Key Time: Designated start time. Each rider sets their watch to match the “Official Key Time” watch located at sign-up. A rider will set their watch behind the key time watch by the number of minutes equal to the riding number they drew.
Example: When signing up, the rider on row 5 will go to the key time clock and if it reads 7:55, they will set their watch to 7:50 (to the exact second!). Therefore, at the start, this rider will leave when the flip board says 5 (their row #) and their watch should read 10:00 (Key Time), or whatever the designated start (key) time is. This will be the case for every rider – as long as they set their watch correctly. A rider can simply ride “turn to turn”, matching their watch with the posted turn times on their route sheet. A route card holder makes this easy to do and an odometer is a huge asset, but you can get by without one in the beginning.
Reset: These are mileage adjustments made throughout the day to put you back on the proper time schedule and prevent you from riding recklessly on roads. They are a chance to catch your breath and get a drink (if you are lucky). Resets are considered mileage ridden and can be used to position checks and get rid of free territory.
Free Territory: This refers to the areas where a club cannot put a check. By AMA rules checks must be three miles apart. So, when you hit an “in check” you have three miles before they can check you again. You should ride these as fast as possible, even if it is fast trail. You can build up some time just in case it gets tight and come out looking good. If it is fast trail, be sure to check your time at that 3-mile mark. Free territory also exists two miles before and three miles after a gas stop (not a gas available). Smart riders use all of their free territory.
Checks: Several types of checks are used to score you.
S (Secret) check – red and white sign – scores you to the minute. Extra penalty for being early.
E (Emergency) check – green and white sign – scores you to the second for ties. (Extra penalty for being early. If you are “on time”, than 30 seconds into your minute is a perfect score.)
Restarts – you can be there early and await your turn just like the start check.
O (observation) – determine if you made it to that point – can be used to prevent cutting – free territory does not apply to these checks
S,E and Restart checks must be on whole minutes (10:32:00, 10:33:00 etc.)