Tuesday, January 31, 2023

The Stillwater 200K will be COLD and AWESOME

I'm watching the weather situation closely.  If snow or ice is possible, we will reschedule, but right now no ice is predicted so we are GO for starting the Stillwater 200K on 4 February. Event information and registration is here. Also be sure to read the pre-ride report.

Saturday wil be a COLD start, possibly in the single digits, then rising through the morning as lots of sunshine lifts temperatures up reaching the mid  20s.  

Even 20F is still pretty cold. Such temperatures require special gear and technique in order to ride safely. Here are some tips for cold weather riding that I've collected over the years. Even experienced cold weather riders may find something to learn here, so please read them all through. 

Exposed skin must be covered. Gloves (mittens and/or bar mitts) booties or winter boots. Tall, thick socks. A good balaclava is a must. If you have a windproof neoprene 'clava with a nose covering, this is the best. Pull up the balaclava high leaving a slot for your eyes, and cover your eyes with glasses or goggles. Pull it down to cover your neck. If you glasses fog, mess around with the clava, glasses, and breathing pattern. You need to find a way to ride with clear glasses and protected skin. Any exposed skin is at risk of frostbite.  

Fasten your helmet strap after settling your balaclava and glasses. Don't try to adjust a balaclava through a tight helmet strap. Put the strap on last. Seal up the holes in your helmet with tape or a helmet cover.  The eagle "panache" is optional. 

Once all your skin is covered, don't overdress. You don't want to sweat and make yourself wet. It's a delicate balance. Be ready to add or subtract core layers to keep your temperature regulated and to dry out inner layers when it's safe to do so. This ride has two very significant climbs followed by long descents.  Strip layers before the climbs; add layers at the summit.

You  need to find a way to carry water without it freezing.  Inspired by a suggestion from Andrew Mead, I use a camelback filled with hot water from the sink (not boiling). I wear this under my jacket, route the hose under the  jacket and only expose the drink nipple while drinking. After taking a drink I blow the liquid back into the bag. The hot liquid helps keep me warm inside and out. 

I also carry a thermos filled with hot sweet tea. My thermos is metal so I cover it with an old sock to keep it from rattling in the bottle cage. I don't carry any ordinary water bottle -- they freeze. 

Carry an emergency layer -- like a puffy down parka or some other light, packable insulating layer. Should you have a puncture and spend time on the side of the road, you will be GLAD you had this layer.  It's also good to carry a space blanket. 

Chemical hand and foot warmers work great! Buy some today before Home Depot and Lowes sell out on Friday. Two sets is more than enough for a 200K. Even just one set can help a lot. Don't use them till you need to, but when you need warmers you NEED them. 

It will get dark before many of you finish, so be sure your lighting system works in the cold. If you rely on a cell phone, keep it in your jacket rather than letting it freeze. Many phones and other battery powered electronics will lose charge fast when cooled to single digit temps.

And lastly, remember this if something starts to go wrong: if you have signs of hypothermia, frostbite, uncontrollable shivering, dizziness, mental fog, or other cold related issues, find a warm place with hot food and get yourself right before continuing.

Riding in the winter can be amazing and rewarding if you take heed of the conditions and mitigate problems quickly. Stay safe out there. I wish you all a great ride. 

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Stillwater 200K -- Pre-Ride Course Notes

A pre-ride of the Stillwater 200K, was conducted on 21 January by Bob Dye and 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 4, and the latest RWGPS route was modified 2023-01-22 08:12:51 EST. Both are available online.  Full information and online registration link on the event web site.

The Stillwater 200K course, one of oldest and most ridden of all the PA Rando courses, was found to be in good shape.  Things could change in two weeks, but during the pre-ride the shoulders were relatively free of debris and no road closures or detours were encountered.  

Bob Dye comments that the GPS routing was spot-on with no glitches. This is certainly a more GPS friendly route than last month's H2NH. You'll encounter the flashing light only once and you'll TURN RIGHT. 

Climbing is front loaded. First there's Jugtown Mountain via Sweet Hollow Rd, and then there's Mount Bethel. Both of these have long, fast descents following them. Be sure to manage your layers. Zip up or add a jacket as you summit -- or freeze your ass (or other body parts) on the descent.

The Quick Chek at mile 73 is a welcome respite from the cold. Indoor seating and hot soup is the ticket here. Unfortunately, the segment of NJ 94 after the Quick Chek control starting at mile 73 remains an annoying, trafficy segment. Please be cautious through this section, especially at the left turn 0.2 miles after the control. 

Shortly thereafter you will encounter Twin Bridges, at mile 77.9. This is a terrific bit of road, a windy descent zooming through S-curves in a pretty glen and the namesake two bridges, and then a stiff climb immediately thereafter. The only problem is that this can be a trafficy section, and in winter there is the possibility of black ice. I'd recommend taking the lane on the twisty descent and descending with some caution. The speed limit is 20 mph -- please honor it. Be ready for the climb that suddenly appears at the end. Here you will need to move over and let the cars pass. Look out for debris and ice on the edge of the road.  

