by Mac Vergara
Mary and I had a fantastic pre-ride of the Nockamixon 200k route yesterday. It started brisk in the morning, but the sun came out and made it a beautiful early spring day. Daffodils and forsythia were in bloom everywhere, and the trees were beginning to sprout new leaves.
It’s always a pleasure to ride the quiet hills around Lambertville, and the tour through rural Pennsylvania was beautiful; gold fields still fallow from winter were punctuated by the bright green seedlings of freshly planted fields. There’s a surprise change of scenery as the route rides along the Nockamixon with glimpses of the wide expanse of water.
The climbs are challenging, but doable, and the last climb in Pennsylvania rewards us with a memorable view of NJ, followed by a screaming and very fun descent towards the Delaware river. Back in NJ, we started to ride parts of the Princeton 120k that we know and love, except in reverse! It gave us a different perspective of the route, and familiar places were fresh and new.
I actually started to laugh out loud when I reached the Seargentsville covered bridge, realizing that instead of a fast downhill from the General Store to the bridge, it’d be a steady climb in reverse! There were farms, silos, and barns I had never noticed in the opposite direction, and the views looked completely different in the late afternoon instead of the morning.
Nockamixon is a challenging ride that made us practice managing our stopped-time and pace, but it’s a challenge that is definitely approachable, doable, enjoyable, and good preparation for the brevet season to come!
Thanks to the tireless tracking and updating and posting to FaceBook by Joe Kratovil, we New Jersey Randonneurs were able to truly Celebrate Our Local Heroes. Bravo to all regular participants of NJ brevets who went through the arduous process of training and planning and qualifying and training some more—just to make it to the start of PBP 2019.
Our hats are tipped and our hearts go out to those who had to end their ride before its planned conclusion in Rambouillet--Gil Lebron, Mohammad Zaman, George Swain, Haruko Masumori, and Ren Mortara—and we join them in applauding those who were able to complete their lofty goal:
Unofficial results can be found:
by Joe Kratovil
In New Jersey, the final weekend of Randonneuring arrived with unquestionably the hottest temperatures experienced so far this year. A 200K and 300K were being run simultaneously from two different start / finish locations, the 200K using almost all the same roads and controls as the very hilly northern portion of the 300K. Given the start times were two hours apart, riders from both events would encounter each other on the road and at many controls.
Nineteen 300K riders departed the Clarion Hotel in Princeton at 5am in the relative cool of darkness. The first comparatively gentle leg of 35 miles would bring them to Whitehouse, where the 200K was set to start at 7am. The 300K leaders arrived just before the start of the 200K. While the temperature was still under 80º, the high humidity was a hint of what was yet to come.
Eight 200K riders set out on the route at 7am, beginning their hilly journey. The first control, Hackettstown, was reached in 25 miles, and some climbing was encountered along the way—though the toughest climbs were still yet to come. A steady increase in temperature was also felt. As an organization, New Jersey Randonneurs—known for providing a high level of support—regarded the impending weather as a serious threat to the well-being of the participants. To ensure safety, a plan was drawn up to increase the level of route support. The 200K riders would have ten opportunities to refresh water between the start and finish, at an average 12.5 mile intervals. The 300K riders would have 13 opportunities, averaging 14.3 miles between each. Electrolytes and ice socks, along with other hot weather remedies, were used as well.
Riders from both events began arriving at Foot Bridge Park in Blairstown in the late morning. The covered picnic area was shady and pleasant despite the ever-increasing temperature and humidity. A catered lunch was provided from a local market. It was a good sign that most riders ate heartily. The last two 300K riders to arrive Blairstown did so with one hour to spare. One rider had suffered multiple flats; his riding companion stayed with him. At the close of the control there were two DNF’s, both from the 200K. One rider reached the control suffering from heat-related issues; he subsequently chose not to continue. A second rider never arrived. The missing participant was contacted— he had abandoned the brevet, having found his own transport.
The most challenging climb of the route, Jenny Jump, was the next hurdle. Riders expended a lot of energy to achieve the top. Once there they encountered the RBA offering ice water to be enjoyed while sitting on chairs set up in the shade. Those familiar with the route surely had the Schooley’s Mountain Climb on their minds, which was not too many miles away. By that time of day the heat index was over 100º.
