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Sportive saboteurs

rickyriderrickyrider Posts: 294
Hi all,

Took part in a nice century ride yesterday - the Chiltern Big Dipper - fantastic weather and a really nice course. However, there was clearly a problem with members of the public messing with some of the signing and it ended up with a load of people taking wrong directions at various points of the course. The course organisers even flagged it as a problem in the post-ride email. Not having taken part in many organised rides, is this a widespread problem? If so, it's pretty annoying as it means the official times at the end tend to be pretty mixed up and not at all accurate, not to mention it being a pain to try and sort out en route.

I guess downloading routes onto Garmins etc is about the only fail safe way of getting round this problem. Although you could have fun coming up with ways to make the signs non tamper-proof...

Posts

  • toontratoontra Posts: 1,160
    I've suffered from this on two separate sportives. I don't rely on signs any more - I get a route from somewhere/anywhere and put it in the Garmin. In any case, following signs has other potential problems - if you go off route for any reason then there are no longer any signs - problem! Can be a long retrace till you pick up the route.

    Following other riders can also be a big mistake!


    a serious case of small cogs
  • BobbinogsBobbinogs Posts: 4,928
    Hi Ricky,

    I think this is pretty much an inherent risk of most sportives where one is relying on being shown the way. From what I have read, some suffer more than most from nicked or moved signs which must be a tad disheartening for organisers and riders alike.

    I predominantly ride audaxes but even these can be prone to official road signs being up one day and completely missing the next (ref: on Exmoor the other week).

    I guess sportive riders could make up route cards or take Garmins, etc., but following a route card would lessen the appeal for most.

    I have been surprised that on 3 of my recent audaxes some riders turned up without the route card or even a map, preferring to rely on "following someone who knows the way" so may be the only way forward for all is a small fat chap leading out routes on a moped, err, or may be several going at different speeds.
  • ScrumpleScrumple Posts: 2,666
    I found myself in Rome after the last sportive I entered in the Peak District.

    Apparently, all roads lead to Rome. A real pity if you are trying to get to anywhere else.

    These organisers should think on....
  • Bobbinogs wrote:
    Hi Ricky,

    I think this is pretty much an inherent risk of most sportives where one is relying on being shown the way. From what I have read, some suffer more than most from nicked or moved signs which must be a tad disheartening for organisers and riders alike.

    I predominantly ride audaxes but even these can be prone to official road signs being up one day and completely missing the next (ref: on Exmoor the other week).

    I guess sportive riders could make up route cards or take Garmins, etc., but following a route card would lessen the appeal for most.
    .

    This is an interesting point. Many sportivers tend to prefer sportives on the basis of following route signage as a sense of security. However, that sense of security can be a falsehood. For a start, signs may be tampered with or even incorrectly displayed. I suppose that at least audaxes encourage riders to take responsibility for themselves. I would rather be able to take responsibility for getting myself out of a tricky situation than rely on potentially unreliable route signage.
  • fridgeboyfridgeboy Posts: 37
    I did an event a month or so ago (The Spring Onion I think) that used spray painted arrows on the road and it worked very well. Don't know if the paint disappears after a month or so, but it may be a more tamper-proof solution.

    I don't think the majority of sportive entrants are too interested in route cards and looking at signposts - they just want to get on with riding and achieve a good time.
  • fridgeboy wrote:
    I don't think the majority of sportive entrants are too interested in route cards and looking at signposts - they just want to get on with riding and achieve a good time.

    With audaxes that is becoming pretty academic nowadays. Most organisers provide GPX files and many riders are using GPS. Riders simply follow their bleeps and don't have to worry about cards or finger posts.
  • MRaddMRadd Posts: 205
    I was actually working as neutral service at a nearby event that crossed the route of the Chiltern Dipper a lot. (Princes Risborough Sportive)

    I have to say their signage was shocking! Hand written most of them, no real continuity in the signs either. Most were ok, Yellow sign, black arrows. But a majority were White card with just an arrow and in tiny writing, Chiltern Dipper.

