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Long Distance Competition/Ultracycling, Randonneuring and Endurance Cycling Do you enjoy centuries, double centuries, brevets, randonnees, and 24-hour time trials? Share ride reports, and exchange training, equipment, and nutrition information specific to long distance cycling. This isn't for tours, this is for endurance events cycling

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Old 05-17-17, 08:04 AM   #1
rhm
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Do you still use paper cue sheets on brevets?

My last brevet, a 300k with the PA Randonneurs, i printed out the wrong cue sheet. My mistake, of course; the cue sheet was changed after I downloaded it. But it was frustrating; I had carefully formatted my wrong cue sheet to fit the map pocket on my handlebar bag, and several pages of my cue sheet were completely wrong. Strangely, some pages were correct, others were wrong.

This didn't really matter; by luck, I only happened to ride by myself for one section of the ride, and for that section my cue sheet was correct. On the next section I saw the rider in front of me make a turn that wasn't on my cue sheet, and I followed him; soon I figured out that I had a faulty cue sheet, so I stuck close to another rider who was using a Garmin GPS unit.

Once I started paying attention to this, I didn't see anyone using the paper cue sheet. Some people had the paper cue sheet handy, but were following the GPS or following someone with the GPS. One guy offered to give me his cue sheet, since he wasn't using it (I didn't take it; I had decided to just stick with the guy I was riding with).

Well, I haven't made the jump to a Garmin. I record my rides on my phone (RideWithGPS) and have occasionally used Google Maps on my phone to figure out where I am, but for the purposes of staying on the route, I'm still using paper cue sheets. I just printed out the cue sheet for this Saturday's ride, and again I carefully reformatted it to fit my map pocket.

What do you do?
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Old 05-17-17, 09:42 AM   #2
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My first year I used paper exclusively... it went well except for two rides where I did bonus km. First time I rode down the Niagara escarpment so I got to do a sweet climb to get back on course and it was only a few km and maybe a 100m climb so not really a ride-killer. The second time I didn't put my cue sheet in a ziploc bag before I stuffed it into my bag's map case and it deteriorated in the rain and I rode about 15km out of my way before realising my mistake and by that point I'd decided to throw in the towel and have my first DNF.

At the start of the 2016 I got a garmin edge 200 on ebay cheaper than the newer edge 20/25 units. I like it because it has enough batteries to last a 200 or fast 300 without having to charge it. The newer edge 20/25 look pretty nice too, I just didn't want to fuss with a charger for doing 200s. I upgraded to an edge 500 so I could record my roller rides but I like the simpler interface of the edge 200.

Another thing I started doing was printing the cue sheets on the night before the right, and loading the course on the gps at the same time. Since I'm using the gps now I keep the cue sheet for backup and print it a lot smaller than I did when I was using it just for navigation.
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Old 05-17-17, 09:59 AM   #3
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Belts AND suspenders; I normally ride with both paper cue sheets and a Garmin. Both have saved me from making a wrong turn, both have failed me and let me add 20 bonus miles.
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Old 05-17-17, 11:07 AM   #4
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I ride with a Garmin and a paper cue sheet. I mostly use the paper for a quick look at what's happening in the next maybe 20 miles and as a check when the Garmin tells me the wrong thing, which happens. Or if the Garmin fails, which so far it hasn't. Including the Garmin, I have 2-3 odometers for redundancy.
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Old 05-17-17, 11:14 AM   #5
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Another vote for "both". Although I don't really use the cue sheets, I just put them in a zip lock and bring them along. First, brevets are always about finishing. Second, what do you do if your Garmin craps out? The cue sheets weight next to nothing, and they are easy to stash in a jersey pocket or tuck under the leg gripper of your shorts (I put a gel on the right and cue sheets on the left). Or just print your own small version and tape to your top tube.
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Old 05-17-17, 11:37 AM   #6
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Exclusively paper, and not the one they provide: I go through the route on ride with GPS and hand write out my own, with letter sizing and style that I prefer. It is an exercise that familiarizes me with the route such that I kinda know what to expect - roughly - before it comes up. Call me old school.