The field was quite spread out by the time the optional water stop in Mansfield Township was reached. This strategically-placed refill opportunity was at the foot of Schooley’s Mountain, which represented several miles of climbing. A second water stop was encountered some miles after the climb, in Long Valley. At this location one 300K rider chose to abandon. On this day, when one reached their limit of tolerance, this was unquestionably respected.
Only a few miles further, in the small town of Califon, a control with many services awaited the field. Another challenging climb of Route 512 immediately followed. Several more milder miles would ensue, although exposure to late day heat and sun were intense. The heat index was at its highest point of the day, 112º. Not surprisingly, another 300K rider called it quits at Hacklebarney State Park. Interestingly, while volunteers were both prepared and willing to transport riders to the finish, none would accept this offer. It appeared they did not want to take volunteers away from the task of supporting those who were still riding. In general, Randonneurs are a selfless group.
For 200K riders, the finish at Whitehouse was only 12 miles from the State Park, with one fast screaming downhill enjoyed on Route 517, in Tewksbury Township. The first 200K rider to reach the finish was Drew Lee, who managed an overall time of 9 hours and 13 minutes. This was more than two-and-a-half hours ahead of anyone else. The final riders to see the finish at Whitehouse would require the full time limit to do so—a perfectly sensible strategy under the circumstances.
There was one more intermediate control point in Neshanic for the 300K riders, just 28 miles before the finish. Another rider abandoned there, calling for a ride from home. Once again, the decision was respected. The field was spread out over more than five hours. On the way to the finish there was one more dedicated volunteer waiting on the side of the road with ice water and slices of watermelon—a final refreshment and a morale boost from an experienced rando who knew just what was needed at that point in time.
The first to arrive at the finish at the Clarion Hotel in Princeton was Ed McDonell, with a total time of 13 hours 45 minutes. He was followed closely by Ed Bernasky, with a time of 13 hours 56 minutes. Finishers continued to arrive for more than five hours, with the final two just eleven minutes ahead of the 1:00 AM cut-off. The rider plagued with four flat tires, Oliver Zong, and his companion Paul Weaver both finished successfully—as if 112º heat wasn’t enough of a challenge. Chapeau to both!
This Post first appeared on the Randonneuring Blog, Iron Rider
Finish the Damn Ride
Finish the Damn Ride is an "unwritten" ethos of Randonneurring. Sure there are caveats, safety comes first but, if you can safely continue, that ethos can lead to some inspirational results.
A crash occurred early in the 186 mile brevet, before the sun was up, among the group of riders leading the field. I didn't see it, so I don't know for sure what happened, but apparently a pot hole was involved and more than one person hit the ground.
I went around the large group that stopped around the crash. Given the number of people, adding myself to the mix would serve no useful purpose.
A few miles later, under the newly risen sun, two riders approach from behind, steadily gaining ground. When they catch up, we talk and I find out that one of the riders went down in the crash. Riding on her left, I see a a trickle of blood from a knee and maybe an elbow. She insists she is OK and she is riding well. When I am on the right, I see that the crash ripped her short from just above the knee to the left hip. Nothing too revealing, but the left side of the thigh was exposed and showed a light bruise. When I mentioned the obvious, she again seemed unfazed and continued on.
We leapfrogged during the ride, I sped through controls and she would pass me on the course. A former racer, now a proud mom, this ride was part of her mother's day "gift," and her upbeat attitude seemed to reflect that. Despite the setback at the start, she rode on, rode strong, and finished the damn ride.
The Pinelands 300k is a mostly flat tour of central jersey through the time-trial worthy roads that travel through the sandy Pinelands. The weather was kind today. A cool morning with no underlying sense of cold, warmed to a moderate mid to upper 60's. With surprisingly few stop lights or signs, this was a day and a course to find your pace and hold steady.
Persistence hunting is an evolutionary theory that says that human beings developed an extraordinary endurance as an adaptation to their profound lack of other physical traits when compared to the animal kingdom. Lacking claws, fangs, great strength or speed, humans found that if they worked together they could run a larger animal down by pursuing it to the point where it was too exhausted to continue to evade them.
