Sunday, August 30, 2015

Colonial Parkway 207k permanent

This route looked to have so much potential. It uses a familiar segment of the Surry-Smithfield populaire for about 40 miles each way of the start/finish roads. At 40 miles you take a 20 minute ferry ride with an ~ 50 mile out-and-back segment to Yorktown. That segment uses the  Colonial Parkway which has limited traffic and wide roads with 35-45 mph speed limits since it is a National Park.

What's not to like?

Well, the inaugural ride 8/2013 took over 12 hours for Tom, Jacob and Ron who typically finish these in 10 hours or less. There were multiple flat tires as well as JUST missing a ferry departure which added a bunch of additional time lost. Their experience soured everyone.

Well, I'm telling you it ought not be that way.

So, "why the hell would I want to ride this?"

Did you even look at the map?  Jamestown, Colonial Williamsburg, and Yorktown. Terrific views of the James and York Rivers. Colonial Parkway is closed to commercial traffic, so no large trucks. Plus it is 2 lanes of traffic but is 3 lanes in width, so even when you encounter traffic, it feels quite safe. Plus, the road itself a National Park, for crying out loud. Trees and shade, gently rolling terrain, what more could you ask?

Also, if you have ridden the aforementioned populaire, this has new routing going back to Smithfield which is interesting.

So, what's the catch?

OK. You do have to adjust your thinking versus other rides. The twin ferry crossings require 20 minutes each way, PLUS boarding and exiting the ferry, PLUS waiting for the ferry if you are unlikely with your timing. That can all easily add up to an hour you need to plan on beyond your usual 200k time.

The parkway road surface is exposed aggregate; not asphalt. That means 50 miles of seams between the slabs plus a rough texture. I rode using 32 mm wide tires at 65 psi and Bill used 28 mm tires at 85. He said he was fine and I know I forgot about the difference from asphalt within the first 10 miles. If, however, you believe that those tires will mean it slows you down, then, take that into consideration as well.

Supplies need to be planned for. Yorktown has a limited number of options, Colonial Williamsburg options aren't obvious and can be busy and pricey. There are controls 4 miles before the first and 8 miles after the second ferry crossing so it's really about planning for the 50 miles from Jamestown to Yorktown and back.

And here's the kind of stuff you can see

Boarding the ferry (this was on the return)

View as we leave the dock

Bill and his bike

Ferry, "Surry"  heading in the opposite direction

 Gulls in the ferry wake

Cormarants on one of the pilings at the dock

 James River on the way to Williamsburg

York River

Farm near Jamestown

 Overpasses along the parkway (look like those seen on the Blue Ridge Parkway)

 Cannons at Yorktown

 Colonial Williamsburg

Interesting house seen on return after second ferry crossing (Timber Neck Creek at the James River)

Convinced, yet?

Here's the Ride With GPS route

Here's the link to the route on the RUSA site

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

April 4th RUSA Dart.

(THE high score throw in darts. No, it's NOT the bullseye)

A dart is a RUSA team event modelled after the Fleche. 
3-5 riders, stay together for the distance. 
Traditional team events were point to point rides but the logistics of starting in one place and finishing elsewhere are difficult enough that a big loop is allowed (but not a pure out and back).  
There are controls just like any other event and cue sheets to be followed. After that it gets a bit more complicated.

The biggest rule is that it is designed to take 13.5 hours. This is based on the old Audax system of riding where groups stayed together with a lead rider insuring the pace to be just enough to finish within the allotted time. 

Partly to insure that this goal is accomplished, the final 25 km has to ridden in the final 2 hours. So, there has to be a control at least that far from the finish so a team can document where they were with 2 hours to go.

If you've ridden a Fleche, you may recall the rule that no stop can be longer than 2 hours. That is an ACP rule exclusive to the Fleche, and not used on RUSA team events. So, relax at the controls

While the Fleche is traditionally held Easter weekend, the Dart need not be, but we are doing so because it happens to fit our schedule this year.

For a finish to "count" at least 3 members must finish. As well, all members must finish together. So, wait for a team member dealing with a mechanical in that last stretch. 

More than one team can use the same route, but they need to start at least an hour apart. 

Routes only need to be approved by the organizing RBA. 

The plan is for the finish to be in Windsor, VA at the Dairy Queen where many of our permanents start.  The initial route is a loop which also starts there and goes through Waverly, Surry, and Smithfield
It is looking like we may have 2 teams for our event and there is still room to join those or to create a different route if you are interested.

Contact me for more info.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Ivor-Chuckatuck 100k

Our planned January 1 ride this year is a modification from last year's event. It starts and finishes the same but instead of the long stretch on Broadwater/Foursquare Rd all the way to Smithfield, it cuts off and goes through much more quiet roads. This will take you past Boykin's Tavern and the Isle of Wight Courthouse with the Confederacy monument and then to Chuckatuck and then back to the finish in Suffolk.

For this event, there is no fee to ride it, cue sheets will be provided at the start. We may have someone at one or both of the stops with water and other supplies, but those stops are convenience stores where you can purchase whatever you need.

When I rode this I actually didn't "need" to have stopped since the cooler temps were such that I was able to carry all the food and water I happened to need for the day. So, if there is a volunteer, at the stops, they can initial your card and you can just keep rolling. 

Cue sheet and GPS files are linked on the Tidewater Randonneurs website in the brevet section

A few pics

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.



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

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. 

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"

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.

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

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. 

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%
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.

 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%

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. 

 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%

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 

 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%

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

 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%
 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
 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% 
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)
10. Anything else?

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...