Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Covered Bridges 200K Pre-ride Course Notes - Update additional course notes 3/2/23

A pre-ride of the Covered Bridges 200K was conducted on February 18 by Patrick & Cecilie Gaffney, Brad Layman, and Adam Bowen.  As a result of the pre-ride some updates were made to the cues.  The latest cue sheet is version 4, and the latest RWGPS route was modified 2023-02-21 13:49:06 EST.  Both are available online.  Full information and online registration link on the event website.

Entering it's second year as the kickoff of the PA Randonneurs SR Series, the Cover Bridges 200K has seen a few tweaks that make for a very pleasant ride.  Don's worry though, the climb up Uhlerstown Road is still in there and so are the 8 covered bridges that lend the ride it's name.  The roads covered by the course are all in good shape and there were no issues with the GPS routing.

- You will encounter a road closure on Sacketts Road, just past Tanner's Dairy at mile 24 and another shortly thereafter.  Both are passable on bike or on foot.  

- There are no services on the route between the Tinicum Control (mile 57) and the Tabora Farms Control (mile 91) 

- The bathrooms at Tobora Farms are still closed for winter.  There are public restrooms  at Sailor's Point, by the lake at the bottom of the descent after leaving Tabora Farms or at a Wawa 11miles later.

- Please be mindful when crossing the covered bridges, they are all hazardous each in their own way.  Riders should slow down and use caution when crossing the bridges.  If you are not comfortable riding across them, walk.                                                                                  

Starting from a new location,  the Chamounix Carriage House Hostel, riders will make their way through the historic Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia, the quiet roads of Eastern Montgomery County, and the rolling farm land of lower bucks County to the first control in New Hope, PA.  

The hardest climbing of the ride comes between miles 58 and 72, so be sure to fuel up on the catered brunch at the staffed Tinicum Park control, mile 56.  There are closed gates at the base and top of the Uhlerstown Hill Road that you will have to dismount to get around.  Once you reach the top of Buckwampum Road it is back to more rolling terrain and more covered bridges on the way to the penultimate control, Tabora Farms.  Be sure to stop long enough at Tabora to enjoy their delicious baked goods.

From Tabora riders will make their way back to Philadelphia via the 202 Parkway Trail.  There are a few more opportunities to refuel, if needed, as the course traverses through the towns of Amber, Lafayette Hill, and Conshohocken before a stretch on the Schuykill River Trail.  Once off the trail we reenter Philadelphia and make our way back to the hostel.  Be alert as you pass through Manayunk.  Saturday afternoons and evenings bring a lot of traffic and pedestrians that are not always paying attention.  

After crossing the Schuykill River it's a short ride down MLK Drive and then the final climb back up the finish at the hostel where food and refreshment await.  Be aware of debris in the shoulder as you traverse that final climb.  

Have a great ride!

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Sunday, February 5, 2023

Stillwater 200K Ride Report

Definitely one for the record books. With the start control temperature at Pohatcong Plaza barely 8°F, then by mid-day only reaching the mid teens, I believe this may have been the coldest PA Rando 200K ever run.

Nevertheless, seven brave randonneurs were undaunted by these frigid conditions and clipped in on that c-c-c-c-c-cold morning. Six of the seven made it around the course in good time (plus two more pre-riders who had more "balmy" conditions) for an 8 out of 9 (89%) finish 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.

Jeremy Sieg with a proper arctic eyewear choice

Only one rider DNFed,  Len Zawodniak, who experienced uncontrollable frosting of his eyewear and was forced to turn back. I wonder if this frosting may have been a side effect of riding a recumbent -- is it a lot colder down there, Len?  In any case, Len transformed from a brave winter bike rider into his more "cozy" role of brave volunteer course angel par excellence, helping the organizer keep track of riders as they fought their way around the course. 

Len experienced windshield defroster failure

Bob Dye, volunteered to staff the finish control, covering it from the first finishers to the bitter end when -- looking a little like an Italian Ernest Shackleton -- a very frozen Andreas Prandelli rolled in with only seconds to spare on the clock. 

Andreas developed a very impressive chincicle by the halfway point.



Andreas thawing his hands over a hot pizza.

All the riders suffered from the cold somewhat, for sure, but a combination of good outerwear, proper gear, numerous warm-up breaks, and an icy resolve to get the job done carried them around the course in an impressive fashion.  Every rider who showed up that morning should be proud to have even attempted such an endeavor. And the day-of finishers should carry the pride of this accomplishment in their hearts forever. It is not an easy thing -- finishing a 200K bike ride at an average temperature of 12°F!!  Chapeau!

Gavin, Bill, and Annie warming up at G.D.Garris

Ben Keenan writes...

Thanks to Chris, Bob and Len for organizing a great ride and great day. It was no easy feat under the conditions and much appreciated. Chris was right, it was beautiful notwithstanding the cold. A highlight was riding along River Road towards Belvidere seeing ice floes in the Delaware as the afternoon faded. Worth the price of cold hands and feet.

Thanks to all the riders who embarked in single-digit temperatures and rode a long day without a discouraging word. You all are awesome! Hope to see everyone out next month for the Covered Bridges ride. Here's hoping for 60 degrees and sunshine!

Join us again on 4 March, when the conditions should be considerably warmer. It will be the kick-off ride of the 2023 PA Rando SR series: the Covered Bridges 200K, this year starting from Chamounix in Philadelphia. This event features full food service and low-cost bunk-bed lodging options at the Carriage House. Don't miss it!