Sunday, January 28, 2024

Stillwater 200K Brevet Pre-ride Notes

The Stillwater 200K Brevet on February 3 is your next opportunity in the Pa Randonneurs’ R-12 schedule. The ride starts from Pohatcong Shopping Plaza in Phillipsburg, NJ. Start time is at 7AM. All the information, and an online registration link, are on the the event web page. You will find a link to the RWGPS data for the route (last modified 2024-01-28 10:38:22 EST) and links to cue sheets (version 4 is the latest).

Park near 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. 

Joe Ray's Pre-Ride Report
The pre-ride on Jan 27 was the first good all-day weather day in two weeks. The rain cleared out overnight Friday and the wind stayed fairly light. Temperatures ranged from mid 30s along the Delaware River to Milford to the mid 50s on the return leg around Stillwater. The sun made a brief appearance but otherwise it was overcast all day. In other words it was an ideal day to be out.

This route is one of my favorites. The scenery along the way is terrific and the roads generally quiet or with a wide shoulder. There are loads of “water features” along the entire course, such as the intermittent waterfalls on River Road heading to Milford which were especially active after the last few weeks, and the ice sculptures formed by water seeping out of the cliff on Martins Creek Belvidere Hwy on full display. If the temperatures this week are not too warm they may be still hanging around, otherwise there may be some broken chunks of ice on the road.

The course has five controles, plus the start/finish in Pohatcong Plaza. Every location is open, or in the case of the post office in Milford, the bagel shop next door is open.

A winter brevet can often feature loads of branches, leaves and chunks of salt from the most recent storm, but the rain and motor vehicle traffic had cleared all of the sort of hazard away. The only exception was the Pennsylvania stretch between Portland and Riverton where some of the grit was still on the road. Fortunately, there was zero grit and gravel at the bottom of the descent on Riverton Road at the sharp left turn onto Martins Creek Belvedere Highway.

The roads themselves were in good shape, with a few lateral cuts for water lines in Milford on York Road soon after departing the controle. The cuts were all filled with dirt and gravel and were not a problem but simply something to be aware of.

The stretches between controles do not generally offer much in the way of food stops; however I did make a lunch stop a few miles before the Quik Check controle at AG Pizza on Lake Iliff Road and that kids’-portion chicken parm over spaghetti was the one of best Rando lunches ever. The timing was right since the route is not very hilly at all for the next few miles.

There are a few port-a-johns along the way in case anyone needs them. One is on Cemetery Road in Independence about a mile before the controle, across the road from the fire department. During one Stillwater brevet a few years ago several if us had a long chilly wait at the controle to use their bathroom.

Hopefully the weather on February 3 will be as good. If so, then riders are in for a treat. 

RBA Note
The Lafayette Quik Check is a MERCHANT control. Anyone NOT using the eBrevet app is required to get a receipt here. You can make a small purchase or check your bank balance at the ATM. Mark your card with your arrival time and include the receipt. If you are using the eBrevet app, you don't need a receipt, but I still recommend stopping at the Quik Check if you didn't stop at AG Pizza. The QC has an indoor eating area and excellent soup. 

Enjoy the ride and be careful out there.

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Hope to New Hope 2024 Ride Report

What a day for a bike ride! Snow, rain, cold and slush, not to mention an early sunset.

Nevertheless, the course was completed by an impressive 3 of 6 snowday riders, and 2 pre-riders (on a much nicer day) for an overall 5 of 8 (63%). Congratulations and well done to all. Preliminary results have been posted on the website.  Please review the results and let us know if something is not quite right.  The results will be submitted to RUSA after review and will become official once certified. 

RBA Chris made sure everyone knew what to expect. He also wisely moved the official start up to 6AM for more pre-snow miles. 10 of the registered Randos decided caution is the better part of valor and opted to DNS. That left 6 foolhardy courageous warriors hoping to overcome the elements. Riders Patrick Gaffney, Benjamin Keenan and Andreas Prandelli all made it back to the warmth of Frank's Trattoria having bested the gods of winter. Vadim Gritsus, Dale Houck, and George Retseck  all made valiant efforts but succumbed to the forces of reason with snow packed fenders and a worsening forecast.


"There were very few cars, so the riding was pleasant."

Each of our three heroes finished in great spirits. In particular, Andreas seemed positively gleeful he got to go for a long bike ride. It would take much worse to deter him. All three said the final miles were especially treacherous as tire traction abandoned them. 

The yellow jersey from that "other" bike ride has nothing over Andreas triumphant in his giallo.

Every rider who registered deserves major kudos, either for the judicious decision to take a pass or to clip in and brave January's wrath.

Pat Gaffney writes... 

Patrick's mustache hardly collected any ice.

Thanks for all your efforts with eh 200 this past Saturday. Chris, for seeing us off earlier than normal and Bob for braving the storm to see us at the finish. The cold was not as bad as I thought it would be, but the snow made the last stretch of 15 miles or so some of the hardest in recent memory. Riding directly into the storm made some pretty mundane roads seem like a real slog. Thanks again, see you down the road.
Ben Keenan writes...

Thanks Bob and Chris for organizing this ride. The cold and snow in the later miles made for a memorable day. Highlights were seeing a hard frost (rare these days) on the fields outside Hope as day broke and riding under the clouds, feeling the snow in them and wondering when the storm would begin. Special thanks to Bob for staying at the end to make sure all riders got in safely (we all owe you one). Honorable mention to Pat Gaffney for leaving a good set of tracks in the snow. No need for GPS last 15 miles!

Ben Keenan had some eyewear challenges

We return to Pohatcong Plaza shopping center again next month for another Winter classic brevet, The Stillwater 200K on 3 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 if possible or canceled if there is a realistic chance of black ice or other unsafe riding conditions. But just a little snow? We ride on!