Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Ride Reports

Victor Urvantsev and Kate Marshall's: "...We met volunteers, Judd and his wife, at the next control, and he mentioned “a climb” on the upcoming section.  Kate said, “You mean like the last few hundred miles of climbing we have been doing?” And Judd just smiled...... We continued on rolling terrain, and with each hill I wondered, “Is that the hill Judd was talking about?  It grew hotter in the sun. Then after crossing US-22 again, we made a turn on Sugar Grove Rd that had an “UH-OH” written right on the road. “This has got to be the hill then,” I said. The hill didn't disappoint, presenting some very steep sections. But it was darkly shaded and cool, bordered with mountain streams. Peter had a saying written on his bike club jersey and Kate started reciting the Robert Frost poem from which it came:  The woods are lovely dark and deep… but I have promises to keep… and miles to go before I sleep… miles to go before I sleep.  We met Judd and his wife again at the top of the climb, manning a secret control with a big, knowing smile.  He said we looked good, in a surprised sort of way. We had the cards stamped and gulped down some water, and were off to a rewarding downhill on the other side of the ridge. ..."
You can read the rest of the Victor's and Kate's report at;

Eric Keller's:
"...The next section was fun, although I kept thinking, well, I just climbed up a really long way, now it's going to be downhill, right?  Well, after about 8 miles of climbing there is a warning about a downhill on the cue sheet, but it's not the last downhill.  In fact, it's not the only downhill where you have to be careful.  That section reminds me of my teenage years in Virginia -- massive rollers.  Keep your speed up as far as you can and the rest of the hill is only a lot of work instead of a major slog all the way from the bottom.  I swear they built that road with one blueprint.  House in the center of the turn on the right, barn on the left.  Very steep.  Finally, a long downhill.  And another long downhill.  More long downhills.  That was a welcome section.   Downhills never get old. ..."
You can read the rest of Eric's report at:

With the CAN-AM challenge in mind, several riders participated in both the Endless Mountains 1240k and Granite Anvil 1200k a week later.  But while most of these overachievers had the good sense to take a week off to rest, Jos Verstegen from the Netherlands audaciously planned a 800k recovery ride from the EM finish to the GA start, through some of the hilliest terrain in the northeast. "... The route was very challenging, wonderful rolling hills, steep climbs and some easy stretches when riding along a river or passing a gap. As a 'flatlander' I enjoyed every foot of climbing. Never a boring moment, very nice scenery along the route. ... The nice weather conditions, although I was not accustomed to it, made 
it a most enjoyable ride...."
You can read Jos' entire report at:

Dan Diehn's:
"..Everyone had been warning us that the climb out of Lamar was a monster and really hard. Although they were right it was awesome. We left Lamar in the dark and started climbing almost right away. Although it was pitch black, I got the sense that I was climbing up a really beautiful gap. I could hear a rushing stream to one side and the woods were filled with the sounds of some other wildlife, I think it was some kind of tree frog or cicada. The first 3 or 4 miles portion of the climb was generally gradual and winding. We then rode out onto a plateau with a small settlement. The stargazing in this area was amazing. The stars were bright and the Milky Way filled a large section of the sky. After riding on the plateau for several miles, and passing a stream of Amish buggies with rando-style taillights, we made a couple of corners and started the second portion of the climb. This section was much steeper and difficult. But the stars were still out and it was a beautiful night. We then rode another 25 miles, including a long, gradual descent into the second overnight at Lewisburg.  442 miles down.. ..."
You can read the rest of Dan's report at:

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Rider Comments

Greg Smith writes: "... I'm simply amazed by the level of support the volunteers provided:
At the overnights:
Waiting late into the night for riders to come in.  Helping them get checked in.  Having hot food ready that was not only filling but actually tasted good.  Managing room assignments and keys and all of the myriad of details needed to get tired riders into bed (or on their way again in some cases!).
Getting up early  or getting no sleep at all for the riders who wanted to get underway early, having breakfast ready or making sure the hotel did. Having tools, pumps, chain lube, etc., at the ready for departing riders to make sure their bikes would more or less work. Checking spot trackers to make sure they were turned off or on as appropriate.
At the intermediate controls:
Waiting in the rain or the hot sun or late into the night (and sometimes all three) for riders to come in
Getting riders checked in and cards signed as quickly as possible. Having snacks, water, soft drinks, etc., standing by. Being able to take care of minor (and not so minor) mechanical issues. Being encouraging and supportive.
Out on the road:
Len had one hell of a knack for showing up at just the right time.  I was riding with Norm and he had announced that he was just about out of water.  In less than two minutes Len comes by!  I forgot the USB cable for my Garmin and who shows up with one?  Len.  Absolutely amazing.  I imagine if I'd have told him I had a desperate craving for steak and eggs he'd have whipped out a sterno and a t-bone right there on the side of the road.  Simply awesome. [As a matter of fact, Len actually did cook up some hot soup on the side of the road, for the cold and rainy 2009 edition of the EM1240 -Tom R. ]
The course markers:
Are you kidding me?  Marking EVERY SINGLE TURN for almost 800 miles!  Are you kidding me?  The marks were legible, well placed and clear.  I simply couldn't believe what a terrific job that crew did.  If one were attentive you could just chuck the cue sheet and Garmin and follow the road marks, they were that good!
The cue sheet:
I've done several shorter events (centuries) and I know how hard it is to put together a cue sheet that's both accurate and useful.  I was navigating primarily via my Garmin (thanks to Joel for the gpx files) but pulled the cue sheet out often to double check, look for the next stores or restaurants along the route, etc.  Great job.
Thanks just doesn't cut it but that's all I've got so I'll say it again: thanks SO MUCH to all the volunteers for their outstanding support!"  -Greg Smith, Proud EM1240K finisher!