    Thes ones used for the Princes Risborough, were far superior. ALL the same. Loads of warnings for bumpy roads, dangerous descents. I actually spoke to one or two people doing the dipper, who were actually fuming by the side of the road, because of the poor signage!
    : "Why don't i remember breaking my face?" :

    : Semi Professional Grease Monkey, Full time Tea boy... :
  • rickyriderrickyrider Posts: 294
    MRadd wrote:
    I have to say their signage was shocking! Hand written most of them, no real continuity in the signs either. Most were ok, Yellow sign, black arrows. But a majority were White card with just an arrow and in tiny writing, Chiltern Dipper.!

    Yes, a few signs were a little unclear, but on the whole they seemed ok I thought. But however good the signs are, there is nothing you can do if a few locals / irate drivers decide to lark around. I guess the best bet in future is to go down the garmin gpx file route
  • gsk82gsk82 Posts: 2,703
    fridgeboy wrote:
    I did an event a month or so ago (The Spring Onion I think) that used spray painted arrows on the road and it worked very well. Don't know if the paint disappears after a month or so, but it may be a more tamper-proof solution.

    I don't think the majority of sportive entrants are too interested in route cards and looking at signposts - they just want to get on with riding and achieve a good time.

    the big g in east yorkshire has this also.i was retracing some ofthe route the other week and still using the arrows on the floor from last year when i was unsure. they had a small one before every junction and one just after, as well as the signs on road signs etc. just a handy way to check you've made the correct turns
    "Unfortunately these days a lot of people don’t understand the real quality of a bike" Ernesto Colnago
  • fridgeboy wrote:
    I did an event a month or so ago (The Spring Onion I think) that used spray painted arrows on the road and it worked very well. Don't know if the paint disappears after a month or so, but it may be a more tamper-proof solution.

    I don't think the majority of sportive entrants are too interested in route cards and looking at signposts - they just want to get on with riding and achieve a good time.

    Most of the Sportives in Ireland would be signed like this.
    I can say from experience that its a thankless job if you do not get good weather inthe run up :D
    In our own event we have 3 routes. Mark the route with Event Initials WLPD every 5 miles and before and after Junctions usually in Yellow. Highlight Route splits for shorter Routes in White. And any area where Caution is needed is done in Red.

    Done with a stencil with letters maybe 6 inches it does not become an eye sore, though we do have a very understanding local council which understands the value of the events to the area
    Go neiri on bothar leat.
  • I organized the Rutland CiCLE Tour at the weekend and we had 6 signs removed, three in Oakham and three on the 54 mile route. Many riders were sent off course from the outset in the town.

    I will be marshalling the town instead of signing it next year. I will also be trying to find someone who know the route in detail to drive ahead of the event by about an hour to check the signs. Still won't deal with interference during the event, but bound to help to some extent.

    In towns you can sort of expect it because there are people walking about and sometimes just mess with things. The bit I can't accept is in the rural areas where there is no pavement and someone will have to drive by, find somewhere to pull in and take the sign away. Why go to that trouble? That is a lot more that just passing casual interference and if I ever catch anyone doing it they better hope it is not one of the signs I use that is attached to a spike.

    There, I feel better now I've got that out. :)

    On the idea of painting on the road, that's not legal and most Councils would pull you up on it unless, as stated somewhere above, they are supportive and turn a blind eye.

    The last point I would make is a plea to the riders themselves. I put in the starting instructions that as soon as they feel a sign has been moved and they are being led off course they should ring me so I can correct it. I know that riders didn't do this, the only ones that did contact me were two riders I know personally from local clubs. I don't ask that people do this for my benefit, but think of your fellow riders behind you who may have their day ruined by getting lost.
  • pollys_bottpollys_bott Posts: 982
    Having ridden the Rutland CiCLE Tour on Saturday I must say that I found the signage OK and didn't notice any missing until right at the end, but gumption and a basic sense of direction got us through the town - apologies for not reporting it to you. I didn't miss any at the start but that was because I knew the route out of town and I wasn't looking for arrows telling me what I already knew...

    ... which leads me onto this. When people go to different areas of the country to ride on unknown roads, do they not look at maps / routes beforehand to get a general picture in their heads of where they're heading? The route map provided on Saturday clearly showed the way out of Oakham, maybe it's just me but where is the difficulty in looking at that map for a minute or two and working out that you turn left after the level crossing, left at the end of the road then left again following signs for Ashwell? As one of the earlier posters said, it's all about taking a bit of personal responsibility - or not, as the case may be.

