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Is randonneuring really about accumulating riding miles?

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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

Is randonneuring really about accumulating riding miles?

Old 01-07-22, 08:36 PM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
The world has definitely changed since I last rode a brevet. I kinda like brevet cards and the occasional info control (sort of like a mini scavenger hunt), but wonder if I will need to buy a GPS to get with the program again.
What I have found is that RBAs are getting worse at making accurate cue sheets. Find out if the route designer rides with a GPS. Especially on something like a 1200k.

I have an 810 someone gave me that I would be willing to pass on for free if you want it. I don't have any spare mounts or usb cables though.
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Old 01-08-22, 10:02 AM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
...The world has definitely changed since I last rode a brevet. I kinda like brevet cards and the occasional info control (sort of like a mini scavenger hunt), but wonder if I will need to buy a GPS to get with the program again.
Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
What I have found is that RBAs are getting worse at making accurate cue sheets. Find out if the route designer rides with a GPS. Especially on something like a 1200k...
I can understand why someone might prefer the simplicity of cue sheet navigation, but it's becoming a very small minority, and making a good cue sheet is a lot of extra effort for the organizers compared to publishing a gps route. You have to pre-ride the course with the cue sheet, make notes along the way, update the cue sheet when you get home and print copies for the riders. With a gps route you can just drive the route to make sure no roads are closed and publish the route on rwgps. It's hard to justify all the extra effort for the cue sheet if nobody is going to look at it. I would definitely let the RBA know if you plan on using cue sheet navigation, and someone may put a bit more effort into it. I've done a lot of pre-rides and cue sheet updates over the years and don't mind doing it if someone is going to actually use it, but I'll skip it if I think everyone is going to use the gps route anyway.

I used cue sheets for a long time, then I got a gps as a back up and now I just use the gps. I thought I would miss the cue sheet navigation, but I really don't, especially at night.
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Old 01-08-22, 11:41 AM
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My local audax club uses RideWithGPS which auto-generates the cue sheet as well. Then just manually add points for the controls (and maybe tweak the description of some of the entries) and it's done. The cue sheet is printed on the brevet card and is also provided for people to download, but most people just grab the route itself and put it on their cycling computer.
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Old 01-08-22, 11:45 AM
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I always use a cue sheet, even though I primarily navigate with my gps. I like to know about the next turn, if I'm on the road with the right name, and so on. If nothing else, the volume on my garmin is very low, and it doesn't keep telling you that you're off course with a visual cue. These are things that aren't a setting, you're just screwed if they bite you. So a cue sheet can be pretty important. If I'm not familiar with a ride, I try to check the cue sheet if the organizer releases it in time. I have a gps, but they aren't fully reliable. So I keep track on the cue sheet. I know that most experienced randonneurs do that because they have been burned before.

The thing is, if nobody on the pre-ride is using the cue sheet, that's information that needs to be shared. I know how that is, you just keep riding because someone on the pre-ride knows the course and nobody cares what the cue sheet says.

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Old 01-08-22, 11:48 AM
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I also use a cue sheet myself, but it's the one that's displayed on my Garmin 1030. I often manually update the route with points of interest such as petrol stations and convenience stores before uploading the route to the Garmin, so these will show up on the Garmin's cue sheet as well. Best use for me is that it tells me how far to go until the next turn or POI.
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Old 01-08-22, 12:34 PM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
What I have found is that RBAs are getting worse at making accurate cue sheets. Find out if the route designer rides with a GPS. Especially on something like a 1200k.
Originally Posted by kingston View Post
I can understand why someone might prefer the simplicity of cue sheet navigation, but it's becoming a very small minority, and making a good cue sheet is a lot of extra effort for the organizers compared to publishing a gps route. You have to pre-ride the course with the cue sheet, make notes along the way, update the cue sheet when you get home and print copies for the riders. With a gps route you can just drive the route to make sure no roads are closed and publish the route on rwgps. It's hard to justify all the extra effort for the cue sheet if nobody is going to look at it. I would definitely let the RBA know if you plan on using cue sheet navigation, and someone may put a bit more effort into it. I've done a lot of pre-rides and cue sheet updates over the years and don't mind doing it if someone is going to actually use it, but I'll skip it if I think everyone is going to use the gps route anyway.

