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  1. #1
    Senior Member Richard Cranium's Avatar
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    Growing the sport of LDX - is RUSA all there is?

    I'd like to discuss the "status of long distance cycling" as a distinct sport from Century riding or other racing activities. I'm aware that many people are introduced to longer rides through various bicycle clubs that sponsor a "century" ride each year.

    RUSA and PBP draw some interest to long distance cycling as well. And then - there is also a dedicated, but somewhat eccentric "fringe" of ultracyclists that hold up RAAM as the main goal of long distance training.

    California seems to be the "center of the double-century world", having a triple crown series as well as numerous club sponsored events. (many events draw thousands of riders for "death rides")

    What, I'd like to know, is outside of California, LDX cycling is left with one club that has a "foreign ride" as it's main attraction, and an "ultra" outfit that seems to promote "solo - totally supported" rider efforts.

    If you were to talk to a new rider who was interested in longer rides, you might tell him to "get ready for France", or go get a support vehicle and crew, or else move to Californina..........

    Tell me why I'm wrong. Tell me about all the other double centurys and other long rides promoted around the world. And tell me how your club is offering opportunities for people who want to ride all day to get together. Tell me why, when 20,000 people are trying to get into marathons all over the nation, the only place you can get 200 people for a double century is in California. Please explain it.

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    Money? The spirit of audax and randonneuring prevents sponsorship of events and participants, with a couple of exceptions (PBP has event sponsorship). The running marathons of which you speak generally have sponsorship, and coupled with volume of participants paying entry fees, the budgets for promotion are considerable. I gather that the double century events you mention are run somewhat outside the audax/randonneuring philosophies (nothing wrong with that). To me UMCA is the pivotal organisation in running the types of events you discuss, which seem to me to be more races than the esoteric randonnee-style events.

    There are hallmark randonnee events all around the world that attract hundreds of participants for each edition. In Australia, there is the Alpine Classic that is generally oversubscribed months ahead. In South Africa there is an event that draws 14,000 people. PBP has its 4,500 (maybe 5,000 next year). Some people, like me, also prefer the more relaxed and friendly nature of smaller events.

    There is a place for everyone and every event.

  3. #3
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    Interesting point, RC. I think that most people have some sort of self-imposed limit on how far they think they can go on a bike and the 100-mile Century is it. A lot of people simply cannot comprehend spending 12+ hrs. on a bike (not to mention calling it fun). That, and people assume the training regimen is beyond the reach of the average cyclist (which is not necessarily true).

    It's frustrating, because organized centuries are less common down here than in other places, so you can imagine how sparse 200K+ rides are. Those of us who chose to ride LD usually do so solo....Lord knows I'd like some company, just for safety's sake.

    No real answer, I know...but the LD culture is growing, thanks in large part to the internet. Probably in another few years, there'll be a lot more interest in LD, but for know it's largely seen as a "fringe" activity.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Cranium
    California seems to be the "center of the double-century world", having a triple crown series as well as numerous club sponsored events. (many events draw thousands of riders for "death rides")
    oh, I'd partially disagree. California might have a lot of double-centuries and might draw a lot of riders for those events, but it's a bit of a fallacy to compare California to the rest of the country. Keep in mind that the state is huge and has the highest population in the union. It might have a lot of cycling clubs that can use sponsorship to organize long rides, but there are similar outfits in other smaller states. If you want to compare apples to apples, start with looking at RUSA's points summary page. The California clubs (San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, San Diego) combine for about 1300 points in 2006 (points are awarded for finishers of every brevet). Seattle, in a state with a population that is barely 20% of California's, put up almost 950 points this year. The two Massachusetts clubs combined for more points than California's, and even if you included the populations of CT, VT and NH into that, you're still looking at an audience that's, like, 1/3 of California's but continues to match the state for participation.

    Nah, in the randoneering world, CA is second-tier. If you want to experience the heart of the movement visit the Pacific Northwest (Seattle + British Columbia) and New England.

    What, I'd like to know, is outside of California, LDX cycling is left with one club that has a "foreign ride" as it's main attraction, and an "ultra" outfit that seems to promote "solo - totally supported" rider efforts.
    you're ignoring Boston-Montreal-Boston, Colorado's Last Chance, the Rocky Mountain 1200, and California's own Gold Rush 1200

    and that's just 1200km rides.

    Tell me why, when 20,000 people are trying to get into marathons all over the nation, the only place you can get 200 people for a double century is in California. Please explain it.
    as Rowan mentioned, there's a lot of investment required for ultracycling. You want to run a marathon? Buy a $150 pair of running shoes and train. You want to do ultracycling? $150 is the price of a Carradice saddlebag

    there's also the fact that a lot brevet and randoneering routes are actually rather brutal from a layman's point of view. 120+ riders will show up for the Boston 200k (on PBP qualification years, that number might double) but only 30 or so will show up to do the rest of the series. For the other 90, it's just not fun for them. 1000 ft. of climbing every 20 miles, over the course of 125 miles? Unsupported? And you have to buy your own supplies? That's not fun, that's crazy talk.

