Yet Another Cycling Forum

General Category => Audax => Topic started by: hellymedic on August 02, 2017, 05:54:31 pm

Title: [LEL17] LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: hellymedic on August 02, 2017, 05:54:31 pm
Any suggestions for future LELs?

I was really taken by redfalo's shoe labels. Maybe other future riders could make their own too.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Ben T on August 02, 2017, 06:01:24 pm
Going up the west side rather than the east.  :D
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Mr Larrington on August 02, 2017, 06:40:45 pm
Any Rugby players who share your control need to be Educated in the art of carrying their own trays back to the conveyor belt into the kitchen.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: hellymedic on August 02, 2017, 07:34:04 pm
Suggests that the 'This is a self-clearing area' sign was taken to mean that the area would clear itself up...
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Jack_P on August 02, 2017, 09:54:24 pm
Small thing but heard a few discussions about how nice it would be to have a big LEL "Welcome to Edinburgh" sign for riders to pose in front of for photos, as there's nothing else on view from the school to really use.
celebrate the achievement of getting there.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Cold Snail on August 02, 2017, 09:59:10 pm
A token given to the rider for food on arrival at controls to allow one visit to the counter, so that there may be some food left for the later arrivals.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: yoav on August 02, 2017, 10:22:17 pm
One for the IT bod(s): show live updates on the number of available beds at each control on the website so that riders can decide if it's worth moving on or staying where they are.

Tuesday night in Alston was quiet compared to Monday. Next morning, many riders told us that they would have liked to sleep here but were told earlier on that we didn't have many beds, which was untrue.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: The French Tandem on August 03, 2017, 11:49:33 am
One for the IT bod(s): show live updates on the number of available beds at each control on the website so that riders can decide if it's worth moving on or staying where they are.


I think the IT job was already very complicated with the rider's check in/out, bag drops, and dorms check in/out. It would be unfair to ask for even more.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Fidgetbuzz on August 03, 2017, 12:50:39 pm
team debate to come on this I think .. i am not clear of the benefit of bag drop logging in/out .. against effort .. and also the unfortunate error at Brampton
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Maludenbas on August 03, 2017, 01:29:10 pm
One for the IT bod(s): show live updates on the number of available beds at each control on the website so that riders can decide if it's worth moving on or staying where they are.


I think the IT job was already very complicated with the rider's check in/out, bag drops, and dorms check in/out. It would be unfair to ask for even more.

The current system is a gnat's whisker away from having the numbers. I noted that a rider can already be booked into sleep (dorm check in); add a similar 'check out' function/status and you're there. A second bar code scanner would need to be provided to each control for dorm management.  Sure, it'll never be 100% accurate but it would give a good indication of bed availability at any one time. It would certainly be preferable to the mistaken information (whatever the source) that partly resulted in Alston having around 100 beds free on Tuesday night whilst Brampton was full to the rafters.

(IF you're looking for added complexity, then expand the system to include bed locations and wake-up times. That'd be really nice... and it's potentially provide a consistent system across all controls, though clearly running it on a local database would be a necessity since there are always potential connection issues with a centralised networked/cloud solution. You DO NOT want to deprive a sleep deprived rider valuable sleep time because the "system has gone down"!)
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: CrinklyLion on August 03, 2017, 01:40:46 pm
Make checking out mandatory so that flow information is more accurate - this would massively help with planning the food and avoids lots of tired volunteers waiting around when nobody is coming/everyone being asleep or too tired to be efficient when it is busy.  The cunning plan that occurred to me was to keep all bananas and flapjacks behind the checkout desk as rewards, thus neatly solving the rationing problem too in one stroke.

Clear and agreed guidance on how long after a check-in time a rider can be checked in rather than DNF'd.

Clear expectations about how much support DNFers can expect with getting themselves back to the start.

Clear guidance about what services can be expected to be kept running after the control closes, and for how long - otherwise a late-running early starter has the option of food, sleep and showers and a late-starter riding at exactly the same pace gets nothing.

And then the one that is very much down to 'us' and not to 'them', more volunteers.  Although weirdly my 2017 wasn't actually as tough in most respects as 2013 was (having the school kitchen/cleaning staff, who worked incredibly hard, was a massive factor in this) that was proper tough nonetheless.  Many hands make light work...

I also found that as the week went on I got increasingly purist in my audax philosophy. I didn't see my role as helping people who had GPS issues and couldn't navigate without it, who needed to charge their iPhone, or who wanted me to arrange a lift back to London and a clean set of clothes.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: CrinklyLion on August 03, 2017, 01:42:19 pm
Oh, and perhaps  controversially I'd also lose the public tracker.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: The French Tandem on August 03, 2017, 01:57:49 pm
I also found that as the week went on I got increasingly purist in my audax philosophy. I didn't see my role as helping people who had GPS issues and couldn't navigate without it, who needed to charge their iPhone, or who wanted me to arrange a lift back to London and a clean set of clothes.

And you can add to that list pumping tyres and oiling chains. I can perfectly understand that a tired rider needs help for changing a gear cable, but for pumping tyres?
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: WATW has left the building on August 03, 2017, 02:23:56 pm
I also found that as the week went on I got increasingly purist in my audax philosophy. I didn't see my role as helping people who had GPS issues and couldn't navigate without it, who needed to charge their iPhone, or who wanted me to arrange a lift back to London and a clean set of clothes.

Maybe there is an argument for qualifiers... seems bizarre to me that one has to do the all SR to do PBP and nothing to do the arguably harder LEL. In theory LEL could be the very first Audax event somerone undertakes, with zer knnowledge of navigation, how to deal with cotrols, what to carry on a long ride, how to manage the need for power and light etc...   Personally I think the all SR in the same year is a bit OTT, but maybe a qualifier at Rando 1000 level would be appropriate, or maybe a single 400 or 600 ride within the 12 months ahead of LEL
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: αdαmsκι on August 03, 2017, 03:31:20 pm
Plant trees around Ramsey
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: grams on August 03, 2017, 03:53:45 pm
When all the beds in a control are full, new arrivals should be handed a blanket and told to find a dark corner, rather than "there are no beds" or "come back in an hour" or whatever. This is hopefully more practical from the rider's POV, and should reduce the conflict of essentially telling a sleepy rider they're not allowed to sleep.

Controls seemed to be too dependent on hot canteen food. Most places I'd have been happier to stick with toast and cereal and biscuits and fruit, which some of the controls did*.

On a related note, Spicy food is as the same as no food for those of us whose stomachs become very sensitive on long rides.

(* There was an absurd situation overnight at Barnard Castle where there was a huge spread of hot food that no one wanted, and multiple people requesting cornflakes which had to be fetched from a far away back cupboard and were apparently only really meant for those with special dietary needs)
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: chrisbainbridge on August 03, 2017, 04:41:08 pm
I was a DNF but would echo a lot of the comments above.

But - public tracking was amazing.  This was probably revelatory for many thousands of people worldwide and appreciated by relatives galore.  Even people at work were tracking me.  SPOT trackers would take the pressure off Phil W and allow the same detail in planning.  However the sheer load of servers required probably means that we would have crashed any server not actively managed like Phil did.

I am sure that some people put on weight on the LEL by the food being taken. 

I had 4 punctures in tubeless tyres where I heard the hissing.  All self sealed and I got to the next control where I used a pump.  That was great but I had CO2 with me and a spare inner tube to get me home if needed.  Again it is nice to have the mechanics, etc there and I suspect they enjoy it.

I totally agree with GPS issues and charging issues.  if you cannot make your GPS work then tough.

Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Pete Mas on August 03, 2017, 05:00:39 pm
About time we offered less rigid time limits to 'experienced' riders who still have the desire and endurance to complete the long rides, but maybe lack a bit of the pace of their former glory years (naming no names). In Italy, for example, for the 999 Miglia (Miles) (1600km) ride recently there were two choices of deadline - one was 10.66kph and the slower one 9.52kph. if you missed the 150 hours limit you could still get a medal for the 168 hour limit.
(I entered for the slower pace and finished in 161 hours). Apparently, even if you missed your chosen deadline (say you entered for 150 hours but finished in 162 hours, you were still given a medal for the slower, Italian audax time limit. I think that's a nice reward for finishers, even if outside their original chosen time limit.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: CrinklyLion on August 03, 2017, 05:06:41 pm
Controls seemed to be too dependent on hot canteen food. Most places I'd have been happier to stick with toast and cereal and biscuits and fruit, which some of the controls did*.

On a related note, Spicy food is as the same as no food for those of us whose stomachs become very sensitive on long rides.

(* There was an absurd situation overnight at Barnard Castle where there was a huge spread of hot food that no one wanted, and multiple people requesting cornflakes which had to be fetched from a far away back cupboard and were apparently only really meant for those with special dietary needs)
Because a choice of bacon, beans, eggs, pancakes, porridge, greek yoghurt, mixed berries, grapefruit and another bowl of fruit in juice that I can't remember what it was from the servery or oranges/bananas/flapjacks self service just isn't enough options to keep topped up from 4am to 11am...

Foodwise I discovered last time that controls can't do right for doing wrong.  No choice, too much choice, no hot food, no cold food, too spicy, too boring, no jacket spuds, nothing but jacket spuds, everybody is serving pasta, you haven't got any pasta, why are you serving the same thing as last time I checked in, why aren't you still serving the same thing as last time I checked in, I'm fed up of beans, you should have beans....  They are all complaints I heard during or after the last one.

Anything self-service that isn't individually packaged has a potential for massive hygiene issues.  I've seen the state of some riders...

I was a DNF but would echo a lot of the comments above.

But - public tracking was amazing.  This was probably revelatory for many thousands of people worldwide and appreciated by relatives galore.  Even people at work were tracking me.  SPOT trackers would take the pressure off Phil W and allow the same detail in planning.  However the sheer load of servers required probably means that we would have crashed any server not actively managed like Phil did.

As a punter, with friends and family riding, I completely agree - when it works, when people actually scan out etc.  It's great to be able to keep tags on the less communicative of the people I'm interested in - the ones who aren't using social media or other comms to update the world.  But as a volunteer I found it frustrating eventually, dealing with punters' issues and anxieties around tracking when I could have been focusing on looking after riders.  Also a fair number of people seemed to have not allowed their tracking data to be public in the privacy settings they chosse and then wondered why (or had friends and relatives enquiring on fb why) they couldn't be tracked...

I did really like the fact that the vast majority of riders exiting BC were a bit 'meh, why do you need to scan me out, I don't care' until we pointed out that it helps the controls to know who is coming their way and plan the catering accordingly at which point they became _much_ more enthusiastic.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: CrinklyLion on August 03, 2017, 05:24:57 pm
A token given to the rider for food on arrival at controls to allow one visit to the counter, so that there may be some food left for the later arrivals.

The problem with that is that it creates a time and work overhead for already overstretched volunteers and doesn't address the issue of honeypot controls being swamped with riders or things like the weather impacting the rider flow in unpredictable ways.

I completely agree that running out of food isn't OK though - I just don't think that pseudo-payment systems is a great solution to the problem.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: chrisbainbridge on August 03, 2017, 05:49:44 pm
Quote
Also a fair number of people seemed to have not allowed their tracking data to be public in the privacy settings they chosse

I think the problem with the privacy settings was that danial and Phil were too honest and nice.  We are all used to FB where you are public unless you very specifically choose not to be.  The website was private unless you specifically chose not to be.  I would make this the other way round personally but I am not danial and Phil.

I thought the range of food available was amazing!  the chicken legs at ?louth and the Chilli at Barnard -heaven.  Load of variations. 

I think the whole team have done the most amazing job.  i suspect that the traffic levels seen by the website were similar or larger than something like the BBC.  I reckon it was over 1000 requests per second!!!
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: CrinklyLion on August 03, 2017, 06:18:40 pm
I've said it elsewhere on another thread, but I'll re-state it here - if the start list grows again, I'm out as a volunteer.  The bigger field and longer spread of arrival and departure times made it much more difficult for volunteers to keep going.  After packing up in Barney last time I still had enough in the tank to pull a shift at a further two controls before experiencing my total sense of humour failure - this time it got me before I'd even put the last few hundred trays of pots through the dishwasher.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: grams on August 03, 2017, 06:34:17 pm
Because a choice of bacon, beans, eggs, pancakes, porridge, greek yoghurt, mixed berries, grapefruit and another bowl of fruit in juice that I can't remember what it was from the servery or oranges/bananas/flapjacks self service just isn't enough options to keep topped up from 4am to 11am...

My mistake... I've just had a look at my brevet card and it would have been 11:30 pm when I was there. I think you had a couple of spicy, dinnery things on but all I (and as I recall the person in front, and the person behind) wanted was something light before sleep, which cornflakes were perfect for.

(I realise now cornflake demand at 11:30 pm isn't something anyone should be expected to predict... it's been a very odd few days)
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: lastant on August 03, 2017, 06:42:47 pm
Oh, and perhaps  controversially I'd also lose the public tracker.

I'm sure I read on the Facebook group that Danial was keen to have SPOT trackers this time but couldn't get the numbers/logistics to work? With the hammering the site appears to have taken with people checking up on those riding I wouldn't be surprised to see them feature in four years time...

Other suggestions here all look sensible, catering for 1,500 riders is never going to be as simple as someone might thing - I only got as far as Barnard Castle, but some of the logistics around placement of scanning/food/drinks/etc. did create a few bottlenecks...Pocklington's drinks point is one that immediately springs to mind as one that seemed to invite crowds around it, whilst their food point (and island!) was brilliant in terms of getting people through.

Ah, yes...one final point is that I did spot a couple of disappointing instances of behaviour at Louth on the way up. Appreciate that riders were tired and the control was very busy, but there could possibly some sort of sanction for poor behaviour towards staff/volunteers as without them there simply wouldn't be as amazing an event as there currently is.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: CrinklyLion on August 03, 2017, 06:57:56 pm
My mistake... I've just had a look at my brevet card and it would have been 11:30 pm when I was there. I think you had a couple of spicy, dinnery things on but all I (and as I recall the person in front, and the person behind) wanted was something light before sleep, which cornflakes were perfect for.

(I realise now cornflake demand at 11:30 pm isn't something anyone should be expected to predict... it's been a very odd few days)

Yes - I'm still at that stage where I'm not quite sure what day it is.  And kicking myself about my four hours on the control desk telling riders I'd see them tomorrow (and that I was being aspirational and had faith in them) when I realised at the end of my shift I could have said 'see you next month' to really perplex them ;)

That's why the controls will never really get it 100% right for 100% of riders, unless Danial at least doubles the price to allow for the wastage and increased staffing costs (at which point he'd lose my volunteer good-will and perhaps that of others?) of offering everything all the time.  From a rider's perspective it could be breakfast/supper/afternoon tea time at any point at all on the clock.  Barney ran (I think) a breakfast menu 4am-11, lunch (at least three hot options to include one veggie and two meat recipes, with sides of hot veg and potatoes and at least one pudding choice from a range of sponge puds with custard, rice pudding and tinned fruit) from (I think) 11-7 and then dinner (simlar array but some different dishes) from 7-4am.  We were able to cater for veggie, vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free all the time AFAIK.  What nobody can guarantee to cater for is the weird effects on tastes and appetite of riding 1400km!

I completely sympathise with the 'but I can't bring myself to eat anything that is on offer right now' feeling by the way.  It's why I ate one bowl of rice pud on Monday and nowt else - and the volunteers got the exact same food offering as the riders.

[...]some of the logistics around placement of scanning/food/drinks/etc. did create a few bottlenecks...Pocklington's drinks point is one that immediately springs to mind as one that seemed to invite crowds around it, whilst their food point (and island!) was brilliant in terms of getting people through.
Some of the BC volunteers last time and this were discussing how, by the time a control closes, we have solved most of the problems, found out where everything is, worked out all the desire paths and signposting issues and fine-tuned all the systems - just in time to pack it all away :)
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: hellymedic on August 03, 2017, 07:13:28 pm
I too have requested cornflakes at 'odd' times on long rides!

Riders' digestions are very varied. For myself, I would not have been able to face a 'heavy savoury' meal early on a long ride. As a 'full value' rider, it is devastating to arrive in extremis at a depleted control. I feel for those who had to go without and confess that a hypoglycaemic Helly is NOT a nice person! I have sympathy and respect for those poor controllers who had to face angry riders they could not feed properly.

Food cravings and appetites change during the progress of a long ride and it's obviously impossible to please everyone all the time.

I will try to assemble a poll to see what riders want when but it will be complicated!
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Pale Rider on August 03, 2017, 08:33:23 pm
Reading this thread and drawing on volunteer experience from last time, one food keeps cropping up.

Corn flakes, big bowls, with room for lots of milk.

Get that available 24 hours a day and you won't go far wrong.

Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: hellymedic on August 03, 2017, 08:39:03 pm
Good point! My first 600 was fuelled by the cornflakes I had eaten the previous day, having had a big vomiting bout in the run-up.

I got round.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: MikeFromLFE on August 03, 2017, 10:01:59 pm
I've not long got home from Spaldng, had food & a bath- so feel a bit more human. If anything below seems to reflect poorly on SpaldingJim, then that's not the intention- it was a pleasure and a privilege to work at his control.
A few thoughts on some of the comments above:
Food - it not safe, fair or workable to restrict the food to riders; if a rider needs seven helpings of chips and custard to keep going, then that's what they need; it's a learning item that control(s) ran short of food; perhaps one partial solution might be to have a 'bottomless vat' each of porridge, rice pudding, and soup that riders can help themselves to?
Numbers of volunteers- as SpaldingJim said, you need the right volunteers, not big numbers of volunteers; maybe a clearer statement of what would be expected of a volunteer- before they are recruited- might be useful; on a couple of occasions I noticed that when we had lots of volunteers around, there was a temptation for the volunteers to gather in groups to chat while ignoring riders.
Rider expectations & behaviour- I was appalled at the way a couple of our volunteers were treated by riders, a statement laying out ground rules for the standards of behaviour toward both other riders and toward volunteers needs working on before the next event (I know a plate of food was thrown at a volunteer, and I don't know how MarmiteGeoff kept his cool when he was unable to true a Spectrum rim with a broken aero-spoke for an Italian rider who was becoming increasingly agitated.)
Qualifiers - I increasingly felt that there needed to be a threshold before riders were able to enter - some countries may not have active Audax clubs, so could AUK (or LEL ltd) validate DIYs for these countries? I don't feel the threshold need be very high- maybe a 600k in the previous 12 months? This might help 'weed out' those on unsuitable machines, or without an understanding of what long events entail.
First Aid / Medical - I was a more than a little concerned about the arrangements for dealing with injuries and illness. I would suggest that LEL should seriously consider a) having sight of First Aid certificates of those standing as First Aiders b) employing a registered Paramedic to be on the phone to give advice, and based at a central control (Louth / Pocklington) rather than relying on 111, local pharmacies, and retired healthcare professionals.
Local liaison- at least let the local cycling clubs along the route, or in the control towns know that LEL is coming to town - they may not be the best resource for volunteers (for a number of reasons) but their local support and knowledge could be very useful.


Tapatalk puts this signature here, not me!
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Flatlander on August 03, 2017, 10:13:17 pm
Food: Real coffee - some controls had it, most didn't. I started the adventure hating coffee powder, half way through I despised it.  Is it really that hard?(Question not sarcasm)
Pocket food. I would normally get 2/3rds of my energy that way. Some argue it causes too much waste but that is obviously not true looking at the tableware at 2/3 of the controls. Apples were good - saved me. Also flapjacks at some of the controls but not at some of the critical ones for me.
Muesli - I would also have coped with grenola. The perfect control that ticked all the boxes for me was Great Eastern but alas that was too close to the finish so I didn't want or require much from there.

There was an inconsistency and I'm sure it caused riders to make mistakes, pocket food was included at some controls, non existent at some and charged at others. The French event has pocket food available at all controls and all food is charged for so you know where you stand.   

I did get the hang of it at the end, after spending a 3rd of the ride with indigestion - find any food that is slightly solid, tuna and salad looked to be the best for me, and shove it between 2 slices of bread and put it in the back pocket for later.

I also think the start food was a bit wrong for the use case, pasta is the traditional pre-event food. Chips aren't great - too high a glycemic index, too much fat and not great those of us that are supposed to avoid nightshades. A bit of choice would have been great. I ended up stuffing some salad into a bun. Great for the finish though.

This takes nothing away from the effort and helpfulness of the volunteers and the many hours of work put in by the organising team. I am grateful to all.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: MikeFromLFE on August 03, 2017, 10:33:54 pm
And - live tracking : this is a real double edged sword. When it is saying what the supporter wants it to say it's great, but when it 'fails' it causes panic. We had a (American?) supporter whose rider had left Loth but hadn't got to Spalding in what they thought was a reasonable time, there was no phone connection ( no coverage / flat battery?) - and they were determined to go to the police to report the rider missing - I don't know if they did (I imagine the police would have told them to 'do one' as we say round here), but supporters need to be made aware of the limitations of the technology. This would apply to Spot Trackers as much as any other system.


Tapatalk puts this signature here, not me!
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: MikeFromLFE on August 03, 2017, 10:48:48 pm
And another before I go to bed - consider an approved messaging system for control-control requests/ information- I'm not sure that Facebook is either the best or appropriate medium for some of the more 'semi-formal' stuff?


Tapatalk puts this signature here, not me!
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: geraldc on August 03, 2017, 11:28:19 pm
Maybe some historic ride reports on the LEL website to let potential entrants what they're in for. Ride reports for both finishers and those who've dnfed. Stats of failure rates, by age, country etc. I know the argument is that everyone who rides PBP has an SR series under their belt, and that's historically had an equivalent failure rate to LEL, but reading some of the messages on Facebook, it does seem that the less experienced suffered more on this iteration. Of course it could just be that as they've withdrawn they're posting on social media while the majority are still riding and not posting, merely giving the impression of high failure rates.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: DrMekon on August 04, 2017, 02:00:19 am
CL - Barney was amazing. "You say that to all the controls" - nuh uh! Mega food, massage, and an ace wheelbuilder.

Only a few controls got veggie food right for me, and veggies need protein too. My heart grew sad at seeing the meat eaters getting bacon and sausages, whereas I got full english minus bacon and sausages. Loughton was mega, and the omlette at Edinburgh was awesome. The veggie curries were good (as in tasty) until my GERD meant I was scoffing gaviscon advance at an alarming rate (having forgotten to pack my usual drugs).

I could kiss whoever thought to make rice pudding with coconut milk at Spalding on the way up.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: MikeFromLFE on August 04, 2017, 06:53:39 am

I could kiss whoever thought to make rice pudding with coconut milk at Spalding on the way up.
That was amazing - most of the volunteers have got the outline of the recipe - it's not coconut milk, it's block coconut, which is coconut fat, plus desiccated coconut, in a standard rice pudding (with maybe a bit of added extra butter in one of the earlier iterations)


Tapatalk puts this signature here, not me!
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Dapper on August 04, 2017, 09:51:50 am
Don't have an answer to this problem but think it needs to be discussed.

I DNF'd, got to Louth early, and a bed at 2300, with a wake up call at 0230.  However this did not happen and I was sleeping like a baby until just before 0600!  Was then very late, no breakfast except for a bit of cake... At this stage I should have had four hours in hand but had none.  I carried on up north and enjoyed it, and as my partner was volunteering I was determined not to pack before then

The issue is the oversleeping, the notice said maximum three hours and NO Mobile phones, which I was happy with.  But with a lot of things on this thread it is a balance between individual responsibility and collective good.  The volunteers forgot to wake me, happens, then should I have phone on, or at least vibrate, but if that is the case we need to make it clear.  And do we enforce the three hour rule, which I would have suspected would have been done.

Individual v collective?
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Kim on August 04, 2017, 11:03:46 am
Vibrating alarms are surely a reasonable compromise?  If a mobile phone inna sock is banned, then a vibrating watch ought to suffice.  With the best will in the world, I don't think I'd trust a wakeup call to happen.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: MikeFromLFE on August 04, 2017, 12:06:26 pm
Don't have an answer to this problem but think it needs to be discussed.

I DNF'd, got to Louth early, and a bed at 2300, with a wake up call at 0230.  However this did not happen and I was sleeping like a baby until just before 0600!  Was then very late, no breakfast except for a bit of cake... At this stage I should have had four hours in hand but had none.  I carried on up north and enjoyed it, and as my partner was volunteering I was determined not to pack before then

The issue is the oversleeping, the notice said maximum three hours and NO Mobile phones, which I was happy with.  But with a lot of things on this thread it is a balance between individual responsibility and collective good.  The volunteers forgot to wake me, happens, then should I have phone on, or at least vibrate, but if that is the case we need to make it clear.  And do we enforce the three hour rule, which I would have suspected would have been done.

Individual v collective?
We had a rider who wasn't woken at Spalding - I think he was given the additional time back. (The post-it not had fallen off the board).
There needs to be a lot of discussion about what happens in this type of scenario, and the 'rules' around sleeping. Frankly I think (as someone who will never do such an epic ride) that a maximum of 3 hours sleep is unreasonable, and possibly introduces additional safety risks - I understand the pressures on beds, but the eventuality of huge numbers of riders  needing sleep needs to be planned for as far as humanly possible - even if it is on a blanket on the floor, when all the air beds are taken.
There have been a lot of comments about the unsuitability of dormitory accommodation (for both riders and volunteers) - this is a factor of our modern society where we are no longer used to sleeping this way (Youth Hostels, National Service, public schools etc). Short of commandeering entire hotel chains, dorms are inevitable, as it snoring and farting. We need to learn how to best manage them.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: CrinklyLion on August 04, 2017, 01:55:16 pm
A central information board in the control for the volunteers.  If something happens in a precious 'rest' period (like some of the volunteer bathrooms being taken out of service because of the Rugby Boys, a message from another control to look out for a particular rider for some reason etc) it would be useful to have a single place to check what the latest news is as people are so busy that the lines of communication get stretched.

