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  1. #1
    Lone Star Tex_Arcana's Avatar
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    Concidering Randonneuring

    Okay, here I am pushing 50, been cycle commuting for years with distances up to 20 miles each way, and I'm feeling tough and bullet proof and wanting to get into a bike sport. I first thought of road racing inspired by the Overdrive manga and anime (so what if the main characters are animated high school kids and I'm a real life dude having a mid life crisis who by roadie standards is really kinda slow, I've been dropped by 60 years old roadies on the MUP).

    Then I noticed there is a cycle sport that is more about endurance then speed (though I can still work on speed). I think back to all the times I,ve commuted in high headwinds and in rain (sometimes on a rusted out Huffy SS coaster) concentrating on keeping the pedals cranking and realized that while speed may not be my forte, endurance certainly is.

    So I started looking up randonneuring on the web. Found it in Wikipedia, found RUSA, found the hometown club Houston Randonneurs, found the Blayleys website, tons of stories about PBP and other brevets, and Youtube vids, the posts here. Still for some reason I don't seem to have enough. I feel like something is missing. Maybe it's the state of the websites for RUSA (most of it is pretty much old/out of date/needs more recent content) and Houston Randonneurs (kinda plain jane with very little content to engage new members, I understand there is a Google mail group for members but punched up theme with a few pics and brevet reports would probably kick up the excitement level a notch and attract new folks beyond the fact they are the only randoneur group in Houston, if someone here is a member of Houston Randonneurs I'd do a an XHTML, CSS compliant template for you guys so you don't just have the plain black on plain white theme, web design is a hobby of mine).

    Anyway, I plan on treating myself to a new bike for my half century birthday (thanks for the tax rebate Uncle Sugar) and a touring bike is practical for commuting as well as for randoneuring. I'm in research/prep mode until then (gathering equipment, bags, lights, reflective sashes, ankle straps, etc.).

    Finally, my question is this. What have you seen on the web, books, or other materials that would be helpful for a randonneuring wannabe. Any IRC chatrooms, and other resources.
    Last edited by Tex_Arcana; 02-16-08 at 12:00 PM.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tex_Arcana View Post
    Anyway, I plan on treating myself to a new bike for my half century birthday (thanks for the tax rebate Uncle Sugar) and a touring bike is practical for commuting as well as for randoneuring. I'm in research/prep mode until then (gathering equipment, bags, lights, reflective sashes, ankle straps, etc.).

    Finally, my question is this. What have you seen on the web, books, or other materials that would be helpful for a randonneuring wannabe. Any IRC chatrooms, and other resources.
    Machka's site is a good reference (http://www.machka.net). After I completed PBP this year, I posted my experiences on my LJ (http://cris.livejournal.com/tag/paris). The field notes entry (http://cris.livejournal.com/174442.html) was written with rookies in mind, from the perspective of my only having two years into the sport. I will concur that being a foul-weather commuter is one of the best preparations for being a randonneur.

    As far as other sites to 'kick thing up', I think that SIR (http://www.seattlerandonneur.org/) has one of the better club sites out there, and their Flickr photostream (http://www.flickr.com/photos/seattlerando/) has some excellent photos from PBP and other rides.

  3. #3
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    oh, and what's your opinion on Overdrive? It looked a little interesting, but I wasn't sure if it's as sophomoric as mosts sports anime.

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    I really like the writings of Kent Peterson. He has some very enlightened views on food on the go.

  5. #5
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    I think that the feeling like there is "something missing" is your brain's way of telling you that what will "kick up the excitement level a notch" is to quit reading the internet and get out there and ride a brevet (maybe the websites are plain because the website person is out their riding _their_ bike). I notice that your post was done on the last day that the Houston club has scheduled a 200K until May. I don't mean it to seem like I'm faulting you; Maybe you don't have a bike you think you could ride a 200K on. But May should give you time to get something set up to ride. Meanwhile you can go on some shorter training rides. In my area (DC) several of the people who ride brevets also go on one or two training rides a weekend, so you might check to see if the same is true in your area.

    I just rode a 207K permanent, today, making this my 24th consecutive month riding at least a 200K. Though apparently I need to get rid of some of the winter spare tire, since the last time I rode this route solo took me 10-1/2 hours while this time took a little over 12. I'd like to claim that the major reason for the time difference is that the quicker ride was in nice weather and today's ride started at 20F and never got much warmer than freezing. I'm sure that's a factor, but eating less between brevets would probably be the number one factor in finishing my next brevet faster.

  6. #6
    Lone Star Tex_Arcana's Avatar
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    spokenword: How did I forget Machka's? Yep, checked it out. She's super. Overdrive does have it's moments, I'm not into sports anime myself but decided to check it out because it was about cycling. Some funny bits (like when the newbie finds the other team members shaving their legs), some exciting bits, the multi episode race was probably the best part. Art work in the manga is actually better.

    plodderslusk: I'll keep that in mind. I was going to look up Andy Pruitt's Complete Medical Guide for Cyclists as well.

    thebulls: Actually, I saw that but I will need to join the Houston club first. Their brevets are members only. Also it was canceled due to Super Cell weather conditions in the area. Lastly, I'm working this weekend. My present bike does suck a bit but not as bad as the rusty Huffy coaster i started commuting on, I'm working on it this today then riding it to work in the same Super Cell conditions (lucky I don't commute 200km). Yeah, I get your point. I would rather be out on the rode.

  7. #7
    Member mplee's Avatar
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    Tex--
    i'm in a somewhat similar position. i'm 50 also and have given up on the road racing idea for long distances. a good bike is key, of course, but also is attitude. i get the impression you're looking for a few folks to ride with and in my experience that is not what brevets are about. the brevets i've been on all start in a cluster but pretty quickly riders get sorted out. although i may ride for a while with a few riders or even just one sooner or later we'll separate.

    when i first got interested in randonneuring i went through the same stages as you. i did the research and eventually found a club. i thought i would enjoy the fellowship and advice of fellow riders but they are a club in name only. i only see these guys at the brevet events and there is no other contact in between. a good deal of LD riding is being by yourself so you might as well get used to it. my advice is to just get out there and start putting on miles and enjoy the solitude.

    good luck and enjoy.

    ** mp **

  8. #8
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    As to the solitude aspect ... yes, there's much riding by yourself, but also much riding with others. If you are fast enough that you are not the lantern rouge, then you can always slow down a bit and ride with someone slower than you. Of course, if you are the lantern rouge, then you're a bit more stuck unless you amp up the training and move out of the lantern rouge position.

    In training for PBP, I spent the last year riding brevets with a friend. We have somewhat different rhthyms, so he would often start out faster but I'd catch him after 25 to 50 miles and then we'd ride together for awhile and sometimes I'd be stronger in the second third and eventually drop him, but he'd usually eventually catch up somewhere and we finished most brevets either together or within a few minutes of each other.

    On yesterday's permanent, there were maybe half a dozen riders, all of whom are considerably faster than me. I rode too hard at the start, because I wanted to chat with them, and then when my "get up and go" "got up and went" I suffered badly from mile 25 to mile 75, but then eventually my legs felt somewhat more energetic and I had a more positive view on the whole experience and had a nice ride in to the end.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by mplee View Post
    although i may ride for a while with a few riders or even just one sooner or later we'll separate.
    I agree that any randonneur should be accustomed to spending a lot of hours riding solo, but if you ride with a relatively large club, you might find that there's a decent spread of folks who might cross your path from time to time. It makes the hours on the road pass a little faster, but part of what I like about randonneuring is that there's no social commitment. If I feel like chatting, I'll slow down until someone catches up. If I feel antisocial or quiet, there's no hard feelings.

    Boston is a relatively decent sized club and a lot of the regulars ride together on the first 50K between start and the first control. Then, we'll break up after we're all warmed up, with all of the really fast folks taking off soon afterwards and the rest of us who are doing more of a touring pace lingering for a while longer. It's a nice tradition, I think, but seems unique to clubs that can field more than 30 folks on any given brevet.

  10. #10
    Spelling Snob Hobartlemagne's Avatar
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    http://lonestarrandon.tripod.com/

    This is in N TX, but still may be a good resource for you.

    The first rule of flats is You don't talk about flats!

  11. #11
    Lone Star Tex_Arcana's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mplee View Post
    Tex--
    i'm in a somewhat similar position. i'm 50 also and have given up on the road racing idea for long distances. a good bike is key, of course, but also is attitude. i get the impression you're looking for a few folks to ride with and in my experience that is not what brevets are about. the brevets i've been on all start in a cluster but pretty quickly riders get sorted out. although i may ride for a while with a few riders or even just one sooner or later we'll separate.

    when i first got interested in randonneuring i went through the same stages as you. i did the research and eventually found a club. i thought i would enjoy the fellowship and advice of fellow riders but they are a club in name only. i only see these guys at the brevet events and there is no other contact in between. a good deal of LD riding is being by yourself so you might as well get used to it. my advice is to just get out there and start putting on miles and enjoy the solitude.

    good luck and enjoy.

    ** mp **
    I already understand most of your points. This all started because I had the idea to get a new bike for my 50th and ride a century on my birthday. It was going to be a solo trip. Researching for a "safe" (it's a relative thing, I know) century route outside the Houston city limits (basically ride someplace I haven't been) I started googling. It's a no brainer that I would see randonnuering sites listed. I started reading them. I do understand that while folks may ride together for a bit not everyone has the same goals, and, abilities. I think I would suck at hill climbing and wouldn't expect anyone to hang back with me while I struggle up a hill, nor wait for me at the top when I'm done.

    No, the reason I'm attracted to randonneuring is that I enjoy challenging myself. I take longer routes on my commute weather permitting always attempting to beat my best time. It feels good to accomplish something to stretch out my limits and better myself. Joining a club and participating in an organized sport just adds to the fun. Getting a little "official" recognition in the form of completed brevet cards and medals adds a little more to it. Tell you the truth I don't think my wife even believes me when I tell her where I've been riding. That would be proof of a sorts I've been getting my aerobics on my bike.

  12. #12
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    Sounds like you're a good candidate for randonneuring. Give it a shot.

    And you're also onto my theory about why the French invented brevet cards. "Non, I have not been with my mistress -- see, I can prove it with this card."

  13. #13
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hobartlemagne View Post
    http://lonestarrandon.tripod.com/

    This is in N TX, but still may be a good resource for you.
    I'm with the Lone Star club. We have a great schedule of brevets this year and always welcome visiting riders. In fact, we do get quite a few folks from Houston and Austin come up to ride our brevets as well as riders from out of state. The Houston Randonneurs also have a pretty full schedule this year, so if you live in Houston, there's plenty of opportunity right there. I'd certainly contact the RBA down there. I know they'd love to have you ride with them.

  14. #14
    ... thelung's Avatar
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    consider spellcheck

  15. #15
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spokenword View Post
    I agree that any randonneur should be accustomed to spending a lot of hours riding solo, but if you ride with a relatively large club, you might find that there's a decent spread of folks who might cross your path from time to time. It makes the hours on the road pass a little faster, but part of what I like about randonneuring is that there's no social commitment. If I feel like chatting, I'll slow down until someone catches up. If I feel antisocial or quiet, there's no hard feelings.
    In my part of the world, you are pretty much guaranteed to ride solo for some, if not all, of the ride.


    To the OP ... definitely work on your hill climbing skills. Brevet designers love the hills! We're actually encouraged to put as many hills as possible into our brevets.

    Also, if I'm not mistaken, all randonneuring clubs require you to be a member. It's for insurance reasons, unfortunately. Sending riders out for 200+ kms is a little bit of an insurance risk. And therefore, Randonneuring costs can start to add up if you really get involved in it. Nevertheless, I would encourage you to consider doing the next brevet that comes your way. If there is nothing in the immediate future, I would encourage you to start increasing your mileage on the weekends (or whenever you have time) so that you can work on things like bicycle fit, nutrition, and comfort likes and dislikes (i.e. does you bag sway in such a way that annoys you, does the jersey you've chosen chafe after 50 miles, etc.)

  16. #16
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    Also, if I'm not mistaken, all randonneuring clubs require you to be a member. It's for insurance reasons, unfortunately.
    Liability might be treated differently in Canada, but membership in a club is not required to ride a brevet in New England. You just need to sign a waiver saying that you are on your own ride and responsible for your own fate. You do need to be a club member to have your miles count towards any awards or towards event qualification (and it's generally a good idea to sign up and get the newsletter and handbook, which has some great tips) but if one is casually considering riding a brevet next weekend, they shouldn't let non-membership dissuade them.

  17. #17
    Lone Star Tex_Arcana's Avatar
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    Yeah, my spelling is bad, especially when I spend all morning doing bike repairs and manage to get in a couple of minutes for BF before commuting to work.

    Anyway, the first page of the website for Houston Randonneurs http://www.houstonrandonneurs.org/
    states "Membership is required to participate in our brevets.". That isn't a big deal breaker really. I guess I'll just have to bite down on the bullet. Get in my club fees (both HR and RUSA) and get my bike and body fixed up for a long ride.

    Thanks for the encouragement everyone.

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