Clubs are not something I can really get behind. I’m not a fan of exclusive groups, and I don’t like organizations that push an in-or-out agenda, or that make up superfluous hierarchies about who gets access to what.
It’s mostly that sort of thinking that, despite how awesome the rides have been, has made me recently feel kind of tepid about randonneuring in Portland. On the one hand, if you’ve followed this blog at all, you know how much I’ve enjoyed the rides themselves. The routes, which tend toward the quiet country roads, are amazing; the distances are finally a challenge; the people I’ve met, probably more crazy about biking than I am, have been awesome. I’ve been extremely psyched about everything I’ve done with the Oregon Randonneurs.
On the other hand, from the outset I’ve found the structure of it sort of ridiculous. As a non-RUSA (Randonneurs USA) member, I can pay for and ride brevets–but my results aren’t posted anywhere, and I can’t ride permanents? I can’t ride certain longer routes because I don’t have a history of credit for the other, shorter routes? What point do these rules have other than to exclude, perhaps to keep something sacred by keeping people out?
Even though it’s not a ton of money, I’ve resisted buying my way into a RUSA membership because I feel like I shouldn’t have to pay to take long bike rides or to be part of a community. I don’t care about being able to buy special RUSA merchandise and I don’t need another magazine to come to my door. Despite the fun of riding with others and the secret-mission feel of controls, I don’t feel the extrinsic need for brevet credit to motivate me to get up and ride. What I really want to do is take long and awesome bike rides, and I will do that whether or not other people are doing it with me.
I know I could just pay the fee and get over it, but, again, I just want to ride my bike. I don’t get excited about being part of a club or about arbitrary randonneuring rules or tracking my results or my times or my completions of different rides. It’s one thing if the membership fee is used for advocacy or something that helps keep roads open and safe for cyclists–then I would see some merit–but as far as I can tell there isn’t really an altruistic element to it. If I’m wrong, please let me know so I can re-evaluate.
So I don’t know. I’m not necessarily anti-randonneuring, but I’m grumpy about it right now. I love biking community, and I want that community to be inclusive.
Anyone want to go for a ride?:)