Saturday, June 21, 2014

Survey Says.....




So, I did a survey of those who rode or at least expressed interest in riding our brevet series this year.

Knowing I can't totally please everyone, what I got from this is;

1. The basic spread of the events was OK (my main goal) and I just need to watch what dates I'm picking. I didn't think of it last year, but will plan to confirm Nick's & Alan's planned DC & NC dates and the dates for nearby Fleche events, BEFORE I submit mine.

2. We'll continue to try to have volunteers at at least some of the controls

3. Looks like we're already doing the start/finish food pretty well.

4. I'm going to try to have some type of GPS files for those who need them. Quite frankly, my reluctance (as one who has used a GPS since my first brevet in 2008) is that I don't trust it 100% and have had trouble getting the files into a format that EVERYONE can use. (gpx, gps, tcx and don't get me started on csv). RideWithGPS seems to be getting even better so I might just steer people there if I can download a file that I find works on the pre-ride

5. This question, perhaps had more to do with how we put together permanents (use of Facebook) but it does seem like the Tidewater Rando site + use of Facebook is getting the messages out. Also, the links from the RUSA site allow people to contact me so I can also direct them to our resources

6.  90% would like add'l brevets later in the year and (from question #7) there's a mix of summer and fall interest. And (from question #8) it sounds like maybe the best would be to try to offer a different route. I am leaning toward trying to have an additional ride or 2 beyond the series. An early fall 300 would be an opportunity for riders who may be at their best level of fitness (having been riding all year at that point). Seems like we should definitely plan on one or two fall brevets and try to have one that is a different route from the spring series.  Possibly a 100k summer ride, too.

Misc thoughts :
-I'm hesitant to add a Fleche since Tony and Nick already have them and I think that kind of event benefits from having as many teams as possible (something we'd have trouble accomplishing)

-In theory, having a volunteer available at a control late in an event and/or at night sounds great. But, having been at such a control and feeling like hell, what kept me from bailing out was that there was no such option. If I "just want to be done", I gotta keep riding.

-I used to have cue sheets for my permanents on Google Docs and plan to try to have the ones for these rides up for people to download in advance. (Didn't use to work so well due to trying to maintain Microsoft Word's formatting through Google. If that has been fixed, then I'll do it that way)

-Feel free to add comments to this post if you have any other thoughts.

-THANKS!!

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Here's the whole thing for those interested in the details

1.Our brevets were on 3/22 (200), 4/19 (300) and 5/24 (400). Were these dates good for you and if not would you like them scheduled differently or with different start times. (I know the 300 conflicted with Easter and will avoid that next season). Were the start locations OK or would you prefer any changes

2/3 said fine and the rest left comments

Comment:
The easter weekend was tough and May 24th is my son's birthday. But with Mom's day may is tough


I really enjoyed the Fleche mostly because it is a TEAM event, no one is trying to speed away from the group, and you are reasonably assured of support and assistance if something goes wrong on a long overnight ride. A schedule that accomodated the Fleche schedules would be appreciated.

Keith--I wanted to ride all of your brevets but various reasons kept me away including sickness and that the 400 was the same date as Alan's.

They weren't okay with my schedule THIS year, but I think that they're well spaced and should (I hope) be okay for next year.

I would have ridden the 300 (good date) but bailed out due to weather. 5/24 conflicted with a couple of other regional events but the main reason I didn't come is that I already had two 400s for this year 

The dates are fine. Easter will be different next year. Wedding preparation prevented me from riding the 400K.



Avoid same dates as NCBC and DCR and of course hol7days like Mothers day, fathers day, easter. 

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2. We tried to have volunteers at some of the controls. Is this important to you and what if anything would you like them to have for you?

95% said " Helpful but I can live without it"

Comments:
Volunteers are always appreciated


I liked having you and Kim give us signatures on our control cards, rather than having to stand in line and wait to get to a cashier. In fact, the control cards are one of the aspects I like LEAST about Rando.

Seeing a friendly face (attached to a person) never hurts, at whichever controles are possible to have someone.

Most helpful when riders are "wiped out" mentally and physically - this would normally be only on the 400 unless for a very difficult 200 or 300. Bad weather counts toward difficulty as much as hill climbing.

It is very nice to see a friendly, helpful face at a control. It might be better at night, but I realize it's hard to get volunteers at night.

Loved meeting with Jacob but felt kinda bad making him go out there. Having voluntters is great, esp at the halfway point of longer (400k+) brevets.



Nice to have at a control for water and snacks.