A designated Welfare Officer as part of the team leading at each control, whose job should include managing the volunteer rotas and wellbeing and who, along with the chief controllers, is supernumerary to the rotas.  On both 2013 and 2017 I've seen people pushed to the edge by the workload - indeed, I experienced it myself and completely ran out of social skills a couple of times.  In my case it was a reasonably well informed and self aware choice to exceed my realistic capacities because I had a pretty good idea what I was letting myself in for having volunteered on events before and done a lot of voluntary stuff including all-nighters in my youth, together with the knowledge that I could afford a recovery day or two of not doing anything or seeing/speaking to anyone afterwards.  I also am a native english speaker and apparently fairly assertive (such that it was commented on, kindly not nastily I hasten to add, by another volunteer!) and I do know that if I really _couldn't_ do something I would be able to say no.

Volunteer management is a really hard job.  People who are choosing to do a thing bring an enthusiasm and a willingness to go above and beyond that no amount of money can buy, but are under no obligation to do what they are told.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Mr Larrington on August 04, 2017, 03:40:42 pm
To add to Crinkles' comments, it'd be handy if the Controller's master schedule and the individual ones for each volunteer were the same :D  alfapete otp did a sterling job of pointing the Legions of of the Damned Confused into places where they were most needed.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: jochta on August 04, 2017, 03:55:50 pm
Agree with a lot of what I've read on this thread. My tuppence worth (and my brain is working on 2hrs sleep in 48hrs so bear with me!) and all the volunteers did an amazing job in my experience and nearly everything was perfect (apart from the catering arrangements at Louth north and south which was unacceptable IMO)...

- Don't use hosepipes for providing water, especially 50m long ones. Having water that tasted of hosepipe after Brampton until I could get to replace it was not pleasant.

- Shoes on/off just to check in/out was a real pain when you're tired and using overshoes, i.e. cover the floor to the desk or have the desk in a shoe accessible area.

- Have a qualifier event, e.g. a UK 400 or 600 in the year of the event. I saw some shocking rider behaviour and some very dangerous incidents. Some of the lack of preparedness was scary. I saw two riders seconds from potentially fatal incidents through their own lack of experience of riding UK roads.

- Jugs of milk. And then more jugs of milk. And cornflakes.

- More Cake. First cake I encountered was at Moffat AFAIK. Maybe it was me but there seemed to be a general lack of sweet stuff?

- The A701 to Edinburgh was horrendous. The surface was almost unrideable (e.g. through Broughton) for much of its length.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: jochta on August 04, 2017, 04:06:54 pm
Vibrating alarms are surely a reasonable compromise?  If a mobile phone inna sock is banned, then a vibrating watch ought to suffice.  With the best will in the world, I don't think I'd trust a wakeup call to happen.

I used a smart watch with a subtle vibrate alarm, I can't even hear it myself.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: jiberjaber on August 04, 2017, 06:21:22 pm
Agree with a lot of what I've read on this thread. My tuppence worth (and my brain is working on 2hrs sleep in 48hrs so bear with me!) and all the volunteers did an amazing job in my experience and nearly everything was perfect (apart from the catering arrangements at Louth north and south which was unacceptable IMO)...

- Don't use hosepipes for providing water, especially 50m long ones. Having water that tasted of hosepipe after Brampton until I could get to replace it was not pleasant.

- Shoes on/off just to check in/out was a real pain when you're tired and using overshoes, i.e. cover the floor to the desk or have the desk in a shoe accessible area.

- Have a qualifier event, e.g. a UK 400 or 600 in the year of the event. I saw some shocking rider behaviour and some very dangerous incidents. Some of the lack of preparedness was scary. I saw two riders seconds from potentially fatal incidents through their own lack of experience of riding UK roads.

- Jugs of milk. And then more jugs of milk. And cornflakes.

- More Cake. First cake I encountered was at Moffat AFAIK. Maybe it was me but there seemed to be a general lack of sweet stuff?

- The A701 to Edinburgh was horrendous. The surface was almost unrideable (e.g. through Broughton) for much of its length.

Agree with a lot of what has been covered and still not mentally able to process all the improvements... but

I was over the moon to finally have something other than pasta/rice/spud designed to have broad appeal (i.e. bland) when I hit BC I was over the moon to get Panang !  :thumbsup:  I suspect we later starting riders hit the first controls when they were in a closing down phase perhaps? on the way back they were better.

Some of the controls I could control at in my shoes, but it was getting a real pain and time waste to take them off and on each time especially when the weather wasn't great.. a HUGE improvement would be getting the position of the desk right, that's possibly a hour or two of sleep across the whole ride potentially lost if a control is being bounced.

I came down of YM soaked but full of high spirit with a view to optionally bouncing BC as I didnt want to get out of wet but warm gear to have to then put wet but cold gear back on... It would be a huge help to have perhaps the menu visible at the control desk and perhaps some grab & go food there as an option (perhaps some thought needed on how to keep the menu updated and discourage troughing of the grab & go (fee to cover packaging?) I was probably slightly ratty when

The weather on YM was atrocious and epic in equal measures, a high pressure jet wash, limited visibility, high wind and remote location - there were a lot of riders I came past who looked unprepared and inadequately dressed, I would say the conditions perhaps were almost Type 3 and I don't really want to get in to a debate about was it life threatening etc but it just takes a lot of little things to align for the conditions to be life threatening, and I reflected as I was passing through that it was probably all there to be worse.  The non mandatory control at Alston was  closed when I got there (it wasn't that well signed as I came through northbound) I was lucky, the builder supervisor was really helpful and showed me the working loo & filled my water bottles and also gave me some flapjack. Perhaps there is a case here to have something at this location (or a better one that allows a diversion route?) in case of very bad weather up top... I know the spirit is supposed to be self sufficient, but in a hierarchy of preserving life, "it's your own fault if you die" I feel gets trumped  by "sorry mate, you should not proceed up there in just shorts & jersey and no lights!"

I'd also echo  seeing shocking rider behaviour and some very dangerous incidents with bonus no lights riding going on also North through the fens, South in to Pok.

Louth was a disaster zone Northbound and I understand there are probably some reasons behind this but to a damp, fatigued rider at 04:00 there was no food and it was heaving, we waited ages, some food came out but people were taking away multiple plates, perhaps for a group of them maybe not, there was no info available about what/when food might be available and we ended up going off route to 'control' at a forecourt just on the outskirts of Louth - there didn't seem to be any visible presence of being in control of the situation..  There is certainly some analysis by those who are in possession of the full facts around what lessons can be applied going forward as contingency to mitigate in the future.

A couple of toilets for the volume of people is never going to work some toilets we miles away and had to be navigated with/without shoes, the simple act of just changing shorts in some privacy was a challenge at times and often a bit of lost time in waiting for somewhere to do so...  Some locations had changing rooms, some didn't  (or appear to have) Signs were generally good, but it was a bit of an exploration to find a empty loo. Perhaps a simple wall map showing the locations (& number!) of facilities would have helped reduce the faff

I think someone has mentioned the TCP tasting water at Brampton - foul!


Checking in and out at various activities (sleep, bag drops etc) was inconsistent

The limited tracking was great and the buzz on the social media pages about the dot watching is excellent even my Dad was following the progress of riders I didnt know.... Fantastic and surely a good thing and also not without its challenges...

As a rider with a diminishing cognitive capability along the ride, only being able to track individuals and session security errors etc was a real pain.  I wanted to know where the rest of my team was as a minimum, were they alright? Were they asleep and if so for where/how long? (could we all catch up?) etc  It felt like all the components were there to resolve some real world user needs - at the moment, just less than 12 hours after finishing, the rider tracking has been taken down, luckily I have  a screen grab, but I can't check if friends made it etc.   (**ETA** Phil has now put up a provisional finisher's list :thumbsup: )
 
This is a suggestions box, and by its nature might come across biased to what went wrong, but there was also a lot of what went right - perhaps another thread for What went right to keep the balance, last thing we want is for all the great people that made sure the event worked to feel !
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Somnolent on August 04, 2017, 06:31:27 pm
My tuppence worth (and my brain is working on 2hrs sleep in 48hrs so bear with me!) and all the volunteers did an amazing job in my experience and nearly everything was perfect
This, in spades.
The whole thing was bloody brilliant... and I hope riders AND volunteers don't focus too much on the smalll things that might have been done in a different way ( in their opinion )

- Have a qualifier event, e.g. a UK 400 or 600 in the year of the event. I saw some shocking rider behaviour and some very dangerous incidents. Some of the lack of preparedness was scary. I saw two riders seconds from potentially fatal incidents through their own lack of experience of riding UK roads.
I'd agree with having a qualifying requirement - to prepare riders for some of  the challenges involved and hopefully reducing DNF rate, by doubt very much it will do anything to reduce dangerous riding.
The worst examples I saw were from an experienced Italian randonneur who I'm fairly sure did 2013 as well as 2017 and still indulged in practices that would shame even the most hardened RLJer.

Jugs of milk. And then more jugs of milk. And cornflakes.
Yes to milk - but I'd run a mile from any event where conflakes were the only choice at a control.

- More Cake. First cake I encountered was at Moffat AFAIK. Maybe it was me but there seemed to be a general lack of sweet stuff?
Yes, I looked for sweet stuff (other than rice pudding) on a couple of occasions and failed to find any.   Something other than cake (maybe along the lines of apple pie & custard) would be a bonus

- The A701 to Edinburgh was horrendous. The surface was almost unrideable (e.g. through Broughton) for much of its length.
Agree - I had a conversation with a (succesful) French rider this morning who told me that cut backs meant their roads were now beginning to resemble those in some English counties and he accepted this was 'par for the course' but that he wouldn't be coming back because of the poor state of some roads in Scotland.
I confess to yelling out things along the lines of "FFS" a few times myself.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Peter on August 04, 2017, 06:34:08 pm
 @ Jiberjaber

On the shoes thing - I can (and did) see that it is a real difficulty in some circumstances.  But in some places (Eskdalemuir, for example), the community hub had new floors, some sprung for dancing and the request for people to take off shoes is reasonable.  Unless, of course, riders think that £350 includes a requirement to provide a custom-built control at every checkpoint!  On the difficulty of being able to keep in contact with your own "team mates" via LEL's electronic media, I just don't think that is reasonable at all.  I hope you'll agree when you've thought it through, if that is indeed what you meant.  If it isn't, my apologies!

Peter
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: toontra on August 04, 2017, 06:41:16 pm
- The A701 to Edinburgh was horrendous. The surface was almost unrideable (e.g. through Broughton) for much of its length.
Agree - I had a conversation with a (succesful) French rider this morning who told me that cut backs meant their roads were now beginning to resemble those in some English counties and he accepted this was 'par for the course' but that he wouldn't be coming back because of the poor state of some roads in Scotland.
I confess to yelling out things along the lines of "FFS" a few times myself.

Yes, the A701 is bad, I presume due to the logging lorries.  They destroy whatever roads they use.  However if you had carried on to central Edinburgh you would have come across far worse.  The council seem to have stopped any attempt to repair/resurface roads.  Some are truly shocking and, as you say, a real embarrassment if in the company of overseas riders.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: CrinklyLion on August 04, 2017, 06:50:09 pm
Re the £350 thing - I did wonder if some riders had formed the view that price rise was meant to mean a higher level of 'service' than in previous incarnations. It felt to me like quite a lot of the field had higher expectations than last time, and I encountered a few who came across a bit entitled.

My understanding was that the increase in the registration fee was primarily to cover the costs of commercial caterers and cleaners, thus lightening the load on volunteers so that those people who used their holidays to come to the event could work mere 16+ hour days which only included a minimal amount of cleaning shitty toilets and mopping up vomit...
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: MikeFromLFE on August 04, 2017, 07:08:56 pm
Floors: we didn't ask riders to de-shoe at Spalding and this caused confusion. Maybe the organisation could look at sources and costs of disposable floor covering to protect controls where this is required (maybe that green grass like stuff in rolls and soak test it beforehand at a few very busy AUK events?)


Tapatalk puts this signature here, not me!
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: MikeFromLFE on August 04, 2017, 07:14:29 pm
Toilets : I was embarrassed by the toilets at Spalding but was told that they were par for the course for school toilets. FFS is this what our kids have to put up with? Control toilets need to be plentiful, clean and well signposted. Ours were all of these (particularly clean - the school staff did wonders) but the main block was outside the control building, and with hindsight might have been better signed. Perhaps  dedicated Male & Female changing areas might be a good idea which could release a bit of space in the latrines?


Tapatalk puts this signature here, not me!
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: MikeFromLFE on August 04, 2017, 07:28:35 pm
Qualifying: there's got to be something, but it's complicated.
On the one hand there's a need to make sure that riders and their machines are up to the task. Understanding the physical and mental resilience; understanding the demands on the machinery and how continually riding on grotty roads will destroy unsuitable bikes and parts thereof.
Equally - as has been demonstrated, there is a need for an understanding of etiquette of riding, and the rules of the road.
Some of this can be done by getting potential entrants to demonstrate completion of (say) a 600k event; some of this can be done by giving riders reading beforehand to inwardly digest.
But to keep the essential international element the question remains about what to do about countries with no 600k events? Of course if they can rustle up enough interest they can run a qualifier if they have a national Audax club, but for countries with no critical mass of riders - then what? Could AUK help these lone wolves by validating DIYs especially for LEL?
Someone up there suggested producing a digest of 'riders tales' including DNFs - this along with well written guides to riding in Britain in the 21st century- presented in an attractive format (perhaps with some of the excellent photos that are appearing) could be sold to wannabes.


Tapatalk puts this signature here, not me!
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: jochta on August 04, 2017, 07:38:50 pm
As a rider with a diminishing cognitive capability along the ride, only being able to track individuals and session security errors etc was a real pain.  I wanted to know where the rest of my team was as a minimum, were they alright? Were they asleep and if so for where/how long? (could we all catch up?) etc  It felt like all the components were there to resolve some real world user needs - at the moment, just less than 12 hours after finishing, the rider tracking has been taken down, luckily I have  a screen grab, but I can't check if friends made it etc.   (**ETA** Phil has now put up a provisional finisher's list :thumbsup: )

Having not seen the tracking in action as a rider I was disappointed not to be able to see my own tracking when I got home this afternoon  :-[ . I guess it will be available again at some point once the dust has settled :)
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: jochta on August 04, 2017, 07:52:00 pm
I confess to yelling out things along the lines of "FFS" a few times myself.

I swore like a bitch along there. The road was so bad it could have thrown riders under vehicles as they tried to remain upright. I must have caught it at rush hour as well as it was very busy. One of my worst cycling experiences. There was some moaning about the cycle path route into the control, I thought it was OK but the weather meant it was very muddy in places, I saw an Italian rider who had cycled into one of the bollards and broken his leg/collar bone, don't know how.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: CrazyEnglishTriathlete on August 04, 2017, 08:24:44 pm
I thought about providing cake at St Ives, but the sheer logistics of the number of tray bakes that we would have had to work on to feed 1500 riders twice (baking is labour intensive both in the cooking and the cleaning) put me off.  We settled for fruit salad instead which was still labour intensive but less than baking.  We did buy in flapjacks which we did ration (we didn't ration any of the hot food) as from past experience this was essential in ensuring that the later riders had a choice. 

Another thing we were asked for a lot was eggs, which again I shied away from in terms of labour intensity (at peak times controls can turn over 200 riders an hour which even with simple one pot food required 10 - 12 kitchen helpers (and more people even in a secondary school kitchen would be a challenge).  But my wife came up with the suggestion of Spanish omelette - Tortillas - which can be prepped in advance.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: CrinklyLion on August 04, 2017, 08:30:07 pm
We had sponge most of the time in Barney, with optional custard.

One rider was distinctly grumpy with me that we only had one sort of cake.  As I say - can't do right for doing wrong.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: jochta on August 04, 2017, 08:36:57 pm
We had sponge most of the time in Barney, with optional custard.

One rider was distinctly grumpy with me that we only had one sort of cake.  As I say - can't do right for doing wrong.

Yes, I had chocolate sponge at Barney, it was ace!! And thinking back I had fruit salad at several controls. So there were plenty of sweet things, I just remember thinking as I went round that there wasn't for some reason! I was craving sweet things at times TBH!! I can recommend the bakery in Barton upon Humber where I stopped at both directions to buy pastries and sweet goodies :)
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Somnolent on August 04, 2017, 08:41:32 pm
One suggestion from me:

Presumably menus are agreed well in advance(?) and some labels to be placed in front of the pots would reduce the need for the volunteers to repeat the same information countless times.
Doesn't have to be translated into multiple languages - many of our foreign visitors understand the printed word more quickly than the variety of british accents from our 'United Nations' of volunteers.
Information about spicy/not spicy and which kind of dead animal/vegetarian/vegan would be a bonus.

Obviously no need to label single ingredient dishes like a tray of potatoes, rice, bacon or whatever - just the compound dishes.

I was next in the (very short) queues for food (at several different locations) to a foreign rider who struggled to understand the components of some dishes despite a few repeats; and I'm wondering if this idea might help keep longer queues to a minimum or whether the volunteers would find it reducing their interaction with riders too much?   
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: mcshroom on August 04, 2017, 08:53:54 pm
After the problems this time, I would suggest keeping the bag logging separate from the rider check in logs. The tracking system is brilliant, but perhaps it got a bit too integrated for its own good.

Also we had a few instances of having to contact other controls to get DNFs taken off of records. Perhaps that could be allowed by any control rather than just the one that DNF'd the rider?
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: ElyDave on August 04, 2017, 08:54:24 pm
I thought about providing cake at St Ives, but the sheer logistics of the number of tray bakes that we would have had to work on to feed 1500 riders twice (baking is labour intensive both in the cooking and the cleaning) put me off.  We settled for fruit salad instead which was still labour intensive but less than baking.  We did buy in flapjacks which we did ration (we didn't ration any of the hot food) as from past experience this was essential in ensuring that the later riders had a choice. 

Another thing we were asked for a lot was eggs, which again I shied away from in terms of labour intensity (at peak times controls can turn over 200 riders an hour which even with simple one pot food required 10 - 12 kitchen helpers (and more people even in a secondary school kitchen would be a challenge).  But my wife came up with the suggestion of Spanish omelette - Tortillas - which can be prepped in advance.

I'm amazed how much food we got out so quickly there, particularly on sunday where the kitchen was working flat out from before I got there at 0830 to when i left at 19:30 with 4 or 5 of us serving almost constantly.  Hope it all carried on smoothly through into Friday as well, I'd have liked to stay longer but just couldn't I'm afraid.

There was a lot went very right at St Ives from what I saw, thanks to great organisation by Phil, and yourself in the kitchens. 

We had a a regularly updated flipchart with a menu at st Ives, but still had to keep repeating everything. Some riders even struggled with "do you want that on a plate or bowl?". 
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Mr Larrington on August 04, 2017, 09:00:32 pm
We did put labels on the counter top at Barney, but seeing these would have required hungry riders to lift their eyes from the sight of large platters of nosh, so the experiment was not entirely successful ;D.

Apropos the Brampton water: I'd been chatting with a very polite and personable German chap during a quiet period on Tuesday afternoon before remembering that "Time Is Miles" and chasing him out of the control.  Two minutes later he was back asking where he could empty his bottles of foul Brampton-juice, and seemed quite taken aback at my helpful suggestion, viz. "Anywhere you like!"  I expect there are Rules about That Sort of Thing in Germany.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: LeeW on August 04, 2017, 09:56:50 pm
I reckon the event entry could be improved, rather than places being allocated to whoever could type the fastest to fill out the checkout forms the fastest I wonder if having entry via a ballot (a bit like RideLondon 100) would be more fair?
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: The French Tandem on August 04, 2017, 10:26:16 pm
I reckon the event entry could be improved, rather than places being allocated to whoever could type the fastest to fill out the checkout forms the fastest I wonder if having entry via a ballot (a bit like RideLondon 100) would be more fair?

I think asking for one qualifying ride (not 4, just 1) would solve a great part of this problem, with the added benefit of filtering out many of the obviously unprepared riders that we had.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: jochta on August 04, 2017, 10:49:03 pm
I reckon the event entry could be improved, rather than places being allocated to whoever could type the fastest to fill out the checkout forms the fastest I wonder if having entry via a ballot (a bit like RideLondon 100) would be more fair?

The guaranteed entry for Audax UK members worked well  :)
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Mr Larrington on August 05, 2017, 02:46:10 am
Volunteers who get guaranteed entries next time round should:
I've got three now :demon:
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: MikeFromLFE on August 05, 2017, 08:45:31 am
In addition to the volunteer t-shirts, a fleece or sweatshirt for those outside jobs when it's chilly.
I could have usefully used GlowSticks at the entrance to Spalding when the street lights went out.


Tapatalk puts this signature here, not me!
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Fidgetbuzz on August 05, 2017, 12:18:57 pm
In addition to the volunteer t-shirts, a fleece or sweatshirt for those outside jobs when it's chilly.
I could have usefully used GlowSticks at the entrance to Spalding when the street lights went out.


Tapatalk puts this signature here, not me!

Do you not own a fleece or sweat shirt ?

Glowsticks .. that is for each control to organise .. not centrally .. but we might try to remember to remind them .
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: triker131 on August 05, 2017, 01:34:32 pm
Quote
Be allowed to carry over unused entries

Excellent idea. My 16 year old son volunteered with me and he'd probably prefer to use his entry at age 24 rather than 20.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Mr Larrington on August 05, 2017, 02:49:28 pm
In addition to the volunteer t-shirts, a fleece or sweatshirt for those outside jobs when it's chilly.
I could have usefully used GlowSticks at the entrance to Spalding when the street lights went out.

We also thought of glowsticks or, for directing riders into the control, those illuminated wands used by airport ground crews for telling A380s where to park.  We also had some solar-powered garden lights to guide people to the overspill sleeping hall, but I think these came out of alfapete's garden.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: mcshroom on August 05, 2017, 03:04:37 pm
We had led torches with an orange plastic cone on the end which did a good job of making them into the airport thingys. They worked well, especially on the 2-6am shift where I was pointing people at a gate set back from the road and in pitch darkness.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: mmmmartin on August 05, 2017, 03:30:52 pm
Qualifiers: Nope, daft idea. Ain't gonna happen. Danial won't wear. End. Of.

How do you check? Some sort of document written in a language? किसी प्रकार की एक विदेशी भाषा में लिखा हुआ दस्तावेज़? Κάποιο είδος εγγράφου γραμμένο σε ξένη γλώσσα; เอกสารบางอย่างที่เขียนในภาษาต่างประเทศหรือไม่? Nithean seòrsa de sgrìobhainn sgrìobhte ann an cànan cèin?

It'd destroy the culture of plucky rider on their first audax. And don't try to tell me the problems come from newbies - some of the worst offenders are the arrogant elite alpha males with many victories under the belt who expect to be treated like royalty and get very uppity when their wheel can't be fixed quickly or the breakfast isn't up to five star hotel standards. Please - give me the enthusiastic amateur with dreams greater than their abilities and who is being very audacious.

And which problem are you trying to solve here? Reducing the problems faced by riders on a 1,400k trip to Scotland? Get outta here.

Entry: LEL is the easiest long audax to enter. It really is. All you need to do is volunteer and you have guaranteed entry. Easy. We'll have an event where most riders have volunteered and most volunteers have ridden. That's where we're going and it's a brilliant atmosphere. And the international flavour has been created by putting aside places for Johnny Foreigner. And many volunteers are linked to foreign riders so there's a foreign flavour to volunteering as well.

It ain't broke. don't fix it.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: MikeFromLFE on August 05, 2017, 04:12:44 pm
In addition to the volunteer t-shirts, a fleece or sweatshirt for those outside jobs when it's chilly.
I could have usefully used GlowSticks at the entrance to Spalding when the street lights went out.


Tapatalk puts this signature here, not me!

Do you not own a fleece or sweat shirt ?

I certainly do - I was thinking of the corporate style making it easier for riders to identify volunteers in the scrum that the bike parking / control entry could be on occasions.
I tried to wear a red long sleeved polo with the T-shirt over, or a red woolly jumper for this reason.


Tapatalk puts this signature here, not me!
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: CrinklyLion on August 05, 2017, 04:18:10 pm
Nobody seemed to struggle to identify that I was a volunteer despite my lack of corporate branding - I failed the size limit test, but stuck on a lanyard and a name badge and mucked in anyway :D
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Deano on August 05, 2017, 04:25:46 pm
A few riders mistook me for a volunteer in my (partly red) Dennis the Menace top. Even when I didn't have a camera round my neck.

My favourite was at Innerleithen: a rider came in and said "no more. Kaput." I said "No - food there, then you go to Eskdalemuir". I saw him finish yesterday morning.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: CrinklyLion on August 05, 2017, 05:18:40 pm
And don't try to tell me the problems come from newbies - some of the worst offenders are the arrogant elite alpha males with many victories under the belt who expect to be treated like royalty and get very uppity when their wheel can't be fixed quickly or the breakfast isn't up to five star hotel standards.

One particular example springs to mind for me who took (probably literally) hours of volunteer time during his northbound visit.  I'll not name names cos he's probably mates with half of youse.  But I thought he was a complete nobber and therefore in my mind he will forever be "Mr High Maintenance".
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: jsabine on August 05, 2017, 05:33:27 pm
Oooh - do name names. We love to point, laugh, and tell people they're nobbers - especially when it means we're agreeing with you ...
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: hellymedic on August 05, 2017, 05:36:28 pm
Oooh - do name names. We love to point, laugh, and tell people they're nobbers - especially when it means we're agreeing with you ...

Much though I enjoy bitching, it lacks the excellence we strive to maintain here. Bitch in private if you must.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: David27 on August 05, 2017, 05:39:40 pm
A build on previous comments. And by recognising the brilliant job Danial and volunteers do

Absolutely agree with the need for potable water. I would add the dirty hozelock fitting on the water point at Barnard Castle.

Nutrition and feed stops. I completely disagree with the idea of a token and rationing. Anyone who considers this should read Susan Barr’s excellent article in Ultracycling magazine on nutrition and note the difference in individual calorific requirements according to weight and speed.

http://ultracycling.com/sections/MOVEDarticles/nutrition/calories.php

The challenge is LEL commits to providing food without forcing audaxers to forage and in any case much of the route leaves little option to buy food elsewhere

I had a chest infection and had to quit by the Humber Bridge but it did mean I spent time at Louth control where they were clearing up. I learned that there are no nutritional requirements for food specified only to have available a hot meals for vegan and one other. This was evident in the options en route where I observed good solid carbohydrate meals in some locations – others with “healthy options” such as poached fish which for someone with my body weight were not going to keep me going.

