Long Distance Cyclist
I've just returned from the Eau de Hell week on Vancouver Island put on by the BC Randonneurs. Although that event didn't go quite as well as I'd planned (check the thread on the Eau de Hell week), I do have to comment on the cue sheet.
The cue sheets for both the 200K and 400K were incredibly well done!! I was VERY impressed!! I have rarely encountered cue sheets so accurate and informative.
The turns were right where I expected them to be as far as distance goes, which was great!! But then, as an unexpected added benefit, to help the riders, extra notes were added!!
There were notes like "not up hill", letting the rider know to make the turn before (or instead of) climbing the hill. And also, "at lights" or "at stop", letting the rider know that the turn occurs at a set of lights, or at a stop sign, so that the rider doesn't have to slow up at every single intersection within about 5 kms of the turn distance on the cue sheet to check if it is the correct intersection. It even made mention of businesses and landmarks to help riders feel confident that they are on the correct route, or are making a turn at the correct place. Not only all that, but the cue sheets also brought attention to safety issues like, "Dangerous Railway Crossing" etc.
I have created a Super Randonneur series here in central Alberta, and when I created the cue sheets, I added a bit of extra information like that too ... but I did so hesitantly because I'd never seen a cue sheet with any of that extra information before, and wasn't sure if it met with randonneuring protocol. I was so pleased to see it on the cue sheets of the BC Randonneurs. In fact, I think I'll add more information on my cue sheets, so it is even more like theirs.
IMO, more information is much better. There's nothing more frustrating for a rider on a brevet than that feeling of being lost .... of possibly missing a turn ... of not being sure where to turn ... of not being sure where you are .... the feeling like you've been on a road for a very long time, and nothing looks familiar, and you're not sure if you're still on the right road, and you've really got no way to check. You're not sure whether to go back and retrace your steps, or to continue forward. You might feel healthy, you might be riding well .... but you don't know where you are. And it is particularly frustrating ... and annoying ... for new randonneurs who are trying out the sport, or for those who are new to the area where the randonnee is being held.
One of the main reasons for DNFs on randonnees is getting lost. Either the rider just gets too frustrated trying to find his/her way back and calls it quits, or the rider loses so much time trying to find the right road, and can't finish the event in time.
How detailed and accurate are the cue sheets for your local brevets?
The cue sheets for both the Boston and Westfield brevet series are rather nice, and very similar to what you describe (landmarks, lights and stop signs, road hazards, etc.) You can see examples at both the Boston Brevet Series website and the New Horizons site.
Originally Posted by Machka
imho, the perfect cue sheet is a balance of detail and concision. Extra useful information is always welcome, but being able to fit all of the directions on a small set of sheets that one can read with a minimal need to stop and flip pages is also key. There should be enough white space to make it easy to scan (I don't particularly like the technique of using alternating grey and white table rows, since rows with grey backgrounds are difficult to read at night), but again, not so much white space that 20 lines of directions takes up an entire page and forces you to unnecessarily flip to the next page.
If at all possible, segments between controls should fit in their own sheet, since stopping at a control is a good opportunity to flip your sheet and I find that it's become a pet peeve to have a cue sheet where the page break occurs maybe, like, ten cues after you leave a checkpoint. It's enough turns that you can't just memorize the set but, you pretty much have to flip your sheet about ten minutes after departing from the control.
Also, on that tip, I'd give bonus points to organizers who provide their cues both as a PDF and as raw text. The PDF is good to have as a backup, but I greatly prefer being able to copy the text into a word processor and being able to reformat the cue sheet so that it's optimized for the dimensions of my handlebar bag map case.
Also, this is a more specific topic for randonneuring etiquette (as cue sheets are points of interest for charity century and club riders as well), but it would be nice to include supplemental information about 24 hour convenience stores and bike shops along the route. The Boston Brevet folks make mention of 24 hour stores in the cue sheet for their 600, which was immensely useful when riding through Vermont at 4 in the morning, and pining for a cup of coffee. Also, while it possibly infringes on the idea of self-supported riding, I've known a few randonneurs (my self included) for whom a nearby bike shop was the difference between a minor mishap on the course and a mechancial-related DNF.
Long Distance Cyclist
Yes, that's something else I was really impressed about with the BC Randonneur cue sheets ... the pages went from control to control. I was actually astounded because I've never seen a cue sheet set up that way before. What a novel (and good) idea! That's something I do have to fiddle around with for the Alberta Randonneur cue sheets ... or at least for my central Alberta rides.
