PA Randonneurs Stillwater 200K — Friendly to tandems and visitors alike

Saturday MG, Lane G. and I rode the Pennsylvania Randonneurs Stillwater 200K from Portland, Pa. We enjoyed a very scenic and uncommonly moderate course for the Delaware Water Gap area, along with typical warm hospitality from RBA Tom Rosenbauer and his regular riders.

We left our hotel in nearby Stroudsburg, Pa. a little late and arrived with less than 15 minutes to get ourselves on the bikes. After a fire drill in the commuter parking lot, we hustled down to the start at the Portland Family Restaurant, arriving just a couple of minutes before the 7:30 a.m. start. Tom was ready for us, got us signed in and held the group for five minutes while we made final adjustments. Thanks, Tom!

Ron and Barb at the start. Courtesy MG.

See all of MG’s photos at her Flickr page, and the rest of mine here.

Just as dawn broke, we went south along scenic Delaware River to the bridge at Belvidere and then over into rural western New Jersey for the rest of the day.

Crossing the bridge at Belvidere. Courtesy MG.

We stopped at mile 40 at the much-appreciated Milford Station Bakery for our first control, where much espresso and flaky baked goods were consumed. The course continued in a counter-clockwise loop with a wooded, shallow climb up Sweet Hollow Road and then on to the Shell Mini-Mart in Great Meadows. The lady working there made us big sandwiches and let us loiter in the corner, out of the cool winds outside.

Climbing Sweet Hollow Road.

Jon at Great Meadows.

Up to here we rode mostly solo, with the fast folks ahead and a big group close behind us. Lane and old pal Peter Phillips lingered and departed with us, and we rode together the rest of the day, leapfrogging Ed Pavelka along the way.

The Millside Cafe control.

More creek crossings and little steep hills led us to the touristy Millside Cafe, where we sipped cider with folks out looking at antiques and enjoying the crisp pre-Thanksgiving fall weather. Many houses were still decorated with pumpkins and Halloween decorations, and leaves were piled up along the roadsides, adding to the fall feel.

The final road control at Stillwater.

Another control at the namesake Stillwater General Store, (where the local talkative/disgruntled retired guy regaled us with his life story), and more decsending rollers took us back to the Delaware River and the finish across another pedestrian bridge. We walked in around 5:45 p.m., for a 10:15 finishing time, just ahead of the main group, who came in at 6 p.m. Over soup, salads, tea and milk shakes (me!), we got caught up with pals Barb and Ron Anderson, Tom, and got better acquainted with the NJ/PA randonneurs folks.

This was pretty much the end of our randonneuring year, and it was a real treat to see some old friends and make some new ones. Tom’s organization was sterling, as always, and the course was good to us, with many long, fast descents and no gigantic climbs. We’ll be back for more of Tom’s rides next year!

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