Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Jim Thorpe 600K (and TK 200) Ride Report

The Final event(s) in the 2023 Super Randonneur Series, the Jim Thorpe 600K and TK 200K were held in the Chamounix Mansion rather than the usual Carriage House. This was a welcome upgrade as the Mansion has more bedrooms, more interesting places to hang out that are well separated from the sleeping areas, and somewhat more secure parking options. It also looks pretty.

The Chamounix Mansion was a magical upgrade as Start/Overnight/Finish control.

Of those that clipped in at the front porch of the Mansion for the challenging  600K course, 21 of 24 finished (88%). On the Tscheschter Kaundi 200K, 100% of the riders, 23 of 23, finished in good 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. Given this is a PBP year, results submission will happen very quickly.

The weather was decent for a 600K. Certainly there was less issue with rain than the other events in the SR series, which all seemed to be held in monsoon conditions. Everyone was glad that the 90F heat on Friday had vanished by the early Saturday start time. The temperatures were moderate all weekend. Things got pretty nice on Sunday., and it only rained briefly on Saturday -- albeit pretty heavy in places. Unparalleled in their ability to find in the worst weather,  Nicole and Soph took shelter in Len Zawodniak's car during a downpour. 

Congratulations to our fourteen PA Super Randonneurs for 2023.

    Nicole Aptekar
    Travis Berry (2)
    Tristan Dahn
    Cecilie Gaffney (6)
    Patrick Gaffney (6)
    Benjamin Keenan (2)
    Chris Kline
    Bryce Lackey
    Greg Lang
    Brad Layman (3)
    Bill Scanga (2)
    Ello Shertzer
    Ryan J Stanis (3)
    Ben Thompson (2)

For six of these riders Nicole Aptekar, Tristan Dahn,  Chris Kline, Bryce Lackey, Greg Lang, and Ello Shertzer this was their first SR: welcome to Super Randonneuing!  Some of these newly minted Super Randonneurs are headed to PBP. With this tough series under your belt, you will have no problem at PBP.

Recovery position for a randonneur

Four other riders notched their first 600K, but without other rides needed to complete a 2023 SR.

    Andrew Crooks
    Jeryl Jamir
    Sophia Lofaso
    Humberto Sanchez

Greg Lang completed his first Pennsylvania SR series, including the 600K brevet, on a fixed gear, joining an elite club of very few riders who have ridden a PA SR series fixed. Greg rode the entire series on a fixie with no brakes. To our knowledge, this is the first time ever that audacious feat has been accomplished.

The man, the gear.

Pat and Cece Gaffney recorded their sixth PA SR, tying them with Greg Keenan and Guy Harris who have achieved this perfect and amazing number -- but, yeah, you still need three more SRs to equal Bill Olsen's nine PA SR series completions.

Unlike last year when only one lonely rider rode the companion 200K event on Sunday, this year there were 23 riders that clipped in for the 200. By my count, nine of these TK 200K riders were completing their very first brevet. Welcome to randonneuring! I hope you took note of those brave souls riding the 600K by your side -- checking in with them at the South St Bridge and other photo controls. Day 1 for you,  day 2 for them, 400K already in their legs. Newly minted randonneurs, I ask you: do you see a longer brevet in your future?  I think maybe so. Several of the 200K riders rode in from NYC to the start! I saw many strong riders in this batch of newcomers.

The South Street bridge is a perfect spot for a skyline selfie.

Some of the TK 200K riders provided direct camaraderie for 600K riders on their second day. Amanda Jones Layman completed her first 200K brevet as she kept company with her partner Brad Layman who was finishing up his third PA SR series. Ben Swartz from DC rode the 200K along with his brother Noah Swartz who came from California to ride the PA 600K.  

Also riding the 200K was Annie Gibson who completed a 2023 SR with this ACP event along with a PA 300, 400, and NJ 600K.

Congratulations to the Super Randonneurs, 600K finishers, 200K finishers, and all the riders attempting all or part of this difficult event series. And a super randonneur thanks to all the volunteers that made it possible.

    Ben Keenan (Gear Schlepping and cleanup)
    Nicole & Soph (Monday cleanup)
    CJ Arayata (Grocery run)
    Annie Gibson (Overnight)
    Ryan Stannis (Gear schlepping)
    Anton Linberg (Diplomatic liason)
    Walt Pettigrew (Gear schlepping)
    Len Zawodniak (Road angel) 

And of course Iwan Barankay as the tireless event organizer, who took time out from invading other countries to  work  50+ hours straight without significant sleep, taking on jobs he wasn't expecting to do, all without complaint,  and generally making sure the event ran as smoothly as a German train schedule (and even more importantly, Iwan compiled the finish results so they could be available for PBP registration ASAP). All kidding aside, Iwan, from the bottom of my heart I thank you for your service with this event. Without you, it truly would not have been possible. 

Well done and thanks to all these critical volunteers. Indeed, we couldn't have run the event without them. You may be tired of hearing it said, but vol...

