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  1. #1
    cyclopath vik's Avatar
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    Does Style Matter in Randoneering?

    It seems brevet rules are pretty open as far as support is concerned so I am not asking what is legal, but do you think that the manner in which someone rides a brevet matters or do you think as long as you complete the course in the allotted time it is all good?

    Here are some examples to discuss:

    1. Rider A - carries all the clothes, spare parts, food, etc he needs with him and sources whatever else he requires on the road and basically looks after himself (ie. gas stations).

    2. Rider B - carries a moderate amount of stuff with him and uses drop bags at some of the controls to get resupplied no support crew.

    3. Rider C - carries very minimal supplies, clothing, food. Relying on a support crew at the controls to feed him, have spare clothes, parts, etc and hoping if he has a mechanical en route that another rider would have the parts tools to get him to the next control and his support.

    Does this matter or are all the riders completing the brevet equal and we shouldn't really worry about it?
    safe riding - Vik
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  2. #2
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vik
    It seems brevet rules are pretty open as far as support is concerned so I am not asking what is legal, but do you think that the manner in which someone rides a brevet matters or do you think as long as you complete the course in the allotted time it is all good?
    Brevet rules are NOT pretty open as far as support is concerned. The only time you are allowed to receive support from a support person, volunteer, or crew is at the controls ... in between the controls you are supposed to fend for yourself.




    Quote Originally Posted by vik
    1. Rider A - carries all the clothes, spare parts, food, etc he needs with him and sources whatever else he requires on the road and basically looks after himself (ie. gas stations).
    This is how those of us who ride in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba have to ride our brevets. We have no other options unless we arrange for something else ourselves (which I've done on a few occasions for longer brevets). Personally, except in certain situations where this might be dangerous, this is my preferred method. To me, this is what Randonneuring is all about!



    Quote Originally Posted by vik
    2. Rider B - carries a moderate amount of stuff with him and uses drop bags at some of the controls to get resupplied – no support crew.
    If you can arrange to drop a bag somewhere, that's great ... or if you live in a part of the world where they have bag drops on brevets, that's great too. I have no problem with someone using this option if they choose and if they have it available to them. Personally, I'm not so sure I'm all that fond of bag drops (based on the 1200Ks I've done where I've had them). They are almost more hassle than they are worth. And up here in the prairie provinces bag drops are not an option anyway, unless we arrange something ourselves.


    Quote Originally Posted by vik
    3. Rider C - carries very minimal supplies, clothing, food. Relying on a support crew at the controls to feed him, have spare clothes, parts, etc and hoping if he has a mechanical en route that another rider would have the parts tools to get him to the next control and his support.
    This is how the really fast riders do the events ... and if you have that option available to you, I figure why not use it. But most of us don't have that option, especially not up here in the prairie provinces. However, I have used an option along this line on a few rides (like my 400K and 600K this year) but not so much for the speed aspect ... more for the safety aspect. The idea of cycling roughly 150 kms from Radium to Banff with absolutely no phone service, or any other sorts of open services (gas stations etc.), in the middle of the night didn't appeal to me all that much.


    Quote Originally Posted by vik
    Does this matter or are all the riders completing the brevet equal and we shouldn't really worry about it?
    I figure we should ride the brevet how we feel comfortable riding the brevet (within the rules, of course) ... after all brevets are not races, and everyone who completes one "wins" ... there is no 1st place, 2nd place, etc. ... so it doesn't matter which option we choose. However, the options we choose will depend more on what's available to us than how we would like to ride the brevet.

  3. #3
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    Everybody gets the same medal, I can't see how it could matter except for gaining those intangible 'randonneur style points'. If so, there are better ways to gain them, riding a fixed wheel, triplet or scooter!

    By the way Machka, I expect to see you ignoring all those helpful roadside stops between checkpoints at PBP next year ;-)

    On a slightly more serious note, PBP and other long brevets sometimes provide roving marshals, which can help if you have a major crash or mechanical. I know a couple of riders that have finished because of that sort of assistance between checkpoints. Seeing as it is provided by the organisers (even at PBP), do people think that it violates the 'no assistance between checkpoints' rule or do they count as 'secret controls' (where you can get assistance)?