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3. I've had some food and drinks at the start and finish. How important is this for you
 40% said finish, only, 50% said start finish

Comments:
I am like you in that I limit my diet, so a banana or two is great, maybe something to drink, but I don't eat a lot of the stuff that is traditional for bicyclists at controls or on supported rides


wow--food at the start would be awesome! I'm always running late to be able to put something in a pocket and go would be great.

Very welcome treat. At the start, perhaps just water to fill bottles.

Although, it's nice, it's not a big deal, especially if the organizer is trying to make ends meet.

Great to have pizza and brews at the finish. Thanks, guys! The idea of a cold Sam Adams propelled me through some low points during the 400!


I usually don't need anything at the start, but having something at the end is nice. 

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4. How important is having GPS files for these rides and is the Ride With GPS download a sufficient option for you

I don't need GPS files 35.00%

Ride with GPS is good enough for me 50.00%

Get with the program gramps, We need the GPS file. 15%
Comments:
definitely prefer having RWGPS route for download == cue sheets should only be for backup


My old GPS doesn't always hold the whole route anyway. (Probably because I'm a Grandpa) the Q-sheets were great

Having a GPS is not foolproof, but it does speed up my overall avergae time because with a cue sheet I find I tend to slow down a few miles per hours so I can bend my head down to read the cue sheets. Slowing down a few times is no big deal, but over the course of long ride, how many times do you read that cue sheet? 200 times? 1000 times?

I do my own garmin GPS files

My worst cases of bonus miles have been due to following someone with a GPS unit. Enough said.


Having the file is really essential when you're in an area that you're not familiar with. Having the Edge beep at you when you miss a turn prevents lots of bonus miles.

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 5. We have defaulted to using the Tidewater Rando website plus Facebook for our communication about these events and our permanents. Is this good or should we use a different email based method such as Yahoo or Google groups?


Facebook is fine for now  77.78%

Anything is better than Facebook. Please change  22.22%



Comments:
google groups

Yahoo and Google groups are almost extinct. While some my not like Facebook, it is the best game going right now.

I really am not a big FB dude and use it only for personal stuff.

I am not a Facebook member, but I get the feeling I need to change this.


I don't use Facebook so would like to have the website available. 


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 6. Would you like additional brevets scheduled later in the year beyond the spring series?

 Just the Spring series  10.53%
More options later in the year would be good.  89.47%

Comments:
I direct a century ride in May and I'm very busy with that -- fall would be a better option for me.


having just one real chance to check a box (because I am not going start staying on the road booking hotel rooms for a hobby) makes a hobby turn into an obligation

Fall (early Oct through early Nov) is generally beautiful in southern VA. A 200 or 300 would probably be enough.

I'm not going for any medals or awards so it doesn't matter if it is a brevet or permanent.


But not winter 

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 7. Assuming we did have additional brevets, how do you feel about the heat of summer versus waiting until fall?
Any time is good  47.37%

Just the fall  52.63%
Comments

For me in NC, Tony has so many summer rides it might be better to have other choices in the fall/early winter.


Too many,other things going on in the Fall.

I don't think you would get enough participants in the summer. Plus there's always the dehydration worry.


Summer or fall is good

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 8. I've modeled my series on that of Alan Johnson's, using a similar route and an out and back pattern to the extent possible. I found that route familiarity easier to handle as a new randonneur. How do you feel about that plan for future brevet series?


I love it. Don't change anything  71.43%

Would prefer different routes within any given series  14.29%

Would prefer different routes each year  0.00%

Would prefer different routes for the additional brevets held later in the year   28.57%
Comments:
 can't respond since I have never ridden any of your routes.


I don't feel too strongly because i don't get to the other side that often. Out and back is a plus if you are not familiar with the area.

I wouldn't mind new routes, but having to create them and maintain them seems like too damn much work for what should be a simple hobby.

To reduce the amount of time the RBA needs to manage routes, I would go with a maximum of 2 different routes for each brevet distance. Some other members familiar with the area could also submit routes.

Am totally agnostic re: this, but I do love variety.



I'm fine either way. I did the 200 last year, and the 200 and 400 this year. It is nice to know where you're at.

I like loops and variety....but your 400K was great
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 9. While I have no plans to do so, would an increase in ride fees in future years create difficulty?

I can live with it if I know where the money's going  100.00% 
 Comments:
do what's necessary to make it worth your while to organize the brevets.


I may be weird but I like knowing I'm paying my own way. Considering I have paid almost $100 to beat myself to near death in a marathon (repeatedly) the fees don't seem bad

Current fees are fine

Money is of no concern when it comes to a great route. For what was provided I feel that I should mail you another $20.