    Whilst on the subject of directions, it was unfortunate that Google maps still shows Catmose College as being on Cold Overton Road near the hospital rather than on Huntsmans Drive - judging by the number of confused-looking cyclists driving up and down outside the hospital I wasn't the only one led astray by this... :lol:
  • rickyriderrickyrider Posts: 294
    ... which leads me onto this. When people go to different areas of the country to ride on unknown roads, do they not look at maps / routes beforehand to get a general picture in their heads of where they're heading? The route map provided on Saturday clearly showed the way out of Oakham, maybe it's just me but where is the difficulty in looking at that map for a minute or two and working out that you turn left after the level crossing, left at the end of the road then left again following signs for Ashwell? As one of the earlier posters said, it's all about taking a bit of personal responsibility - or not, as the case may be.

    Of course its useful to look at a map beforehand and get a general picture in your head of where you are going, and would imagine most people do this anyway. But that is very different to navigating your way around 100 miles of small country lanes! Naturally people can take a map with them etc, but I'd argue that for many people taking part, they are aren't interested in reading maps at all - rather enjoying the route and the scenery without constantly having to stop and check directions. It's really nice on occasions to be able to just ride a new part of the country without stop starting every 30 mins.

    FWIW I've decided the garmin route seems best!
  • pollys_bottpollys_bott Posts: 982
    rickyrider wrote:
    Of course its useful to look at a map beforehand and get a general picture in your head of where you are going, and would imagine most people do this anyway.But that is very different to navigating your way around 100 miles of small country lanes!

    I was referring specifically to those who got lost within half a mile of the start :wink: as per the post from the Rutland CiCLE organiser.
    rickyrider wrote:
    Naturally people can take a map with them etc, but I'd argue that for many people taking part, they are aren't interested in reading maps at all - rather enjoying the route and the scenery without constantly having to stop and check directions. It's really nice on occasions to be able to just ride a new part of the country without stop starting every 30 mins"

    Of course no-one wants to be stopping every 'x' miles to check that they're on course, I was merely suggesting that it might be beneficial to have a basic comprehension of where they are and / or should be heading by doing a bit of map-reading prior to the event, and then also looking at signposts / village names whilst en route rather than relying 100% on directional arrows. Because, as has been shown, all it takes is one missing arrow for some people to get lost. If people want to rely solely on the arrows then obviously that is their prerogative, but then they run a greater risk of going off course...

    Apologies if I'm coming across a bit harsh: it must be a consequence of working in logistics with drivers who rely solely on prat-navs and who ring me up to say that 'I'm stuck in the snow on the A14', but they can't tell me where on the A14 because they haven't looked at any road signs since turning off the M1... :roll:
  • rickyriderrickyrider Posts: 294
    rickyrider wrote:
    Of course its useful to look at a map beforehand and get a general picture in your head of where you are going, and would imagine most people do this anyway.But that is very different to navigating your way around 100 miles of small country lanes!

    I was referring specifically to those who got lost within half a mile of the start :wink: as per the post from the Rutland CiCLE organiser.
    rickyrider wrote:
    Naturally people can take a map with them etc, but I'd argue that for many people taking part, they are aren't interested in reading maps at all - rather enjoying the route and the scenery without constantly having to stop and check directions. It's really nice on occasions to be able to just ride a new part of the country without stop starting every 30 mins"

    Of course no-one wants to be stopping every 'x' miles to check that they're on course, I was merely suggesting that it might be beneficial to have a basic comprehension of where they are and / or should be heading by doing a bit of map-reading prior to the event, and then also looking at signposts / village names whilst en route rather than relying 100% on directional arrows. Because, as has been shown, all it takes is one missing arrow for some people to get lost. If people want to rely solely on the arrows then obviously that is their prerogative, but then they run a greater risk of going off course...

    Apologies if I'm coming across a bit harsh: it must be a consequence of working in logistics with drivers who rely solely on prat-navs and who ring me up to say that 'I'm stuck in the snow on the A14', but they can't tell me where on the A14 because they haven't looked at any road signs since turning off the M1... :roll:

    I think you missed the point of my original post... granted most people can find their way back without any trouble - we all did on Sunday. But knowing that many people ended up cycling different routes made the final timings a bit pointless and this was my issue.

    I know sportives 'aren't races' but its still fun to compare yourself against others, which only works if you have all cycled the same bits of road!
  • term1teterm1te Posts: 1,462
    I've missed poor signs and ended up going 20 miles in the wrong direction. A black arrow tied to a black farm gate, shouldn't have had my head down. Other events I've done over here have had arrows painted on the road. Works really well, one arrow about 100 m before the turning, and another at the junction. I guess they use some special paint that last a few months. I can't imagine you'd get away with that in the UK, but it works a treat and is much harder to sabotage.
  • pollys_bottpollys_bott Posts: 982
    rickyrider wrote:
    I think you missed the point of my original post... granted most people can find their way back without any trouble - we all did on Sunday. But knowing that many people ended up cycling different routes made the final timings a bit pointless and this was my issue.

    I know sportives 'aren't races' but its still fun to compare yourself against others, which only works if you have all cycled the same bits of road!

    Guilty as charged - apologies for going off on a tangent.
  • marge602marge602 Posts: 22
    I did the 54 mile route of the Rutland CiCLE tour on Saturday. I was one of many who got lost from the off, and finding the finish in Oakham was somewhat of a challenge. In the end i did just over 57 miles.

    I agree with rickyrider though; whilst it wasn't meant to be a race it's difficult to compare your time with that of others if there are a few extra miles done during the event. That said, i worked out how long i would've taken without the detours by calculating it using my average speed.

    It was the first sportive i've ever done, and i have to say it was fantastic. I was in two minds but am really glad i signed up for it. Thanks to sportive challenge for organising it. Will definitely be doing some more.

    Lastly, hi to the bloke on the grey Trek Madone who i rode with after the food stop. Still can't believe someone can descend that quickly on a road bike!


    Regards

    Marge
  • pollys_bottpollys_bott Posts: 982
    marge602 wrote:
    Lastly, hi to the bloke on the grey Trek Madone who i rode with after the food stop. Still can't believe someone can descend that quickly on a road bike!


    Regards

    Marge

    That descent down to Eyebrook Reservoir was nice, and the road out of Ridlington was fun eh? I got up to 71kph before losing my nerve and throwing out the anchors... :lol:

    Glad you enjoyed it, East Leics & Rutland are good areas for riding...
  • oldwelshmanoldwelshman Posts: 4,733
    fridgeboy wrote:
    I did an event a month or so ago (The Spring Onion I think) that used spray painted arrows on the road and it worked very well. Don't know if the paint disappears after a month or so, but it may be a more tamper-proof solution.

    I don't think the majority of sportive entrants are too interested in route cards and looking at signposts - they just want to get on with riding and achieve a good time.

    I have ridden in USA when working there and the club there painted arrows on junctions on roads in different colours for training routes which was good as no one got lost when dropped :D
  • So the moral of the story is always carry a paper copy of a map with a trace of the route. I just photocopy a decent road map and trace on the route that I need. Have used this technique in Sportives, Audaxes and reliability trials, 8)
  • rickyriderrickyrider Posts: 294
    So the moral of the story is always carry a paper copy of a map with a trace of the route. I just photocopy a decent road map and trace on the route that I need. Have used this technique in Sportives, Audaxes and reliability trials, 8)

    I think you're right - I'd ultimately trust this more than relying on a Garmin to guide the way. The idea of painted arrows on the road is a good one, but unless they washed away pretty quickly, they'd be a bit of an eyesore for locals. I certainly wouldn't like them on my local roads.
  • vorsprungvorsprung Posts: 1,953
    So the moral of the story is always carry a paper copy of a map with a trace of the route. I just photocopy a decent road map and trace on the route that I need. Have used this technique in Sportives, Audaxes and reliability trials, 8)

    I use pages torn from a cheap road atlas
  • de_sistide_sisti Posts: 1,184
    In the Semaine Federale in France, they use A5 size printed paper arrows pasted on the
    road just before and after each turning. The background to the arrows are different colours
    each day so that the riders know they are on the correct route. Has worked flawlessly for
    over 20 years. :idea:
  • AlunPAlunP Posts: 106
    never foget pre-ride sabs...

    http://3415milesonabike.blogspot.com/
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