Joel Lawrence writes: "..Looking back on the rides that I did this year, the EM1240 was probably the most fun.  Definitely the biggest challenge.  You and your team did an awesome job running and supporting the ride. ..."

John Pearch writes: "...Thank you so much for organizing a great ride! I had a great time, battling all the steep relentless hills and humidity and overall I had a great time.  Thanks to you and all your wonderful volunteers.  I have to say how great it was to have volunteers out on the course at some very vulnerable time periods. Especially on the 3rd Day during the heat of the day and then later in the night when it got a lot colder than expected. As a ride organizer and volunteer on other previous brevets, I know how hard it can be to be out there helping riders keep moving and fed. But the volunteers you had were some of the best I have ever seen! Thanks to you and your team of volunteers on making the Endless Mountains 1240k one of the most memorable 1200k's in my life! I am looking forward to riding it again in 4 years!"

Mike Sturgill writes: "... Thank you and your volunteers for a wonderfully supported and communicated ride. I loved the course, although I'm not so sure it loved me. That was, by far, the hardest ride I have ever done. I cursed you more than once on the course. But, I wouldn't trade the experience for anything. It was beautiful and well worth the effort....2 volunteers saved my ride: Len Z. loaned me his wheel and the Hugo S. met me on the road to check on me. ... They both changed out the wheel while I was in the control cooling off in the AC feeding myself. I can't thank them enough for their kindness and generosity! ...Thank you Thank you Thank you!...Tom - thank you, too. I know you spent countless hours trying to find every crazy steep climb in PA. We discussed your course routing 
techniques often on the course. We surmised that you Googled every road name with "Gap", "Hill", "Summit", and "Trail" in it, then connected them together with all available passes. Well done, sir!"

Don Jagel writes:"... I want to extend my thanks to you and all of the wonderful folks who spent their time before, during, and after the EM1240 to make it run smoothly, and be a fun and successful ride. For me, it was wonderful way to finish off a PA-R12....The ride was challenging, but the overnight accommodations allowed for quick and comfortable recovery for the following days ride.  The scenery was gorgeous, really showing off northeastern PA.  Wildlife was abundant along the route.  I saw many deer (of course), red-tailed hawks, American kestral, one porcupine, two skunks (one of which was trotting down main street in one of the New York towns we passed through), and one bear. Prior to completing the EM1240, I had a great appreciation for the fortitude of the 2009 EM1240 riders for the conditions they faced.  Having now ridden the entire route myself, I have a renewed respect for the hardships they endured...I think the success of this EM1240, as well as the enthusiasm of the finishers, will lead to many folks wanting to participate in the EM1240 in the future...Thanks again (can't say it enough) for the EM1240,.."

Jon Doyle writes: "...My first 1200! Matt, Chris, and I had a splendid 86.5 hours riding around PA, NJ, and NY. We had excellent weather, terrific accommodations, and the volunteers were so helpful. The other riders, all more experienced randonneurs, were a great source of encouragement and inspiration. There were times when my muscles hurt, but I never suffered or stopped having fun. Trying not to spit out food and drink while laughing was an issue. ..."

Larry Midura writes: "... Sure had a great time on your EM 1240!  I see you found the NY version of the PA Promised Land climb heading up to Eldred.  Glad you did that. ... 10K into the ride I developed a rear derailleur problem in which the 50 x 27 combination was causing rear spoke rub with lots of noise; 34 x 27 was not as bad thank God, .... I was lucky to make it up all those climbs without getting the rear derailleur caught in the rear spokes. .... I really did enjoy the EM 1240 rider commaraderie as the group was nice and small, with great great support by volunteers.  Lenny Z especially was helpful to me at the early Controls lending me his tool so I could perform limit screw adjustments. ...Thanks again for all your hard organizational efforts!"

