Alternate Proof of Passage on RUSA Permanents

If you agree with the concept of liberalizing the permitted forms of proof of passage that permanent owners are allowed (but not required) to accept, as articulated by Susan Otcenas here:  ….then please lend her your support.  Let the RUSA board members know your thoughts.

FYI, the original discussion on the randon list is here:!searchin/randon/BOx/randon/jVcT4qsKSIE/Eb2rrQ_51tUJ

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Happy Buffalo 200K

Last Saturday, Eric and I completed the first official ride of Eric’s Happy Valley to Buffalo Valley 200K permanent.  Should have called it Happy Buffalo, instead.

It’s a nice route that takes you from State College to Lewisburg, mainly on Rt. 192, and then returning via a variety of roads and such (Buffalo Valley rail trail, Rt. 45 over the mountain, Pine Creek Rd., Penns Creek Rd, Lower Georges Valley Rd, and so forth.)

Our ride started out rainy and cold-ish  (about 61 deg. F.).  Riding up Rt. 192 on a wet day is one dirty affair, what with all of the horse manure on the road…. Yuk.  Look at your water bottle before you it put in your mouth, folks….   But, it warmed up nicely by lunchtime.

We stopped at the Sheetz in Lewisburg, but decided on not eating a ton there, as we had designs on a more substantial stop later in the day.

The ride up Rt. 45 from Mifflinburg to Woodward was ok.   Traffic was moderate, but behaving in a sane manner.  Rt. 45 has some shoulder too, which helps.  The climb up the mountain right before Woodward was hard, partly due to the very high humidity and temps in the low 80’s, along with full sunshine.

When we stopped at Milheim, we decided to have lunch at Elk Creek Café.   We each had a burger, fries, and two beers.   I never had such a great meal at a controle on a brevet or permanent before.  Usually a Subway sub is considered fine dining.  Now, I think I like this approach, but I fear this won’t be a pattern.  Seems to me that few of our routes are easy enough to make this kind of stomach burden tolerable.  Although I noticed when we got going again, I felt pretty energized.  Still though, beer and beef aren’t exactly energy foods.  This route is fairly tame, with total climbing not exceeding 6,000 feet, and we were riding it slower than usual due to Eric’s need to take it easy.  (Eric is still recovering a bit from ear surgery).

Finishing this perm. just extended me to R-4.   Not sure about next month’s ride.  Might need to be in eastern PA.

I was pleased to get this one done, because my fitness has been really poor as of late.  Riding only one or two days a week might have something to do with it.

Along Rt. 192:  a wet and messy morning in Penn’s Valley.  It was a 5 banana ride, by the way.

Buffalo Valley Rail Trail near Lewisburg


Along Rt. 45:  Where’s Scooby and the gang?  (old mansion like building with a locked gate and signs saying ‘keep out’)

Just up the hill a bit more….   Only you can prevent forest fires…


Nice barn on Pine Creek Rd. Prolly doesn’t hold cows anymore.


Hopheads rejoice near Coburn!  ( I wonder if these hops are sold to Elk Creek Café?  Scale seems too large for a home brewer…)


Inadvertent selfie  (taken outside Elk Creek Café)


Enjoying a brown ale at Elk Creek.

Rimmey Road rest stop.  This was nice for a pee stop and some water.  And of course we signed the guest book too.


Nice View from Rimmey Road.

Ride with GPS:

Happy Buffalo 200K:

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Lock the gates, Goofy.

Eric and I had a successful ride this past Saturday, on the first official running of Splendid Isolation 200K.   I have a whopping R-3 streak going here.  Yay for me.

To offer some modicum of variety, we decided to try out an alternate route between Weikert and Milroy, and it ended up being the simultaneous lowlight and highlight of the day.  It was rocky, steep doubletrack that was challenging to ride, and it slowed us down big time.  But it was rewarding.  We finished in 13:04 (officially), but had to really bust ass to do so.  But overall, despite being hard, it was a great ride.  We wouldn’t do this stuff if it was a cakewalk, right?