I used cue sheets for a long time, then I got a gps as a back up and now I just use the gps. I thought I would miss the cue sheet navigation, but I really don't, especially at night.
Great points! I don't envy all the work that RBAs put into designing and running their routes, and try to show my appreciation whenever I can. My RBA has always had great cue sheets, and in the Before Times, he would give us a pre-ride briefing with any concerns/detours about the route. Between that and his minimal use of info controls (which were pretty much no-brainers), I've definitely been spoiled.

For last year's season, cue sheets and brevet cards were available with EPP as an option, but it's not clear yet whether he'll be using new routes this year or recycling old ones. He's had the routes available with RWGPS for years, so I suspect that's been his primary tool for a while. I'll reach out to him and see if anyone else has expressed interest in cue sheets. I certainly would hate to be the cause of unnecessary work...

@unterhausen, free sounds like too good of a deal to refuse. I'll PM you; thanks for the offer!
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Old 01-08-22, 12:56 PM
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Originally Posted by downtube42 View Post
300k ain't sexy.

200k is the gateway distance, the entry level distance, the ezpz rando ride that might even leave you time to mow the grass in the summer if you're quick. Keeps your R-12 going, keeps you rando fit.

400k is hardcore. You're not bluffing your way through this distance; mistakes will bite you. OTOH, though the day is shot, you can still get up like a fairly normal person the next day.

600k feels epic, whether you sleep or ride straight through. Your first 600k, you look down at your legs in wonder the 2nd day, amazed they still function. Every 600k, something is going to happen.

300k? What's that? Mandatory for an SR series, that's about it.
Aw, I have to disagree. A 300 taught me to suffer. I've never been the same since.
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Old 01-08-22, 02:46 PM
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I don't mind 300k's but I'm never going to ride a 300k perm. OTOH, I would have the Ultra Randonneur award except I didn't ride a second 300k one year.
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Old 01-08-22, 06:14 PM
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From my perspective the cuesheets are much, much better than they were back in the day. And I cannot remember an error on one from either NJ or PA area where prerides seem to always be done and excellent notes about the roads and conditions are helpful. I do admit to have a hard time figuring info controls out and more than once I messed that up but not once was I penalized (I offered my GPS track as proof and pictures of the area). Me and three riders once searched for 10 minutes on a brevet down south and the octapus accepted photos. My favorite was on a 600K where an info control was at a battle site where we had to read all the stuff written and answer a question. Well, I suppose that would have been easy for a speed reader in daylight.....not so easy in the middle of the night. I got the answer wrong and might well have during the daylight hours. LOL

RBAs in my experience do a phenomenal job but they all do it differently and all well done. I use the cuesheet here and there on every brevet but my Garmin is my primary navigation tool

There is a 600K Perm from San Diego to Tucson that I would love to do, it uses very remote roads in Az.
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Old 01-08-22, 10:57 PM
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The mistakes I have found on PA cue sheets (that I remember) happened when they reversed a course. They used to always get Bill O. to pre-ride, and he famously never used a GPS. The problem with that is when he had the course memorized and for whatever reason they changed the cue sheet. Like reversing the course, for example. In Pennsylvania particularly, I think a good cue sheet requires that a second person review it. I made a mistake on my fleche cue sheet (right instead of left) and none of the other team members had looked at the cue sheet at all before the ride, so I have to admit I was somewhat unapologetic.
PA uses a system where you mark up the rwgps cue sheet and feed it through a program. It automagically generates a really nice cue sheet for you. There are other versions of that, but this is really nice. Of course, for me as a perm creator, I don't have to do cue sheets any more, which is a big relief.
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Old 01-09-22, 08:04 AM
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I fix the cuesheets in rwgps so they match the street signs. Rwgps generates really verbose cuesheets but the "review" function they introduced makes it easier to produce a good cuesheet. I do it since it makes for legible cues on my head unit. It's a few hours of work to do a whole series but I've caught a few route glitches and stuff.
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Old 01-09-22, 10:06 AM
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I haven't been keeping track of what rwgps is doing. Hopefully they gave up on trying to become strava (slowly going out of business)
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Old 01-09-22, 10:20 AM
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Aside... I'm sure we can appreciate the list of states in the OP contains about 40% of the US population. With FL and IL added it'd be 50%. And a lot of the populous places that remain are not as hospitable to cycling for whatever reason - frozen winters or blazing summers or governments or citizenry indifferent to grownups on bikes, especially outside the city center.

