Today's Guest Blog comes from Joe Meiser, head of product design and development at QBP. -Kid
The first event that I participated in that used cue sheets for navigation was Trans-Iowa in 2007. Using cue sheets while riding an unmarked course was a completely new experience for me.
In typical fashion I looked to see what other riders were using and bought a map holder that was ultimately designed for the touring cyclist. Racing gravel is a completely different dynamic. I need to be able to pull a cue sheet, stuff the old one in a pocket, and be on to reading the next turn while navigating a gravel road in a pack of riders at race speed.
I struggled with the store-bought option for a couple of years. I disliked having to use two hands to open it and finally I just gave it away and started from scratch.
Interpretive drawing of Joe's DIY Cue Sheet Holder by Kid…
Based on my experiences I set a couple of criteria for a DIY option. First, I wanted the attachment to the handlebars to be simple; no bolted on contraptions that added weight and complexity. With a GPS unit and front light on the bar there is already enough bolted on up there. Second, it needed a one-handed opening with no Velcro. Of course it had to stay put on the bars, be readable at night, waterproof, and not interfere with lights, GPS, or my big ol’ knees when out of the saddle.
The first iteration I made was a reinforced Zip-Loc bag with a zip-closure instead of the Blue and Yellow makes Green closure. I added some clear packing tape on the edges and a couple of extra layers where I pierced through it to zip-tie it to the bars. I actually started the Tour Divide in 2009 with an iteration of this holder. I threw it out a couple of days in. It flapped in the wind and on the bars. It was annoying, and fortunately not necessary for the Divide.
Come spring of 2010, gravel season was back on and I was in need of a new cue sheet holder for the first race of the season. I cobbled this together and I’m still using it all these years later.
My cue sheet holder uses a thin piece of flexible plastic that I pulled out of the recycling bin. I'm not sure what it is from. I sketched out a shape that I thought would work for leg clearance and enough support for the cue sheets. It looks a little bit like a bird’s eye view of a saddle. I chose to bolt it under my stem top cap and Zip-tie it to the bar. The three points of attachment makes it nice and solid. I spaced the plastic sheet off the bars with some closed-cell foam so that it wouldn't flex around the stem and make it difficult to pull the cue sheet out.
When I was a kid my dad used to take me to Dirt Track Sprint Car Races. The racers would wear tear off plastic sheets over their goggle lenses. We used to collect them after the races. For my cue sheet holder I glued a Zip-Loc bag to the pre-shaped plastic sheet with the opening on the right hand side (my preference). Gluing the Zip-Loc bag on has allowed me to replace it whenever the bag wears out.
There you have it. That's my cue sheet…so simple and effective that it would be somewhat difficult to mass-produce.
Keep this in mind that there are tricks to make this system work even better. Little things, like a slightly roughed-up glossy surface to make reading easier, make all the difference out on the course. At the beginning of every race I rough up the cue sheets, dog-earing the stack and crumpling them just a bit so it is easier to pull them out. Some races print them all on one 8-1/2 x 11” sheet. I fold those so each flip of the sheet is easy and requires the least amount of fidgeting.
I take pride in navigating during events. It keeps my mind in the ride and off of wandering. I've learned to commit the next two turns to memory each time I look down. It makes a big difference when it comes time to rotate the sheets. While everyone else is swapping cue sheets I'm taking in calories or in a position to attack.
Whatever you do, please don’t litter. Stash your used cue sheets in a back pocket, frame bag pocket, or Gas Tank bag. I've used all three of these options… sometimes in the same event. Most often, I stash them along with the trash from my nutritionals in my middle jersey pocket. That is the pocket most difficult to pull stuff out of, so I use it as a receptacle instead.
I hope my DIY cue sheet holder works for you…or that it sparks some other idea of something you can create.
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