The scenery was great and everything was extremely lush, due to recent rains.  And also, as usual, the ride was extremely quiet.  We saw one whole car on the non pavement sections all day.  Splendid Isolation, indeed.

Warren’s take:

Eric’s take (on the ride):

So we finished in 13 hours out of the 13:24 allotted. Steamer took a roofing nail to his rear tire with about 7 miles to go, so we were a little concerned about time. The fact that it was a nail made changing it a little easier since we knew the cause of the flat was gone and there was no need to search around for it like happens with a sliver of steel or glass.

I always was curious about one of the roads we took, turns out we should have trusted the Purple Lizard map that showed it as ajeep trail. It was about 15 miles of doubletrack with big rocks and huge mud puddles, compounding the fact that it was almost all uphill. Fortunately, the road surface on the descent was much better, although it’s not sustainable and there were huge ditches made by runoff crossing the road. Ya, you can ride it on a CX bike, but it’s a lot slower than if you are riding a MTB. I suspect that if I was riding the 30mm tires I was using last year that I would have gotten at least one pinch flat.

Amusingly, one full second after I pulled the roofing nail out of my rear tire and showed it to Eric, he pointed to a contractor’s trailer parked 30 feet away that said “roofing and siding”.  Thanks a lot, pal.  Let’s keep the nails in people’s yards where they belong…  Ahem.  Eric’s point about pinch flats is mildly ironic.  We missed a million opportunities to have one of those all day long, you see.

Oh, in case anyone was wondering, the doubletrack Jeep road we speak of is Longwell Draft Road and it looks like…..

Longwell Draft Road. Kinda rough for the machines we’re riding (not mountain bikes).

The Macho Man getting dirty. (talking about the bike….)

I took this picture whilst Eric slathered his nether regions (untested saddle, you see…). The Stoopid 50 came through this way the following day. See the yellow arrow in the background?

Old RR trestle abutment near Weikert (along Cherry Run Rd.)

A favorite area of mine. Cherry Run.

Vista on the ‘back side’ of Colerain.

The front side vista of Colerain. I have posted a picture taken from this location how many times now? (I like it. It’s even more appreciated when you climb 1,000 feet on the thickest, loosest gravel in Rothrock in order to get here).

The rest of the pics:

Strava entry:

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Alternative Format Idea for RCoH

I have only had very spotty interest in doing The Rothrock Cyrcle of Hell event.  I think what makes it lack appeal for some folks is the heavy demands of navigation in an area they are not too familiar with (or not familiar with at all).  Most folks would rather plan a route at their leisure and then go do it, rather than having to navigate on the fly.  GPS devices and marked up maps and cue sheets are nice.  I get that.  It’s certainly a nice security blanket.  I wouldn’t start a brevet or adventure ride without such things, so I am not putting myself above that, you see.  ( I still have my childhood security blankets too, if you’d like to psychoanalyze that….. let me know what you determine. )

SO, here is another format concept to chew on…

Imagine an open course 12 hour race that entailed all riders starting and finishing at given location.  Each rider does their own route.  It’s a distance event, with the riders with the most miles wins, except that vertical gain would count too.  And so would gravel / mixed surface.  Every so many vertical feet counting as an additional equivalent mile.  Every mile traveled on gravel would be equal to 1.x miles on pavement.  (an appropriate value for “x” to be determined).  All verified by GPS track data.  Part of the strategy would be to come up with a route that suited one’s own strengths, and still get you back to the start/finish within the 12 hours, but yet still utilize all 12 hours.  I guess someone could ride and up down the road near the start finish or something, and that would be lame.  We’d have to have a ‘no retrace your route” rule, etc.  The idea is to get out there and do one big circumnavigation / grand loop or a big out and back or something like that.

As you can see, ‘free route’ is near and dear to my heart.  But it allows for pre-planning, which seems to be a thing obsessive compulsive ultra cyclists enjoy doing.