    If one wants more participation in the sport, it needs to appear more accessible, both financially and mentally. It also needs to have more opportunities for involvement that don't involve a super-randonneur series. There's a large amount of turnover in randonneering circles as folks do it for a few years, get a PBP or BMB under their belt then 'retire' because the training commitment is too steep, and they'd rather spend their time doing weekend club rides or two week cycle touring vacations. There should be more populaire rides in the 100k length that can retain one's interest when you aren't feeling like going for a 1200 this year.

    There is also an argument that could be made for keeping the sport inaccessible. When many brevets are organized by a solo volunteer RBA, managing the participation of 30 or 40 riders can be tough. 100+ would be a nightmare. If you make it too accesible, you open the door to more DNFs and more logistical headaches. The solution to this is to bring in more logistical staff, but since there's no money in the sport, you're just relying on volunteers, which is a challenge in its own right.

  5. #5
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    With all the long distance cycling events sponsored by my local randonneuring club (DC Randonneurs), why would I want to find some other, local, long distance club? Same is true in most major metropolitan areas in the country. Look again at the points summary page (http://www.rusa.org/points.html) to find them. RUSA is a lot more than "one club that has a 'foreign ride' as it's main attraction". If there are long distance riders, longing for a different organization, then I'm puzzled as to what they're searching for that they don't find in the RUSA clubs. Maybe they don't like the controls? I suspect that number of long distance riders on our rides isn't limited by the availability, rules, or social atmosphere of the club, but rather by the limited number of people who want to ride such long distances, in any club.

    As to why marathons are more popular, one other reason beyond equipment cost may be the time commitment (of the event and of related training). Since training for the event typically is of shorter duration per episode than the event, it is enough to compare time on the event, itself. A marathon takes three to six hours. The shortest brevets (200K) take between eight and thirteen hours. A more comparable time-commitment running event would be a 50-miler, and I'll bet that participation for those is much, much smaller than for marathons. The cycling event that is more comparable in terms of time to a marathon is a century, and there are multiple tens of thousands who ride centuries every year. The Seagull Century, alone, can have between 6000 and 7000 riders when there is good weather.

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    Quote Originally Posted by spokenword
    If one wants more participation in the sport, it needs to appear more accessible, both financially and mentally. It also needs to have more opportunities for involvement that don't involve a super-randonneur series. There's a large amount of turnover in randonneering circles as folks do it for a few years, get a PBP or BMB under their belt then 'retire' because the training commitment is too steep, and they'd rather spend their time doing weekend club rides or two week cycle touring vacations. There should be more populaire rides in the 100k length that can retain one's interest when you aren't feeling like going for a 1200 this year.
    Training? What's the meaning of this word, "training", that you mention?

    The brevet stamps from the ACP in Paris tell an interesting story. Of course, the threshhold distance for these to be issued is 200km, and the upper, if I am correct, 1000 before LRM (Les Randonneurs Mondiaux) takes over sanction for distances of 1200km and upwards. The stamp numbers, as I understand, are cumulative for the number of rides successfully completed across the world since the record-keeping started. My sequence this year goes: 200km - 233880; 300km - 84783; 400km - 56537; 600km - 40724; 1000km - 4611.

    Those numbers alone indicate the dedication that is required for riders to continue on to the longer distances. Suffice also to say that it's nice that we belong to a fairly exclusive club outside the 200s.

  7. #7
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    Richard,

    Are you a member of RUSA? There's a full brevet series in the St. Louis area. There's also a good selection of Permanents in Missouri of various distances. If you have some riding buddies who want to do long distances, you could certainly take advantage of these.

    And Ultramarathon cycling (ultracycling) is another option. There's much more to ultracycling than RAAM. There are a bunch of long distance time trials held across the country each year. These tend to offer 6, 12, 24, and 48 hour events with distances up to 500 miles. Ultracycling also has a "Year Rounder" competition to promote riding at least one century, or longer, ride each month of the year. You don't need to ride organized events for this.

    Long distance riding is a tiny niche in the cycling world. There really aren't very many of us willing, or able, to devote the long hours required to train for and complete truly long distance routes.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Richard Cranium's Avatar
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    Thanks for the comments.

    I have to agree that there must be significant interest Brevets in the Northeast. And of course, as others have mentioned there are "other" 1200k rides sprinkled about North America.

    I have less interest in Brevet riding simply because the particular "metric distances" mean less to me than the concept of the "double-century". Obviously the UMCA engages the most talented riders but many of their main competitions are non-drafting "solo" format and some rides require support staff and vehicles.

    I think I need to study "ultra-running" associations and competitions. Maybe I can find some parallels that could be applied to Long-Distance riding and come up with an event-style and format that would be attractive to all types of extreme athletes, whether their forte be swimming, triathloning, ultrarunning etc.

    I just feel that the nature of long-distance cycling organizations is currently skewed in a manner that limits cyclist's potential interest in longer-distance, single-day group rides..

  9. #9
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Cranium
    I have less interest in Brevet riding simply because the particular "metric distances" mean less to me than the concept of the "double-century".
    For what it's worth, a 300K brevet is awfully close to a double century.

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    Go Independent?

    "The heart was quiet. The charm of a trip of a bicycle was anew felt as comfortable drunkenness from beer in the filled time."

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