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  1. #1
    Senior Member Nakedbabytoes's Avatar
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    Doing my first 150 miler course, how detailed a route map?

    Tour site lists turn by turn, course is unmarked and unsupported. I suck at directions. Midwestern gravel & dirt roads.
    I have a Garmin FR 610 but this will take longer than my battery life. So I am just going to use a cycling computer. I don't have a smart phone.

    So, maps? How detailed do you make them? Do you basically print out the text turn by turn and sections of satellite maps? We have small town checkpoints along the way, so I wouldn't think I would get horribly lost but then again, my family couldn't find the Sears Tower in Chicago(yes, really!)

    I don't know how often I will do tours such as this, maybe twice a year? I can train on marked trails and sides of a local highway, so I don't think I want to invest in a Garmin for my bike at this point. Maybe later, I did with running once I got more involved with it.

    Advice?

  2. #2
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Learn to read a cue sheet.

    Most of my randonnees have been on a routes that are unmarked, and they have been unsupported. All I've had have been the cue sheet, my cycling computer, and a map that isn't particularly detailed.

    And go to your local Tourist Information Centre, bookstore, sporting goods store, service station ... and get some paper maps. You should be able to get at least a general map that will give you an idea of where you are, if not a very detailed ordnance-style map ... and several in between. Some will be free ... others might cost you a little bit. Paper maps should show you what roads are sealed and what roads are gravel. They should be able to tell you if a road is a main highway or a quiet country road. And they'll often give you other information as well (such as where a campground or park is located ... where you might be able to use the toilet and get water).

    When you get the maps, spread them out and, using your cue sheet, see if you can follow the route on the maps. We're talking Nebraska here. If the routes there are anything like the routes in Manitoba or Saskatchewan, they'll be roughly a big rectangle.


    And if the route isn't too far from where you live, as a part of a training ride, take the cue sheet and maps, and go ride as much of the route as you can. Explore, take photos, look at the signs, compare the signs and what you see with what's on the cue sheet and maps ... no pressure because you're just out on a ride on your own, so you can take as much time as you want.


    Then bring the most useful of the maps with you on the ride in case you need to refer to it.

  3. #3
    Senior Member skiffrun's Avatar
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    Learn to use a cue sheet.
    Enjoy the ride.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Nakedbabytoes's Avatar
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    Will do. Thanks for the tips! I ended up buying a Garmin 800 as they have $100 rebate on it until May 1st and I got a web reviewer website link discount for another $50 off. Almost what I was willing to pay for a Garmin 500 anyways for ANT + sensors.
    But yes, I need to read cue sheets. And I have some time to do so. Thanks!

  5. #5
    aspiring dirtbag commuter max-a-mill's Avatar
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    not really anymore if you can make sure you get an accurate gpx of the course.

    went on a century recently with ton of local roads i had never even seen. my friend had the route on his 500 and besides missing a few turns right away and having to backtrack a few hundred feet when we realized we were off course it functioned perfectly.

    so while i think knowing how to read cue sheets sure is a handy skill it is rapidly becoming unnecessary as our bike computers become smarter.

    my suggestion is tke the cue sheets and build yourself the route for the garmin. sorta like studying for the test (but then taking a cheat sheet with you so you can ace it).
    - the revolution will not be motorized -

  6. #6
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by max-a-mill View Post
    so while i think knowing how to read cue sheets sure is a handy skill it is rapidly becoming unnecessary as our bike computers become smarter.
    I don't think that the skill of being able to read a cue sheet or a map will ever become unnecessary, and I think there is a danger in depending entirely on computers of various sorts to guide your way.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Nakedbabytoes's Avatar
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    I will still learn to use a cue sheet. I am a runner with a Garmin watch and I know technology can and will fail you at the worst possible moment. The race requires a bike computer anyways and since I wanted wireless with ANT+ capabilities to use with my other sports sensors, it sortof ended up just happening. With the $150 off, I was basically at my budget for a 500. Might as well get the routing Nav stuff for free.
    But no, I won't just rely on my 800. I will learn to read cue sheets during my practices.

