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Improving and Expanding Club Runs

Club Runs

As of the beginning of July Mark Sturgis has taken over the role of Club Rides Secretary (with some technical support at times from Steve Ratford).  Since Ben gave up the role to "spend more time with the family" Mark and Steve have, up to this point, primarily set the club runs based upon the existing database of about 60 tried and tested club rides. This has allowed time to settle into the role and gain experience on the technical side of things.

Mark now wishes to expand upon and improve the scope of club runs, giving more variety whilst at the same time meeting the needs of all riders.  We mustn't forget that this is your/our club and we really do need to draw upon the knowledge and expertise of as many people as possible. Mark would particularly welcome feedback and ideas on the following:-

Possible New Routes - we need to identify new routes which meet the needs of all Nomads and recognise that venues, particularly during the summer months, need to be of an adequate size to cater for up to 40 or 50 riders.

(a) Longer Rides - some people would like to occasionally do longer rides, especially during the summer months.  Whilst we already have a couple of longer rides available these can be off putting to some, who may not want to spend all day in the saddle.  To that end, when a longer route is set there will also be an option to have a stop about half way.

(b) Ditchling Loop Rides - these have proven to be popular so one option is to expand upon the variety of such loops, the common factor being that they start and end in/near DItchling.  This shall also allow riders to opt for a shorter total ride if they wish.  They are also good for setting CATI rides.

(c) Rides Outside of Sussex -  suggestions have been made to undertake rides into Kent and Surrey.  Although we are named the Sussex Nomads this does not necessarily mean that venturing outside of the Sussex borders will result in gang warfare or retribution.   Of course, this may well mean commencing rides from a start point other than Ditchling. This shouldn't present a problem providing that riders ensure they look at the website prior to the ride.

(d) More Challenging Rides - should we occasionally have predominantly hilly rides, testing those hill climbers in the club?  Or would this be off putting to the majority of riders?  Perhaps occasionally have two separate rides on a Sunday to meet this need?

Identifying and Setting New Routes - whilst Mark is confident is setting new routes in areas west of Burgess Hill he would like to draw upon others' collective knowledge in identifying and setting other routes, especially those outside of Sussex.  Do others already have tried and tested routes which we could use?  Are others aware of good venues which we could use?  One rule of thumb should be that we do not set and ride new routes without somebody having already ridden the route.

What Do You Want? - Mark would welcome any ideas about club runs as he wants to ensure that the needs and ideas of as many riders as possible are reflected.    Please put your ideas forward here - all will be considered.

One option for a slightly longer ride would be to start summer club runs at 08h30 instead of 09h00.  Riders not interested in this option could start at the usual 09h00.

This earlier start would allow for the ride to be lengthened by an extra 12-15 kms without impacting on tea-stop arrangements.  It would also allow riders to get back to their families at a reasonable hour.

It's currently light at 5am - why are we waiting until 09h00 to get underway?


Firstly Mark, thank you for opening this up to the members to give us an opportunity to get our views across.

Being a centurion, I prefer to do my long rides on Sundays, especially in the summer. My only options at the moment are to ride before the Ditchling meet (e.g. last Sunday I had to leave home at 7am to get my mileage in) or riding after the cafe stop (meaning a late finish). So my suggestion is to have a longer option every week, maybe meeting earlier, say 8am.

I enjoy the cafe stops, but I feel you lose some of the training effect by stopping mid-ride, so my preference would be to have these at the end of the ride. This is even more important when the weather his foul, its not pleasant getting back onto the bike when after you've been battered by the elements, cooled down during the stop only to do it all over again.

One further point. It might be worth asking the same question on the Nomads social networking sites (especially What's App) as more riders seem to visit and contribute in those areas.

Thanks for taking this on Mark, I think an earlier & prompt start in the summer would be a good idea using WhatsApp to arrange numbers, your other suggestions are all excellent with Ditching loop rides particularly good in the winter, also we shouldn't lose sight that they are club runs (that's not to say they can't be a bit competitive) and not training rides.


Great start, Mark ... Here are a trio of technical suggestions, while I'm thinking about them:

(1) Route Names on Garmin Connect

It's worth trying to stick with the naming convention that we started for club routes in Garmin Connect, where all the names should look like ...

999X Route Name

... where 999 is the number of the route and X = A for the longer route, B for the normal length and so on.

The reason for this is that Garmin devices truncate route names to 15 characters - so a concise name like "021B Shoreham Airport" reads as "021B Shoreham A", which isn't perfect but works well enough, while last week's "Copy of 007B Corner Cafe, Cuckfield" comes out as "Copy of 007B Co" and next week's "Ditchling to Storrington (normal)" becomes the mysterious "Ditchling to St".

(2) Pictures on Club Run Listings

A handful of routes include turnings that are difficult to spot - these include the start of the zigzag descent into Eastbourne, the cycle path across the main road in Horsham and (in last week's normal route to Cuckfield) the right turn onto Westup Road immediately after Balcombe school, which at that point looks like a private drive. It would be very helpful if we could show pictures of these turnings (a screenshot from StreetView would do the job) as part of the listing. Users can't upload image files when commenting on the listing pages, so this is something that would have to be done when setting up each new event.

(3) Route Database

As the number of club routes in Garmin Connect becomes larger, it would be good to have a way to search through them. This is tricky to do within Garmin Connect - they're not listed in any meaningful order, and there's no way to filter them, so the only thing you can do (other than scrolling through the whole lot) is to search for words within the route names. It would be great to have them listed on a page in our website, which could show the route name, length, amount of climbing and perhaps other details such as an indication of the general direction and special features ("North" / "variation avoiding the Hammerponds" / "frost-friendly" / "Faygate start" / "includes Kidd's Hill" and so on).

This would obviously be a pain to set up all in one go, but you might be able to create a workable first version without too much trouble by using the existing route spreadsheet, and then add new details as we go along ...

Thank you all for the helpful suggestions.  On Ashley's final point Steve and I have produced an excel sheet which is now listed in the Nomads' site, within the 'Club Runs' page.  A link takes you to the sheet.  The sheet requires some tidying up and completion of missing data but we feel it is far more user friendly than what is available within Garmin Connect.  Comments and suggestions on this also most welcome.


Yes, that's what we need in the spreadsheet - good! Does the system allow you to turn on column filtering? Try this … … for the standard route to Eastbourne (complete with zig-zag descent at the end).

… and (continuing #5) the same thing with the name of today's route, which downloads as the inscrutable "Copy of Ditchli"!