I appreciate this is difficult to manage but like suggestions elsewhere to use production scheduling to assist in bed availability, then if you know for example there are still 100 cyclists to come through then it isn’t hard using Susan Barr’s article to calculate how many calories they are likely to need and not penalise the late starter/slow rider with insufficient calories


Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: jsabine on August 05, 2017, 06:14:24 pm
Oooh - do name names. We love to point, laugh, and tell people they're nobbers - especially when it means we're agreeing with you ...

Much though I enjoy bitching, it lacks the excellence we strive to maintain here. Bitch in private if you must.

I did PM CL suggesting that the AUK board would be pleased to consider details of such behaviour.

I also think online lynching is unedifying. (But sometimes fun. And I'm not *entirely* sure that someone who has apparently sacrificed excellence in RL can pray it in aid here.)
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: CrinklyLion on August 05, 2017, 06:16:09 pm
Much though I enjoy bitching, it lacks the excellence we strive to maintain here. Bitch in private if you must.

I have no intention of bitching in public or in private, although I will confess to doing so on the day.  I was just making the point that just because someone is an experienced cyclist doesn't mean they will get it all right.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Bikeabilityman on August 05, 2017, 06:37:16 pm
I know it must be really difficult with using different caterers up and down the country, but in 2013 I rode to each control dreaming of what the veggie soup would be. This time I think I had tomato soup several times, one was so spicy I was hiccupping, then sick shortly into the ride. That same control also ran out of veg curry (veg curry or chilli being the staple at most controls, a few offering pasta), and could only scoop out the watery leftovers of the sauce. At the finish, there were two dishes of tuna (or was it chicken?) curry on the counter, but no veggie alternative. I was grateful to be offered veggie sausages in bread rolls at one control as a form of breakfast, and another had scrambled eggs. I did have porridge a couple of times which was a nice change. There did seem to be more choice for meat eaters. I don't know how the vegan cyclists' got on.

Some controls had snacks for you to eat on the move, while others didn't appear to, unless I wasn't looking. Anyway. I'd only lost a pound in weight when I arrived home, so you did feed me ok. Luckily last night, my daughter suggested Domino's as a treat, and not take away curry! :-)
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: dod on August 05, 2017, 06:44:18 pm
Some small points:

Jugs of milk are good, but individual portions of butter/margarine are tricky to use when cold and sleep-deprived.

The black plastic cutlery is OK, the white plastic cutlery that shatters when you try to eat a roast potato is bad.

Fruit salad with custard is good, soup and bread is good (but not all controls seemed to have either of those), individual cups of rice pudding with fruit salad is also good and quick to collect.

The A-frame water dispensers are good (as long as the hose is short or food-safe quality), the water dispenser at Pocklington was not so good.

Getting to Louth at 1am on Monday and eventually finding cranberries with milk was the only food option (after someone had been to restock the milk) was bad.

Having different systems for bed booking/alarm call organisation seems unnecessary - why not choose the system that works best and deploy it at every control?

The tracking system was very good - my wife is having trouble living without it now but is catching up on lost sleep. The controllers also seemed to enjoy using it, and were always keen to show me the charts of the 'bulge' when I asked.

Some portaloos would help avoid toilet queues, and are easily hosed down if required.

Otherwise I would agree with all of mmmartin's points - part of the attraction of LEL for non-riders seems to be the idea that anyone who is brave/insane enough to attempt it can do so, and I'd be interested to know just how small a percentage of the total numbers they actually account for. I think audax is in a great position as the grandmother of 'adventure' cycling, and to close that off in any way would be a bad thing.

And I hope the rider numbers for those who behaved unacceptably have been noted so they can be barred from future entry.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: nextSibling on August 05, 2017, 09:52:48 pm
I've no idea why there was nothing to eat or drink upon arrival at Louth in the middle of the night but water and a slice of dry cake with a dribble of cold custard, but it was a somewhat unwelcome surprise. I fully sympathize with the controls having to cater for a wide variety of food preferences and try to be a flexible eater, but the Louth diet seemed a little over-austere. I'd be happy to pay for food outside of controls, or carry more, if that's what's necessary, but it would be of benefit to have expectations managed a little more clearly.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: sizbut on August 05, 2017, 10:15:21 pm
In addition to the volunteer t-shirts, a fleece or sweatshirt for those outside jobs when it's chilly.
I could have usefully used GlowSticks at the entrance to Spalding when the street lights went out.


Tapatalk puts this signature here, not me!

Do you not own a fleece or sweat shirt ?

Glowsticks .. that is for each control to organise .. not centrally .. but we might try to remember to remind them .

I think that having volunteers inside wearing clearly identifiable tops helped a lot of very tired people when they needed to ask a question/find something - so not too silly to have something similar for the volunteers when outside in the cold or wet.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: hellymedic on August 05, 2017, 10:54:38 pm
In addition to the volunteer t-shirts, a fleece or sweatshirt for those outside jobs when it's chilly.
I could have usefully used GlowSticks at the entrance to Spalding when the street lights went out.


Tapatalk puts this signature here, not me!

Do you not own a fleece or sweat shirt ?

Glowsticks .. that is for each control to organise .. not centrally .. but we might try to remember to remind them .

I think that having volunteers inside wearing clearly identifiable tops helped a lot of very tired people when they needed to ask a question/find something - so not too silly to have something similar for the volunteers when outside in the cold or wet.

If cost or logistics make this impractical, I suggest one-size tabards to wear over ones own outdoor clothing.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Fidgetbuzz on August 06, 2017, 10:01:39 am

[/quote]

If cost or logistics make this impractical, I suggest one-size tabards to wear over ones own outdoor clothing.
[/quote]

Good suggestion Helly. .. an  L (or even XL) times two  .. for every control .. .will try to get it onto the list of things to improve for 2021 . But it is also darn hard to remember everything eventually.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: LeeW on August 06, 2017, 10:42:28 am
But it is also darn hard to remember everything eventually.
Start writing a list now?
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Fidgetbuzz on August 06, 2017, 11:06:43 am
We have a debrief meeting scheduled .. but it is extremely unlikely that I will do 2021 finances
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Peter on August 06, 2017, 12:07:47 pm
I don't know if there was any central direction on this, but at Eskdalemuir, Denise, the Tiny Controller, insisted on anyone on the road duties wearing a hi-viz tabard.  We were lucky, too, to have a small patch of grass, where Mike Wigley pitched a pop-up tent for us to cower in when it rained (which was mostly).  The tent sloped at about 30 degrees, so there was no danger of sleeping on duty.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Mr Larrington on August 06, 2017, 01:41:51 pm
Nobody seemed to struggle to identify that I was a volunteer despite my lack of corporate branding - I failed the size limit test, but stuck on a lanyard and a name badge and mucked in anyway :D

OTOH our masseuse Verity had thoughtfully brought a hoodie the exact same shade as the volunteer T-shaped shirts.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: mcshroom on August 06, 2017, 02:16:43 pm
For my overnight marshalling I took a red softshell anna red fleece. It was cold enough to need both. When it chucked it down, however, my waterproof was not red
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: yorkie on August 06, 2017, 09:00:15 pm
Someone brought a couple of Hi-Viz vests to Pocklington, which were in use on the gate and bike park during the hours of darkness. We also improvised a direction-lighty-thing with one of those small LED wall light things. No one complained! (No one overshot the gate either - well, not while I was on duty!!)  ;)
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: CrinklyLion on August 06, 2017, 09:31:51 pm
Pock school gates are about 10 seconds from one of the biggest junctions in town (it's got a mini roundabout and everyfink!) and are surrounded by streetlights though.  I mean, I guess people might accidentally turn into the car park alongside the gates if they weren't paying attention, but the entrance is pretty hard to miss.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Jacques on August 06, 2017, 10:02:14 pm
Never underestimate the inability of a rider to be able to miss or do anything wrong no matter how obvious it may be to someone who can think clearly. My brain was in a scrambled mess for about 50% of the ride and a simple question like "want custard with that?" could almost bring me to tears with the shear effort of working out an answer.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: CrinklyLion on August 06, 2017, 10:12:40 pm
As a wielder of the custard ladle, I had noticed that.... of the controls that I've seen, Pock is still one of the easier to spot and to waymark.  I was really uncomfortable on my own at the gates in Barney for three hours.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Somnolent on August 07, 2017, 10:23:57 am
While on the subject of gates....
An easel with sign saying   "No parking for Registration"   for the Davenant entrance, would unload the Saturday volunteers at that gate.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: hulver on August 07, 2017, 04:24:58 pm
These are all just suggestions, not criticisms of the systems that people worked hard on.

Some way of controls contacting each other that was offline (IE, not phone calls, and not facebook) would have been great. A standard email account that all the control computers were logged into, something like that. So that people coming on shift would be able to see what had gone on, and any messages.

From what I understand (not sure if this is right, but it's what I heard) the bag drops were scanned into one place as riders. This could be avoided in future by having a prefix (on the barcode, no need for it to be visible) so instead of just the rider number on the barcode "MM20" it would scan in as "BAGMM20". This could be dealt with easily by the scanning software, and avoid scanning bags as riders.

Quite often the scan would not "press enter" when you scanned a bar code, and sometimes there was a lag between scanning and anything showing up on the screen. This would leave you wondering if it scanned, if you had to press enter, or if you had to scan it again. Showing what's been scanned as soon as it's been scanned (showing something like "Fetching data for MM20" as soon as the scan is done), maybe a timeout on the scanning field (1/2 a second with no entry should press enter automatically for example) would work around these problems.

As for the rider numbers. Please don't use I, II, l, ll. A tired volunteer trying to quickly spot the difference between II1 and I11 would have to do more mental work than necessary.  ;D
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: MikeFromLFE on August 07, 2017, 07:39:20 pm
I don't know if there was any central direction on this, but at Eskdalemuir, Denise, the Tiny Controller, insisted on anyone on the road duties wearing a hi-viz tabard. 
Didn't wear hi-vis on the gate at Spalding. It was 'interesting' after midnight when the street lights went out - but I don't think hi-vis would have had any benefit either for riders or volunteers (YMMV)
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: sizbut on August 07, 2017, 07:39:53 pm
Mandatory "SHOE TAGS". Joking - but only just. The mixing up of shoes was discussed before the event because it has happened before, and if you read the threads for this years event it happened again.

For the control I worked at we had one guy search for "black Shimanos". What followed was several minutes of volunteers pointing to pairs of black Shimanos and being told no, no, no. Meantime there were shoes just dumped everywhere and being kicked/moved becaused they became an impediment to tired riders.

The main problem (apart from that amongst 1400 riders there are bound to be multiple pairs of similar shoes) was that whilst the rule was shoes off, there was no planned provision for where people should put those shoes/what they should do with those shoes.

No conclusion, other than the issue needs to be addressed.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: rachel t on August 07, 2017, 08:29:20 pm
Someone brought a couple of Hi-Viz vests to Pocklington, which were in use on the gate and bike park during the hours of darkness. We also improvised a direction-lighty-thing with one of those small LED wall light things. No one complained! (No one overshot the gate either - well, not while I was on duty!!)  ;)

You only had to ask there was a bag of approx 20 hi viz vests, I thought I had told you all where they were  :) :) :)
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: LeeW on August 07, 2017, 09:36:06 pm
The main problem (apart from that amongst 1400 riders there are bound to be multiple pairs of similar shoes) was that whilst the rule was shoes off, there was no planned provision for where people should put those shoes/what they should do with those shoes.

At Louth, knowing that the lobby area was fairly small, we provided some racking for the shoes.  Admittedly at the peak in the wee hours of Monday morning it filled up, though that was partly because people ended up putting helmets and other stuff on the racking which I had not considered.  Damon also bought some additional cheap racking from Am*z*n which despite being advertised as being for shoes, at some point in the night collapsed leaving a heap of shoes on the floor.  For the southbound we sourced some extra proper racking.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: yorkie on August 07, 2017, 10:31:11 pm
Someone brought a couple of Hi-Viz vests to Pocklington, which were in use on the gate and bike park during the hours of darkness. We also improvised a direction-lighty-thing with one of those small LED wall light things. No one complained! (No one overshot the gate either - well, not while I was on duty!!)  ;)

You only had to ask there was a bag of approx 20 hi viz vests, I thought I had told you all where they were  :) :) :)
You may have told us, but you know what my memory is like...

Sent from my Mobile Phone using Tapatalk

Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: CrinklyLion on August 07, 2017, 10:32:28 pm
That central comms board that I suggested a bit back....
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: hulver on August 07, 2017, 10:49:17 pm
That central comms board that I suggested a bit back....
Sorry, didn't mean to come across as trying to steal your idea, just adding my voice that it's a great idea. There were times when we tried to get in touch with other controls with no answer. Having some sort of messaging would have really helped.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: bhoot on August 07, 2017, 11:04:52 pm
That central comms board that I suggested a bit back....
Sorry, didn't mean to come across as trying to steal your idea, just adding my voice that it's a great idea. There were times when we tried to get in touch with other controls with no answer. Having some sort of messaging would have really helped.
Totally agree, something like a Skype conversation between all the controls and also maybe a central person (who could have been at home rather than facing two hundred tired and hungry riders) who could check event rules, provide guidance etc. For example at Brampton we were asked by many riders whether they should take the A or B route on their GPS to Moffat. We could not ourselves find any way to understand what was A and B (we looked at the file download names on the website but that didn't help) and so I think to start with we assumed A was the favoured main road route and sent a few that way, until we wised up and just said "take the 74km option not the 71km". Someone centrally who could have supplied a definitive answer on this would have been very useful.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: CrinklyLion on August 07, 2017, 11:05:23 pm
I was actually meaning an old skool noticeboard for within the control.  For the stuff like 'tell qwe123 that they've found their usb memory stick full of pR0n in the bogs at such-and-such control and will keep it on the control desk for them to collect southbound'; 'the vounteer partner of rider abc987 has fallen asleep under the dishwasher and says don't bother to wake them up unless abc987 is exhibiting actual tears or blood when they arrive'; 'rider xyz001 says to tell xyz002 "I looked everywhere for you and couldn't find you so am setting off hoping to find you on the road and please don't divorce me if you haven't actually left yet and were actually just locked in the portaloo"'; 'DON'T USE the 3rd cubicle from the left in the men's toilets' type things.  Or 'hi viz vests in box below - help yourself for outdoor shifts'.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: bhoot on August 07, 2017, 11:09:18 pm
Mandatory "SHOE TAGS". NOT Joking - but only just. The mixing up of shoes was discussed before the event because it has happened before, and if you read the threads for this years event it happened again.

Maybe small shoe tags could be printed along with the  bag tags and frame numbers?

At Brampton after "shoemaggeddon" (read the volunteers tales) we imposed labels in shoes which I think helped.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: madcow on August 08, 2017, 09:23:27 am
Eskdalemuir were selling AA batteries in the check in area. Enterprising of them and useful service for riders.
Despite being told that there would be nowhere to charge 'phones, or Garmins, several controls had made it possible to do so.
With so many riders dependent on GPS nowadays ( it does make riding in the dark much easier) can the orgs. look at having a consistent approach across all controls.
I would have cut my right arm off for a couple of AA batteries at Great Easton. Entirely my fault for not packing enough but I gave priority to lighting over GPS on the last night. I struggled on to the finish by following others and as the sky lightened, using a printed route sheet.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: jsabine on August 08, 2017, 09:47:38 am
I think there *was* a consistent approach across all controls - expect nothing in the way of charging facilities, but if some are available, that's a bonus.

I charged my phone a couple of times, but that was nice rather than essential: I've still got power in the powerbanks I took with me, and never used the spare batteries or headtorch.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: frankly frankie on August 08, 2017, 09:52:29 am
Helly I think you should rename this thread 'Hindsight is a wonderful thing'  ;)
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: CrinklyLion on August 08, 2017, 09:53:48 am
Volunteers like to exceed expectations.  The problem is that this year's "above and beyond" (lending or indeed donating shoes/wheels/bikes/parts etc for example) is liable to become next time's expectation, e.g. last time around the expectation, IIRC, was that there'd be a workshop area if you needed to fix your bike and that volunteers would help where possible.  Some heroic volunteers slooged through the week doing nothing but fixing bikes.  This seemed to turn into an expectation of a 24/7 staffed workshop with spares for sale and a mechanic to fix your bike while you waited this time.

At Barney someone from the control team had obviously clocked at some point that there was a sensible spot in the dining room with several free sockets, and so had organised several multi-way extension leads.  We still had riders complaining (to the cook!) that they couldn't charge devices as well as a number of riders asking to plug in garmins to the control laptop to charge as they only had the necessary to charge over USB.  I took the view when I was on the desk that I wasn't plugging any unknown device into the laptop that was allowing us to check people in...
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Somnolent on August 08, 2017, 10:08:26 am
Maybe LEL 2021 should charge for charging ....

With current powerbank technology it is trivially easy do without external sources of power for that length of time.
I had a 6700mAh unit in each drop bag and both were still more than 50% at the end, and still four bars on both Garmin and phone.
Yes I'd have need more if I hadnt had a dynamo but the principle is the same.

I was quite astonished after all the warnings that so much charging was available - and that so many people were absolutely reliant upon it.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: The French Tandem on August 08, 2017, 10:47:58 am
At Barney someone from the control team had obviously clocked at some point that there was a sensible spot in the dining room with several free sockets, and so had organised several multi-way extension leads.  We still had riders complaining (to the cook!) that they couldn't charge devices as well as a number of riders asking to plug in garmins to the control laptop to charge as they only had the necessary to charge over USB.  I took the view when I was on the desk that I wasn't plugging any unknown device into the laptop that was allowing us to check people in...

That's amazing! Riders are expected to read the FAQs on the LEL website before the ride, aren't they? It was made clear that there was no guarantee of an available mains socket at controls, let alone a USB socket!
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: sizbut on August 08, 2017, 11:21:13 am
At Great Easton at some stage during Thursday night we lost power to the mains sockets in the dining room. Never did find the cause, all the fuse boxes were okay. Very long extension cord got the soup and toasters back on but if the usb chargers had been in that room then riders would have had to choose between  food or power.  Message being 'nothing other than best efforts can actually be guaranteed'.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: madcow on August 08, 2017, 11:40:47 am
Maybe LEL 2021 should charge for charging ....more volunteer time needed.and how do you stop someone plugging a device into a vacant electric socket?

I was quite astonished after all the warnings that so much charging was available - and that so many people were absolutely reliant upon it. Way of the world innit? I reckon that the majority of riders were using GPS.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: LittleWheelsandBig on August 08, 2017, 11:47:21 am
I recommended GPS to any foreign riders doing LEL. Very few countries have routesheets as complex and with such closely-spaced turns as LEL's.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: hulver on August 08, 2017, 12:25:04 pm
I recommended GPS to any foreign riders doing LEL. Very few countries have routesheets as complex and with such closely-spaced turns as LEL's.

As long as they know how to use them. Having an error in the file from Pocklington going south was a real nightmare when working at the front desk. Some people could handle it fine, but some didn't have a clue what to do. We had one volunteer who was familiar enough with the various units to be able to update some, but I think she was the only one. I didn't feel comfortable playing with a GPS I didn't know how to use and potentially doing something to kill the riders data or future routes.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Aidy on August 08, 2017, 01:11:29 pm
Not sure if it caught anyone else out, but the return gpx from Edinburgh going all the way to Brampton (rather than individual ones between controls) was surprisingly confusing to me.

I clocked that that was the case when I was loading up the Garmin, but, in my sleep deprived state, I was very confused having gotten to Innerleithen and not having one to take me to Eskdalemuir. It wasn't until some time after Eskdalemuir that I remembered about it.

( Thanks to the kind volunteer at Innerleithen who loaded the next leg onto my Garmin for me - apparently I just needed to be smarter, but it was very appreciated :) )
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: MikeFromLFE on August 08, 2017, 04:27:47 pm
I recommended GPS to any foreign riders doing LEL. Very few countries have routesheets as complex and with such closely-spaced turns as LEL's.

As long as they know how to use them. Having an error in the file from Pocklington going south was a real nightmare when working at the front desk. Some people could handle it fine, but some didn't have a clue what to do. We had one volunteer who was familiar enough with the various units to be able to update some, but I think she was the only one. I didn't feel comfortable playing with a GPS I didn't know how to use and potentially doing something to kill the riders data or future routes.
This.
We also had one volunteer (Duncan) who was competent at sorting a variety of GPS units, and did so very well.
The issue was that there was only one laptop that would 'see' all GPS units, and that was one of the reception laptops, so there was a 'conflict of interests'.


Tapatalk puts this signature here, not me!
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: The French Tandem on August 08, 2017, 04:34:23 pm
I recommended GPS to any foreign riders doing LEL. Very few countries have routesheets as complex and with such closely-spaced turns as LEL's.

We finished LEL 2013 with no GPS at all, and with a very minimal knowledge of british roads. I think part of the fun of audaxes lies into navigating through unknown terrain using only the informations on the routesheet. GPS tends to spoil the fun for us  :)
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: LittleWheelsandBig on August 08, 2017, 04:36:25 pm
I've ridden brevets in 14 countries so far, with wide variations in route sheet convention and quality. I have both GPS and route sheet on the handlebars but GPS is the primary guide. YMMV
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: CrinklyLion on August 08, 2017, 06:44:07 pm
But if you bolloxed up your gps in some way you wouldn't expect us on the control desk to sort it out for you, would you LWaB?  And that is what we were contending with, repeatedly.  Riders wanting assistance to charge or load files onto their gps devices.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: mattc on August 08, 2017, 07:08:28 pm
But if you bolloxed up your gps in some way you wouldn't expect us on the control desk to sort it out for you, would you LWaB?  And that is what we were contending with, repeatedly.  Riders wanting assistance to charge or load files onto their gps devices.
You have my sympathies. I was only 100km into the route this year, but we had at least 3 GPS dramas to sort out. (I'm glad to say that all the riders were polite and patient). What it was like further north ... the mind boggles!

I was based in Yorkshire 4 years ago; I can't recall any such queries. (we had a few peeps charging their devices). GPS takeup has grown enormously in 4 years; who knows how fast GPS competence has grown?

This obviously leads into your other comment:
Volunteers like to exceed expectations.  The problem is that this year's "above and beyond" (lending or indeed donating shoes/wheels/bikes/parts etc for example) is liable to become next time's expectation, e.g. last time around the expectation, IIRC, was that there'd be a workshop area if you needed to fix your bike and that volunteers would help where possible.  Some heroic volunteers slooged through the week doing nothing but fixing bikes.  This seemed to turn into an expectation of a 24/7 staffed workshop with spares for sale and a mechanic to fix your bike while you waited this time.

At Barney someone from the control team had obviously clocked at some point that there was a sensible spot in the dining room with several free sockets, and so had organised several multi-way extension leads.  We still had riders complaining (to the cook!) that they couldn't charge devices as well as a number of riders asking to plug in garmins to the control laptop to charge as they only had the necessary to charge over USB.  I took the view when I was on the desk that I wasn't plugging any unknown device into the laptop that was allowing us to check people in...
Very true.


(at the risk of digging up the other hoary topic ... would riders familiar with long AUK events  be more prepared to manage without high levels of support at controls ... maybe ... ? ... )
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: LittleWheelsandBig on August 08, 2017, 07:12:39 pm
And the solution is?

Riders will use GPS devices, some of them will fall over, some riders will not be able to repair the problem themselves. LEL could deliberately make no provision at all for repairing riders' bicycles (self-sufficiency, of course) but that seems a little harsh.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Tomsk on August 08, 2017, 07:17:30 pm
^ The point being that you need a back-up plan - as a non-gps user I had these options:

1] Use the route sheet.

2] Carry my Barts maps - three sheets covered LEL and were referred to, if just to confirm that I couldn't be bothered to do the A19 alternative to the Howardian Hills.

3] Hook up with some one who knows where they're going - didn't need to do this, but our ACME peloton took a few off route on the main road way from Cambridge and guided others with gps or other navigation issues.

Some riders semed to hope to get by with a sketchy plan A and a lot of finger-crossing...
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: LittleWheelsandBig on August 08, 2017, 07:29:45 pm
Yes and sketchy Plan A riders are going to continue to sign up to LEL. It is part and parcel of relatively inexperienced riders taking part. Surprisingly to me, riders who'd ridden serious distances overseas did not have a back up plan. I guess things had never previously gone wrong for them before when there were so many possible route choices.

Regardless, this problem is going to continue. Are we prepared to smile and wave goodbye to these riders as they disappear off-route and time-out?
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Phil W on August 08, 2017, 08:04:56 pm
I recommended GPS to any foreign riders doing LEL. Very few countries have routesheets as complex and with such closely-spaced turns as LEL's.

As long as they know how to use them. Having an error in the file from Pocklington going south was a real nightmare when working at the front desk. Some people could handle it fine, but some didn't have a clue what to do. We had one volunteer who was familiar enough with the various units to be able to update some, but I think she was the only one. I didn't feel comfortable playing with a GPS I didn't know how to use and potentially doing something to kill the riders data or future routes.


Time stamps in the Pocklington - Louth track caused problems in Edge units. Any hiking type unit such as Etrex , GPSMap had no issues what so ever with the track. All test rides using that track of which there were about a dozen were done on hiking type units and had no issues. Website route pages had no issues with displaying that track correctly. So I had no reason to suspect there was a problem or look inside the supplied GPX tracks I'd been passed to put on the website route pages.

It only became apparent Edge units had an issue with that track during the event.  Which indicates not a single Edge user had actually checked to ensure everything worked correctly with the official tracks till the very last minute. Or if they had had issues they didn't think to let the LEL team know. Whilst we were able to remove the time stamps and load a new GPX track to the website. It wouldn't be practical for everyone to access that and get it on their Edge units. We did pass a message to Pocklington. The obvious thing for a GPS user is to reverse and use the northbound Louth Pocklington track already on the GPS.

