Author Topic: Managing the spikes at controls  (Read 10918 times)

LittleWheelsandBig

  • Whimsy Rider
Re: Managing the spikes at controls
« Reply #25 on: August 05, 2017, 01:42:55 pm »
The only way you would get >80% compliance on checking out would be for controllers to retain brevet cards when riders check in and return them when they are leaving. This unit does not recommend or endorse that approach.
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...

CrinklyLion

  • The one with devious, cake-pushing ways....
Re: Managing the spikes at controls
« Reply #26 on: August 05, 2017, 02:03:58 pm »
It's be interesting to see what percentage checked out at different controls.  I suspect we got quite a lot of them to at BC. 

And I think that all bananas and flapjacks should be kept behind a checkout desk and you get one when you check out.  Incentivisation :D

CrazyEnglishTriathlete

  • Miles eaten don't satisfy hunger
  • 3x Brimstone ancien 3x Pendle/Tan Hill DNF
    • CET Ride Reports and Blogs
Re: Managing the spikes at controls
« Reply #27 on: August 05, 2017, 02:09:41 pm »
It's be interesting to see what percentage checked out at different controls.  I suspect we got quite a lot of them to at BC. 

And I think that all bananas and flapjacks should be kept behind a checkout desk and you get one when you check out.  Incentivisation :D

+1
Eddington Numbers 118 (imperial), 165 (metric) 505 (furlongs)

mmmmartin

  • BPB 1/1: PBP 0/1
    • FNRttC
Re: Managing the spikes at controls
« Reply #28 on: August 05, 2017, 02:23:16 pm »
I was on the door at Eskdalemuir during the rush and it was busy. From my perspective, it was a truly professional operation by a small number of volunteers under immense pressure for an extended period. I thought they smothered themselves with glory.

Later, I might get around to writing up my experiences: I was at Loughton on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday, then to Moffat then to Eskdalemuir then to Loughton for the Wednesday night, Thursday and Friday. So it was a view of the event shared only by Chris Crossland - we were together for days and days. A finer man never wore socks.

Re: Managing the spikes at controls
« Reply #29 on: August 05, 2017, 02:33:08 pm »
The Louth control really is out on a limb, 80km from Spalding and 100km from Pocklington, it is a an obvious sleep stop especially for riders with an afternoon start.

It was swamped when I was there, no food and no available beds. I think it`s very poor and potentially dangerous if a control can`t provide some food, how difficult is it to cook porridge or toast? It was known that 1500 riders would require a meal here. I  pity riders who, with no local knowledge had to ride 180km through the night on one meal from Spalding.

I don`t think an adequate number of beds can be arranged within the space at Louth.

Maybe another stop, not necessarily a control, within 20 or 30km could spread the load?

Early in my ride planning,I identified the 100 km. gap between Louth and Pock. as the first challenge with a 1.15 start. When I arrived at Louth the bike racks were full and I knew that the control was rammed ,with many more riders still on the road. There was food and I ate and decided to push on to Pock.
In retrospect ,it did me a favour by giving me the spur to keep moving.
The obvious point for a sleep and food stop would be Barton on Humber. You have to go over the bridge to get to Pock. so you don't need all the stamping and barcoding set up , just beds and basic food and drinks.

On the return leg, it was a similar story but the control was coping as riders had been spread out more by the wind and rain. Louth looked a long way on a pitch  black and rainy night.
Lanterne  rouge OTP steeled us to get back on our bikes and go for it, and  the famous five set sail into the night. The journey was epic but in the end it was worth it ,even though I faded in the last 5 miles and was last into the control. It put us ahead of the game,which was to pay off in the fens.
If the orgs. want to keep the logistics simple , the answer is a bigger control at Louth.

Re: Managing the spikes at controls
« Reply #30 on: August 05, 2017, 02:38:22 pm »
Sorry, bit of a rambling post.

