I just want to ride

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?:)


  1. Well, for permanents a large part of it is the insurance (and, I suspect, that there’s a segment of the RUSA membership that just doesn’t like the whole idea of permanents because they aren’t ACP qualifying events.) The restriction is still stupid because it’s trying to police the public highways (As a permanent owner my view is that if I don’t issue a brevet card, you’re not riding the permanent even if you ride along the exact same course at the exact same time) but RUSA does enjoy the feeling of being an impenetrable
    French bureaucracy.

    That said, I have many longish routes (some of them go up into the mountains, even, though not down the other side) that I’d be happy to ride with you. Just say the word and I’ll do it :-)

    • heh. The thing that’s keeping me from doing looooong rides right now isn’t really lack of riding buddies so much as it is schedule, since I have very few totally free days in the summer–maybe a not-quite-as-long evening ride is in order sometime. I’ll email/call you:)

      I’m actually a little sad I posted this, because I wrote it while I was grumpy and I generally try not to post things that I write while grumpy. Not only because the minute after I write them I cease to be grumpy, but also because I’m really not against clubs per se, I just don’t personally like to pay into them. And randonneuring has been awesome to me, but this post sort of feels like I’m breaking up with it or something. heh. Needless drama.

      So I won’t delete it, since that seems silly too, but I do want to make it clear that I’m always open to talking about this more/being convinced otherwise/being shown the error of my ways;)

  2. The one big thing I found in favor of joining RUSA and riding organized brevets is that it defeats my natural sloth and gets me out of bed in the morning. It’s nice to ride with other people and all that, too, but my pacing and personality make that difficult :-)

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