Like the NPR fund drive that seems to be on the radio constantly. You know, the one we automatically tune out mentally -- selective deafness. Begging for help on rando events is almost like that, it seems. Unfortunately, unlike NPR, PA Rando doesn't have a full time paid staff and sources of funding from the government and special interests. We aren't Grand Fondo. We aren't Bicycling Magazine. Unlike those organizations, if you don't help out, we actually won't be able to continue with the events you love. So, no shit, in total seriousness, if you enjoy the kind of events PA Rando puts on: events in Philly, events that are accessible by public transit, events with low cost lodging options, good food acceptable to troubled, ethically constrained, and famished omnivore stomachs alike, with road angels that appear just when you need them most, then you, YOU, YOU need to step up as a vol... blah blah, <click!> hey Harold,  let's switch to Spotify till the NPR begging ends ... unteer organizer.  Organizers are people with good resource management skills, people who can solve problems, who can improvise, adapt, overcome. People who can take criticism and either grow from it or ignore it. These are EXACTLY the qualities most randonneurs posses. There's no instruction manual, but any rando who's had more that 3 hours sleep and  who's ridden several PA events should be able to figure out what needs to be done to run an overnight control or a whole event. Be an event organizer, or at least organize an overnight control.  Want to design routes, design a route! Take criticism for your design and fix it. Then organize an event that features your route. Wrangle help from other people. If you want these events to continue then you <click!> la, la, la, la... do you like PiƱa coladas...

...unteers are essential to these events -- especially people willing to be organizers of an entire event, or of an overnight control. If you are an experienced randonneur who hasn't been an event or overnight organizer (or hasn't lately) please consider giving back to the sport by taking on a significant organizer responsibility for a brevet We have the EM1000K coming up. This will need good volunteers. Is this your turn to help out?

We now return to our regularly scheduled ride report.

Even more photos here.

Ben Keenan writes....

Thanks Iwan, Chris and all volunteers (Len, Annie, all others and a sizeable bunch of people who pitched in) for putting together the ride over the weekend. It was a another grand adventure! The moments are still sinking in: rolling under tulip poplars in bloom, riding beside tall grass along the back roads, hearing the water running over the rocks along the Lehigh, feeling the stillness just before the sun comes up and it’s just you and the birds and the road. These rides have a way of filling you up at the same time they take everything you’ve got, but I think the filling up part is the one that stays. It’s bittersweet to see the series end. This was a really good group and thanks a million to everyone that shared the miles for your unfailing courage and good humor. Keep riding and hope to see everyone on future rides soon!
Bill Scanga writes... 

Hey I’m feeling that post ride life affirming stuff today and the randonesia is helping me prepare for PBP already. I wanted to thank you all for the hard work you do keeping this group together. What a great group. We couldn't do any of this with out you. I really appreciate what you do and look forward to being a volunteer myself. 

Thank you thank you thank you

Brad Layman writes....   

Iwan and Chris, thank you for putting on this great event. You both put an incredible amount of effort into this event and series. I am proud to have completed another SR series but sad that it is over. This 600 was a memorable one. I really enjoyed the route and challenging climb up to Penn's Peak. It was special to ride the series with old and new friends. Finishing the 600 and series with Amanda on the Tscheschter Kaundi route, surrounded by friends and in perfect weather has got to be my favorite rando memory. Hope to see everyone again on a ride soon.   Photos here.

Pat and Cece write...

Thank you for organizing the 600 this past weekend. It was a lovely ride. While on paper it didn't seem to be too tough, it really packed a punch. Particularly the climb up to the top of Penn's Peak. Our plan of going straight through went a little arry, but in the end leaving early on the second day worked out for us and gave us some valuable information, like sleeping is good. Many thanks again to you, Annie, Chris, Anton, Ben, Len, and anyone else we are missing who worked so hard to put this event together.

Iwan Barankay writes...

I want to thank all the riders for coming and riding. It would have been so weird if nobody showed up! Seeing you come in at night, feeding you, and getting (kicking?) you out the door again the next morning was a pleasure. Finally seeing you roll in, some in pain, many with smiles, and some with tears of triumph was just epic and a joy to see. It was also great that we had this nice space for you all to hang out for hours after the event to debrief and relax. I hope to see you all again at the next one!

Next, I also want to thank all the other volunteers who selflessly stepped in and went above and beyond. Special mention here goes to Chris, our RBA, for a continued vision for the club and its events and for taking a leap of faith by running the SR series entirely from Philadelphia.


The 2023 SR Series now in the books, PA Randonneurs continues with it's traditional monthly series of R12 events all of which will be free of charge for PA Rando club members. On deck are the Free Bridge 200K and the gravelly, climby, ultra amazing Grand Canyon of PA 200K that includes a stream ford (which may turn out to be nothing if the drought continues).  On the horizon is the Endless Mountains 1000K.

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