One very minor thing I did at Louth was note down the number of wake ups for different times in the morning so that we had advance warning of breakfast numbers, eg. 31 riders waking at 05.00, better have a spare tray of porridge ready.

A more general question: Does a "Control Operating Manual" exist. As a first time volunteer and reading through the various comments here and on facebook I get the impression that things were sometimes done quite differently at different controls. Is there already a manual summarising empirically determined best practices, useful checklists, best practice menus, etc? If so, does someone or a group of people "own" this document?

For example, in designing the route and distances between controls. Let's say that beds are limited to 3 hours per rider and there are 250 beds at a control (as we had at Louth) then the rate limiting factor for throughput for riders requiring sleep at that control is about 80 riders per hour irrespective of food service capacity. So it could take almost 24 hours to process all 1500 riders needing a bed at 100% occupancy, 80 new per hour plus 3 hours to complete sleep. Might it be possible for riders to provisionally book some bed time slots in advance for controls. This could give advance visibility of when the rider numbers are going to peak - useful to controls but also to riders - surely it's better to know in advance that no beds will be available rather than finding out when you get to the control. I realise that there are many reasons why riders won't use the slots they've booked but I think it's better to start with planned utilisation versus time. This also give some advance insight into when volunteers can go and catch some sleep.

Was rider tracking new for 2017? As the event management system evolves each time I'm sure that prediction and planning for peak loads will get easier. In the early hours of Thursday morning at Louth we were expecting another 800+ riders in the 14 hours before we closed and we were anxious about being overwhelmed at some point. The big bulge never materialised and throughput was fairly steady and manageable.

Having had my "first contact" with audax I'd love to get involved in the planning of the 2021 event (after the dust has settled). I used to work in process and industrial engineering and balancing the throughputs of controls taking into account  all rate limiting factors is not unlike planning a new factory to optimise and balance overall throughput through several production stages. Some of what I'm suggesting could be planned using a spreadsheet but some of it (eg. bed booking) would be better coded as an add on to the rider tracking software. I'd be happy to contribute whatever I can to existing systems - again, after the dust has settled.

Andy Corless

  • Doesn't take the p***, says it as it is!
Re: Managing the spikes at controls
« Reply #31 on: August 05, 2017, 02:40:38 pm »
As A LEL rider caught up in the over-crowded Louth control on the first night, as well as being the only other organiser of a 1000 km+ AUK event this season I thought I'd make a couple of points. There's nothing out of the ordinary that's happened in LEL that doesn't happen in any event over 1000 km! Anybody who whinges about Louth is in for a very big shock when they arrive in Loudeac* in 2-years time!

However, most other events don't offer food and beds included in the entry fee either. I suppose when they've paid upfront they'd expect the facilities to be available. I've had similar problems on the Mille Pennines.

* Loudeac's a rather "busy" control on PBP

Andy Corless

hellymedic

  • Just do it!
Re: Managing the spikes at controls
« Reply #32 on: August 05, 2017, 02:51:47 pm »
Sounds like a reallyuseful skillset to offer! I'm sure this will be most welcome after the dust has settled.

The current LEL team are excellent listeners and very adaptable, as is needed with a mushrooming event.

It's sometimes difficult to consider lessons for next time (before they are forgotten, undocumented) without upsetting those who have worked their anatomy off for the current run and need a rest.

I hope the team are having the restful weekend they need and deserve! (I suspect looking at this board should wait a few days for some.)

Carlosfandango

  • Yours fragrantly.
Re: Managing the spikes at controls
« Reply #33 on: August 05, 2017, 03:48:15 pm »
how difficult is it to cook porridge or toast?
Not difficult at all.  Doing it for several hundred people at the same time in an unfamiliar catering kitchen is trickier.  If you want to see how tricky, can I suggest that you register as a volunteer for the catering brigade in a honeypot control for 2021?

Alwyn has already said upthread:
The school is really keen to work with us again, and will do the catering too now that they've seen it happen. It's a shame they wouldn't do it before, as we suffered terrible food shortages in Louth and Spalding; the catering in both was amateurish at times thanks solely to the supplier that I chose to work with. This was my fault too and I was mortified to watch it unfurl.

