Permanents are back!

Yes, that’s a bison, and it has nothing to do with the new program.

The new permanents program starts up August 1st. Changes from the old program include:

Administrative aspects

The program is run on a national basis.

Ride registration and result reporting is online.

Routes are no longer locally “owned.” Route contributors will likely stay engaged with their routes for maintenance, but they will have no administrative role – no longer processing ride registrations and results.

There will be an annual fee.

Changes for riders

Getting started

You need to create an account on the RUSA site. Use the link in the upper right corner. Once you have an account you will access Permanents through the My Account link.

There is a fee of $10 to cover the remainder of 2020. (Not live as of 7/29)

Registering for a ride and reporting results

Registration is online (not live yet as of 7/29). 

The registration page will have methods of searching for routes.

You will report your ride result online (not live yet as of 7/29).

Ride results are self-verified – you will click a button to promise you are truthful.

Proof of passage materials should be retained for a year in the unlikely event of a RUSA audit.

Proof of passage options

You may choose to take photos at controls, record a gps track of your ride, or use a traditional brevet card. Information controls are eliminated.

Photos: Controls will have brief instructions specifying what to photograph. At a business photograph the front of the establishment if not otherwise directed. The time embedded in a photo’s metadata is adequate for establishing when you reached a control.

GPS track: Alternately you may record a gps track of your ride.

Brevet card: Or you may use a traditional brevet card, noting times of arrival yourself.

Only the overall elapsed time matters. Intermediate controls are no longer timed. For convenience the time limit is listed in the last cue of a route, and sometimes the first as well depending on the route contributor.

Route materials

The primary route document is a Ride with GPS file. If you want a paper route sheet, you will have to create your own using RwGPS’s printing options. (There are other methods, too, discussed below.)

Likewise, if you want to use a brevet card, you must create your own.

Start locations

A significant change (for SIRs) is a loop route may be started from any control and ridden in either direction. A point-to-point may be started at either end. Generally a RwGPS file for only one start and direction will be provided. Riders must create their own route materials for other start locations or direction of travel.

As a practical matter, most gps devices will begin following a route from any point on the route. When you reach the formal end of the route you will probably have to restart navigation and continue to the control where you began your ride.

Reversing a route is a less trivial matter because of one-way streets, curious road configurations, and the possibility of hazards existing only in one direction of travel. Be careful planning a reversed route.

Free routing

All routes are now free routes. The provided RwGPS routes are only suggested ways to get from control to control; riders are free to take alternate routes so long as they pass through the controls in the sequence defined by the suggested route, and as long as the route you ride is at least as long as the suggested route. You only receive credit for the distance of the suggested route, not for any additional distance you cover. While shorter routes between controls may exist, the RUSA rule requires: “The rider must ride at least the distance of the official route. If the rider’s route ends up being shorter than the official route, the rider must make up the distance at some point during the ride (e.g., at the finish).” RUSA allows omitting additional controls to force riding the suggested route if the shorter route is deemed too hazardous by the designer or bicycling on the shorter route is illegal.

At controls

If you are recording a gps trace of your ride, you do not need to stop.

If you are taking photos, the control cue will tell you what to photograph.

If you are using a brevet card, note the time you arrived.

A practical note regarding photo controls with gps navigation: Many gps devices will not adequately display the somewhat lengthy instruction of what to photograph at a control. You should have a backup method of reading control cues. Two options are:

  • Use the free Ride with GPS app on your phone. Even if you only have a free RwGPS account you can download routes for use without cell coverage and read the cue sheet.
  • Download the route sheet and edit it and print it to just show the controls.

The routes

Due to the Covid-19 crisis only 100 km and 200 km routes are available. (200 km means routes shorter than 300 km.) Initially only existing routes are being offered; new routes will be accepted at a later date. Since RwGPS files are now the primary route documents, and are required to contain all the information that a paper route sheet would have, many routes have required extensive overhauling. Route owners were also urged to update their routes to make them as current as possible. Volunteers at RUSA are reviewing updated routes to ensure they meet the new standards. Consequently only a limited selection of routes is available right now. New routes are added every few days.

Many SIR routes will be permanently retired. Examples are: All alternate start routes, since one may now start from any control; routes that have an improved “2.0” version; routes that are very unpleasant or are ill-advised due to road changes or increased traffic volume, such as riding I-90 or US-2 over the Cascade crest.

All routes using the Centennial Trail between Snohomish and Arlington are being held back until the sinkhole in the trail is repaired. After consulting with Centennial “frequent flyers,” it was decided rerouting on parallel backroads (such as Burn Rd) would change the nature of the routes too much.

The SIR Permanents team is endeavoring to add routes to the new program as rapidly as we can. Criteria for selecting routes are:

  • Popularity based on counts of rides in the last several years
  • Geographical diversity of start locations and terrain covered
  • Whim of the volunteer who is revising a route

The RUSA route library is here. To see available routes in Washington, enter “, WA” in the location field (note the comma and space). Don’t despair if your favorite route is not available; routes are being added as rapidly as they can be processed by the chain of volunteers.

Some of the routes have significant changes due to new bike trails or other opportunities for more pleasant routing. While free routing means you can still probably ride your “old familiar” by memory, we have tried to improve the routes where possible so please try the new versions. Some routes have one or two controls added to provide alternate start locations. Other routes have seen controls moved to locations more suitable for photos.

Permanents info on the RUSA site

Go to https://rusa.org/pages/permsrollout for the latest info direct from RUSA. Direct questions to permanents-committee@rusa.org.

Other route sheet printing options

If you prefer to format route sheets yourself in a spreadsheet app, here are two options to get the .csv:

  • Download the .csv:
    Click at the end of the RwGPS url in your browser and type “.csv”. Hit return and a .csv file will download to your computer.
  • Pull the route sheet into Google Sheets:
    • Copy the link to the RwGPS route.
    • Enter this formula in a cell, pasting in the link and typing “.csv” after it. Include the quotes:
      =IMPORTDATA(“copied rwgps link.csv”) 

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