Eastern PA 300K
Saturday May 10, 2008
25 Registered riders
Mix of sun and clouds all day. Some early morning mist and fog, especially on the other side of the Little Gap climb, where riders descended into the cloud ceiling. Dispite some distant dark clouds midday, riders stayed dry all day. Chilly start in the low 40's with temperatures rising to the low 60's in the afternoon. Riders arriving well after sundown saw temperatures dip down again into the 40's.
Special Thanks ...
... to Rick Carpenter, for helping with the Friday night setup and for leading the way with the sign-in sheets.
Mordecai Silver and Rick Carpenter relaxing at the hostel on Friday night.
Dan Blumenfeld tempting fate by messing around with his lighting setup with less than 8 hours to go before the start. In addition to that, Dan offered to prepay for his 300k medal (yikes!!!). Of course I advised Dan to wait until after the fact (and avoid the wrath of the randonneuring gods from striking us both down).
First time PA brevet rider, Jerald Cook (left) and Jim Logan at the hostel on Friday night. In corresponding with Jerald the week before the event, I was a bit concerned that finishing the PA300k (a new distance for him) might be beyond his reach. The first hint that I had underestimated Jerald's ability was when I saw his Ironman jersey for the event he just completed in April.
Jim Logan's Blinkly ride, complete with frame couplers, SON generator, and all sorts of navigational gadgets.
Rick topping off with some oatmeal at the start. There's no excuse for not starting off well fueled ... unless of course, you happen to be one of the half dozen riders that made it to the start with just 15 minutes to spare!
Maile Neel at the start ... as I was taking this picture, Maile noted that I was getting yet another picture of her eating oatmeal, in almost the exact same pose as on the PA200k!
While Maile typically rides with the DC Randonneurs, she has been a welcome addition to the PA series this year as she prepares for the upcoming Cascades 1200k. A successful randonneur must have some degree of fitness, knowledge, and wits to handle unexpected circumstances. Maile has demonstrated ample amount of these qualities on finishing the PA200k and leading her team on a successful PA Fleche dispite awful weather conditions. And on this PA300k, she came prepared to deal with a broken shifter cable which snapped on the Millbrook climb.
Maile writes: "Thanks again for such a great 300k. Beautiful day, great route, wonderful riding companions. ... As you said yesterday, life doesn't get any better than this." Be sure to check out her superb pictures that captures some of the great views along the course.
Steve Scheetz at the start, with nearly a full bottle of endurolytes. A mere 300k was not enough to satisfy Steve for today. In true randonneuring fashion, Steve rode 55 miles from his house to the start as a warm up and planned to ride 55 miles back home after the event for a 300 mile day. Read Steve's ride report here.
The course featured 4 crossings of the Appalachian Trail (5 if you also count backtracking from the Water Gap Diner controle). On the left, is the white blaze that marks the trail -- observant riders would've seen these markings as they actually rode on the AT near the I-80 Delaware bridge crossing. Below is the Fox Gap AT crossing at the secret controle.
Robin Landis is the third arrival to the top of Fox Gap. Jerald Cook was the first to summit Fox Gap at 9:15 (see my earlier comments about my concerns on Jerald finishing!). Rick Carpenter followed Jerald 4 minutes later -- both were on pace to finish under 13 hours at this point. Some time after this, Robin decided he had enough of running with the big dogs but still managed to finish well before dark.
Carl June, Joe Brown, and Matt Farrell at the Fox Gap secret controle. Carl is another rider I initially under estimated. On last Fall's PA200k, when he signed in for his very first brevet ever in jeans and sneakers, I mistook that for his riding kit. The next time I saw Carl, he was in his actual riding gear and the first finisher, along with Joe Brown!
Dan Blumenfeld arriving at the top of Fox Gap on his recumbent. Fellow rider, Judson Hand comments: "I rode with Mordecai for most of the first 32 miles and later rode with Robin Landis and Daniel Blumenthal, the latter putting us all to shame on his recumbent. I think Dan has an anti-gravity device the way he tackles those hills."
Guy Harris, in great form this year, at the top of Fox Gap. Guy and his wife, Barabara, have been regular participants on the PA series.
Another regular PA participant, Jud Hand, arriving at Fox Gap. Jud writes: "Thanks for the great new route (or combination of two great older routes) on this year's 300k. As usual the scenery was top notch and the cue sheet was easy to follow. ... I had a pretty good ride, except for arriving at the hostel a little late, which meant I missed my usual pre-ride meal and had to catch up with eating on the road. There was plenty of climbing and some good new controls, such as the deli in Hainesville at mile 107. ... Speaking of hills, I always enjoy the challenge of Fox Gap and the Delaware Water Gap is a great place to ride, even if there are some nasty 15-20 percent grades mixed in.
Having done your rides since you started them in 2004 (or 2003, if you want to include the middle section of the NJ 600k), I was especially pleased to see the 24 finishers, up from 16 last year, I believe. That's on top of the nearly 50 riders at the 200k last month. It's great to see the Eastern PA series doing so well."
Glen Ammons at Fox Gap. I caught up with Glen at Millbrook Village and rode with him to the turn-around controle in Hainesville.
