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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 04-15-13, 10:31 AM   #1
unterhausen
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Permanent routes, what makes a good one?

Bek brought up an interesting question in my thread about Fleche routing. Since they are totally different subjects, I thought I would start a new thread to see if anyone had any words of wisdom about permanent routing.

I need to finish some of my permanent routes. I stole one almost 300k from Tom Rosenbauer. Got to find a couple of kilometers to add. The problem with a lot of routes around here is that there can be an absence of places to stop for water and food. Also, some really nice routes have shortcuts, but no good place for a controle.

I mentioned this to Crista Barras, the permanista, and she suggested info controles. On info controles, the rider has to answer a question about something that they find on the route. For example, what color is the 4th mailbox at mile X.
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Old 04-15-13, 11:20 AM   #2
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One limitation on info controls is that they don't make sense on an out-and-back course. The rules don't prohibit that, and I've never seen it done, but it limits what you can do with them.

The ideal perm has, in no particular order:
A minimum of turns.
Rural roads.
Low traffic.
Paved smooth roads.
Stores available every 20-30 miles.
Hills to the extent desired by the riders, ranging from pancake-flat for some people to vertical for others.
Scenic.
Shelter from the wind.
No dogs.
Roads that aren't used on other perms and brevets in the area.
Close to the rider's houses for minimum driving.
Desired distance. IE, if you're making a 200k, it would ideally be 200k, not 218k or whatever.
A looped route as opposed to an out-and-back, for variation in scenery.

In real life, you never get all of those in one route, so it depends on what's most important to you.
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Old 04-15-13, 11:36 AM   #3
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The best permanent routes start 0.3 miles from my house. I use them mainly for logging "kms" while training. And while most my training is between 100k and 150k, guess how long my routes are?

I think randonneurs get too caught up in "cheating." With my routes, I could easily stroll on down to the gas station and get a morning chocolate milk. I could then return home, get my wife a baby girl up, eat breakfast and drive out to the state park where the turn around and only "on route" control is for my ride. Spend some time at the state park with the family, buy a candy bar at the visitor center and return home, to stop and pick up a receipt by my house. Or, since a good chuck of the route is traveled by a train, I could just ride the train for more than half the route. I mention this because imposing controls to stop cheaters only makes it burdensome on those that like to ride. The cheaters will cheat, and adding a control won't stop them. Personally, I just like to ride and ride far. I'm not on a crusade to see every cheater hung from the highest tree. In other words, less emphasis should be given to people cutting small corners and more towards making the route more enjoyable for those of us who like to ride and have no desire to cheat. Just my 2 cents.
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Old 04-15-13, 12:00 PM   #4
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One limitation on info controls is that they don't make sense on an out-and-back course. The rules don't prohibit that, and I've never seen it done, but it limits what you can do with them.

The ideal perm has, in no particular order:
A minimum of turns.
Rural roads.
Low traffic.
Paved smooth roads.
Stores available every 20-30 miles.
Hills to the extent desired by the riders, ranging from pancake-flat for some people to vertical for others.
Scenic.
Shelter from the wind.
No dogs.
Roads that aren't used on other perms and brevets in the area.
Close to the rider's houses for minimum driving.
Desired distance. IE, if you're making a 200k, it would ideally be 200k, not 218k or whatever.
A looped route as opposed to an out-and-back, for variation in scenery.

In real life, you never get all of those in one route, so it depends on what's most important to you.
Great list!

I would add, they should start and end at a good pub with some good rando buddies.
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Old 04-15-13, 01:20 PM   #5
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pub is a good idea, I'll have to use that one.

I think it's fine to turn a brevet into a permanent. I think that's where a lot of them come from. There is an issue of trust, if you own a permanent there is some expectation that you will not cheat on it.

One of my motivations for developing a permanent is for winter months, so it's possible I might violate some of the guidelines given above just to make a winter-compatible route.
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Old 04-15-13, 02:09 PM   #6
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Newbie question: what is a permanent route?
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Old 04-15-13, 02:19 PM   #7
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Newbie question: what is a permanent route?
You.....FOOL!

j'k It's actually a good question.

Here's the answer: http://www.rusa.org/perminfo.html
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Old 04-15-13, 02:25 PM   #8
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You.....FOOL!

j'k It's actually a good question.

