Managing Cue Sheets and DIY Cue Sheet Holders
Even if your plan for the Coast to Coast gravel grinder is to navigate using your smartphone, Garmin, Wahoo or other computer device it’s always good to have cue sheets as a backup. In fact, for Coast to Coast you MUST carry cue sheets as a back-up. It’s really a safety issue to make sure riders stay on course so their support crew and the C2C sweeper vehicle can find them if there are issues.
If you don’t own any of these devices or just don’t like relying on them, them i’m guessing you’ll be using just cue sheets and some sort of distance tracking cyclocomputer. I don’t know how many times I’ve come across riders at Dirty Kanza or some other long distance event where their Garmin decided to quit or lose the route and they were left standing there with a 1,000 yard stare. Don’t be that person, come prepared on race day! I’ve personally experience Garmin issues during DK200 in 2015. I was less than 15 miles from the finish when my route just ended and disappeared from my screen. Thankfully i had laminated the cues and zip-tied them together in my back pocket and easily grabbed them out and continued on my way.
If your plan is to simply use cue sheets as a backup option then i highly recommend laminating (or use contact paper) them and zip-tie/binder-ring clipping them together as shown. You can also just cut or fold them to size and stash inside a heavy-duty ziploc bag, but by sealing and binding them you can easily page through them in the rain, mud or sleet without them getting destroyed in the process.
Now, if your plan is to use the cue sheets as a main source of navigation, or are just really prepared and want to have them right in front of you, then I suggest making a DIY cue sheet holder to fit your needs. I know there are many options on the market from companies like Banjo Brothers. If you are not the DIY type at all, keep in mind that many designs are meant for more casual riding and some are just simply too large and “un-aero” for gravel racing. Make sure you are thinking about what you need space for on or near your handlebars including navigation device, light and aero bars.
Joe Meiser from Salsa Cycles did a great writeup on his own DIY cue sheet holder years back and i used that as the basis for my own design. Check out his post here: Joe’s DIY Cue sheet holder. I very much like the design of Joe’s cue sheet holder as it hits a lot of the main points for me; cheap, tailored to fit, anyone can make it, works well.
The only issue i ran into when making my own is that the bike i was mounting it to had clip-on aerobars. I like to have aerobars on my Salsa Warbird for the long events because it allows for more positions to take pressure of the hands. They also of course let you duck down lower and get that large frontal area of your torso out of the wind. In studies using aerobars can help you average speed 1-2 mph in windy conditions given the same effort. Something to think about when prevailing winds are typically out of the west and where the course is heading for 209 miles.
I made room on the setup above by sliding my Garmin forward on the aerobars and in plain sight while aero. I didn’t want to mess up the width or setup of my aerobars so i had to make my cue sheet holder fit my rig setup.
Keep in mind i was designing this for Trans Iowa V13 (330+ miles in Iowa, navigation by cue sheet only, wet and freezing in April) so it needed to be robust, easy to work with gloves on and allow me to cycle through many sets of cues. Like Joe’s design, i started with a thin sheet of plastic material from scrap (you can use a laundry detergent bottle, milk jug, etc. basically anything with a nice flat side) and began trimming it to fit in the space i had created on my aero setup.
Once i had the size and shape i made holes for the zipties to go through, and notched the edges of the plastic sheet so that cinching down the zipties didn’t make the plastic bow. I also put some electrical tape on the area of the aerobars where i attached the holder to keep it from slipping around.
The actually compartment for the cues i utilized a HIGH QUALITY zipper style ziploc bag (don’t go cheap here, if water gets in then you’ll be a sad panda). I folded the ziploc bag to fit on the plastic sheet and taped it in place with gorilla tape, being sure to leave it relaxed enough to unzip and get the cue in and out easily. I like the zipper style as opposed to the press seal because it’s a simple way to close it and you don’t have to guess if it sealed or not.
Below is a photo of my Salsa Warbird cockpit and full-rig setup that I used for Trans Iowa. The holder was tucked neatly between the bars and out of harm’s way, also super aero!!
Keep an eye out for more blog posts on full rig setup and other tips to help you prepare for the Coast to Coast Gravel Grinder!