Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Four State 400K & Tscheschter Kaundi 200K Ride Reports

The 2024 Pennsylvania Super Randonneur Series continues! Check out the reports for both the Four State 400K and the Tscheschter Kaundi 200K below.

Riders approach a horse carriage in Lancaster County (photo by Mike Gadomski)

Four State 400K Ride Report

16 riders clipped in for the 400K on a cool morning with rain on the way later in the evening. Along with the two pre-riders, we had a total of 15 finishers and a finish rate of 83%.  Please take a look at the preliminary results and let me know if anything does not look right. The results will be submitted to RUSA after review and will become official once certified.

Riders wait patiently on the South Street Bridge as they prepare to depart the city for the countryside (photo by Ron Anderson)

The 400K is a stubbornly difficult event. There is no easy way to tackle it. Pushing past 300K requires riders to dig deep and go beyond their limits. Nobody finishes a 400K and then questions whether they gave it their all. Non-randonneurs look at our Strava accounts in disbelief and assume we have gone crazy. Every rider who attempted this event deserves a kudos.

Riders encountered early morning fog in the Brandywine Valley (photo by Soph Lofaso)

There were four riders who completed their first 400Ks: Tracey Hinder, Greg Jacobs, Paul Schack, and Kalten Walter. They wisely partnered up with experienced randos along the course. Chapeau to these four riders. And they all stated that they are ready to tackle the 600K next month (apparently they don't even need a case of randonesia to make this happen!). There are a total of 11 riders eligible for the PA SR Series Award upon completion of the 600K (SR Series = 200K, 300K, 400K, & 600K).

Soph Lofaso returned to the event this year after abandoning in 2023 and crushed it this time. They also led three of the new 400K riders through the course.

Ron Anderson had a great ride. While he is working on his PA SR Series, he also completed Crush the Commonwealth only two weeks before this event. He is having a tremendous season.

Tim Gilligan flew through the course with a mind-boggling finish time of 17:16, setting a new course record. This was actually Tim's first official 400K, but he and his teammates elected to ride 400K during the 2022 PA Flèche (they added on 40K to the typical 360K Flèche distance). Michael Evangelista was not far behind with an impressive finish time. Greg Lang turned in another solid performance on his fixed gear. Pat Gaffney had a great ride as he works on his 7th PA SR Series. Tristan Dahn completed his second 4S4, improving his time from last year by almost two hours.

Ben Keenan rode strong after riding his bike to the event, from Wilmington to Philadelphia, on Friday evening ("the best way to a brevet"). Alex Estes, fueled by 18 S'mores Pop-Tarts(!), came in under 20 hours. Forget fancy energy gels, he proves all you need are pastries and sheer willpower.

Bob Dye had some bad luck in Birdsboro after he realized he forgot his phone at the Turkey Hill control. He began to backtrack but lost his way. He eventually made it back to the Turkey Hill but by that time, he had ridden quite a few extra miles. He made the difficult decision to ride back along the SRT to Chamounix. Nicole Aptekar dealt with sleep exhaustion for several hours before making the decision to abandon in Coopersburg. Andy Gorman made the decision to abandon at the Wawa in Doylestown after riding through cold rain for several hours late in the night. Kudos to these three riders for putting in a valiant effort, having the guts to put safety first and make the difficult call to cut it short.

Greg Lang took a photo as he passed a horse carriage in Lancaster County

Thank you to everyone who volunteered to make this event happen. Joe Ray and Chris Nadovich were stationed at the penultimate control in Bloomsbury, helping to boost rider morale as they entered the final 100k in the dark. Ken Cappel handled the finish control for the first shift. Iwan Barankay helped at Chamounix on Friday and Saturday nights, and also provided invaluable support to the organizer during the planning stages of this event. Nick Manta completed a solid pre-ride and then handled the finish from 10pm until the last riders came in after 3am. Simona Dwass handled the finish from 4am on and also helped to clean up Chamounix. Ello Shertzer also helped greet riders at the finish. Ello suffered a bad crash at Crush the Commonwealth and her club-mates' spirits were instantly lifted upon seeing her there and on the road to recovery. Multiple riders helped with setting up and cleaning the Chamounix Carriage House. Thank you!

The Most Valuable Volunteer Award goes to Daniel Oh for roving the course late at night. The temperatures dropped and rain moved in after midnight, creating very difficult conditions for tired riders. Dan provided moral support and hot coffee for many tired riders. He also provided lifts back to the start for two of the riders. Dan mentioned that he is appreciative of the volunteers who have waited for him to finish brevets over the years and felt an urge to return the favor. He was essentially up all night driving between riders and Chamounix. Thank you, Dan.

Tscheschter Kaundi 200K Ride Report

A few hours after the 4S4 start, 13 riders set out on the Tscheschter Kaundi 200K and all finished well within the time limit for a finish rate of 100%. Congratulations to all riders.  This group got to enjoy the best of the day's weather as temperatures reached the mid-60s, the sun shined, and the rain held off until after the event concluded. They followed the same route as the Four State 400K for the first 20 miles to Swarthmore before taking a different track towards Lancaster County.

