Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Eastern PA Fleche 2022 -- Ride Reports

The 2022 PA Randonneurs Flèche is complete and soon to be in the books.  Preliminary results are available on the website along with finish line photos.  I expect many postcards to arrive over the coming days and can then complete the assembly and verification of each team's documentation of proof of passage before making everything official.  Results will be submitted to RUSA at that time.  As usual, don't expect your Flèche certificate from the ACP until next spring.  Think of it as your reminder to register for the 2023 Flèche. 

Six teams started. Six teams finished. Chapeau! The overachievers in the group were "It's Only a Flèche Wound", comprising Joshua Armstrong, Tim Gilligan, and captain Matt McLoone. Their fourth team member, Michael Harding, could not start, but the remaining three got it done. After all, it was only a flèche wound. 

Wounded, but not dead yet.

Of the 24 individual starters, only 21 finished, for an 88% finish rate.  Along with "scenic" Pennsylvania roads, the wind, rain, and hail might have had something to do with those abandons. Somehow, all the bad weather vanished Sunday morning and it was sunny, not  too breezy, and almost warm at Keystone in Philly for the finish brunch celebration.

An unexpected problem for some of the teams was flooding on the Delaware. The river tagged flood stage during the event. This required some tactical reroutes.

Delaware River flooding made sections of the D&L more interesting

Normally this spillway is a trickle, easily crossed.

Proper Fleche routes are point-to-point, not loops. This  year we had teams starting from central PA, NYC, and the Jersey shore. Given the distance, it's always interesting to see how teams deal with the logistics of transportation between the start and finish. With the finish in Philly, public transit was available, and a couple of the teams took the trains back home.

Vadim "roughing it" back home in a limo

As always, events like this couldn't happen without volunteers. Thanks to the volunteers at Keystone Bicycle Company: Woody, Nick, Ryan, Ag, and Zach. Also thanks to Cecilie Gaffney for bringing fruit and cake, and Andrea Mules who bought the OJ.

Chris Nadovich


Iwan Barankay, captain of "We The Peoples of Philadelphia" writes...

This was my first flèche and I am glad I was able to share the experience with a great team. Big thanks to team members Pat Gaffney, Oleksiy Guslyakov, Nick Manta, and Anreas Prandelli

We met at the Rocky statue to suck up the best early morning vibe and energy and then headed West. It was an epic ride and the scenery near the Susquehanna valley was breathtaking, but the price for reaching it were what seemed like hundreds of little steep climbs along the way.  Nick and Pat made them looks so easy - perhaps I should shed 50lbs as well.

Oleksiy could not resist the lure of a phone call for a ride back home in Rinely after the first, very tough century. Kudos to him to make it that far and I am sure he will finish the next one with a smile on his face. Even though it was chilly, compared to the others team we fared relatively well and only suffered one brief downpour. Andreas is a fine, experienced, inspirational Randonneur, as he managed to complete the tough course by essentially skipping the breaks and only stopping very briefly at the controls so he could arrive in the finish with us. Chapeau! Thanks also to Chris for making this event happen. Arriving at the Keystone bike store was just wonderful. So nice to see so many familiar, warm, welcoming faces. What a vibrant community of Randonneurs in and around Philly we have now and I look forward to organizing and riding more brevets with a Philly start/finish.

We the Peoples and Rocky

Matt McLoone, captain of It's Only a Flèche Wound writes...

Deciding on a late start paid off in spades, as we avoided the morning deluge. We set off from Manayunk at 9:45 to wet roads and chilly temps and made our way. The decent weather held until we reached the rolling hills of Lancaster County, where the skies opened up and torrential rain fell. Luckily, we found a nice overhang to hide out for the brunt of the brief yet strong downpour. 

After dodging more isolated rain storms we stopped for a restful lunch at Stolzfus meats in Intercourse. Well fed and somewhat rested, we continued our journey through the Amishlands on our way to the Reading Pagoda. Nearly there, disaster struck for Tim. A broken shift cable. With all the supplies except for a shift cable, he soldiered on in the 11th tooth cog. Somewhat remarkably, we all made it up to the Pagoda for our control. With most of the hard climbing done for the ride we sauntered along towards Fleetwood where a nice Turkey Hill stop got us going. We finally realized that we could limit his RD into the 14 tooth and took off into the night. 

The next many hours consisted of chilly weather, a few bike paths and empty roads. Each WAWA was a double edged sword, the warmth and refreshments were divine, but the cold start after each stop had us shivering and using every layer we brought. After climbing up from Easton, we started riding known roads and could feel the end was near. Dawn was approaching and the 202 bike track was unrelenting with a bloc headwind. Eventually we were off, and Andy's Diner was in our sights, finally, a forced respite! After eating and waiting for the 22 hour control to pass, we left, greeted by sunshine and a tail wind. We found our legs and an extra gear and made it to Keystone before we knew it. The ride was finished and it left just a flèche wound.

View of Reading from the Pagoda

CJ Arayata, captain of  Chiens Errants, Rechargés writes...

 They came, they saw, they wandered…. and also started out in pouring rain, got hailed on twice, had a significant portion of their route flooded out, and battled headwinds all through the night. The Lost Pups are beginning to make a tradition of ‘easy on paper’ routes turning into anything but. 

