Monday, May 4, 2009

Volunteering at the Eastern PA ACP 300K

I had the unique opportunity to ride AND volunteer at this year's Eastern PA ACP 300K brevet. This is because I rode it hours after completing a flèche with a 40km extension on April 19 and Saturday I volunteered so that RBA Tom Rosenbauer could experience the ride. None of it would have been possible without the help and support of my wife Grazie. She made the post-ride meal: black bean stew with rice and potato sticks. I didn't ride on Saturday, but I sure ate as if I had.

Grazie and I woke up at 3am on Saturday morning and drove to Little Gap, PA. There we set up a secret contrôle for the ACP 300K. A 200K option was also available, but this was only a RUSA event. I had some guidelines from Tom as to where the contrôle should be located. Mainly I was looking for a spot that had enough room on the shoulder so that riders could stop safely. It should also be a spot where they would not pass by too fast. After a couple of miles on Lower Little Gap Rd we found a good spot and began to set up the contrôle.

The most time consuming part was preparing the PB&J sandwiches. They did not go as fast as I expected, so I helped out by having one as well. The cranberry juice also went untouched. Grazie tells me it is diuretic. Had I known I would have stuck only to apple juice. However, I was happy to see that odwalla and Clif bars were going fast, as well as the cookies. With few exceptions, including RBA Tom Rosenbauer, riders arrived and quickly left the contrôle.

The first rider in was Craig Martek at 7:46am. Minutes later Victor Urvantsev, Kate Marshall, Christiane Iwert, Gilbert Torres and Eric Keller arrived. The sign-in sheet carrier Len Zawodniak had a flat and was delayed. He arrived and quickly left, determined to make up time and catch Craig. That would turn out to be a difficult task, as Craig established the course record with 12h41min.

The stream of riders continued and I did my best to sign them in and get them going. I would have enjoyed chatting, but I knew that they were eager to roll again. At 8:47am RBA Tom Rosenbauer rolled in. He knew about the secret contrôle, so I guess it wasn't much of a secret for him. Tom thought he was the last rider to come in, but that turned out not to be the case, as Bill Phillips was still to arrive. Tom was a bit concerned, since he was certainly last to leave the hostel and had not seen Bill along the way. We decided to give Bill a call. It turns out he had a mechanical that I believe was related to a cable. He said we was delayed, but on track. Indeed, Bill arrived at 9:15am. He signed in and was off in no time.

At this point Grazie and I were free to leave. We packed the car and drove to the Weisel Youth Hostel in Quakertown, the ride start location. Grazie was very tired and needed a nap. She made herself comfy on the living room couch after unloading the car with the food we had brought for the post-ride meal. It was a almost 12pm and I was ready to take a nap as well. At this time the phone rang. It was Kate Marshall. She said Victor had crashed and could not continue because of a missing dropout that had been torn off the frame. I was not obliged to, but I decided I needed to pick Victor up. I know from experience how miserable one can feel after a crash. The two times it happened to me I was able to continue, but since he couldn't I did not want him to deal with the hassles of getting back to the start. So I hopped in my car and went to get him. He was not very far from where we had positioned the secret contrôle, so that meant two hours of driving, there and back.

When I reached Victor he was sitting in a field of lively green grass and the sun was shining on him, with the bike lying on the ground close by. We had to take the fenders off so it could fit in the back seat of my car. On the way back a very appreciative Victor told me that he was descending and hit a some gravel as he tried to make a turn he should not have. Eric Keller, who was behind him, later reported seeing his front wheel about a foot off the ground. Victor hit the pavement hard and even his helmet cracked. The derailleur side dropout was torn off. I guess there's not much hope after that. Soon after I picked up Victor I received a call from Bill Phillips communicating that he was withdrawing at contrôle #3. A flat had delayed him further and he barely made the closing time at the contrôle to find out he had left his helmet 3 miles back.