You see the same issue with GPX tracks supplied on much shorter Audax UK events. One or two I've had to adjust and give feedback to the org so they work on my GPS correctly and aren't truncated etc. 

I've also seen a FB post where someone claims the LEL Route took them down a bridle way between Spalding and St Ives. As the LEL GPX is a track only it indicates they were trying to navigate as a route and let their GPS determine which way to go, not following the pre determined GPX track as supplied.

As always it just showing a greater level of GPS use and also inexperience amongst riders.

1. Using a GPX file you didn't create? Check it meets your needs on your unit, and the way you use it, and look for any issues, well in advance. If you find any let the organiser know and adjust  as necessary.
2. Have a back up in case you missed something in 1. I remember on one Audax I'd forgotten to load one of the GPX tracks. Backup route sheet came out and I finished off the ride.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: hulver on August 08, 2017, 10:27:54 pm
Time stamps in the Pocklington - Louth track caused problems in Edge units. Any hiking type unit such as Etrex , GPSMap had no issues what so ever with the track. All test rides using that track of which there were about a dozen were done on hiking type units and had no issues. Website route pages had no issues with displaying that track correctly. So I had no reason to suspect there was a problem or look inside the supplied GPX tracks I'd been passed to put on the website route pages.

It only became apparent Edge units had an issue with that track during the event.  Which indicates not a single Edge user had actually checked to ensure everything worked correctly with the official tracks till the very last minute. Or if they had had issues they didn't think to let the LEL team know. Whilst we were able to remove the time stamps and load a new GPX track to the website. It wouldn't be practical for everyone to access that and get it on their Edge units. We did pass a message to Pocklington. The obvious thing for a GPS user is to reverse and use the northbound Louth Pocklington track already on the GPS.

I warned one rider about the GPS file problems (we were warning everybody coming south about it) and he said "Yes, I saw that weeks ago, but I always just use the supplied track as a guide an build my own anyway". I almost asked then if he'd got in touch to let anybody know, but I already knew the answer to that.

The problem with reversing the track, was that very few of the riders knew how to do it. I'm sure that their units could do it, but they didn't know how and I wasn't going to start fiddling with them to try and work it out.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: mattc on August 08, 2017, 10:34:54 pm
And the solution is?

Riders will use GPS devices, some of them will fall over, some riders will not be able to repair the problem themselves. LEL could deliberately make no provision at all for repairing riders' bicycles (self-sufficiency, of course) but that seems a little harsh.
One solution would be for those recommending GPS* to setup a support group for those riders. Everyone wins - simples!    :P

*
(click to show/hide)
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: jiberjaber on August 09, 2017, 08:37:04 am
I recommended GPS to any foreign riders doing LEL. Very few countries have routesheets as complex and with such closely-spaced turns as LEL's.

As long as they know how to use them. Having an error in the file from Pocklington going south was a real nightmare when working at the front desk. Some people could handle it fine, but some didn't have a clue what to do. We had one volunteer who was familiar enough with the various units to be able to update some, but I think she was the only one. I didn't feel comfortable playing with a GPS I didn't know how to use and potentially doing something to kill the riders data or future routes.


Time stamps in the Pocklington - Louth track caused problems in Edge units. Any hiking type unit such as Etrex , GPSMap had no issues what so ever with the track. All test rides using that track of which there were about a dozen were done on hiking type units and had no issues. Website route pages had no issues with displaying that track correctly. So I had no reason to suspect there was a problem or look inside the supplied GPX tracks I'd been passed to put on the website route pages.

It only became apparent Edge units had an issue with that track during the event.  Which indicates not a single Edge user had actually checked to ensure everything worked correctly with the official tracks till the very last minute. Or if they had had issues they didn't think to let the LEL team know. Whilst we were able to remove the time stamps and load a new GPX track to the website. It wouldn't be practical for everyone to access that and get it on their Edge units. We did pass a message to Pocklington. The obvious thing for a GPS user is to reverse and use the northbound Louth Pocklington track already on the GPS.

You see the same issue with GPX tracks supplied on much shorter Audax UK events. One or two I've had to adjust and give feedback to the org so they work on my GPS correctly and aren't truncated etc. 

I've also seen a FB post where someone claims the LEL Route took them down a bridle way between Spalding and St Ives. As the LEL GPX is a track only it indicates they were trying to navigate as a route and let their GPS determine which way to go, not following the pre determined GPX track as supplied.

As always it just showing a greater level of GPS use and also inexperience amongst riders.

1. Using a GPX file you didn't create? Check it meets your needs on your unit, and the way you use it, and look for any issues, well in advance. If you find any let the organiser know and adjust  as necessary.
2. Have a back up in case you missed something in 1. I remember on one Audax I'd forgotten to load one of the GPX tracks. Backup route sheet came out and I finished off the ride.

I never trust a GPX provided by any org (including the fab ones Nick produces) and always load into something like RWGPS to review and edit/amend as required - it's all part of route familiarisation init!

I'm not sure how a user of an edge unit would be able to check the route in advance without loading it into something else first, they operate differently to the walking type GPS units you refer to, so at best you could look at the map of the route, but perhaps not see the order of points, and probably not diagnose track point times as a problem.

Plus, never enable the Garmin TBT navigation...  whilst I had the usual data loss issues with my Edge unit, one thing I didn't have was navigation issues with it!

Why anyone would embark on such a long adventure relying on only one form of navigation is beyond me.  In addition to the Garmin, I had offline RWPGS and 2 copies of the route sheet were never deployed but were tested in advance and there if needed!
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: frankly frankie on August 09, 2017, 10:24:42 am
Regardless, this problem is going to continue. Are we prepared to smile and wave goodbye to these riders as they disappear off-route and time-out?

Without even being there I'm willing to bet that many of the problems stemmed from a combination of the one-track-per-leg with Edge 800 or similar models of GPS, which are among the most popular with cyclists.  Unfortunately that particular model has a bug which means it doesn't play well with multiple tracks.  The bug isn't apparent in 'normal' use for day-rides requiring only one track, so many 800 users don't even know the problem exists.
The 800 is already an old model, and I think it's reasonable to assume that there will be far fewer of them in the wild in 4 years' time, so hopefully that particular problem will go away.

Interesting about the timestamp problem affecting Edges.  On the older-model Etrexes, a track that is corrupt in this way will generate a 'data error' message when its loaded into the GPS - however these error messages are too easily clicked-through and ignored.  Still, no-one knows better than Phil, how to 'clean' a track.  :thumbsup:

Quote from: Phil W
1. Using a GPX file you didn't create? Check it meets your needs on your unit, ...
A big +1 ^

Quote from:  another thread
... I hadn't spotted (because I don't look at gps files or routesheets when I download them), ...
::-)
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: hellymedic on August 09, 2017, 10:53:10 am
Helly I think you should rename this thread 'Hindsight is a wonderful thing'  ;)

 ;) ;D

I'm in Foreign Climes with Dodgy Internets so keeping fairly quiet...

I started this thread with a useful, non-judgmental, novel suggestion for a reason...
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Vince on August 09, 2017, 12:06:38 pm
I was actually meaning an old skool noticeboard for within the control.  For the stuff like 'tell qwe123 that they've found their usb memory stick full of pR0n in the bogs at such-and-such control and will keep it on the control desk for them to collect southbound'; 'the vounteer partner of rider abc987 has fallen asleep under the dishwasher and says don't bother to wake them up unless abc987 is exhibiting actual tears or blood when they arrive'; 'rider xyz001 says to tell xyz002 "I looked everywhere for you and couldn't find you so am setting off hoping to find you on the road and please don't divorce me if you haven't actually left yet and were actually just locked in the portaloo"'; 'DON'T USE the 3rd cubicle from the left in the men's toilets' type things.  Or 'hi viz vests in box below - help yourself for outdoor shifts'.
I didn't use it, but there was a facility to add notes to a rider's details which I hope would have popped up when details were scanned.
A simple one. Shorten the page names on the web thingy. We typically had three pages open in tabs - Scanning, rider's details and the excellent stats page, All the tabs were named 'London Edinbu'.
I second getting feed back between scanning a bar code and waiting for the web page to respond - the 15 second rule was good, but we did have several duplicate scans when the performance was very slow.
I know the server size was increased and this improved thing greatly, but perhaps query the rider tracking details/statistics from a second database, preserving performance in the scanning page.

For food, I would suggest a large menu with what is available now and what in 30 minutes time, so riders don't waste time queuing up to find there is nothing to suit them.

For me, next time I will take both my tool boxes and work stand.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: LittleWheelsandBig on August 09, 2017, 06:25:42 pm
And the solution is?

Riders will use GPS devices, some of them will fall over, some riders will not be able to repair the problem themselves. LEL could deliberately make no provision at all for repairing riders' bicycles (self-sufficiency, of course) but that seems a little harsh.
One solution would be for those recommending GPS* to setup a support group for those riders. Everyone wins - simples!    :P

*
(click to show/hide)

I believe the appropriate response involves sex and travel.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: CrinklyLion on August 09, 2017, 07:11:53 pm
I was actually meaning an old skool noticeboard for within the control.
I didn't use it, but there was a facility to add notes to a rider's details which I hope would have popped up when details were scanned.

I clearly haven't made this clear enough.... my bold above.  I mean a noticeboard, not electonic, for knackered volunteers to communicate stuff to other knackered volunteers within a single control. 

Anything computerised doesn't work for this because most volunteers aren't using computers most of the time. 

I think a noticeboard could help to avoid the communication-by-chinese-whispers which is fairly inevitable when communication WITHIN the control, during the event, is verbal and people are working bizarre shift patterns 24 hours a day for several days, with the added complication of foreign languages.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: paul851 on August 09, 2017, 07:17:59 pm
We had a white board at Brampton with various messages for riders and volunteers if I remember rightly (I was mainly in the dining hall and kitchen) .

Paul
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: CrinklyLion on August 09, 2017, 08:34:00 pm
Did it get used, and was it useful?

We had a noticeboard in BC behind the comtrol desk, but it was a pinboard that got used for info for riders (and for pinning up stray lost property in hope of re-uniting it with its rider).  I was looking at it on the last day and thinking 'we should have put volunteer info on the back of that!'.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Phil W on August 09, 2017, 09:22:42 pm
I know the server size was increased and this improved thing greatly, but perhaps query the rider tracking details/statistics from a second database, preserving performance in the scanning page.

Bit more nuanced than that. There's the web servers and DB server. The web servers scale horizontally the DB vertically.  There's also a clustered memcached  servers layer in front of the DB. So most the time public tracking data was being pulled from memcached servers memory and not going near the DB server. Then we have time limited caching rules on origin servers, caching in a CDN, caching in your ISP, and finally caching in the browser all working to reduce load.

There's a however coming as you might have guessed. Cloud servers are priced for a baseline performance of CPU memory etc with burst capability. That's how they (and you) keep the costs down and cram so much into so little. So what does this mean?

As long as your server is running at or below the baseline CPU you gain CPU credits.  If you are running above the baseline CPU you've paid for you use credits. The max the credits can be is a 100% CPU for an hour. So if you need a burst of CPU above the baseline for a short period it works great. But on balance you need your server CPU to be at or just below the baseline most of the time. So you choose and pay for one of their server sizes to meet that. With me so far?

For the web servers it's easy you scale horizontally in and out as demand dictates. I.e. You add and remove servers automatically based on rules you've set as required to match demand. No outage required and done automatically.

The DB server is trickier. You can generally scale down the DB server without an outage. To scale up a DB server (in AWS at least) requires an outage of the server and therefore entire website.  So it's not an easy decision to make mid event, but it was necessary.  We asked controls to make their scanning offline whilst I did the upgrade and we had the outage (10 mins). Then scanning made online again and the scans came up automatically to the website. The DB server had exhausted its CPU credits, and was throttling the requests, it's wasn't an I/O bottle neck of any sort. When  the DB was not being throttled it had millisecond response time.  It lost its credits very slowly And I was hoping it'd recover them and I wouldn't need that outage. Alas. Had we not relaxed the rate limit on public tracking we would not have required the DB server upgrade. But we did for a better user experience. The cost was the upgrade becoming necessary later in the event.

DB Replication with a read only replica.  You actually get a lot less for your money than just having a suitably sized DB server for the  load during the actual event when buying that in the cloud, and it's not necessary for LEL. I did look at it, but it'd be a colossal waste of money that could be spent elsewhere in the event. Sorry there's no food for the riders, Phil spent it all on the website.

Before LEL 2017 we didn't really have a clear idea of the size and scale of what we needed in terms of servers etc. and how big the demand  would be at different times in build up and during the event to drive that. The company that hosted the LEL 2013 website kept that pretty much to themselves. As you would.  Plus the interest and demand this time is several orders of magnitude more than 2013 based on what information we do have to compare.

Cloud computing is great and allowed us to deal with unbelievable interest and demand on tracking during the event. But it can also very quickly take all your money if you're not careful.  You have to strike a balance.  We've got a very good handle on what we need now for that balance and how much it costs to deliver. (well money man will when I send him my latest expense claim)

Most of the time I could monitor and manage the servers via my IPad. A couple of times I had to connect directly to the servers though. Control / school firewalls meant going home to do that as they blocked Internet traffic that isn't through a browser.

One last  thing with AWS costs. You have fully pre paid pricing , part pre paid pricing, on demand pricing, and spot pricing.  Spot pricing can be the cheapest but isn't guaranteed you'll get the server capacity when you need it. Pre paid is cheapest for guaranteed capacity but you pre pay for a size for a fixed period.  On demand most flexible but most expensive by a long way.  So there's many things to juggle to give a good balance of stability and  performance of the website against costs to LEL. Without costs getting out of control. We are also subject to currency fluctuations as AWS price things in $ dollars. Unlimited budget, the things I could do..

You also have to go back to the demand during the event and blink. By Wednesday we'd reached sustained 31,000 browsers sessions and 125,000 requests per minute. We peaked at approx 103,500  concurrent browser sessions connected to the website and 250,000 requests per minute for tracking data. I think we held up pretty well even if  I needed to undertake some active management a couple of times.

I'd like see more website elements black box'd that needed some active management this time, so that someone with an IT operations background could look after them via a browser interface in the future.

Right, back to as you were. I intend to ride LEL 2021.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: jsabine on August 09, 2017, 10:27:33 pm
I know the server size was increased and this improved thing greatly, but perhaps query the rider tracking details/statistics from a second database, preserving performance in the scanning page.

Bit more nuanced than that.

[ ... Stuff ... ]

Right, back to as you were. I intend to ride LEL 2021.

Thank *fuck* you know what that lot meant.

Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Phil W on August 09, 2017, 10:33:41 pm
I'm not sure how a user of an edge unit would be able to check the route in advance without loading it into something else first, they operate differently to the walking type GPS units you refer to, so at best you could look at the map of the route, but perhaps not see the order of points, and probably not diagnose track point times as a problem

It's quite simple. Even with the latest Edge units they still appear as a USB drive when you plug them in. At least on Windows. You can drop a GPX file in the new files folder on the SD card or internal memory of an edge and when you unplug and switch on and off it will convert to fit file format. Then you try navigating it and you see when it brings up the map page there's a long straight line instead of the LEL track you thought you'd loaded.

In fact I did this with a German fellow who caught me at Thirsk control on the Monday. He was worried and asked if I'd help him put the fixed Pocklington - Louth  track on the website onto his Edge GPS unit

You don't need intermediate software to put GPX files on an Edge and use them.

P.S. All of the trackpoints were present in the GPX file Edges objected to. It just those south of the Humber Bridge had time stamps in them dates May 2013. In fact it's probably the conversion to fit that it does internally that failed when it didn't know what to do with the timestamps it's GPX to fit parser encountered
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Phil W on August 09, 2017, 10:44:01 pm
I know the server size was increased and this improved thing greatly, but perhaps query the rider tracking details/statistics from a second database, preserving performance in the scanning page.

Bit more nuanced than that.

[ ... Stuff ... ]

Right, back to as you were. I intend to ride LEL 2021.

Thank *fuck* you know what that lot meant.

How do those Liam Nielson lines go?

I have skills, very specialised skills, I will find you, and I will make you suffer, it will hurt, and I will kill you. Have no doubt about my skills. Click.....
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Phil W on August 09, 2017, 10:56:19 pm
I was actually meaning an old skool noticeboard for within the control.
I didn't use it, but there was a facility to add notes to a rider's details which I hope would have popped up when details were scanned.

I clearly haven't made this clear enough.... my bold above.  I mean a noticeboard, not electonic, for knackered volunteers to communicate stuff to other knackered volunteers within a single control. 

Anything computerised doesn't work for this because most volunteers aren't using computers most of the time. 

I think a noticeboard could help to avoid the communication-by-chinese-whispers which is fairly inevitable when communication WITHIN the control, during the event, is verbal and people are working bizarre shift patterns 24 hours a day for several days, with the added complication of foreign languages.

Absolutely, I had to resist quite strongly some ideas for "stuff" we could do via the website. Some stuff is still best done face to face, whiteboard or pen and paper.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Vince on August 09, 2017, 11:54:37 pm
Phil, thanks for the most detailed explanation of the web server charging model etc.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: jiberjaber on August 09, 2017, 11:57:25 pm
I'm not sure how a user of an edge unit would be able to check the route in advance without loading it into something else first, they operate differently to the walking type GPS units you refer to, so at best you could look at the map of the route, but perhaps not see the order of points, and probably not diagnose track point times as a problem

It's quite simple. Even with the latest Edge units they still appear as a USB drive when you plug them in. At least on Windows. You can drop a GPX file in the new files folder on the SD card or internal memory of an edge and when you unplug and switch on and off it will convert to fit file format. Then you try navigating it and you see when it brings up the map page there's a long straight line instead of the LEL track you thought you'd loaded.

In fact I did this with a German fellow who caught me at Thirsk control on the Monday. He was worried and asked if I'd help him put the fixed Pocklington - Louth  track on the website onto his Edge GPS unit

You don't need intermediate software to put GPX files on an Edge and use them.

P.S. All of the trackpoints were present in the GPX file Edges objected to. It just those south of the Humber Bridge had time stamps in them dates May 2013. In fact it's probably the conversion to fit that it does internally that failed when it didn't know what to do with the timestamps it's GPX to fit parser encountered

Yes, but... plenty of straight roads also (see the leg up the A7 for a good example).  I always check that the route appears on the map when I put a section of an audax on to the GPS - but I don't look any further than does it start and stop where expected, this is usually at the 12km scale.  I look at the intermediate detail elsewhere.  If there is some mix up in the sequencing of track points, it would be hard to see without zooming in and following the track at sub-3km scale.

Personally - you'd be daft to take the a GPX and plonk it on your GPS and expect to be trouble free for 1400 km without some cursory pre-look with a proper tool. YMMV but I prefer to de-risk where I can by some level of route familiarisation :)

ETA: plus I don't use GPX and TCX are more reliable and give a cue card on the device IMHO
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: CrinklyLion on August 10, 2017, 12:08:16 am
We did put labels on the counter top at Barney, but seeing these would have required hungry riders to lift their eyes from the sight of large platters of nosh, so the experiment was not entirely successful ;D.

However, a genius idea has just occurred to me, inspired by a recollection from CrinklyUncle and CrinklyAuntie's wedding placecards

(https://scontent.flhr2-2.fna.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/13442381_10154115321841839_8381843107716237825_n.jpg?oh=113b559280ea6c7a7850eae99bec4372&oe=5A31B54C)

Pictures of moos and oinkers and chooks would have massively simplified the conversations on a number of occasions!  (lego optional)
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: mcshroom on August 10, 2017, 12:22:56 am
Talking of signs. This is only a very minor one, but could the 2021 banners have a picture of a bike/cyclist on them as well as the event logo and name please?

While I was marshalling outside of the main bulge coming through, I had a lot of people come up and ask what sort of event it was
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: frankly frankie on August 10, 2017, 09:13:05 am
I always check that the route appears on the map when I put a section of an audax on to the GPS - but I don't look any further than does it start and stop where expected, this is usually at the 12km scale.  I look at the intermediate detail elsewhere.  If there is some mix up in the sequencing of track points, it would be hard to see without zooming in and following the track at sub-3km scale.

The point is that no amount of detailed checking using software is going to guarantee that the track works on the GPS.  Because software and online planners are generally designed to be tolerant of messy code (in the same way web browsers are) but some Garmins are not, and different models react differently to different things.  But I agree it can be a bit of conundrum, to check a track or course properly when you are actually located 100s of miles away.  That's why the only real guarantee is to rewrite or at least clean the track yourself, using methods that you know work for your GPS.  (Such as, Phil's excellent online utility.)
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: mmmmartin on August 10, 2017, 04:07:17 pm
I'd suggest a WhatsApp group for volunteers so we could pass info around among ourselves (eg - big group leaving Moffat now, ETA Edinburgh four hours) or maybe one for controllers only (eg deranged rider* leaving Eskdalemuir on blue bike needs TLC ETA Brampton five hours).

But then we'd need decent wifi and we'd probs have to install it ourselves (this can be done), schools tend to shut down their wifi pretty closely.
(click to show/hide)

In passing, this soshul meeja stuff seems to me to be more comprehensive this time than last, and no doubt will be more so next time. For instance, the OMM, a mountain marathon, a few years ago had live streaming of the finish line and that was from the middle of nowhere in central Wales. Attention to this doesn't really improve the rider experience, IMO, and is a "nice-to-have" rather than "must-do". But asking one volunteer at each control to do some social media stuff would increase the profile of the event, and help relatives who are tracking riders.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: telstarbox on August 10, 2017, 06:00:59 pm
You can also access WhatsApp via a desktop PC.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: paul851 on August 10, 2017, 09:10:54 pm
Did it get used, and was it useful?

We had a noticeboard in BC behind the comtrol desk, but it was a pinboard that got used for info for riders (and for pinning up stray lost property in hope of re-uniting it with its rider).  I was looking at it on the last day and thinking 'we should have put volunteer info on the back of that!'.

Couldn't really be 100% about information for volunteers though most of the rider information seemed to be aimed at the people manning the control ie: rider **32 brevet left at Thirsk ,rider **21 wallet found at BC etc as they would be scanning the rider in so could tell them. The rest of the volunteers consulted the "chart of confusion" which had the ever evolving rota on  ;D

Paul
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: bhoot on August 11, 2017, 06:06:42 pm
Clear expectations about how much support DNFers can expect with getting themselves back to the start.
This might have been useful. I found myself as travel advisor to quite a few DNFs at Brampton, explaining to them how to book themselves and bikes back to London on the train. It's not that easy - and the savings by using the advance booking system (even for trains later the same day) were significant (£50 vs £115 walk up fare). On Monday 31st I merrily used the Virgin East Coast website with some success, come Tues 1st August they had moved completely to their new "improved" booking site with no bike reservation option. So I went over to GWR. Still had some issues with riders who had left their credit cards in their car at Loughton (why?) and a couple of Indian riders with prepaid mastercards which weren't useful at all.
In hindsight it would have been useful to have a sheet giving details generally of how to book bikes on trains which we could have given out.  Even for UK riders who don't usually travel by train it can be a bit tricky.

Maybe we went beyond the call of duty with this, but for the overseas riders there was a point where I felt it was a hospitality issue - and putting myself in their position I would have been grateful for the same assistance.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: LittleWheelsandBig on August 11, 2017, 06:16:06 pm
bhoot, people have almost always given AUKs heaps of assistance when riding overseas events. It seems only fair to repay the favour.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: mattc on August 11, 2017, 07:13:00 pm
I've been on a UK event where an (inexperienced) UK rider expected to be driven 80 miles back to HQ. That's the expectation we want to avoid - travel advice (and a soft shoulder) is perfectly reasonable :)
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: mmmmartin on August 11, 2017, 07:32:53 pm
the expectation we want to avoid
Danial's mobile rang at Loughton and was answered by a volunteer to be told by the Indian chap on the other end he had packed, was outside Thirsk and he wanted us to send a car to pick him up. A diplomatic answer was provided.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Phil W on August 11, 2017, 08:06:35 pm
You can also access WhatsApp via a desktop PC.

A number of the school network firewalls blocked anything that wasn't browser or email traffic. Some like Great Easton blocked any social media network and most search engines. At Loughton the PCs Danial had couldn't connect to the wifi / network as it used a modern enterprise authentication method they didn't support. So I convinced their IT guy to give us some of their just built laptops to use for the week. These laptops were locked down.

So whatever you propose realistically needs to be browser based. Great Easton appeared to be an Essex wide school block from what the network  tools on my iPad told me. So social media block unlikely to be lifted even during the event.


Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Phil W on August 11, 2017, 08:26:00 pm
In passing, this soshul meeja stuff seems to me to be more comprehensive this time than last, and no doubt will be more so next time. For instance, the OMM, a mountain marathon, a few years ago had live streaming of the finish line and that was from the middle of nowhere in central Wales. Attention to this doesn't really improve the rider experience, IMO, and is a "nice-to-have" rather than "must-do". But asking one volunteer at each control to do some social media stuff would increase the profile of the event, and help relatives who are tracking riders.

I remember discussing live webcams placed at interesting places in controls with Danial at some point in early 2017.  A nice to have we never got to.  But having seen some the Internet challenges a few of the controls had, you'd have to choose a few of the better connected ones with a friendly school IT team.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Phil W on August 11, 2017, 08:37:42 pm
the expectation we want to avoid
Danial's mobile rang at Loughton and was answered by a volunteer to be told by the Indian chap on the other end he had packed, was outside Thirsk and he wanted us to send a car to pick him up. A diplomatic answer was provided.

Thirsk was one of the easier ones to get back from. When I was waiting at Thirsk station to return south on Monday I met an American who had DNF. I helped him book his bike for the leg from York to KX. That's relatively painless as they have a good travel centre at York if you know what you want. He was on the train to KX within 35 mins of us arriving in York
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: mmmmartin on August 11, 2017, 11:32:30 pm
At Carlisle station, when I was returning from a stint at Moffat and Eskdalemuir, I spotted a high-end bike with a rider who exactly matched the Auk demographic. I strolled up to him to ask if he'd just packed on LEL and needed advice. He looked at me as if i was mad.

