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Old 06-09-04, 09:09 AM   #1
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Road markers for century rides

I've never been involved in hosting a century, but I am now. On Saturday August 28th our club and a local radio station group are hosting the Johnny Ray Century starting and ending in the East Alabama town or Opelika. This is a true loop. I don't care for centuries that just sort of meander around and cover some roads more than once. Y'all come!

Anyway, are there any rules to follow when marking roads? I'm not too concerned with legalities (I may regret that later) what I'm interested in are colors and symbols. Thoughts?

Thanks.
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Old 06-09-04, 09:45 AM   #2
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You want to make sure that your markings are large enough to be seen by not only the cyclists, but also any support vehicles that are following the route. You should put a marker a little before a turn, at the turn and a third after the turn so that everyone knows that they have gone the right way. Drive the route a couple of weeks before to look for cars parking on the shoulder that might force you to move your markings into the lane, lest they be parked on and hidden from view. Then drive it again to mark it a few days beforehand. Use spray chalk if at all possible, but it only works well if the ground is COMPLETELY DRY. Once it is down, it will usually survive some rainfall, but a full day of dounpours will wash some of it away. If you use paint, there is striping paint available that shoots straight out of the overturned can, and sprays a tighter line than regular spray paint. Use a dayglo color, and get more than you think you will need, cause if you run out, the store you bought it from will ALWAYS be out of that color when you go back. As for symbols, some sort of arrowhead works well. You could use a capital A (for Alabama), then turn it 90 degrees to indicate a turn, or an A with a circle around it and an arrow on the circle in the right direction. A carat (^) is good, as is an upside down T. The club I ride with uses various of these forms, along with initials for the name of each recurring ride if there are common roads invloved (for instance, the Bikes and Breakfast ride is an arrow with BNB). The 3 day tour I ride each year is called the Autumn Escape Bike Trek, and they generally use a capital A pointing in the direction of the turn. Don't forget to put a straight mark every so often if you are on one road for a long period of time, just so people don't think they missed a turn if they havent seen a marker in a while. You may also want to mark it by bike, just so you can check your work from the right perspective.

Good luck!!!
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Old 06-09-04, 10:58 AM   #3
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Other thoughts... markings go along the left side of the road. (I've ridden courses where, for example, the turn arrows for a left turn made a sweeping arc from the right shoulder over to the road. The net effect was nobody saw the turn arrows, and the only people that didn't miss the turn were the ones that knew the route. Often there are markings indicating "go straight" at intersections and side roads.

And to reiterate one of demoncyclists final points... it's not unusual to be riding solo, with no other riders in sight late in a ride. Under those circumstances I get nervous if I go more than several miles without some indication I'm on the right course.
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Old 06-10-04, 02:13 AM   #4
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Well, as for markings, the chalk works pretty well. It also goes away reasonably quickly which is good because if there are a few annual centuries around, pretty soon every corner has hordes of arrows in varying degrees of decrepitude.

I think the first arrow should be pretty well away from the corner such as 100' and about 4' from the curb/shoulder. That way the cyclists will see the arrow and have time to prepare for a turn. Another arrow should be just before the corner. It is good to have a confirm arrow on the road you turn in on about 100' from the corner. That way people know they made the correct turn. If they ride on a road for a fairly long time, it is good to have a confirm arrow out there every 5 miles or so. That way they know they are still on the correct route.

The thing about centuries, is tell them what they are getting and be sure to deliver it. Here in Central Florida century support is often insane. I have been on centuries where they show the location of SAG stops for water and snacks and they ARE NOT THERE or NOT MANNED or NOT SUPPLIED. So you are essentially riding an unsupported century but you are counting on support. That is the worst of both worlds. Another thing they do is not set up the SAG stops in time for the fast riders or they yank them out so the only people who can use the SAGs are averaging say 23 mph. Of course, a third problem is that they run out of supplies like water, bananas and so on. Why pay $25 when I can ride on the same roads and do it better on my own?

Around here it is amazing how many centuries are poorly supported (it is unfortunately the majority). Often the poorly supported centuries are put on by cycling organizations. One of the best supported centuries is run on the Withalacoochie (sp?) Trail. They get retired guys out there to man the SAG stops and they stay out there all day long. The support is great.
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Old 06-10-04, 07:06 PM   #5
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All good advice from previous posters; I can think of only one more tip.

If there are any tricky or confusing turns, intersections etc. where a rider could make a wrong turn...go a few feet up the wrong road and paint a "go back" arrow or other symbol. When I was active in clubs I used to paint a 180 reverse arrow and the words "wrong way".

