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I should be working on a manuscript, but I am dragging my heels to some extent because of an issue.

So instead, I'll tell you about the "Introduction to Randonneuring" presentation last night. Two of the people who attended dug up links to nice descriptions of randonneuring: an NPR feature from 2013, and a blog entry describing more of the sport's history.

We had around ten participants, almost all of whom are already century riders. I could see their eyes light up at the description of how brevets work. The links above may give some indications as to why - not everyone is interested in racing, which seems to be more predominantly advertised for cycling, so when people who don't want to race finally discover that there's a community and niche catering to their interests, they get excited.

I initially thought I would give a slideshow-style presentation, but after some thought and investigation, I changed my mind. Instead, I went in with an outline (at the end, below a cut), and did things with more of a question-and-answer format. We first talked about ride structure, and then spent a bit of time talking about gear and other such logistical concerns.

One of my main reasons for deciding to deviate from a slideshow was wanting to tailor the discussion to the audience. I led the workshop specifically because I want to help grow the sport in Nebraska, so one of the conversation topics was setting up routes and permanents close to Lincoln. Several people offered really good ideas, including suggestions for good permanents (e.g. a connector between Lincoln and Omaha), and for fitting in brevets that would work well with the overall local bicycling calendar.

So now I have created more work for myself - but it's fun work, so I can't complain. I'm going to see about trotting down to the Nebraska Department of Roads to pick up some statewide bike maps (now that I know they exist), and about contacting the Pirate Cycling League people to discuss Lincoln-area gravel routes. One of the participants is the founder of Sheclismo, a woman-focused cycling organization, and that group looks like a fantastic "missing link" for me to connect with.

But in the meantime, back to manuscript-writing...

Introduction to Randonneuring
Rebecca Clark, at CycleWorks, May 26, 2015

Ride types
"allure libre" - self-paced
"audax" - steady pace set by a road captain
Non-competitive, self-sufficient, long-distance cycling
NOT a race
Various distances: 100km "populaire" up to 1200 or 1400 km.
Various distinctions: P-12, R-12, Super-Randonneur, completion of Grand Randonnee (1200k - plus brevet), K-Hounds
A big tent - accommodates many kinds of riders
Designated route, designated "controles," no support between controles (idea being "neutral support")

Preparation for other long-distance rides
Intrinsic enjoyment
Structured challenges
A way to see a region

US website: rusa.org
Audax Club Parisien (ACP) - original organization
Randonneurs Mondiaux (RM) - organize foreign participation in 1200k brevets
Join RUSA - not expensive
Local club organization can vary; they tend to be somewhat informal
Cue sheets
Brevet cards
Receipts, or signatures and stamp from a convenience store
Information controls
Post card controls
Secret controls
Abandoning a ride
Bike gear
FIT matters more than type
Bars higher than for road racing
Comfortable saddle
Light, BUT more importantly, RELIABLE
Stable geometry
Durable wheels (32 or 36-spoke)
Good lighting
Self-sufficiency means carrying the right tools and supplies: spare tire, spare tubes, spare spokes, head and taillights, multi-tool, patch kit, pump and CO2 cartridges, zip-ties, water bottles, food, electrolytes, pen, ziploc bags, emergency weather gear (wool, space blanket)
Special note on water: water bottles (how many?) or Camelback
Lights and reflective gear required for night riding
Carbon fiber bikes, steel bikes, folding bikes, fixed-gear bikes, velomobiles, pennyfarthing (once!!), mountain bikes, et cetera
Get used to all-weather riding, and see adversity as an opportunity to learn
Consider wool
Experiment with eating strategies - can be as important as any other part of training!
Read ride reports from other randonneurs and randonneusses
During brevets:
Don't push too hard at the beginning
Be efficient at controles.
Ride at your own pace and find like-paced riders
Eat and drink as you ride, every few miles
Enjoy the ride!

Nebraska Sandhills Randonneurs: http://www.nebraskasandhillsrandonneurs.com/
Kansas City Ultra Cycling: http://kcbrevets.blogspot.com/
Iowa (Ames): http://iarando.drupalgardens.com/
Minnesota: http://www.minnesotarandonneurs.org/
Colorado: http://www.rmccrides.com/brevets.htm
From the Central Florida Randonneurs: http://floridarandonneurs.com/wordpress/?page_id=18
Hill Country Randonneurs (Austin): nice page on training: http://www.hillcountryrandonneurs.com/training.html
Another intro presentation with lots of sample bikes and some great photos from PBP: http://www.scribd.com/doc/14029877/FLCC-Spring-Clinic-Randonneuring
"randon" Google Group - national e-mail list
A collection of the bikes ridden on a 600k: http://s192.photobucket.com/user/stephenhazelton/slideshow/600kRandoBikes?sort=3


( 14 remarks — Remark )
May. 28th, 2015 12:46 am (UTC)
So now I have created more work for myself - but it's fun work, so I can't complain.
I'm very familiar with that feeling. :)
May. 28th, 2015 08:09 pm (UTC)
Heh, yeah. Story of my life.