2009 EM1240k finisher and Minnesota RBA, Rob Welsh writes: "...Another ride well organized and executed!  I loved following my friends and other riders with the SPOT trackers.  We will be considering how they could work out here in Minnesota.  .... My friend Dan Diehn thought the ride this time was a lot harder than what he expected (based on my fuzzy memory from 2009) and comparing it to the Shenandoah ride we both did together last year.  Did the route change significantly?  Harder this time or not?   I thought the 2009 was more than a sufficient challenge. [Rob, the consensus is that the 2013 course was a bit kinder and gentler than the 2009 edition. -Tom R. ] This year's event didn't have the epic weather conditions so riders seemed to roll along pretty nicely ....."

Dan Diehen writes: "... I am only half way home but I wanted to drop you a quick note thanking you for a great experience with the EM 1240. It was very obvious that you put a lot of thought and effort into the event. Although I can't say that I "enjoyed" every minute of the ride, I was impressed with the challenging and scenic route that you were able to put together and the friendliness of your volunteer pool. The 1240 kilometers that I spent on your event will long be remembered...."

Luis Vargas writes: ".... I am very pleased with the event. The route you designed is most excellent and the volunteers were all top notch. .... expect to see Paul and me next year to do this Randonnee the right way and finish together as we originally planned.  Many thanks for the most excellent work setting up this event..."

Eric Keller writes: "... I probably depended on the volunteers more than anyone.  Wasn't my
original plan, but plans don't always work out.  It started to feel a little ridiculous fairly early on the first day.  Lenny helped me out a lot, I can't imagine finishing without him. Same with the other
volunteers -- wouldn't have finished without the help.  ...Tom, I appreciate the time and effort you put into this ride -- even moving a couple of replicas of Old Mine Road out to the area before Hallstead
in case we felt lost (j/k).  But in all seriousness, it went really smoothly with no surprises.   Hard to imagine anyone else meeting your standard..."

Mike Anderson writes: "...Thank you for organizing a very enjoyable event, and to all your dedicated volunteers as well. I was amazed to see the ENTIRE route arrowed, that's more work than I can fathom.  By the way, I did NOT drive home Sunday night, LOL just letting you know..."


Norman Smeal and Don Jagel at the Hawk's Nest scenic overlook
Photo compliments of Greg Smith
Bottom of Little Gap descent on Day 1
Photo compliment of Len Zawodniak

Dinner at the Halstead Overnight controle
Photo compliments of Michael Wali

Kate Marshall and Victor Urvantsev arrive at the Halstead Overnight Controle
Photo compliments of Michael Wali
Jos Verstegen was one of most prolific photographers, and has some of the nicest shots:
... and here's some pictures of his 800k recovery ride between the Endless Mountains finish and the Granite Anvil start:

Jon Doyle's annotated photo album, with lot's of great shots of the scenery is posted here:

John Pearch also has taken some great shots of the course:

Michael Wali's photo album, with pictures of the start, day 1 and day 2 is posted here:

John Pearch's daughter, Michele, posted some pictures taken at the Virginville controle:

Keith Spangler's photos at the finish:

Chris Nadovich's finisher's photos:

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Volunteer Appreciation

Words cannot begin to express, my gratitude and thanks for all the long hours and effort the volunteers put in over the 93 hours of the EM1240.  Without their help, it just wouldn't be possible to run an event like this.  And for several riders, the volunteers helped make the difference between finishing and not.

The EM1240k volunteer team consisted of:

Chris Nadovich ran the start/finish controle at Quakertown.  Chris is one of those ideal workers who with very little direction, can take the ball and just run with.  He got all the SPOT Trackers installed and checked out at the start, and was there at the end checking in all the riders.  His efficiency in getting riders signed in, picture taken, and fed was a joy to behold, and allowed me to finally relax a bit and meet with the finishers.

Dan Barbasch, one of my key volunteers, ran the first overnight controle at Hallstead, checking in riders and getting them fed.  Dan also helped out with the course marking, and helped assess the closed road near Towanda.  Dan actually thought the closed road was a bit dicey, and wanted to instead reroute the course along a mountainous detour.  I pushed back on this, since I thought we already had enough climbing.

Ron and Barbara Anderson have been key volunteers since the very first Endless Mountains 1000k back in 2007, and have been running the Lewisburg overnight controle for each edition of the EM1000k and EM1240k since then.  With two overnights at Lewisburg this time, it was a very long weekend for them this time around.

Chris Roth drove the baggage truck, and was one of the key volunteers working the event from start to finish.  In addition to providing continuity as other volunteers came and went, Chris also was the money man, making sure expenses got paid along the way. Chris also built the wooden stencils used for the course marking.

Len Zawodniak was another key volunteer who worked the event from beginning to end.  He manned controle 2 at Danielsville, and worked several other controles as well, as he swept the course each day.  He help save at least two rides, with equipment repairs.  Len is another one who instinctively knows where to be with water and just when the riders needed it the most.