As a rider this has saved my butt a few times.
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Old 06-10-04, 09:53 PM   #6
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I wouldn't know how to organize it, but the Portland Wheelmen Touring Club put on a fantastically supported century last weekend. Great route, easy to follow symbols and terrific SAG stops. The only thing they didn't do well was control the weather.

www.pwtc.com is their site - I'm sure there is contact info there that could lead to more solid advice if you need it.

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Old 06-13-04, 08:42 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roadbuzz
markings go along the left side of the road.
Ooops. Make that the *right* side of the road, at least in the US.

If you haven't already, it'd be a good idea to check with the communites you'll be riding through. Some object to marking the roads, in which case you'll have to use signs.
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Old 06-13-04, 09:02 PM   #8
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Some good ideas here. Thanks.

The Johnny Ray will only go through one town of any size (Lafayette, AL) before returning to Opelika. No other route markings are along these roads. I've ridden the route three times recently.

I'm thinking paint instead of chalk with a distinct mark. Thanks for the ideas.

Someone at our meeting last week said we have to inform the Alabama DOT. If we don't they could "shut us down." That got my attention.
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Old 06-13-04, 09:08 PM   #9
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Contact your local Amateur Radio Club to get communications support and even guys to man the rest stops. The Amateur Radio operators here have been doing the Tour-de-Cure communications for many years. They track the riders and report their progress back to the event center. The Tour-de-Cure this year also had cool "regulation" road signs warning of "bicycles on roadway ahead". They were actually cardboard, or something simular and they used zip ties to attatch them to existing sign posts.
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Old 08-27-04, 08:05 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by N7CZinMT
Contact your local Amateur Radio Club to get communications support and even guys to man the rest stops.
Thanks for the tip, N7CZinMT! Our area amateur radio club will have a "ham" in each SAG vehicle, at each rest stop and a base station at the start/finish.

Our ride is tomorrow, Saturday 8/28. We leave at 7am CST from the Lee County Courthouse parking lot in Opelika, AL. Riders can register tomorrow from 6am - 7am. Cost is $25.
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Old 08-27-04, 09:09 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moonshot
Thanks for the tip, N7CZinMT! Our area amateur radio club will have a "ham" in each SAG vehicle, at each rest stop and a base station at the start/finish.

Our ride is tomorrow, Saturday 8/28. We leave at 7am CST from the Lee County Courthouse parking lot in Opelika, AL. Riders can register tomorrow from 6am - 7am. Cost is $25.
Great! I know for our Tour-de-Cure the event staff really like knowing how the event is progressing and where the last rider is on the course. Information is a good thing.

Glad your local "hams" came through for you!

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Amateur Radio Station N7CZ
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Old 08-27-04, 09:26 AM   #12
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moonshoot ...

our LBS has some big rides and they tend to use circles with tics to indicate the direction of travel or the turn. so, circle with tic at the 3'oclock position means right turn, etc. seems pretty intuitive.
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Old 08-27-04, 10:48 AM   #13
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The last century that I rode the hosting club couldn't mark the road with any paint so they placed three pink flags before the turn and three flags after the turn. So if you were coming up to the turn you could see the flags showing you the direction to turn in, after you turned the flags confirmed you were going the right way. The flags were similar to the type of flags that the utility crews use to mark underground utilities. This worked out really well. You could see the turn a lot sooner than you could by watching for road markers!

This was the first time I saw this and it was really a cool idea!
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Old 08-27-04, 01:30 PM   #14
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I didn't mark the course, but the guys who did were great. They spent days out there! They used 30 spray paint cans. One elderly lady came outside and said, "do the police know you're doing that?!" LOL!

KHS, I'm uncomfortable about the flag idea. Some jokers could move those around and send folks down a dirt road (somebody cue the banjos)!
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Old 08-27-04, 05:45 PM   #15
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Also it would be a good idea on the day of the ride to have someone drive through the route beforehand to make sure everything that is marked is still plainly visible.
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Old 08-28-04, 09:15 PM   #16
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There was a case last yr in Huntsville, and 4-5yrs ago in Bham of locals taking
exception to the century and removing or adding marks of their own to create
confusion. I like the color coded markings with a stencil of a circle with a line
sticking out of to show direction. The color is used to denote distance (25mi/
50mi/ metric/ 100/125 etc ) The stencils make application fairly easy and
they always look the same.. There are LOT of markings on roads from road
crews, water, electric, gas and other utilities. Steve
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