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  1. #1
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    Recumbents for randonneuring anyone?

    I'm building a Bacchetta Giro 20 for commuting, and touring, however I've long entertained the possibility of riding some brevets or permanents. I've given up on DF bikes for the time being due to some persistent fit issues that I can't seem to overcome but which are greatly lessened by the riding position of a 'bent. The few centuries I rode last year were kinda fun, but towards the end (only four centuries), I kinda became disenchanted with long distance cycling. I think a lot of my issue was comfort problems that became apparent after about 70 miles or so. I'm hoping the 'bent will make time on the road easier for long distance. A brief search of the long distance bike photo thread shows very little evidence of folks riding recumbents for randonneuring. So, I'm curious as to whether there are any folks on this forum who do all of their long distance rides on a 'bent.
    My blog: http://aconservationist.blogspot.com

  2. #2
    Senior Member Steamer's Avatar
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    Oh, were out there, and in here too, but there are better places to specifically discuss the use of 'bents for LD. In here I try to not use the R word very much.

    I never was interested in LD till I started riding a recumbent. The 'bent made rides beyond 4 or 5 hours a lot easier and a lot more enjoyable. I am certain I would have never ridden longer than a century had I not discovered them.

    The Giro 20 is a good bike ( I used to have one), and certainly could be used for LD, but I would recommend that, given some time, you'll want to keep your eyes open to trying out a higher performing machine.

  3. #3
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    There are loads of people who ride brevets on recumbents - swbs, lwbs and trikes. I've done multiple 200k's on all 3. k7xxxx who posts here detailed his pursuit of an SR series and a 1200k randonnee on his Bacchetta - going from 0 miles on it to completing a 1200k in just a year I think.

    I ride only recumbents now - either a Giro 20 or a dual-650c Corsa. My own longest ride on either thus far is only 160 miles and the only issue is minor lower back (dis)comfort. I have a hardshell seat on my Corsa which may be curved just slightly wrong for my back. It's okay thru about 60 miles and then I begin to notice it's "there". I'm probably going to try to "shim" the lower back area with some thin and shaped foam (we're talking an area maybe 3 inches by maybe 5 inches and maybe 1/4 - 1/2" thick in the center tapering to a feathered edge. The question is where to find that.).

    THE #1 distinction between riding my Giro and my Corsa is the difference between the B-pivot and the stiffy riser. The Corsa's stiffy stem riser makes a huge difference in my bike handling & confidence knowing that the handlebars will not move away from me while riding. Maybe that's just me; maybe it's poor riding technique on my part; maybe it's just all in my head. (If I weren't so cheap, I'd probably shell out a few $ to replace the b-pivot on the Giro, but I AM cheap.)

    Probably the single most noticeable comfort difference between the two bikes for me is the headrest on the Corsa and lack thereof on the Giro. I could swap it back and forth, but I don't. When I rode the Giro 200k, I did mount it and I was much more relaxed for the entire ride.

    There is a noticeable difference in speeds between the Giro and the Corsa even on the flats (and I only ride in flat areas due to local geography). The Giro is slower, only a couple mph, but definitely slower. It's the same engine so I have to attribute the difference to the smaller front wheel, the heavier frame/weight and/or very slightly different gearing (though I ride by "feel" and cadence rather than knowing I am in x front gear and y rear gear). Another possibility is the difference in rolling resistance of the rubber on both bikes - stock rubber in both cases.

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    As I was searching through this forum and reading different topcis I too have noticed some predjucial attitudes regarding recumbents. I wonder if it's a prejudice of tradition that for some reason randonneuring should only take place on a DF bike. I think every organized century I've ridden has included at least one 'bent rider. I haven't ridden any brevets yet so I can't attest to whether our local rides have any 'bent riders or not.
    My blog: http://aconservationist.blogspot.com

  5. #5
    Senior Member downtube42's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kiltedcelt View Post
    As I was searching through this forum and reading different topcis I too have noticed some predjucial attitudes regarding recumbents. I wonder if it's a prejudice of tradition that for some reason randonneuring should only take place on a DF bike. I think every organized century I've ridden has included at least one 'bent rider. I haven't ridden any brevets yet so I can't attest to whether our local rides have any 'bent riders or not.
    I've found randonneurs about the most welcoming group. I switched to 'bent in around 2004, and rode my first brevet in 2010. SR in 2010, SR and PBP in 2011, R-12 and a 1000k in 2013. Most of my brevets have been in Kentucky and Ohio; in Kentucky I've never seen another 'bent, in Ohio I've seen a couple. Of course at PBP there were many.

    To ride a bent you do need a bit of tough skin, as some folks will have issues with your choice. But randonneurs... I dunno, as far as I've seen randonneurs are a different breed. Now headlights... some guys will get going about headlight choices.
    What is bicycle touring?
    "So I kept looking and eventually found that a spark plug had same threads. So I cycled next two days until I got to Jackson, MS with a spark plug instead of right pedal." - mev

  6. #6
    Senior Member Northwestrider's Avatar
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    IMO bents are a good choice, particularly if you have fit issues. I've a bent and DF, I like riding both.