  8. #8
    aspiring dirtbag commuter max-a-mill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    I don't think that the skill of being able to read a cue sheet or a map will ever become unnecessary, and I think there is a danger in depending entirely on computers of various sorts to guide your way.
    yeah believe me i work with computers. i know they will die or malfunction at the most crucial times sometimes...

    i think my comment made me sound like i ONLY rely on technology which could really F you when your computer dies and it is dark, hailing puppies from the sky, your freezing and you don't have a clue where you are because your just blindly following your computer. i don't mean that. i'll always have cue sheets in my pocket but the beauty of the technology when it works is you to never have to get distracted from the ride by looking at them.

    utilizing technology i think your gonna be faster once you take the time to learn to use it properly and do some field testing to see how it works. to me it is amazing to have to never worry about the course while just having your computer point the way and yell at you if you wander off course. if this can work on our tight little northeastern usa backroads i gotta imagine it is even easier out west and up north where street density is much lower.

    my wish now is that garmin would make one of the little routeable gps doohickeys with replaceable AA or AAA batteries. running out of juice will surely bring your computer to a dead stop and i just don't like the idea of not being able to buy some fresh batteries while out on the road. carrying a rechargeable powersource to power all my crap seems less than ideal as well. maybe it is just time for a generator hub... where can i get a bar mounted espresso maker???
    - the revolution will not be motorized -

  9. #9
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    The thing is ... I've done heaps of randonnees and other events which have provided a cue sheet but very little else in the way of road markings etc., and with the aid of my trusty bicycle computer to get an idea of distance, I've managed to do all but one of those events without going off course. And there has been relatively little slowing down to figure out where I am on all those rides, as well.

    The cue sheet goes into a map case on top of my handlebar bag, and I refer to it while I'm riding. Just takes a moment to read: "Left turn at Hwy 11 in 14 km" or whatever the cue sheet says, then a glance at my computer to see when 14 km might be ... and then I relax and enjoy the next 14 km. When I get close to the turn, I keep an eye out for a sign for Hwy 11, and then make the turn. If I'm bored during the 14 km, I might read ahead and see where else the route turns ... and I might even flip my map case over and check my map.

    Incidentally, I've even successfully done portions of unmarked randonnees without the benefit of a bicycle computer ... just using a watch to determine my distances.

  10. #10
    aspiring dirtbag commuter max-a-mill's Avatar
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    and i see nothing wrong with this way AT ALL.

    BUT now you can use a GPS which will warn you at you any set number of meters (or feet) you prefer before the turn and tell you which direction to go when you get there. granted if there are not a bunch of turns it wouldn't be MUCH easier.

    where i think it really helps is with more dense street networks like here on the east coast. some of these (especially the really small ones that are the best to ride on) don't always have proper signage to let you know the name. as i said out west and in lesser populated areas i am sure cue sheets are not as much of an issue but if you did twisty some back country road rides here in PA i bet cue sheets would lead to confusion much more easily than a route on a GPS; especially once you get onto the smallest of the small roads.
    Last edited by max-a-mill; 04-05-13 at 12:45 PM.
    - the revolution will not be motorized -

  11. #11
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    I have ridden on the east coast, on the Boston-Montreal-Boston, and also in the Vancouver area and on Vancouver Island with lots of turns in quick succession on small country roads ... and I've managed just fine with the cue sheet and bicycle computer.

    In fact, I'm not sure that a GPS would have helped at all on the BMB ... within about 10 km from the start, the city had decided to do some construction and had re-routed things. They had decided to do this between the time that the ride organisers had done their last road survey and the time of the start of the event (a time period of a week or two). If we had carefully put everything from the cue sheet we received some time earlier into a GPS system ... the directions would have been wrong right from the start.

    That's happened a few times on rides where between the time that the cue sheet was created, and the time that the ride is held, there has been some significant construction. Or just simply bad instructions. If you're depending on what the GPS tells you, it would be quite easy to go wrong.


    And in one place on a ride on Vancouver Island, the instructions were to turn on a particular street "Street A" at a certain point. I reached that point, and there was "Street A", as promised, but something didn't seem quite right so I kept riding a few more metres, and there was another street called "Street A" too ... and that was the right one. I'm not convinced that a GPS would have picked up that difference.


    In situations where there are roads with no signage ... a good ride organiser will have carefully and consciously ridden the route, observing every intersection and determining what is at the intersection. If there is no sign, a good ride organiser will have a note telling riders that there is no sign, and informing riders of another method of identifying the road.


    If you're comfortable riding with a GPS, that's fine ... I just don't see how a GPS would make a ride any faster ... you've still got to question every instruction that doesn't look quite right just like you do with a cue sheet.

