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Randonneuring vs Bikepacking; Can they be the same thing?

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Randonneuring vs Bikepacking; Can they be the same thing?

Old 02-23-23, 12:35 AM
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Randonneuring vs Bikepacking; Can they be the same thing?

Last year I came back to randonneuring after a 2+ year hiatus from riding a bike. I only participated in one brevet which was only 200k. All the other rides were of the RUSA perm variety, one of which was a combined ride of a 913k perm coupled with a P2P 100k perm from my home. I think of these two rides together as a 1000k route which I rode as a bikepacking adventure. No motel stops. And it was one big loop (not a cloverleaf or O&B). I know the long brevets RUSA put on usually have motel stops embedded in them. But seems to me like these days most of the RUSA event organizers are not building the motel fees into the entry fee. I'm wondering how many participants of the long brevets are opting (or considering to opt) to ride the events as bikepacking adventures instead of rides from motel to motel. I know I probably will never do another 1000k or 1200k paying for motel rooms since my long ride last year worked out so well for me.
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Old 02-23-23, 06:38 AM
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I am not sure if I understand the question but will spout off my thoughts.

Bikepacking to me is carrying your stuff on a multiday trip on some sort of bike with the ability to sleep outdoors and ability to do some off road riding like gravel but not necessarily hardcore mountain bike terrain. A 1000-1200 usually requires sleep somewhere. So, I could use my bikepacking setup to complete a 1000km loop and earn the brevet finish. My bikepack is some sort of combination of large seatbag, medium framebag, handlebar bag, or my latest is a Tailfin. Tent is very small and light as is sleeping bag but in dry areas, it would be a bivvy bag.

As to motels being included or not in 1000-1200k grand randonnees, I think that is clearly the trend in the USA. There are pluses and minuses of forced stops everyday. These motels and all the fancy support seems like a new thing. I don't see the trend away from it, if anything, I see more and more support during randonneuring and therefore, it is really quite different in philosophy from bikepacking although there is clearly overlap. I am sure my babbling did not answer the question
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Old 02-23-23, 07:33 AM
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The availability of camping/wild camping locations varies a lot across the US -- some places that wouldn't work at all. And it can get really hard to find 24-hour stores in some areas, so trying to set up a 1000k/1200k where there are services available at the times riders will be going through if they're not all stopping for the night in the same places can be a pain. With "official" sleep stops, it's at least a lot easier to tell riders who don't stop that they might have 200k without a single open store in front of them, and that they'd better be darn sure about heading out.

I think the not-including motels in the fees is more because prices have skyrocketed in some areas, plus with COVID people are making different choices about sharing rooms with a random stranger or not. So there are still official stops in a location with a motel, and perhaps even a room discount block, but people make their own choices about lodging. There's also been a big boom in cloverleaf rides, which are much easier to organize (maybe less exciting than a big loop but other groups are still doing big loops - the cloverleafs seem to just be increasing the number of events available, which I think is great.)
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Old 02-23-23, 09:58 AM
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One bad thing about riding grand brevets in the U.S. is the impossibility of finding a place to sleep by the side of the road where you won't be bothered. Especially during the day. I did manage to sleep behind an ice machine at a closed convenience store once. It has a lot to recommend it, warmth and the droning noise of the refrigeration unit as well as a certain amount of camouflage. I was surprised I wasn't discovered. In a lot of rural places in central PA, there aren't bored local police anymore. But the locals don't generally appreciate people sleeping on park benches, so that's a downside. In 60 miles of riding near my house, there are houses everywhere. This is also true of the state forest, there are lots of cabins that are privately owned. I can't say I think that is a good thing. And it makes bikepacking difficult.
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Old 02-23-23, 10:55 AM
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I think there can be some overlap, and it's definitely possible to bikepack a brevet, instead of staying in a hotel one can camp, and ride solo if that's part of one's personal bikepacking ethos.

I don't really like camping so bikepacking has never really appealed to me very much, I just end up doing credit card touring to motels I book ahead of time. I'd rather ride more than spend time setting up and striking camp every day.

In Ontario we don't charge a ride fee, just a membership fee for the year. The few exceptions are for things like the Granite Anvil 1200k, which includes hotels during the ride. Most 600k brevets are just DIY affairs that require riders book their own accommodations if they want to, and ride with all the stuff they want. We've even run a few 1000k like that over the years. We're trying a few supported rides to see if there is interest in that kind of thing. Personally I hope we don't move away from the DIY model, but more supported rides can be great for helping riders into the longer distances. I see a fair amount of bikepacking bags used on brevets, but I can't recall anyone bringing camping gear on a brevet that I've ridden. Stealth camping in southern Ontario would take some planning, there's little crown land left, and most of the bush that remains is full of mosquitoes.