At that point it struck me that somewhere, in another world, other cyclists had been just riding their bikes to the shops. Not doing LEL. Came as a shock to me, I can tell you.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: jsabine on August 12, 2017, 01:12:54 am
Sometimes the stereotyping pays off, mind. I rode to give blood on Thursday. When I was done, one of the Donor Carers (I think that was what his badge said) came over, and before pulling the needle out looked me up and down.

"Hmm. SPD sandals, and a Carradice. You look like you know what an audax is."

We exchanged notes on LEL, discussed his impressively consistent RRTY, realised we'd ridden some of the same events, and agreed our paths would probably cross again soon. He does seem to have a distinctly non-audax approach to training, mind ...
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Peter on August 12, 2017, 02:24:52 am
Bloody Hell, John: I give you the last of my EPO at Eskdalemuir and you give it away!

("Next year, to save me from tears, I'll give it to someone better.")
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: jsabine on August 12, 2017, 07:48:24 am
EPO? Is that what it was? I thought the pinprick sensation was just your squadron of trained midges.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: grams on August 12, 2017, 10:44:45 am
Danial's mobile rang at Loughton and was answered by a volunteer to be told by the Indian chap on the other end he had packed, was outside Thirsk and he wanted us to send a car to pick him up. A diplomatic answer was provided.

I ended up making such a phone call (on behalf of someone else) and it was the result of three very tired people in a gateway convincing each other a recovery service of some kind existed (partly inspired by the broom symbol on the brevet card), and I probably came across as a pushy arsehole (sorry Danial) because I was trying to figure out for the other person exactly what was available.

I've just dug up the relevant FAQ from the website and it covers exactly what I'd have needed to know (I had read it before but completely misremembered what it said!). Has there been any thought to making some kind of info sheet / Rider's Handbook for riders to carry with them with this sort of info on it? It might save a lot of hassle during the event.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: frankly frankie on August 12, 2017, 11:20:43 am
Distressed rider rings HQ.

HQ: "RTFM"
Rider: "Que??"
HQ: "It's on your phone, as a PDF."
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: mmmmartin on August 12, 2017, 11:31:56 am
the broom symbol on the brevet card
That should not be there next time IMO.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: phil d on August 13, 2017, 03:54:09 pm
Talking of signs. This is only a very minor one, but could the 2021 banners have a picture of a bike/cyclist on them as well as the event logo and name please?

While I was marshalling outside of the main bulge coming through, I had a lot of people come up and ask what sort of event it was

And not have a large arrow pointing to the right at one end!  50% of the time that was the wrong way.  I know it wasn't intended to be an arrow (part of the logo) but that's exactly what it was.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Jacques on August 13, 2017, 04:00:08 pm
Yes the arrow confused me a few times, but I put it down to my muddled brain and didn't want to say anything to anyone in case they put me in a dark room and locked me up.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Planet X Paul on August 15, 2017, 10:58:43 am
Without trawling through all 8 pages of posts I do not know if this has already been mentioned, but my suggestion, which would have really helped me, is to be actually woken up at the time I requested rather than being left to sleep and wake up naturally several hours later than planned  :facepalm:
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: mattc on August 15, 2017, 12:27:29 pm
Interesting post Paul. Having been on the rider's side and organising side of this, I don't completely agree.


Without trawling through all 8 pages of posts I do not know if this has already been mentioned, but my suggestion, which would have really helped me, is to be actually woken up at the time I requested rather than being left to sleep and wake up naturally several hours later than planned  :facepalm:
This gets mentioned after every LEL/PBP that I can remember. I suppose if a wake-up call is promised (and alarms are banned) then an expectation has been set, and complaints (or suggestions) are inevitbale; but let's look at this - did it really affect your ride negatively?

Let's look in more detail:
Started at 1045.  Good first day and gained time on my schedule.  Arrived at Pocklington at 0455, had food and went to the sleeping hall at 0530 with instructions to wake me at 0745.  I came to at 0915 !!
[my bold] So you "lost" 90mins. Now that really isn't a massive deal on a 116h ride. But let's move on:

Quote
I left pre-dawn on the leg to Brampton.  Due to getting no sleep at Eskdalemuir, on the stretch from Longtown to Brampton, the sleep deprivation really hit me and I couldn't keep my eyes open.
It's pretty clear that it was LACK of sleep that did for you, not getting 90mins too much!


So let's look at (probably)  the main cause:

Quote
... but arrived at Eskdalemuir freezing cold and decided to sleep there.  WRONG DECISION.  I had to go 1 Km back up the road to the village hall, where I was shown to a mattress, but there were no blankets.  Due to being damp, I spend the next 2 hours shivering and getting no sleep.


I think a better suggestion would be:
"
can we give riders the best possible chance of getting adequate sleep to finish this event safely. We don't want them wet-and-shivering for 2 hours without a blanket, then DNFing due to sleep deprivation.
"

I've had crap rides because the sleep facilities were inadequate - sometimes it's beyond the Org's control, but often it's not. It leads to a miserable ride, possibly a DNF, possibly a dangerous experience on the public highway. Not good.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Peter on August 15, 2017, 01:07:39 pm
I have PM'd Paul about this but got no response. 

I must defend what happened at Eskdalemuir.  I was the person who ended up "running" the OVERSPILL sleep stop.  It said in the pre-ride info about the controls that E'muir had 30 beds.  It did.  These were in the central control and they were provided with blankets and the building was warm.  There was NO MENTION (I think) of the OVERSPILL provision up the road.  We didn't have enough blankets for the spare beds we put out.  But the control was swamped and I was totally embarrassed by the situation all night.  I gave one rider my coat and spent the midge-infested night in my t-shirt.  It is, admittedly an easy thing to put right for next time (there were blankets last time).  I don't know why there were not enough blankets this time.  I think it may have been expected that some were going to be dropped off but it didn't happen.  Once again, there was no requirement for this OVERSPILL to have been provided.  It didn't help that many riders arrived at E'muir already absolutely soaked (we couldn't control the weather) and/or having misjudged their own capabilities.  I suggested riders go down to the official control, where they could at least be warm but often this was decided against.  People make up their own minds.

I'm really sorry people had a hard time.  But most who used the OVERSPILL control finished, although Gordon had a bike fail, which ended his ride later.

Peter
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Planet X Paul on August 15, 2017, 01:17:20 pm
I'm not saying that not been woken at Pocklington was the sole reason for my DNF, but it was a contributing factor as this put me behind where I felt I needed to be, and therefore put me under more pressure.

In hindsight, and particularly reading Phil Whitehurst's recent post on FB concerning the probability of finishing against the time in hand at Thirsk, then yes, this incident did have a negative effect on me.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: LittleWheelsandBig on August 15, 2017, 01:51:24 pm
Hello Peter, I heard your greeting on the way into the control but by that stage, I was running on fumes and a little lacking in social niceties (which is quite unlike me).

I kipped on the dining room floor at Eskdalemuir, as did quite a few other riders. It was plenty warm enough and I was well-fed and happy. Given the number of beds available, I knew that the floor was my only option. Riding a couple of kilometers the wrong way for a bed wasn't going to happen. The number of beds available at each control was known before the start and Eskdalemuir was always going to be a zoo regarding sleep. Happily the food and the volunteers more than made up for it.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Peter on August 15, 2017, 01:56:35 pm
Thanks, Dave.  No worries - you gave a quite distinct "G'day!".
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: mattc on August 15, 2017, 02:51:51 pm
I'm not saying that not been woken at Pocklington was the sole reason for my DNF, but it was a contributing factor as this put me behind where I felt I needed to be, and therefore put me under more pressure.
It may have changed how you felt about your situation, but in reality - when you look at the bigger picture - it may have actually done you some good. I doubt very much that it did you any harm.

Your body needed rest - you were almost certainly faster after reducing your sleep deficit. Sometimes our bodies know best :)
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: mmmmartin on August 15, 2017, 03:59:52 pm
I spent a couple of days at Eskdalemuir, and with Peter some of the time. To prevent Plant X Paul and others suffering in this way in future, I suggest:
The organiser of LEL needs to point out to riders that in Scotland, sometimes it rains. And is cold. Decent waterproofs are a good idea. Carrying warm clothes on the bike is a good idea.

In general this time the sudden storms on the way north tended to encourage riders to shelter in controls rather than ride through so many were behind their plans and arrived at Edinburgh in the evening, rather than around lunchtime or afternoon. So they pressed on, as would anyone, but by Eskdalemuir they were, every single one of them, wet, cold and tired. Hence many decided to stop for a rest. Many I saw that night, some leaving fairly late, finished in time. An example is the Trotts, the US tandem couple from Indiana, who were really on their uppers at that point and had 10 minutes lying on the floor outside the loo upstairs. He slept for 10 minutes, she didn't. But they persevered, and did it with 90 minutes to spare.  So it was possible, even with the headwinds on the fens (which were there last time as well).
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Planet X Paul on August 15, 2017, 04:35:44 pm
Just like when I used to do fell races, I would run cold.  I could be wearing 2 long sleeved base layers, a windproof jacket and gloves and be just about warm enough, whereas other runners would just be wearing a singlet.  Similarly, on the descent to Eskdalemuir, I was wearing a base layer, a short sleeved jersey, arm warmers, a long sleeved jersey, a gilet and a Goretex waterproof jacket and still arrived there feeling bitterly cold. 

I think it's a bit too simplistic to suggest wearing more clothes.  If I had been under-dressed, I could understand criticism, but you can only carry so much kit.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: CrinklyLion on August 15, 2017, 04:50:47 pm
[...] but my suggestion [...]

isn't actually a suggestion, it's a complaint.

The system in place is that a rider books a wake up call and gets woken up at that time.   I wonder, out of over 1400 riders and 23 (I think, if you count them northbound and southbound separately) dormitory stops how many times the system failed?  Clearly that system failed for you, and I understand why a rider would feel the need to complain when a system failed for them - just like the riders who were let down by the catering shortcomings at a couple of controls northbound. 

But a suggestion would be offering a way in which this system could be made more foolproof or what failsafes could be implemented.  Phrasing a complaint as a suggestion just sounds a bit passive aggressive to me.

For what it's worth, bed booking was the one job that I said I really wasn't prepared to do this time - and swapped a shift part way through in favour of cleaning or something to avoid in 2013.  I strongly preferred kitchen prep/washing up/pot wash/bog cleaning duties because bed booking is complicated and hard and thankless and far too easy to get wrong.  It requires a skillset and aptitudes that I don't have.  My personal contribution to getting beds right was to say out loud that I learnt last time that I am not competent at it.

The only suggestion I can come up with for improving it is to put an unfair and disproportionately large amount of it on the rotas of those volunteers (and there were a fair few, thank deities) who manage to be competent at it, if they can bear it - and maybe to ask _them_ what systematic changes could be made to help prevent errors in future!
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: mmmmartin on August 15, 2017, 05:19:01 pm
what systematic changes could be made to help prevent errors
Tell riders that alarms are banned: suggest they put their mobile phone in a pocket with the alarm set to silent/vibrate. And that if participants ride cold they wear more clothes.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Planet X Paul on August 15, 2017, 05:22:04 pm
No, not passive aggressive at all, as I queried this at the time when I woke up.  But the person on duty was not the same person who was there at the time I went to sleep and indeed came on shift after I was supposed to have been woken up, so I couldn't really blame them for the error. 

I realise that no system is infallible, and IIRC the system employed at Pocklington was one of sticky notes on a white board.  Whether my note fell off (wasn't sticky enough) or was accidently knocked off I will never know.

OK a suggestion....  could a bed allocation programme be written which shows a grid pattern of bed numbers where the wake time is entered against the bed.  The particular grid would turn red at the wake up time to reached as an alert to the person on duty.  I'm sure for a computer savvy programmer this would be a fairly simple exercise.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: jiberjaber on August 15, 2017, 05:49:34 pm
No, not passive aggressive at all, as I queried this at the time when I woke up.  But the person on duty was not the same person who was there at the time I went to sleep and indeed came on shift after I was supposed to have been woken up, so I couldn't really blame them for the error. 

I realise that no system is infallible, and IIRC the system employed at Pocklington was one of sticky notes on a white board.  Whether my note fell off (wasn't sticky enough) or was accidently knocked off I will never know.

OK a suggestion....  could a bed allocation programme be written which shows a grid pattern of bed numbers where the wake time is entered against the bed.  The particular grid would turn red at the wake up time to reached as an alert to the person on duty.  I'm sure for a computer savvy programmer this would be a fairly simple exercise.

Or even just an excel spreadsheet with a conditional format and a couple of macros! (as an idea)

I think the suggestion of some sort of standard operating manual for the key functions was already mentioned, and bed management might also fall in to that as well? 
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: hellymedic on August 15, 2017, 05:54:15 pm
And that if participants ride cold they wear more clothes.

Some people ride cold, despite apparently adequate clothing. Sometimes they warm better if given more fuel IF they can tolerate this.
Rewarming properly is EVEN more difficult with a tired rider.

Such multiple factors will have compounded and increased problems at Eskdalemuir
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Exit Stage Left on August 15, 2017, 06:19:23 pm

OK a suggestion....  could a bed allocation programme be written which shows a grid pattern of bed numbers where the wake time is entered against the bed.  The particular grid would turn red at the wake up time to reached as an alert to the person on duty.  I'm sure for a computer savvy programmer this would be a fairly simple exercise.

There were computer bed-booking systems in 2013 and this year. They get abandoned fairly early on, if people bother with them at all.

They seem to exert a totemic power over those who think that the model they have set up of the ride will be mirrored in reality.

What works best is a big chart on the wall which the volunteers and riders can all look at together, ideally outside the room, so that the options can be discussed in a normal voice.  I can see that the best possible option might be a stand-alone system for each control, displayed on an interactive whiteboard, and a paralllel 'dumb board' for when the computer system crashes.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: phil d on August 15, 2017, 06:28:15 pm
No, not passive aggressive at all, as I queried this at the time when I woke up.  But the person on duty was not the same person who was there at the time I went to sleep and indeed came on shift after I was supposed to have been woken up, so I couldn't really blame them for the error. 

I realise that no system is infallible, and IIRC the system employed at Pocklington was one of sticky notes on a white board.  Whether my note fell off (wasn't sticky enough) or was accidently knocked off I will never know.

OK a suggestion....  could a bed allocation programme be written which shows a grid pattern of bed numbers where the wake time is entered against the bed.  The particular grid would turn red at the wake up time to reached as an alert to the person on duty.  I'm sure for a computer savvy programmer this would be a fairly simple exercise.

Or even just an excel spreadsheet with a conditional format and a couple of macros! (as an idea)

I think the suggestion of some sort of standard operating manual for the key functions was already mentioned, and bed management might also fall in to that as well?

A spreadsheet solution was tried in 2013, and to be honest it wasn't as reliable as a simple paper-based system.  The problem with any software "solution" is the need to train a range of people how it works, and it only takes one of those people to make errors to screw the whole system up.

In my experience the simplest, and consequently most reliable*, process uses a piece of paper with half-hour intervals marked, and beds to be woken at each point listed on it.  Rider name and number irrelevant - all that matters is the bed (row and position in row) and time.  At St Ives we had the luxury of relatively few sleepers, so could group sleepers being woken at the same time together, so as to avoid disturbing others.  But the system worked just as well at Barny in 2013, with many more sleepers over two rooms.

* but unfortunately no system is 100% foolproof.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Thing2 on August 15, 2017, 06:30:07 pm
The problem of riders being waking up can't be completely solved by changing the system which tells volunteers when to wake riders. Some people, myself included, can appear to have woken up (moving and responding to my name/questions), whilst still being fast asleep. I could easily sleep beyond a volunteers wake up call. Joth is sometimes very groggy after waking up and is quite capable of going straight back to sleep. One of the advantages of riding the tandem (and why single sex dorms are a real pain for us), is that we always have a second person checking that we're awake. We've yet to have a situation where neither of us has woken up.
On LEL we both had sleeps where it was difficult to wake one of us. At Coxwold both the volunteer and I tried to wake Joth multiple times and got absolutely no response. In the end I asked for another 90 minutes sleep after which we both woke up. In our room the following night, I slept straight through the alarm and took a lot of waking up.
Seeing the volunteers trying to wake riders at Thirsk the first night we slept made me think that it was probably the hardest task of all the roles. Without having dedicated rooms for each wake up times it's always going to be hard, and without having significant overcapacity, that isn't going to happen.

Emma
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Phil W on August 15, 2017, 07:35:42 pm

OK a suggestion....  could a bed allocation programme be written which shows a grid pattern of bed numbers where the wake time is entered against the bed.  The particular grid would turn red at the wake up time to reached as an alert to the person on duty.  I'm sure for a computer savvy programmer this would be a fairly simple exercise.

There were computer bed-booking systems in 2013 and this year. They get abandoned fairly early on, if people bother with them at all.

A spreadsheet type solution was tried in 2013 based on the ideas of one controller. It was abandoned.

There was no computer bed booking system this year.  It wasn't even attempted. Sure there was the ability for a rider to scan before they entered a sleep area and after they woke up and left a sleep area in some controls. But that wasn't a bed booking system in any form or manner. It was also completely optional rather than mandated.

For bed booking white boards and / or pen and paper and stick its work really well. If they have a matching process in place. The controllers and volunteers worked hard on this and making it easy to get their process right.  I slept in a sports equipment cupboard in Brampton southbound in 2013. I got my wake up call despite my unusual location.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: rachel t on August 15, 2017, 07:49:10 pm
As the controller at Pocklington, I am sorry you didn't get your wake up call, I wasn't aware that anybody had had their wake up call missed. We tried to make the system as simple as possible as on Sunday Night we had 250 beds in the school sports hall & 150 a km away at the council sports centre.

We made the decision early on that we would only do wake ups on the hour & the half past as this meant there was less chance of other riders sleep being interupted as there was fewer wake up calls.

We did start to group wake up calls but this only partly worked as we started to get more times than we could split across the room. We were writing on the postit the bed & time & I had warned those volunteers in the sleep area to keep checking in case any postits fell off the wall, I think this happened only twice or 3 times in the whole week, & they were reattached before the wake up was requested. By using the postits it meant that as soon as the bed was empty it could be reallocated quickly, because as soon as the rider had left the bed we took the postit down & binned it.

Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: CrinklyLion on August 15, 2017, 08:53:51 pm
So what I'm hearing from the people who actually have done the bed management is that computerised systems have been tried and found wanting. 

But I'm looking at this....
But the person on duty was not the same person who was there at the time I went to sleep and indeed came on shift after I was supposed to have been woken up, so I couldn't really blame them for the error.
...and thinking about the times that it seemed to get a little bit tricky at the controls that I was in, where there were generally two people on the bed management* generally doing 4 hour 'shifts' then handing over to another 2 volunteers and it seems to me that one easy win would be if possible to have two people on shift running the beds, but to not have their shifts start at the same time e.g. PersonA 10pm-2am, PersonB midnight-4am, PersonC 2am-6am, PersonD 4am-8am and so on...  so that you have a series of constantly overlapping people with continous handover rather than trying to handover everything in one go?

I do think it is the hardest job, and a really important one.

ETA - I dunno if anyone tried it that way, btw.  I've only ever done helping on a couple of controls with sleep facilities, so don't have a lot of observations to base a view on it!

* although obviously not me since I was busy refusing to take on the task because I don't have the skills - can't read charts, can't distinguish left from right, have astonishingly bad spatial awareness, can easily trip over my own feet or indeed thin air in a complete bull-in-a-china-shop manner, should never be trusted with an important piece of paper because I always lose it, am scatty and disorganised etc etc etc.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: mcshroom on August 15, 2017, 09:56:32 pm
We were using a combination of the timed rows system and a whiteboard at Thirsk. The sleep area was the toughest job of the lot IMHO. I think we just about got everyone (there may have been one) but we had problems due to the layout where riders were going straight to the dorms and not passing the booking desk (which wasn't en-route), meaning we were trying to add other riders and finding their beds occupied, and that could get confusing when we then had to go back and alter the board.

Another problem we had was simply missing marking one person on a board because it was busy and someone took a note down to write it up later. The rider won't have known anything about this as we found him while he was asleep. To do so did involve one of the controllers Googling the rider to find out what he looked like and then us carefully walking the rows to find him.

In hindsight, our control could have benefitted from finding a place near the beds to put the sleep desk. I'm not sure exactly where we could have put it though. as it was a pretty narrow corridor between the food area and the sleeping areas.

Regaining control if anything goes wrong is difficult as you don't want to wake people. Those riders who left their brevet cards on display next to their pillows were incredibly helpful in that respect.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: frillipippi on August 15, 2017, 10:09:50 pm
I've always been woken up at the right hour, by gentle volunteers that used my first name (a kind way of double checking, I guess). Edinburgh, Thirsk, St Ives: thank you!

Just an idea, I'm not sure the pros balance the cons, anyway here it is:
riders might be allowed/encouraged to set their own alarms to, say, a quarter of an hour AFTER the expected wake-up time. In this way if everything goes right the alarm will ring while the rider's having breakfast/at the bathroom/etc., without annoying anybody. If a rider doesn't wake up the damage is limited to a quarter of an hour for the unlucky rider - and nearby riders being disturbed: this is the main negative side in my opinion. I'm not sure whether the pros outweigh it.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: sizbut on August 15, 2017, 10:26:02 pm
Going to a computer program is kind of 'nuclear' option when the white board problem could have been fixed by using it as exactly that, a white board, rather than a dodgy post-it holder. The Great Easton team had one on which, for every half-hour wake-up time they had pair of rider/bed numbers recorded and a list of empty bed numbers. Erase a rider/bed pair when the rider was woken, rewrite that bed back into the available beds pool. Pen and paper copy when you go off on a wake-up round.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: jochta on August 15, 2017, 10:35:22 pm
I used my smartwatch to set an alarm, it buzzes gently on my wrist and I can't even hear it myself so won't disturb other sleepers. I also asked for a wake up call about 30 minutes after my alarm just in case. In the end I didn't need any wake up calls (although I was woken after about thirty minutes at one control by mistake!). I let the volunteers know once I had vacated my bed so they didn't try and find me to wake me.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Exit Stage Left on August 15, 2017, 10:36:41 pm
Brampton had a row of small sandwich boxes, each one contained tickets with the same wake-up time. Heather informs me that a volunteer called Phil refined the system so that the tickets in the boxes were sorted into a logical route, and groups of 5 were woken, so they could be checked out, and the tickets torn.

Obviously there was a chart as well.

We've got video of the PBP 2015 system, which had a computer element.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Greenbank on August 16, 2017, 09:12:54 am
I used my smartwatch to set an alarm, it buzzes gently on my wrist and I can't even hear it myself so won't disturb other sleepers.

In 2009 I ended up day 1 at Thorne (not an official sleep stop, no mattresses, but the rugby club had a load of space in the bar area so people just slumped on the floor) after an 8am start and ~320km. The bar was shut by the time I got there so I opted for 3 hours of sleep. I set my phone alarm to silent and tucked it into my sock.

I was woken up by someone who was sitting near where I was sleeping (luckily they were already awake and having their breakfast) as they could hear my phone vibrating away and noticed I wasn't stirring.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: jochta on August 16, 2017, 11:57:26 am
I used my smartwatch to set an alarm, it buzzes gently on my wrist and I can't even hear it myself so won't disturb other sleepers.

In 2009 I ended up day 1 at Thorne (not an official sleep stop, no mattresses, but the rugby club had a load of space in the bar area so people just slumped on the floor) after an 8am start and ~320km. The bar was shut by the time I got there so I opted for 3 hours of sleep. I set my phone alarm to silent and tucked it into my sock.

I was woken up by someone who was sitting near where I was sleeping (luckily they were already awake and having their breakfast) as they could hear my phone vibrating away and noticed I wasn't stirring.

Silent phone alarms are anything but silent :)
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: hellymedic on August 16, 2017, 03:19:57 pm
Silent alarms are silent if resting only on the owner's body.
They are easily audible if placed on a hard surface and LOUD if on a wooden box.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: eddum on August 16, 2017, 03:30:25 pm

Mostly ahead of the curve so could sleep when and where we chose without issue, and luckily always woken gently and on time.
Did get woken by a wake up call next door which was either wrong or the rider changed his mind :D

(Also surreal experience at Louth going to sleep in a darkened room barely able to see beyond my assigned airbed, waking with adjusted eyes to a scene from cocoon of just a massive grid of beds & bodies stretching in all directions)

I think it was also Louth that gave me most confidence in wake up time as we were able to agree a wake up time with the volunteer bed booker, and see them write the bed number on the right page in the book before being shown to our digs.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Veloman on August 16, 2017, 03:44:35 pm
I was not woken up at requested time during last PBP. Life happens.

When at Brampton in 2013 I noticed that a beautiful machine ridden by Edward was still there after I had gone and done something else, too long I thought so I went in search of him in the hall.  Not knowing his name I managed to identify him by his jersey and hearing aid which he had removed.  He had longer than he requested but was fairly sanguine about it.  Life happens.

Still at Brampton, Iddu had more sleep than he desired.  He was a little bit hacked off and I think it motivated him to work hard!  Life happens.

All my sleep calls on LEL were spot on and the volunteers did a marvellous job and I now realise why my request was rounded-up at the one control.  Life happened.

Considering the chaos and wide variety of needs, coupled with the often darkened areas used, the occasional hiccup will arise and there might be much gnashing of teeth and stroking of chins.  I always believe that audax is a pastime where you rely on the generosity of the volunteers and if that is not 100% correct in 100% of occasions, then I adopt the 'life happens' approach and put it down to experience.

No doubt the wash-up will consider the success or otherwise of sleeping arrangements and protocols and might recommend a particular protocol or system.  I believe the system coped brilliantly and while it was not 100% perfect, it was very fit for purpose and the very rare blip should be acknowledged and accepted.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: redfalo on August 16, 2017, 05:36:36 pm
This was all effing brilliant. Given the complexity of the project, plus the fact that ALL of it is run by volunteers it deserves a Nobel price.