I also like black print on white background and an easily readable font.
I believe my cue sheets are published as Excel files so they can be adjusted (I'll have to check that). I think only my maps are pdfs. I also like to be able to edit my cue sheets to suit me. I've been on rides where the cue sheets were not provided online at all, or were just provided in pdf format. Fortunately I've got access to OCR software so I can capture and convert just about anything, but not everyone has that luxury.
I know that one thing the Alberta Randonneurs has been good about is providing some information regarding services. We've got a code on our sheets which tells you what might be available in a town, whether the town is a control or not. The code is FWRH, or in other words: "Food", "Water", "Restaurant", "Hotel". If there is just a convenience store, the code will read FW for "Food" and "Water", but no restaurant or hotel, etc. I've added to that by including little notes that read, "Stock up" in certain towns when I know that it will be a long ride before encountering any services again, and I've added notes at certain controls like: "Services close at 7 pm" to let riders know that if they arrive in the town after 7 pm, they'll be out of luck for services, so they'd better get what they need at the previous control (where I'll have included a "Stock up" warning note). I don't want my riders to end up running out of food and water etc. out in the middle of nowhere. That kinda looks bad, and makes for some disgruntled riders!
I am debating about adding a "B" code for "Bicycle shop" too. That may indeed be handy.
just another gosling
Here's a typical one from my local club:
A feature I like is that they print out 5.75" wide so they exactly fit into my cue sheet holder.
Long Distance Cyclist
How many of you (if you create routes and/or organize brevets) or your ride organizers check your routes each year?
Every year I hear of situations (and have been in some of these situations myself) where something has happened to change the route ... a sign might have been knocked down, a road rerouted, a road blocked off, or something ....... and unsuspecting cyclists get caught by old instructions.
I ride portions of all my routes on a regular basis, but I do have to go out and double check some parts.
I don't have a good example, but I had a q sheet that had notes like: "You've gone too far if you see 'x' or get to 'x' intersection". Based on turns that had been missed in prior rides. Never had that sinking 'I'm lost' feeling.
You need a new bike
I take great care to have accurate mileages on the cue sheets for my routes. This way, in the event a street sign is missing, the riders have some recourse (if they've been paying attention).
Originally Posted by Machka
The biggest issue I have are construction closings in towns causing detours. But those are generally easy for riders to figure out.
Road closings are pretty rare, but hazardous conditions caused by road work are all too common. Primary among these are removed pavement temporarily becoming dirt roads or barriers placed along the side of the road. In such cases, I create detours on the cue sheet. I haven't had to suspend use of a route yet, but it has been a problem for some in our area due to no feasible alternate routing.
Long Distance Cyclist
Yeah, the whole construction thing is something that worries me too. Unfortunately the local road reports aren't very accurate so I can't rely on them .... and it would be my luck that I'd go and check the route a couple weeks in advance ... and then a construction crew would move in and tear a section of road all up.
Attached is a fairly typical cue sheet for a DC Randonneurs ride (with some material deleted to meet the BikeForums size limit). I organized this ride, but give credit to previous organizers for the excellent cue sheet they passed down to me. Usually we don't have the ride profile on them, but I thought people might find it useful so added it. FWIW, I think we had 60 starters, no DNF's, but three or four DNQ because they came in a few minutes after the time limit.
On the topic of checkout rides -- three of us rode a checkout ride in abysmal weather the week before and found road construction en route, which required a reroute. So a checkout ride is well worthwhile. That said, on last year's 600K, the organizer did a checkout ride the week before and found no problems. But some road construction occurred after the checkout ride that required on-the-fly rerouting. Just part of randonneuring :-)
While our RBA here in Fla. makes excellent cues sheets, I redo mine. The original cues sheets are in Excell and have three columns: Segment, Total and Directions. The first is the amount of miles in each segment, the next is total miles accumulated so far and directions are details like "Turn right at East Third Street/ROAD CONSTRUCTION".
I take these and add a 4th column between Total and Directions. This column has either an "R," "L," or "S" in a large font and in bold. This makes it very easy to see quickly if you have to turn left, right or go straight at each point without having to look at all the details....it's very handy at night or in the rain. Mind you, the details are handy and you should read them, but I find this helps me.