I will be volunteering in 2021.

I appreciate Alwyn is putting his hand up and saying it should be better, it takes some character to do that, thank you Alwyn.

I think Alwyn is right, you need professional caterers you can rely on. However well meaning and hard working volunteers are it`s unrealistic to expect them to cope.

I`m concerned about solutions for next time and think it may be better to have smaller controls, closer together to prevent the unmanageable situations at "honeypot controls".

mmmmartin

  • BPB 1/1: PBP 0/1
    • FNRttC
Re: Managing the spikes at controls
« Reply #34 on: August 05, 2017, 03:56:23 pm »
it may be better to have smaller controls, closer together
Controls closer = more controls = more volunteers = need more people who can run a control. That's a big ask.They are like hen's teeth.

Re: Managing the spikes at controls
« Reply #35 on: August 05, 2017, 04:28:47 pm »
I think Alwyn is right, you need professional caterers you can rely on. However well meaning and hard working volunteers are it`s unrealistic to expect them to cope.

From my experience, volunteers can cope perfectly well regardless of the numbers, but only if the system is in place and you have a leader in the kitchen - and ideally a leader with a lot of experience of being around cyclists. It's all about leadership, planning and systems. CrazyEnglishTrialthlete did good at St Ives.

I would have thought there's enough experience in the kitchen from 2 bigger LEL's now to fine tune the operation and to share knowledge and experience.

I doubt you will ever control spikes. They are not so easily controllable. Weather plays a huge part. Sometimes it's just convenient for a huge group to congregate on mass at any one time. Bad weather at night is a big factor. The folk that have time in hand, stay put when the weather gets rough as opposed to pressing on, joining the folk that just have to stop because they are so tired. It doesn't take much.
Garry Broad

CrinklyLion

  • The one with devious, cake-pushing ways....
Re: Managing the spikes at controls
« Reply #36 on: August 05, 2017, 04:31:39 pm »
Yeah, there were controls on 2013 and again this time that were running volunteer kitchens that were OK and kitchens run by professional caterers that struggled. 

Danial doesn't need anyone to tell him running out of food isn't OK.  He's already said it isn't OK.  And he's got 4 years to figure out what to do about it plus I think he might want to catch up on some sleep first.

Re: Managing the spikes at controls
« Reply #37 on: August 05, 2017, 05:28:18 pm »
It's be interesting to see what percentage checked out at different controls.  I suspect we got quite a lot of them to at BC. 

And I think that all bananas and flapjacks should be kept behind a checkout desk and you get one when you check out.  Incentivisation :D

I think a clear, dedicated checkout point is helpful. Self checkout (with a controller supervising in case of problems is good; a separate controller sitting on the opposite side of the main entrance works well, with or without flapjack supplies.

Waiting for otherwise busy controllers to come free, or to check in the large group of riders that has just arrived, just encourages you (well, me) not to bother, as does a control desk that's not immediately on the exit path (especially one in a different building).

As for exit data allowing the next control to forecast arrivals better, that's obvious - but I think a lot of riders thought that checking out was more about allowing relatives to keep track, and I heard several volunteers say something like "you don't need to" or "you don't need to bother" when riders asked them where to do so.

Re: Managing the spikes at controls
« Reply #38 on: August 05, 2017, 05:34:40 pm »
Fortunately I didn't experience any issues with any controls; there was always food, although sometimes not necessarily a wide range at night, which is when I did most of my riding.

There were always beds as well.

However - I spent much of my time just ahead of the 'bulge' and was checking how close they were getting to me. That appeared to help massively.

Alwyn: don't beat yourself up over it. Logistical challenges like this happen and riders did need to carry some additional food, not just relying on a big meal at each control.

Re: Managing the spikes at controls
« Reply #39 on: August 05, 2017, 05:49:24 pm »
If incentive to check out is required, you could combine it with a shoe desk.