Louth run out of food? Oh well, on PBP 2015, people paid extra for their pre-ride meal, and the organisers run out of food before everyone was being served so riders had to start on an empty stomach. (Luckily I did not rely on the pre-ride meal but did my own thing.) And at the finish, it took them ages to get the really icky pre-packaged pasta meal heated, and it tasted like old rubber. Did I complain? of course not. If you want a 5 star holiday, go and book one at the Hilton.

Rider behaviour. I think some kind of ground rules need to be established (something like this: http://www.dereham.norfolk.sch.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Violence-poster-2016.pdf ), sent out to the riders previously, displayed at the controls in various languages, and come with some penalties (swearing at a volunteer: 2 hours time penalty, physical abuse like throwing something at a volunteer: immediate ban from the ride....) 

My other half volunteered on the Thursday and Friday at the finish, and told me a few hair-raising stories. One - I think American - rider asked her if LEL Team could take care of a traffic fine he had received when driving to the start. When her sense of humour failed (she had done an 26 hour shift from Thursday, 10am to Friday, 12am), the rider's response was: "Bitch!" Sure, people are tired, but such behaviour is utterly unacceptable (even if you were not dealing with volunteers, but paid employees).

I can't understand why people get worked up about not being woken up on time. Ever thought how effing complex it is to run a dorm? Set your own alarm, and take the wake up service as an additional benefit, but don't rely on it. As everyone got earplugs, and the snoring and farting in the dorms is much more annoying than an alarm clock, I don't understand why people get discouraged to set their own alarm.

I think that Danial to some degree offers too much service, which then at times is impossible to provide for 1500 riders, and then leads to disappointments. In Loughton, for instance, there were way too few towels. Why provide towls in the first place? Tell people clearly: If you want a towl, bring your own (the lightweight camping stuff is brilliant, and dries out in an hour or two - one may even sell one LEL branded one in the shop beforehand?) or dry yourself with your used cycling kit (this may sound yucky but I can tell you from experience: it works amazingly well!).

I also don't understand why the jerseys had to be handed out by volunteers at the start. Force GB has an existing logistics network, why not let them post the stuff to riders? ( I did a couple of hours of volunteering at the merchandise booth in the afternoon of registration day - it was much harder work than rider registration , which I did during the morning.)

qualification: I doubt it would change a thing,  apart from increasing the organisational admin ahead of the ride. My personal impression was that I saw fewer extremely inexperienced riders than on PBP 2015. back then, there were an amazing number of riders on the road who clearly did not know what they were doing, and where you wondered how they ever managed to complete a 200. Failure rate on PBP was also much higher than in previous years, despite the weather being really good.

Moreover, on LEL you have examples like Fiona from Germany. She was MM start group (2.5 hours behind me)  and she first passed me between Edinburgh and Innerleiten, pulling two blokes who sat on her rear wheel up a hill. I tried to latch on too but decided this was too fast for me.
I met them again later that night just before Brampton, when they and others got engaged in a thrilling road race to the control.
I chatted to her on Thursday when she was pulling a train of ten or so riders through the Fens towards St. Ives. Turns out she was on her first Audax, and only scraped into the ride due to Danial giving women a preference on the waiting list.

Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: alfapete on August 16, 2017, 07:42:04 pm

But the person on duty was not the same person who was there at the time I went to sleep and indeed came on shift after I was supposed to have been woken up, so I couldn't really blame them for the error.
...and thinking about the times that it seemed to get a little bit tricky at the controls that I was in, where there were generally two people on the bed management* generally doing 4 hour 'shifts' then handing over to another 2 volunteers and it seems to me that one easy win would be if possible to have two people on shift running the beds, but to not have their shifts start at the same time e.g. PersonA 10pm-2am, PersonB midnight-4am, PersonC 2am-6am, PersonD 4am-8am and so on...  so that you have a series of constantly overlapping people with continous handover rather than trying to handover everything in one go?

I agree entirely CrinklyLion, one thing we would change for next time would be bed booking. All the volunteers at Barney understood what was required but put it into effect in a subtly different way. Shift changes were more than a little chaotic. However, I'm not aware of any wake up times being missed with us, though I stand to be corrected
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: CrinklyLion on August 16, 2017, 07:57:20 pm
I (sort of) understood what was required but my hour or two on beds in 2013 was utterly terrifying, despite the control being very quiet at that point.  I (literally) did a happy dance when I saw there was no bed booking on my rota because I know I'd a) be awful at it and b) find it unbelievably stressful!

Overlapping shifts is a thing that could help in a few situations, tihnking about it.  It sort of solves the training problem. 

I always think there's a bit of a conflict of interests really.  From the perspective of running the control efficiently and effectively it makes sense to give people the jobs they already know how to do or train them in one job and keep them doing that all the time.  But that ends up with people spending their whole time on bogs or potwash, which isn't really very fair.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Sio2111 on August 16, 2017, 08:35:15 pm
Speaking as a controller overlapping shifts would have been difficult to do with the number of volunteers I had and the intention to try and ensure that no-one got stuck on a task (one of the feedback comments from 2013 volunteers). Sleep booking and wake up is one of the hardest jobs. You are damned if you do and damned if you don't. We all tried to keep it as simple and fool proof as possible. As someone else has previously said - no system is infallible.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: CrinklyLion on August 16, 2017, 09:49:32 pm
Yeah - I can appreciate the logistics ain't straighforward.  And as I said several pages back

And then the one that is very much down to 'us' and not to 'them', more volunteers.  Although weirdly my 2017 wasn't actually as tough in most respects as 2013 was (having the school kitchen/cleaning staff, who worked incredibly hard, was a massive factor in this) that was proper tough nonetheless.  Many hands make light work...

More, and more experienced, volunteers would be a huge help, wouldn't it.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: PhilB on August 16, 2017, 11:53:40 pm
Brampton had a row of small sandwich boxes, each one contained tickets with the same wake-up time. Heather informs me that a volunteer called Phil refined the system so that the tickets in the boxes were sorted into a logical route, and groups of 5 were woken, so they could be checked out, and the tickets torn.

Obviously there was a chart as well.

We've got video of the PBP 2015 system, which had a computer element.

I was that Phil, although I can't take all the credit, I was just one of nearly a dozen volunteers who manage the beds, 310 riders per night using 240 beds, it was busy & we needed to be well organised.

By the end of the 2nd night we'd got the system well refined and running smoothly - the problem is there's now a break break of 4 years before it happens again with a new group of volunteers learning on the job. I am planning to put together a "how to manage the dormitories guide" in the next few weeks which may help.

A few observations:
1. When things got really busy it was important to slow things down and do one thing at a time, this did mean riders were asked to wait a few minutes to be checked out of the dormitory or shown to their bed, but if you didn't do this you ended up not knowing who was where & in chaos
2. I know we had a few (not many) complaints of missed wake ups. Some of these may have been people who had been woken but went back to sleep although we refined our system so we went back to anyone who had been woken but not checked out. Some may have been riders who came out to use the bathroom and miscommunication meant we then checked them out by mistake
3. Riders from certain nationalities seemed to be much harder to wake up and more likely to go back to sleep.
4. I walked 10km showing people to beds and doing the wake up calls on Tuesday and the same distance again on Wednesday - my feet were aching by the end of the shift.

Much as I favour using IT where possible, for dormitary management a paper and white board system seems to me to be far more practical
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: PhilB on August 17, 2017, 01:53:15 am
Clear expectations about how much support DNFers can expect with getting themselves back to the start.
This might have been useful. I found myself as travel advisor to quite a few DNFs at Brampton, explaining to them how to book themselves and bikes back to London on the train. It's not that easy - and the savings by using the advance booking system (even for trains later the same day) were significant (£50 vs £115 walk up fare). On Monday 31st I merrily used the Virgin East Coast website with some success, come Tues 1st August they had moved completely to their new "improved" booking site with no bike reservation option. So I went over to GWR. Still had some issues with riders who had left their credit cards in their car at Loughton (why?) and a couple of Indian riders with prepaid mastercards which weren't useful at all.
In hindsight it would have been useful to have a sheet giving details generally of how to book bikes on trains which we could have given out.  Even for UK riders who don't usually travel by train it can be a bit tricky.

Maybe we went beyond the call of duty with this, but for the overseas riders there was a point where I felt it was a hospitality issue - and putting myself in their position I would have been grateful for the same assistance.



Well here's a story you may not be aware of even though it happened right next door to your "Travel Bureau". Around 6am on Wednesday morning I woke up a German rider in the Brampton dorm. When he emerged he looked confused and I tried to help and direct him, but couldn't get much other than he'd fallen off his bike in the night, was very tired and where were the toilets. 15 minutes later he was still sat in the corridor, saddle bag contents spread all round him and it was clear something wasn't right but the 2 of us couldn't communicate. I located a German speaking volunteer & we managed to ascertain that he felt he couldn't go on but was very worried about how he could get himself and his bike back to London.

Once we knew this we were able to explain a) we were close to a main line station and b) if he went round to the control desk someone would be able to assist him with train times, ticket purchase and directions to the station.

Five minutes later he was crying on my shoulder and thanking me profusely. I didn't think we'd done a lot at the time, but looking back on it, this poor chap was a tired & not feeling well, he was a long way from London and even further from home, and felt like he was alone with a problem he didn't know how to solve. Your Train Travel expertise meant we were able to help him solve his problem and allay his anxieties so I think it was exactly the right think to be doing and very much in the spirit of Audax :thumbsup:
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Greenbank on August 17, 2017, 09:42:35 am
Sure, people are tired, but such behaviour is utterly unacceptable (even if you were not dealing with volunteers, but paid employees).

It's an often quoted generalisation about Audax that you find out more about who you truly are when you ride an event of 400km or longer. On riders shorter than that there tends not to be enough time to wear one's defences down enough to expose what is lurking underneath; many people remain generally polite and considerate, but some people turn into rude objectionable idiots.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: hellymedic on August 17, 2017, 12:52:23 pm
I am not sure that it's the 'real me' you meet when I'm hot, dry and hypoglycaemic; I'm a NASTY rude bitch, who might be truly horrible.
I'm not usually a bad person once my blood sugar is within 'normal' limits.
Apologies to any controllers I may have crossed!
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: alfapete on August 17, 2017, 07:37:53 pm
I (sort of) understood what was required but my hour or two on beds in 2013 was utterly terrifying, despite the control being very quiet at that point.  I (literally) did a happy dance when I saw there was no bed booking on my rota because I know I'd a) be awful at it and b) find it unbelievably stressful!

Can't believe I didn't put you on bed booking - it wasn't by design (but time was running out when I wrote those rotas - we had a weekend away the w/e before LEL and I should have started rota writing 2 weeks earlier!).
But I can't believe that you wouldn't have done a perfect job, either
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: CrinklyLion on August 17, 2017, 07:40:55 pm
I can.  I tried it 4 years ago.

Seriously - no spatial awareness, can't read maps, incredibly clumsy, dreadful timekeeping and can't be trusted with paperwork.  I know my weaknesses!
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: vorsprung on August 17, 2017, 08:02:49 pm
Dunno what exactly could be done about it but the bleepy Garmins in the sleep areas were about the only specific thing I would change

Maybe if there was a clause in the entry requirements that any Garmin beeping in a sleep area would be pounded to a thousand pieces with a sledge hammer?  Just a thought
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Phil W on August 17, 2017, 09:19:00 pm
The bag drop collection area at Loughton during registration was a small marque. There was a mallet sitting around from when the pegs had been hammered in . I was tempted to try that mallet out on a few drop bags. You'd soon find out who had put stuff in theirs that wasn't strictly allowed.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: coops456 on August 17, 2017, 11:56:53 pm
By the end of the 2nd night we'd got the system well refined and running smoothly - the problem is there's now a break break of 4 years before it happens again with a new group of volunteers learning on the job. I am planning to put together a "how to manage the dormitories guide" in the next few weeks which may help.

Oh please god do. I said 4 years ago that there should be some sort of wiki-type collection of best practices etc, cos personnel changes and general human forgetfulness shouldn't mean reinventing the wheel at every control for every edition.
I ran the bed booking at Great Easton -which hadn't previously been a sleep control - and it was the most stressful thing I've done in a long time. This could have been assuaged by expertise from previous editions.

Thankfully one of my front desk team had previously managed the dorm at Pocklington, and so he setup our big whiteboard with a simple list of bed numbers. Underneath we wrote the wakeup times (half hourly slots only). Controller Iddu provided a couple of A4 whiteboards which were perfect for mobile use:
1. I asked each rider what time they wanted to be woken - and showed them what I wrote down to confirm this; I asked their rider number and their first name.
2. I looked at the big whiteboard, crossed off an available bed and wrote that bed number on my A4 board.
3. I took the rider to the allocated bed.
4. I returned to update the big whiteboard with the info and (if I remembered) scan the rider as sleeping.

System worked well, I just needed another pair of hands cos when it was frantic at 2-3am it was hard to keep up.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: coops456 on August 18, 2017, 12:10:04 am
I always think there's a bit of a conflict of interests really.  From the perspective of running the control efficiently and effectively it makes sense to give people the jobs they already know how to do or train them in one job and keep them doing that all the time.  But that ends up with people spending their whole time on bogs or potwash, which isn't really very fair.

I agree but I think there's a middle ground. At Great Easton we worked as 3 teams: Front of House (front desk/beds), External (entrance/bike park/mech), Rear of House (catering/cleaning). We had controller Iddu allocate volunteers to one of those teams, so it was then up to that team leader to roster their staff and allocate specific tasks.

In theory we could rotate our staff, at least in the quieter periods. In practice when the bulge hit after midnight, I got stuck on/stuck into bed management and didn't come up for air until about 0730.  :o
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: MikeFromLFE on August 18, 2017, 08:49:29 am
I hope PhoenixJim is around to amplify this as he was controller at Spalding. We didn't have formal rotas, and it seemed to work exceptionally well. We seemed to fall into three loose teams - catering, beds, and everything else. We rotated tasks among ourselves and I didn't notice any obvious signs of stress or unhappiness.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: GPS on August 18, 2017, 09:40:56 am
A wiki containing best practices for planning rotas, bed management, setting up etc. etc. which could be modified by controllers would be an excellent idea. As a newbie to all of this it would've saved me doing unnecessary work and instead concentrating on what needed to be done - and doing it better.

Helping riders with their electronic (ok - Garmin) problems was something I hadn't anticipated. It took a fair amount of time, and I ran out of computers at one point. Should I have spent that amount of time helping individuals like this ? That's another question. There's only so much time ... what help should riders expect ?

Helping DNFers with train ticket booking, driving them to Lockerbie station or putting them up for the night (after we'd closed the control) was also something I hadn't thought we'd spend so much time on. Some just couldn't get there themselves. 

I've also thought about the communication channels used in the whole event. Other controllers contacted me using FB messenger, phone, text or email. It would be nice if there was one channel that we all stuck to. WhatsApp would be a good example of something that could work well - it can be used both as broadcast and individual messaging client on a mobile. It does depend on networking though. Network access is a bit of a sore point though ... that's for another day.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: mattc on August 18, 2017, 10:32:16 am
"organising" cyclists has been likened to herding cats. Bear this in mind ...
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: CrinklyLion on August 18, 2017, 10:34:06 am
I hope PhoenixJim is around to amplify this as he was controller at Spalding. We didn't have formal rotas, and it seemed to work exceptionally well. We seemed to fall into three loose teams - catering, beds, and everything else. We rotated tasks among ourselves and I didn't notice any obvious signs of stress or unhappiness.

I think some of the feedback from last time was that many volunteers found it tough going being stuck in the same jobs for the duration, hence the aim to swap things around - there were some people who were in the kitchen for the duration and didn't get to see the event at all, basically.  I liked Phil D's emphasis in 2013 the when you were on the rota for a rest period you _shouldn't_ be working - your 'job' was to be resting so you could go again.  We were very tight on the numbers to get everything done in BC in 2013 and I don't think we could have functioned without a rota - I was never hanging about when I was 'on shift' and was (from somewhat fuzzy memory) on shift for something like 18 hours a day...

I also vaguely remember Danial mentioning a concern that in 2013 he was visiting a lot of different controls as he was driving around in a van and finding blokes on the control desk and dealing with riders and women cooking and cleaning in the background, and being uncomfortable with the division of labour.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: eddum on August 18, 2017, 10:35:00 am
Helping riders with their electronic (ok - Garmin) problems was something I hadn't anticipated. It took a fair amount of time, and I ran out of computers at one point. Should I have spent that amount of time helping individuals like this ? That's another question. There's only so much time ... what help should riders expect ?

Each control should have nicely laminated route cards to the next control on sale at a premium for those foolish enough to rely on their garmin without any form of backup.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Kim on August 18, 2017, 01:46:42 pm
Helping riders with their electronic (ok - Garmin) problems was something I hadn't anticipated. It took a fair amount of time, and I ran out of computers at one point. Should I have spent that amount of time helping individuals like this ? That's another question. There's only so much time ... what help should riders expect ?

Each control should have nicely laminated route cards to the next control on sale at a premium for those foolish enough to rely on their garmin without any form of backup.

Seconded.  "Lost your routesheet?  Here, have a new one.  And yes, there's a GPX on the website if you want it."

Anything else is above and beyond what's reasonable.

But volunteers like to go above and beyond, which leads to unreasonable expectations the next time round...


(I have a similar view on bike fettling.  Sure, it's nice - and probably sensible - to provide a dry, lit area with a workstand and some tools, much as it is to provide food or beds.  If a control manages to get a pile of consumables on sale&return, or manages to provide really nice food, or charging sockets, or whatever, then great.  But that's how expectations happen...)
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Manotea on August 18, 2017, 01:56:24 pm
Case for a 'if it all goes wrong' briefing, including options and costs for getting back to London, part of the welcome pack?

Having resorted to trains on my last overseas venture(s), I'd make a point of understanding how national train systems work when riding overseas in future. Just in case...
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Lee Velo on August 18, 2017, 04:04:53 pm
On the back of the comments about being left to oversleep, I was one of the few lucky ones who actually got woken up 90 minutes earlier than requested. Slept at
 Louth at 0130 on Thursday and asked to be woken up at 0430...had a torch shone on my face and a friendly wave, went to toilets to get dressed quietly and checked my watch...0313...

On the plus side, I didn't waste any time in hand before the headwinds of the fens. I didn't blame the volunteers, its just part of audax.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: LittleWheelsandBig on August 18, 2017, 04:06:41 pm
I got woken an hour early at Louth NB. Not thrilled about it at all but such is life.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Lee Velo on August 18, 2017, 04:53:06 pm
Vegan provision-

I should probably make a short post about provision for Vegan cyclists, however generally the provision was excellent.

Firstly it was great that the question was asked when we registered and the control managers asked on FB what we would like to see. I've never had a problem getting something Vegan to eat at any audax, but I did feel spoilt at this one.

It's certainly something within cycling that is becoming more and more popular and you should definitely expect to see more of a Vegan contingent in 4 years time.

I only made the following observations:

Some controls didn't have dairy free milk either visable or available when asked. Thirsk had none full stop, I couldn't find any at Barnard Castle or Brampton. This means that cereal is off the cards. I didn't starve and worked around it however.

There was an argument between a rider and the chef about the Vegan vegetable curry at Thirsk. For whatever reason, Quorn was put into the curry without being disclosed, which may contain egg. There are two types of Quorn, one is Vegan and one is not and after a heated conversation with the chef about Quorn being 'mushroom based' I did have to step in and educate gently. On checking the packaging, the chef conceeded that the Quorn used was not the Vegan variety. Not great news and a little off putting. Simply just using vegetables in the curry would have been fine!

Edinburgh did supply pasta as the Vegan option, however unhelpfully had cheese on it. I had to employ some 'tactical scraping' as I had few other options.

Some controls had vegetable based spreads for bread, some had butter and a seperate 'olive' spread which I assume was the milk free option. This has happened at other events, but on checking, most olive spreads still contain milk (crazy I know).

Spalding control really looked after me as a Vegan rider, even making sure there were a few cake options and some alpro yoghurts which I'm really grateful for!

As I said, overall I would say the provision was really good and I only bring forward these comments to make people aware of things I picked up on. I'd happily pay a small premium to ensure all controls had dairy/egg free milks, yoghurts, cakes and spreads or even arrange with the Vegan contingent to send some supplies forwards if needs be in future!   
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: CrinklyLion on August 18, 2017, 05:16:36 pm
The bit of negative feedback I heard during the event (at Barnard Castle) re vegetarian/vegan provision was that one of the veggie options had no protein.  I wonder if Thirsk's quorn curry was a well intentioned if mistaken attempt at providing protein?

(Btw - I dunno if they had dairy free milk alternatives as nobody asked me so I didn't ask while I was on serving up duty.  But we didn't have cereal either!)

We did get a lot of people southbound asking for soup which we didn't have, and a couple of riders complaining about soup being tomato-ey at too many controls.  Soup was a big hit at BC last time as I recall.  Perhaps we should make it a mission to find 14 (one per control) different vegan soup recipes ready for in 4 years time....
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: hellymedic on August 18, 2017, 05:16:41 pm
Catering for vegans, even on a small scale is a minefield, as I found out when I help a party at home earlier this month.
I'm an obsessional ingredient reader and order from Sainsbury's online.
Chickpea patties were termed 'falafel' 'felafel' and 'falafels'; searching for 'felafel' would not give the 'falafel' they stocked.
One variety was gluten-free, vegan, Halal and Kosher.
The others were not...
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: frankly frankie on August 18, 2017, 06:16:55 pm
Some controls didn't have dairy free milk either visable or available when asked. Thirsk had none full stop, I couldn't find any at Barnard Castle or Brampton. This means that cereal is off the cards. I didn't starve and worked around it however.

If it's cereal you want you can always eat it dry.  I do, every morning.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: hellymedic on August 18, 2017, 06:49:18 pm
Some controls didn't have dairy free milk either visable or available when asked. Thirsk had none full stop, I couldn't find any at Barnard Castle or Brampton. This means that cereal is off the cards. I didn't starve and worked around it however.

If it's cereal you want you can always eat it dry.  I do, every morning.

Some vegans soak their cereals in orange juice.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: LittleWheelsandBig on August 18, 2017, 06:53:15 pm
Yes but both those options are weird.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Whitedown Man on August 18, 2017, 07:15:11 pm
In a world where leftover yeast extract is a national dish ...
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: LittleWheelsandBig on August 18, 2017, 07:16:40 pm
What, beer?
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Whitedown Man on August 18, 2017, 07:17:26 pm
 ;D
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: hellymedic on August 18, 2017, 07:18:04 pm
In a world where leftover yeast extract is a national dish ...

 :thumbsup: ;D ;D
POTD!
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: LMT on August 18, 2017, 07:21:31 pm
Catering for vegans, even on a small scale is a minefield, as I found out when I help a party at home earlier this month.
I'm an obsessional ingredient reader and order from Sainsbury's online.
Chickpea patties were termed 'falafel' 'felafel' and 'falafels'; searching for 'felafel' would not give the 'falafel' they stocked.
One variety was gluten-free, vegan, Halal and Kosher.
The others were not...

Depends on the Vegan. I was happily happy with a mixture of jacket potatoes, beans, rice, pasta, dry cereal and bananas. Others may have more diverse tastes of course.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Kim on August 18, 2017, 08:07:09 pm
IME catering for vegans is best done by vegans.  Or at least someone with sufficient allergies/intolerances that they're used to paying proper attention to ingredients.

Failing that, providing at least some of the sort of food that doesn't have ingredients lists.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: phil d on August 19, 2017, 06:52:52 pm
Wow.  There's so much useful input on this board that I'm almost sorry I won't be a controller in 2021!  Some of what I'm about to post is deliberately provocative (and, as I'm sure our provision at St Ives this year will testify to, not how I and Colin handled things this year).

Providing for vegetarians is relatively easy.  Veganism is greatly more difficult, and currently remains a significantly small minority (that's an observation, not a judgement).  While I am confident that all of the veggie food provided at St Ives was also suitable for vegans (and I know Colin put considerable effort into this), it is quite difficult to be absolutely certain, especially when it is not a vegan preparing the menu and thus familiar with the pitfalls.  So on an event like this I think that it is foolhardy for the Organisation to state that vegan food will be available throughout or for a vegan rider to rely on it.  To be honest, I find it difficult to believe that vegans think differently - there's too much at risk.

A similar argument could be made about other "extreme" dietary needs, such as gluten free and dairy free.  It seems slightly strange to call these extreme, but the fact is that to someone who is not susceptible to gluten, or dairy, it is quite difficult to be sufficiently on the ball to confidently cater for those that are.  I know that at St Ives the spread used on the bread was not dairy free (nor vegan), and we did not flag that up (it's only on reading this thread that I realised that).

While I have every sympathy with those who choose to, or even more so for those that have to, follow restricted diets, the responsibility has to rest with them, and at the end of the day they may have to eat somewhere other than the control.  As amateurs in the catering business it would be foolish to rely on volunteer caterers to provide such specialist diets.

Having said that, I sincerely hope that we did indeed manage to provide something suitable for every single rider through our doors at St Ives.  You may not have liked our selection, but hopefully it was edible!
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: The French Tandem on August 19, 2017, 07:20:34 pm
Some of what I'm about to post is deliberately provocative

I do not think that you are provocative. The main question, that nobody dares to ask, so I will do, is : does a volunteer-based event like LEL should cater for all specific dietary requirements?

My personal answer is no, but admittedly this is a highly controversial matter!
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: LMT on August 19, 2017, 08:59:15 pm
Wow.  There's so much useful input on this board that I'm almost sorry I won't be a controller in 2021!  Some of what I'm about to post is deliberately provocative (and, as I'm sure our provision at St Ives this year will testify to, not how I and Colin handled things this year).

Providing for vegetarians is relatively easy.  Veganism is greatly more difficult, and currently remains a significantly small minority (that's an observation, not a judgement).  While I am confident that all of the veggie food provided at St Ives was also suitable for vegans (and I know Colin put considerable effort into this), it is quite difficult to be absolutely certain, especially when it is not a vegan preparing the menu and thus familiar with the pitfalls.  So on an event like this I think that it is foolhardy for the Organisation to state that vegan food will be available throughout or for a vegan rider to rely on it.  To be honest, I find it difficult to believe that vegans think differently - there's too much at risk.

