PA 400k New Blue Redeux

Night riding trials and tribulations.

Last weekend was the Eastern PA Randonneurs New Blue Redeux 400k and the third of four rides in the SR series. I did this ride on my fat bike again, so I’m now only one terrible, terrible ride away from completing the whole series on fat tires.

The forecast for the 400 looked significantly better than the 300 or 200 as far as temperature, wind speed, and wind direction. There was rain in the forecast which was supposed to taper off by the start or shortly into the ride.

I wasn’t completely sold on attempting the full series on the fat bike after the 300 because of how difficult the ride was. After looking at the profile of the 400 though, it was an easy choice. It was basically an extra 65 miles with only an additional 1000-2000 feet of climbing. The 400 this year was a remastered counterclockwise version of our usual route. This year’s route had us starting in Easton, heading north to Wind Gap, then southwest to Palmyra, and generally east to Phoenixville before turning north back to Easton.

We took off at 4 am into a light rain. It was pretty miserable riding for about the first 2-3 hours, but as the sun came up, the rain let up, and we all began to dry off. The worst part was my shoes would not dry off for the rest of the day.

I ended up riding the whole ride with my buddies CJ, Ryan, Nick, and Steve again. It’s always a fun group. These rides can be pretty daunting at times, especially if you’re alone. Riding with friends makes the experience much better, and of course, misery loves company.

We got to ride a lot of rail trails, which was a nice change of pace for these rides. I like getting away from cars, even if it’s just for a few miles.

Highlights of the day include our pizza stop in Palmyra where we were each greeted with a free donut (shoutout to Roma Pizza!), amazing soft serve just down the street from Roma, and The Foodery in Phoenixville where I was able to grab a couple good beers while a hipster with a pink beard tried to convert me.

Fortunately, we had a mild tailwind out and back, so the ride was a lot easier than it could have been. The most difficult part was riding into the night and fighting off sleep. There were a couple times when I thought I might fall asleep on my bike, but music and talking helped keep me upright. We ended up rolling into the finish at about 24 and a half hours.

The 600 is going to be much more difficult. Sufferfest is probably too generous a term for it. At this point, I feel obligated to try, so all I can do is hope for decent weather. The ride is on May 18, so I’ve got about a month to mentally prepare for it at any rate.

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