Still better than being bored!
May. 28th, 2015 12:59 am (UTC)
I was wondering what the difference was between randoneurring and doing a century, and this explained it nicely. I was a little confused about brevets. Are they rides that you have to do to qualify to do the one in France? The one in France, 1400km, non-stop, how long does that take?
May. 28th, 2015 08:12 pm (UTC)
"Brevet" doesn't have an exact English translation, but they are rides that are organized and publicized in advance, and after completion the results are validated by the Audax Club Parisienne. So all of the qualifying rides I've been doing this spring were brevets (200k, 300k, 400k, 600k). There can be additional brevets that aren't validated by the ACP, which are still recognized by the US governing body, RUSA, for RUSA-level awards.

The time limit for the Paris-Brest-Paris, which is 1200km, actually, is 90 hours altogether. It tends to involve a hefty dose of sleep deprivation! Interestingly, I haven't experienced nearly as much sleep deprivation while doing the brevets this spring, because we've been finishing or reaching the sleep stop earlier.
May. 28th, 2015 08:23 pm (UTC)
There are sleep stops?
May. 29th, 2015 02:41 am (UTC)
To some extent, yes. The clock is still ticking while you sleep, though, so depending on how fast and efficient one is, the amount of actual sleep can vary quite a bit. We got five hours of sleep on the last 600k, which felt luxurious, because on previous 600k's I've only ever gotten around 3 hours of sleep, and it wasn't quality sleep, either.
May. 28th, 2015 02:58 am (UTC)
Growing Randonnepuring
Very good of you to grow the sport in Nebraska. Planting a seed that will likely attract and nourish new cyclists to the sport long after you're gone from the midwest. Fun, yes! And generous too for paying it forward.
Thanks! Jim Duncan
May. 28th, 2015 03:41 am (UTC)
Until I started reading your journal I'd never heard of randonneuring but now it has piqued my interest. I'm interested in getting into longer distance bicycling (or, really, any "distance" bicycling because I've never had a decent bicycle to begin with) because I think it would suit my body much better than long distance running, which it clearly isn't super thrilled by.

*waves from Omaha*
May. 28th, 2015 04:48 am (UTC)
canyonwren and I were talking about doing the trail near her sometime... she said it's something like 36 miles each way, so, ~72 in total. It's all rural, so I can't just stop at a Baskin Robbins every hour when I get hungry, heh. I'd have to pack a lot more fix-my-bike gear than I normally do, because there's less in the way of bailouts, but the trail is nice, paved, and all for bikes and walkers. There are road crossings, but you're not shoved into a tiny bike lane made of potholes. So if you're into that, you're welcome to come overnight with Mayhem and me and then we can ride up to her place together. There's an excellent breakfast place out that way, too.
May. 28th, 2015 07:30 pm (UTC)
Re: protoneuse
That sounds pretty cool, but I still lack a decent bicycle and don't know when I'm going to get one. (I'm not sure what to get, which is the biggest holdup, and the time to figure it out.) So barring a viable option for renting or borrowing, that would probably be hard to do prior to me getting a bicycle. I'd not want to do something like that on my current 15-year-old rusty cheap college bike.

I really need to figure out the bicycle, but enough strain on my life right now without figuring that out too.
May. 28th, 2015 08:17 pm (UTC)
Re: protoneuse
*Waves back to Omaha*

Okay, so.

I got my bike from R&E Cycles, which is over in the U-District (Seattle). They provide a lot of useful information about what's involved in bike shopping on their website, slanted of course towards their philosophy towards bike-building. My first road bike was a mistake, because it was built for men, was the wrong size, and had carbon fiber on it. Those elements work for some people, but the carbon fiber made me paranoid about traveling with the bike or locking it up anywhere.

I don't know as much about shops further outside of town, but you should be able to get the straight talk from people at the Montlake Bike Shop or Gregg's Greenlake Cycles, as alternatives. My real suggestion would be to walk into R&E (or schedule an appointment), show them what you've got, talk to Smiley about the kind of bicycling you'd like to be doing, and get his recommendations. He is good at bike fits. The bike won't be cheap, but it will make you happy to ride, and will last a long time.

Fortunately, getting a bicycle isn't quite the same as shopping for running shoes, because once you're set you might have to deal with replacing parts periodically, but the main package stays the same.
May. 31st, 2015 11:08 pm (UTC)
Re: protoneuse
I'm actually out on the Olympic Peninsula, so bicycle shopping in Seattle isn't my first choice, but it's good to have recommendations in case I decide that is the way to go. (I can now transport a bicycle in my current vehicle, couldn't in the old one.) There are a couple of reasonably good bike shops in town or in Port Angeles, but I still feel like I need to know more about what I want before I go in. I tried one shop that my friends like a couple of years ago really not knowing anything, and kind of got the "yeah, you're not serious enough to be worth my time" attitude from whoever helped me. I know more now than I did then, but still not quite enough. Just need to research but, no time.
Jun. 1st, 2015 03:03 pm (UTC)
Re: protoneuse
I was getting the impression that you were Peninsula-based. :-)

I stopped in at a shop in Port Townsend that seemed to contain more reasonable, down-to-earth people than the shop I visited in Port Angeles. But I also went in with a loaded-up touring bike. I would still say that R&E Cycles is worth the trip for the bike itself, then you could potentially work with one of the Peninsula shops for parts and accessories.

To some extent, it's worthwhile to just start riding around and having adventures on what you've got, if it fits well enough. But I could chatter away about the topic for eons. :-)
May. 29th, 2015 02:41 am (UTC)
Re: protoneuse
Also, which trail is it??
( 14 remarks — Remark )

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