Versatility: It’s what I like in my bikes. And the Bantam Rambleneur was designed to be my most versatile bike ever. Load it up with a bunch o’ stuff? Sure. Strip it down? No problem.
I got the Nitto Mark’s Rack installed on the front of the Bantam last month. One configuration with the rack is the Wald basket (with or without a barrel handlebar bag) popularized by Rivendell. I had that on both my Raleigh Crested Butte and my Bridgestone XO-3. But a small front rack is also perfect for a randonneur styled handlebar bag.
And you might not remember this, but I DO have a rando bag! It was built by North St Bags as a custom one-off project. I used it on my Surly Long Haul Trucker from when I got it in the spring of 2012 until I sold the Trucker in late 2013. Since then, I haven’t had a bike set up to take the bag, so it’s been sitting in the corner since then. Surprisingly, it’s managed to survive all my various bike purges over the past two years! Even though I have come to like the front basket/barrel bag approach, I knew at some point that I might use the rando bag again.
So this week I had a decaleur receiver installed to the Bantam, so I can use the bag. It fits the bike well! I haven’t had much chance to use it, but it looks good on the bike, especially since for now I’ve taken the Carradice Camper Longflap bag off the bag and replaced it with a Treetop saddle wedge bag. All stripped down and sporty, and ready for something like a randonneuring ride!
Speaking of which, there is a 100 km populaire rando ride going on this Saturday.* I signed up for it and have the day off. I’ve been meaning to go on a randonneuring ride for awhile, since I haven’t been on one in three years. It’s funny, at one time I thought I was going to really get into randonneuring, but that hasn’t happened for a number of reasons. Rather than give up totally, I’ve promised myself to give it one last shot.
Of course, as the weekend approaches I’m having second thoughts. For one, the weather is supposed to be miserable, and I don’t relish riding 60 miles in all-day rain. And there’s only 14 riders signed up as of now. Fourteen! For a populaire! I’ve been seeing photos of last weekend’s Seattle Randonneurs populaire, and there were A LOT more people than 14. I know, the amount of people shouldn’t matter, but Oregon Randonneurs events aren’t as popular as they should be. Or could be.
But mostly I’m worried that I can’t do it. I haven’t done any real distance riding lately. I know that I can ride a metric century, but it’s been eons since I’ve done it in a specified timeframe.
And honestly, I don’t know if I’m really into this whole randonneuring thing after all. Five years ago, I thought I would get into it more. Five years ago I had just come off a four month bike tour, so I was in better shape. Also, five years ago, I had more friends randonneuring. Now they’ve either moved on to other things, burnt out by the local rando “scene” or moved to better rando scenes like Seattle. And that whole camaraderie thing I get from other bike events isn’t there. You might say hello to a fellow rider at the start and during the ride, but when you get to the end, you encounter a mostly empty parking lot with no one around to hang out with, just an event volunteer eager to collect your brevet card so that they can go home.
But then I look back at the report I did for the last time I did this particular 100 km ride (Rickey’s Populaire) from three years ago, I see that I had fun. Also, the weather report was equally bad, but the weather held off for the most part. Seeing the photos from it makes me want to go out again, if nothing to explore the areas of Washington County I rarely tread.
I don’t know if I’ll do more randonneuring rides after this one, but at least I’ll give it one more try.
*Of course, the Dalles Mountain 60, our first big “gravel grinding” event is also happening Saturday, and that’s something I’ve always wanted to do. But I think for my current fitness level, it’d be a bit too much. Maybe later in spring when I’ve done more riding.
I suspect that your in better condition than you think! Have fun!
Shawn, you bring up some points about randonneuring that resonate with me. I really WANT to like the sport, but if I’m honest with myself I’m more in love with the spirit and philosophy of long rides. There’s a tiny bit of “exclusivity” that abounds with some brevet riders I know. I’m not much of a “club joiner” to begin with, and prefer to tackle the roads on my own terms. Go fast today? OK. Tomorrow I’ll meander. Challenging myself may be part of the appeal, but only a small part. I’m much more interested in the cyclo-touring aspect, which as I understand it was an original founding principle of randonneuring.
