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Long Distance Competition/Ultracycling, Randonneuring and Endurance Cycling Do you enjoy centuries, double centuries, brevets, randonnees, and 24-hour time trials? Share ride reports, and exchange training, equipment, and nutrition information specific to long distance cycling. This isn't for tours, this is for endurance events cycling

View Poll Results: Where do you fit economically?
I'm rummaging the thrift stores and garbage for bike parts. 2 2.56%
I can only afford a low end bike and haunt ebay and sales incessantly. 6 7.69%
I can afford good parts and a medium to high end bike but I have to save for them. 38 48.72%
I have to save for high end bikes but anything under $200 is no problem. 18 23.08%
Money is not an issue with my bicycling pursuits. 14 17.95%
Voters: 78. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 03-07-08, 11:06 AM   #1
Paul L.
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Do you have to be well off?

Matchka's expensive 1200k thread has got me wondering (or actually reminded me of something I have been wondering lately). It seems the last few issues of the RUSA newsletter have been concentrating more on Boutique bikes and people who fly all over the place and do dozens of these rides a year. All this requires cash. Sometimes a lot of it. Do you have to be rich to be a Randonneur? Is it just a trend as of late or has it always been this way. Personally I do a lot of scrounging and even building my own equipment to save money. My brevet bike is my commuter bike so I can save gas, save money by only having one bike for everything and squeeze in any long weekend training where I can. I feel like I am the only one when I read the RUSA newsletter and I have to confess it kind of makes me feel like I am dropping off the back so to speak. So, barring the time issues thing, does one have to have a certain amount of recreational cash to participate in this sport? What is your situation?
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Old 03-07-08, 11:10 AM   #2
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yes.
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Old 03-07-08, 11:20 AM   #3
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I have fantasies of riding brevets, but these prices blow me out of the water. I have a young daughter who thinks she wants to ride them some day - maybe she will do better than I have.
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Old 03-07-08, 11:21 AM   #4
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It seems the last few issues of the RUSA newsletter have been concentrating more on Boutique bikes and people who fly all over the place and do dozens of these rides a year. All this requires cash. Sometimes a lot of it. Do you have to be rich to be a Randonneur?
If you finish a 200k within the rules, then you are a randonneur.

To finish a 200k, you only need a bike, a few tools for emergencies, some food, and a great deal of willpower.

It is easy to forget that.
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Old 03-07-08, 11:36 AM   #5
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If you finish a 200k within the rules, then you are a randonneur.

To finish a 200k, you only need a bike, a few tools for emergencies, some food, and a great deal of willpower.

It is easy to forget that.
Amen. Like in other aspects of life, resist the urge to keep up with the Jonses. Money doesn't hurt, but it's not going to get you across the finish line of any ride, no matter how long.

Entry fees for most of the brevets I've done have been in the $5-$10 range, with 600s being a bit more pricey ($30-40ish) depending on whether there's an overnight accomodation included in the price. Most RBAs I know will gladly swap a free entry for volunteering at an event. I think the "cost" to ride brevets comes more in the form of time and training than money.
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Old 03-07-08, 11:37 AM   #6
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It's all about what you want to do. Want to be a big-time national or international randonneur? Gonna cost money. I'm lucky and have a fine local group with lots of ACP brevets and a zillion Permanent routes. We can ride whatever bike we have locally and really pile up the miles, if that's what one wants. Which bike really doesn't matter, as one can see simply by reading the variety of opinions on this forum. My big bike expenses are tires, tubes, chains, and chainrings. Those expenses do go up with the miles. Probably something like $.03/mile. Add my local brevet fees and club memberships and it adds up to more like $.08/mile. So the fees and memberships really do increase the cost of randonneuring.

But I think the monthly sums are hardly prohibitive for anyone who has a job if they save up for the high mileage months.
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Old 03-07-08, 11:39 AM   #7
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I think that doing a lot of brevets requires a lot of sacrifices, mainly the time and effort to keep in shape and train but also money. Replacing stuff on your bike as it wears out or breaks gets expensive, even without flying to different rides. How much you sacrifice is completely up to you.
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Old 03-07-08, 12:24 PM   #8
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This issue has really come to the foreground as my wife and I discussed the logistics and expenses of me going up to PDX for brevets this year--it adds up. It has forced me to realize that I can do long rides, with friends, that aren't sanctioned brevets, but that are still randonnees in the broader sense of the word.
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Old 03-07-08, 12:26 PM   #9
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How much money you put into it depends ...