  4. #4
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LWaB
    By the way Machka, I expect to see you ignoring all those helpful roadside stops between checkpoints at PBP next year ;-)

    On a slightly more serious note, PBP and other long brevets sometimes provide roving marshals, which can help if you have a major crash or mechanical. I know a couple of riders that have finished because of that sort of assistance between checkpoints. Seeing as it is provided by the organisers (even at PBP), do people think that it violates the 'no assistance between checkpoints' rule or do they count as 'secret controls' (where you can get assistance)?

    I ignored most of them last time! I can only remember stopping at two of them ... once for a cup of coffee in the middle of one of the nights, and at the other I have no recollection of eating or drinking anything, I just remember that the French girl serving the other riders had the same first name as me, so we chatted a bit!


    Technically there is not supposed to be any assistance between checkpoints, and if you were to ride in Manitoba, the majority of your rides there would hold strongly to that idea. However, there was one ride I did there which had a lot of "secret controls". On the RM1200 in 2002, the BC Randonneurs were quite firm on the no help between controls thing too. On the Last Chance, there was no help anywhere on the ride ... we had to fend for ourselves the whole way, except that the ride organizers had booked a couple motels for us to make use of when we passed through those towns, and those towns were controls. On the Gold Rush, they promised all sorts of support, but the SAG vehicles vanished after about 7 pm ... and they even left one poor guy (who was seriously suffering from various cycling related injuries and heat exhaustion to the point where he was no longer coherant) out on a mountain by himself all night ... some people unassociated with the ride found him by the side of the road and gave him a blanket. The Great Southern had no support between the controls (they had FABULOUS support at the controls, but nothing in between) ......... On the rides I've done, the vast majority of them have been pretty strict about the no support between controls thing.

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    Part of the allure of randonneuring is the self-sufficiency. Completing a brevet without drop bags or a support crew is a bigger challenge. You can do it anyway you want (I mean, who cares, it's not a competition), but riding without support is more in keeping with the spirit of the event to me.

  6. #6
    Senior Member ken cummings's Avatar
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    I have completed a couple of brevets and supported several more. When possible after my stop closes I drive towards the finish along the route. When I see a rider I pass safely, find a safe place ahead to pull completely off the road, stop, and applaud as the rider goes by. If they are in such bad shape that they feel like dropping out of the ride I will help them. On a 600K a rider who had been blinded, at night, by a detached retina made it some 50 further miles to our stop. A doctor with us ordered him off the bike and when our relief came the wife and I sagged him 150 miles to a hospital. If I had found him on the road I would have tried very hard to talk him into stopping but I would not have forced him to stop. His life.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heron Todd
    but riding without support is more in keeping with the spirit of the event to me.
    Have you seen how the French do PBP? Support cars, picnic tables at controls, wine. It seems that some people are more strict than the originators...

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    Quote Originally Posted by LWaB
    Have you seen how the French do PBP? Support cars, picnic tables at controls, wine. It seems that some people are more strict than the originators...
    Yes this is all true. The regs for BMB had some paragraph that said no-one was allowed to have their bike worked on except by the event mechanics. Yeah, like that was ever going to be an option!

    I feel for the traditional of randonneuring even though I have been in it for only four years. But then I cam to it from touring, not racing. To me, randonneuring means fast touring over distances with a time limit. That immediately suggests an element of self-support, but of course, that means cafes, restaurants and accommodation can be used, and even roadside stalls, as they would be on any tour. As to having vehicular support... well that probably wasn't envisaged by the French in the original concept.

    As someone who has lugged lots of gear around on a bike to survive... err... finish various randonnees without any kind of support, I feel I can stay reasonably true to the cause. I've also done rides with support, and in some cases, I agree with Machka, that support has fallen far short of the expectations. In fact, the only events that have worked for me with support were all Australian -- the Great Southern Randonnee 1200, the Giro Tasmania 1000, and the Murray and Bacc 1200, and the Prom in a Day 200 (yes, a 200).

    What I do have a problem with is the influx of racers who have brought with them the go-fastest philosophy so randonnees are becoming long-distance time trials or races. Usually that means money to burn. As a result we have all the accoutrements that go with this -- the mobile homes and service crews, the cheats with headlights enabling high night speeds (as per PBP 2003), pointless and arguments about how hills should be climbed because of "goal-based" riding, and pressure on event volunteer to (a) increase entry fees to provide the "services" these riders expect and (b) discriminate against dedicated randonneurs who cannot afford those fees. A case in point was BMB where the entry fee was an outlandish US$399 which is over twice the going rate for any of the other 1200s I've done, and it fell far, far short of my expectations.

