This morning, I joined several dozen riders for an informal group ride east of town. It was a route I’d never ridden before, but had been meaning to, so I looked forward to it. And, the ride featured some nice touches: One person drove a sag vehicle, and riders could grab a map of the route, which included a cue sheet showing 20, 44, and 60 mile options.
I could see right away that I would have problems with the sheet. A standard letter-sized sheet of paper, the map filled the top half and the cues on the bottom. But the cues were in tiny print, and since I don’t wear bifocals while riding, I was going to have a tough time reading the small type.
I headed out right behind the lead group, figuring that I’d be fine as long as I could stay with them. I knew several people in that group had done this route before, and knew the way. What I didn’t count on was getting dropped by them before we had gone 10 miles. I found myself riding alone past farm fields and manufactured homes, dodging the occasional dog that came out to give chase.
And then came a corner. Which way to turn? I had folded the cue sheet into a small square, and tucked it under the hem of my left shorts leg. If I was going to be able to read it though, I’d have to stop and pull it out.
So I turned. Yeah, you guessed it. So I doubled back to the corner, and I did stop and hold the tiny cues up to my face to be able to read them.
Two young women caught up to me, and we held a confab at the corner about the correct route. Once in agreement, we headed out.
Yeah, you guessed it. We picked the wrong road. By now, I had tired of the folded cue sheet rubbing against my thigh, so I shoved it into one of the back jersey pockets. When we got to the next corner, my cue sheet was limp and damp, already starting to tear along the folds.
We figured out which way to go that would get us back to the route. At a T intersection, we got into a spirited debate with two other women about whether to turn right or left. I pointed out on my limp, floppy, and damp map that a right turn was in order.
All seemed to be well. A turn was coming up, and we recognized the road as one on the route. The two contentious women went a different direction. My cohorts and I spotted a spigot and hose in the corner of a country cemetery, and stopped to refill our water bottles.
I figured I’d check the map to see how many miles to the next turn, and reached into my jersey pocket to pull it out. Little pieces of soft, wet, paper fluttered away on the breeze. The part I held in my hand tore like a knife going through warm butter.
One of the girls had the same problem, but the other somehow managed to keep her map dry. We realized we had made yet another wrong turn, and got ourselves pointed back to the start of the ride.
Eventually, we made it back – thanks to the dry map. I’ve gotta come up with a way to keep maps and cue sheets dry in the future.
Randonneurs use handlebar bags with clear plastic windows on top for their cue sheets. Other riders use zip ties to secure a cue sheet in a nifty plastic window to their handlebars. A Zip-Loc bag would probably work.
Do you have your own preferred way to keep cue sheets dry and usable? I’d love some ideas.
For get the map. I’m thinking GPS bike computer, 5 or six energy bars, plenty of NUUN, 3 Water bottles and a camelback on this ride going forward
Janice in GA says
Back in the day, I used to carry a ziplock bag to put my map in. We didn’t have cue sheets then (this was in the early 90’s). Then I’d stick the ziplock in the leg of my shorts, right to hand.
I’ve got the bifocals thing too, so I’m not sure how good cue sheets would work for me, unless the print was large. 🙁
It’s been a while since I’ve actually used a cue sheet! On the tandem, we used one of the little plastic sheet holders. Pam clipped it to the back of my jersey with binder clips. Perfect setup for the stoker, and being in charge of navigation gave her something to do. You can imagine the comments I got, however, when we got off the bike and walked around at rest stops and such!
Interesting you should mention the bifocals problem. When we did the Michigan West Shoreline Tour
(http://springfieldcyclist.com/michigan-west-shoreline-tour/) a few years ago, we started out the first day with the cue sheet clipped to my back as normal…and discovered that Pam could no longer read the print! We struggled for a while, then finally stopped at a CVS/Walgreens type store and bought a pair of sunglasses with bifocal cheaters built in. After that, we were fine! And, I now wear those sunglasses when driving her car!
Charles Morgan says
Okay, this won’t help with the ability to read those cue sheets but it will help with carrying them. The website http://www.cueclip.com sells cue clips (in various colors) that use velcro to wrap around a bar/stem and a plastic clip that secures the cue sheet. This keeps it handy so that you can refer to it. If it’s wet out, you can put in in a ziploc and then clip it. That’s what I do, and it works okay.
As far a reading, you might purchase a cheap pair of reading glasses (about $5-$10) from a drugstore and carry those with you?
I have the same problem with small print. Old man’s disease: my arms aren’t long enough. 😀
And I refuse to carry reading glasses on a ride.
I try to print cue sheets in a larger format and then use a zip lock bag to keep it neat.
Steve B says
I agree completely with Charles Morgan except I found similar ones on eBay with metal clips. I had used a handlebar cue sheet bag, but got tired of cleaning the plastic inside and out and also sometimes had a hard time reading my map (I don’t use cue sheets) as far away as the handlebar. The velcro clips work great……you can unclip the map and look at it closely, then easily reattach. No plastic bag is necessary unless you think it will rain. Perfect accessory. Oh, and I get my reading glasses at a dollar store for $4 or $5 dollars.
We use handlebar bags with clear map holders, we also put our maps into clear ziplock bags incase of heavy rain. Now, I wonder, when I rode motorcycles, if you didn’t have a tankbag with a mapholder, we had a map holder that attached via velcro to our lower arm. I think they were made by a company called “Rodegear”, but not 100% sure, maybe they could be adapted for bicycling?
Take care, Ride Safe, have FUN!
B.J. Ondo 🙂
Bifocal glasses for riding aren’t a problem for me. I buy bifocal safety glasses that work extremely well for riding. They’re available up to 3.0 diopter in clear and various sunglasses. Best of all they’re cheap (under $15USD). The ones I buy are from Jackson Nemisis. I don’t have any interest in selling these things, they’re just glasses I find very helpful for riding.
I am quite nearsighted, and have a powerful prescription for that. Do those glasses accommodate prescription lenses?
Not that I’m aware of, sadly.
My sheets go into the handlebar bag. If I need to look at it, I sometimes stop, pull out the sheet and reading glasses. I’m not opposed to doing all that without stopping, doing it all while pedaling.