I tried the navigating on my Garmin 510, downloaded from RidewithGPS, I know navigating is not the right word, the pop up notification for turn ahead. It was glitchy and had too many false alarms.
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Old 05-17-17, 08:59 PM   #7
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Exclusively paper, and not the one they provide: I go through the route on ride with GPS and hand write out my own, with letter sizing and style that I prefer. It is an exercise that familiarizes me with the route such that I kinda know what to expect - roughly - before it comes up. Call me old school..
I used to trace the route on ridewithgps too and found it really helped on some rides. It's a good way to double check the street signs if the route has streetview available, a lot of the signs around here don't match what google puts on the maps anyway.
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Old 05-17-17, 11:23 PM   #8
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I use an app that allows downloadable map sections and GPS routing while the phone is in airplane mode. Have navigated for two days straight on tour without needing to charge the phone. There are several out there. Build routes in Strava or Mapmyride, then email it to self, open on phone with Maps.me, download appropriate maps if I don't already have them and I'm good to go (assuming no cell phone failure of course) I usually carry a paper map of the area just in case.
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Old 05-17-17, 11:45 PM   #9
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I used to trace the route on ridewithgps too and found it really helped on some rides. It's a good way to double check the street signs if the route has streetview available, a lot of the signs around here don't match what google puts on the maps anyway.
Yes, I have done this, too, with rides in another state. But to answer the OP question, yes. Redundancy is a big thing in our part of cycling. In fact, I rely almost exclusively on the printed hard-copy cue sheet, and have the phone as a back-up. Various reasons. Paper is what I am used to; it is easier to read on anything except billiard-table smooth roads; provided it is in a simple ziploc bag, it is resistant to moisture issues; and it is there day and night, forever, without having to worry about a battery.

If wondering why I bother with a phone, it's my defacto timer and overall distance checker. Plus, it records for Strava. And if there is a doubtful turn, I can refer to the Strava map. We've saved ourselves once or twice with the double check.

In addition to all that... I have a battery pack to keep the phone going for the events we do (over 400km so far) and a Sigma bike computer. Redundancy at its best!
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Old 05-18-17, 04:05 AM   #10
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I have a Garmin etrex20 which I like because the AA batteries last a really long time and can be changed easily. The downside is that the model only displays a track, so I use the cue sheet for turn-by-turn directions, distance, street names, etc. The cue sheet is also very helpful for making sure I don't ride past a control and for providing directions leaving controls where the track can sometimes be a little confusing. I like having both and while I tend to rely a bit more heavily on the GPS after dark, I still check the cue sheet from time to time.
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Old 05-18-17, 08:11 AM   #11
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I take the cuesheets but don't use them.

With a GPS, you get the turn notifications. But you also get warnings if you go off course.

If you learn to keep an eye on the map, you also have ready confirmation that you are still following the course.

I often know about upcoming turns before they are announced.

It's much easier than using cuesheets.

Yes, they can "crap out" but that seems not to be a real problem.

That's not to say that one shouldn't have a backup. The backup could be the paper cuesheets, the course loaded on a smartphone, or even an additional Garmin (they aren't that expensive used).

Note that there are numerous smartphone apps that you can load the course too. Keep in mind that you don't want to rely on cellphone access (you probably want to have the map loaded on the phone).

Cuesheets have all sorts of problems. It's hard to keep your place on them (GPSs do this for you). If you miss a turn, there's no easy way to know (You can see you've missed a turn on a GPS). You have to keep track of leg distance (The GPS does that for you). You have to be able to find the street signs (not needed for with a GPS). If you go off course, they really aren't useful at all (you have the map and the track on the GPS).

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Old 05-18-17, 08:20 AM   #12
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I tried the navigating on my Garmin 510, downloaded from RidewithGPS, I know navigating is not the right word, the pop up notification for turn ahead. It was glitchy and had too many false alarms.
If you are using a GPS, you really want one with maps. And, you really want to keep an eye on the map for reliable navigation.

With the mapping Garmins, you can see the track fairly easily (usually). Having the map gives useful context to the track and, if you go off-course, the map makes it fairly easy to get back on.

The mapping Garmins provide the off-course warnings and the "course point" (the pop-up notifications) that the 510 has. But they also have fancier "turn guidance" which is less "glitchy".
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Old 05-18-17, 08:26 AM   #13
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... when the Garmin tells me the wrong thing, which happens...
If you keep an eye on the map, it's easy to handle this when it "happens".