    Finally, the problems manifest themselves in the wide broadcast of how such-and-such rider has set a fastest (or record) time, and awards presented for "first this" and "first that"... In my opinion, this is where the original concept of randonneuring -- that the kudos is equal for all finishers -- is slowly but surely being eroded. If anyone was interested in safeguarding this, there would be NO listing of finish times for participants -- just a list of those who finished prior to the deadline.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Richard Cranium's Avatar
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    Riding with "style" means different things to different people. By the way, you left out the part about riders that "suck wheel" the entire event.

  10. #10
    cyclopath vik's Avatar
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    Thanks for your comments. I was just interested to see if this topic was one that randonneurs gave much thought. I was a climber in my twenties and "how" you climbed was as important as what you climbed in that community.

    What got me thinking about this is reading some accounts of PBP 1999 where it was pretty clear the individuals involved were treating it like a race and I think the PBP organizers were even recognizing the first finishers (ie. winners) in the various categories.

    My personal take on this is I would like to carry my stuff with me and avoid drop bags and support other than what the organizers may have arranged for the ride. It seems simpler and that way I won't be dependant on something external which can get screwed up. I also do most of my riding alone so during my training and fun rides that is how I would have to do them anyways. I am not a speed demon so course records and such are not part of my world in any case.
    safe riding - Vik
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Cranium
    Riding with "style" means different things to different people. By the way, you left out the part about riders that "suck wheel" the entire event.
    The OP was specific in what he meant by his use of the word, "style". Drafting is permitted in randonnees. It is not in UMCA 24-hour races. Anyone who has participated in both knows that.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  12. #12
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vik
    My personal take on this is I would like to carry my stuff with me and avoid drop bags and support other than what the organizers may have arranged for the ride. It seems simpler and that way I won't be dependant on something external which can get screwed up. I also do most of my riding alone so during my training and fun rides that is how I would have to do them anyways. I am not a speed demon so course records and such are not part of my world in any case.
    It is simpler to take care of everything yourself! And I've learned over the years that depending on ride organizers to provide anything or everything for you is not a good idea. It's much better to plan to ride the events as though you are going to be the only person out there with no support at all ..... and then if some good support comes along at controls, etc., take that as a bonus.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan
    What I do have a problem with is the influx of racers who have brought with them the go-fastest philosophy so randonnees are becoming long-distance time trials or races.

    <SNIP>

    In my opinion, this is where the original concept of randonneuring -- that the kudos is equal for all finishers -- is slowly but surely being eroded. If anyone was interested in safeguarding this, there would be NO listing of finish times for participants -- just a list of those who finished prior to the deadline.
    Well, the original concept of randonneuring always had a large amount of kudos for the fastest finishers. While the concept of 'everybody who finishes is a winner' has always been there, the recognition of 'riders finishing events very quickly' occurred all the way back to the birth of randonneuring. I have read some historical articles noting that a few French randonneurs were finishing 200 km brevets in around 5 hours (this was prior to the 30 kph max speed rule) in the 1930s. Part of the idea was to show racers that randonneuring was better, in equipment and 'style'.

    Personally, I figure that I can finish long rides completely unsupported but I prefer being mollycoddled by organisers. What the fast riders do doesn't particularly affect me either way but I reserve the right to look down my nose at those racer-types who take it too seriously. The piece on the ACP PBP website (written by Jan Heine?) about the 'correct way' to do a fast ride seems a pretty good guide to me.

    To avoid the whole problem, try the original style of Audax riding rather than randonneuring, now known as Euraudax. Nobody is the first finisher then...
    Last edited by LWaB; 10-23-06 at 01:04 PM.