  12. #12
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    And if you want to do a smoother (and possibly faster) randonnee or other organised event ... and if that event is held not too far away ... one of the best ways to do that is to go ride the roads in the area. Try to follow the event route in advance if possible. But also go out and explore the area around the route. Take several weekends and ride up and down all the roads in the area ... become familiar with them.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Nakedbabytoes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    And if you want to do a smoother (and possibly faster) randonnee or other organised event ... and if that event is held not too far away ... one of the best ways to do that is to go ride the roads in the area. Try to follow the event route in advance if possible. But also go out and explore the area around the route. Take several weekends and ride up and down all the roads in the area ... become familiar with them.
    Thanks for the discussion! I do live near the proposed routes, although I would need to either ride about 10 miles through town OR load up my bike to ride them. I live in SE Lincoln and the tour starts in NW Lincoln and heads out west from there. This club does quite a few weekend long jaunts with cue sheets in my neck of the woods as well, so I might try to hook up with them on a few shorter rides with cues and my Garmin as well. Practice and such. My preliminary test out with my new device wasn't super encouraging. I need to familiarize myself with it more before I venture out from unknown courses. The 7 miler I did yesterday, it acted like it had no idea where I was and tried to turn me around a few times. Good thing I knew where I was going!

  14. #14
    Senior Member Keith99's Avatar
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    I can only recall one ride where I used a map.

    100 miler on my own, so no cue sheet.

    Otherwise always just used the cue sheet or a few wanders near home where I knew routes I could take ot get back to my start point.
    Perish any man who suspects that these men either did or suffered anything unseemly.

  15. #15
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nakedbabytoes View Post
    Thanks for the discussion! I do live near the proposed routes, although I would need to either ride about 10 miles through town OR load up my bike to ride them. I live in SE Lincoln and the tour starts in NW Lincoln and heads out west from there. This club does quite a few weekend long jaunts with cue sheets in my neck of the woods as well, so I might try to hook up with them on a few shorter rides with cues and my Garmin as well. Practice and such. My preliminary test out with my new device wasn't super encouraging. I need to familiarize myself with it more before I venture out from unknown courses. The 7 miler I did yesterday, it acted like it had no idea where I was and tried to turn me around a few times. Good thing I knew where I was going!
    10 miles isn't far ... especially if you're building up to do a 150 mile day-ride. You don't have to do the whole route all at once at this point, just go out and ride here, there, and everywhere. Have fun with it. You'll get to know the roads and build fitness. Riding with the club is a good idea too.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Nakedbabytoes's Avatar
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    Oh no, 10 miles certainly isn't a big deal, just saying how easy it would be for me to pre-ride the course a bit. The tiny 7 miler was just a test run of my new device and was the only route close that I had loaded on GC to test out before dinner. Lol! I wanted to see how the 810 worked and had a limited amount of time to play with it. I often ride 35-60 miles at a time on Sundays and 2 other shorter rides between 20-30 during the week, along with training to run a full marathon in May(50+ mpw)
    It bummed me out that it didn't work like I had hoped. And now the weather is crap and the hubs is working late this week everyday, so I've loaded a ton of sat maps on my new toy and yet haven't been able to use it.
    Last edited by Nakedbabytoes; 04-10-13 at 02:36 PM.

  17. #17
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    I really hate paper maps. Never used one. But you can use online mapping. I like RideWithGPS or BikeRouteToaster. You can also use bikely to create a custom cue sheet. You can use the directions to plot your route on one of these websites and download the route for your Garmin, as well as printing a good cue sheet.

    I think I'm a fairly savvy computer person, and it took me quite a while to learn how to get my 800 to give me usable, reliable directions. Your 800 will only work for sure for about 10 hours unless you have a backup battery pack. Use a TCX route if you have succeeded in buying an 800 instead of the almost worthless 810. If you don't already have them, I could post the settings that work here.

    Yes, a cue sheet in large type in a waterproof cue sheet holder. The best thing that an 800 does, that is after you have figured out how to load a route into it, is to give you a big OFF COURSE warning when you miss a turn. No more having 10 miles added to the course from taking the wrong turn.

    Ah, whoops, didn't see your last post that it's an 810. I don't know of a way to load a route into an 810 that will give you turn-by-turn. They're supposedly working on a bug fix, but hey, this Garmin. They don't have to care.

  18. #18
    Senior Member skiffrun's Avatar
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    Two stories. True stories. Exchanged while waiting for last finisher on the 200 brevet this past Saturday.

    Last year, on the local 400k brevet, a well-known randonneur from Ohio reached a turn approx 29.5 miles from the finish, position was manned by volunteer Bob. Ohio left Frosty's, headed for the next turn in 5.8 miles. 40-minutes to an hour later, Ohio comes riding back up the hill to Frosty's, complaining and irritated that he had couldn't find Parker Herndon Rd. Ohio had apparently missed the hard-left turn and ridden until the road ended when it intersected US-15/501 -- approx. 1/2-mile beyond Parker Herndon Rd. Volunteer Bob tried to give him some hints to help him find Parker Herndon on his second attempt. Ohio must have been successful the second time since Bob didn't see him again. Why Ohio was unable to figure out that he had missed the turn by only 1/2-mile why Ohio rode all the way back to Frosty's, Bob did not know, we'll likely never know.