I really don't want you to go into the red!

I saw all the $ you put into this and felt bad that rider fees covered so little.

Where is the money going??? ;-)

These are a great value, and I really appreciate the amenities (food available, emergency bag, etc)
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10. Anything else?
Comments:

looking forward to meeting you on a brevet sometime soon. 


Hills and wind...



I'll send a separate e-mail in a day or two Keith. Glad the series went well. 

Thanks for doing the survey and asking us what we want instead of just dictating. Other RBAs could learn from your example.


Thanks, Keith!

I'm not a fan of some of the back tracking. (RWGPS likes it even less) I know it can't be helped sometimes.

Early access to the cuesheet would be convenient, even if it's not a final. Perhaps that was accessible from the Facebook group, which I will join.

This was a first-class event. Great support, great people, lovely route. Thanks to all! One last thing: you ight want to check the last few portions of the cue sheet, as I think some tweaks may be in order.

You are doing a great job! Thank you!

Really liked the changes to the 300 route you are doing a great job 

Have a few populaires too, maybe a fleche date too.


Can't wait for your 600...



Saturday, June 14, 2014

600k ride report "Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth."

Mike Tyson had it right. I had a plan for the 600 and, well....  (As an aside, this is a great discussion about that quote)

I went into it with WAY fewer miles in my legs than ever before. Nevertheless, I thought it would go reasonably well if I took my time and didn't push things. That all went Ok, but I found myself struggling with the heat and headwinds for the afternoons on both days. This put me hours behind schedule and forced me to revise my approach.

25 riders. No DNF's


Also, randonesia has a part in this ride. This was my 6th time doing this route and every year I tell myself (as it indeed is billed) that the route is relatively flat. Well, it is compared to some, but has substantial climbing in the first and last 50 miles. Like get-off-and-walk-your-bike steep on one section. (hopefully now I will remember that for future attempts).

At least I can see riders in front of me at this point


Plodding along all afternoon at 10-12 mph is not the plan I had in mind. With about 20 miles to go to the Rocky Point control (and with another 20 miles from there to the turn around in Wilmington) I just pulled over to a closed down store and laid down on a bench to rest. That did give me and the environs a chance to cool down. I got up from my break, disposed of the now smashed banana I'd forgotten I still had in my rear jersey pocket, and headed on to the next control.

I found I was doing a bit better. I'd been on this ride in the past and came across riders still where I was while I was already on my way back to White Lake on the return leg. I mentally prepares myself to be "one of those guys" but actually rolled into the Rocky Point control as the lead riders were finishing up with their stop.

Tom F. announced to all that I was there and I commented that "well, some of me is here." He immediately pointed out that I was moving forward and keeping the pedals turning all of which was what really mattered. That helped more than I think he realized. To my pleasant surprise, a group I'd tried to hang with when they overtook me on the way from White Lake was still there and just finishing their meals. I got some water, ate some food I already had with me and sped out of there with the hopes of joining up with that group on their way from Wilmington back to White Lake.

After hooking up with Jerry, Maria and Biker Bob, we rode together from Wilmington back to White Lake. We possibly could have gotten there before 3AM but opted for 2 short rests which equally divided up the 45 mile segment. A bit of power naps on those stops, plus a couple hours of real sleep after we got to White Lake at 4AM helped a ton.

I awoke after a couple hours of sleep and, thankfully, left earlier than I planned. The 40ish mile stretch to the control past Stedman was pleasant but my poorly trained legs weren't at their best. Leaving that control, with 75 miles to go, the temps began to increase into the 90's and we all now know what that does to me.



At 4 o'clock, in Angier, with 40 miles to go I knew I'd beat the cut-off which was 10 PM, but wanted to finish before dark. In spite of the hills, the slowly decreasing temps made the effort a bit more tolerable. Add to that, "the horses could smell the barn" and I was surprisingly motivated. Some light rain had no real impact on my efforts and I was treated to a rainbow coming back up Lewter Shop Rd over the last 12 miles.

Pretty sure that rainbow is at Alan's on the left


The final group came in to Alan's maybe a half hour after I finished. Since they were the people I rode with to get back to White Lake, I'd have preferred their company, but had been forewarned by my struggles the day before and had not wanted to delay my start that morning.
Not the kind of progress you wanna see


Getting back to the Mike Tyson quote.