DC Randonneurs president, Michael Wali helped run the start controle, checking in riders and getting pictures taken so all the other volunteers could associate a name with a face.  Michael also manned controle 3 at Blairstown, and helped out at the overnight controle

I consider myself extremely lucky to have Steve Hallett,  volunteer extraordinaire and a very familiar face to the riders in my neighboring NJ region.   I knew Steve was a meticulous worker, but he really floored me when he took the time to scout out the course ahead of time for the secret controle he signed up to run.  Riders met up with Steve at the top of Fox Gap, and I know many of them were happy to see Steve there with water and food, after that major climb.

Jeffrey Butt spent many hours manning controle 6 at the Duncan Donuts in Carbondale.

Hugo and Gloria Safar ran course sweep on day 3's loop out of Lewisburg.  Riders first saw them at the Mt Union controle.  And then later on, they manned the information controle at the Rebersburg monument.  With no stores open for miles around, the food and water they provided there was a welcome sight for many a rider.  It certainly was a very long day for them both, with the last riders passing through around 4AM.

Lane Giardina and John Fuoco were both course markers, and both helped out at the Lewisburg overnight contorle.  John is also a 2009 EM1240k finisher.  Lane is another DC Randonneur, who made the long trip up from there to help out.

Jud Hand and his wife Jill, ran the secret controle atop the Sugar Grove climb after Mt Union. They also helped out at the Lewisburg overnight with the morning shift.  Jud is also a 2009 EM1240k finisher, looking at the event from the other side this time.

Scott Franzen and Gilbert Torres both ran course sweep on day 4, checking in on tired riders.  Scott responded to Paul Smith's accident, and logged many extra miles shuttling bikes and riders around.

Dan Aaron and Susan Rodetis helped setup the Quakertown finish controlel and sign-in any early finishers.  But the front runners decided to sleep-in on day 4, so Dan and Susan didn't actually get to see any finishers this time.
Proof that Dan and Susan were there!
Compliments of Len Zawodniak

Keith Spangler was at the Quakertown finish taking pictures, posted here:

Several other volunteers also helped out with the course marking:
-Clair Beiler
-Jim Bondra
-Bill Fischer
-Mary Johnson
-Eric Keller (also a 2013 finisher)
-Paul Scearce

Monday, August 12, 2013

Preliminary Results

Preliminary results have been posted at:

Controle 22 Quakertown Finish

26 of 27 starters have all arrived safely at Quakertown.  Volunteer Chris Nadovich was there to greet them and hand out the trophies, and take photos, which have been posted here:

Volunteer Keith Spangler has taken some nice finish photos, posted here:

Paul Smith was on track to also finish and was riding strongly on the last day.  But with just 100k to go, Paul lost control of his bike going into a turn and fell down.  First responders took him to the hospital where he was treated for a few cuts and scrapes, and held overnight for observation.  I spoke with Paul in the morning as he was getting discharged, and he assures me that he is OK, which is good news indeed.

Controle 21 Virginville

Many riders have passed through the penultimate controle at Virginville, and are on the home stretch now.  Volunteers Scott Franzen and Gilbert Torres are out sweeping the course.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Controle 20 Frystown (Update 1)

*** Update 1 ***
All riders have cleared Frystown.  The last rider through, Eric K., arrived right at the buzzer:

*** Original Post ***
On day 1 of the EM1240, the riders crossed the Appalachian Trail atop Blue Mountain 3 times.  To maintain even parity, the riders will of course cross the A.T. one more time, and that crossing is just before the controle at Frystown.  As of 3:30 PM, there are 4 remaining riders that are looking to crest this climb.

Controle 19 Herdon

All riders have cleared the untimed information controle at Herdon (What is the price of regular gas?).  Last rider through, Eric K., is within 30 minutes of getting back on track with the time limit.

Controle 18 Lewisburg Overnight Stop 3 (Update 1)

*** Update 1 ***
As of 9:30 AM, the last two riders Michael A. and Eric K. are back out on course.

*** Original Post ***
All riders made it safely back to the third overnight controle in Lewisburg.  The last rider arrived shortly after 7AM, by which time several other riders had already left.  As of 9AM, all but two riders are back out on course for the fourth and final day.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Controle 17 Rebersbugh

As of 11:30PM, most of the riders have cleared Rebersburgh.  Volunteers Hugo and Gloria Safar are there, with food and water.  A dozen or so riders are already safely back to the Lewisburgh overnight stop.  The last 4 riders have arrived at Pine Grove Mills, with 30 minutes in hand on the time limit.

Controle 16 Pine Grove Mills

As of 10PM, the last 4 riders are headed to the big climb up to the Jo Hays Vista.  They have until 12AM to get up and over this climb.