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NYC Route Scouting – Homestead to Loretto

So then, Reddan used his amazing networking skillz to assembly a motley crew of randoesque folk to partake in a leisurely Sunday ramble amongst sylvan dale and babbling brook.  Ok, enough vocabulary for now…

Yeah, we wanted to scout the first 100 miles or so of the NYC route.  So, we devised an out and back starting in Homestead (at the site of one of organized labor’s bloodiest battles in U.S. history) and turning around in Cresson  (located at the top of the first railroad to breach the Allegheny front) and heading back.  Full route being a solid 300K.

There were seven starters, and four finishers of the full route (Chris, Steph, Jim, and Bill).  Three of us (Reddan, Sarah P., and meeself) decided to turn around at mile 70 and make a ‘short’ day of it.

Seeing as this route was totally untested from about mile 10 onwards, we all had no idea what to expect.  Some significant observations were made:

1.  The West Penn trail is an actual TRAIL with garlic in it’s soul, not a stevia sweetened low calorie rail trail bon bon.

2.  The West Penn trail gets confusing at one critical point not far from the Conemaugh Dam, and it’s easy to be lured into bushwacking.  Not that we would actually do that, you see.

3.  Hey, this is a great route.  All of the roads intended for the one way NYC route are keepers.

4.  If we can eliminate a little Ghost Town Trail for some roads, that might not be a bad thing.  But not totally necessary either in the context of a one way ride.

5.  Dillweed is a place, and they have a nice country store there.

6.  Sarah is a tough lady.  After wiping out in the soft shoulder of the GTT whilst trying to pass a lady on a motorized trike with dog-holding sidecar (not joking) she merrily mended her wounds with baby wipes, neosporin, and duct tape and continued to ride another 70 something miles without complaint.  Then she worked a 13 hour day starting the next morning.

Anyhoo, the routes were..



Early Morning Roll Out in the Pgh Burbs.  Photo by Reddan

Dan futzing with his brakes.

Me, futzing with MY brakes.  Photo by Reddan

Cruising along the watershed near Slickville

Interesting trestle on the West Penn Trail (at this location it takes the form of a road)

Our heroes, emerging from the forest shadows….

Dan and Sarah after the navigational funk

Dan, looking for insectious nutrition

Nice country near Blairsville


The Ghost Town Trail is a great crushed limestone rail trail, if you’re into that sort of thing. Not that there is anything wrong with that. Photo by Reddan

Chillin’ in Dillhole…err, I mean Dillweed.  Photo by Reddan

The Stick, The P-38 (Stillers style), and The Sparkly Straggler at Sheetz. Photo by Reddan

Rest of the pics I took are here:

Reddan’s Pics:


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Pittsburgh to NYC Randonnee

Eric McK., the father of Crush the Commonwealth, has a new idea.  Commonwealth crushing with a twist.  To ride from Pgh to NYC.  From Point State Park to Times Square.

He first laid out the idea here:

I found it to be an interesting navigational challenge, as there are no obvious, pre-designated routes between those two points, especially when considering a route suitable for cycling.

Here is the work in progress.

If you do the most direct route possible, it would only be about 410 miles and 20,000 feet of climbing, but you’d end up riding straight through the portion of NJ directly west of the city, which is a route I would not wish upon Beelzebub.  I was advised to make a big fishhook at the end, where the final approach to the city is made by riding a good 20+ miles along the west bank of the Hudson.

I have been looking for advice, and the part in rural northern NJ is still pretty much a wild ass guess, so I really need some help there from folks who know that area.

Here are some already running solicitations on various forums:

Ohh, a group of us are planning to scout from Homestead PA to Altoona PA on the 25th of this month.  Randos who read this who want in should comment on this article to get hooked into the action.

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Puppies and Potholes 300K

With the vauge notion that I might actually complete a full SR series this year, I decided to head out to Pgh for the 300K version of the Puppies and Kittens brevet.  This one starts further west on the (ahem) idyllic Neville Island and runs considerably further out into Ohio (to Hartville, to be exact).