Tangentially, one thing I'm really not into is the whole bikepacking racing scene. Bikepacking races and their rules aren't randonneuring and can't be. I'd hate to see randonneuring become more like these races. Some have a fanatical devotion to their rules, but they change the rules all the time and apply them differently, to different riders. A lot of bikepacking races don't permit drafting at all, except if you register as a pair then it's okay. No booking motels ahead of time. Seems like some don't even include the route and you have to plan your own between certain mandatory stops/controls. Some races have mandatory 'parcours' that have to be ridden, then you're to plan your own route aside from those sections. But there's also races that restrict you from using certain roads... like the TCR made everyone use certain ferry crossings of the Danube, and one of them didn't run because the river was low... despite there being bridges over the river. These things aren't interesting to me at all; take something like three peaks bike race. Pay 235 euro for a spot tracker, having to follow all these rules, then have to plan your own route... and you can't even share a pint with a local without breaking the rules. You can't even buy a coke for another rider and share it, you'll get a penalty. scroll down to unique penalties. The whole debacle with Lael on the tour divide comes to mind, and it was egregious since Jay Petervary has a history of being a cheater, I was glad to see that Salsa stopped sponsoring him.
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Old 02-23-23, 11:37 AM
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I have seen people speculating that people cheated on the TABR by having people book hotel rooms or booking ahead of time. I think that's taking it to an extreme. And the rules on tour divide about not having camera crews following you just seem ridiculous.

I don't know if the community would accept rando rules where you can have outside support at certain places. The promoters all seem to be purists. Gravel racing is more like rando rules, but they tend to have big support areas run by the promoters. But then people complain if you violate the spirit of the sport. A sport that has been around for a few years.
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Old 02-23-23, 01:53 PM
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"The spirit of gravel" cracks me up too, like the rider that didn't stop at an aid station in a big race because had a camelbak was breaking the spirit of gravel. In the big gravel races they're mostly still on roads, and with the big money involved now it's only natural road racing tactics and culture is gonna come into play. For those that aren't racing they're still big fondo rides that are chill and lots of fun.

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Old 02-23-23, 02:54 PM
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Rando is a big tent; no pun intended.

Most randos find the distances to be sufficiently challenging without the extra weight of camping gear. I've done bike touring, and to me it's a completely different mindset than randonneuring. I don't feel like bikepackers, or cyclotourists, are operating in a mindset dominated by the clock and constrained by rules.


Bottom line, if you finish in the allotted time and enjoy it, go with it. I don't think a lot of people are going combine the two.
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Old 02-24-23, 02:11 AM
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GhostRider62 said: I am sure my babbling did not answer the question.
No. Your response was wonderful. When I did my multi-day in NJ last fall I went a little lighter than you probably would have. Certainly no tent. I did not even bother with a bivvy bag. I used a small backpack in which I put a very lightweight hiker's folding chair. That way I can easily get a 2-3 hour rest of the ground in a cemetary, chuch porch, some sort of park, or even one very early morning on somebody's front lawn. Behind a closed gas station isn't too bad either. I ride a small bike frame, so a frame bag isn't an option. I agree with you that the trend in RUSA is for "support" rather than offering unsupported events. As a result, riding long perms seems to me to be closer to my idea of what randonneuring is all about. That's why I really was posing the question regarding perms rather than RUSA events. It's a bit of a hassle to get long perms approved. It overworks Crista. But there are longer perm routes being approved these days. Nice!
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Old 02-24-23, 02:27 AM
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Antimonysarah said: I think the not-including motels in the fees is more because prices have skyrocketed in some areas.
Yes. I think that is part of it. Higher motel fees being added into an event budget certainly imposes a larger BURDEN on the organizer of any such event. I only mentioned the lack of motels in event budgets in my "question" because I like the fact that riders are not required to stay at a motel in order to complete such events. They can bikepack the event as though it was a long permanent route. Whenever I have done a 1000k or 1200k RUSA calendared event in the past I have always stayed at motels for the overnights. But after doing basically a 1000k RUSA perm without staying in motels (and having fun with it), I doubt I would want to pay for motels ever again unless I was doing the ride as a social thing and probably helping a newbie randonneur complete it or something.

The first 1000k RUSA calendared event I did was a cloverleaf design. And I thought it was a wonderful experience. And yes, they are a lot easier for an organizer to put on. I've found them much easier to design, too. Just pick a nice overnight location and then design a 400k route, and two 300k routes. Voila, you've got a 1000k route. Unfortunately, cloverleaf routes seem to feel more like training rides than actual long distance events. But what the heck.
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Old 02-24-23, 02:38 AM
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Unterhauen said: One bad thing about riding grand brevets in the U.S. is the impossibility of finding a place to sleep by the side of the road where you won't be bothered. Especially during the day.

It's certainly not IMPOSSIBLE. I've found that church lots, cemeteries, parks, gas stations, elementary schools, middle schools, and even people's front yards at 3:30 AM for a two hour nap, all work well. But I "camp" very light. I don't set up a tent. And I don't change clothes in order to sleep. I use a one point something pound folding chair so I can stay off the ground while I rest. I have found the ideal time for a 2-4 hours nap along a route is between 1 AM and 6 AM. Most people are asleep then. So they won't bother you. That's usually when I was sleeping in motels while doing grand brevets.
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Old 02-24-23, 02:51 AM
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Clasher said: I think there can be some overlap, and it's definitely possible to bikepack a brevet.

