Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Route Map, the most valuable thing 80% of you will never look at

Tonight, we continue to look at what goes into producing a bike rally. In particular, we look at the lonely, much under appreciated, but extremely important job of the Route Coordinator. Specifically for this post, we focus on the route map.

(A quick aside here. If my posting tonight seems a little distracted, it's because my son is working on his homework on the house computer. This forces me to work off of my laptop in the living room. Unfortunately for me, my wife is watching American Idol in the living room, and no matter how much I beg and plead, she won't turn it off. If I'm forced to endure much more of this show, I'll probably grow breast.)

Back to our discussion of the route map. As I type the words "route map", I can sense a lot of you out there scratching your head, with no idea what I'm talking about. The route map is one of those pieces of paper that you get in your ride goody bag, that you never read, and simply throw away, after you've removed the power bar and the tube patch kit that you'll never use. While I certainly agree that 90% of the stuff you get in the average goody bag can be immediately thrown away, the route map is one that you might want to consider holding on to.

If you are one of that 20% minority who have actually looked at a route map before, you're probably used to looking at something like the following. This is the Rider Route Map for last year's Collin Classic:

Very pretty, isn't it. All of the different routes clearly marked, with no clutter to confuse the riders. Now her is my Route Coordinator map of that same ride:

Notice all of the little dots and icons and arrows that appear on my map. Everyone of those dots represents a route volunteer, or a police officer, or a sign, or a break point. Actually, as Route Coordinator Maps go, this one is actually fairly simple. Here's the Route Coordinator map for the very urban Tour Dallas ride:

Impressive, isn't it? The reason I wanted all of you to see my version of the maps, wasn't to impress you, although I can tell you're extremely impressed, but to show you what goes in to getting a course ready for a bike ride. Every icon on that map has to be planned for. Preparations have to be made. Volunteers have to be recruited and trained on what they will need to do. Signs have to be printed and paid for. Police officers have to be assigned a location on the route, and yes, paid for. Time and a half overtime by the way, to be exact. (Tour Dallas will have 188 police officers on the route this year. Everyone of them earning time and a half to help keep the riders safe. You're welcome.)

So the next time you show up at a local bike ride and pickup your goody bag, instead of just throwing the route map away, go ahead and slip it into your jersey pocket. If for no other reason, just to remind you of what went into getting the course ready for you. Oh, it might also keep you from getting lost.

Next post: Route Volunteers, worth their weight in gold.

Peace out.....Nearly Famous Fred

1 comment:

Joe Bicycle said...

Cool and interesting. I happen to like how your maps are put on exisiting maps of the area the route is going to be on and show all the road names (or numbers).

To me that kind of detail is invaluable for someone such as my self who might have never been out to that particular area of the country before. I hate the kind of maps I have seen for some of the rides such as the MS-150. Not enough detail and labeling to help a first time participant to feel good about navigation should you get separated and not see any signage or markings for the route anywhere.

I was able to get a cue sheet from the MS-150 people and started laying it out on a regular road atlas and will go and drive the course before doing a test ride on it. IMHO I like your maps better..........

Joe Bicycle