  14. #14
    cyclopath vik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LWaB
    The piece on the ACP PBP website (written by Jan Heine?) about the 'correct way' to do a fast ride seems a pretty good guide to me.
    The article mentioned is:

    http://pbp.star-warz.net/EN/index.php?showpage=22

    Definitely worth a read.
    safe riding - Vik
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    Quote Originally Posted by LWaB
    Well, the original concept of randonneuring always had a large amount of kudos for the fastest finishers. While the concept of 'everybody who finishes is a winner' has always been there, the recognition of 'riders finishing events very quickly' occurred all the way back to the birth of randonneuring. I have read some historical articles noting that a few French randonneurs were finishing 200 km brevets in around 5 hours (this was prior to the 30 kph max speed rule) in the 1930s. Part of the idea was to show racers that randonneuring was better, in equipment and 'style'.
    As I remember my reading, professional-licensed riders were permitted in PBP up to the middle of the last century, then were excluded, and have been ever since. I think randonneuring is one of the few remaining sporting events left in the world where sponsorship of individuals is prohibited. I could suspect that this will be eroded over time as well, as the racer mentality tries to take over the sport. But the one saving grace is that randonneuring is controlled by the French who have a deft (albeit quirky) eye for tradition.

    I like the way the Audax Australia deals with the results of events published in Checkpoint magazine each quarter -- the finishers appear in alphabetical order and there are no times.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

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    At one time, PBP was a race, but randonneuring was always a separate thing. There are a few who go for the "win" and even a few who care. However, I think that you'll find a pretty large crowd at the finish line of PBP during the closing minutes. Cheering on those who are just making it inside the time limit is part of the tradition.

    "Racing" a brevet seems pretty silly to me when most of the participants aren't racing. It's like "racing" at the local club century. If these folks really want to race, there are plenty of long distance races to enter. Part of the appeal of randonneuring is the fact that it *isn't* a competitive sport.

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    Hey, welcome Todd. For those of who aren't aware, Todd has been a long-time subscriber to the touring.phred list, and is one of the helpful contributors with knowhow and knowledge through his connections with Heron bicycles and his bike shop. He's one of those whose opinions I respect and would rank up there with Sheldon, Mr White (whenever he might have a good day), Rev.Chuck, RetroGrouch, Machka, Neil Gunton and a few others.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan
    I like the way the Audax Australia deals with the results of events published in Checkpoint magazine each quarter -- the finishers appear in alphabetical order and there are no times.
    The Brits go slightly further according to their rules, no timed finish list can be published.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Paul L.'s Avatar
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    Style, style, hmmmm, on my first 200k I was about toasted with 15 miles to go, a paceline of 5 riders cruising along laughing and visiting passed me and yelled "Hop on!". That was style to me. Very classy to my mind. Lets see, salt deposits down the side of ones helmet straps on your face, I suppose that is a sort of randonneuring style. Fenders? High randonneuring style! Dynomos also can be very stylish. Lets see, other styles, old farty retro bikes with steel lugs designed to be comfortable, very stylish. For me I am still trying to get the recumbent style of comfort referred to as stylish in randonneuring circles but I don't think we are there yet. Hmm, that bedraggled look that one has after pedalling 200 miles in high winds and rain is extremely stylish for a randonneur. A DNF, well that is not so stylish (and I understand it can't be helped sometimes but overcoming things that might make a lesser rider DNF to finish in time is definitely stylish!). Oh, and lets not forget the fat old seatbag so obese it needs straps going down to the dropouts to hold it steady! Oh, I almost forgot the Brooks line of saddles, any brooks is high style! Well, I suppose the gist is anything that boost comfort sparing no weight expense is stylish in Randonneuring circles generally.
    Now for some unstylish things-
    Sitting on the road trying to get your 20 spoke wheel to not rub your chainstay because of broken spokes, definitely unstylish.
    Collecting the pieces of your blinkie off the road because you disregarded the rule to attach it to your bike and it came off your jersey pocket in the first 4 miles - Very unstylish.
    Bringing a support crew to a 200k- Gee, I don't even want to mention how unstylish this one is, I mean this is like having your mother buy your bike clothes.
    Spewing water in the face of everyone in your group when you take the lead of the paceline because of insufficient fenders- Unstylish.
    Borrowing a pump as you didn't bring one, or you used your last cartridge- unstylish(by the way, lending a pump to someone like this is High style, encouraging them to bring one next time in a nice way is also stylish, and offering a few encouraging words and helpful suggestions should this unfashionable randonneur be a newby is very high style)
    Lets see, criticizing the RBA on poor support or some other silly thing that racers often get concerned about - very unstylish. (and offering an RBA an encouraging thank you even if they aren't perfect is just as stylish as the other is unstylish)

    Well, that is about all the obvious ones I can recollect from experience right now but there may be more
    Last edited by Paul L.; 10-24-06 at 03:04 PM.
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    Senior Member Paul L.'s Avatar
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    Ooh, I almost forgot, being mistaken for a homeless person in spandex on an expensive yet dirty and gritty bike at the end of a 600k, very high style.
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  21. #21
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    okay, this has always been a question of mine...can you assist another rider? I have done it, but I wasn't sure if it was allowed under the rules. It seems to be within the spirit of the event, but the rule seems unclear.