Our opening 100k leg contained two-thirds of the elevation for our entire route, leaving the captain a bit beat up. Immediately after this followed a frustrating and time-burning slog through the D&L Canal Towpath, at times having to completely turn around due to major flooding, and eventually required a busier-than-ideal River Road detour all the way to New Hope. A sit-down pizza dinner was a welcome reprieve from the stress of the ride thus far, and we donned more layers and lubed mud-caked drivetrains before heading out via another stressful re-route on Taylorsville Rd until Morrisville. 

We finally started to enjoy ourselves after getting to witness a spectacular sunset walking across the Trenton Makes bridge and chat our way through the Pine Barrens towards Lower Bank Tavern for a photo op (and a free soda for the captain, simply for asking if Bill Reagan was around). Unfortunately, rookie pup Adam was facing some stomach issues, and despite the life-giving water that The Fist left at the Egg Harbor City Wawa (thank you!) Adam eventually sacrificed himself to the rando gods in order for us to finish in time. Despite being only 60 miles away from Philly, we rode 40 of them straight into a headwind towards our 22hr at Pitman, where we barely stopped on our way to an eventual FINISH. We dedicate our success to Adam, our fallen brother pup. RIP, your sacrifice was not in vain! 

Want to also give a very BIG THANK YOU to Keystone Bicycle Co., a bike shop owned and operated by 5 Wandering Pups alums, for hosting the wonderful finish gathering and sorting out all of the food, wrangling volunteers and other logistics, and also a THANK YOU to Chris for stepping up to the plate on short notice to do all of the front-end route review, team logistics, etc. Until next year! 

I also have ride photos: https://photos.app.goo.gl/GXB9WqJS1R3dvUzg8. And finish photos (courtesy Woody): https://photos.app.goo.gl/UAXoPw6Fazt6E5pk6

The Wandering Pups


Jimmy Aspras, member of Chiens Errants, Rechargés writes...

Just wanted to thank all of the volunteers and especially our friends at Keystone Bicycle Co. who made the last weekend’s flèche possible.

I made the mistake of listening to the weather report and not packing any rain gear. Much to my dismay, our ride started amid pouring rain which accompanied us in varying degrees for the first hour or two. Fortunately, it was dry enough the rest of the day to allow my clothing to dry out. Unfortunately, we hit many detours due to flooding, both on the towpath and even on legitimate roads paralleling the Delaware River from Riegelsville to Morrisville. In a rando first for me, we even experienced hail for several minutes. Luckily we had no rain after sunset. Our teammate Adam had to stop his ride after about 300k due to stomach issues, but he had a strong ride, having improved on his previous distance PR by 100k. Very impressive.

As always, the company was good, but I was glad to be finished. Familiar faces at the end were a welcome sight. Breakfast tacos were a great idea to have there, and it was nice to have a vegan option with them too. I grabbed a couple of those, and a couple of the egg and cheese ones, for some well deserved calories for the ride home.

Steve  Schoenfelder, captain of Now You've Gone Too Far writes...

The day dawned rainy in Lewisburg, PA as team Now You’ve Gone Too Far congregated at 4 Westridge Lane for bagels and coffee.  Perhaps it was the rain or conversation that lead us to tarry and head down the hill later than planned for the two and a half mile trek to the official start.  Although the forecast called for cessation of rain by noon, we were stalked by a front that had us riding in and out of showers for most of the day.  

Our route took us past decaying industrial towns along the Susquehanna River, before heading into pastoral farmland, and then southward across the folded ridges of the Appalachians.  There were a few challenging climbs.   As we ground our way up a sustained 13-15% grade, Jeff declared it a “proper hill”.  Teammate Greg was less charitable in his description.  In spite of the adversity, we stuck it out and stuck together.  

We were pleasantly surprised at Trout Run Trailhead controle when friend Ron was waiting with snacks and beverages.  The sustenance and camaraderie helped take the chill out of the cold drizzle.  Thankfully, team NYGTF rode out of the rain by nightfall and beheld a beautiful sunset.  We would continue to pedal until the earth's rotation would bring us back into the light.  As we passed through Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area, we were serenaded by peeper frogs celebrating the early spring season.  And, there was a beautiful gibbous moon rising as the clouds parted.  

Pedaling through the night was met with the usual challenges including clock anxiety, nutritional management in the face of stressed digestive tracts, and diminishing power output.  But we prevailed, and made it to Andy’s Diner in Conshohocken, our 22-hour controle, where we were restored with delicious omelets and strong coffee.  Soon we were joined by Iwan and team The Peoples of Philadelphia, giving us a chance to complain about our travails and swap lies before we headed out for the final stretch along the Schuylkill River Trail.  After a brief stop at the Joan of Arc Statue for a photo, we rolled into Keystone Bicycle Company for a victorious finish.  The amazing breakfast burritos at KBC were just reward for a job well done.  Thanks to organizers Andrew Mead, Chris Nadovich, volunteers, and KBC for hosting this epic event.

Mile 226.3 Philadelphia, PA (ok, now it's cold)



It looks like the Xanax might be wearing off

Les Noctambules at Staten Island Borough Hall

Coming up next in the PA Randonneurs calendar is the ACP SR Series that begins with a 300K and simultaneous 200K run out of a new venue, Flint Hill Farm. All the details are on the website. Hope to see you there.

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