Augie Faller refueling with donuts at the Maple Arch Farm Market (photo by Mike Gadomski)

Several scenic roads were added to the Tscheschter Kaundi 200 for this edition. One of those roads took the route past the Maple Arch Farm Market. It made this organizer's day to hear that almost every TK rider stopped there for fresh cider donuts.

Sarah Johnson passes a farm in Tscheschter Kaundi (photo by Michael Reali)

Three riders completed their first brevets: Augie Faller, Mike Gadomski, and Molly Gleason. Chapeau and welcome to randonneuring!

Ten other riders added another 200K to their resumes: Nigel Greene, Sarah Johnson, Phil Luong, Bryan Niederberger, Jakub Piven, Michael Reali Jr, Maria Thomson, Gilbert Torres, Arrick Underhill, and Erik Wright. Chapeau!

Riders search their bags for postcards at the Christiana postal control (photo by Jakub Piven)

Thank you to volunteer Ken Cappel for checking riders in at the finish. Back at Chamounix, riders enjoyed pizza and snacks as they shared tales of their day in the saddle.

The only gravel section of the 4S4 route, Rosedale Road (photo by Ron Anderson)

Ron Anderson writes of the 400:

Thanks for all your work putting on the 4S400k. I really enjoyed my day out on the roads of Eastern PA, and Delaware, and Maryland, and New Jersey

Although I was no doubt one of the more "seasoned" riders among the crew yesterday, the Four State had the feel of a fresh, new challenge for me. I looked it up, and the last time I completed a brevet at this distance was all the way back in 2011. The routes out of Chamounix are all relatively new to me too.

I really enjoyed the early morning southern loop into DE and MD, watching the world wake up along the way. That was some beautiful territory. The trek through Amish country was delightful, as always. The New Jersey portion of the ride put me on classic PAR roads that are very familiar to me. The descent from Jugtown Mountain to Milford was a delightful carnival ride, even in the dark, possible because of good lighting and knowledge of the roads.

After riding a while together in the afternoon, I met up with Greg J. at the penultimate control in Bloomsbury right at dusk and we stuck together for the rest of the NJ trek and the run in to Philadelphia. It was great to have the company in the dark as the miles piled up and we both reached that point where we just wanted this to be over. We endured a couple chilly rain showers along the way, as the Rando Gods felt the need for an additional test of our spirit.

We chased a 22 hour finish over the last few hours but the accumulated fatigue and a couple short delays saw us miss our goal by just a few minutes. Still, a very good finish for me and a first 400k finish for Greg. (Congrats!!!)

Thanks again to all our ride volunteers, and see you in a few weeks at the 600k!

Postscript: When the RBA and the ride volunteers suggest that you might want to take a little nap before driving home, pay attention! I thought I was okay to drive leaving the carriage house, but I was not. Even when it became clear to me that I was flagging, I pressed on home to Trenton. Somehow I made it safely, but it was, quite bluntly, a really bonehead move. I should know better. Don't let this be you. 

The fawn that was eventually rescued from the road (photo by Michael Evangelista)

Michael Evangelista writes of the 400:

The most interesting thing that happened to me was at mile 213 on Carversville Rd headed into Doylestown. A tiny fawn wobbled out of the grass and lied down right in the the middle of the northbound lane just as I passed. I stopped and attempted to shoo it back into the woods. I clapped, stomped, yelled and it just stared at me. An Uber Eats driver stopped to try to help, but the most we could do was wave traffic around it. I'd read that it's normal for a fawn to lie down and wait for its mother to come back and that you should just leave them be, but this was a really bad place to do that. I didn't want to touch it, so I called the police and asked if they could send animal control. An officer arrived and went to move the deer. As soon as he touched it, it go up and ran away! Argh! I spent 14 minutes trying to make sure that little guy didn't get squashed! (but was glad he was OK and out of the road in the end).

Pat Gaffney writes of the 400:

Thanks to you, Nick, Chris, Joe, and all the other volunteers who put on the four state four hundred on Saturday.  A 400K is quite an undertaking and this course really challenges the riders.  I really liked the reworks from last year's version, the Maryland section in particular was much more pleasant.  The scenery was great and, for most of the day, the weather was close to perfect.  Thanks again, see you at the 600.

A rider prepares to mail their postcard at the Elkton Maryland postal control (photo by Soph Lofaso)

Ben Keenan writes of the 400:

Thanks Brad, Nick, Dan, Joe, Chris and all others for organizing this ride.  This was my second time on this route, and it was no less beautiful and no less challenging.  I’d forgotten the number of quiet back roads and long, winding descents.  Alas, the memory of the hills came back just as quickly!  I think the last thirty miles of this ride may be one of the hardest stretches of miles I’ve ridden.  Congratulations and thanks to all and hope to see everyone for the next ride.

