Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Hollywood Hot Dog 200K Brevet pre-ride report *** Update 1

Please ensure you know what to expect have the latest route uploaded to your device (or printed out on cue sheets) and the latest eBrevet data (if using). The latest cue sheet is VERSION 5, and the RWGPS file was last modified on 2023-11-19 at  to12:56:37 EST. RWGPS file and cue sheets can be found here.

*** Update 1

A second pre-ride was completed on 30 November by Chris Nadovich. The course was found to be mostly still intact. There was power-line construction on the end of Stony Hill Road (the ETM at mi 26.5) and this road was blocked. Probably they will be done by Saturday, but if not, you can  turn left toward the ruins onto Sugan Rd (where the cue says not to go), follow your nose, and this will lead you to a Wawa. Then right, and you'll rejoin the course turning left at the train station. Since New Hope is an open control, this detour to the Wawa would be marginally OK regardless. 

If you don't want a Hot Dog at Jimmy's, the Easton Farmers Market will be in full swing when you cross the Free Bridge into Easton. Mostly to the left of the bridge, they sell various overpriced artisanal refreshments, fresh meat, vegetables, baked goods, and woo woo gifts.  You'll also find a bunch of Winter Festival hoopla squarely in front of you on Northampton St to the circle. Follow the course, walking or hesitating as necessary to avoid pedestrians, Jersey barriers, and ice rinks.

There are a LOT of traffic lights, blinky lights, holiday lights, and busy road crossings through the final 50K of the course. Budget time for standing still waiting for traffic to clear. It will be after sunset for most of you. Light up like a Christmas Tree yourself (tis the season). Wear your reflective gear. And be careful you aren't mistaken for one of the many animated holiday displays.

 *** Original Post

A pre-ride was completed by Pat Gaffney and Iwan Barankay (yours truly). 

This new route starts in Hollywood, PA which is part of Huntington Valley, PA. 

We encourage you to take a SEPTA train to the start, which is about $5 one way. Coming from the city, you buy the ticket at a machine, but going back, you buy it on-board from a "joyful" conductor. 

A few miles into the brevet, you are on the Pennypack Heritage Trail (very hard-packed stone, so no challenge for any tires), where Pat Gaffney used to have fun as a kid with his mountain bike in the forest to the right. But now you are on a shared use trail with rules, so please announce yourself to the many pedestrians on the trail walking their dogs, who are invariably called Trooper, Cooper, Hooper, or Blooper.

Soon, carried by memories of the sad fate of the Lenni Lenape, you reach the first open control in New Hope. Perhaps find a coffee or a snack to prepare you for the walk across the Delaware immediately following.

Then comes 15 miles along the flat, featureless river road (aka NJ 29). Please team up with a friend here; or enemy; failing that, prepare music, an audiobook, or a podcast; otherwise, you end up like me, recalling memories I paid my therapist handsomely to forget.  

When you reach Milford, the true PA Randonneur thing to do is to get a bagel at Goldberg's right at the corner. Toasted bagels with cream cheese are fast, but fancier stuff with eggs can take a while.

Super special note. Be extra careful with bridges. Especially the METAL GRID BRIDGES OF DOOM. We emphasized them in the cue sheet: Do not ignore our warnings. Slow down. There is a bridge with such a slippery surface that I had to unlock unique ninja warrior moves so I didn't end up kissing the cold metal grid.

After Easton, the real climbing begins, so make sure you have gentle gearing on your bike and enough sugar in your thighs. Whatever glucose or self-esteem you have lost in those hills, you can scrumptiously refuel them at the Tabora Farm & Orchard control.  Restrooms are open (!), and they have a copy of the US Constitution in there so you can reevaluate how you feel about Shelby County vs Holder (2013).

From there, it's an easy finish back to Hollywood. 

Please be careful with the swelling evening traffic. Ensure your lights are on and don your safety vest before leaving Tabora -- even when it is still light. 

Monday, November 13, 2023

Hopewell Furnace 200k Ride Report

Preliminary results for the Hopewell Furnace 200k have been posted to the website. Please review the results and let me know if I need to make any changes. A total of 52 riders clipped in for the ride on Saturday (in addition to two pre-riders) with all but two riders qualifying. For ten of the participants, this was their first brevet—congratulations! Not an easy one to start with. 

