the SRT.  During the long slog to Wind Gap, my legs and stomach were starting to rebel.  And we knew the real work would begin after Wind Gap.  I don’t remember much about the ascent into the Poconos, other than existing in a world of hurt and fear.  Greg would look at me and say,”hey man, maybe you should eat something.”  I must have had enough awareness to remember the stunning clear starry night sky of the Poconos.  And, I recall the deer-there were lots and lots of deer, perhaps entire herds.  After several lifetimes, we arrived at the overnight controle at about 0345 where we were taken care of by Jim and Nick, two of the best volunteers on the planet.  I set my phone alarm for 0630, largely unconcerned whether I would finish within regulation.  All I cared about was having the strength to get to the finish, and that would require some nutrition and rest.

Surprisingly, I felt pretty damn good in the morning after a shower and maybe and hour or two of sleep.  As in 2019, I was the last rider out of the overnight controle.  The weather was spectacular once again.  I felt like I could Git-R-Done!  To my surprise, I caught up to another rider at the Eldred controle.  That was reassuring.  And then there was volunteer and randonneuring legend Bill Olsen at Port Jervis, who probably saved my ride by providing enough water and Payday candy bars to carry me to Blairstown.  My motivation from then on was the thought of a large cold vanilla milkshake from Jimmy’s Doggie Stand in Phillipsburg.  However, that was not to be.  As I reached the Delaware River, I still had over 21 miles and 1,600 ft of ascent remaining, and I knew I was cutting it close.  At this point in the ride, I changed my goal to reaching the finish to finishing within the 40 hour time limit.  So, with a small dehydrated tear in my eye, I pedaled past Jimmy’s, dismounted my bike, and pushed it across the free bridge to Easton.

Half way up Flint Hill, I realized that I could make it in time even if I got off and pushed my bike the rest of the way.  That is always a good feeling to have on a brevet.  Finally, a feeling of certainty and success.  I was greeted by heart warming applause as I rolled into the barn at the finish.  I completed my 2022 SR series and earned yet another lanterne rouge on the heels of this epic adventure.  Now I was qualified to ride a 1200K and could descend into even greater depths of the collective insanity that is randonneuring.

Putting on a massive event like this requires Herculean effort and genius.  Thanks are due to Chris Nadovich who organized this ride and PA Randonneurs’ Regional Brevet Administrator Andrew Mead.  An my endless gratitude to the many volunteers who made the event possible.  Chapeau!

Steve Schoenfelder finishes the PPP 600K despite recently receiving his Medicare card.


Now that the 2022 PA SR Series is in the history books, we move on to our summer R-12 events that tour the cooler Northern regions of PA. The first of these is the Hawk's Nest, Bushkill Approach, on July 9th. See you there!

Thursday, June 2, 2022

Philly Pocono Pagoda 600K Brevet - Course Notes

Along the SRT in  Philly

The time for the culminating event of the 2022 Pennsylvania Randonneurs SR Series has arrived.  Time to find out if the earlier brevets have prepared you.  Time to dig in for the final step in the often elusive PAR-SR designation.  It's time for The Philly Pagoda Pocono 600K.  Registration is closed and the field is set.  Volunteers are burning up internet and chat discussing plans and logistical details.

Each rider is permitted one small drop bag of ~2 cubic feet (the RUSA duffle bag is a good example).  Bags should securely contain the contents (e.g. zippered openings) and any liquid or  powdered contents sealed to prevent leakage.  The rider's name is to be clearly indicated on the outside of the bag.  Drop bags will be deposited with organizers during ride check-in and added to a list of bags so we can keep track of the bags.  They will be delivered to the overnight control mid-day on Saturday and returned to Flint Hill early afternoon on Sunday.  

A volunteer course pre-ride was conducted on May 30-31 by Brad Layman, Ben Keenan, and Nick Manta. The riders dealt with some extreme heat, but it looks like we will have better temperatures on June 4 & 5.

The riders reported a few course notes and changes and the RBA has updated the cue sheet.    Please make sure you  download VERSION 3 of the cue sheet dated 6/2/2022.  Several previously unmarked railroad crossings are now noted on the cue. PAY  ATTENTION.  A few highlights noted:

47.1: Umbria Street is being repaved. Most of it has been repaved but there were sections still torn up. Maybe it will be complete by this weekend.
68.2: This is a new section on the SRT. Stay to the left after you pass the parking garage on your right or you will have to turn back. There is a sign pointing left for the SRT but it is easy to miss.
102.7: There is a closure sign on the small bridge across the Schuylkill Canal. It is passable.
116.5:  Read the cue instructions carefully to locate the Pagoda Info Control. 
220.8  A bridge on Rt 390 heading into Promised Land SP is under construction and restricted to one lane. A temporary traffic light set up on both sides to control traffic.  The light is believed to be on a timer.  Wait for the singal.  The bridge is not visible from the light, so it's hard to tell if there is oncoming traffic. There is no room on the bridge for a bike and a car traveling in opposite directions.  Wait for the green light.
313.5: The Walpack Road closure remains.  You can walk your bike around the concrete barriers and then continue. 

The course volunteers offered a few tips:

  • Some GPS units (e.g. Garmin) might not be able to handle the full course. It is recommended to split the route into three segments. Splitting at the Reading Pagoda and the Beach Lake overnight control seems to work well.
  • Don’t stop at the Rocky Statue control for long. Keep moving to bank time.
  • The section from Philly to Reading is mostly on the SRT, which will be crowded on Saturday morning. Be courteous to other trail users.
  • If the snow cone truck is set up at the Reading Pagoda, it is worth stopping for one and enjoying the view after you make the climb up. Credit cards accepted.
  • Be sure to eat, drink, and stock up in Wind Gap or the Sunoco at mile 188. It is a long stretch with a lot of climbing before the Turkey Hill at Lake Wallenpaupack. The Exxon near Promised Land was closed when passed at 11:30pm.
  • Bring a good set of lights. It is very dark on most of the roads in the Poconos.
  • Be careful if you decide to ride in the dark after the Beach Lake control (overnight stop). There are several fast descents that have rough pavement.
  • If you get to Hawk’s Nest by 11am or so, the cliffs are still shaded which makes for a nice spot to take a short break.
  • The Riverside Creamery (control #8) doesn’t open until 12pm. Check outside the creamery to see if a club volunteer is set up - they would have supplies (volunteer status unconfirmed at this time). Otherwise, Woogie’s Deli is a good place to resupply, just ahead of the creamery.
  • The Millbrook Historic Village bathrooms were locked and the water fountain was turned off. Be sure to have enough water between Port Jervis and Blairstown. The Millbrook climb is especially difficult in the heat because the pavement is exposed to the sun.
  • If you have ridden this event before, don’t be fooled when you get close to Easton. There are still 20+ miles and a couple of climbs to the finish.

The weather looks promising.  Everything is ready to go.  Are you?