Greg Jacobs writes of the 400:

Just want to say thanks for a great first 400km experience! It was a challenging yet manageable route with plenty of varied scenery. About 20 miles in we passed within a mile of my house. Had I known what was in store on Staats rd 14 hours later, I may have just detoured. Big thanks to Ron A for dragging me along for the last 150kms. Looking forward to attempting the 600km in June. 

Chris Nadovich writes of the 400 MVV Recipient:

It's awesome Daniel Oh volunteered. It's so critical to have good people who are mobile, covering the final third of the course on a long brevet. Riders crumble in the wee hours and it can save a lot of trouble if there's a volunteer nearby who can help. My point is that it's critical we have such volunteers. Hanging out at 2am greeting tired riders, and maybe driving them to/from Philly multiple times - THAT is serious volunteer work. When people ask to volunteer, I'm not sure they think of such "glamorous" duties. But Daniel Oh certainly understood the job.

Nigel Greene writes of the 200:

Just a quick note to say thanks! After more than a year without riding a 200k due to -- well -- you know -- life, the Tscheschter Kaundi 200K, was my re-entry to this great sport. All the things that a ride organizer can control, like the route and the cuesheet, were truly excellent. The scenery and road selection were just what a brevet should be: a visual feast of local scenery on bike friendly roads. As for the cue sheet, I had the unanticipated pleasure of listening to every cue through Ride with GPS as I navigated the course. Quite frankly, I was impressed. Not only was every cue spot on but someone took the time to add additional points of interest along the route which is an extra special treat and something I personally appreciate. I have followed, created, and revised enough cue sheets to know how just how much attention to detail it requires. Well done! As a full value finisher, thanks for a warm welcome and great food selection. That pizza and beer hit the spot. Finally, one more thanks to Ken for that lift to the regional rail after the event. My tired legs were grateful. After such a fine restart, the randonesia is already kicking in. 

Photo by Erik Wright

Erik Wright writes of the 200:

Thanks for putting on the event, and for everybody juggling the two brevets at once. It was a solid day on the bike. Rounded a left hand turn and saw the horses, the beautiful yellow flowers, the picturesque blue skies, the BARN, and could barely contain myself. Shortly after, around mile 47, I was riding alone and saw a horseback rider about 100m in front of me. It was just us in the road, no cars, but I wasn’t totally sure of the etiquette and didn’t want to spook the horse. I slowed as I approached, then dismounted about 30ft from them. The rider sort of laughed, and when I explained I just didn’t know what to do, we had a nice 15 minute chat in the road talking about horses. She used to be a cyclist and rode centuries with her local cycling club, so she was stoked to learn about randonneuring. I don’t think she’ll be signing up for a brevet any time soon, but maybe we’ll see Cheryl again on the next TK200! Thanks again for organizing the ride- I’ll catch you at the next one. 

Photo by Jakub Piven

Jakub Piven writes of the 200:

Thank you for putting together such an outstanding route. From leaving the city on moderately busy roads to the breathtaking rolling hills on the edge of Lancaster County, and finally the quiet return on the SRT, it was clear that the route was well-considered and planned for maximum enjoyment. I was especially grateful for Maple Arch Farm Market halfway through, where I inhaled a few donuts and was tempted by first-of-the-season strawberries. The endless clotheslines in Penn Dutch country were another unexpected and impressive sight. Looking forward to the next one.

A bicycle at Maple Arch Farm Market (photo by Michael Reali)

Maria Thomson writes of the 200:

 Thanks Brad for laying out a total pleasure of a route. This was my first ever brevet one year ago and I left that ride delirious from the scenery and the kindness of my fellow riders who showed me the ropes. This year my pal and teammate Molly Gleason joined me, and Tscheschter Kaundi is now also her first brevet. We're drinking the Kool-Aid/spreading the rando gospel. Huge thanks as well to Arrick, Mike, and Augie -- we found each other organically on the road but ended up sticking together for nearly the entire ride and they were terrific company. Other highlights of the ride included slamming cider donuts at the new stop, finding a field of miniature ponies, saluting a number of kiddos and carriages in Lancaster, and overall lucking out with a freakin beautiful day of sunshine in the middle of two steady weeks of cold and rain. 

Props to the 400kers out on Saturday (maybe one day)!

Molly Gleason takes a selfie with teammate Maria Thomson on the South Street Bridge

Mike Gadomski writes of the 200:

 The first main highlight was that the route was just a pure delight. Really tastefully crafted. It did help that the weather was perfect. 

The second main highlight was riding with the same people the whole time, despite not having met most of them before. Great crew.

Finally, I want to give a special shoutout to the one gravel segment. It’s fair to say that I had genuine moments of euphoria on this ride.

Join us again on June 8 for the grand finale of the SR Series, the Jim Thorpe 600K, and on June 15 for the Keystone Brevet Co. 200K. Both of these rides will start and finish in Philadelphia. Details and registration are on the PA Rando website.

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