I recently received my first (of many more, hopefully) R-12 medal. I didn't start out with the goal in mind to achieve an R12. I started the 2007 brevet season as I always had -- which means starting cold with the Morrisville, NC 200k and riding myself into shape from there.
After completing the full series, I still felt like I needed many more miles under my belt before PBP. Mike D. Had put together several nice Permanent routes in the area so I began working some of these rides in on a regular basis. Something just clicked for me -- brevets shouldn't just be a "spring-only" thing -- I should be doing this all year 'round. Mike D. and several other riders were working on their R-12 and really encouraged me to pursue my own.
PBP was a bust for me and a major let down. I felt like I needed to achieve some goal for 2007 and... well... I was already a good 6-months into a R-12... And well, the rest is history.
I'm very happy with my R-12. I've really enjoyed doing the Permanents all year around. I've always commuted year-round, but longer, 200k+ rides haven't factored in before. Coming into the first brevets of the season was so much easier this year -- I didn't have to suffer and claw my way through the first 200k.
However I think the best benefit of the regular monthly permanents is being able to connect with all your great cycling pals all year 'round.