Seven riders started, but only a few miles in, we lost Chris B., who came in from the DC area for the ride.  We figured a mechanical had stopped him, so we soft pedaled a while, but he never showed up again (turns out Chris did do an abbreviated ride; but his brevet card left behind at the end of the day suggested he was fairly well doused in rain at some point…)

The rest of us made good time out to Koppel (first controle), and to Petersburg OH (just over the border), but not long after we turned due west to head to the second controle south of Youngstown, we noticed the wind went up and the pavement quality went down.  We didn’t slow down – just gritted our teeth a little.

About the pavement…Calla Road has now entered into the collective conciousness of Pittsburgh area randonneurs.  It will heretofore ever be THE standard by which all other bad pavement is judged.   “hey, this is half as bad as Calla”, or “quite whining, you should see Calla!”.  You get the idea.  We must have passed at least 5,000 holes going each direction that were of the size and depth that would end your ride one way or another, if you were to hit one head on, at normal riding speed.  A taco’ed wheel, severe road rash, broken collarbone, etc. would ruin your day.

The one saving grace was that the vast majority of these severely potholed stretches were very quiet / almost car-less, so we could zig-zag as needed (which was near to continuously).  However, there was one 3 mile bad pavement stretch on Western Reserve Road that almost made me cry.  That is a very busy, very narrow road, and the road was in horrible shape.   Not Calla bad, but close in some spots.   That was NO FUN.   it would have been no fun even without the potholes, but the combination of these factors made it near-deadly.  I would say this was the scariest road I have been on in a pretty long time.  

Now, we were SUPPOSED to re-trace that portion of the route going back, but one of the guys (Bob Rich) that was on the ride used to be an Ohio state trooper and lived in that area for about 20 years or somesuch, and thought he knew a good alternative.  So, on our second stop at the Sheetz near Youngstown, he called his wife who then looked at online maps and confirmed what he was thinking.  So, bottom line, we now have a much better route in that area now.  It added about a half mile but the alternative route was nice (reasonably quiet and good pavement and flat-like).  I will never ride Western Reserve Road again.

I should mention the weather.  We didn’t see any rain.  The forecast was pretty ominious the day before, but it changed mere hours before the start.  All we saw was light sprinkles a few times here and there.  Dan B. commented on our good fortune about 5 miles from the end, and then it started sprinkling no more than a minute or two later.  I think it was M. Nature’s way of saying “Ok, I let you off the hook on this day, but that doesn’t mean you should antagonize me.”  Luckily, she stopped short of teaching Dan a lesson. 

So it was grey the whole day, except we were treated to a beautiful sunset view as we crossed the bridge going onto Neville Island, one mile from the finish.  The sky was technicolor orange and red.  A nice final touch to a good day on the road.

The Random Lesson Learned:  I need to give an external urinary catheter a try.  There is little cover out there in rural Ohio farmland with which to do one’s business.  Why not just hold it to the controle?  Holding it is what I did do most of the time.  But I found that quite distracting and, of course, uncomfortable.   Trying to hold a distended bladder closed while dodging potholes was a little too much.  I figure the urinary catheter would be the ultimate in convenience.  Piss on the move without doing anything than relaxing your pelvic floor.  I don’t know why, but I sure was pissing a whole lot on this ride.   Why not do what triatheletes do?  Huh?  Nope.  Sorry.  There is no way I could piss myself on the bike (purposely).  Taping a rubber thingy on my manhood is waaay better.  Ok, I’m done now.  Thanks for listening….

By the way, credit for the idea goes to Dan Fallon, who certainly has put it to practical use:

Dan Fallon racing at RAW in 2010. Note the tube exiting Dan’s left side waistband. Photo by Allan Duhm



Results:  7 starters, 6 finishers.

Pics:  Sorry I took none.  Forgot my camera.  Dan B. took one, apparently….

This is all we’ve got folks. At the turnaround in Hartville, OH. Photo by Dan Blumenfeld

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