Here's the answer: http://www.rusa.org/perminfo.html
Weird, "You must be a RUSA member to ride a Permanent" so if you and I ride the same route at the same time, you've just ridden a Permanent and I've just gone for a ride? LOL
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Old 04-15-13, 02:28 PM   #9
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Weird, "You must be a RUSA member to ride a Permanent" so if you and I ride the same route at the same time, you've just ridden a Permanent and I've just gone for a ride? LOL
Yea, otherwise the records would be kinda pointless.
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Old 04-15-13, 02:38 PM   #10
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Yea, otherwise the records would be kinda pointless.
Yeah, I understood that, LOL, it was just a funny way of putting it.

I assume that there is an equivalent Canadian (and other countries) equivalent organization to RUSA.
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Old 04-15-13, 03:24 PM   #11
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I assume that there is an equivalent Canadian (and other countries) equivalent organization to RUSA.
As far as I know, there's no single Canadian organization. Each province has their own.
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Old 04-15-13, 07:06 PM   #12
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Weird, "You must be a RUSA member to ride a Permanent" so if you and I ride the same route at the same time, you've just ridden a Permanent and I've just gone for a ride? LOL
What they're getting at there is liability and insurance issues. RUSA membership is cheap and well worth it, so if a US rider has any interest in doing that kind of ride, there's really not any reason not to be a RUSA member. There's not a practical way to keep a route "secret", but the intent is that it is an organized route for rando riders, not for the public at large. It's a similar situation to the charity rides, where you can go and ride on the public streets at the same time as the rally if you just really want to do that.

RUSA is a national organization covering randonneuring in the US. But in Canada, each province has their own organization, and their rules may vary. They may not even have a permanents program for that matter, I haven't inquired into that.
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Old 04-15-13, 07:33 PM   #13
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A good permanent adds body and curl, but doesn't damage or dry out your hair.

Aside from that, I like the idea that the route has some specific destination(s) or has some kind of loose unifying theme with respect to where it goes, or the type(s) or roads chosen. It's sorta like music with lyrics that tell a story vs. an instrumental. The instrumental is good, but a lot of people will find the story more compelling.

Just to be clear, I am fully aware of the fact we're talking about ridin' bikes.
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Old 04-15-13, 08:42 PM   #14
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Way back when, when I lived in Colorado and did lots of hiking there, one of the things I noticed about the trails was they went to some definite destination- usually a lake or a mountaintop. Here in Texas, what few hiking trails there were, lacked that. On the perms, there's not too many "cool" destinations around here, and hard to come up with good themes, so mostly those elements don't enter into the local rides.

Several years back, we had riders that were doing a bunch of miles, and they also had a rule that you could only get RUSA credit for doing a route once a year. So it was advantageous to have lots of different routes. We still have most of those routes, but about 80% of them are seldom ridden. The consequence of this is that if you just start looking at non-busy rural routes on FM roads within a reasonable driving distance of the Dallas-Fort Worth area, there's a good chance that your route is hitting on one of those existing perms. I recently got my Palmer Romp route approved, and when we rode it on the tandem, my stoker says, "Oh, this part is also on the "Rockett Man" perm. I didn't know that, haven't ever done Rockett Man. We need one big map with all the perm routes marked, so we can start looking in the unused areas.

By the way, a number of our perms were originally club routes. For example, I understand there was a Fort Worth Bicycle Association century called "Westward Ho". Somebody figured out an extra 25 miles and it became a 200k perm with the same name.
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Old 04-16-13, 05:14 AM   #15
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One limitation on info controls is that they don't make sense on an out-and-back course. The rules don't prohibit that, and I've never seen it done, but it limits what you can do with them. ...
I've been told, but never asked Crista to confirm, that Info Controls out-and-back wouldn't be allowed, because one could find the answer on the way out, and ... .

That noted, we have one Perm that does have an out-and-back Info Control. However, my opinion is that those two Info Controls are superfluous as they shortest route passes the locations, anyway.
=======================================================
I think Stephen's excellent, very comprehensive list is missing a very important ingredient: excellent riding companions.

Of course, sometimes the best ride companions are me, myself, and I.
Other days, a small group.
And others, a larger group.
=======================================================
I'm unfamiliar with the roads in Colorado, but my recollection is that many roads in much of Texas are like many roads in most of my native Illinois: STRAIGHT, and flat, and go for miles and miles and miles. If we find a road in NC that is 9-miles long, from end-to-end, that is quite amazing. There are a few where one can go longer than that without turning, but darn few.

Even if there are roads that we can ride for longish distances without turning, the name is likely to change several times. E.g.,

L 17.5 Six Forks Rd ---> NL --> BG --> Pokomoke Rd
str 0.7 (x US-1 / Capital Blvd) --> Cheatham St

The above probably won't translate and look nice, but that 18.2 miles with no turns, but the road has five different names. (The road also bends and one starts out riding due north but ends up riding due east.