That kind of endurance is more than physical, it requires a mentality that allows a person to work at the edge of, but still within, their limits for hours on end. I think I've witnessed the mindset that comes with that ability to push oneself at a pace that is hard, but sustainable, for hours. I also think I've experienced it too, for a bit at least, but it's a skill that while perhaps innate, must be nurtured, brought forth, and developed.
PBP, the quadrennial gathering in France of worldwide Randonneurs is 100 days away. Today was a day to work on that persistence mindset, that zen of being in the zone, to mentally keep pushing at the edge.
This Post first appeared on Iron Rider
Reflections on the Cranbury 200K
Jared Skolnick writes:
Technically, this was my second event with NJ Randonneurs. But I did my first 200k three years ago and before I considered actually training for longer, endurance events. I completed that ride in over 11.5 hours and the weather was practically perfect. So when I signed up for the Cranbury 200 this year, I had three goals in mind:
Adam McAnaeny writes:
This was my first 200k -- in fact, it was my first ride over 60 miles. And the only reason I managed to finish was because of the unique culture of randonneuring, where fellow riders aren't competitors and instead help eachother out. Here is a brief summary of my ride:
I started out feeling OK (better than expected, in fact). I had gone on a short ride the day before and had felt weak, so I wasn't optimistic that I would be able to complete this ride -- my first 200k, twice the length of my longest previous ride. Three weeks of travel had also thrown my training out the window, so I wasn't anywhere close to the place I wanted to be physically.
My good start was undoubtedly assisted by the tail winds we had at the start. Unfortunately, all too soon they turned into stiff head and side-winds. As you well know, that quickly made the going tough.
Around mile 55, I started to bonk. Hard. I had eaten at the first two checkpoints, but not enough, apparently. At mile 55 I noticed I was hungry, which was a clear sign I was too late getting more fuel into my body. I thought I could hang in until lunch at the checkpoint at mile 65, but I barely made it and my performance was already dropping like a rock.
I quickly ate lunch, then pushed on with two newfound friends I had ridden with most of the morning: Steven Castellano and Joseph Daly. At mile 75, however, I was ready to throw in the towel. I felt like I couldn't ride another 500 yards. I was completely weak and having mild stomach cramps. I pulled over and told Steve and Joe (both much stronger and more experienced riders than I am) to go on without me.
Surprisingly, they didn't. Steve suggested we stop and talk it through to figure out what the problem was. Both Steve and Joe were super-supportive and concluded I hadn't had enough time to digest my lunch and replenish my blood sugar. They suggested I push on to the next checkpoint (at mile 96) at a slower pace and then re-evaluate. They both continued to stay with me, encouraging me along the way. I made it to the checkpoint, had two bananas and a Gatorade, and by the time I left the checkpoint, I was -- if not a new man -- at least a "lightly used man". I had clearly caught my second wind and was dumbfounded at the change in my body. Without Steve and Joe, I never would have managed to hang in there.
The winds continued to be brutal on the way back, but we finally made it to the end. This was astonishing to me, given that at mile 75 I could hardly talk I was so tired. At that moment, I never would have thought I could go another 50+ miles. I'm glad everything worked out!
Chris Wey writes:
The route was a real pleasure and defied my expectations of this heretofor-unfamiliar area. I won't soon forget the view of New York City from the Mt. Mitchell overlook, one of many beautiful sights along the way.
George Swain writes:
by Michael Gorman
Speeding from opposite ends of Manhattan to Penn station on Easter Sunday – Will Sherman and myself tried for a 6:13 am train that would have had us in Princeton Junction by 7:27. The train was cancelled. After considering our options, we decided the next train an hour later would be the best way to go. We wound up meeting with Gil Lebron at the station – and after piling 3 bikes into his Pilot – had a fairly late start of 9:30 out of Village Park. Any remains of colder early morning weather, until we got to the shore, were dissipated – and we were able to take in the Cranbury at its best: as the rite of passage for new(er) and experienced randos alike to welcome in another season - just as Spring is truly kicking in. The meandering of different neighborhoods – from Monroe to Sea Girt – let you know winter is finally over.
We had some wind to the first control in Union Beach – but kept up a moderate pace. Trees from cherry blossoms to Japanese maples – in front of houses that were everything from ranch to McMansion – were in almost full bloom. The pollen was so thick in places it seemed you could see it in the wind.
