Monday, January 11, 2010

PA Dutch 200k - Time Extension for Extreme Conditions?

At the Subway controle in Columbia, I met up with finishers Andrew Mead and Len Zawodniak. As the controle closing time ticked down to the final minutes with 3 riders still out, we discussed the possibility of a time extension to the controle closing time, due to the extreme weather conditions.

Afterwards, I followed this up with an inquiry to the RBA message board and RUSA HQ. The following are the e-mail exchanges I had.

Here's my initial inquiry that I posted:

Sent: Monday, January 04, 2010

On my recent PA200k, we had 20-30 MPH winds (with gusts over 40 MPH) on the outbound leg to the halfway point. As I passed by several riders that were not able to keep pace to meet the closing time, I knew there would be a good chance that they could probably make up the time on the return leg. I recall that on other events, allowances have been made to allow riders to officially finish, despite missing cut-offs on intermediate controles -- PBP07 and LEL09 come to mind.

As it turns out, the riders who missed the midpoint cutoff, did not finish within the time limit. But if something like this happens again, do RBA's have discretion on the intermediate controle timing?

As I was contemplating this during the ride, I actually was of two minds -- on the one hand, I wanted all the riders to be successful after enduring such harsh conditions. But on the other hand, making allowances to relax the controle timing sort of diminishes the achievement of the riders who were able to make the cut-off despite the conditions.

-Tom Rosenbauer
Eastern PA RBA


So far, I've gotten some very good feedback from another RBA and RUSA-HQ, and I understand the Rules Committee is having some discussion about this issue.

Have any thoughts to share on this? Feel free to post a comment. And stay tuned, for any updates.


-Tom Rosenbauer
Eastern PA RBA


  1. Weather is one of the numerous challenges confronting randonneurs/euses with each brevet. Terrain, navigation, and the ever-present risk of a mechanical also come to mind. ALL participants in the event face these challenges more or less equally. In order to finish, participants must respond to those challenges, whatever they may be, in order to complete the brevet. Consequently, I’m leaning toward the position that there should be no adjustment of intermediate controle closing times due to circumstances faced by all participants. On the other hand, if there circumstances on the course are such that an obstacle is faced by only a portion of the participants, then intermediate adjustments might be appropriate. The oft cited road closure forcing a significant detour comes to mind here. If half the field passes through and the other half is forced to take a 5 mile detour, then an adjustment might be reasonable as it reverses the “penalty” of extra mileage incurred by the second half participants. Contrast this to changing weather conditions in which some participants might benefit from improved conditions compared to others. Here, I don’t think it generally appropriate to consider adjustments.

    Our December brevet comes to mind. The first finishers completed the distance before road conditions reached their worst. Riders coming through later in the day were confronted by significantly more snow. I’m still not certain how the final finishers managed to find their way back since many road signs were snow covered. But we all knew that conditions were suspect and could easily become considerably worse as the day progressed. We all faced this possibility equally and rode our brevet accordingly. I distinctly recall setting out from George’s when the snow started because I knew I might need that time later on.

    We faced challenging weather in January. Everyone who clipped in that morning knew that ride would be no cakewalk. Parity. As to the specifics of that day, consider that I reached Controle 3 roughly 35 minutes prior to the closing time. I finished the brevet with 30 minutes to spare. I’m not sure an extended open time at Controle 3 would have helped; had I taken advantage of extra time in that leg I most likely would have missed the final controle cut-off time.

    Just one opinion, somewhat biased.

  2. I am conflicted about this. I was no more than 15 minutes late to the Columbia control. The conditions were absolutely outrageous most of the way to Columbia. Then again, the time allowed is incredibly generous.

    I figure there are about 5 places along the route that I could have made up 15 minutes. If i realized that was all I was going to miss the controle closing time by, I probably would have made it. The conditions were so bad I couldn't really afford to check the time. I gave instructions to a crew of tourists for quite a while, and also took a fairly long break to eat something and change clothes. If I had eaten at the Condestoga, I probably would have ridden River Road much faster. As it was, I limped into Columbia at a very slow pace. I also could have ridden faster before the second controle, gotten to the start on time, and spent less time at the second controle. If I could figure out how to eat on the bike under these conditions without getting frostbite, I have no doubt I would have finished.

    So I'm still conflicted. Since I didn't finish, it conveniently makes the issue moot.