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Old 04-16-13, 05:36 AM   #16
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My friend Dean, this year working on his fourth consecutive 10K-Hound (which is nothing to Lone Stars, but he's the only one in NC), gives people the following advice about creating a Permanent or Permanent-Populaire route:

Take a favorite training or JRA route that you like, tweak it. Esp, if you think you're going to ride it frequently. (A month or so ago, there was some hullabaloo about how to determine if a route is a good route -- someone suggested "number of times ridden" -- Dean's 102k Pop turned out to be the most ridden RUSA Permanent; his 200k Perm turned out to be the second most ridden RUSA Permanent. He's a nice guy, people like riding with Dean. The Pop route is very convenient, esp. for Dean. The 200 is FLAT, and that suits some people all the time, and all the people some of the time (such as when preparing for a FLAT 600 or 1000 or 1200 in and about and around eastern NC.)

BTW, my opinion is that trying to gauge how good a route is by the number of times it has been ridden: NOT a good idea. There are too many variables such as longevity and location and what-not. If you're planning a trip and would like to ride a Permanent in an area unknown to you, contact one or two of the Perm owners where you are interested in riding, inform them of your preferences, let the local person suggest a route. A reasonable randonneur ought to take into account all the Perm routes in his/her area and be willing to recommend any of them.
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Old 04-16-13, 07:08 AM   #17
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I assume that there is an equivalent Canadian (and other countries) equivalent organization to RUSA.
See my Links page for some of the other Randonneur organisation:
http://www.machka.net/links.htm
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Old 04-16-13, 07:14 AM   #18
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I forgot to include the following into one of the above to comments / posts:

What I really think makes a good route is:
NO surprise BRIDGE OUT signs!
NO control stores shuttering their doors, permanently!


Both of those happened last year to me & friends on the second ride ever of my Egypt Mtn perm.
Shortest, safe detour added 11-kms to the route.

This year, same route, 2-miles further along, a different bridge is being replaced.
That detour will only add 3-kms.

This year, my new Denny's Store 138k pop (which has only been ridden once):
While searching for information on the next below, I discovered that a bridge is due for demolition / replacement, starting next month. The detour will only be 2-kms.

My brand new "Road to Hicksboro" 205k perm, submitted last Wednesday, approved Thursday, ridden Saturday:
Bridge being demolished / replaced.
The detour will only be 5-kms.
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Old 04-16-13, 07:35 AM   #19
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One limitation on info controls is that they don't make sense on an out-and-back course. The rules don't prohibit that, and I've never seen it done, but it limits what you can do with them.

The ideal perm has, in no particular order:
A minimum of turns.
Rural roads.
Low traffic.
Paved smooth roads.
Stores available every 20-30 miles.
Hills to the extent desired by the riders, ranging from pancake-flat for some people to vertical for others.
Scenic.
Shelter from the wind.
No dogs.
Roads that aren't used on other perms and brevets in the area.
Close to the rider's houses for minimum driving.
Desired distance. IE, if you're making a 200k, it would ideally be 200k, not 218k or whatever.
A looped route as opposed to an out-and-back, for variation in scenery.

In real life, you never get all of those in one route, so it depends on what's most important to you.
Good list, and I'll also add a few ...

-- appropriate sun direction. In other words, don't have cyclists riding into the sun. Drivers will also be driving into the sun and will have difficulty seeing the cyclist

-- where there are turns, the fewer that cross traffic the better. In other words, here in Australia where we cycle and drive on the left side of the road, left turns are good because they don't cross traffic.

-- main highways are OK if they've got good shoulders and if they aren't used too much. For example, there's a route we like to do for century rides. It has a quiet service road that runs next to the highway for a while, but then you've got to ride on the highway for a few km before you can get onto another quiet service road. That's OK because we're not on the highway for very long, and there's a decent shoulder.

-- minimal long, long stretches in one direction. As soon as you put a long, long stretch in one direction you're about 99% sure to get a demoralising headwind on that stretch. Twists and turns can be a huge relief.

-- excellent directions. Drive the route. Ride the route. Ride the route like you're looking for an information control at every turn. Have a friend ride the route with you, and give your friend the directions. Pay attention to signs at every turn. Someone mentioned road name changes, and that's quite common in various parts of the world. Google maps might call it one name, but the name on the sign at the intersection might be something different.

-- a theme can be interesting. I created a SR series in central Alberta, and my original 600K route crossed the Red Deer River 10 times. That appealed to me because it was kind of a unifying theme for the ride. (I was the only one who rode that 600K ... it was a good route, but all those river crossings were quite challenging!!). My 400K went to 3 lakes, which was kind of its theme. "Big Things" would make an interesting theme.