Controle #15 Mt. Union (Update 1)

*** Update 1 ***
All riders have cleared Mt Union within the time limit.  Volunteer Hugo Safar took some photos of the riders at the Sheetz, which have been posted here:

And special thanks to Michael Wali for getting this posted.

*** Original Post ***
Several riders have reached the Sheetz controle in Mt Union at mile 534.  Volunteers Hugo and Gloria Safar are there to greet the riders and sign cards.

As shown on the profile, Mark T. and Vincent S. are nearing the top of the Sugar Grove climb.  They will be greeted by volunteers Jud Hand and his wife, who are manning a secret controle there.  Jud reports: "...Peter Victor and Kate were the first to arrive at the secret control at mile 549 at the top of Sugar Grove Rd at 13:35. All three looked good. Temperature at top of climb a mild 74 degrees...."
Your three leaders are now tackling the next big climb up to the Jo Hayes vista, which overlooks Happy Valley (home of the Penn State Nittnay Lions).

Below, is a picture of a happy Mike Sturgill at the Mt. Union controle.

 Mike limped into the controle with a wobbly rear wheel due to broken spokes.  Volunteer Len Zawodniak notched another save by bringing a replacement wheel for Mike to borrow.

Controle #14 Mifflintown

The first controle stop at Mifflintown, is by design, an untimed information controle ("What is the price of regular gas").  This gives the riders 2 controles to catch up on the time limit, if they got a late start from the overnight controle.
As of 11:30 AM, the rider are strung out over 100 miles:
Most of the riders have already cleared this controle at mile 494, and are tackling the sharp rollers along the Juniata River.  The front runners are approaching the western extent of today's loop, with the Sugar Grove climb just beyond that point.  The riders who got a late start are making good progress towards getting on track with the time limit.  They need to reach Mt Union at the 533-mile mark by 6:40 PM today.

Controle #13 Lewisburg Overnight (Update 1)

*** Update 1 ***
All 27 starters are still in the game, and have left Lewisburg to start day 3.  Today, the riders have a 300k loop that will pass through Mifflinburg and then head west along the Juniata River.  The turn around point is at Mt. Union, where the riders will then ride through Greenwood Furnace State Park towards State College and then back to the overnight controle at Lewisburg.

Today's challenge includes:
-some sharp rollers along the Juniata River (mile 500-533)
-Sugar Grove Road (mile 543)
-Jo Hayes Vista (mile 569)

But at the end of the day, the riders can look forward to that same 25-mile descent back into the Lewisburg overnight controle at mile 633.

With the passage of the cold front yesterday, all the humidity has been wrung out of the air, and the rider should enjoy some great weather with mostly sunny conditions.  Temperatues this morning are in the low 70F's and forecasted to rise to only the low 80F's this afternoon -- can't ask for much better than that in August!

*** Original Post ***
Volunteer Ron Anderson reports: "...All riders in and accounted for.  Last two arrived at 0437.  Riders beginning to depart at 5am...."

Friday, August 9, 2013

Controle #12 Lamar

As of 7:30PM, the riders are spread out by nearly 90 miles.  The Lamar controle is at the 403 mile mark on the profile below, where several riders are nearing.

That climb after Lamar, has a bark much worse than it's bite -- the gradients for the most part, are very gentle.  And once it is crested, the riders will enjoy a glorious 25 mile descent into the overnight controle in Lewisburg.  And as you can see from the rider tracking on this profile, your three front runners, Pete H., Kate M., and Victor U. are nearly there already, over 10 hours ahead of the cutoff!

Controle #11 Waterville

About half the riders have cleared the controle at Waterville, aptly named for those who got caught by the line of rain storms associated with the cold front moving in.  The remaining riders have made it through the steep rollers, and are on the "downhill" segment along Blockhouse Road.  And after that, the riders can look forward to a scenic ride through Little Pine Creek state park:

Photos from Day 1

Volunteer Michael Wali has taken posted some great photos on day 1, which can be viewed at this link:

The captions/names do not show in the slideshow.  However if you do not run the slideshow but click on the first picture to run it manually – the names are at the bottom left.

Controle #10 Canton

The route to Canton follows a scenic ridge on a 16-mile segment.  The beautiful road on this ridge has recently been rebuilt, after being completely destroyed by gas-fracking trucks.  While this road was under construction, the EM1000k route had to instead use the valley road, that was very busy with lots of fast traffic.  Thankfully, the construction activity associated with putting in new gas well has abated over the past couple of years.

Many of the riders have already cleared this controle, and are well along the next segment that is one of the bigger challenges for day 2.  The profile below shows the position of the leading riders on this segment:
After a modest gradient to the base of this climb, the last 500ft of elevation gain will certainly get the attention of the riders.  But the more challenging and memorable part of this segment will be the 10 miles of  sharp 100ft rollers at the top of this ridge.  When the riders finally reach Liberty at mile 340, they are rewarded with a nice 14 mile descent along Blockhouse Rd that takes them to Little Pine Creek State Park.

