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.