Thank you for your response. I've never done an ultra distance bike ride in Canada. And your response shed some light on how things are done there for "calendared rides." Randonneuring certainly has a competitive aspect to it. If nothing else, there is the time to complete the ride requirement. But PBP with its Charly Miller Society is another example. It appears to me that the DIY model is going away for calendared rides. But the way I see it if more longer perms in the US are added to the Perm Route Catalog, then there will always be DIY. Of course, you can leave the whole rando community and just ride ultra distance routes you design wherever and whenever you want.
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Old 02-24-23, 05:10 AM
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Getting in and out of motels always seems to take longer than it rightfully should. Maybe I lose 90 minutes showering/eating/fussing around.
Would a bivvy save me 60 of those minutes?
Am I better rested in a motel bed?
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Old 02-24-23, 07:52 AM
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Originally Posted by jlippinbike
GhostRider62 said: I am sure my babbling did not answer the question.
No. Your response was wonderful. When I did my multi-day in NJ last fall I went a little lighter than you probably would have. Certainly no tent. I did not even bother with a bivvy bag. I used a small backpack in which I put a very lightweight hiker's folding chair. That way I can easily get a 2-3 hour rest of the ground in a cemetary, chuch porch, some sort of park, or even one very early morning on somebody's front lawn. Behind a closed gas station isn't too bad either. I ride a small bike frame, so a frame bag isn't an option. I agree with you that the trend in RUSA is for "support" rather than offering unsupported events. As a result, riding long perms seems to me to be closer to my idea of what randonneuring is all about. That's why I really was posing the question regarding perms rather than RUSA events. It's a bit of a hassle to get long perms approved. It overworks Crista. But there are longer perm routes being approved these days. Nice!
I remember doing a 600k where the overnight was included in the fee but the oppressively hot and impressive snoring had me listening to the beckoning bike and I dressed and moved on. At the top of long climb with a bright full moon, I could not go further. It seemed the top of the pass was miles ahead. I lay down under a pine tree on the needles and slept for an hour or two, I have no idea. It turns out the top was only 200m up the road.

On the brevet the most I ever brought was an emergency bivvy and superlight down puffy top, neck gator, and wool hat. A tent implies touring for me. Although a bikepacking race could require a tent, but I'm not doing anything like that.

I thought I wrote this but guess I forgot. A cloverleaf has some merits, especially in flat areas on a fast bike. As a somewhat faster rider, I can get to the first night very early and do not feel like laying around for 12 hours. Continuing on and either bivvying or when motels were cheap, stopping at a motel for 4-6 hours and then coming back to the cloverleaf overnight where all you gear is nicely awaiting a change in clothes. In this way, a 1200k fits a 65-75 hour rider whereas a 400, 300, 300, 200 four day schedule can feel like touring lacking any real challenge.
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Old 02-24-23, 09:44 AM
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I don't think staying in a motel is inconsistent with bikepacking. I think of "bikepacking" as "carrying all the stuff you'll need, but making that so minimal that you don't use racks and panniers." Even if you expect to stay in motels, you might carry some kind of sleep setup as a backup, and a super-lightweight sleep setup could weigh less than 1 kg.

The local 1000K/1200K is run as a cloverleaf anchored at a motel, but staying at the motel is optional and not included in registration (I live close enough that it is feasible to stay at home). I did idly suggest to our RBA that it would be interesting to run a "get the hell out of Texas" brevet (we're pretty far from any neighboring state here). I could imagine that being bikepacking-style. It wouldn't be hard to find places to wild-camp here. Once you get away from the cities and suburbs, things are pretty sparse.
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Old 02-24-23, 09:57 AM
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I dream of doing Tour Divide. Not sure If I would do a tent even then, maybe a really good Bivvy, Thermarest, and 900 fill like my 20 oz Katabatic quilt when overstuffed is fine to 25F and survive into the teens. I read somewhere that Lael perfected a method of keeping here sleep setup all together and rolled it up like sushi roll. My Utralight tent, thermarest, and quilt take about 10 minutes to setup and weights almost 3 pounds if I bring the bug netting and 2.5 lbs without. I do have a 13 oz bag that I brought on Transam but it was too tight and 40F rating was very insufficient. NB.
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Old 02-25-23, 06:50 AM
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Originally Posted by downtube42
...
Most randos find the distances to be sufficiently challenging without the extra weight of camping gear. I've done bike touring, and to me it's a completely different mindset than randonneuring. I don't feel like bikepackers, or cyclotourists, are operating in a mindset dominated by the clock and constrained by rules....
... I don't think a lot of people are going combine the two.
I fully agree. My rando bike has higher gearing than my bike touring bikes that carry more weight (in panniers on racks) up the hills. My touring bikes are heavier, have stronger frames and rims, etc. And I am not an ultra light weight bike tourist, my tent, cooking gear, etc., would really slow me down on a brevet. Not going to happen. My last bike tour was five weeks.
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