I was back at the hostel close to 2pm. Grazie must have been really tired because she was still sleeping on the couch. We hadn't done much other than unload the car, so there was still a lot to do. A couple of hungry 200K riders were due to come in soon, so we had no time to waste.

While Victor was in the shower and taking care of his wounds, I went out with Grazie for a bite at Wendy's. We also needed to get some ice and judging by how fast the apple juice was consumed at the secret contrôle we needed more of that too.

It turned out to be a very wise idea to prepare the black bean stew we would serve beforehand. Grazie did that on Thursday and we froze it for transportation. Because of this, we only needed to prepare rice on site. That proved useful because shortly after we arrived from the mid afternoon escapade the 200K riders were in. Joe Platzner and Robert Ellis were happy to have some of the post-ride meal and Grazie received two of many more compliments to come.

The first 300K rider in was Craig Martek. He put in an amazing time of 12h41min, exactly five full hours faster than the time Rick and I had made on our pre-ride of the 300K. In our favor we had 400 km in our legs and two hours of sleep in the last 36h, so I don't feel bad at all with the time we put in.

The second rider in was Len Zawodniak. He was not able to catch Craig, but he passed all the other riders and delivered the sign-in sheets at all the contrôles. Shortly after Len came in, Christiane and Gilbert arrived. We had plenty of black bean stew and it was going fast.

A riding day that looked initially like it would be nasty turned out to be almost ideal, with balmy temperatures and favorable wind. Eric Keller, who on previous brevets had not been captured by my lens, finally was caught on film as he arrived 14h35min after the start together with Robin Landis.

I think Judson Hand is a randonneur who does not sacrifice his pace for company. He arrived alone at the secret contrôle and again alone at the finish, at 14h57min of riding time. Another loner is Guy Harris. He was the only fixie rider among the group and still was able to finish with a very respectable 15h15min for a geared bike. The next group of randonneurs would arrive almost a full hour later and was comprised of an always smiling Jim Logan and Daniel Aaron at 16h06min and 16h08min respectively. Ed Dodd, 2008 24h champion in the 60-69 category with 290.90 miles, arrived at 16h13min together with Bill Olsen and Walter Pettigrew. It's always nice to have Bill Olsen among the crowd, since he is a source of good conversation and many laughs.

Kate Marshall was greeted with a welcoming hug from Victor as she arrived with Chris Nadovich, the Umble brothers and George Metzler. George recently completed one of the PAC tours. Just five minutes later the tandem team Ron and Barbara Anderson were in. While I kept an eye on the lookout for incoming riders, I was able to enjoy some of the post-ride conversation. This included some amusing talk of how Eric was invited multiple times to sit down in the dining room of the Layton Country Store. The owner was probably expecting the behavior that Rick and I exhibited on our pre-ride, when we stayed there for almost a full hour.

Christine Newman and John Fessenden beat the 17h mark by a minute. John had missed a couple of turns and rode an extra 10 miles, effectively making the ride a double century. Not long thereafter Tom Rosenbauer came in at 17h21min. It seems he was making an effort to be last, as he was surprised that there still was a rider out. It was Mary Crawley. He swore she was ahead of him and it turns out they were at the same contrôle at the same time and managed not to see each other. In the end she was fine, finishing in 17h50min.

It was almost 11pm and I was ready to go to bed. The next day I would have to wake up at 3am and drive to NYC to participate in the Five Boro Bike Tour. For a report of that event, click here. Grazie was also very tired. With Tom's help, we cleared tables of all the food and carefully packed the reusable stuff for the next brevet.

At 12am I was finally in bed, trying to catch some sleep. It was an eventful day and I was very happy to have been part of the brevet in a different capacity, getting a small taste of what it is to be a Regional Brevet Administrator. I still had the help of Grazie. It is really amazing what Tom manages to do on these events. I have much greater appreciation for his efforts in promoting randonneuring and organizing brevets.


Kttrue said...

Thank you, for everything.

Juan PLC Salazar said...

I hope you enjoyed the food!