Check out, or cycle on in your socks.

That would also help manage shoe removal, which i believe caused a snag or two.

CrazyEnglishTriathlete

  • Miles eaten don't satisfy hunger
  • 3x Brimstone ancien 3x Pendle/Tan Hill DNF
    • CET Ride Reports and Blogs
Re: Managing the spikes at controls
« Reply #40 on: August 05, 2017, 09:02:04 pm »
I think Alwyn is right, you need professional caterers you can rely on. However well meaning and hard working volunteers are it`s unrealistic to expect them to cope.

From my experience, volunteers can cope perfectly well regardless of the numbers, but only if the system is in place and you have a leader in the kitchen - and ideally a leader with a lot of experience of being around cyclists. It's all about leadership, planning and systems. CrazyEnglishTrialthlete did good at St Ives.

I would have thought there's enough experience in the kitchen from 2 bigger LEL's now to fine tune the operation and to share knowledge and experience.

I doubt you will ever control spikes. They are not so easily controllable. Weather plays a huge part. Sometimes it's just convenient for a huge group to congregate on mass at any one time. Bad weather at night is a big factor. The folk that have time in hand, stay put when the weather gets rough as opposed to pressing on, joining the folk that just have to stop because they are so tired. It doesn't take much.

I am putting together a long list of bullet points on running catering at an LEL Control which will be available to future controls as I would rather like to ride LEL again in 2021.  I learnt a lot in 2013 from the school catering manager at Barnard Castle who helped us out and was able to put this into practice this time around.

I was also fortunate in having a very good controller (PhilD) both times and some excellent volunteers, some of whom have posted above, who were committed to doing what ever was necessary to get food out to the riders.

Getting 1400 riders fed without anyone having to wait more than a minute or two for food on Sunday was as memorable an experience as I have ever had in Audax.
Eddington Numbers 118 (imperial), 165 (metric) 505 (furlongs)

Re: Managing the spikes at controls
« Reply #41 on: August 06, 2017, 08:47:52 pm »
We [the ACME Peloton + assorted hangers-on] arrved at Louth from the 16:00 start and riding through the night, to find it picked clean and a lot of miserable, hungry riders. Our dilemma was: do we call 'follow us, chaps, to the 24-hour garage' and look like heroes, or total wallies as foreigners go off-route and get even more confused? I didn't want that responsibility and we had made no commitment at that stage to babysit anyone: over the Fens into the wind on the return was a different matter; we were quite a train.

We managed to waylay A.N.Other on our diversion to a cafe over the Humber Bridge, who was suitably puzzled. This also happened on our naughty main road route from Cambridge to Great Easton and from there to Moreton on the 2013 route. I was also amazed how many passed the two good cafes in Longtown [with bikes parked outside] after failing to get much to eat at Brampton on the way north.

Re: Managing the spikes at controls
« Reply #42 on: August 06, 2017, 09:08:15 pm »
We [the ACME Peloton + assorted hangers-on] arrved at Louth from the 16:00 start and riding through the night, to find it picked clean and a lot of miserable, hungry riders. Our dilemma was: do we call 'follow us, chaps, to the 24-hour garage' and look like heroes, or total wallies as foreigners go off-route and get even more confused? I didn't want that responsibility and we had made no commitment at that stage to babysit anyone: over the Fens into the wind on the return was a different matter; we were quite a train.

We managed to waylay A.N.Other on our diversion to a cafe over the Humber Bridge, who was suitably puzzled. This also happened on our naughty main road route from Cambridge to Great Easton and from there to Moreton on the 2013 route. I was also amazed how many passed the two good cafes in Longtown [with bikes parked outside] after failing to get much to eat at Brampton on the way north.

I was one of the hanger-ons who started with you at Laughton and rode with you through the first night (was wearing my French cycling club colours), when you did your disappearing act I nearly followed you but thought better of it, now I wish I had after reading your post. Thanks for the company and help those early hours, was a nice way to get into the ride.