The Garmins are very reliable at showing the course and your location (relative to it).

It's much more likely to miss the turn notification than it is that to be told the "wrong thing".

It seems some people want the unit to "tell them what to do" rather than use it as a navigation tool.

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Belts AND suspenders; I normally ride with both paper cue sheets and a Garmin. Both have saved me from making a wrong turn, both have failed me and let me add 20 bonus miles.
This would be hard to do with a GPS if you have the practice/habit of keeping an eye on the map.

20 miles is well-over an hour of not actually looking at the map on the GPS (or over a half-hour if you are talking about turning around).

With a GPS map, it's often possible to find a shortcut back to the route (avoiding the need to back track).

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Paper is what I am used to; it is easier to read on anything except billiard-table smooth roads; provided it is in a simple ziploc bag, it is resistant to moisture issues; and it is there day and night, forever, without having to worry about a battery.
You don't have to "read" a GPS. They are fairly moisture resistant. The battery issues are not that hard to solve.

Nothing wrong with using paper but many people don't have the problems you have using a GPS.

Yes, you do have to get used to using a GPS but it's not that hard. I suspect that many people "run into problems" because they expect the GPS to "tell them what to do" (and don't think they have to practice using them).

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Old 05-18-17, 12:00 PM   #14
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If you keep an eye on the map, it's easy to handle this when it "happens".

The Garmins are very reliable at showing the course and your location (relative to it).

It's much more likely to miss the turn notification than it is that to be told the "wrong thing".

It seems some people want the unit to "tell them what to do" rather than use it as a navigation tool.
<snip>
On our 800, when complicated turns come up, the map screen is often covered with large white arrows and too many labels, so that the actual course line is invisible. Hitting the back arrow frequently does not resolve the problem. The words at the top of the screen are also very frequently wrong, so they're no help.

When we stop to try to figure it out, the Garmin no longer knows which way is ahead and the screen may rotate around depending on random GPS coordinate shifts. That doesn't help, either.

Also, the large white arrows are frequently wrong and simply point in the wrong direction. With a previous firmware update, the "distance to next" on the text pages would have a left or right arrow above them to indicate which way to turn. That was very helpful, so of course a Garmin firmware update removed those. So now we totally depend on the map to show us which way to turn, and as I said, it's frequently either wrong or indecipherable.

A good cue sheet prepared after a pre-ride, OTOH, will always give us reliable information.

As you say, the Garmin is most useful after a mistake, when it will help us get back on course for which a cue sheet is no help at all. Local randos joke that one can always tell a Garmin user because they're the only riders who'll ride 100 meters past a turn, then come back and make it.

We bought our 800 in the spring of '10 and use it for all our rides, even when we know the route, just for practice. We are very familiar with its settings and operation. Our 800 always has a course loaded. We use RWGPS TCX files with the warning distance set to 100 meters. I go over all RWGPS routes with a fine-toothed comb and clean them up. If they're made by someone else, I copy them and make them private before I alter them. The cue sheets produced are always correct.

When the thing works, it's marvelous. We can just ride along, making all the correct turns with no pauses. We've never had a technical problem with the unit, never had lost data. But we also take cue sheets.
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Old 05-18-17, 12:17 PM   #15
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On our 800, when complicated turns come up, the map screen is often covered with large white arrows and too many labels, so that the actual course line is invisible. Hitting the back arrow frequently does not resolve the problem. The words at the top of the screen are also very frequently wrong, so they're no help.

When we stop to try to figure it out, the Garmin no longer knows which way is ahead and the screen may rotate around depending on random GPS coordinate shifts. That doesn't help, either.
I've seen multiple cases where people using cuesheets at complicated turns get confused too.

There are these sorts of intersections but they aren't common. And the cases where the GPS fails to be useful are not common either.

Slowing down is often enough to deal with it. Zooming the map might help too.

Anyway, it's only one big white arrow (only one is displayed at a time). If the arrow squiggles a lot, zoom the map in.

If you are using a tcx file that has "course points", you can see lots of little icons with labels (these have nothing to do with the big white arrow).

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Also, the large white arrows are frequently wrong and simply point in the wrong direction.
This can happen as the result of a poorly created route. Even then, I don't come across them "frequently". With a clean route, I don't recall many instances of the big white arrows being wrong. And you can generally look at the map as a backup to the rare "wrong way" arrow.

