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Coast'n Fjords Conundrum: What Happened After
In the aftermath of the Lower Mainland Summer 200 km brevet, apparently a very successful Coast 'n Fjords 200 on July 9th, we inadvertently began to notice some discrepancies. One of us, checking Strava flybys just for fun, saw that a rider seemed to have used the route sheet as a recommendation rather than as required routing. ("Us" and "We", by the way, are the Event Organizer, Morgan; Lower Mainland Regional Coordinator, me - Mike; and various members of your board of directors.) When I checked the report of missed routing by looking at the rider's Strava activity, I saw that it wasn't just one rider that had done it, it was two.
When I mentioned it to Morgan, he hadn't noticed, but he did say that two guys had needed to circle the parking lot to get to 200. He saw they'd missed a control, so he DQ'd them. Now we have four. In the meantime, another rider had uploaded his control card but supplemented it with an email saying he'd tried and he'd tried, but he couldn't find the control at 216th and 132nd. Now we have five. But because there was no control at 216th and 132nd, we now have a clue!
I talked to the first two riders that had gone off course. I explained the route. They were absolutely flabbergasted that they had not followed the route and had missed a control. "Well," they said, "We were just following the tandem!" What! Now we have seven. (Though it turns out that the tandem was on the correct route. But then there was confusion: why are you guys going that way? Who is right?)
I don't want to belabour this. We know that these kinds of incidents tend to happen in most brevets (not intentionally, for the most part; these are pretty much all inadvertent). I actually suspect they are happening more often lately. The increasing use of turn-by-turn directions from cycling computers, Garmins, apps, or the like, and the uncertain reliability of GPX, TCX, or FIT files (and/or operator error!) plays a part. But so does our current, Covid-inspired method of sending Good-to-Go letters to registered riders and having riders print their own route sheets and control cards. There are lots of avenues for errors to crop up.
Whatever the reasons, the fact remains that we have rules that must be followed. We do not have discretion on these rules for they are ACP rules that apply to all clubs world-wide. ACP homologates our brevets; essentially, they are the sanctioning body. There is also the matter of honor: when you sign your control card you are asserting on your good name that you followed the rules and you did what you say you did on your control card. This is a serious thing.
What are the rules? I encourage everyone, new rider or seasoned veteran, to read (and reread) the Rules page on our website (https://www.randonneurs.bc.ca/introduction/rules.html). If there is anything there that is unclear or confusing, for goodness sake, get in touch with one of your Directors! I will be chairing a sub-group this coming winter off-season to clarify various aspects of the rules and their interpretation. Please let me know if you are interested in participating.
To highlight, the critical rules that were bent and which inspire this article are:
1) Riders are responsible for following the official route sheet. If a rider leaves the course, for whatever reason, they shall return to the spot they left the course and continue from there. Let's unpack this. It means, firstly, you must have the correct, final, official route sheet in your possession. Turn-by-turn electronic files are not official. Use them at your own risk. Second, if you take a wrong turn, you must return to the point at which the error was made and take the right turn. Following the wrong two sides of a square, for instance, even though the distance may be the same or greater, is not permitted. Third, to clarify, riders may purposefully leave the course (for food or water, for rest, for mechanicals, for other reasons) but riders must return to the point at which they left the course and carry on from there. It's a good idea, though not required, to note the times one leaves and returns to the route. Time limits must be respected.
2) Riders must check into each control within the time limits and verify their presence at the control. This means noting the time of passage. It means acquiring a signature if the control is staffed. It means correctly answering the control question if it is an information control. It means that, if a rider should fly by a control without realizing it, they must back-track, or otherwise return to the control location, acquire the missed signature or information, and carry on from there. In combination with the following-the-route rule, controls must be visited in the order they are listed on the control card.
So. What happens to our wayward Coast 'n Fjords riders? Organizer Morgan was slammed by deadlines and time pressures and last-minute course closures, and did not upload the final route sheet until the evening before the brevet. By then, several riders had already downloaded the posted route sheet and (incorrect) electronic file. We concur that better notification of late changes could have been made. We allow that riders were following what they thought was the correct route (paper or electronic) to the best of their ability. We admit that everyone, riders and organizers, may be getting a bit lackadaisical about riding the routes. We have three main consequences:
1) The wayward riders will still receive credit for completing the course; their ride will be homologated, but with a finish time of 13:29. (Further, if you are a rider who was using the wrong route sheet, please fess up! Your finish time will become 13:29, but nothing else will change.)
2) Organizers will be expected to adhere to stricter guidelines about posting brevet information and providing notification about updates. Organizers will also be more diligent in scrutinizing and verifying rides. Time penalties or disqualifications can, and will, be applied as necessary from now on. Riders, you have been warned.
3) The Regional Coordinator will prepare an article publicizing the errors, noting what went wrong, and stressing the necessity of good randonneuring rule-following practice. That is this article. I hope you enjoyed it. As always, if you have any comments, concerns, questions, suggestions, anything, please let me know.
Go to: Event Page (Database)
October 11, 2022