Controle #9 Towanda (Update 2)

*** Update 2***
He made it!

Eric K.'s Track as he approaches Controle 9 in Towanda
Volunteer Jeffrey Butt was at the controle to stamp Eric's card at 11:39AM -- 1 minute to spare on the time limit!

*** Update 1***
Eric K. has 32 minutes to cover 5.7 miles ... he's closing the gap on the time limit ... go Eric!

*** Original Post ***
Many of the riders have already cleared the first timed controle of day 2 at Towanda.  Most the remaining riders are either at or near the controle, which is another Jim Dandy.  Eric K. is 12.4 miles out, and has exactly one hour left to cover that distance to stay within the time limit. Other than a modest little rise along the river, the terrain is mostly flat here.  He's now approaching the closed road segment, which we happen to have pictures of from an earlier scouting effort:
... once he get's around those construction barriers, he'll at least have the whole road to himself for several miles.

The front runners are well along the next segment and just arrived at the next controle in Canton.

Controle #8 Nichols (Update 1)

*** Update 1 ***
Eric K. has cleared the Nichols controle, and has just about 2 hours to cover the next 23 miles to stay within the time limit.

The front runners (Victor U., Kate M., and Peter H.) have already cleared the next controle at Towanda.  Most of the other riders are also either at or near the Towanda Jim Dandy market as well.

*** Original Post ***
Nearly all the riders have passed through the first stop of day two, which is an untimed information controle at a Jim Dandy Mini Market ("What is the price of regular gas?").  Jim Dandy is the central PA/NY equivalent of the Sheetz's and WaWa's found in eastern PA and NJ.  Two of the late starters (Paul S. and Luis V.) have caught up on the time limit and are back on track.  The last late starter (Eric K.) got an even later start, but is within 9 miles of the controle.  Eric needs to reach the Towanda controle by 11:40 to meet the time limit.  He'll have to maintain a 12.7 MPH pace to get there in time -- certainly within reach, but it's going to be very close.

The route to Towanda follows the Susquehanna River along some kinder and gentler terrain.  Current temperatures there are mid 70F's, with dewpoints in the upper 60F's.  Looks like the riders will stay dry for next several hours, but there is a huge band of rain in western PA headed their way.  However, the riders can look forward to some crisp and cool weather conditions once the frontal boundary associated with that rain band passes on through.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Controle #7 Hallstead Overnight (Update 1)

*** Update 1 ****
All riders made it safely to the overnight controle, and are back out on course for day two.  Special thanks to the Hallstead crew led by Dan Barbasch, in getting everyone checked in, fed, and back on their way after resting.  Everyone is still in the game, although the last three riders have some catching up to do on the time limit.  Up ahead, lies some kinder and gentler terrain along the NY southern tier, and the next stop is an untimed information controle, so these riders have a fighting chance of getting back on track.

Weather conditions are still damp and humid, with a few little rain spritzs in the area.  But it looks like the bulk of the heavy rain is behind the riders to the east, moving away -- at least for now.

*** Original Post ***
Several riders are safely in at the Hallstead overnight controle, with several more in the home stretch.  The overnight crew will be hopping the next couple of hours, with several riders expected to come in within an hour.  Most of the remaining riders should be in shortly after midnight, with the last 3 on track to arrive between 2 and 3 AM.

Anyone contemplating riding straight through the overnight, might think twice about that now, with some heavy rain all along the NY southern tier pouring down now.

Controle #6 Carbondale (Update 1)

*** Update 1 ***
Looks like a heavy rain storm caught up with a large group of riders at the Carbondale controle.  Larry Midura is at the top of the big climb before Carbondale, and looks like he may be able to join up with this group.  The last 3 riders are approaching the base of the big climb.  Victor U. and Kate M. are the first arrivals to the Halstead overnight controle at around 8:30PM, with several others now in the home stretch. Meat and vegitarian lasagna is on the menu tonight, compliments of volunteer Dan Barbasch, who is running the show there.

*** Original post ***
Nearly half the riders have reached Carbondale.  The lead group of riders are in the home stretch to the overnight controle, and are expected to arrive around 8:30PM.  Most of the remaining riders are on the big climb to highest point of the course.  Volunteer Len Zawadoniak is waiting on Middle Creek road to check on the last 2 riders, who are projected to reach Carbondale around 11 PM.

Weather conditions remain very humid, with several showers popping up in the area.  But it appears that most of the riders have dodged some of the bigger rain showers.