Similarly, my wife often gets frustrated watching talent shows with online voting and they just ignore the West entirely... but really enough of the population is on Eastern that nothing west of Chicago can affect the vote.
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Old 01-09-22, 12:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
..., my wife often gets frustrated watching talent shows with online voting and they just ignore the West entirely... but really enough of the population is on Eastern that nothing west of Chicago can affect the vote.
I grew up in Minneapolis, while there I worked with a gal from Pittsburgh. She made some comment and I said to her - but you are from the east coast. She replied, I would hardly call Pittsburgh the east coast. I said, It is east of Chicago isnt it?
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Old 01-09-22, 06:27 PM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
I haven't been keeping track of what rwgps is doing. Hopefully they gave up on trying to become strava (slowly going out of business)
Thankfully rwgps isn't beholden to venture capital like Strava is. Both bike clubs I'm in use it and it's been getting better for the most part, I guess the cues from Google or OSM depending on which base map is used.
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Old 01-10-22, 08:00 AM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
What I have found is that RBAs are getting worse at making accurate cue sheets. Find out if the route designer rides with a GPS. Especially on something like a 1200k.
In our defense, one of the things the GPS era has encouraged is taking the nicest routing, even if it's harder to cue. Gone, at least in my region, are the days of "follow signs for route 62 for next 20 miles". That doesn't excuse not checking the cue sheet, but I've had route design choices where ease of cueing l was something I either took into account or actively rejected in favor of the nicest roads.

(Example: a 200k I developed as an overnight; a rider at the finish asked why I stayed on a larger road rather than taking a well-liked parallel road through there. Because the left turn onto the pretty road had no sign, was hidden by trees, and the intersection where it rejoined the big road was nigh-impossible to describe. Plus, people would be coming through in the middle of the night when the "big" road is very quiet anyway. I made exactly the opposite choice in the same location on a 100k intended for daytime, with a confirming "you should see a school on your left" cue right after that section because it was so hard to cue.)
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Old 01-10-22, 08:08 AM
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I pay rwgps for the cue sheet functionality. It annoys me that it's the most expensive option, but it isn't a huge amount of money. I hope they stay away from venture capitalists. And every time I do go back, it does seem like they have improved something.


Someone once compiled a listing of results from RUSA and the number of people that have ridden a 300k is significantly smaller than the number of people that have ridden a 200k. 400k is the classic randonneuring distance. 300k is too short to be sexy. For me, my first 300k was when I realized I could ride as far as I wanted. I got to the 200k mark and felt great and it was only another 100k to the finish. I have noted the phenomenon that I always feel drained after any ride, 200k on up. I rode a 200k before pbp in 2011 and felt like crap afterwards, mostly because it was very hot and I had burns on my upper thighs from my saddle because I had been sweating so much. But I did fine on PBP, other than being so sleepy I slept 6 hours out of the last 12.
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Old 01-10-22, 09:20 AM
  #43  
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
Someone once compiled a listing of results from RUSA and the number of people that have ridden a 300k is significantly smaller than the number of people that have ridden a 200k. 400k is the classic randonneuring distance.
Interesting. With all the talk of PBP and how long it has been running I would have thought 1200k is the classic randonneuring distance. All other rides supposedly are just training for the big 1200k. 100k rides don't really count. 200k are newbie rides. 300k's are the ideal. And 400k is about as far as one can typically ride within a day and without rest. I don't understand why the 600k was even invented. I certainly don't like riding them much. I'd much rather ride a 1000k brevet than a 600k brevet. In fact, I enjoy 1000k's more than 1200k's, go figure. What's the big deal riding a wimpy little 200k tacked onto a 1000k brevet? I just don't see it.
Why do I like 300k routes so much? Well, if you have three of them that depart from the same location and add a 100k route to the mix that starts there too, then it's pretty easy to put together a 1000k ride. And 1000k rides are probably my favorite. They are especially neat because riding just one when classified as a brevet (rather than a string of perms) will typically qualify you for a 1200k event at some future date. Ride the 100k first followed by one of the 300k perms all in day 1. Get as much sleep as you like since you are stringing perms together. Then in day 2 ride the second 300k. And on day 3 ride the 3rd 300k. Can't get much more rando than that. Unfortunately not many members of RUSA share my like for the 300k and routes longer than 300k. Therefore I pretty much have to design all my routes. Oh well.
Designing routes is a definite skill set. And there is no book out there that does a good job explaining how to design a good brevet. And the longer the route, then typically the more skill is required to make it a good one. If you have trouble designing a simple 200k brevet, then you have little hope of being able to design a good 300k route or longer.
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Old 01-10-22, 09:47 AM
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We tend to be USA centric in our thinking. In many parts of Europe, riders stay with their clubs doing normal rides in non-PBP years and randonneuring is indeed focused on qualifying for PBPor sometimes others for some . Indeed, many French riders were initially cut out in 2019 because they did not have the 2019 distance to pre-register. In 2023, I read that they are more generous with quotas for French riders (as they should). A SR series can be thought of a preparation for a 1200K or a significant accomplishment in its own right. I have too much time on my hands right now and was looking at the brevets that DNF riders did leading to 2019 PBP. Three things stood out (sorry, not scientific). 1. Early Series without a lot of brevets afterwards. 2. Flat course 3. Inexperience (higher rusa numbers). Warmer climate riders seemed to drop out more, too.

