I've spent the past few days getting to grips with the Richta Rally timing apps and the process by which the simple idea of planning and running a rally is transformed into a route, a Roadbook and a timekeeping and scoring system.
In this blog, which may be a lengthy one to read, I will go over again the contributions made by Gaia (mapping app), Rally Navigator (plot the route, build the Roadbook and display it with the running clock and odometer) and now Richta Rally which sets the position of time controls (called Control Points, CPs in Richta-speak) and measures the progress of a participant/competitor around the course and derives a score.
I will also detail one set of display tech solutions using smartphone or tablet to display the Roadbook while acknowledging the preference of some riders to use traditional paper scroll displays.
There is a second set of separate smartphone or tablet techs needed to run Richta as I have it on good authority that trying to simultaneously run a PDF Roadbook reader and Richta Competitor on the same device is likely to crash one or other app...
So, swiftly, using Richta has proved to be FAR easier that I had hoped! I am not a natural tech-addict, far from it... but it has proved to be straightforward to set the course (with some basic maths to calculate the target time of each stage leg knowing the distance of each leg from Rally Navigator Roadbook and the set average speed for each leg) and driving the course with an open and running Richta Competitor is an absolute cinch! Measures arrival time at each CP, converts that into leg time, works out if you are under or over target time, works out time penalties and adds them up!
So, in more detail:
Select the proposed route in your favourite mapping app (Gaia). You could probably skip this step or use Google Earth or Rally Navigator but I find the cartography in Gaia easiest to read.
This is my first test route running round the road loop from our house. KISS first time...
2/ walk/drive/ride the route and pause at each point you want to set a Control Point (CP), in Richta set the CPs until you have a complete route.
3/ Then in Rally Nav, build the Roadbook carefully noting the distances between your Richta CPs having previously set the target average speed for each leg.
Note to competitors, the placement of CPs in Richta doesn't have to coincide with Roadbook waypoints. Indeed it may well (probably be) that the rally timing CPs are at some unspecified point within a leg that has an average speed over a longer distance. This means that if you (think you) are ahead of schedule you won't be able to loiter 400m short of the next CP and run the clock down as you probably will already have passed through the (virtual) CP.....
The other function addition to using virtual GPS timings is that the event does not need road crews out on the course running time control points. Each competitor's running smartphone records their progress through the virtual CPs. We can have many legs, each with different speeds and the open sections can have faster speeds than the tight tricky bits.
Back to setting the course in Richta. As the rally organiser, I get to choose the average target speed for each leg between the CPs, Rally Nav tells me the distance between the Richta CPs, simple arithmetic tells the target time for that leg and I put that information into Richta which competitors are then measured against...
4/. We now have the route, the ridden Richta route with CPs and the Roadbook.
You, as participant competitors have already downloaded the Richta Competitor app on your device of choice, you open the app, log on to the correct event with the password that I will give you on the day of the event and in consultation with your Roadbook, you go and compete the event.
When you return, your results - including your time penalty score is displayed on your device. From this the placings are simply arranged.
The Richta Competitor app runs continually during your participation in the day's event. Your smartphone or gps-equipped tablet continually uses the GPS receiver and consequently the battery life will be short.
YOU NEED TO RUN AN EXTERNAL CHARGING LEAD.
You probably also need to continually charge the device you are running your Roadbook reader on too.
I'll leave it up to you how you do that, auxiliary batteries or a wired-in usb charging port.
If your Richta Competitor app crashes in use, simply restart the app, I have been told your previous data will not have been lost.
I also have it that if your Richta device does not have a SIM card or wifi signal, you can hotspot it to your smartphone thst does have cell service to activate your Richta Comp app.
There is much to get our heads around here.
DO WE NEED A DRESS REHEARSAL EVENT TO TRY OUT ROADBOOKS AND RICHTA?
I would like to stage a short Roadbook and Richta dress rehearsal trial between now and say April, preferably Nov, Dec, Feb or March for people to try Roadbook navigation and/or Richta timekeeping. Venue probably behind Port Alberni, wild enough to be meaningful but close enough to be reasonably accessible, small entry fee like $25 each to cover my fuel costs setting the route up.
Would anyone want this? Let me know