    The rule in question: "Each rider must be self sufficient. No follow cars or support of any kind are permitted on the course. "

    No support of any kind might mean no help from fellow riders.

  22. #22
    Senior Member Paul L.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DogBoy
    okay, this has always been a question of mine...can you assist another rider? I have done it, but I wasn't sure if it was allowed under the rules. It seems to be within the spirit of the event, but the rule seems unclear.

    The rule in question: "Each rider must be self sufficient. No follow cars or support of any kind are permitted on the course. "

    No support of any kind might mean no help from fellow riders.
    I believe that since drafting is allowed that helping other riders falls under the same category.
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  23. #23
    Senior Member The Octopus's Avatar
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    It's pretty amusing how some randonneurs can get all upitty about randonneuring "style" while, in the same breath ripping on "racers" or others who approach a brevet in some way -- less gear, lighter bike, support, purchasing food, whatever -- that's supposedly not in the "traditional" randonneuring style (not, of course, suggesting that the OP or anyone else here is guilty of this, but I'm sure we've all seen it).

    One of the things that I love about randonneuring is that it's a really, really big tent. The rules are pretty easy to comply with, and so long as you do, you're in the club. That no one cares how you ride a brevet is best illustrated by listing results alphabetically and by not (at least in the U.S.) listing DNFs. One of the points of randonneuring is that it's individualistic. How can you have some over-arching randonneuring "style" in such a highly individualistic pursuit?

    The whole point of this bike riding stuff is that it's fun. Why crap all over someone else's fun? So they do it differently than you; they do it differently than the "way it's supposed to be done." Whatever. Let's all just ride out bikes. Don't like the way another person rides (no fenders, unprepared, can't hold a line, takes too long at controles, etc.)? Just ride on and keep that smile on your face. And let them keep theirs.

    Again, not that that's what's goinig on here with any of these posts.... But having been on the receiving end of this treatment before -- "You're riding this event on that bike, dressed like that, carrying that little???" -- it's no fun at all and I'm probably hyper-sensitive to it. I'm sure those folks thought they were being helpful and sharing their experiences and wisdom with someone less experienced (and, in their eyes, less prepared) than they were. But remember that there's often a fine line between giving helpful unsolicited advice and being a condescending *******.

    Flame away.

  24. #24
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    I don't mind if folks want to "race" a brevet. I have friends who do it. It just doesn't do anything for me, and I don't think that it's fair to characterize randonneuring as being about fast finish times. I like the fact that it's not competitive and your finish time doesn't matter as long as it's within the limit. If a few guys want to go out and set a course record, it doesn't harm me in the least. However, I hope that there is no movement to change randonneuring into racing or to diminish the efforts of those who decide to ride at their own pace.

    The OP asked about support crews. Of course, they are allowed, and if people want to use them, that's fine. However, if you really want to do long-distance racing, there are a number of events already set up for that. I'm sure that most randonneurs welcome racers to use brevets as training, but I also bet that they wouldn't want to see randonneuring become just another branch of endurance racing.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by DogBoy
    okay, this has always been a question of mine...can you assist another rider? I have done it, but I wasn't sure if it was allowed under the rules. It seems to be within the spirit of the event, but the rule seems unclear.

    The rule in question: "Each rider must be self sufficient. No follow cars or support of any kind are permitted on the course. "

    No support of any kind might mean no help from fellow riders.
    You may receive assistance from other participants. One of the tenets in randonneuring is to help each other so that we all finish the ride. This is one reason why finish times are downplayed. You're priority should be to provide whatever assistance you can.

    Considering that there are no support vehicles following riders, who in their right mind would leave a fellow cyclist stranded at the side of the road???

    The prohibition on receiving support is to prevent support vehicles from following riders as in a professional race handing up water, fuel, spare wheels, etc. As the rule states, you must be self sufficient. A rider is free to seek out assistance from sources along the route (convenience stores, bikes shops, etc.) so long as those sources are not support vehicles.

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