Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Covered Bridges 200K Ride Report

The 24 hour postponement to avoid the monsoon on Saturday was definitely the right move.  There were some issues in the morning as the dip in temperature froze some of the puddles, but we successfully dodged a truly miserable day. Of the 76 registered, 61 actually rode. Had the event started on Saturday, it's unlikely that more than 6 would have ridden.  Of the 61 who clipped in for the brevet, 58 finished in good time (95%).  This is an excellent finish rate for a course that is "sneaky difficult". 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.  

Not raining.

At least a week out we saw that the weather forecast was going to be problematic for Saturday. The RBA kept hoping the forecast would improve, but it never did. It just got worse. On Friday RBA Emeritus Tom Rosenbauer commented...

I think we may have gone beyond “character building” conditions and we now are looking at “epic”.

By then the need for a postponement was clear to everyone, but PA Rando "luxury" brevets are tricky to reschedule. As we offer both food and lodging with the event, and volunteers have time constraints, it's hard to "just change the date". Fortunately, the various logistical gears and levers were possible to re-engineer for a Sunday event. That and the volunteer workforce found a way to adapt.

Speaking of volunteers, a massive thanks goes to Iwan Barankay for handling both the start and finish as organizer. Once again, a Philly-based PA Rando event is made possible by Iwan's generosity with his time.  Iwan,  you always seem to be stepping-up when nobody else does.  

Other people who helped Iwan at Chamounix include:

  • Ben Keenan: breakfast help at start, finish control
  • Pat Gaffney: breakfast help and dinner help
  • Brad Layman: Costco run
  • Soph Lofaso: breakfast help (cooked oats without causing gaffneysian mess!)
  • George "grandpa" Metzler: Gear delivery 
  • Ryan Stanis: Chamounix concierge on Saturday night
  • Everybody: really helped keeping the space neat and clean minimizing work for organizers.       

The brunch control at Tinicum was staffed by Chris Nadovich and Joe Ray, along with special guest star Bill Olsen who plied us with freeze dried Milk Dud "meatballs".

There were several newly minted randonneurs. Perhaps a record number! Noah Cason, Tim Crouch, Molly Gleeson, Carrie Grief, Karen Jablonski, Lucio Palazzo, Jakub Piven, Paul Schack,  Kevin Sohnly, Arrick Underhill, and Mark Wilson all completed their first brevet (did I miss anyone?) Welcome to randonneuring!

Once again, we were able to rent the Chamounix Carriage House for the club offering a wonderful space for riders to stay the night before and after the ride and to have a comfortable space to gather in after a long, hilly brevet. Ten riders from Brooklyn and Manhattan arrived Saturday (instead of Friday) to stay at the Carriage House.  

Despite the vastly improved weather on Sunday, it was still difficult to ride. Temperatures had dipped into the high 20's at the 6:30 AM start time, and runoff from the previous day's flooding froze into black ice on some road surfaces.  

Frozen runoff made riding treacherous in the morning

The ice caused at least three riders to crash. These wrecks were at slow speed, so there were no serious injuries -- other than to Ken Cappel's rim which was bent beyond rideability and Ken was forced to DNF. Sorry about your run of bad luck on PA brevets, Ken. 

Things might have been a lot worse at the black ice had Pat Gaffney, Noah Cason, and Nick Manta not stopped to warn the groups of riders as they came through.  Thank you Pat, Noah, and Nick. 

Later in the day the sun rose high in the clear sky and warmed things up. It became a fine day to ride a bike. 

There was some concern that there would be downed trees, power lines, and flooded roads in the aftermath of Saturday's rain, but for the most part roads were found to be in reasonable shape. There was kind've a close call with Tohickon creek near the Cabin Run covered bridge, the creek being almost exactly at road level. Fortunately, it wasn't quite over the road. 


One of the great things about randonneuring is how riders congratulate and acknowledge each other's accomplishment with little regard for the finish time. This especially includes a lanterne rouge who rolls in DFL.  In this case, the honor fell on Daniel Oh. It should be noted that Dan stopped for some time to render assistance to Ken Cappel. Thank you Dan!

Lanterne Rouge Daniel Oh is greeted at Chamounix

 CJ Arayata writes...

THANK YOU to both Iwan for doing all of the things that needed to be done, and to Chris for the faith in the Philadelphia brevets and a great sausage-egg-potato-pepper lunch at Tinicum! For real, I enjoyed that WAY more than the french-toast-with-bacon situation that was served last time. It felt good to dust off the RUSA number and use eBrevet for the first time (would recommend!), and also great to see record-breaking registration and a lot of new faces.

Besides the OG PA 200k, this may be one of the hardest PA courses I have ridden! The farther distance between controles coupled with very concentrated climbing in the middle left me in a calorie deficit for most of the day. The nice thing about riding with friends is that everyone can lift each other out of dark periods with camaraderie, positive vibes, and snack-sharing! Shout out to my riding companions Zack R., Rob D., and Mike R., and especially to Rob for the delicious brown-rice-and-Bragg's rice cakes and tuna sandwich at Tabora. It was great to enjoy a tailwind for the last stretch and especially wonderful to hang at the finish, meet new folks, and celebrate people's first brevet completions. I also wanted to give a special shout-out to Nicole and Soph for rallying an ever-growing Brooklyn squad to (hopefully) initiate into the dark side that is the PA Super Randonneur series! Thanks again to all of the volunteers, and until next time...  
Pat Gaffney writes...

Thanks to you, Brad, Joe, Chris and Ben for all the hard work on the ride this weekend. While I was mentally prepared for a tough slog through the rain on Saturday, I was much more pleased with a sunny Sunday ride. Thanks for making the switch. The icy patches made the first thirty or so miles interesting and the tailwind on the way back made for a nice afternoon. Thanks again, see you at the 300.

Collected photos here.

Some Strava Links.

  • Nick Rogoff                                                                     
  • Ross Parfetti                                                                   
  • Maria Thompson                                                                  
  • Chris Kline                                                                     
  • Best sunglasses: Zachary Rachell                                                
  • Robert dePaolis 
  • Greg Lang 
  • Matthew Willet                              
Join us again next month, 20 April, at Chamounix Carriage House for the next event in our Super Randonneur series, the Water and Wind 300K. This event follows the classic PA rando route to Blue Mountain, heading up through Delaware Water Gap and back through Wind Gap. 

Never rode a 300K? Why not? They really aren't that much different than a 200K. It's just a 200K plus another 100K. You have successfully ridden a 200K, right? And you know you can ride a measly100K. Why not give the 300K a go? You'll do fine! 

Information and online registration can be found on the event info website.

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