This year, the control question at the Geo D Garris General Store has been adjusted so as to not require a calculator.

Other than the moderate climb approaching Belvidere and the hump at Harmony, the final miles of the course are generally flat or mildly rolling. If you are riding these miles after sunset, be sure to have reflective gear on, ride with a buddy, and look out for debris on the shoulders. Also look out for wildlife near sunrise and sunset. During the pre-ride we saw numerous foxes and some deer. 

Have a great ride!

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

PBP 2023 Trading Pins


AVAILABLE NOW!  We have commissioned a PBP trading pin.  These pins are popular at PBP as many people swap pins, give them to friendly faces along the route, etc.  The pins represented in the image are die-struck metal lapel pins approximately 1 inch wide. The pins are available on-line in packages of 10 pins.  Price per package of ten is $27.  Individual pins (quantities less than 10) will be available at our brevets for $3 each.  The link to purchase pins on-line is: https://parando.org/store/shop

Commemorative PBP 2023 Pins

Sunday, January 8, 2023

Hope to New Hope Ride Report

The Hope to New Hope course has the virtue of being reliably clear of snow and ice in the winter. It's also relatively flat for a PA Randonneurs course (possibly because it's mostly in New Jersey).  And occasionally you get to see the river. These might be considered it's only positive attributes. Unfortunately, there are an abundance of negative attributes, not the best of which is the mind-numbingly boring and debris full stretch of NJ 29 between Milford and New Hope that is ridden twice -- headwind both ways. Oh, and the grindy, trafficy hill through Harmony. And that "last little grunt" out of Warren Glen.  Usually this "attracts"  only a very small bunch of hard core randos wanting to keep their R-12 alive, despite the mundane nature of the riding.

Maybe it was the positive waves of PBP year enthusiasm. Possibly the largest ever roster of riders to ride the Hope to New Hope course -- a full two-dozen day-of-event, plus two volunteer pre-riders -- clipped in for this winter classic. And they all rode well. Of the total 26 riders who clipped in, 26 finished inside the time limit for a 100% completion rate. Congratulations and well-done to all!  Preliminary results have been posted on the website.  Please review the results and let us know if they align with your memory.  The results will be submitted to RUSA after review and will become official once certified.

Thanks and congratulations go to Ben Keenan. Thanks for his excellent volunteer efforts running the finish control. Congratulations for his achievement of a PA R-12 with his pre-ride. This PA R-12 a rare achievement, as only 18 riders have accomplished this feat in the history of the club.  It may also be the first time ever someone has achieved PA R-12 as their first every R-12 in their first year of randonneuring.

Also for the record books was Chris Maglieri's finish time of 7:21, which shatters the old course record (held by Chris) cutting off more than 40 minutes from his previous best.  

Ed Bernasky writes...

Thanks to you and Ben for running today's ride. The route was perfect for our typical Winter conditions and since today's ride was almost in my backyard, I know these roads well and PA Rando picked the best roads as is always the norm. Riding with Chris and Annie was a pleasure. Aside from both being very pleasant, they were both very skilled in a paceline and in today's wind the caboose (me) appreciated the skill of those two and of course, Chris was the monster engine. A very nice day, thanks again.


We return to Pohatcong Plaza shopping center again next month for another Winter classic brevet, The Stillwater 200K on 4 February. Please keep an eye on this blog and the PA Rando website for possible announcements relating to this event. The brevet will be rescheduled or canceled if there is a realistic chance of black ice or other unsafe riding conditions.

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Hope to New Hope 2023 -- Course Notes ***Updated

*** See additional course notes update, below. 

Begin this new PBP year with the same old New Hope 2 New Hope 200K brevet on 7 January 2023 starting from  Pohatcong Shopping Plaza in Phillipsburg, NJ. Start time is at 7AM. All the information, and an online registration link, are on the event web page.  You will find a link to the RWGPS data for the route (last modified 2023-01-1 13:21:29 EST) and links to cue sheets (version 3 is the latest).

Park the Regal Movie theater at the start, which is also near the finish control, Franks Trattoria Italian restaurant, located between the Old Navy and the Regal movie theater in Pohatcong Plaza. Leave the parking spots by the shops to the day patrons; please park at some distance away along Bliss Blvd.  Park as shown in this map.  If you need coffee or breakfast, there is a Wawa nearby, across from the WalMart. If you are driving in on I-78 from the East (eg from NYC) consider a hearty breakfast at the 24 hour Clinton diner, easy-off-easy-on, about 10 miles to the East. 

Do not leave your car over by the Wawa or WalMart as we have had some trouble with the "Walmart Parking Lot Blue Light Special Security Team" in the past. 

