I have only had very spotty interest in doing The Rothrock Cyrcle of Hell event. I think what makes it lack appeal for some folks is the heavy demands of navigation in an area they are not too familiar with (or not familiar with at all). Most folks would rather plan a route at their leisure and then go do it, rather than having to navigate on the fly. GPS devices and marked up maps and cue sheets are nice. I get that. It’s certainly a nice security blanket. I wouldn’t start a brevet or adventure ride without such things, so I am not putting myself above that, you see. ( I still have my childhood security blankets too, if you’d like to psychoanalyze that….. let me know what you determine. )
SO, here is another format concept to chew on…
Imagine an open course 12 hour race that entailed all riders starting and finishing at given location. Each rider does their own route. It’s a distance event, with the riders with the most miles wins, except that vertical gain would count too. And so would gravel / mixed surface. Every so many vertical feet counting as an additional equivalent mile. Every mile traveled on gravel would be equal to 1.x miles on pavement. (an appropriate value for “x” to be determined). All verified by GPS track data. Part of the strategy would be to come up with a route that suited one’s own strengths, and still get you back to the start/finish within the 12 hours, but yet still utilize all 12 hours. I guess someone could ride and up down the road near the start finish or something, and that would be lame. We’d have to have a ‘no retrace your route” rule, etc. The idea is to get out there and do one big circumnavigation / grand loop or a big out and back or something like that.
As you can see, ‘free route’ is near and dear to my heart. But it allows for pre-planning, which seems to be a thing obsessive compulsive ultra cyclists enjoy doing.