Controle #5 Eldred

The front runners have cleared Eldred, with the +15 MPH holding firm.  That pace might not hold too much longer, with the climb up Mt Salem looming ahead. For now though, these front runners can enjoy more gentle gradients as they ride along the Lackawaxen river at they head toward Hawley.  The main field is strung out between Elded and Port Jervis, with 3 riders looking to still reach Port Jervis.

Some showers have formed just north of Port Jervis, but it seems like most of the riders have managed to avoid any significant rain so far.

With the fast pace the riders are maintaining, the SAG vehicle is now en-route to Halstead, about an hour ahead of schedule.

Controle #4 Port Jervis

Most of the riders have either cleared or are at the Port Jervis contole.  The main group of riders have made excellent time, and have several hours banked for the overnight controle already.  The front runners are setting an impressive 15 MPH pace so far, and are on track to arrive an the overnight controle before sundown if they can keep this up.  At the other end, there are couple of riders on pace despite delays due to some mechanicals -- but they'll need to pick it up a bit in order to get any rest in Halstead tonight.

Beyond Port Jervis, the riders can look forward to the scenic upper Delaware River, where Hawk's Nest provides some spectacular views:

Weather, although sticky with very high dew points, is cooperating with plenty of cloud cover and no rain as of yet.

Controle #3 Blairstown

Most of the riders have already cleared controle #3 in Blairstown, where they are being greeted by volunteer Michael Wali.  From there, they will start their third and final crossing of the Appalachian Trail as they head into the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation area.

Checking in with volunteer Steve Hallet, he reports that all riders have cleared the Fox Gap secret controle, atop Blue Mountain.  This is one of the tougher climbs today, but the highest point on course is yet to come, just outside of Carbondale at mile 189.

The cloud cover today is proving most beneficial for the riders in keeping temperatures in 70F's and also stabilizing the atmosphere to keep those thunderstorms in the forecast at bay.

The tracking issues with Jos and Luis have been resolved -- special thanks to Matthew Lee at Trackleaders for all his technical support.  And yes, that's the same Matthew Lee many of you may know as the  multiple winner of the Tour Divide

Controle #2: Danielsville

Bottom of the Little Gap climb
Compliments of Len Zawodniak

Eric Keller limped into the controle at Danielsville riding on a flat tire, due to a pump failure.  Lucky for Eric, volunteer Len Zawodniak was there to greet him, and just happened to have the exact same frame pump to loan Eric.  That's "save" number one for the volunteer staff.  Greg Smith was also delayed with a flat tire, apparently caused by the same broken glass they encountered.

Len reports that all riders have cleared the Danielsville controle and are now headed to a secret controle at Fox Gap, where the riders will be crossing the Apalachian Trail for the second time today.  Several riders have already crested this climb, including Jos Verstegen from the Netherlands.  Volunteer Steve Hallett who is manning the Fox Gap secret controle reports that Jos is smiling and in good condition.  His SPOT tracker is not showing up on the Tracking website, due to a technical problem with the database (which we hope to sort out soon).  Meanwhile, those following Jos's progress can go to this alternate link:
Jos has planned a rather intense cycling holiday:  After participating in the Endless Mountains 1240k, Jos plans to ride self-supported from the finish up to Cananda, where he'll be riding the Granite Anvil 1200k.  For somebody from the flatlands of Europe, he's certainly has found some of the hilliest terrain to ride!

There is a similar problem with Luis Vargas's tracker, and his alternate link is here:

Overcast skies have kept temperatures in the upper 60F's -- nearly ideal conditions for the many big climbs for day 1. The band of rain showers passing through the overnight controle appear to be dissipating.  With a bit of luck, the riders will have several more hours of dry weather.

And They're Off!

All 27 riders on the roster made it to the starting line and are out on course.  But it was touch and go for a while for Mike Sturgill -- when Mike landed at Philadelphia Airport, he discovered that his bike was still in Detroit.  He finally got reunited with his bike and finally make it to the start/finish hotel about an hour before the start.

Some thunderstorms rolled through the start/finish last night, but thankfully cleared out in time for a dry start.  Lot's of humidity this morning, but it looks like the riders will at least have several rain-free hours today.  A line of impressive rain bands are rolling through the overnight controle in Hallstead, as a cold front works it way south east. It's a pretty safe bet that the riders will see some rain at some point today.

Most of the riders have already cleared controle 2 in Danielsville, and are tackling the first of 3 climbs today that cross the Appalachian Trail, atop Blue Mountain.  You can follow their progress with the live tracking at:
... there is an interactive map where you can get rider and checkpoint updates by clicking on the map.

The SPOT trackers for Luis Vargas and Jos Verstegen appear to be off-line for now.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Event Preparations: Update #5

Cuesheet Draft 4 (8/2/13) is final and  has gone to press.  And in looking at the wet weather forecast for Thursday, it looks like it might be a good idea to laminate it.  An Excel file of draft 4 has also been posted on the event webpage:
... in case you want to reformat it to your liking.  But be sure to carry an official PDF one, just in case you inadvertently  mess it up (please note that there are many linked work sheets that are easy to break).

