Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Trans Iowa V11: A Word On Numbers & More

We need to be able to see the numbers! (Image by A Andonopoulous)
Okay, today I am talking numbers for Trans Iowa. I have made pleas in the past for how I like to have these things done, but I want everyone to know I am cracking down on this for v11. My volunteers shouldn't have to dink around with issues concerning identifying riders. So, here's how things are going to be for Trans Iowa V11.

Generally speaking, riders make one big mistake with number placement that is a reoccurring issue from year to year. In the coldness of morning, numbers are pinned to wind jackets, or outerwear, then as the day dawns and temperatures rise, those outer layers get shed, and guess what? The numbers get hidden from view as well. If we could get everyone to move their numbers along with the change of clothing, we'd be good, but ya know- that ain't probably gonna happen now, is it?  Yeah.....I don't think so. However; if you are on yer game, do it that way by all means. By the way, we've also had it where folks start re-layering in the evening and cover up their numbers. This is frustrating as all get out for volunteers and for me as well. Here's why.....

In the last three Trans Iowas, identification has been tied to number plates, not names. (Names are matched up later on), but we've had to make do with using names which circumvents how the roster is laid out, (which is by groups of numbers), and it unnecessarily complicates our jobs on our side. So, this year we're going to ask to see your numbers folks. If they are covered up, you'll have to uncover them. If they are stowed, you'll have to dig them out to show us. I don't think anyone really wants to do that, so let's take a look at some alternatives that alleviate these issues from arising and becoming a PITA for all concerned, shall we?

Steve Fuller coming into CP#1 at T.I.V5. You can clearly see his number here on the handlebars.
Traditional Handle Bar Mount: This is preferred as it removes any possibility for obscurity by clothing changes. isn't very aero. And no- you should not cut your plates down to be aero. I don't really care about aero. I just want my volunteers to see the number clearly. This is one way to do that. If you choose this method, make sure it is secure! We've had a few instances of plates being lost in the wind.

Charlie Farrow chose to tack his number on his hydration pack, which would always be on the outside. (Image by W. Kilburg)
Hydration/Back Pack Mount: This is okay as well. Although we can't see it until you are right on top of the volunteers or we are seeing you from behind. It works well- mostly- as almost all the time folks wear the pack outside of all the rest of their gear and clothing. There might be times when riders would have the back pack covered in event of rain, so that's no good. Also, I've seen back pack mounted numbers get roached due to scuffing or when riders get into their packs a lot and the numbers take a beating. Again- an okay way to do it, but be careful.

Keisuke Inoue wearing his number on his back. (Image by A Andonopoulous)

Pinning Numbers to Your Back/Side: While this is the normal deal for short, XC or CX races, Trans Iowa generally isn't going to be conducive to that sort of number placement due to the need for changing layers, as stated above. If you are diligent in switching the number to the outermost layer at all times, then this would be okay.
Chris Schotz modified his plate a hair, but the number placement is really good and legible.          
Example: If this group of guys came into a checkpoint, who would and wouldn't be easy to identify? (Image by W. Kilburg)
So, preferences are that you mount your numbers on the handlebars. However you chose to do it, they must be visible or you'll have to dig it out at the checkpoints to show my volunteers. Mounting on a handle bar bag would be okay as well.

The last image above reminds me of another topic that I have written on before, but I will risk being repetitive to address it again as a way of reminder. That is "ride right".

Gravel Road Riding Etiquette: So, take a look at that last image above of the group coming over the crest of a hill. Did you notice they are all right of the road center line? This is where an approaching vehicle would expect to see another road user in rural Iowa. Keep in mind that some road users will be traveling at upwards of 50mph or faster and as they crest a hill, they will not be able to avoid anything in the way. This includes cyclists, but is not limited to them. It is expected that while going up a hill, when the view ahead is obscured due to the downhill nature of the road ahead, that any vehicles or users will abide by the "rule of right" and crest all hills on the right side. Make sure you abide by that rule as well.

Farmers: Typically rural Iowans are friendly sorts, but stay clear of their implements of agriculture including tractors and spray equipment. Get off the road completely if it is one of their more ginormous rigs. It's just the safe, right, and friendly way to do it.

Don't Litter!!: I was on a gravel ride in a beautiful part of Southern Minnesota once and was dismayed to see several of the front runners had dumped gel packets and wrappers on the road. This is simply unacceptable behavior and not a good way to show ourselves to the rural residents. I also would add that public urination goes right in this same line of thinking as well. Be smart and prudent and we'll all be fine here. However; if I or one of my volunteers sees any of this sort of activity you will be hearing from us and risk getting DQ'ed.

Okay, get that? If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask now.



gerrireggi said...

Hi Mark,

Yes, I have one question.
It would be very, very helpful for me to know, at whitch mileage these convenience stores are.

It´s for my mental preperation.

Last jear we got it in a post long before- it was good to know.



Guitar Ted said...

@gerrireggi- From the Trans Iowa site: "Convenience stores will be no more than 90 miles apart and all available stops past CP#2 are open 24 hours a day"

So, from the start figure on seeing a convenience store before you go 90 miles, then another before you go another 90 miles, etc....

Grumpy Groom said...

What about the seat-post mounted number plates, a la road racers?

Guitar Ted said...

@Grumpy Groom - We have Tyvek style numbers which are not seat post mount friendly. That wouldn't work for Trans Iowa. Besides the fact that 80% of the riders use a saddle bag of some sort, which also makes that idea not so great.

Steve Fuller said...

Handlebar mount was not very aero, but neither was the pilot of that steed. :)