αdαmsκι

  • @Dr_AAY
  • Look haggard. It sells.
Re: Managing the spikes at controls
« Reply #43 on: August 06, 2017, 09:50:09 pm »

The obvious point for a sleep and food stop would be Barton on Humber.

Hull West premier Inn for the win.
What on earth am I doing here on this beautiful day?! This is the only life I've got!!

https://tyredandhungry.wordpress.com/

Re: Managing the spikes at controls
« Reply #44 on: August 06, 2017, 09:52:04 pm »

The obvious point for a sleep and food stop would be Barton on Humber.

Hull West premier Inn for the win.

Welton Church Hall ;)

Re: Managing the spikes at controls
« Reply #45 on: August 06, 2017, 11:11:59 pm »
I have a vision of the verger in Dad's Army saying " You will have to see the vicar about that".
I think he might be out on his bike that week in 2021. Or is once enough?

Re: Managing the spikes at controls
« Reply #46 on: August 06, 2017, 11:22:54 pm »
The Louth control really is out on a limb, 80km from Spalding and 100km from Pocklington, it is a an obvious sleep stop especially for riders with an afternoon start.

It was swamped when I was there, no food and no available beds. I think it`s very poor and potentially dangerous if a control can`t provide some food, how difficult is it to cook porridge or toast? It was known that 1500 riders would require a meal here. I  pity riders who, with no local knowledge had to ride 180km through the night on one meal from Spalding.


I agree with these sentiments but would like to add that on the return leg, Louth seemed to have learned much from these tribulations and things were running more smoothly. At all times, the volunteers at Louth were never less than extremely helpful and accommodating under extreme pressure.

Re: Managing the spikes at controls
« Reply #47 on: August 07, 2017, 06:53:33 am »
I agree with these sentiments but would like to add that on the return leg, Louth seemed to have learned much from these tribulations and things were running more smoothly. At all times, the volunteers at Louth were never less than extremely helpful and accommodating under extreme pressure.

Indeed, I gather it was circumstances outside their control - supplier problems.

No battle plan survives contact with the enemy - Sun Tzu, China, 5th Century BC. Even in our battle-hardened ACME Peloton, there was a lot of tearing up of spreadsheets going on, and much re-thinking on the fly.

Fidgetbuzz

  • L sp MOON. 1st R sp MARS . At X SO sp STARS
Re: Managing the spikes at controls
« Reply #48 on: August 07, 2017, 09:55:48 am »
Louth and Spalding catering etc .. were set up with a small, apparently experienced ,  individual hiring staff  and buying supplies. I had doubts from quite early on .. as he needed a very large advance to fund his business. As we got closer and closer ..despite reservations  we just can not change as by then we had advanced him over £20,000 . And  tho  I am prepared to go to court .. even winning I dont think we would have got anything back .. sadly no good contract evidence and I dont think he had any assets either. So it is soldier on .. reality is that I suspect he did not provide the quantity of food that we had paid for .. but this is impossible to prove . The scale of the demands on his hired in staff and their ability to cope under pressure were way beyond their capabilities.

Danial has already admitted that it went wrong and accepted responsibility .. not much else to add .. we got it wrong .. but hopefully will have learnt.

By the way .. he claims he lost £10,000 on the event and is now looking for more money from us.

 NO WAY
I was an accountant until I discovered Audax !!

Re: Managing the spikes at controls
« Reply #49 on: August 07, 2017, 11:23:54 am »
The check-in/check-out system tracks precise individuals - whereas in the kitchens w just needed approximate numbers.

In lieu of mandatory checkouts, a simple exit head count by a volunteer on the gate, forwarded (phone, text or email) to the next control every hour or half-hour was all that was needed to have a good picture of the likely inflow and when and have time to prepare for it.

(Given some of the IT glitches, it may have been useful for each control to have been manually forwarding a heads-in/heads-in count to the next control anyway as a backup anyway)