Rando Q&A with Barry B., D.C. Randonneurs

Hope everybody had a great 4th of July. This week, I’m featuring a randonneur who started riding brevets with in 2012, and completed his first Super Randonneur series last month.

I wanted to get a perspective from someone who has just made the leap from touring cycling to randonneuring. Barry graciously agreed to guest post, and here is what he had to say about his first year of doing brevets.

Barry and Mike on the Great Allegheny Passage (c) Dave Sweeney

1. When did you start randonneuring?

March 2012.

2. Why did you start?

I love all types of cycling. I do mountain biking, fully loaded touring, club rides, tandeming, centuries and am a regular bicycle commuter.

Although centuries are fun, I grew tired of riding in pace lines where the only scenery was the wheel of the cyclist ahead of me. I stumbled onto the DC Rando site and thought it was something I might like to try.

3. What is your home club?

I have done rides with all of the area clubs, but mostly I ride solo or tandem with my wife.

4. What is your favorite distance of the Super Randonneur series (200, 300, 400, 600K) and why?

I like the 400K. The distance is challenging, and I can complete it without sleep.

Barry’s Trek 520 on the DCR 400K

5. Which distance do you find the most challenging of the Super Randonneur series and why?

Surprisingly the 300K. I wasn’t ready for the climbs, it was hot, and it was my first ride beyond an “extended century.”

I feel as if I should be able to ride the 300K faster than I did, whereas I knew my pace for the 200K and 400k. The 300K is sort of a “tweener” that I haven’t figured out.

6. If you have done 1000Ks and 1200Ks, what do you like about them?

Have not done either, but it’s on my list.

7. What is it that you love about randonneuring? That is, what keeps you coming back ride after ride?

The challenge, the scenery, and the comeradery. The randonneuring community is a great bunch of cyclists who are all about seeing others succeed. Rather than a bunch of would-be competitors with the goal of dropping as many riders as possible, randonneurs seem eager to share knowledge and genuinely hope that everyone completes the ride.

I have received a lot of encouragement, expert advice and ideas. There are lively discussions on the various topics, but never any sniping or grandstanding. There are many amazingly strong riders in the D.C. Randonneurs, but they have never minimized my relatively smaller accomplishments. In fact, I received genuine warm praise and congratulations from a number of riders when I completed many “firsts” in my rookie season.

Barry, Mike, and Dave finish the DCR 600K and the SR series (c) Bill Beck

8. What constitutes a “good ride” in your view?

A safe and scenic ride where I meet some interesting people and have fun conversations. Oh, and there has to be at least one memorable story. Always.

9. What are the qualities you think a randonneur has to have to be successful?

I think you have to want it and be willing to accept a little discomfort. You have to go into every ride believing you will finish and maintain that focus. A randonneur does not need to be superhuman or in tip-top shape, but attitude really plays an important role.

You also have to be flexible and willing to adapt, and a sense of humor sure helps.

10. How do you define successful?

I think success is mostly about getting out there and giving it a try with a willingness to learn something new. You have to enjoy this and have fun; otherwise why do it?

My goal is to one day finish a brevet while the pizza in the hotel lobby is still warm (I assume it is at some point).

Barry, thanks again for sharing some of your thoughts on randonneuring with The Daily Randonneur. Look forward to seeing you on the road again soon!

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