The skinny on the Steeplechase

Steeplechases originated in 18th century England - they were informal horse races put together by local gentry with the goal being to navigate cross-country from one town to another using church steeples as landmarks. This biking version of a steeplechase will take place mostly on rural gravel roads (no fence jumping required) in northeast Nebraska.
We will rendezvous at the Broadway Avenue Ace Hardware & Bike Shop in Yankton, SD on the morning of Saturday, October 8, 2011.  The store opens at 9:00 which would give folks a chance to stock up on any last-minute necessities prior to our planned 9:30 departure.  Also there will be the usual waiver signing and check-in to take care of as well as distribution of route cue cards.
Cell phone reception (at least for Verizon) has been pretty good on this route.
There may be a check-in for finishers at the Ace bike shop.  I haven't worked that out yet.  If you abandon the ride you must give me a call - I'll provide the # the day of the event.
Yesterday's Cafe (1 block from Ace) may be a post-ride lunch option.  They serve wicked-huge malts.

The disclaimers:
1)  This is a completely DIY event!  There is no support, no sag wagon, no guaranteed help should you find yourself in a jam.  YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOU!  You must sign a waiver to this effect.

2)  The course will be on open, public roads.  There will be NO traffic control or posted wayfinding signs.  Keep right.  Keep your eyes open.  Portions of the route will be on the highway out of necessity.

3)  I have not encountered problem dogs along this route, but that's not to say there couldn't be a potential Cujo out there.  Farm machinery is more of a threat - make way for harvest equipment, grain trailers, etc.  They are much, much bigger than you are.

4)  Cue cards will be the way you find your way along the route.  It is your responsibility to have an accurate cyclometer and a means of keeping and reading the cards.  Don't assume the folks in front of you (if there are any) know where they're going.

5)  This is a ride, not a race.  There are no prizes, T-shirts, timekeepers, etc.  You have time to be nice, enjoy the scenery and help others that need it.

6)  If the weather looks to be absolutely godawful the day of I'll try to get word out by 7 a.m. via the blog.  A determination will be made to either modify the route or fight another day.

7)  If you get 'dusted' by a passing vehicle, slow down or stop and wait until you can see and be seen clearly.

Other stuff in no particular order:
Be nice.  If you aren't nice and I hear about it you will not be welcome back.
Don't litter (this is part of being nice).
The planned route is in the neighborhood of 45 miles.  Carry liquids and food to get you through 60 miles.  The towns we'll go through have no services or stores that I'm aware of.
Bring your cellphone - fully charged.
Have a backup plan should you need a bailout.
Help your fellow riders if they need it.  Ask them twice before riding on.
Carry tools and repair items for the common things (flats, busted links, etc.)
Know how to use the tools you bring.
Wear your helmet.
Keep right.
If you must take a break naturel, do so discreetly and respect property rights.
Wave, even if you aren't waved to.

Some stuff you'll need:
Cyclometer (properly calibrated)
A means of keeping your cue sheet dry - ziplocs work about as well as anything.
Wide tires - aggressive tread doesn't hurt either.  34c works for me.
Gravel riding skills (work on these prior to the ride, please)
A good attitude.
Appropriate gear for the weather.
A small first aid kit is highly recommended.
I'm partial to helmet-mount rearview mirrors, but it's your call.
Dog mace (optional, but it makes me feel tough)

I'll be fiddling with the info on this page in the next few weeks, but if this sort of event appeals to you I urge you to tell your friends and join me for some scenic touring of surprisingly quiet gravel roadways.


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