(above) Len Zawodniak (front) and Victor Urvantsev arriving at Fox Gap. Len writes: "Tom, Thanks for running such a great brevet yesterday. In all my spare time on this brevet, I came up with a slogan for your series: 'Mountains of fun'. The start in the morning mist was classic, with lights strung out along the road. At one point, we were rolling along in the early morning light, when Steve Sheetz pointed out the valley of mist that we were about to descend into- one of those beautiful moments along the brevet. The course was terrific, with many remote and unspoiled views. Of course, the weather co-operated, providing a nice cool day for climbing - and there was plenty of climbing. Overall, a difficult but rewarding ride. Thanks again !
(left) Maile Neel arriving at the top of Fox Gap. Maile pointed out one glaring issue with the cuesheet instruction that reads: "Turn right on Rt 191 and begin long climb to the top of Fox Gap" -- she correctly observed that the Fox Gap climb actually started about 2 miles earler before the turn onto Rt 191
Steve Scheetz, at the top of Fox Gap, whittling down his supply of Endurolytes and Sustained Energy.
(left) Dan Aaron and (below) Mordecai Silver arrive at the top of Fox Gap.
(left) Jim Logan arriving at Fox Gap. Jim writes: "...What catches your eye on the profile are the two ~1000 ft climbs, Fox Gap and Millbrook. Fox Gap in particular has sustained climbing around and a tad over 10%. However, what surprises people are some rollers just after the Millbrook climb. After a steep decscent, you find yourself climbing a non-trivial roller around 17%. Also, on the return course near Millbrook, there is another climb that peaks around 17%, though that one is longer and really sticks it to you near the top. ... it's not that difficult, as long as you can climb long grades at 10+% and deal with some modest steeps."
Ivan Umble and George Metzler arriving at Fox Gap. George writes: "Thanks for your efforts in creating an excellent course. Ivan (first brevet) and I enjoyed 190 miles of a well thought out route (well actually 196 in our case) using a cue sheet that was spot on perfect. I especially appreciated the secret control at the top of Fox Gap. The goodies and the liquids hit the spot after a tough climb. Another plus was the out and back section of the course near the Wind Gap Control. It always lifts my spirits towards the end of a ride to see other cyclists and this section gave us a sense of where most riders were on the course. ... Thanks again and I plan to see you at your 400K"
Ron and Barbara Anderson, at the top of Fox Gap. Keep an eye out for Barb's partially broken-in Brooks Saddle for sale, on eBay.
(left) Pat Fleming, at the top of Fox Gap. Riding partner, Ron Harlos must be near by but somehow missed getting a picture (sorry about that, Ron!). Pat and Ron have completed many a brevet together and can be counted on to reliably finish just within the time limit -- no matter if the course is easy or hard.
(below) First finisher, Rick Carpenter back at the hostel. Rick writes: "Good job on picking the right weather window; I am glad that we weren't riding in Monday morning's mess.
Finishing just 10 minutes later, Jerald Cook, is back at hostel with Rick. Rick comments "... Ivan, Congratulations on completing your first brevet; you picked a challenging one to start off with, that's for sure!" Jerald will be moving out to the west coast in the coming year but hope he'll be able to join us for a few more events before he leaves.
(right) Matt Farrell, Joe Brown and Carl June at the finish.
(left) Robin, Dan, and Jud along with Len and Victor (below) at the finish. Read Dan's ride report here.
Robin writes: "I just wanted to thank you for a great ride on Saturday. The scenery was beautiful and the traffic minimal. As usual, the cue sheet was impeccable. This time I actually followed it and--a first for me--didn't miss a single turn. More important, perhaps, was the spirit of randonneuring that you foster by the great food before and after the ride and by your encouragement on the road. I was especially grateful for your warning about the sharp right at the end of that steep descent--I'd been worrying about exactly which descent it was, and then you were there in person to remind me before the start of the climb. All the people I rode with were without exception supportive and encouraging. It's hard to imagine how the ride could have been better! Even the rain held off until after all the riders were in. Thanks again for a beatifully designed route and a flawlessly administered ride."
(left) Ivan and George (below) at the finish.
(left) Dan Aaron and Maile (below) at the finish. Also below, local RAAM rider, Mitch Lesack came out for a surprise visit to greet the finishers and meet up with his friend, Steve Scheetz.
(left) Steve Scheetz at the finish with his remaining Endurolytes. Compared with his starting amount shown on the right, I'd say he went through at least half a bottle's worth!
(above) Jim and Jud hanging out at the finish with Barbara in recovery mode at the table (and happy to be off the saddle) -- anybody interested in buying a semi broken-in Brooks B-17?
(right) Dan and Mordecai hanging out.
Congratulations to all the participants for contributing to the 100% finish. While the course was tough, the riders that showed up proved even tougher! Without a doubt, the PA events are hard -- and this appears to attract riders well prepared for the challenges. But more importantly, everybody got around the course safely -- I really appreciate that, and all the kind remarks on the course and event. It truly is one of the joys of being an RBA, to share some of the great roads I've discovered with participants who really appreciate them.
Eastern PA RBA