Here in Alberta, you can pay $50 and ride as many brevets (200K to 1000K) as you want in the year ... and we've got a lot of them on the schedule. You could be riding one each weekend. You might also need to pay for the fuel to get to the start of all those brevets because they are scattered all over the province, or if you want to concentrate on the ones in a particular area, you could do that too. And you would have to provide your own support (food, motel, etc.), but again the price for that could vary from a $5 on a 200K for some snacks to $100+ on a 1000K for food and a couple motels.

This year, because I am about to enter my 4th and final year of University and my funds are seriously depleted, I will pay my $50 and ride anywhere from 2 to 4 of the shorter brevets in my immediate area.

In order to ride those brevets all you need is a bicycle in decent working order ... preferably one that fits. It doesn't have to be a top of the line anything, it can be a garage-sale special.

So if that's what you want to do with Randonneuring, then the answer to the question is, "No, Randonneuring is not expensive, anyone can afford it."

However, if you aspire to do more, then the cost increases.

In the past I've had good jobs which have allowed me to get a relatively expensive bicycle (which I still have and use) and all sorts of gear, and have allowed me to travel around the world with my Randonneuring. Was I rich? No, far from it! According to statistics, I was probably lower middle to middle class. I just lived (and still live) very frugally, and spent my disposable income on cycling-related activities. In the past, in my first few years of Randonnuring, I spent anywhere between about $3000 and $10,000 a year on cycling equipment and cycling-related activities, which was affordable for me then.

As for the poll questions ... I'm not sure how to answer ...

A few years ago, when I bought Machak, I would have checked this one: "I have to save for high end bikes but anything under $200 is no problem" (or possibly even, "money is not an issue"), but now, I've got Machak, so I'm not in the market for another bicycle. However, if I were, it would be one from a garage sale or thrift shop.

Another point about the poll is this ... the bicycle is a necessary but minor concern when it comes to participating in Randonneuring events. The bigger expenses are things like fees, food, travel costs, etc.
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Old 03-07-08, 12:54 PM   #10
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I wanted to avoid yearly salaries as questions since different parts of the world have different incomes. I suppose I could have worded the questions better. An even better poll might see if there is a corellation between rando miles/kms per year and income. I'd be interested in that. I am hoping to get the RUSA 2000 award this year having regularly done the 1000 but with my spring brevet chances shot it will be a challenge and I am going to have to do a lot of permanents. Anything is possible with enough ingenuity I am mostly curious as to how many people out there are of the "scrounging and improvising tied to the local brevet offerings" type as opposed to the "my bike mechanic does everything and I have no problem with airfares and ride fees" types.
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Old 03-07-08, 02:02 PM   #11
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Excellent thread!

I could afford a much nicer bike than what I'll be riding Brevets on - for me, the main issues are time & space (4 bikes take up lots of space in an apartment!). And lucky for me, my significant other is OK with me riding lots on the weekends!

But even though I could afford to buy a "good" rando bike, and (sometimes) afford to fly all over the world for brevets, I like to (mostly) scrounge & save anyway. Meaning that I do my own repairs/buildups for the most part, as I'd like to be "off the grid" when it comes to me depending on the LBS for help.

As for big events like the PBP:

a) the cost of flying to europe is huge, especially from the west coast of the US
b) the environmental cost of flying to europe is huge! I think the emissions are in line with driving a car for one year (source).

In fact, I might not even do the PBP considering its far-off location, and go for a more local 1200 like the Cascade 1200 (even that starts about 50 miles north of seattle).

The main thing that i don't like about the "local" brevet scene is that it's not local at all. The "seattle" intl ranonneurs start their rides in every spot surrounding seattle you can imagine, up to100 miles away. I don't mind riding 20-30 miles to get to a (shorter) brevet, but since i don't own a car (by choice) i'm either limited to local brevets or carpooling.. and I don't like attaching my transportation vehicle to another one to get somewhere! I'm trying to avoid bad emissions in case you can't tell. =]

I think that at least a few of the SF rando rides start at the Golden Gate bridge, and I wish Seattle's rando scene could do something similar. As it is, the ride organizers choose their own backyard (literally sometimes). (To be fair, I live in Seattle, but it's at least a central location, not to mention the friggin namesake of our group!).