Yeah, I hear what you are saying. I know that randonneuring is not racing, but a lot of the hardcore are definitely more “racy”/roadie than I care to be around. I do like the challenging myself aspect of it, so I see the appeal. But if I’m doing a group event, I do like having more of a social interaction, which randonneuring (at least Oregon Randonneurs) don’t have much of. Maybe I should just start tackling the routes on my own? Of course, I always say that, but never get around to it. At least an event pushes me to do the ride.
Agree with your comments about Randos, the camaraderie thing. I’m also wondering if the lack of participants is due to lack of promotion. I’m subscribed via email and didn’t know about this ride and their FB page doesn’t seem to have it. Also, the OR Rando website seems to be hosed this morning. Curious as to how you found out about it?
Hey Norm, I knew about it because I’ve done Rickey’s Populaire before and know that it’s the spring 100km that always happens in March. So I kept on checking the OR Rando webpage until the registration info got posted a few weeks ago.
But yeah, Oregon Randonneurs is very bad at promoting things. It’s basically you just have to “know” when things go on, as I said above. Yeah, they do put their schedule up on the website, but they don’t even use the email list much to promote future rides. At best, you’ll get an email two days before an event to warn you registration closes at midnight.
And honestly, I don’t think that OR Rando cares much about getting the word out or getting new people involved. I had a couple friends who are younger than me who were trying to engage the community and get more new (and young) folks to participate. They basically hit their heads against the wall, so to speak.
And the spring populaire should be the time to introduce new folks to the concept of randonneuring, so a good promotion effort should be involved. Instead, we’re looking at 14 participants, all but two of them have RUSA (Randonneuring USA) membership numbers, meaning no new folks. (I’m one of the ones that doesn’t have a RUSA number.) Compare that to, say, Seattle Randonneurs (SIR). Their spring populaire got quite a bit of people. And unlike our populaires with no real services, they feed participants and have manned control points! I know if I was new to randonneuring and started it with Rickey’s Populaire, well, I might not be back.
This is a big reason why I’ve been ambivalent with randonneuring events here. I’ve thought about taking a “mini-vacation” and head up to Seattle to do a brevet up there. Of course, I work all weekends, so that’s easier said than done.
Yes, yes, yes. Everything you say.
I also really want to like randonneuring (and gave it a really good go for two years, including, as you say, trying to make some changes that might get more people involved–like updating the fricken website, or doing outreach) but I find that I’m just kind of over it. Like azorch, I love the spirit of long rides but the structure of randonneuring sort of rankles my soul when you don’t get camraderie, team-ness, or anything social or friendly to go with it.
It would be nice to organize or go on some longer non-rando rides. The two issues with that for me is: when I DO go on those rides, I always feel like a slowpoke. And my work schedule means a lack of free weekends, which is when this stuff usually happens.
I guess what I mean to say is, I don’t need a rando route to take a long ride. If I’m going to take a long ride with rules like a rando ride, I’d like to also get something other than the long ride out of it, since the long ride without rules is more fun
Man, now I’m really on the fence about Saturday. We’ll see how I feel in the coming days.
You should do it, just to see. We might all just be grumpy about it. heh. I’d totally go with you if I didn’t have to work:)
Well, let’s see how the weather is. Right now they predict a half inch of rain on Saturday…
Good luck with your ride if you go. Won’t hold it against you if you don’t. Long rides in bad weather with a modicum of training? Might have a low fun factor and a high misery factor. I never let the faster riders bum me out. If I could go their speed I would. I plan all my rides at the real world speeds I do manage. Trying to keep up with faster riders makes for a low fun factor high misery day. Again Good Luck.