 ***Additional Notes from Ben Keenan

With this ride, Ben achieves a PA Rando R-12 award -- one of only 18 people in the history of our club to achieve this rare honor. [-CTN]

Pre-Ride course notes, BK 1/2/23

I lucked out and had a mild day, but even so the cold had some bite in the early miles. Though dawn was breaking at 7, it was still dark enough to require lights and full reflective gear. Odds are it will be a bit colder Saturday. Probably not cold enough to freeze water bottles, but winter riding requires extra forethought. As well as reflective gear, riders should consider bringing an extra layer and make sure you have lights (both front and back) you are confident will last in the (quite possible) event you finish in the dark. If anyone is battling frozen feet, hands, etc. in the first hours, the Dunkin at mile 23.7 should be a good place to de-thaw.
Also this time of year, extra debris on the road can increase your chance of flat(s), so check your flat repair gear in advance so you are confident you’ll have what you need to fix it and get rolling again.

Course highlights were riding along the Delaware between Riegelsville-Milford and Frenchtown-Lambertville/Stockton. You will have to walk the bridges at New Hope and Stockton. While that may seem annoying, take in the Delaware as you clomp across. It will remind you why winter riding is worth the effort.

On the first leg of the route, take special care to take the left onto North Main Street at mile 2.5. If you go right (as your GPS may indicate), you will be embarking prematurely on the second half of the course. You do NOT want to do this. Also, take care crossing Route 46 from Sarepta Road to Water Street/CR 620. Traffic moves quickly on Route 46, and it is not a straight crossing; rather, you cross to a left turn lane and have to ride uphill for a stretch to get to where you can complete the crossing to Water Street.

On the second leg, on Route 29 between Frenchtown and Lambertville there is a wide and mostly smooth shoulder, but riders need to keep an eye out for debris on the road including sticks and gravel. On the return route from Stockton, there was also a place or two where stray ice chunks from rock outcroppings along the road created an obstacle course. Also be aware traffic may be heavier in Stockton, Lambertville and New Hope. When you get across the bridge to New Hope, you will be on the wrong side of the road and traffic is likely to be snarled. To avoid adding to the confusion, follow the directions on the cue sheet and walk your bike the short way to the traffic light and cross there.

Good luck to all!


***Original Course Notes

The course is a figure 8 and after the northern loop to Hope you will pass to your car at Pohatcong  and the Pohatcong Wawa (which is the mid-point control) before riding the southern loop to New Hope.

Many services can be found near the Start/Finish

The turnaround control for the Northern loop is the Dunkin Donuts at the I-80 interchange just beyond Hope, but riders seeking a quick cup of coffee at a lower traffic location might better choose the US Gas convenience store passed twice just a mile South of the turnaround, as the DD can sometimes be very crowded. If you can wait, Skoogies in Belvidere has better sandwiches.

The Southern loop passes twice through all the Delaware River towns providing many options for service. If seeing the water flowing in the river, and all that coffee you drank, is making you seek a rest room, consider stopping at Bull Island Rec Area (mi 78.7 and 94.2). There are rest rooms located on the right side of the main office building. In the winter, these rest rooms are relatively low traffic. The fountain outside will be closed, but the sink in the restroom has potable water.

All riders must be a paid-up member of RUSA at the time of the event, so be sure to renew your RUSA membership for 2023 before you register. If your membership expires in 2022 the system will refuse you. You can join or renew RUSA membership here. PA Rando membership is not required for riding this event, but to promote PA membership this new-year event is traditionally FREE for PA Rando Members.

The finish extends during night hours. The organizer will strictly enforce the rules regarding lighting and reflective gear.

There was a pre-ride of this event on 30 December. On that day, the roads in question seemed in great shape. Famous last words. Always be aware of the possibility of black-ice when the temperatures are near or below freezing. It's also common to find debris on winter roads, so be on the lookout for rocks, unexpected potholes, treefall, and ice clumps.  During the pre-ride I saw considerable debris and ice on river rd, and 1/2 inch deep salt drifts on the northbound side of NJ29. The shoulders up by Hope were pretty good, except for an occasional ice-flow out a driveway. Again, this may all be different if a storm changes things in the next few days.

You will pass by your car after each loop.

The figure 8 shape of the course has a common exit on Greenwich St from the Pohatcong Shopping Center start/mid-control. Soon after the start, when you reach the flashing light in Stewartsville you will turn LEFT for the first (northern) loop. Then when you ride out Greenwich St the second time to the flashing light in Stewartsville, you will turn RIGHT for the final (southern) loop. This repeated segment is sure to confuse your GPS device, so please use your human brain and Cue Sheet Posititioning System to navigate out of the start of both loops and make sure you do the North loop to Hope first.
Bonne route!

Chris Nadovich