-- open shops. I've never designed a permanent and don't know how long they can be, but I have designed a SR series and one issue out in the middle of central Alberta is that shops in small towns tend to close by about 6 pm. That's OK for a short ride, but can make for a very long evening/night when nothing is open. On my 400K route, if you were a quick rider, you'd reach a particular town before 10 pm which was when the the last service station closed. If you were slow, you wouldn't make it, and there was nothing else for the rest of the route. So I put a warning on my cue sheet that riders should stock up at the previous town just in case they missed the 10 pm service station.


And ... when you go out for a ride on your own, what are some things you like and dislike?
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Old 04-16-13, 09:19 AM   #20
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The best permanent routes start 0.3 miles from my house. I use them mainly for logging "kms" while training. And while most my training is between 100k and 150k, guess how long my routes are?

I think randonneurs get too caught up in "cheating." With my routes, I could easily stroll on down to the gas station and get a morning chocolate milk. I could then return home, get my wife a baby girl up, eat breakfast and drive out to the state park where the turn around and only "on route" control is for my ride. Spend some time at the state park with the family, buy a candy bar at the visitor center and return home, to stop and pick up a receipt by my house. Or, since a good chuck of the route is traveled by a train, I could just ride the train for more than half the route. I mention this because imposing controls to stop cheaters only makes it burdensome on those that like to ride. The cheaters will cheat, and adding a control won't stop them. Personally, I just like to ride and ride far. I'm not on a crusade to see every cheater hung from the highest tree. In other words, less emphasis should be given to people cutting small corners and more towards making the route more enjoyable for those of us who like to ride and have no desire to cheat. Just my 2 cents.
Mostly, irrelevant (and too long). It's obvious that it's impossible to prevent dedicated cheaters from cheating. But the randonee organizers have a long tradition of doing things in a particular way.

The permanent routes are meant to be training/preparation alternatives to organized brevets. Thus, the idea is that they should be like organized brevets as much as possible.
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Old 04-16-13, 11:38 AM   #21
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The store-closing time is listed as an issue on the Last Chance, and they recommend starting an hour or two before anything opens, then stop for breakfast, and maximize the available time that way. Here locally, the main issues with that are on brevets, where stores close at 10:00 PM or later but you're coming through after that.

Distance between stores becomes more critical for hot rides where you're tanking up on ice and water at stops. With a camelbak and two water bottles, 30 miles is about my limit in the heat.

Some of the items listed ("excellent directions", "riding companions") relate to how the perm is ridden and documented, but that doesn't affect the route itself.

The only real themes I've had ideas for were themes in name only. How about running a perm from Earth, Texas, to Venus, Texas? Sounds great! (Except they're way far apart!) Or Tigertown to Tigerville? One of our local perms is named Red Bandana, after Willie Nelson's customary garb. The first control used to be a Willie museum in Carl's Corner, only it isn't anymore, so there went that theme! My Palmer Romp was intended to be the shorter version of the Bristol Stomp, and that's the name of an oldies song (that route goes through Bristol, Tx).
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Old 04-16-13, 12:16 PM   #22
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Annoying ride partners can turn an otherwise good ride into bleck. Any course can be fun with good riding partners.
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Old 04-16-13, 12:35 PM   #23
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Mostly, irrelevant (and too long). It's obvious that it's impossible to prevent dedicated cheaters from cheating. But the randonee organizers have a long tradition of doing things in a particular way.

The permanent routes are meant to be training/preparation alternatives to organized brevets. Thus, the idea is that they should be like organized brevets as much as possible.
I'll be sure to run all my future posts by you in the future via pm to ensure they meet your standards.
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Old 04-16-13, 01:01 PM   #24
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I'll be sure to run all my future posts by you in the future via pm to ensure they meet your standards.
I guess I'll have to keep in mind that there's some sort of unwritten rule that people aren't allowed to comment about what you post.

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I think randonneurs get too caught up in "cheating."
There isn't really any evidence for this. The rules certainly don't do much to prevent cheating.
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Old 04-16-13, 03:38 PM   #25
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An interesting question about permanents or DIY rides, that I came across in another forum.

If your route has control points where the primary purpose is to gain proof of passage, that control point could be a train station where your proof of passage could be a platform ticket or some such. In theory you could have a route where each control was a station, and each proof of passage was a ticket to the next station with an appropriate timestamp on it.

It would be interesting to see if such evidence was considered acceptable to show the route had been cycled.
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