• I’m coming in to do a brevet, where can I stay?
    • The “host hotel” for our rides is the White House Ramada Inn in Richland Center. We meet and the rides start from their back parking lot. They can be reached at 608-647-8869.
    • A second good alternative is the Center Lodge. It’s approximately 1/2 mile to the Ramada via the bike trail that runs just behind the hotel. They can be reached at 608.647.8988.
    • Be aware that Richland Center is very popular for weddings and the Ramada Inn is one of the few venues in town that has a room large enough for receptions so it tends to fill up. Also, there are a number of events over the summer (tractor pulls are big here) so you’re advised to make reservations well in advance even if you end up cancelling.
  • I just finished a 400K/600K and it’s the middle of the night – where can I get something to eat?
    • Well, Richland Center isn’t exactly New York and the town pretty much folds up at 11:00. Your best choice nearby is the McDonalds located on US-14 between the Ramada and Center Lodge. Their dining room is open until midnight and their drive thru is open all night but note that McDonalds will not let you go through the drive thru on a bike.
    • A second and probably better alternative is to plan in advance and stock the refrigerator in your room with microwaveable food and your beverage of choice. A supermarket (Wal Mart) is just past the Center Lodge going east on US-14. Both the Ramada Inn and Center Lodge have refrigerators and microwaves in their rooms.
    • A third alternative is the Phoenix Center (bowling alley) about 1/3 of a mile west on US-14 which is open until 2 although they seem to stop serving food on an irregular schedule. Typical bowling alley type food – pizza, burgers, fries, etc., and they occasionally surprise with something else like bbq.
    • There are also a couple of bars in the downtown area that serve food and stay open late. I’ve never been in them but reports are they have the usual bar food: pizza, burgers, etc., and you’re pretty much guaranteed they’ll have beer if that’s your pleasure.
  • I signed up but I’m not going to ride, can I get a refund?
    • It depends. If the ride is cancelled by me for whatever reason, I will give a refund to all registered and paid riders.
    • If the ride is being held and you’ve decided not to come for whatever reason (weather is bad, something else came up, just not feeling it, etc), if you let me know a week in advance I’ll happily give you a refund. After that, there are no refunds. Although our fees are nominal and the loss of your registration probably won’t break the bank, we do incur expenses with each ride and have overhead (like the web site you’re looking at) to support. Also, although my time isn’t worth much, it’s worth something and rest assured the few dollars you might lose will be put to good use (scouting routes, paying for this web site, developing new routes and so on).
  • I’ve decided I’m going to DNF. How do I get back to Richland Center?
    • Uh, ride your bike? If you’re not able to do that a number of larger small towns (a contradiction in terms) have taxi services that are actually fairly reasonable. A convenience store can more than likely hook you up.
  • I’ve never done a brevet before, what do I need besides my bike?
    • Part of the beauty of randonneuring is very little is required in terms of additional equipment. A list that will get you started and will more than likely meet your needs for a long time includes:
      • Clothing for the conditions you expect to encounter (tip: plan for the worst,  not the best weather you might reasonably experience) and the ability to carry them with you.
      • Lights and reflective gear if you’ll be riding at night. The RUSA rules for riders has a discussion on lights and reflective gear along with other rules for completing a brevet successfully.
      • Depending on your tolerance for risk and how careful you are about bike maintenance, spares for various wear items, the tools needed to install them and the ability to make roadside repairs are often key ingredients to finishing a ride.
  • What’s happens when I show up for a ride? Do I just take off whenever I feel like it?
    • No! You should plan on arriving 20-30 minutes before the published ride start. You’ll complete a registration and waiver form (assuming you haven’t advance registered) and receive a brevet card and cue sheet. The cue sheet is the official route that is to be followed to successfully complete the ride. The route has mandatory stops along the way called “controls”. The controls are often convenience stores or some other commercial establishment where the clerk will initial and record the time on your brevet card. Sometimes if there isn’t a commercial facility available an “info control” will be used. This is a designated point e.g., an intersection, where you’ll be required to answer a question about a landmark or feature that’s only visible at that location.
      • Keep in mind that the commercial establishments we visit are in business and not there to serve us for nothing or provide free restroom facilities or water. Make sure they welcome us back by making a few purchases. Saying “please” and “thank you” goes a long way toward insuring a friendly reception next time.
    • The rides start exactly at the time scheduled (see the “Ride Schedule” link, above). You can start up to one hour after the scheduled start time but note that the control close times and overall time allotted are unchanged so you have to make sure you get back on track if you start late.
  • OK, I did the ride and have my completed brevet card, now what?
    • You sign the back of the card. This certifies that you’ve completed the ride according to the rules. You then turn it in to the RBA if he’s there or follow whatever procedure he’s laid out beforehand for returning the completed card. This might include leaving it in an envelope at the desk of the hotel or mailing it.
    • The RBA will review your brevet card and assuming there are no issues will certify your ride to RUSA.

New routes

This “route design” stuff seems pretty easy, I mean after all, there’s ridewithgps, Strava and a ton of other mapping tools. Sit at the computer, plot out a route – done! Is that all there is to it?

Well, no…

Here’s the process for developing a new route:

  1. I sketch the route I’ve got in mind out (yes, in ridewithgps) to lay out the general direction and shape of the route, to see if it’s close to being the desired distance and then print out the unformatted cue sheet that results.
  2. I drive the complete route for the first time in order to determine whether the roads I’ve chosen are viable, are safe and make up an interesting route. I also use this trip to explore alternatives. I might drive 250-300 miles for a 200K route exploring alternatives. Usually, my wife drives while I make extensive notes.
  3. I refine the route (cue sheet) in ridewithgps. Note that I use the terms “ridewithgps” and “cue sheet” as being essentially equivalent. I try very hard to make sure they are EXACTLY the same (see notes below on route changes/navigating) so people that are using a GPS to navigate get the same benefit as those who use the cue sheet. For example, if I put on the cue sheet “caution: steep downhill” I ALSO put that in the ridewithgps route so it’ll show up for GPS users.
  4. I drive the entire route a second time using the revised cue sheet. The purpose is to view the route as a whole with the changes made from the first trip and make additional notes that I want to put in the cue sheet/ridewithgps route. I also use this trip to develop locations and questions for info controls.
  5. I incorporate the changes & notes from (4) into the cue sheet/ridewithgps route and put the cue sheet in its “final” form. I then drive (or ride) the entire route a third time. On this trip, I try hard to “see” the route for the first time as it would be experienced by a rider. How are the climbs? Is there adequate period to recover/gain time rolling on flats before the next big climb? How are the downhills? Any sketchy descents or curves?
  6. I make any changes from (5) and submit the route to RUSA for approval.
  7. Prior to actually hosting the ride, I drive or ride the route once again. Verifying the road signs and checking for road conditions and/or road closures.

Easy right?

So which one takes priority, the gps or cue sheet?

I’ve said above that I try to make the gpx file I provide on ridewithgps match the cue sheet exactly BUT, as I say in many places on the web site: the cue sheet is your official “guide to the ride”. When in doubt (and even when not) – follow the cue sheet.

It occasionally happened (twice in the past two years) that there are last minute route changes necessitated by road construction. When that happens, I frantically develop a good route alternative that still meets the required distance and is safe to ride. I then produce:

  1. A revised cue sheet.
  2. A brevet card that matches the cue sheet.
  3. A ridewithgps file that matches the cue sheet.

In that order! If I’m pressed for time, the revised ridewithgs might not get done or might get sent out at the last minute. The cue sheet will always be correct to the best of my ability.