  7. #7
    Uber Goober StephenH's Avatar
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    Here locally, two of our regular riders use recumbents, several riders currently doing 100k's do, several other former area riders have.
    Climbing speed and coasting-down-hill speed are different, so it's a little more of a problem to ride in a tight group (I mean in a mixed group of recumbents and uprights). That's also true of tandems.
    You often see recumbents portrayed as a bed-of-roses ride, but the local riders have their own issues, so a recumbent doesn't automatically solve everything.

    Something that's not obvious is that the style of bikes used for randonneuring vary regionally. In some parts of the country, fenders and big square handlebar bags seem to be the requirement, but here locally, nobody much uses them. But, that doesn't mean it won't work here or vice versa. So if your local club doesn't have any recumbents, no reason you can't be the first.
    All the handwringing I've ever seen on recumbents vs diamond frame bikes has been on the internet, and in the local club, in real life, nobody much cares what you ride.
    "be careful this rando stuff is addictive and dan's the 'pusher'."

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    Senior Member Steamer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by StephenH View Post
    All the handwringing I've ever seen on recumbents vs diamond frame bikes has been on the internet, and in the local club, in real life, nobody much cares what you ride.
    Yep, my experience as well. People will let stuff fly on the internet that they would never say to people in real life, face to face. Except for one guy, once, who said, with all seriousness, "that's not a bike, and RUSA shouldn't allow those." My response: (skeptically) "Uh huh."

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    Well, it's good to hear that some randonneuring groups have 'bents and are welcoming. I can't imagine that our local folks would be any different. Unfortunately, our local season gets going pretty quickly and finishes up pretty quickly, very early in Summer in fact. I may only be getting my 'bent legs when the season is already winding down. There are a few permanents around, but I think I may end up maybe trying to make one of the late season brevets for the heck of it and otherwise try to ride a few centuries here and there. I haven't put on any big miles since September of last year and no miles whatsoever for going on a month now. Heck, at this point I'm getting desperate enough to do some pedalling that a kid's tricycle is starting to look appealing.
    My blog: http://aconservationist.blogspot.com

  10. #10
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    Randonneuring has an early season, no doubt about that. That's why I was involved for 4 years before doing a fleche. Steamer has also complained about the fact that nothing interesting happens after early June, unless you want to ride a 1000k or 1200k. Perms are about it. I've grown to appreciate the winter activities, but simultaneously, I'm concerned with the issues of safety that creates.

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    Senior Member Steamer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kiltedcelt View Post
    Well, it's good to hear that some randonneuring groups have 'bents and are welcoming. I can't imagine that our local folks would be any different. Unfortunately, our local season gets going pretty quickly and finishes up pretty quickly, very early in Summer in fact. I may only be getting my 'bent legs when the season is already winding down. There are a few permanents around, but I think I may end up maybe trying to make one of the late season brevets for the heck of it and otherwise try to ride a few centuries here and there. I haven't put on any big miles since September of last year and no miles whatsoever for going on a month now. Heck, at this point I'm getting desperate enough to do some pedalling that a kid's tricycle is starting to look appealing.
    I would grant yourself most of the rest of this year to getting used to the recumbent. It does take some time to train your muscles to the new requirements - as you've already realized they work them differently enough that the fitness on one doesn't totally translate to the other. And there are a few new skills to learn too. Get those down pat and automatic before you start doing long distance. And there are some subtlties of setup and gear that you'll refine and get straight with time, too. A bit later in the year, if you feel up to a century or 200K you'll tackle it with confidence. One of the better ways to become discouraged with randonneuring is for the first 200K to be a significant struggle for one reason or another.

  12. #12
    Uber Goober StephenH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kiltedcelt View Post
    Well, it's good to hear that some randonneuring groups have 'bents and are welcoming. I can't imagine that our local folks would be any different. Unfortunately, our local season gets going pretty quickly and finishes up pretty quickly, very early in Summer in fact. I may only be getting my 'bent legs when the season is already winding down. There are a few permanents around, but I think I may end up maybe trying to make one of the late season brevets for the heck of it and otherwise try to ride a few centuries here and there. I haven't put on any big miles since September of last year and no miles whatsoever for going on a month now. Heck, at this point I'm getting desperate enough to do some pedalling that a kid's tricycle is starting to look appealing.
    I understand that back in the olden days, they intentionally tried to make rando routes at least as hilly as PBP. That's no longer the case, but still, there are a lot of rando routes that are hillier than the average route. So if you're just now working on "bent legs", you may be getting a double whammy with the hills and all, too. See how you're doing on the centuries, if all is well, try some 200k's, check climbing ahead of time to see if it's comparable to what you've been riding, allow extra time if need be.

