Friday, January 18, 2019

PA Randonneurs Fleche Registration

Greetings PA Randonneur Flèche Teams!

As previously announced, PA Randonneurs has secured use of the Trexlertown Velodrome (officially the Valley Preferred Cycling Center) near Trexlertown,PA as a finish venue for the 2019 PA Flèche. We are very excited by the possibilities this new venue offers.  To participate in this new edition of the PA Randonneurs Flèche, your first step is to register. 

Along with the many other enhancements to the PA Randonneurs website, the capability for Flèche Team registration is now available. You'll find registration links on the Flèche event page, and on the main PA Randonneurs web page.

Registering for the Flèche requires many adjustments from the relatively straightforward brevet registration.  Teams must be created by captains. Team members aren't people, but bikes.  There are limits to the number of team members.  And since each team rides it's own route with specific requirements, the registration system must also know whether a given team has an approved route, all riders have paid, and whether I have completed release paperwork from all riders on the team.

The basic process is as follows:

1. The Captain must register first.  The Captain creates the Team by opting to "Create New Team" and then completing the requested information about the route on the screen that appears.  The information Captains enter, like the team name and team description, will be published on the public web site. Be proud of them. Think carefully about your start time. Preferred start time is 8-9 AM on Saturday so as to finish in time for the breakfast buffet on Sunday.

Part of registration is to specify an on-line link to a map.  Captains should enter the link to the map of the actual route that the team intends to ride so that your team riders can access your ride plan and spectators can be in awe of your audacious journey.  I keep all the map links for initial submittals and control distance checks safely sequestered elsewhere.  Confirm your data entry. As the Team is created, the Captain is also automatically registered through that process. Captains don't need to return again to register themselves.

2.  Once the Captain has formed the team and registered, additional riders can now register.  Each additional rider should opt to "Join Existing Team" which then allows choosing from the list of teams that have already been created.  Hint:  If you do not see your team name with your captain listed, stop and come back later.  That means your Captain hasn't finished the critical first tasks.

3. All riders must select whether riding a solo or tandem bike and list their intended tandem partner. Our system assumes all tandems are two-rider affairs. If anybody is riding a three or greater, let us know. After selecting solo or tandem, the registration process is the same as for brevets and easy to follow.

We have tried to make the process as simple as possible while gathering the necessary information.  The system has been tested to remove most of the bugs.  If you run into problems, drop a line to webmaster Chris Nadovich or to me.  Sometimes a code error screen simply means that Chris was tweaking code at the time you happened by.  Closing the session and trying again in half an hour will usually work.

As registrations proceed, Captains and Team riders will be able to check on the status from the Team Page linked from the main Flèche event page.  All teams are identified, complete with a roster.  Team status is given in real time. There is even a way for riders in search of a team to contact the captains directly with their inquiry, taking the RBA out of the middle of things.

Registration status includes four hurdles:  1) Route approval, 2) Member count (3-5 bikes),  3) receipt of payment, and 4) receipt of release paperwork.  Complete all four and you will be given a green light to ride shortly after rider registration closes.

Outside of the PA Randonneurs website, there are a few other refinements to the process.

I am requesting that the list of controls be submitted in the form of a Flèche card prepared in Jake Kassen's Card-O-Matic application.  If you've never used this system, it's easy and well explained.  I suspect that most of you have used the system before,  If not, now is the perfect time to learn.  Captains so far have been identifying controls on the initial GPS maps they submit for review or in a separate spreadsheet list.  These methods are fine for the initial submittals.  Typical route reviews often require minor adjustments.  Captains can take the final agreed-upon list of controls accomplaying route approval and enter them into the CoM system.  When you complete the card, use the CoM program to "copy" the card to my user account (RUSA ID 3981) which creates a nice record of the approved controls.  Plus you now have your card.

Current guidance from RUSA dictates that I have hard-copy waiver for EVERY RIDER prior to the start.  As the Captains register I will email waiver forms to them which can then be distributed to the team riders.  Captains are responsible to obtain signed waivers from team riders and mail them to me at the earliest possible opportunity.  Even if a rider is not 100% certain they can ride, I can always toss an extra waiver, but I cannot allow riders to start without one.  My only option for any rider arriving at the finish for whom I do not have a signed waiver is to DNS the rider.   

In addition to the RUSA waiver, Captains will receive a copy of the waiver from Valley Preferred Cycling Center, operator of the Velodrome.  Riders wishing to take a victory lap(s) on the Velodrome are required to sign this waiver as well.  I'm asking for these in advance as well so the package of waivers covering the entire field can simply be delivered to VCC representatives and we don't have to concern ourselves with whether one is or isn't permitted to take a few laps.

While it looks like a lot, teams have been taking these same steps for the past 11 years. Get your teams created and routes approved early. The final deadline for team creation is 4 April. That date will be upon us soon. Don't delay, Captains! Our hope is that this will be easier to execute and provide more direct indication of interim status.  Suggestions for improvement are welcomed.  Follow the PA Randonneurs website, email list and Facebook page for updates.

I am looking forward to a very fun Flèche this year.  I hope you are, too!

Andrew Mead
Eastern PA RBA

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