How to Get Horribly Lost
Every year a couple people get lost on the ride and are never seen again. (We tend to run a Darwinistic sort of ride, so...)
Here is how not to get lost.
No matter which route you pick, we will be following marks painted on the road that look like this:
WARNING -- if there is ever a discrepancy between the printed route sheet, the digital GPS files, and the paint on the road, ALWAYS follow the paint. (ALWAYS!)
At each turn on the route there is a “turn soon” mark about a half-block before the turn, a “turn NOW” mark right at the turn, and a “go straight” mark right after the turn to let you know that you made the right decision.
We follow ONLY those yellow marks.
Now, take a look at these road marks you might see on the route:
Those three marks all have one thing in common -- they have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH OUR RIDE! They are from other events, or put there by the utility companies to show where to dig.
Whenever someone gets lost on the ride, if they survive I ask them what went wrong, and after they stop yelling at me, 50 percent of them say something such as this:
“I was following the yellow circles all day, and then I saw this blue arrow going left, so I decided to follow it...”
• • •
Here’s the second-most common way that people get lost:
If you get to an intersection and see no mark at all (like in the picture above) that means to keep going straight -- we do not mark the road when we want you to just keep going straight.
Here is what we hear from the other 50 percent of cyclists who get lost: “I was at this intersection and there was no mark, but I saw a lot of cars turning right, so I figured that I should turn right too.”
• • •
We put down a road mark every mile, whether anything is happening or not, just to remind you that we love you and we’re thinking about you.
So if you are on a seven-mile long straight stretch, we’ll put down a mark every mile. That means that if you have pedaled for six solid minutes without seeing a mark, you are horribly lost and will probably die. Or you can call our ride headquarters (the phone number will be on the route sheet we give you) and we’ll be happy to help you out. The phone number to reach us will be printed on the route sheets we give out on ride day.
HOWEVER... we have this conversation a LOT on ride day:
“Hi, bike ride headquarters, how can we help?”
“I made a wrong turn and I need assistance.”
“No problem -- where are you?”
“I don’t know.”
This may slow down our rescue mission just a bit.
Even if you’re lost, try to remember the last location when you were on the route -- what was the last rest stop you were at? Where was the last painted road mark you saw? Is there a street address where you are? (“I’m in front of a building at 432 W. 139th Street.”) Do you have a smartphone with signal? Online maps can tell you exactly where you are. We have software to help pinpoint your location, but the more clues you can give us the better, since our psychic powers aren’t all that great.
MOST IMPORTANT -- we are here to help you, right up to the point when we lose interest. No matter what sort of fix you’re in, call us and we’ll get you out of it.
Turn left soon
Turn left NOW
Turn right soon
Turn right NOW
The route splits here -- the 35-, 55-, and 75-mile riders turn left, and the 100-mile riders go straight.
No matter which route you selected when you registered, you can pick any route here.
When we are in sensitive areas, such as inside parks, we use these adhesive arrows instead of painted marks.