A similar argument could be made about other "extreme" dietary needs, such as gluten free and dairy free.  It seems slightly strange to call these extreme, but the fact is that to someone who is not susceptible to gluten, or dairy, it is quite difficult to be sufficiently on the ball to confidently cater for those that are.  I know that at St Ives the spread used on the bread was not dairy free (nor vegan), and we did not flag that up (it's only on reading this thread that I realised that).

While I have every sympathy with those who choose to, or even more so for those that have to, follow restricted diets, the responsibility has to rest with them, and at the end of the day they may have to eat somewhere other than the control.  As amateurs in the catering business it would be foolish to rely on volunteer caterers to provide such specialist diets.

Having said that, I sincerely hope that we did indeed manage to provide something suitable for every single rider through our doors at St Ives.  You may not have liked our selection, but hopefully it was edible!

''restricted'', ''extreme'', a bit ignorant/flippant imo.

With some insight it can be relatively easy to cater for vegans - you'd be surprised. What is taken to be good honest audax grub is vegan. Jacket potatoes with beans (no butter), rice, pasta, fruit, cereal, beans on toast (providing no butter on the toast which non dairy). My only gripe on the whole was lack of soy milk if I wanted some cereal if the control had it. I fully accept that I won't be able to eat everything at a control but to say that to cater for vegans is ''greatly more difficult'' as to supposedly not try is rubbish.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: CrinklyLion on August 19, 2017, 09:11:22 pm
Pasta without a sauce is actually quite tricky to do on a catering scale, and pasta&tomato sauce starts getting thumbs downs from ppl a lot sooner than you might think.

I don't think it is difficult to provide _something_ vegan, but providing choices gets trickier.

I think there's a _lot_ to be said for easily identifiable food where the meat is clearly meat, gluten is glaringly obvious etc.  Like Kim says - food that doesn't need an ingredient list.

Trickiest person to feed the to encountered was dairy/gluten free, veggie, no soya, no beans. They got spuds (no marg) and fruit...
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: jsabine on August 19, 2017, 11:49:47 pm
''restricted'', ''extreme'', a bit ignorant/flippant imo.

With some insight it can be relatively easy to cater for vegans - you'd be surprised.
[ ... ]
to say that to cater for vegans is ''greatly more difficult'' as to supposedly not try is rubbish.

Did you actually read phil d's post? You're either replying to what you think he might have said, or you're deliberately setting up straw men.

He and the team at St Ives didn't "not try" to cater for vegans: he explicitly said he was confident that all the veggie food was also vegan, and has acknowledged the error made with the spread.

He says some diets are restricted because, er, they are.

He uses "extreme" in quotes, and then discusses the difficulty he sees in confidently identifying dairy or gluten content - 100% of the time - unless you're particularly attuned to it. (As someone whose brother is coeliac, so requires a gluten-free diet, and whose wife has a number of food allergies, some of which, while probably not life-threatening given prompt treatment, would quite likely put her in an ambulance under blue lights, I can confidently assert that many so-called food professionals don't have a clue about how to handle such dietary needs.)

I think he deserves an apology from you for calling him ignorant and flippant: his post seemed to me thoughtful and insightful about the difficulties of running a pop-up catering operation such as at a control.


Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: LMT on August 20, 2017, 01:47:36 am
''restricted'', ''extreme'', a bit ignorant/flippant imo.

With some insight it can be relatively easy to cater for vegans - you'd be surprised.
[ ... ]
to say that to cater for vegans is ''greatly more difficult'' as to supposedly not try is rubbish.

Did you actually read phil d's post? You're either replying to what you think he might have said, or you're deliberately setting up straw men.

He and the team at St Ives didn't "not try" to cater for vegans: he explicitly said he was confident that all the veggie food was also vegan, and has acknowledged the error made with the spread.

He says some diets are restricted because, er, they are.

He uses "extreme" in quotes, and then discusses the difficulty he sees in confidently identifying dairy or gluten content - 100% of the time - unless you're particularly attuned to it. (As someone whose brother is coeliac, so requires a gluten-free diet, and whose wife has a number of food allergies, some of which, while probably not life-threatening given prompt treatment, would quite likely put her in an ambulance under blue lights, I can confidently assert that many so-called food professionals don't have a clue about how to handle such dietary needs.)

I think he deserves an apology from you for calling him ignorant and flippant: his post seemed to me thoughtful and insightful about the difficulties of running a pop-up catering operation such as at a control.

A misconception that vegans are "...greatly more difficult" to cater for due to a "restrictive" and/or "extreme" diet. Basic plant based carbs that you would get at controls such as potatoes, beans, pasta, bread, fruit and dry cereal are all vegan.

Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: CrinklyLion on August 20, 2017, 10:14:26 am
Several people who actually worked at controls are telling you that it was more difficult to cater for vegan diets in the context of large scale pop-up catering on a 24/7 basis staffed largely by volunteers - who are largely not vegan. 

Perhaps you could accept that they experienced the other side of the serving spoons (and remember that all the controls aimed to have at least one vegan option available anyway) and are entitled to a view on the matter, and take more generalised arguments about veganism elsewhere?
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Exit Stage Left on August 20, 2017, 11:47:06 am
There could perhaps be an introduction to the various senses of humour to be encountered on LEL. I haven't lived in London over 25 years, so I wasn't up to speed with the biting sarcasm. I'm familiar with Yorkshire, so I get that, and Scotland too. I now live in a part of the world where Peter Kay would be a general guide, with added irony and understatement. The roots of a lot of that is Irish, so it's always a pleasure to share 'The Crack'.

Much of what British people say is the opposite of what they mean, and earnestness is the cardinal sin. God knows what some riders would have thought of some of the 'out of shot' comments. It's probably most confusing to those who have a good grasp of English, but have no awareness of the regional differences in the sense of humour.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Kim on August 20, 2017, 01:32:31 pm
A misconception that vegans are "...greatly more difficult" to cater for due to a "restrictive" and/or "extreme" diet. Basic plant based carbs that you would get at controls such as potatoes, beans, pasta, bread, fruit and dry cereal are all vegan.

Bread's a standard gotcha.  It's not uncommon for whey powder to sneak in there.  I'd want to check the ingredients on baked beans too (I know proper Heinz ones are fine, but cheaper brands might not be).

This is the sort of thing that doesn't occur to people without experience of what to check for.  Common sense only gets you so far.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Lee Velo on August 20, 2017, 02:09:42 pm
Surprisingly, the volunteer run catering had enough Vegan options, especially St Ives (I didn't even look for the spread)

Edinburgh with the cheese on pasta, Thirsk with no soya milk and quorn in the curry were 'professional caterers'.

As I said, I don't expect an abundance of choice and I was happy that I always had a choice, there were just a few incidents that let it down (mostly with the pro caterers). LEL isn't really a suitable route to say 'eat outside of the controls', especially if I've paid an entrance fee and been specifically asked if I'm vegan!
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Sio2111 on August 20, 2017, 07:56:12 pm
Hi Lee,

As the controller for Thirsk, I am sorry you were told that there was no soya milk. I suspect that this was a communication error (as I saw some myself in the fridge - however this was towards the end of the event so may have been bought after you had been through the control). It was certainly part of the catering brief.

 
 
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Lee Velo on August 20, 2017, 08:13:12 pm
Hi Lee,

As the controller for Thirsk, I am sorry you were told that there was no soya milk. I suspect that this was a communication error (as I saw some myself in the fridge - however this was towards the end of the event so may have been bought after you had been through the control). It was certainly part of the catering brief.

 
 

In this lifestyle, I expect there to be none and am happy if there is. It was the chef at the servery who said there wasn't any and it was 0900ish on Monday, so no doubt it had been sorted later. I can live without corn flakes for a morning :)
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: canaryboy on August 20, 2017, 09:37:03 pm
I hope PhoenixJim is around to amplify this as he was controller at Spalding. We didn't have formal rotas, and it seemed to work exceptionally well. We seemed to fall into three loose teams - catering, beds, and everything else. We rotated tasks among ourselves and I didn't notice any obvious signs of stress or unhappiness.

I'd second this. I was at Spalding and as Mike says all was pretty much all sweetness and light among us volunteers. True, I was in the kitchen for the majority of my time there but on the occasions I did go for a wander onto something else my impression was that everyone was rubbing along together very nicely.

I doubt those controls that did have a formal rota fared any better than ours which was in the very capable hands of Jim and Caroline. They were happy for us all to ' go with the flow ' and it worked a treat.

Or maybe we were all such lovely people there was no chance of a fall out  ? ( lol )

Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: hellymedic on August 20, 2017, 09:56:44 pm
Nice that Spalding worked well but I reckon people need to work within their capabilities for best results. Some people aren't cut out for some tasks and expecting them to do these is fair on nobody.
It's easy when everyone CAN do anything but...
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: canaryboy on August 21, 2017, 12:32:24 am
Nice that Spalding worked well but I reckon people need to work within their capabilities for best results. Some people aren't cut out for some tasks and expecting them to do these is fair on nobody.
It's easy when everyone CAN do anything but...

I can see your point but I think having no set rota was precisely why Spalding worked so well. For the most part people just seemed to gravitate to whatever they felt most comfortable doing. When certain areas were struggling there always seemed to be someone willing to provide support just by being asked to help out.

I'm not trying to paint a perfect picture of how it was and clearly if there were areas that hadn't be covered by consensus then a more rigid structure would have been needed but as far as I'm aware that wasn't the case at Spalding.

As you quite rightly say some people aren't as capable as others for doing certain tasks but if ' round pegs for round holes ' can't be found to satisfy a rota there is always the likelihood that some volunteers will find themselves pressurised into it anyway.

I accept there's pros and cons for both the formal and informal approach but in our case as far as I could tell the latter kept everyone pretty happy.

Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: MikeFromLFE on August 21, 2017, 07:45:54 am
Nice that Spalding worked well but I reckon people need to work within their capabilities for best results. Some people aren't cut out for some tasks and expecting them to do these is fair on nobody.
It's easy when everyone CAN do anything but...
I didn't wish to imply that Spalding was perfect and the one true model, but as CanaryBoy said, it worked well for that group of people at that moment in time.
But rotas do lead to putting people outside their capabilities, where people who aren't cut out for certain tasks feel expected to perform beyond what they are capable of. This can lead to errors and problems, but it can be good for certain people in a properly supportive environments - I'm not sure a busy LEL control is conducive to structured personal growth.
I know I would have gone into meltdown if I'd been given any task involving catering/food (and, yes, I'd warned the controllers in advance about this problem in my head). As it was I was able to find tasks within my capabilities that I found enjoyable and (hopefully) useful.
Not having a fixed or formal rota worked - in this instance - to allow folk to work within their capabilities and do what they were able.


Tapatalk puts this signature here, not me!
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: mattc on August 21, 2017, 09:37:54 am
If the controller asks people about stuff like that (and ideally sends out a draft rota) then that won't be a problem. (he/she will often know many of their staff, so that will help.)

I don't see that "Having a Rota" is automatically a road to forcing people to do things that they don't want to do :)
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: CrinklyLion on August 21, 2017, 05:36:43 pm
In Barney the main gates were a long way from the control and the larger dormitory was likewise somewhat distant. And the mobile signal was dreadful. At least a rota meant you knew when someone was due to relieve you when you were stranded at an outpost...
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: alwyn on August 21, 2017, 06:00:16 pm
One thing that has come out of the feedback is frustration with having to deal with different bed booking systems at controls. I'd never thought of this before as being a problem, but enough people have said it, quite independently of each other, for me to take it seriously.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: GPS on August 21, 2017, 09:23:09 pm
What were the frustrations? We had a few issues at Moffat, but I think they due to shift changes & misunderstandings.

A standard system is a great idea.

Standardisation could also work for other aspects of running a control.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: mmmmartin on August 21, 2017, 10:31:45 pm
The system at Moffat seemed pretty  simple and bombproof, and if you were looking for a system I'd start there. One picture of that big sheet of paper revealed at one glance how it worked.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Deano on August 21, 2017, 10:58:19 pm
The system at Moffat seemed pretty  simple and bombproof, and if you were looking for a system I'd start there. One picture of that big sheet of paper revealed at one glance how it worked.

Hmmm. I wasn't woken up at Moffat. And I wasn't the only one - there were a few complainers hanging around, and one poor volunteer was taking the flak for something that was not her fault.

I'm not complaining - I got an extra hour's sleep, and if I hadn't been so careless as to let my phone battery die, I'd have known the time and been able to get myself up. But it wasn't bombproof.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: jsabine on August 21, 2017, 11:27:22 pm
A misconception that vegans are "...greatly more difficult" to cater for due to a "restrictive" and/or "extreme" diet. Basic plant based carbs that you would get at controls such as potatoes, beans, pasta, bread, fruit and dry cereal are all vegan.

Bread's a standard gotcha.  It's not uncommon for whey powder to sneak in there.  I'd want to check the ingredients on baked beans too (I know proper Heinz ones are fine, but cheaper brands might not be).

This is the sort of thing that doesn't occur to people without experience of what to check for.  Common sense only gets you so far.

And to reinforce this point, I made a shepherd's pie this evening and was going to grate some cheese over it before sticking it in the oven. I glanced at the Gran Padano packaging before opening it, and noticed that there was an ingredients list. Lysozyme protein from egg. 

Egg in any quantity is likely to send my wife to hospital: a bit of protein, in a bit of grated cheese, topping a more substantial dish? She might get away with it, she might notice a mild reaction and get away with chewing some antihistamines and rest. But it was easier for just me to have cheese tonight.

(On a similar note, much gluten-free bread contains egg. Bit of a pain when she can't have wheat either, and invariably missed by restaurants when they proudly offer it to her.)
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: fuaran on August 21, 2017, 11:40:52 pm
Just about any standard supermarket loaf of bread is vegan. Its only fancy or gluten free stuff that might have milk etc.

I've never seen any baked beans that weren't vegan.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Peter on August 22, 2017, 04:20:15 am
What were the frustrations? We had a few issues at Moffat, but I think they due to shift changes & misunderstandings.

A standard system is a great idea.

Standardisation could also work for other aspects of running a control.

Might help the volunteers if we could standardise the riders......!
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: coops456 on August 22, 2017, 08:12:58 am
In Barney the main gates were a long way from the control and the larger dormitory was likewise somewhat distant. And the mobile signal was dreadful. At least a rota meant you knew when someone was due to relieve you when you were stranded at an outpost...
We bought walkie-talkies for exactly this reason. Every control should have a set. We always had 1 at the gate, 1 at the front desk, 1 in the kitchen and 1 with controller Iddu.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: GPS on August 22, 2017, 11:22:56 am
The system at Moffat seemed pretty  simple and bombproof, and if you were looking for a system I'd start there. One picture of that big sheet of paper revealed at one glance how it worked.

Hmmm. I wasn't woken up at Moffat. And I wasn't the only one - there were a few complainers hanging around, and one poor volunteer was taking the flak for something that was not her fault.

I'm not complaining - I got an extra hour's sleep, and if I hadn't been so careless as to let my phone battery die, I'd have known the time and been able to get myself up. But it wasn't bombproof.

The problems were down to a combination of: shift changes, inexperience, poor signage and some riders going in & out of the dorm & switching beds (probably due to exhaustion & poor signage marking the bed positions).

Lessons have been learned by me & I'll write it up when work & family holidays permit.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Deano on August 22, 2017, 01:49:55 pm
 :thumbsup:
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: mattc on August 22, 2017, 03:45:30 pm
Hmmm. I wasn't woken up at Moffat.

And you still finished? In time??

Chapeau!
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: mmmmartin on August 23, 2017, 10:38:04 am
A thought.
sometimes the bike parking barriers were all linked in a straight line and when many bikes were put on one side there was a tendency for the entire structure to collapse to one side. Next time maybe they could be arranged in an arrow formation so one prevented another from tipping over.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: redfalo on August 23, 2017, 10:43:45 am
A thought.
sometimes the bike parking barriers were all linked in a straight line and when many bikes were put on one side there was a tendency for the entire structure to collapse to one side. Next time maybe they could be arranged in an arrow formation so one prevented another from tipping over.

Spalding had the best solution IMHO for this issue. They used three barriers and created tiangles.  Downside probably is this requires more space.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Mr Larrington on August 23, 2017, 11:43:25 am
A thought.
sometimes the bike parking barriers were all linked in a straight line and when many bikes were put on one side there was a tendency for the entire structure to collapse to one side. Next time maybe they could be arranged in an arrow formation so one prevented another from tipping over.

We did that at BC, albeit after about three rows had been blown over :-\
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Veloman on August 23, 2017, 12:24:30 pm
A thought.
sometimes the bike parking barriers were all linked in a straight line and when many bikes were put on one side there was a tendency for the entire structure to collapse to one side. Next time maybe they could be arranged in an arrow formation so one prevented another from tipping over.

Spalding had the best solution IMHO for this issue. They used three barriers and created tiangles.  Downside probably is this requires more space.

Still had barriers blowing over.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Graeme on August 23, 2017, 01:21:35 pm
Hmmm. I wasn't woken up at Moffat.

And you still finished? In time??

Chapeau!

+1 for cable ties... We just attached the sleeping Deano to his fixed gear bike and off he went.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: mattc on August 23, 2017, 03:02:13 pm
Hmmm. I wasn't woken up at Moffat.

And you still finished? In time??

Chapeau!

+1 for cable ties... We just attached the sleeping Deano to his fixed gear bike and off he went.
A grand team effort.  :thumbsup:
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: phil d on August 23, 2017, 04:12:13 pm
A thought.
sometimes the bike parking barriers were all linked in a straight line and when many bikes were put on one side there was a tendency for the entire structure to collapse to one side. Next time maybe they could be arranged in an arrow formation so one prevented another from tipping over.

We used zig-zags at St Ives - seemed to work.  I don't think we had any barriers blow over, though some bikes were blown over.  We encouraged riders to put the bars over the top of the barrier; problem solved.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: MikeFromLFE on August 23, 2017, 04:59:41 pm
A thought.
sometimes the bike parking barriers were all linked in a straight line and when many bikes were put on one side there was a tendency for the entire structure to collapse to one side. Next time maybe they could be arranged in an arrow formation so one prevented another from tipping over.

Spalding had the best solution IMHO for this issue. They used three barriers and created tiangles.  Downside probably is this requires more space.
I don't remember the bike parking barriers at Spalding blowing over, but that might have been because I was too busy rescuing the entrance barriers which had blown over!
Anyway here's a couple of snaps of the Spalding bike parking barriers. (Excuse the crappy images, I was pi$$ing about with a 1963 Ilford Sportsman camera to see if it works - it does if you focus it correctly....)(https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20170823/d7138583c2529af9235af632e3dd9e4c.jpg)(https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20170823/2cb755fa8c18b0c0d8f44bb42448335c.jpg)


Tapatalk puts this signature here, not me!
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: earthloop on August 26, 2017, 07:31:51 am
In the run-up to registration, maybe there should be a rider manual that you have to read and a multiple choice quiz on it that you have to complete. There would need to be a lot of translation work to avoid disadvantaging those with weak or no English, but it might be particularly helpful for people with little English to already understand some of these things so that they don't have to be explained in the thick of it.

etc
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: MikeFromLFE on August 26, 2017, 08:02:39 am
In the run-up to registration, maybe there should be a rider manual that you have to read and a multiple choice quiz on it that you have to complete. There would need to be a lot of translation work to avoid disadvantaging those with weak or no English, but it might be particularly helpful for people with little English to already understand some of these things so that they don't have to be explained in the thick of it.

  • why are food portion sizes limited at some controls ?
  • if I'm still hungry can I go back for seconds ? What about thirds and forths ?
  • why can't I reserve my bed now and then go and eat ?
  • frostbite coming over Yad Moss, is that a real thing ?
  • how much do the control workers in the red shirts get paid ?
  • which of the following types of mechanical failure effected more riders in 2017 ? ...
  • why do we have to keep taking our shoes off ?
  • what should I do if I a have mechanical failure that I can't fix myself half way between controls ?
  • why is it important to scan out of controls ?
etc
Good plan - but I'd suggest a video?
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Whitedown Man on August 26, 2017, 09:53:52 am
It could teach people with little English how to spell "fourth". Pesky foreigners, coming over here and riding our events.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Exit Stage Left on August 26, 2017, 10:08:56 am
In the run-up to registration, maybe there should be a rider manual that you have to read and a multiple choice quiz on it that you have to complete. There would need to be a lot of translation work to avoid disadvantaging those with weak or no English, but it might be particularly helpful for people with little English to already understand some of these things so that they don't have to be explained in the thick of it.

  • why are food portion sizes limited at some controls ?
  • if I'm still hungry can I go back for seconds ? What about thirds and forths ?
  • why can't I reserve my bed now and then go and eat ?
  • frostbite coming over Yad Moss, is that a real thing ?
  • how much do the control workers in the red shirts get paid ?
  • which of the following types of mechanical failure effected more riders in 2017 ? ...
  • why do we have to keep taking our shoes off ?
  • what should I do if I a have mechanical failure that I can't fix myself half way between controls ?
  • why is it important to scan out of controls ?
etc
Good plan - but I'd suggest a video?

I have been wondering if an online quiz might act as a qualification for entry. A comprehension test, based on an article covering the main factors. A German rider came up and thanked me for the 'LEL Cushion' film. which he said had helped get him round.


https://vimeo.com/205787486

Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: ElyDave on August 26, 2017, 11:37:56 pm
Wow.  There's so much useful input on this board that I'm almost sorry I won't be a controller in 2021!  Some of what I'm about to post is deliberately provocative (and, as I'm sure our provision at St Ives this year will testify to, not how I and Colin handled things this year).

Providing for vegetarians is relatively easy.  Veganism is greatly more difficult, and currently remains a significantly small minority (that's an observation, not a judgement).  While I am confident that all of the veggie food provided at St Ives was also suitable for vegans (and I know Colin put considerable effort into this), it is quite difficult to be absolutely certain, especially when it is not a vegan preparing the menu and thus familiar with the pitfalls.  So on an event like this I think that it is foolhardy for the Organisation to state that vegan food will be available throughout or for a vegan rider to rely on it.  To be honest, I find it difficult to believe that vegans think differently - there's too much at risk.

A similar argument could be made about other "extreme" dietary needs, such as gluten free and dairy free.  It seems slightly strange to call these extreme, but the fact is that to someone who is not susceptible to gluten, or dairy, it is quite difficult to be sufficiently on the ball to confidently cater for those that are.  I know that at St Ives the spread used on the bread was not dairy free (nor vegan), and we did not flag that up (it's only on reading this thread that I realised that).

While I have every sympathy with those who choose to, or even more so for those that have to, follow restricted diets, the responsibility has to rest with them, and at the end of the day they may have to eat somewhere other than the control.  As amateurs in the catering business it would be foolish to rely on volunteer caterers to provide such specialist diets.

Having said that, I sincerely hope that we did indeed manage to provide something suitable for every single rider through our doors at St Ives.  You may not have liked our selection, but hopefully it was edible!

''restricted'', ''extreme'', a bit ignorant/flippant imo.

With some insight it can be relatively easy to cater for vegans - you'd be surprised. What is taken to be good honest audax grub is vegan. Jacket potatoes with beans (no butter), rice, pasta, fruit, cereal, beans on toast (providing no butter on the toast which non dairy). My only gripe on the whole was lack of soy milk if I wanted some cereal if the control had it. I fully accept that I won't be able to eat everything at a control but to say that to cater for vegans is ''greatly more difficult'' as to supposedly not try is rubbish.

Being mostly on food service at st Ives, I found most veggies and vegans extremely grateful for the variety we offered thank entirely to Colin and those supporting him. There was no flippant attitude at all.

The only disgruntled diner I experienced was because he had to wait twenty minutes for soup. I had one guy looked like he was either going to burst into tears, or hug me when I showed him the vat of bean stew.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: alwyn on August 28, 2017, 10:48:15 am
One lesson I am going to take forward next time is to make it far more explicit that we make no guarantees of gluten-free food. We simply cannot cater for people for whom gluten is a crippling poison.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: hellymedic on August 28, 2017, 11:09:29 am
Gluten is indeed a crippling poison, even in tiny quantities for the truly coeliac. (This is not always true for those who claim to be gluten-intolerant.)

Plain fruit and veg are fine, obviously.

I found a range of packaged falafel and other savouries made by 'Great Foods', which were gluten-free and vegan, for a recent party I held. I served them in their original packaging to prevent contamination.

They weren't cheap but could serve to feed a desperate rider. Wetherspoons have some gluten-free menu items but avoid their chips!

I appreciate avoiding gluten contamination is a potential minefield!
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: The French Tandem on August 28, 2017, 12:06:11 pm
One lesson I am going to take forward next time is to make it far more explicit that we make no guarantees of gluten-free food. We simply cannot cater for people for whom gluten is a crippling poison.

I think you should make it very clear that we make no guarantees for a lot of things: spare tubes & spokes, available beds, USB sockets, etc...
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Exit Stage Left on August 28, 2017, 12:48:18 pm
There's a terrible amount of prejudice about gluten intolerance. Some people show little tolerance for it, as this egregious example on Youtube demonstrates.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oht9AEq1798

Those sort of attitudes are fairly well embedded in the older generation. I witnessed a volunteer's response to one rider's profile. 'Fixed and Vegan! Is there no end to his twattery?'

I can see where those attitudes come from. They're embedded in the post-war world, where corned beef, tinned salmon, cling peaches, bartlett pear halves, rice pudding and evaporated milk, probably with a slice of bread with marge made from whale oil, were part of a balanced diet.

Audax is a visit to the past. The future will be different, when gluten-intolerant vegans come to the fore as volunteers, and produce delicious dishes which can satisfy the whole of the field. Perhaps all those wheat-eating carnivores will then embrace better nutrition in their home life.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: hellymedic on August 28, 2017, 02:05:20 pm
I am not coeliac.
I would not be happy if I paid £whatever for an 'all-included' package and found myself leaving controls hungry.
I do appreciate the need for the economies of scale that paying upfront can bring.
There are people with coeliac disease who have done LEL.
I don't know how they feel.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: alwyn on August 28, 2017, 02:16:15 pm
What I'm pretty settled on is that if I'm running LEL2021, there will be a ballot rather than first-come first served. It will be more work for the LEL team, but less stressful for people looking to ride.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Exit Stage Left on August 28, 2017, 02:36:52 pm
This was the first LEL that Sonya Crawford wasn't at the Edinburgh control. She's coeliac, and had some interesting ways around the problem.