There are probably a thousand reasons randos like randonneuring. THAT might be a good thread.

BTW....I always felt the jump from 200 to 300k on a hilly route was a real eyeopener for newbie randos.
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Old 01-10-22, 01:27 PM
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Many French riders only do a series and PBP and that's it for 4 years. The idea of the SR series was to get you ready for PBP. I agree that any French rider that rides a series the year of PBP should be able to ride PBP. I think their quota this time is 2500 which is hundreds more than rode PBP in 2019.

I say the 400k is the classic randonneuring distance because a 1200k is just 400k+400k+ 300k+ 200k. Yes, I'm an engineer and I can't add.

I am pretty sure I get better training results from 100k than any other distance. I do seem to get a training effect from a 300k, but the same is true of a 200k. I just don't see the need to pile that kind of mileage on when I can ride 100k and be fresh afterwards. One of my biggest problems with training is riding some nasty long ride with too much climbing and then taking off too many days after. I have to work through that during the SR series, but I'm not going to do that to myself getting ready for a 1200k. And if there was any time I would ride a 300k, it would be after the SR series is over in the summer, because the days are long and the weather is good. Maybe if I was as fast as I was when I was 20 and finish before dinner. Like that's going to happen.

Before the perm changeover, Steve S. put together some point to point 200k's. One stopped at my house and the other at his house. It was fun to do them back to back, but it was too hot when we rode them and really wiped me out. I blame that somewhat for not being quite as fast as I would like during PBP, it was really difficult to recover from. I was thinking about getting a pair of routes approved from here to Hancock and then back the next day. If you have the motivation to ride 3 300k back to back I'm impressed.

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Old 01-10-22, 02:12 PM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
I can't express properly how much I hate info controls that involve walking around looking for the answer. ....
My first brevet was three years ago, I was supposed to document the color of an electrical connector. Later I learned that what they called an electrical connector was what I call a zip tie. I think I spent 20 minutes there trying to figure this stuff out.
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Old 01-10-22, 02:23 PM
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Okay, I laughed. Zip ties are a staple in the U.S. randonneuring world for info controls. Particularly in places that have more signs than other landmarks. I have never used one as an info control though, wouldn't be prudent. You would think people would know what they are called. I would have been confused as well.
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Old 01-10-22, 05:03 PM
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I have one route with a photo control, it's just an historical plaque, I was thinking that making it an info control would be easier for dealing with control cards and photos but now I'm not sure which way to go. We do a kind of epop anyway and I don't know if anyone would be riding without a phone that has a camera.
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Old 01-10-22, 07:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
My first brevet was three years ago, I was supposed to document the color of an electrical connector. Later I learned that what they called an electrical connector was what I call a zip tie. I think I spent 20 minutes there trying to figure this stuff out.
That would annoy me. An electrical connector, to my mind, forms part of the circuit. Zip ties just serve a physical purpose.
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Old 01-11-22, 06:20 AM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
That would annoy me. An electrical connector, to my mind, forms part of the circuit. Zip ties just serve a physical purpose.
It annoyed me a lot. The "electrical connector" that I was supposed to get the color of was on the street sign, but the street sign was next to an electrical utility pole. So, I am spending most of my time looking at the utility pole trying to figure out what the electrical connector is. Eventually I suddenly realized that nobody would put a light green zip tie around the street sign for no purpose, so perhaps that was it? I took some photos and continued.

But the RBA has a tough thankless job, so she never found out how annoyed I was. I politely asked if she was referring to the zip tie? And thanked her for organizing the brevet.

Some riders DNFed that day, I did not. So it ended as a good day for me.
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