Sunday, January 2, 2022

Hope to New Hope Ride Report

Undeterred by the certainty of a cold, wet day on the bicycle, a hearty group of randonneurs sought the accolades of Rule 9 to start the new year with the traditional Hope to New Hope 200K brevet. Of those that clipped in at the start/finish at Pohatcong Plaza, 8 of the 9 completed the whole course within the time limit for a 89% completion rate. Congratulations and well-done to all!  Preliminary results have been posted on the website.  Please review the results and let me know if they align with your memory.  The results will be submitted to RUSA after review and will become official once certified.

New riders Jason Crouch and Christopher Foltz maybe could have picked a nicer day for an introduction to our sport, but the challenging conditions did not faze these brave souls as they completed their very first brevet with excellent style. Chapeau and welcome to Randonneuring!  If you think this one was tough -- just you wait!

Clipping in at the start, Andreas is as yet unaware that his hopes would be crushed. 

All in all, the weather wasn't terrible for January. Temperatures stayed in the mid 50s most of the  day and there was no wind. Although there was drizzle on and off most of the day, the "possible thunderstorms" in the forecast were mercifully absent. The fog was not so thick as to be a hazard, except that it was rather mind numbing, as it would create a hypnotic "gray tunnel" through the featureless, flat straight shot of boredom than is NJ 29 along the river. 

The biggest hazard caused by the weather was the pasty road surface. Not the usual snow or ice we worry about this time of year, instead the roads were covered with a fine layer of filthy, greasy, fine debris made adhesive by the drizzle. This crap stuck to everything, bikes, riders, and especially tires. Several riders experienced some squirreliness on turns and were stopped by punctures, including Oleksiy Guslyakov who had occasion to "hit the deck", receiving some minor bumps and scrapes. Fortunately, his bike was uninjured. 

The worst victim of road debris was Andreas Prandelli.  All in all, it was not a good day for Andreas. His GPS unit tried to warn him of what was to come as he passed Frenchtown. The Garmin inexplicably routed him East and away from the river. I think it was trying to help -- to send a message: "Head home, Andreas! Abandon hope!" Not heeding the warning, Andreas pedaled bravely through the fog, adding some bonus miles (and climbs), eventually returning to the southbound route after some delay. His determination was then tested by a series of flat tires, causing him additional delay. He repaired these and pressed on. 

But then he hit some sort of thorny twig that punctured his tube in three separate locations. This occurred with about 25 miles left to ride to the finish, the home stretch, northbound about midway between Bull Island and Frenchtown.  If you know the course, you know there is nothing here. No shelter, no services, nothing. Exposed to the rain, at night, with numb hands,  he found it impossible to patch all three separate holes in the wet tube. So Andreas walked to Frenchtown (!) where he found some shelter and assistance. Eventually he repaired the tube and set off into the cold, dark, foggy drizzle, yet again.

Unfortunately, it was now certainly too late for him to finish within the cutoff and the organizer decided to offer him relief in the form of a car ride to the finish, which Andreas reluctantly accepted. What a tough, determined randonneur! Rule 9 for sure. Indeed, despite all the adversity he faced, including a skittish GPS, it's remarkable how Andreas repeatedly found Hope.   

George Retseck adds... 

Very glad we got to ride Saturday, even though I felt like a sponge toward the end of the ride, it was an amazingly warm day for January! Thanks for organizing another great ride Chris! 
A group of deer almost took out Shawn, Jason and myself as we were coming back in the dark. We were north of Milford, north of the cliffs, on the downhill, just after climbing past the power plant. It was a close call on the wet road, but all reacted well. Note to self: remind all of the danger of early evening deer movement.