If You Build It, They Will Come

Just browsing over at the DC Randonneurs web site and marvelling at how many people have finished brevets already at this point in the year, which is usually considered the beginning of brevet season. By my count, 104 finished DC Randonneurs brevets last year, and 94 already this year.

A common complaint in the Audax UK community is as follows: “If you charge £5 and call it an audax, 20 people show up. If you charge £50 and call it a ‘cyclosportive,’ 2,000 show up.” (You know what a cyclosportive is, don’t you? A cyclosportive is like a brevet, only you can’t find your results because they’re not in alphabetical order.) Audax UK, of course, suffers from no shortage of participants or events, but it does make one wonder why spending 10 times as much for virtually the same experience makes it more attractive. Maybe it’s the patina of the race-like experience lent by a cyclosportive.

Now this is just a bit of a digression: I’ve just finished reading The Unknown Tour de France, which documents how the autocratic founder of the Tour de France, Henri Desrange (or is it Desgrange? I’ve seen both spellings) insisted that early TDF riders receive no outside assistance. Among the tales, and you may already know them, are of Eugene Christophe having to find a forge on the Tourmalet to repair his broken forks by himself, and of Leon Scieur, who once carried a wheel with 11 broken spokes on his back for 300 kilometers to demonstrate to Tour officials that a repair was impossible and that obtaining a replacement was necessary.

This of course made me think of a great marketing campaign for Randonneurs USA: “Randonneuring: Like Bike Racing Used To Be.”


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