WELL we made it this far so now it's time to get some Roadbooks going but, first things first, how do you read them or make them?
Most of you probably don't even know this but at some point in your life, you have navigated by roadbook already. In this day and age that roadbook we use to read has been replaced by Siri or Alexa or whatever exotic dancers name your phone goes by. In the old days you use to have to print out a directions page that told you what street names to turn on and more or less the distances from one to the next. Unfortunately, there is a lack of street names in the middle of nowhere which makes it difficult to just jot down a few names and whether you're going left and right. If it was that easy they would hand you 6,000 km worth of notes on January 2nd and a participation trophy which would effectively take all the fun and challenge of completing the Dakar.
So enough rambling we are gathered here today to start figuring out how to read and create roadbooks. at this point, you have the bike you have the navigation equipment and now you need one of those roll chart thingies to tell you where to go. in the previous episode of the chasing waypoints podcast we took some time and spoke with Matthew Glade of Rally Moto Shop and in that episode he mentioned that he had some resources that he would share with newcomers to the world of cross country rally or rally raid.
So let’s see that first…
This first link is a great write up featured in The Red Bulletin a piece written by Werner Jessner called How to Decode a Dakar Rally Roadbook sheds some light first off on the game changing decision that Matthias Walkner made at the 2018 Dakar Rally, one that would net him 50 minutes and the top step on the podium.
“If you want to survive the iconic Dakar Rally, the infamous roadbook is your best friend. Here's how to decipher this mystifying manual – just be thankful you don’t have to figure it out at 140kph.” - Werner Jessner
Okay what did I just watch?
This video has been making the rounds amongst Rally Raids for a little while, it happens to be probably one of the best illustrations or onboard videos of showing actual navigation in practice. You can see how the notes line up with the terrain and the kilometers that are displaying on-screen. In some instances, you see where the numbers flash red indicating that a correction was made via the switch on the handlebars. Also towards the end of the video you can see where there is a note that was difficult for the rider Michele Cotti to decipher, he retraces his steps, sets back the odometer and tries again this time getting it right while other people are still trying to figure it out. Check out more on his youtube channel here: Michele Cotti aka Skuomno
Want to get your hands on some Dakar roadbooks?
Check out this video that Matthew Glade of Rally Moto Shop recommended. Manuel Lucchese shows exactly how to get a Dakar roadbook in this video from his youtube channel. Here you can see what the participants of the Dakar actually have to deal with and best part is, there is a way to see what the note reads if you get stuck. This I would use as sort of a flash card setup where you read the note and then compare it to what the creator actually is trying to tell you.
What's in the boxes?
Here is a simple note from a roadbook I have been building in Tulip nothing fancy at all but the structure is pretty much the same. Reading it left to right, the first box shows 2.44 which is the total KM traveled from the start of the stage. The small box with in that says 0,92 that is the distance since the last note (Note 3) .
Now the box in the middle we read from the bottom to the top. In this case we are crossing an intersection with fences or gates on both sides (note, this roadbook is for a road in California where locked gates are plentiful). Something to take note, the dotted lines mean its a trail in this case or faint. The lines used can be different and mean something depending on thickness or number of lines.
Last but not least is the box on the right, this will usually contain written notes like in this one, TDSPP which means follow main path or stay on main path. This box can and will contain timing controls or waypoint designations , also notes that clarify or add to the Tulip in the middle box. In this case warning to watch for cross traffic. These are just basics and are fluid, different people write roadbooks differently but there are standards and they do change. recently the powers that be decided to go from French to English when it comes to the abbreviations that you see.
Ok so how are Roadbooks made?
Well you see it starts when one friend tells that other that I have an idea for a route. Actually not really, truth is you have either done or want to explore an area and want to have some directions laid out so you or your riding buddies can go out and hit it. There are a few reasons you may decide to make roadbooks but if for nothing else it is for the challenge of creating a route and then going to ride it with friends. There are two main option at the moment the first is of course Rally Navigator and the other is the new comer Tulip.
Each of these programs have their merit, Rally Navigator is robust in its features and multiple formats and offers apps that allow roadbook creation on the fly. Tulip on the other hand offers a minimal experience with all the right tools to get going on making a roadbook. One big up at this time is that Tulip lives on your desktop and only requires internet to fetch the map. Word on the street is that Rally Navigator is getting an upgrade we are not sure if this will include a desktop version. As soon as that comes to light we will jump on a basics video for that one.
Lets take a look at Tulip (Download Here) which lives on the Highway Dirtbikes Website. They have a manual available on their website and I threw this video together to show how to build a note.
Okay now what to we do?
Well, the next step is to start making roadbooks. As mentioned in the video if you already have GPX file from a ride you have done it is as simple as importing it and starting to add notes. Here is what I propose, pic a friend or friends and take turns making a roadbooks. Short basic routes and then building on them and adding more detail. Start with major turns and features and then start adding more. Carry a marker or pen and be ready to make some notes and add some changes. In the end it's about having fun and challenging yourself and others.