Although the day started out chilly, the sun came out and the temperatures in the mid-fifties made for a great day of riding with lots of fall foliage and beautiful scenery. First finisher Christopher Maglieri 
finished the hilly course in an impressive 7 hours and 58 minutes, but somehow still had time to take a few pictures. 

Photo by Chris Maglieri

Volunteers Michael Reali and Sarah Johnson welcomed riders at the finish with vegan chili, for which all of the riders, especially fellow vegan Bob Dye, were very grateful! Additionally, Tom Keenan drove all the way down from Connecticut to volunteer at the penultimate control. Thank you Tom! Iwan Barankay helped at the start before taking part in the event himself, and I need to give a big shoutout to him and Chris Nadovich for letting me organize this ride and telling me what to do.

Brad Layman, the route designer, was also heavily involved in volunteering for the event, and I am very grateful for his expertise and knowledge and showing me the ropes. I got a lot of complements about the route, and it's all Brad's work, so thank him! Brad, Michael, Sarah, and I stayed at the finish past the 13.5 hour cutoff to see Diane Lenertz come through as the lanterne rouge. Chapeau to Diane for sticking it through and finishing in good spirits! 

Apparently at some point, someone in a car was throwing construction nails out their window so as to give riders flats. How incredibly rude and inconsiderate. However, I heard that Phil Luong stopped to pick them up. Thank you Phil!

Thank you so much Matt McLoone of Cadence for opening the shop at the start. Matt sent in some great photos! 

Photo by Matt McLoone

Nick Manta in his signature short shorts, photographed by Matt McLoone

Photo by Matt McLoone

Andrew Posmontier says: 
"We passed a cow in a field who got really excited and ran alongside us for the length of its pasture and it was so cute."

 Well that would've been the highlight of the ride for me!

Michael Povman says:
“Ello, thanks to you and the other volunteers for organizing this fabulous brevet! While challenging, this was one of the most scenic routes I've ever ridden - absolutely beautiful.  At times I felt like I was cycling through a gallery of Redfield paintings. A definite top 10.“

Photo by Michael Povman
Ben Keenan says: 

“Thank you Ello and volunteers for a wonderful day! It was cold getting to Hennigan’s Market, but that gave way to near perfect conditions, and most of the miles were imbued with the sense I get in late fall sometimes that I am stealing a better day than I could hope for. It was a beautiful road selection, especially through Berks and Chester Counties. Some good hills too; I think I saw some stars on the last hill before the Ludwig’s Corner Wawa. Thanks to everyone that shared the miles!"

Oh yes, some of those hills were pretty spicy! Says Gavin Biebuyck:

“Thanks Ello for organizing and managing 50 freaking riders!!! Great quiet route and good company all day. Those Nantmeal hills hurt!”

Volunteer Tom Keenan with riders at the Ludwig's Corner Wawa, photo by Gavin Biebuyck

 Mac Vergara, R-48 champion, had this to say: 

Thank YOU for planning and organizing the brevet! I had so many wonderful experiences. The PA Rando community is vibrant and welcoming, the route was a challenge full of rewarding views, and everyone I met was having a blast out riding with friends in the unbelievably perfect crisp autumn weather. This was my first time riding with PA Rando, and I’m looking forward to the next time I can make it out to one of your brevets!

Thanks for coming out Mac! We hope to see you at more PA Rando events!

Pat Gaffney says: 

Just a quick thanks to you, Brad, and the rest of the volunteers for a great ride this past Saturday.  The course was a good one and it was nice to see so many people turn out for the ride.  Sitting around the fire and chatting with everyone as they came in was a great way to end the day.  Thanks again.  See you next time.

And Bill Scanga sent in a couple photos:  

Fast fellows, photo by Bill Scanga

Bill Scanga's photo of a Wawa picnic, a classic PA Rando sight

Next month's brevet, the Hollywood Hot Dog 200k, will be starting at 8am to accommodate public transit schedules. It starts in the northern suburbs very close to multiple train stations, so it will be easy to get to. I'm planning on going so long as the weather is nothing like the weather on last year's December 200k *shudder*. Be sure to check it out, there's less climbing if that helps to convince you! 



Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Hopewell Furnace 200k Brevet Pre-ride Report

Please make sure you have the latest route uploaded to your device (or printed out on cue sheets) and the latest eBrevet data (if using). The latest cue sheet is VERSION 7 and the RWGPS file was last modified 2023-11-7 11:59:17 EST. RWGPS file and cue sheets can be found here:

Please make sure you have the required reflective gear and lights for riding in the dark (which many of you will have to do). You are required to wear a reflective vest and reflective ankle bands when riding in the dark, and you must have front and rear lights. It is recommended that you bring backup lights, especially if you are not running a dynamo. Thanks to daylight savings, you’ll start after sunrise, but if you finish after dark without the proper reflective gear or without sufficient lighting, you will be disqualified. 

For those of you who are new to randonneuring, I suggest you take a look at the rules and regulations on RUSA's website here: 

Rules for riders:

Reflectivity guide:

If you are using the E-Brevet app, please note that you still need your physical brevet card. You will need to write the finish code and time on the card at the end of the ride. If you don’t write a finish code on your card you will be disqualified. And of course if you’re only using the brevet card (no app) you need to get merchant signatures/answer the info question where applicable, as well as jotting down what time you get to each control. Please grab a receipt at the last control (Ludwig’s Corner Wawa) if you are only using a brevet card. 

Course notes

This route is a new one for PA Randonneurs. Brad Layman created this one and it traces a lot of roads that will be familiar to seasoned PA randos, especially those who did the SR series this year. Brad and I both pre-rode over the weekend and really lucked out with the weather but you’ll have nice weather too. 

The first control is a big supermarket. The cue sheet/GPS will have you take a right into the parking lot of the building and when you leave, you will retrace your way back to the road and cross to the other side to ride briefly on a small bike path. 

The bridge on the Perkiomen trail was still fenced off when we rode so the latest version of the route goes around it. There’s a wide shoulder on Gravel Pike but just be cautious as cars go pretty fast through there. 

At mile 52.7 you get to descend Oysterdale Rd. As always, don’t ride faster than your guardian angel! This descent is super fun but it does have some twists and turns so don’t go too crazy with it.

The Huff’s Church control is an info control, which means that there is no resupply on-course until the Wawa at mile 71.3. However, we were pleasantly surprised to find a natural spring right on the route at mile 45.8 (on Old Route 100 right before turning right onto Forgedale Rd). If you need water, this is a good place to get it. Otherwise there is a Redners slightly off of the route about a half mile before the spring. 

At mile 64.5, there is a gravel surprise! This gravel road is short, just 0.6mi, and the gravel is the same consistency of the gravel you’ll ride on at the beginning of the ride through Rittenhouse Town up to Wissahickon Avenue. At the end of this road you’ll turn right onto Route 562, which is a little busy, so just be cautious. 

Mark Yanagisawa, honorary rando, shreds through the gravel surprise

The finalized route has the third control at a Wawa, so again make sure you have the updated info. Be cautious as it's a trafficky area. After the Wawa control, you’ll continue south to the river and ride east into Birdsboro. Be careful turning right onto Center Rd (Route 345) and then subsequently turning left onto Main St. Main St can be quite busy so exercise caution as you ride through Birdsboro. After this you’ll take a right onto Shed Rd and start the climb up to French Creek. It’s not steep but it is long, so get in a low gear and just enjoy climbing through the beautiful woods. 

At mile 82.1 you’ll pass the Hopewell Furnace historical site, and if needed there are bathrooms/water at the visitor’s center. Be careful getting onto route 23 at mile 85.9. Luckily you’re only on it for a second but after this comes the hardest climb of the ride (in my opinion) so have fun with that. After the final control (the Ludwig’s Corner Wawa), you get to enjoy what I think is one of the best parts of the route, rolling through Chester Springs and Pickering. Be careful turning onto Route 23 as you enter Valley Forge as this road is busy and has some unfortunate potholes. Then you’ll take a right onto Gulph Road for the final significant climb of the route. Once you reach the memorial arch and turn left onto the trail, watch out for pedestrians as you make your way through the park and down to the Schuylkill. Make sure to give notice when passing and give them plenty of room. It gets real touristy up in here. 

Dusk in Valley Forge

Finally, please be considerate to other trail users on the Schuylkill Trail as you head toward Philly. Give notice when you are about to pass people and please don’t try to induce seizures in anyone coming the opposite way by using flashy lights. Yes, I have strong opinions about this. 

That’s all! See you on Saturday!