    RBA Alan shared how, on a recent Permanent ride, he decided to check out a side road (the Permanent cris-crosses his 600 brevet course, and soon after doing so, his GPS (I think it is a Garmin, but I'm not sure) re-calculated the course to his destination (the Permanent turn-around), using the "fastest" way to get there: Interstate-40.

    Draw your own conclusions.
    Enjoy the ride.

  19. #19
    Senior Member skiffrun's Avatar
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    While writing the above, I referenced the RWGPS map for the local 300 in nine days (same course, except the 400 adds and out-and-back where the 300 turns around). I found a strange thing: four-miles from the finish, the route gets onto NC-55 for 0.7-miles -- HOWEVER, when I mapped the route, RWGPS did a "u-turn loop" on part of the highway, and added 0.4 miles to the route!

    So ... I re-did the last six-miles or so of the route, and this time RWGPS did NOT add the "u-turn loop".

    Weird.
    Enjoy the ride.

  20. #20
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    I've used several online mapping programs, and for some reason, when they get near main highways they want to use the main highway, even if there's a nearby side road which I'd prefer to use ... and they'll add all sorts of interesting twists and turns (and U-turns) to force you use the main highway.

    And if your route goes anywhere close to an overpass, the online mapping programs will add a whole heap of extra stuff ... outs and backs and loops etc. Overpasses seem to confuse those programs.

    It's something to watch for when creating a route or trying to follow an online route.

  21. #21
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skiffrun View Post
    Two stories. True stories. Exchanged while waiting for last finisher on the 200 brevet this past Saturday.

    Last year, on the local 400k brevet, a well-known randonneur from Ohio reached a turn approx 29.5 miles from the finish, position was manned by volunteer Bob. Ohio left Frosty's, headed for the next turn in 5.8 miles. 40-minutes to an hour later, Ohio comes riding back up the hill to Frosty's, complaining and irritated that he had couldn't find Parker Herndon Rd. Ohio had apparently missed the hard-left turn and ridden until the road ended when it intersected US-15/501 -- approx. 1/2-mile beyond Parker Herndon Rd. Volunteer Bob tried to give him some hints to help him find Parker Herndon on his second attempt. Ohio must have been successful the second time since Bob didn't see him again. Why Ohio was unable to figure out that he had missed the turn by only 1/2-mile why Ohio rode all the way back to Frosty's, Bob did not know, we'll likely never know.

    RBA Alan shared how, on a recent Permanent ride, he decided to check out a side road (the Permanent cris-crosses his 600 brevet course, and soon after doing so, his GPS (I think it is a Garmin, but I'm not sure) re-calculated the course to his destination (the Permanent turn-around), using the "fastest" way to get there: Interstate-40.

    Draw your own conclusions.
    Yeah, that's why you never use a Garmin in anything but TCX follow-the-bread-crumbs mode if you're trying to follow a particular route. It's too bad that Garmin has decided to simply omit any documentation on how to use the thing.

  22. #22
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    I've used several online mapping programs, and for some reason, when they get near main highways they want to use the main highway, even if there's a nearby side road which I'd prefer to use ... and they'll add all sorts of interesting twists and turns (and U-turns) to force you use the main highway.

    And if your route goes anywhere close to an overpass, the online mapping programs will add a whole heap of extra stuff ... outs and backs and loops etc. Overpasses seem to confuse those programs.

    It's something to watch for when creating a route or trying to follow an online route.
    The better mapping websites have two modes: follow-the-road and don't. You sometimes have to turn off follow-the-road for a bit until you are going down your road of choice or else put your points very close together. Later you can often come back and delete these intermediate points, after saving the route of course, because you'll never know exactly what the thing is going to do. If one is mapping for a Garmin, put turn points just past the turn to keep the thing from doing a loop in the middle of the road and confusing the device.

    Being a ride leader, I've done literally hundreds of routes using mapping websites. I did our entire tour in the Czech Republic this way, over 600 turns on tiny roads and paved paths I'd never seen and which don't show on less than 1:50,000 print maps, which would have weighed over a kilo, plus the volume. So we had cue sheets and an 800. Worked perfectly, meaning sure we made some wrong turns but corrected immediately. Stoker navigated, which made it go much more smoothly. Worked just as well in the rain. Mostly we could just ride the bike, look at the scenery, and arrive at our destination, kind of like riding familiar roads, but vastly more interesting. Totally anal in some respects, but I enjoy the planning a great deal. Everybody's different.

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