by Tim Guilford
I have been a member of Potomac Pedalers for 25 years, and have led and created quite a variety of rides in that time. In the beginning, I depended on others to create the cue sheets and lead rides. Fortunately a few of my friends had expert knowledge of the roads in the area (Maryland) and created some classic cue sheets still in use.
After a while, and somewhat selfishly, I realized that if I wanted to ride in a particular area, distance, elevation gain and pace, then I should step up. Turns out, there were other riders who wanted to ride the same rides as me. That worked out pretty well, except that there were often just a handful of riders on these single class rides.
Within the last few years, I have teamed up with Karen Berlage, Jim Quinn, Carol Linden, and others to offer multi-class rides. These are a lot more fun, as we get to get to know riders from all levels. It has pretty much eliminated the concerns about pace inflation. On a multi-class ride you can generally find someone that is riding your pace and distance.
When we put these rides together, we offer varying distances and amount of climbing. A classic example is the Winter Ride from South Germantown Recreational Park. We schedule this ride on every Sunday from December through March. Often we get 30 or 40 riders of all descriptions, sometimes more in good weather. Because the ride is designed somewhat like concentric circles, we see each other several times during the ride and at the rest stop.
With respect to creating the cue sheets, I generally use several tools. I start with an area I want to ride in and pick a ride start location. Generally, I use the start locations listed on the PPTC website (www.potomacpedalers.org). From there, I decide the distance and elevation gain. Fortunately, I know the roads pretty well in the area, and am aware of how flat, hilly or mountainous the roads are. I use RidewithGPS.com to lay out the cue sheet, keeping in mind the general rule of a rest stop every 25ish miles (shorter for newer riders). Knowing these way points and destination, I will begin the mapping process. Fortunately there is an Undo and an Edit function in that software because I usually need a couple of attempts to get the cue sheet just right.
Speaking of “just right,” I have definite opinions on how to lay out the cue sheet. I use Excel rather than the cue sheet available from RidewithGPS. On the spreadsheet, the interval distance must be on the extreme left, next is the total distance, turn indicator and then finally road name. All of this must be in at least 12 point font. It is important to have total distance and turn indicator adjacent on the spreadsheet, as that is the information you need as you approach the turn, since most bike computers show total distance, not interval distance. Finally, be sure that when you format the cue sheet, that riders do not have to turn over or manipulate the cue sheet in between rest stops. I will be available at the Annual Meeting/New Riders Table for help with Cue Sheets. Come see me!
Want to lead a ride but not sure what to do? We can pair you with a Ride Leader Mentor or someone to co-lead a ride with you. Contact Martine Palmiter or Linda Kolko for details.