Also, one can definitely argue that the randonneur "style" (boutique bikes, honjo fenders, wool stuff, schmidt dynohub/lights, carradice bags, you know what i mean) certainly favors those in higher tax brackets. (Of course you don't need any of that to be a rando, but tell that to 90% of the randonneurs I ride with). So newcomers see all the french boutique or rivendell bikes, and probably get turned off because they think they don't have the "right" gear.

Cycling is already a prohibitive sport (compared to something like soccer), and all the gear required for randonneurring doesn't help. Kudos to those that still do it, even on limited budgets!
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Old 03-07-08, 02:02 PM   #12
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Here in northern California you can ride the Davis Bike Club brevet series which starts this weekend for $25 to $45 per event ($200K-600K). That is obviously quite affordable. This is one of those things where you may get lucky based on where you live.

If you have to travel very far, even cheap events could get pricey unless you can treat them as a vacation. A weird, exhausting vacation.
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Old 03-07-08, 02:46 PM   #13
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If you finish a 200k within the rules, then you are a randonneur.

to finish a 200k, you only need a bike, a few tools for emergencies, some food, and a great deal of willpower.

it is easy to forget that.
and if you are lucky to live in the boston area and can ride to the start - it is even easier.


i struggled with this last year - i'm 3-4 hours from both NE brevet series - add in ride time and drive time - and events get $$ in both money and time.

i'm certainly hoping to get some permanents on the books up here, and there is budding interest in town and nearby for this type of riding - so hopefully we'll have our own series. if the rides are local i totally agree with your statements above. if they require travel - then it can be a logistics trick to make it all happen.

my first brevet season was '06 - i was single, living in s. vt. and working in boston nearly twice a month. (i was also only 2 hours from the boston start line, and 1 hour from westfield) logistically i would set up work appointments for thursday or friday, bill my hotel and travel time - and then stay the extra days on my own dime and time to complete the events. this worked great - and with some juggling i thought i would do it again in '07 - but then you meet a girl, move to the big city (burlington), and 8 hours of driving to ride in a great series (the BBS) seems like a stretch - add hotel, $$, etc... and it became unmotivating. i focused on the century a month for most of '07 and felt mildly satisfied.

for '08 and beyond i'm thinking about how to juggle this, especially for a 1200k. hopefully bmb will come back - it was nice seeing riders head right through town and right past my office in '06. i'd like to make that ride happen as it crosses landscapes that are right in my backyard.
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Old 03-07-08, 03:33 PM   #14
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Here in northern California you can ride the Davis Bike Club brevet series which starts this weekend for $25 to $45 per event ($200K-600K). That is obviously quite affordable. This is one of those things where you may get lucky based on where you live.
$25 to $45 per event?? That's expensive! Hopefully that price includes support!

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If you have to travel very far, even cheap events could get pricey unless you can treat them as a vacation. A weird, exhausting vacation.
Have you had a look at my website? Almost all my vacations since 2002 have included a 1200K brevet and some have also included a 24-hour race as well. They can be a bit exhausting, but I find them quite enjoyable. I can hardly imagine travelling without my bicycle now.

After all ... what else would a person do with a vacation besides cycle long distances???

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Old 03-07-08, 04:10 PM   #15
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After all ... what else would a person do with a vacation besides cycle long distances???
Hike long distances? Much cheaper than cycling, once you have the gear. Knees and back have to be decent.
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Old 03-07-08, 04:33 PM   #16
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Doing doubles has gotten expensive, enter is $70-$80. Where I live there is no doubles close so I need to travel. Motel 2 nights, GAS, food and it quickly becomes an expensive weekend. With everything included itís easy to drop $300-$400 for a double. When I do the triple it costs me more, gas and food for the sag. Oh Iíve got an idea, ride my bike to the event and Iíll get my double in.
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Old 03-07-08, 04:45 PM   #17
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$25 to $45 per event?? That's expensive! Hopefully that price includes support!

I believe Davis has good support on all their brevets.

San Francisco and Santa Rosa 200-300k brevet are $20 each.
Santa Cruz 200-300k are $15-$20 respectively.

It is nice though to have 4 sets of brevets all less than 150 miles from each other, of which I live in the center.

What gets me is that all of the NoCal permanents are $15!