The course marking has been completed.  Special thanks to these volunteers for the many hours put into this big effort:
-Dan Barbasch
-Clair Beiler
-Jim Bondra
-Bill Fischer
-John Fuoco
-Lane Giardina
-Mary Johnson
-Eric Keller
-Chris Roth
-Paul Scearce

There is also a fantastic team of volunteers who you will be meeting at various stages of the event:

Registration sign-in will be in the lobby of the start/finish hotel (beginning on Wednesday evening)  where you can pick up your rider packet, which will include:
- brevet card
- cuesheet (draft 4)
- postcard for controle # 21
- tag for 1 drop bag
- SPOT Tracker quick reference card
- safety instructions
- EM jersey /clothing order form
Please keep your dropbag within the size and weight limits outlined on the event webpage.  And as mentioned before, there is a $50 discount on jersey orders of 2 or more, to help meet the minimum quantities.  There will be a couple of different sizes available for you to try on.

There will be volunteers on hand during sign-in to complete your bike inspection, and assist with your SPOT tracker, if you are renting one.  There will be a SPOT check at the start, to make sure your unit is working OK -- this will consist of you riding around the parking lot for ~15 minutes with your SPOT on and in tracking mode, and then verifying that you show up on the tracking website. The SPOT rider list is now up on the tracking website:
... if you go there now and zoom the map out to see the entire U.S.A., you can see a couple of the trackers already, as participants make there way to the start.

And just another important reminder: you should turn your SPOT off when you arrive at the overnight controle and then back on with tracking enabled when you leave.  The "on" button normally flashes green -- if it is flashing red, it means the batteries are low and need to be replaced.  There will be spare batteries carried in the baggage truck.

It is highly recommended that you rest at the planned overnight controles in Halstead and Lewisburg.  If you instead plan to ride straight through the overnight controles, please drop me a note to let me know what your plans are.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Event Preparations: Update #4

The cuesheet has been updated to draft 4, dated 8/2/13 (Be sure to use the "refresh" button on your browser, to flush any older version of the cuesheet that might be cached on your computer).  This update includes another reroute starting at mile 636 for bridge construction on Rt 405 along with a few minor corrections and clarifications.  There is also another closed road you will encounter, as noted at mile 281.   The reason for the road closure is the road is washing out along a steep cliff.  However, the road is still passable by bike and foot.  Pictures of what you will encounter have been posted here:
... as you can see, you will have to negotiate a barrier, and you will want to keep to the left on the short stretch of road that is washing out.   You should also watch out for road debris.  But the advantage to virtually have no car traffic for several miles outweighs these hazards, and is better than the alternative detours we looked at.

There are several other areas highlighted on the cuesheet where you should take caution.  These in particular should be taken with some extra care:
-Mile 37: You will be starting a long, steep descent, and you can easily reach speeds of 50MPH.  But just because you can go this fast, it doesn't mean it's good idea -- please don't go any faster than your Guardian Angels can keep up with.
-Mile 90: See previous comment.
-Mile 92: You will be going down a steep and rutted road that is way overdue for repaving. You need to carefully inch down this descent to pick you way around some big potholes. These holes and ruts will most definitely ruin your day if you hit any of them at speed.
-Mile 402: You will be entering the controle which is a Fying J Travel Plaza from a small side road.  This entrance has recently been changed to a truck exit, so watch for trucks exiting as you enter the controle.

The GPS SPOT tracking device that you will be carrying will allow your friends and family to follow your progress at this link:
The SPOT's should be turned off when you arrive at an overnight controle, and then turned back on with tracking enabled when you start the next day.

When you sign-in in at the Hampton Inn start controle, you will be given a rider packet. The packet will have one tag that you should attached to your one drop bag that you will see at each overnight controle.  Your one bag will be shuttled to each of the overnight controles.  When you arrive at the hotel, there will be a message board in the lobby directing you to the volunteer room.  You will be warmly greeted by the volunteers, who will feed you and hand you your bag.  You will then be paired off into rooms, based on your arrival time.  When you are ready to leave, you should return your bag to the volunteer room.  There will be a light breakfast to get you on your way.  By design, the first controle stop after each overnight is an untimed information controle, allowing you two controle stops to catch up on the time limit if you get a late start or you want to stop for breakfast.

Please note that back-up lighting will be checked during bike inspection.  The bike inspection checklist is posted here:

A conference room at the start/finish hotel has been reserved for the duration of the event.  You can store your bike cases there.

Joel has updated his GPS files with the Draft 4 detour, and has also broken it up into segments: 
Complete route here:

Daily segments here:

Control-to-Control segments here: