When I post pictures of bicycles belonging to cyclists I know, I often receive surprised comments from readers in other parts of the country: How representative are these bikes of what the locals are really riding? The lugs, the refurbished vintage frames, the custom builders, the handlebar bags, the leather saddles... My posts imply that these are typical, yet they are far from the norm today. One sentiment in particular has been repeated and it stuck on my mind: "At real randonneuring events, everyone is riding carbon fiber." That may very well be true, I thought - having never been to a sanctioned randonneuring event.
However that has now changed, as I've just returned from working support at a New England Randonneurs 600K brevet. More on that after I get some sleep, but for now I present to you a tally of the bikes that were ridden in the event. Among the 11 machines at the start, there were: two Rivendells, a Rawland, a refurbished vintage Mercier, a Bianchi Volpe, a titanium Seven, a titanium Lynskey, a luggged carbon fiber Colonago, a carbon fiber Trek, and 2 carbon fiber Specialized.
All of the bicycles present sported dynamo lighting, usually supplemented with additional battery lights.
About half of the bicycles were equipped with some sort of handlebar bag, including several of the classic randonneuring varitety, supported by front racks.
Full coverage fenders, classic saddlebags and leather saddles were also well represented.
The aesthetic highlight for me was the elegant black bike with a "Jean-Pierre Danguillaume" decal - made in the 1970s by Mercier (a French manufacturer not to be confused with the English Mercian).
As I understand it, the bike belonged to the rider's father and sat dormant for decades until he - the son - refurbished it to use as a brevet bike.
The double top tube Rivendell Homer Hilsen was probably the most unexpected bike there for me. While Rivendell did not invent the "2TT" concept (heavy-duty Dutch bikes and Roadsters are often built with double top tubes), it is surprising to see this construction on a roadbike.
The second Rivendell present was an older Rambouillet model that happened to be exactly my size.
The more I examined this bike, the more I liked it: Great proportions, roadish geometry, 26" wheels. No toe overlap, even with wide tires and fenders, and fairly lightweight. I wish they hadn't discontinued this model.
Though titanium, it looks distinctly different from the Sevens I am used to seeing around here. This bike sported a minimalist randonneur setup: small handlebar bag, saddle wedge, dynamo lights, no fenders.
Other bicycles were decidedly less minimalist. The Rawland was the only one of the bunch I had seen before, and the owner typically has it equipped ready for anything.
So, what is it like where you live? I am sure there are regional differences in what kind of bicycles dominate these types of events. You might also be interested in this 2007 survey of the bicycles ridden in Paris-Brest-Paris.