Regardless, I do have disposable income so the costs won't affect whether I do a perm, brevet or not. However, I am riding a bike I purchased in 1990 and will continue to do so until I really know what bike and accessories I want. And hope to go with a non custom frame, for example Gunnar Sport, and make that bike last me another 20 years.

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Old 03-07-08, 04:58 PM   #18
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$25 to $45 per event?? That's expensive! Hopefully that price includes support!



Have you had a look at my website? Almost all my vacations since 2002 have included a 1200K brevet and some have also included a 24-hour race as well. They can be a bit exhausting, but I find them quite enjoyable. I can hardly imagine travelling without my bicycle now.

After all ... what else would a person do with a vacation besides cycle long distances???


The Davis brevets do include support and you get a $5 discount if you belong to the Davis club. For those of you who like to travel, their website says they will also put on the Gold Rush 1200K in 2009.
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Old 03-07-08, 05:18 PM   #19
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I joined our local randonneuring group last year because I was unemployed. I really wanted to go touring but didn't have enough money to afford it, so I figured that doing brevets were my cheapo way of sightseeing. The membership fee was $50 for the season, I didn't really buy any new equipment for my bike I already had, and generally got a ride with another club member (or took a GO train about $10 round trip) to the start points. Fuel (on 200k brevets) was generally gatorade plus Tim Hortons (fast food). I finished a couple 200's and tried two 300's unsuccessfully, so didn't have to contend with overnight issues on the 600k - but often club members split rooms 4 ways so its not too much.
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Old 03-07-08, 05:20 PM   #20
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For those of you who like to travel, their website says they will also put on the Gold Rush 1200K in 2009.
Until I hear word of vast improvements being made to that event, I'll pass ... it's not worth the all-inclusive price.
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Old 03-07-08, 05:38 PM   #21
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Machka,

Can you elaborate on the Gold Rush issues. I am kicking around the idea of trying it next year, as the ride is in my backyard.

--SharpT

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Old 03-07-08, 06:10 PM   #22
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I'm a cashier at a health/natural food store, technically I'm under the poverty line but I scrimp and save all my money for cycling. I don't have a wife or children, a car, or (other) expensive bad habits. I usually cycle alone but this year I think I'm going join the local randonneuring club which is 40$. I like high-end cycling gear but randonneuring can cost a lot more if you don't shop around and attend a lot of expensive events.
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Old 03-07-08, 07:01 PM   #23
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Machka,

Can you elaborate on the Gold Rush issues. I am kicking around the idea of trying it next year, as the ride is in my backyard.

--SharpT
Faster riders may have a different perspective, but from the back of the pack it looked like a scene out of Oliver ... "Please sir, may I have some more?" ... "MORE???" I believe I paid about $400 Canadian for an all-inclusive ride and was told I would not have to spend a cent on anything along the way.

We set off about 6 pm, and rode a few hours, then stopped at a convenience store because we all wanted to use the toilet. I bought a packet of salted almonds there. Then we continued to the first control and arrived there quite late at night. I was very glad I had the salted almonds (and the few energy bar I had brought with me) because all they had at the control was a small plate of apple slices and a large plate of peanut butter sandwiches, all nicely made up. Well, I can't eat peanut butter ... I get sick. So I asked them if there were some bread and jam or something and they told me that they had used it all making the sandwiches because ALL cyclists love peanut butter sandwiches. Great. So I ate my salted almonds and several apple slices and continued.

About 6 am, we rolled into the next control. I was on the brink of starvation by this point. My energy bars were gone and the fuel from those apple slices and little packet of salted almonds was long gone. At this control I was given a tiny bowl of those cheap oriental noodles. I devoured it, and returned to the kitchen for some more ... and was given about a tablespoon more very reluctantly. My other option was some dried out bread, which didn't appeal to me, and the crumbs from the bottom of a large bowl which contained potato chips. I ate those.

An hour or two later, we were all (I was riding with a group of me and 3 guys) still very hungry so we stopped at a little place by the side of the road and had large sandwiches. Those were great! I definitely wouldn't have made it as far as I did without that sandwich! But we had to pay for it out of our own pockets.

At the next control, we rolled in between lunch and supper. We were informed that they had just cleared away the lunch food and wouldn't get around to making supper for a few hours yet. We complained and so they finally asked us what we would like, and they would try to get it from the store. We all wanted pasta. Plain pasta. The head lady walked away muttering, "The things these cyclists want to eat. Plain pasta? How odd!" Odd?? It's odd that cyclists would want pasta???