    It's always permitted to load your bike in a car and drive 900 miles south where it's warmer, too. We had a couple of riders down from the Kansas City area a month or two ago, still wasn't "bicycle season" there, so they just planned a road trip to get a 200k in. If you're so inclined, you can come down at the end of a month, do a 200k, then the next day, do another 200k, and you've got two months worth of an R12 in one trip.
    "be careful this rando stuff is addictive and dan's the 'pusher'."

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    Steamer and StephenH - sounds like good advice all around. I do think it will take a while to get used to all the new quirks and such to do with the handling of the new ride. I guess it probably does make sense to build up to it with progressively longer rides and maybe shoot for requesting the time off for the various events early next year. I can build up over the next few months into maybe riding a few centuries before the year is out. By then I'm sure with commuting, longer day rides, and the occasional century, I'll have a better handle on what to expect for next years season.
    My blog: http://aconservationist.blogspot.com

  14. #14
    Senior Member skiffrun's Avatar
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    Just to add to the "no one cares what your ride" refrains --
    No one worth knowing cares what you ride.

    On occasion, we've had groups of fast bents (Bachettas (?)) come down from Ohio to do the NCBC 600, which is flat and fast for the middle 275-miles -- unless the wind is in the wrong direction.

    As the Great Lakes brevets are all up in hilly part of Wisconsin, those might not be the best location(s) for bents, but any new perm that starts SW of Chicago and heads west and south, bent-heaven (mostly). [I currently live in NC, and have done all my randonneuring in NC, but I am originally from NW Illinois, went to university in Urbana, and lived & worked 7-years in Chicago.]

    Then there is "Bentopia" -- also known as the Tidewater, Virginia Region. Half the randonneurs there ride bents. Most of their courses, brevets and perms, are mostly flat. Prior to Keith opening the Tidewater as a new region, those bents (& DF's) from the Tidewater did most of their brevets on the NCBC Raleigh Region courses. The 600 is flat; the 200, 300, and 400 courses are not. No mountains, no long, tedious climbs; just never ending rollers with never ending changes in the pitch; the bents did those just fine.

    However, note that in person, or sometimes on FB, we tease our friends on the bents. It is just banter and nothing devious is meant. All we really care about is your personality.
    Enjoy the ride.

  15. #15
    Senior Member downtube42's Avatar
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    There is absolutely no reason for me to like hills, or for that matter to ride hills. A 195 pound man riding a recumbent would be crazy to seek out hills. My house is just north of the Knobstone escarpment; from my driveway north is flats, starting a few miles south are the hills. For Randonneuring, there's the hills of eastern Kentucky or the relative flats of Ohio.

    So what do I do? The hills, they call me like sirens.

    Take a year to get your bent legs, then ride brevets and go attack the hills. If you want to ride with people, then work like a dog on the climbs and ride your brakes on the downhills. In rolling hills you can play... judge how far to fall back on the climbs so you'll just catch them at the beginning of the next climb.

    On the other hand if you want to ride solo, then hammer away up and down.
    What is bicycle touring?
    "So I kept looking and eventually found that a spark plug had same threads. So I cycled next two days until I got to Jackson, MS with a spark plug instead of right pedal." - mev

  16. #16
    Senior Member delcrossv's Avatar
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    I think it's a fine platform for LD- but I'm maybe a little biased. A number of people (myself included) like P-38's for LD- it's a good all rounder and climbs well. As long as you make the cutoffs, you don't need an ultrafast racer.

    That said, being naturally lazy, I've been thinking of using the M-racer this year. I'm doing some shorter (50-75 mi) runs on it now to see how it handles for something longer than a TT. I'll probably use it for a century in June, but with the dropped chain it corners like an Electra-Glide. The P-38 is a lot more maneuverable and it does LD hassle free-just slower.
    Last edited by delcrossv; 04-28-14 at 09:37 PM.
    Lightning P-38 / M5 M-Racer/Ryan Vanguard

  17. #17
    Senior Member Null66's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by downtube42 View Post
    I've found randonneurs about the most welcoming group. I switched to 'bent in around 2004, and rode my first brevet in 2010. SR in 2010, SR and PBP in 2011, R-12 and a 1000k in 2013. Most of my brevets have been in Kentucky and Ohio; in Kentucky I've never seen another 'bent, in Ohio I've seen a couple. Of course at PBP there were many.

    To ride a bent you do need a bit of tough skin, as some folks will have issues with your choice. But randonneurs... I dunno, as far as I've seen randonneurs are a different breed. Now headlights... some guys will get going about headlight choices.
    I tried my first 200k this spring. The people were marvelous! Friendly, welcoming, and rather interesting.

    A few times people slowed down and rode with me. One gentlemen was on a bent hung with me for quite a few miles. One guy stayed with me and kept up an interesting conversation about many things on the most challenging hills. I didn't even notice we were on the monster until we were a hundred yards from the top.

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