Mt. Mitchell was the second info control and an old friend I hadn’t seen in a couple of years (from the direction we approached). It represented the first and most challenging climb of the day – one of a few sustained climbs for a relatively flat course. Picture opp at the overlook along with info control. Heading to the shore from there the head winds increased and temperature dropped – slowing our pace. We wound up taking turns leading a pace line.
Control # 4 in Belmar, at the half way point, allowed for a preview of things to come for the summer season with the boardwalk eateries still in the process of getting started. Some of the shops had limited menus and weren’t equipped to take credit cards as of yet. But….we had a great view of the ocean and beach from the picnic tables outside; families and couples were everywhere. However, the cold crept in pretty quickly – so after a quick meal of pizza and french fries it was time to go.
As we headed inland the temps warmed up again; the strong headwinds changed to tail winds – and our speed increased. Finally. These tail winds (or lack of headwinds) would stay with us the rest of the ride – and after a quick bite at the penultimate Wawa control in Jerseyville, the miles peeled away as we raced to finish before dark – getting back to Village Park around 8:30pm. We saw the return to more congested roads we’d managed to dodge the bulk of the ride. But overall traffic had been unnaturally light – and we’d felt comfortable taking the lane when necessary for a good part of the day.
One final note: the ‘joy’ factor of this ride increased as it progressed. As we headed to the sea and back inland through different towns the sense of re-birth continued to build – and I found myself pushing forward trying to take in everything. Other clubs have started offering their brevets – but none I’ve experienced offer the sheer joy of this one.
by Bob Torres, Pre-Rider
Started my ride at 8:20am into foggy conditions...around 14 miles in, the fog lifted and it started to get warmer really fast. The cue sheet is still correct noting pot holes for mile 19.5, 21.8 and 22.2...but between miles 20 and 21 the road has been repaved...but leave the notes as stated.
At mile 35.7, where Laurel Ave becomes Beachway Ave, getting close to Keansburg waterpark/arcades, the road—for about 200 yards—is in the process of being resurfaced....I was able to ride through with no problem...
The ride up to Mt Mitchell was nice; same with the views.
Getting onto Ocean Ave brought the fog back and had to deal with the SE winds...this was the hardest part of the ride.
The winds became my friend as I continued to Control #4. This part of the ride was uneventful and very enjoyable.
Controle #4, Wawa, the usual: I had a pretzel and coke. But while drinking my coke, looking west, I see the skies were not looking happy; it was getting really dark, like rain was going to happen soon....
Final leg to the finish, most of the time the winds were helping me and the skies did calm down. I rode on some wet roads from the rain that has occurred earlier but I missed it all.
Again, another very enjoyable section to ride on. The traffic was very light on the last two legs.
by Paul Kramer, RBA
Cars carrying the steeds of 70 brave riders made their way through the dark in a cold, wet fog to a boat yard on the Mullica River in Egg Harbor City, NJ. Despite the last-minute change in parking venue, Bill Reagan and Mark Reilly deftly directed traffic as each rider registered will the help of Dawn Engstrom and Len Zawodniak, then pedaled their way to the Lower Bank Tavern to hear last-minute instructions by ride organizer Rick Lentz. Soon all 70 were on the course, and soon after that, the cold and fog gave way to rising temperatures and brightening skies.
All 70 riders enjoyed a perfect day—blue, warm, and relatively still, given the normal winds for that area—all the way to Mile 92, the penultimate controle at the Franklinville Wawa. Five riders chose to find motorized transportation from there back to their cars, with 65 riders pressing on to a successful finish and a welcome meal.
Congratulations to all starters—and a big Rando Bravo to all finishers! (Results will be posted as soon as tabulated.)
Thank you to our pre-riders who tested the course:
Thank you to Bill Reagan for hosting the finish at the tavern.
And a huge thanks to volunteers Dawn Engstrom and Len Zawodniak and Joseph Hoffman for manning the controles, helping the riders, and keeping spirits high
And a tremendous thanks to ride organizer Rick Lentz for a terrific job pulling it together, staying on top of it all, and keeping it running smooth.
On to Cranbury!
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The price is sixty dollars
Email your Cut and Size to: RBA "at" NJRandonneurs "dot" org
Jerseys may be picked up and paid for at check-in time for any scheduled brevet.
NOTE—The group order is being placed March 1; email by Feb 28 if you would like to be in on it.