Nevertheless, some time later they finally produced plain pasta, but we were at that control for about 2 hours waiting for it.

I ended up stopping at the next control and staying there a while, and ended up having to prompt the people working there to always have food out for the cyclists ... they'd put everything away after every "meal" and have nothing on the table for cyclists who arrived in between "meals" ... and that it didn't matter what it was, they didn't have to serve breakfast in the morning, lunch at noon, and supper at night ... they could serve plain pasta 24 hours a day. That seemed like a very novel and odd idea to them.

Aside from the food, they provided us with outdated instructions. I came into the town were I stopped and was standing there staring at street signs, my map, and my cue sheet and couldn't make head nor tails of it. Finally someone pulled up and asked me if I needed help. The person looked at my information, and told me it was at least 4 years old and that they had redone all the streets in that area ages ago. Great. Nice to have that information.

And ... there was the guy they lost. He was sort of riding in my vicinity and I could see he was struggling. But at the pasta control, they let him go even though he could barely stand upright and it was getting dark. He ended up collapsing on the side of the road and some campers found him and gave him a blanket. Meanwhile, his wife called the control I was at asking about him because he hadn't checked in with her at all. They told her not to worry, he was there at the control ..... and they didn't even check the list, or the sleeping room, or send a sweep vehicle out to look. The guy could have died or been very sick by the side of the road and no one would have known. It wasn't till morning that they bothered to send anyone to look for him.

It was just NOT a well organized event.
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Old 03-07-08, 07:29 PM   #24
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Machka,

Thanks for that report. I'd encourage you to post it on your website. Under Goldrush it says... Stay tuned for the experiences, at the moment.

Ironically, on the Gold Rush site for food at controls states:

We understand the need to supply 500-700 calories per hour on this event.
Homemade soups.
Noodles/Pasta/Potatoes freshly cooked
Energy bars and snacks for jersey pockets
Hot foods and liquids at night, because it could be 50F degrees
Plenty of fluids and electrolytes in the day, because it will be 90F degrees

--
SharpT
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Old 03-07-08, 07:43 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by SharpT View Post
Machka,

Thanks for that report. I'd encourage you to post it on your website. Under Goldrush it says... Stay tuned for the experiences, at the moment.

Ironically, on the Gold Rush site for food at controls states:

We understand the need to supply 500-700 calories per hour on this event.
Homemade soups.
Noodles/Pasta/Potatoes freshly cooked
Energy bars and snacks for jersey pockets
Hot foods and liquids at night, because it could be 50F degrees
Plenty of fluids and electrolytes in the day, because it will be 90F degrees

--
SharpT
From what I understand, later in the ride the food and service did improve ... but something like 30% of us couldn't make it to that point. We didn't have the strength to continue.

Part of the problem was that the organizers rounded up volunteers from local cycling clubs and let them decide what they would feed the riders with only some very basic guidelines.

The group of volunteers at the control where I DNF'd (and remained for a little over 24 hours, observing) were part of a cycling club, but half of them were the wives or mothers or whatever, and they didn't ride bicycles, and the other half were casual, recreational riders. None had even done a century. So they had no idea what long distance cyclists might want ... and had no idea that for cyclists on a randonnee, time of day means nothing. We'll eat breakfast foods at 10 pm, or lunch foods at 7 am, or heaps of pasta most of the day. These arbitrary designations of "breakfast should be served between 6 am and 10 am" are meaningless to a randonneur. They also had no idea that long distance cyclists prefer large quantities of bland food and kept serving small quanitities of more expensive highly flavored food.

And ... there were no energy bars for us to carry. There were packets of Hammergel and Sustained Energy, but I'm not about to try Sustained Energy (which I had not tried before) on a 1200K brevet.

And the control I spent the 24+ hours at did not have ANY hot liquids either night I was there, or any other sort of hot food. During the night they had a few light snacks, and that was it. I asked them to make coffee because riders were coming to me asking for it, but they told me, "Oh no, we can't do that, it's night and people need to sleep."

The Gold Rush could have knocked their expenses way back if they just provided potatoes, rice, and plain pasta.

Yeah, I should update my website with that info ... I hope to get around to doing a bunch of updates this summer. I also need to add my BMB story, such as it is.
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