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With a previous firmware update, the "distance to next" on the text pages would have a left or right arrow above them to indicate which way to turn. That was very helpful, so of course a Garmin firmware update removed those.
My 800 might have come with the newer firmware. I don't use the text pages when navigating.

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So now we totally depend on the map to show us which way to turn, and as I said, it's frequently either wrong or indecipherable.
I haven't seen it "frequently" and it's rarely "indecipherable".

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A good cue sheet prepared after a pre-ride, OTOH, will always give us reliable information.
It's not many rides that one can do a pre-ride on.

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As you say, the Garmin is most useful after a mistake, when it will help us get back on course for which a cue sheet is no help at all.
No, it's not "most useful" after a mistake. I rarely commit mistakes with it.

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Local randos joke that one can always tell a Garmin user because they're the only riders who'll ride 100 meters past a turn, then come back and make it.
This is kind of silly because people miss turns using cuesheets all the time. And when they do, can be miles instead of "100 meters".

People using the text screens and not keeping an eye on the map can miss turns.

I've had a couple of cases were much more experienced randos relying on cuesheets blew by turns that I made because I was using the Garmin.

Quote:
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But we also take cue sheets.
Taking cuesheets is easy enough. I bring them but never use them.

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When the thing works, it's marvelous. We can just ride along, making all the correct turns with no pauses. We've never had a technical problem with the unit, never had lost data. But we also take cue sheets.
No one is saying that a GPS is perfect. Cuesheets certainly aren't perfect and they are harder to use.

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Old 05-18-17, 12:18 PM   #16
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...With a GPS map, it's often possible to find a shortcut back to the route (avoiding the need to back track)...
Article 7

At the start, each rider will receive a brevet card and a cue sheet indicating the route and the location of the checkpoints. Every rider must stop at each checkpoint to have his or her card verified. Organizers may also include unannounced checkpoints along the route. If a rider leaves the route, he or she must return to the route at the same point prior to continuing, ie. no shortcuts or detours from the route, unless specified by the organizer. The only exception to the "no detours" rule is provided when a road is closed. In such a situation the rider should first attempt to contact the ride organizer to obtain permission to take a detour. If the rider detours without permission due to a road closure, the rider shall report the route deviation to the organizer at the rider's first opportunity. If a detour is taken, the rider(s) and organizer are responsible for ensuring that the rider(s) have completed the required event distance.
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Old 05-18-17, 12:30 PM   #17
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Article 7

At the start, each rider will receive a brevet card and a cue sheet indicating the route and the location of the checkpoints. Every rider must stop at each checkpoint to have his or her card verified. Organizers may also include unannounced checkpoints along the route. If a rider leaves the route, he or she must return to the route at the same point prior to continuing, ie. no shortcuts or detours from the route, unless specified by the organizer. The only exception to the "no detours" rule is provided when a road is closed. In such a situation the rider should first attempt to contact the ride organizer to obtain permission to take a detour. If the rider detours without permission due to a road closure, the rider shall report the route deviation to the organizer at the rider's first opportunity. If a detour is taken, the rider(s) and organizer are responsible for ensuring that the rider(s) have completed the required event distance.
Yes, I'm aware of that.

1) GPSs have uses outside of brevets.
2) It's a tool. It's not telling you to take a shortcut. Be smart enough to make your own judgment.
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Old 05-18-17, 04:39 PM   #18
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You don't have to "read" a GPS. They are fairly moisture resistant. The battery issues are not that hard to solve.

Nothing wrong with using paper but many people don't have the problems you have using a GPS.

Yes, you do have to get used to using a GPS but it's not that hard. I suspect that many people "run into problems" because they expect the GPS to "tell them what to do" (and don't think they have to practice using them).
Thanks for your assertions. I am happy with my way of doing stuff. You can do what you like.
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Old 05-18-17, 04:50 PM   #19
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Thanks for your assertions. I am happy with my way of doing stuff. You can do what you like.
No one is really telling you to do anything.
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Old 05-18-17, 07:49 PM   #20
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Local practice- half the riders use Garmin, half don't. If you're riding in a group, it's always easier to follow the Garminites, for better or worse (yes, we've all been known to ride off course due to that.)
Personally- I don't own a Garmin, so I use a paper cue sheet if riding solo, and have one visible on the bike regardless.
One other factor- most of our brevets, I've done a number of times, and familiarity with the route helps tremendously on avoiding wrong turns.
Garmins are great, but seem to have a lot of issues, too. I've seen them just fall off the bike. Or they'll get offcourse and can't seem to find their way back- seems to be worse on out-and-back routes. Or batteries run down. Or the person loaded up the wrong course. So it's not like belt-and-suspenders, it's like belt-made-out-of-banana-strings-and-leather-suspenders.
The "official" cue sheet should always be the one handed out at the ride start.
One place I've seen where they were almost a necessity- an urban permanent using bike trails. There the problem was that you turn at the unmarked trail at Mile X.XX, only your odometer is off by two miles since you made a wrong turn earlier, and there's an unmarked trail junction every 50 yards, so you have no clue which one is actually meant without a Garmin.
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Old 05-18-17, 09:45 PM   #21
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I use paper cue sheets and maps ... and don't see that changing any time soon.
I like having my information in hand without any reliance on something that requires batteries or internet.
I like having my information in a format I can see and read without having to scroll and resize.
I like having my information right in front of me all the time.
And I find paper cue sheets and maps really easy to use.

I especially like it when the ride organiser has taken the time to add comments to warn me of up-coming hazards or to inform me that I will need to stock up on supplies because there is a long stretch ahead with no services.


I also bring my phone with pdfs of the information and, of course, the ability to access Ride with GPS and Strava and Google Maps should I happen to need any of this.


I will also email the ride organiser a week or so in advance to ask whether the information on our website is correct or if the route is still undergoing changes.

As a ride organiser, I will email the riders who have signed up to let them know that the route information is correct. For our recent ride, I even sent them pdfs of the route and map a few days in advance in simplified and easy-to-read format.

If the ride organiser offers cue sheets and maps at the start of the event, I will also take those and do a quick scan to see how they compare to what I've printed.
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Old 05-18-17, 10:18 PM   #22
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usually, I like to follow along with the cue sheet while I navigate using my gps. On the Eastern Pa 300k this year, I don't think I was on the right page of the cue sheet for the entire ride after I got off the first page. OTOH, I spent a lot of time figuring out where the route went ahead of time. I printed out the cue sheet today for Saturday's 400k.
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Old 05-18-17, 10:36 PM   #23
downtube42
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I've held out on cue sheets longer than most randos I know. I've gone back and forth for a while, but on I seem to be honing in on using a GPS in breadcrumb mode plus a cue sheet. By "use" I mean I consult both continuously. It's a toss-up as to which I consider primary, but I consider the cue sheet more reliable.

On my last 400k, I was using cue sheet alone, and a cue sheet error led me astray for a while. On my last 600k, my GPS got confused when the course crossed itself so I was on cue sheet alone until it eventually straightened itself out some hundred miles later.

I feel like I'm more aware of where I am when I follow the cue sheet, whereas following the GPS alone I feel like I don't have a clue.
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Old 05-19-17, 07:14 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by StephenH View Post
Local practice- half the riders use Garmin, half don't. If you're riding in a group, it's always easier to follow the Garminites, for better or worse (yes, we've all been known to ride off course due to that.)
People ride off course using cuesheets all the time. It's really odd that some people think this is only a problem with using a GPS.

It's easy enough to go off course using any method.

If one goes off course for miles with a GPS, then one isn't really looking at the GPS.

Last edited by njkayaker; 05-19-17 at 08:30 AM.
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Old 05-19-17, 07:48 AM   #25
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On my last 400k, I was using cue sheet alone, and a cue sheet error led me astray for a while. On my last 600k, my GPS got confused when the course crossed itself so I was on cue sheet alone until it eventually straightened itself out some hundred miles later.
The Garmins can have issues with courses that crossover themselves. It's a known issue and there are fairly easy ways of avoiding it.

600k long GPS routes are too long to be reliable.

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Originally Posted by downtube42 View Post
I feel like I'm more aware of where I am when I follow the cue sheet, whereas following the GPS alone I feel like I don't have a clue.
Interesting.

Cuesheets do force you to "learn" (look for) street names but that provides a limited sense of place.

The screens on GPS are a bit small for street names but the map provides all sorts of information about where you are.
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