She always had omeletes available, I usually had ham and cheese. There was always trifle as well, I assume with gluten-free cake in it. It was something of a tradition to tuck into that at 5am. There are a few bemused references to it in accounts of 2009 and earlier. Don't ask me what she did for vegans, as I haven't the faintest idea.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: alwyn on August 28, 2017, 02:46:47 pm
This was the first LEL that Sonya Crawford wasn't at the Edinburgh control. She's coeliac, and had some interesting ways around the problem.

She always had omeletes available, I usually had ham and cheese. There was always trifle as well, I assume with gluten-free cake in it. It was something of a tradition to tuck into that at 5am. There are a few bemused references to it in accounts of 2009 and earlier. Don't ask me what she did for vegans, as I haven't the faintest idea.

Yes, it's a shame Sonya chose to withdraw as a controller two months before the event in order to go on holiday. However that sort of individual catering doesn't scale up to 1500 riders. Happily the Edinburgh control do all the catering, which has been superb both editions that they've been involved. The schools that cater are geared up to cook without gluten, but I still would not make a promise to keep gluten out of the 30-odd plates of food that a typical LEL rider ploughs through during the course of the event. The risk is just far too great.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Exit Stage Left on August 28, 2017, 03:02:02 pm
Sonya was down with us last weekend, and gave us an update on Semaine Federale. It was at Mortagne au Perche, on the PBP route, and it was difficult to provide flat enough rides for all the family, on what is a family event. There was also limited wine at the final meal.

It was a bit of a conflict for Heather and myself when we found out that LEL clashed with Sem Fed. On balance we made the better decision, but it's one that might best be avoided. It was unfortunate that LEL clashed with SF at a PBP control town, as the PBP committee like to do a ride they aren't responsible for. But Sem Fed uses the same volunteer base as PBP, so it's politically important for them to go, and it's fun.

So I've got two suggestions. Try not to clash with Semaine Federale, and send a core group of volunteers to study Semaine Federale. It's a sort of slow-motion PBP, so all the issues can be explored at leisure. It's a step-change above PBP, which itself is a step-change above LEL.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: alwyn on August 28, 2017, 03:11:58 pm
You did indeed, and as ever I'm incredibly grateful for the work you put into LEL.

I think pulling out of a major role in the event, then declining to tell me for weeks, was incredibly poor form. If the AUK director of events hadn't jumped in, LEL would have been in a lot of trouble.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: LMT on August 28, 2017, 11:11:23 pm


Being mostly on food service at st Ives, I found most veggies and vegans extremely grateful for the variety we offered thank entirely to Colin and those supporting him. There was no flippant attitude at all.

The only disgruntled diner I experienced was because he had to wait twenty minutes for soup. I had one guy looked like he was either going to burst into tears, or hug me when I showed him the vat of bean stew.

You miss the point and in doing so have invented a strawman argument. The idea that catering for vegans is extreme/difficult is what is flippant/ignorant not what xyz control did or did not have.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: jsabine on August 29, 2017, 12:00:21 am
You miss the point and in doing so have invented a strawman argument. The idea that catering for vegans is extreme/difficult is what is flippant/ignorant not what xyz control did or did not have.

No-one in this thread who has been discussing the very real difficulties involved in, as volunteers, offering mass catering that takes account of dietary needs and preferences - including but not limited to veganism - has been flippant or ignorant.

Your persistent pretence that they have been is in itself a straw man.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Exit Stage Left on August 29, 2017, 12:05:34 am
YACF, The Movie. 'Attack of the Straw Men'. Coming soon to a cinema near you.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Exit Stage Left on August 29, 2017, 12:15:59 am
LEL is now heavily dependent on Schools for the controls and as such a clash with the Semaine Federale is now probably inevitable and unreconcilable.

It's only once every four years. It was unfortunate that LEL coincided with one with a PBP dimension. I like the idea of reciprocating the hospitality we receive in France. Perhaps an LEL presence at Sem Fed 2020 would be a nice gesture. If anyone wants to build on their LEL volunteer experience, Sem Fed 2018 is in Epinal in the Vosges. http://vosges.ffct.org/sf2018.htm
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: billyam998 on September 07, 2017, 10:00:51 am
What I'm pretty settled on is that if I'm running LEL2021, there will be a ballot rather than first-come first served. It will be more work for the LEL team, but less stressful for people looking to ride.

I don't understand this, how can it be less stressful for those looking to ride? Neither means of getting a ride is desirable but, a ballot would to me appear to be just as much of a gamble as hovering over the buy it now button waiting for 1 minute past 12.  I also hope the various means of guaranteed entry will remain.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: jsabine on September 07, 2017, 02:26:08 pm
What I'm pretty settled on is that if I'm running LEL2021, there will be a ballot rather than first-come first served. It will be more work for the LEL team, but less stressful for people looking to ride.

I don't understand this, how can it be less stressful for those looking to ride? Neither means of getting a ride is desirable but, a ballot would to me appear to be just as much of a gamble as hovering over the buy it now button waiting for 1 minute past 12.  I also hope the various means of guaranteed entry will remain.

Differently stressful, perhaps. At the moment, you hover over the button at 00:00:01 (or whatever), and stress whether you'll be quick enough, whether the entry will be in your basket, whether it'll accept your payment details, then (once it's failed) complain that the server was inadequate, that the timing was inaccurate, that the team is biased against entries from $your_country, that people were hogging the system with multiple entry attempts etc etc etc.

With a ballot, you'll have a defined window - days, weeks, who knows - to get your entry in without racing to be fastest fingers first, then after it closes you'll have a period of hope, waiting for the email that says you have a place. Before this email you will, of course, have the opportunity to complain that the entry window opened or closed early or late, that it was poorly advertised, and that therefore the organising team owes you a place because you couldn't enter the ballot; after the email you will be able to complain that the team was once again biased against $your_country, that the draw was not truly random, that multiple entries from others have not been detected, and most importantly that you haven't got a place (because as any fule kno, you really, truly, DESERVE one).
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Fidgetbuzz on September 07, 2017, 03:41:43 pm
Good analysis ... dont forget that we might also ask for your dietary requirements and either have a number  limit for carnivores, vegetarians etc .. or even refuse to accept any with certain requirements .... might make control menu planning easier !!!!
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: hellymedic on September 07, 2017, 03:45:57 pm
Would refusing entry to some with special dietary needs fall foul of disability/equality legislation?

Some highly successful randonneurs have special dietary needs and would be mortified/furious if they were refused entry!
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: mattc on September 07, 2017, 04:18:54 pm
London Marathon hopefuls seem very happy with a Ballot. I don't see the problem with them for LEL/PBP, but every time this comes up, some are against - I guess we just disagree!

I don't recall seeing/hearing much whingeing about LM entries - apart from the issues around GoodForAge times, but that doesn't apply to LEL. Yet ...
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: jochta on September 07, 2017, 04:53:04 pm
London Marathon hopefuls seem very happy with a Ballot. I don't see the problem with them for LEL/PBP, but every time this comes up, some are against - I guess we just disagree!

I don't recall seeing/hearing much whingeing about LM entries - apart from the issues around GoodForAge times, but that doesn't apply to LEL. Yet ...

LM ballot works fine if you're not overly committed to running. It's every year so you get a chance (slim though it is) to get a place annually. If you don't then shrug your shoulders and try again next year. Some people moan as they've tried the ballot for 7 or 8 consecutive years and never been drawn. Dur, that's how a ballot works, no such thing as law of averages etc. If you really want to run then there are other avenues to get a guaranteed place, good for age, charity places etc. English Athletic affiliated clubs get ballot places according to their membership, clubs usually have some criteria on which you are allowed to enter the club ballot (failed to get in public ballot, length of membership, done something worthy etc.). This is how I got my place in 2017, failed the public ballot but drew one of my club's ballot places.

As long as there were some guaranteed methods of getting into LEL, e.g. the audax UK route, previous volunteer, then I see no issue with a ballot for the remaining places. It'd be very annoying if it was only a ballot for an event that only took place every 4 years. The LM method of a certain number of places per club (how you would determine a club I don't know and some clubs might not want any places!) might be fairer for spreading out the ballot places across countries, regions.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Manotea on September 07, 2017, 05:11:55 pm
I'm not fully understanding this thread...

AIUI AUK members got priority entry and had several weeks to enter before entry was extended to the rest of the world. Whether the latter is by ballot or first come will inevitably be a gamble. Either way the risk lies with the rider. So be it.

Anybody can avoid that risk simply by joining AUK. Given that the net cost of riding LEL for an overseas rider must be £5-600+, spending an extra £19 to guarantee entry would seem a good investment.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: alotronic on September 07, 2017, 06:34:46 pm
Right then... gluten freeness.

I have to be gluten free. Eating it makes me sick. Like in pain for a couple of days, about the same level of discomfort as eating a bad Indian meal. Not a little windy, not a little inconvenienced, but in bed for a day or two. On top of the stresses of the ride eating gluten is probably a ride-ender.

So... how I normally cope on rides is by going to a control and seeing what's there. If there is nothing there I can eat then I bounce and usually, through local knowledge or research, I can find somewhere to get something. Experience means I can go into a service station and know what I can eat. Also The Spoons has a GF menu! It's certainly  a lot easier than it was ten years ago. However it can still be a right pain - PBP for instance. Next time I will be doing it supported just so I can eat something. It was a miserable experience and the ride became about hunger rather than a cycling challenge.

My experience of LEL was generally good. I ate a lot of jacket potatoes and a lot of rice pudding - fine, to be expected. There was almost always something I could eat which was great. Louth, well we know all about that! Edinburgh was a bit empty, I think I had a couple of puddings and no main. Ironically the one control where I really suffered was actually very well catered for GF I later found out. I missed the sign about GF food and I was so tired I didn't ask the assistants if there were any options. I had a packet of GF chocolate biscuits with me which became dinner and breakfast. It seems that some controls 'hid' their GF food from view. I can't remember what the control was but I remember seeing two loaves of GF bread just sitting there as I was leaving which was frustrating as it is grains that are hard to find and really needed.

All in all my impression is that provision was done on a control by control basis. Generally I have no great problem or objection - there was enough to get me through and compared to PBP it was GF heaven, trust me.

I have three suggestions, a reminder and a thought experiment.

Suggestion 1: A protocol for riders on GF or Vegan or Veggie: A statement to make, a set of magic words, whatever, that 'unlocks' that controls provision - this will remove the effort of trying to figure out what is going on at each control which gets increasingly difficult with less and less sleep. This could be sent to the people who indicated on the signup form that they were x, y or z.

Suggestion 2: Ingredients lists. It matters to me what brand the vege stock is! Knoor is great, some others have a wheat base. This removes the russian roulette element of eating things like currys... I had one but then shied away from them.

Suggestion 3: I am happy to work around food provision but ideally I need to know in advance what is catered for and what is not. If the team could communicate the policy to those who indicate on the entry form then that will make things clear.

Moral point: I was happy with the cost of the event and chancing the food as I knew I could probably get around on service station stops if I really had to and by carrying more food. However if you specially stated that you were not supporting GF/vegan/veggie menus then I would certainly not wish to contribute to the general food pot!

And a reminder: This is not a choice. I have looked up whether GF intolerance/coeliacs is a disability and officially it isn't. But please remember that Coeliacs is a lifetime auto immune disease for which the only effective treatment is to not eat gluten.

And a thought experiment: I want you to imagine that you are in queue for food and there is a lot of it out but you realise that it is all effectively poison. That sounds dramatic but that's what my mental outlook on entering a control is - I am looking to get through without being made ill by food. Believe me being GF gives you a very warped way of approaching food and eating.

And finally as a matter of interest how many of us ticked the Gluten Free box?

A


Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: alfapete on September 07, 2017, 07:02:51 pm
Right then... gluten freeness.

And finally as a matter of interest how many of us ticked the Gluten Free box?


We managed to retrieve this figure from notes made at one of the York meetings: 38 is the answer for gluten free. In addition there were 39 requiring lactose free, 211 veggies, 54 vegans and 20 nut allergies.

There were discussions around providing gluten-free food and those controls with medical personnel on the organising team will have understood the importance of the issue more clearly than others. There is a LOT to think about in the run up to the event and it can easily be considered as a low priority matter, but if we ask the question on the entry form then we really should fulfill that requirement
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: alotronic on September 07, 2017, 07:42:46 pm
Right then... gluten freeness.

And finally as a matter of interest how many of us ticked the Gluten Free box?


We managed to retrieve this figure from notes made at one of the York meetings: 38 is the answer for gluten free. In addition there were 39 requiring lactose free, 211 veggies, 54 vegans and 20 nut allergies.

There were discussions around providing gluten-free food and those controls with medical personnel on the organising team will have understood the importance of the issue more clearly than others. There is a LOT to think about in the run up to the event and it can easily be considered as a low priority matter, but if we ask the question on the entry form then we really should fulfill that requirement

Yeah, I know there is a ton of stuff to do so I haven't pushed this as a big deal and I was confident I would make it around regardless. However if I had been a foreign rider with a much higher level of investment I would have been a lot more demanding! I put this forward in the spirit of something to put on that very long list for next time. Also don't underestimate the value of talking to members of those various interest groups - always happy to help! I suspect ingredients lists is going to be a good baseline.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: alwyn on September 07, 2017, 08:39:05 pm
I don't want to delve into the detail in public, but it was never the intention to guarantee gluten-free, nut-free or lactose-free food on the event. I'm very sorry that we ended up giving that impression.

Next time round I will make sure to be far more explicit about this. We simply cannot guarantee gluten-free, nut-free or lactose-free food, and if it's a life or death matter, I don't think this is the event for you.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: alotronic on September 07, 2017, 09:35:55 pm
I don't want to delve into the detail in public, but it was never the intention to guarantee gluten-free, nut-free or lactose-free food on the event. I'm very sorry that we ended up giving that impression.

Next time round I will make sure to be far more explicit about this. We simply cannot guarantee gluten-free, nut-free or lactose-free food, and if it's a life or death matter, I don't think this is the event for you.

Yes I got that, I wasn't *expecting* anything much and I hope I gave the impression that I was mostly very well catered for and happy with my experience. Sorry if it wasn't clear.

I didn't suggest it was life or death, I was very clear about what my physical symptoms would be, and I acted according to that level of risk through out the ride and was fine. It's Audax, I get that, I am an adult and I acted as such. And it was the event for me, I finished.

It is slightly mixed messages that's all - I understood no gaurantees but also people had gone out of their way to cater for GF etc so it seems like a slightly wasted opportunity not to systematise it in some way. I would happily do the ride again with the current setup and I would be more vocal at controls, no problem.

I was also hoping to paint a picture of what it's like, sorry if that was a little grim or seemed negative, that wasn't my intention.

As per the title of the thread I was making some suggestions about how things could be done better that's all. I was also offering to help.

Cheers!
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Ajax Bay on September 08, 2017, 02:30:27 pm
sometimes the bike parking barriers were all linked in a straight line and when many bikes were put on one side there was a tendency for the entire structure to collapse to one side. Next time maybe they could be arranged in an arrow formation so one prevented another from tipping over.
At Loughton, on Friday, after we'd set up the lines of bike park barriers, I deliberately went along fashioning the lines into gentle zigzags, to address the structural stability issue you've identified above. They still seemed to be standing when I helped take it all down seven days later (after a late Thursday finish and a good few hours sleep in the 'registration' dorm/gym).
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: alwyn on September 08, 2017, 04:49:08 pm
It is slightly mixed messages that's all.

Indeed. And quite dangerous mixed messages too. I've already had one fairly strident complaint about gluten poisoning.

Best to make it absolutely explicit - this event is not suitable for people with food allergies that cripple or kill them.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: alfapete on September 08, 2017, 06:57:05 pm

Indeed. And quite dangerous mixed messages too. I've already had one fairly strident complaint about gluten poisoning.

Best to make it absolutely explicit - this event is not suitable for people with food allergies that cripple or kill them.

But let's not mix up the dangers of, for example, nut allergy, with the discomfort and other symptoms caused by sensitivity to gluten or coeliac disease. They probably need different guidance.
eg We cannot guarantee nut free food. We will attempt to provide a gluten-free choice at each control
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: jsabine on September 09, 2017, 12:21:08 am
Best to make it absolutely explicit - this event is not suitable for people with food allergies that cripple or kill them.

That sounds wholly and IMO unnecessarily negative.

I don't have any dietary requirements myself, so my views are necessarily secondhand - but given that my brother has coeliac disease and my wife has a string of food allergies (eggs, nuts, mushrooms, shellfish ...) that could see her whisked off to hospital, plus a wheat intolerance, I'm reasonably aware of a range of needs. (I also rode about a third of PBP with a coeliac rider, so saw how he coped there.)

I didn't see anything on LEL that would have prevented either my brother or my wife completing, had they been riding, and assuming a reasonable level of preparedness (including some iron rations in the saddlebag). They are perforce highly aware of anything that might be 'contaminated' and will ask on the merest suspicion: honest answers are very helpful - and not always forthcoming in professional establishments.

Realistically, a bit of basic forethought can make many dishes suitable for all (use GF stock cubes, use cornflour to thicken sauces), a bit of prep (have GF pasta and bread or rolls available on request) is useful, having ingredients lists available is very reassuring.

But let's not mix up the dangers of, for example, nut allergy, with the discomfort and other symptoms caused by sensitivity to gluten or coeliac disease. They probably need different guidance.
eg We cannot guarantee nut free food. We will attempt to provide a gluten-free choice at each control

Sounds about right. But what we can - or should - be able to guarantee is that *this* dish doesn't have any nuts or eggs or mushrooms or wheat in the ingredients, and that we've done our best to avoid cross-contamination. I'm pretty sure that my wife would see that as an acceptable risk, even at Eskdalemuir or Traquair, with an ambulance half an hour or an hour away.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: earthloop on September 09, 2017, 08:26:45 am
people with food allergies that cripple or kill them.

If such people are a small fraction of the riders, perhaps they could be allowed unlimited drop bags so that they can ensure there's something safe for them eat (even if it won't be hot) at every control.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: alwyn on September 09, 2017, 11:15:05 am
sometimes the bike parking barriers were all linked in a straight line and when many bikes were put on one side there was a tendency for the entire structure to collapse to one side. Next time maybe they could be arranged in an arrow formation so one prevented another from tipping over.
At Loughton, on Friday, after we'd set up the lines of bike park barriers, I deliberately went along fashioning the lines into gentle zigzags, to address the structural stability issue you've identified above. They still seemed to be standing when I helped take it all down seven days later (after a late Thursday finish and a good few hours sleep in the 'registration' dorm/gym).

We were quite unlucky (but also very lucky) with the weather at Loughton. The wind that caused such misery on the Fens blew right across the school and into the barriers. Those with banners on never lasted long.

Jim's method at Spalding is the way forward, though it does take up quite a bit of space.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: alwyn on September 09, 2017, 12:12:34 pm
But let's not mix up the dangers of, for example, nut allergy, with the discomfort and other symptoms caused by sensitivity to gluten or coeliac disease. They probably need different guidance.
eg We cannot guarantee nut free food. We will attempt to provide a gluten-free choice at each control

Absolutely. I'd have to work to improve your suggested copy, though you could argue that both points boil down to the same thing. And that's the point. It's not the allergens that concern me, it's the people and how they react to them. That mean's it's people who need different guidance, and not the allergen.

We can take very easy steps to meet the needs of people for whom this is an irritation rather something that confines you to bed for a couple of days or throws you into anaphylactic shock. The wide-ranging, no-rehearsal, dispersed, pull 150 meals out of a hat nature of this event makes it too risky to make a guarantee to people with serious allergies though. The catering operation for this event is fiendishly complex already, as seen by even the professional, national operators that we use at Edinburgh and Brampton struggling at times. I cannot therefore see how I can make it safe enough for those who need it to be.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Kim on September 09, 2017, 05:50:13 pm
people with food allergies that cripple or kill them.

If such people are a small fraction of the riders, perhaps they could be allowed unlimited drop bags so that they can ensure there's something safe for them eat (even if it won't be hot) at every control.

This sounds like a reasonable suggestion, assuming that food in drop bags isn't a no-no.

Alternatively, allowing them a support vehicle.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Greenbank on September 10, 2017, 09:56:48 am
Sadly it'll probably be abused (unlimited drop bags you simply claim you've got a certain allergy).
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: CrazyEnglishTriathlete on September 10, 2017, 10:30:14 am
I don't think you can guarantee cross-contamination, but I didn't find it that hard to provide gluten free recipes.  The most difficult part is stocks and related ingredients, however, the ones that Phil D had sourced from his catering supplier were verified by the Coeliac Society as gluten free.  If I were catering again (I'm hoping to ride the event in 2021 after 2 editions spend in kitchens), I would do the same thing again, and make sure that this option was more widely known This meant that all our soups, stews, and dhals were gluten free as was the rice and potatoes - so about 2/3 of the menu.  Nuts and eggs were relatively easy to avoid.   And Alwyn had someone that gave us an excellent briefing on the 14 allergens that need to be managed at a controllers meeting several months before the event (the one that focused on food).
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Exit Stage Left on September 11, 2017, 07:25:03 am
I asked a German if there were rides the size of LEL in Germany. He said that legal problems would make it impossible. Everyone would need an appropriate qualification. We have moved some of the way to that. If we move much further, we will not be running anything like LEL.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: The French Tandem on September 11, 2017, 08:12:05 am
I asked a German if there were rides the size of LEL in Germany. He said that legal problems would make it impossible.

I was assuming that one of the reasons for splitting the start into many smaller groups was to avoid having to ask for a special license* for using  the public highway for a private event.

*: there is probably a specific word for that in British legal lingua that I don't know!
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: eck on September 11, 2017, 08:44:23 am
I asked a German if there were rides the size of LEL in Germany. He said that legal problems would make it impossible.

I was assuming that one of the reasons for splitting the start into many smaller groups was to avoid having to ask for a special license* for using  the public highway for a private event.

*: there is probably a specific word for that in British legal lingua that I don't know!
Slightly OT but when I was organising a modest audax locally, a worthy from the council informed me that I would need to apply for a "Public Procession Licence".  ??? 
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: frankly frankie on September 11, 2017, 09:05:07 am
Slightly OT but when I rode my first 600 (very long time ago) I was getting a bit weary in the small hours and stopped in some Cotswold village to sit on a bench and try for a power nap.  A local bobby strolled up and sat next to me and engaged me in friendly conversation (like people do, when you're trying to get to sleep).  I was gobsmacked to learn that he had no idea what I was doing, no idea that there were 100+ cyclists making their way through his patch at dead of night.
I had naturally assumed, when I entered and started the event, that the various police authorities along the entire route would have been made aware of the existence and timing of this cycling event on their roads.  Silly me.  ::-)
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: alwyn on September 11, 2017, 11:36:15 am
*: there is probably a specific word for that in British legal lingua that I don't know!
Slightly OT but when I was organising a modest audax locally, a worthy from the council informed me that I would need to apply for a "Public Procession Licence".  ???
[/quote]

Scottish law regarding "parades" is a bit of a mess. Edinburgh insisted I register the event as a parade. Borders did not but accepted the application. Dumgal refused to outright. Lothian ignored the application.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Wycombewheeler on September 11, 2017, 09:06:57 pm
I'm not fully understanding this thread...

AIUI AUK members got priority entry and had several weeks to enter before entry was extended to the rest of the world. Whether the latter is by ballot or first come will inevitably be a gamble. Either way the risk lies with the rider. So be it.

Anybody can avoid that risk simply by joining AUK. Given that the net cost of riding LEL for an overseas rider must be £5-600+, spending an extra £19 to guarantee entry would seem a good investment.
Almost
Members who had been members since before April 2015 were guaranteed a place. So there is 51months of advance planning required as well as 3 years membership fees.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Fidgetbuzz on September 13, 2017, 11:19:27 am
There is also the snag that there is an assumption that 2021 entries will follow the same pattern as the one developed for 2017. I am not suggesting they will not .. but it is an assumption that might prove to be incorrect.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Manotea on September 13, 2017, 11:48:04 am
I'm not fully understanding this thread...

AIUI AUK members got priority entry and had several weeks to enter before entry was extended to the rest of the world. Whether the latter is by ballot or first come will inevitably be a gamble. Either way the risk lies with the rider. So be it.

Anybody can avoid that risk simply by joining AUK. Given that the net cost of riding LEL for an overseas rider must be £5-600+, spending an extra £19 to guarantee entry would seem a good investment.
Almost
Members who had been members since before April 2015 were guaranteed a place. So there is 51months of advance planning required as well as 3 years membership fees.

Ah Ha! Thanks, I'd missed that.
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: Manotea on September 13, 2017, 11:50:49 am
Slightly OT but when I rode my first 600 (very long time ago) I was getting a bit weary in the small hours and stopped in some Cotswold village to sit on a bench and try for a power nap.  A local bobby strolled up and sat next to me and engaged me in friendly conversation (like people do, when you're trying to get to sleep).  I was gobsmacked to learn that he had no idea what I was doing, no idea that there were 100+ cyclists making their way through his patch at dead of night.
I had naturally assumed, when I entered and started the event, that the various police authorities along the entire route would have been made aware of the existence and timing of this cycling event on their roads.  Silly me.  ::-)
I've had the same conversation with late night bobbies on the Elenith. After my initial explanation came the traditional enquiry, "how many days..."
Title: Re: LEL Suggestions Box
Post by: MikeFromLFE on September 23, 2017, 04:09:51 pm
A bit late in the day, but here's a better photo of the Spalding bike parking arrangements. (Its on film which has only just been processed)(https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20170923/ad8c96716ab28a4344ce8faedda25fa6.jpg)

Sent from my KFFOWI using Tapatalk