Randonneuring has always been acknowledged as an essentially solo effort. Sure, we prefer to ride with others on these events, but ultimately it is up to the individual to persevere. We "hope for the best, but plan for the worst." We try to be sure our machines and bodies are prepared for what we want to do. And the satisfaction is, sometimes, almost perversely greatest when the task has been harder than we expected. Indeed, harder than we thought we could accomplish.

Lying on that bench with 20 miles to Rocky Point and a total of 40 miles just to get to the turn-around, I was feeling pretty bad. It was harder than I'd expected, and my "plan" was a shambles. Yet, I regrouped, both mentally and physically, and continued on. I made multiple "what-if" plans in my head for ways I'd manage the rest of the night and then revised those as the hours went by.

As the author of the linked article says, "What I like so much about the quote is that its application stretches far beyond boxing. It really has meaning in any area of life, whether the blow comes from a health issue, losing your job, making a bad investment, a traffic jam, whatever." And goes on to say, "It's how you react to that adversity that defines you."

I read with great delight, the comments of a rider who finished this 600 after having to quit the last time it was attempted. Not surprisingly, they were rightly thrilled with succeeding this year.

I think we like this particular sport for the bike riding, the scenery, the camraderie, and so much more. But maybe a part of it gets back to overcoming these challenges. Succeeding at something that is, let's face it, audacious (to hark back to the sport's earliest concepts). How can this not improve one's self-confidence? While the ride itself is a great accomplishment, it really says something about life and how you approach it.






Sunday, April 27, 2014

Eastern Shore- revisited

It's hard to believe, but it had been over 2 years since I last rode this 200k permanent.



It was my first route & the one I had to design just so I could go for the r-12. (There was another perm near me, but I didn't recognize the town name and thought the closest was 3-4 hours away)



Initially, I just rode this route every month in which I wasn't doing a brevet. But, with many new riders in the area, and MANY new permanent routes courtesy of their efforts, I no longer had to rely on my Eastern Shore route.



So with a pretty decent forecast and an open weekend, I decided to ride it again.



As usual, I underestimated how cold it can be over there, especially with the wind, which I, as usual, underestimated as well. In addition, the predicted WNW winds late in the day instead turned to come right at me from the Southwest making the return leg a tougher one than expected. However, it was a gorgeous day with blue skies and comfortable temps (once it warmed up a bit) and made for a great day on the bike.



Nothing much had changed other than the NEW and improved Onley control which I knew about and had re-routed the cue sheet in order to take advantage of.



For those who've done this route before, the Onley control had been a decent enough gas station, but had little else to offer. Now, there is a Royal Farms there which is open 24/7 (for anyone wanting to do a night ride) with much better supplies and bathrooms. Like the one at the turn around, they also do sandwiches and other hot food to order with indoor seating.


Part of the problem is that it'll cost you $18 in tolls to get there ($26 if you don't have EZ Pass) and takes me just as long driving as it does to get to virtually all of the other permanents around here. For others in the area, it is likely a much longer drive. So, I can understand that it is hardly worth the effort. 



I certainly enjoy the scenery and the quiet roads, but, they're to be found just as easily on other routes here that are far more accessible.




So, I took a lot of pix, since it may well be another 2 years before I get back over there. 








Saturday, March 29, 2014

Tidewater Rando 200k. Seems like a successful event for our first year

As oft stated, the intent with starting a brevet series here in the tidewater region, was to bring these events to new riders (as well as veterans of randonneuring) who prefer to not have to travel 6 hours round trip to events elsewhere. It's a reality of living in this region that "you can't get there from here." There are 4 very active and well organized regions to be found within the 6-8 hour driving range, but, that much travel is expensive and time consuming.

Also, through no fault of our own, it's not very hilly here..... the terrain is not a huge challenge.....
OK, you got me, it's freaking flat. Not really Florida flat, but if someone is intimidated by 200k, they don't need a mountain (or 2 or 3) thrown in there as well when they are just getting started.

So, if we hold events at times that don't conflict with nearby regions, we can offer alternative dates for those who have other commitments on the dates when their preferred region is holding an event. And, for the really active randonneur, you could pursue more than one SR series in a season with these nearby rides.











Never expecting to be as active a group as DC (55 riders on their first 200 k this year) or SIR, I was quite pleased with 12 riders (plus 2 pre-riders) for our 200k. As had been the hope, we pulled in one brand new local RUSA member as well as 4 non-members who were tackling their longest ride ever with this event. Additionally, we had riders who aren't inclined toward riding permanents but do like the group rides such as this.

Here's some pix that Brent took while volunteering:












300k is in 3 weeks using the same route but continuing on to Lake Gaston and using new routing that avoids the roads that had traffic out that way in the past