Randonneuring is a type of organised long distance bicycle riding, with rides typically covering between 100 and 1,200 kilometres (60-750 miles). A participant is known as a randonneur, and an event is a randonnée. The term brevet may be used interchangeably with randonnée, although strictly speaking, a brevet is one specific type of event.
Randonneuring is not a competitive sport. It is a test of endurance, self-sufficiency and bicycle touring skills. All riders who complete the task are congratulated, and no prizes are given to those with the fastest times.
Riders are expected to carry clothing for inclement weather, spare parts and tools. Rides in excess of 300 kilometers frequently involve night riding and require lights, spare bulbs and reflective gear.
The term brevet may also refer to the certificate of completion given to riders who complete a brevet.
To ensure that the correct route is followed and no short cuts are taken, the rider must pass through a series of locations known as "controls". The rider carries a "brevet card", onto which information is added at each control, and this card is presented to the organisers at the end of the ride as proof that the route was followed. There are two types of controls. The first is a "manned control", usually at a village hall or cafe, at which someone waits to stamp the riders cards as they pass through. On longer rides a manned control may be a shop, where the rider must obtain a till receipt showing the date and time. The second type of control is an "information control", more commonly called an "info control", where the rider must answer a question. For example, if the card asks, "From the signpost at the T-Junction, how far is it to Oadby?", the rider must find the signpost and write the answer on the brevet card.
Organizations and StylesEdit
Both organizations sponsor events whereby a maximum and minimum time limit is set.
Historically, the ACP also supported Audax-style events and it retains the term audax in its name. This causes confusion and some randonneurs may use the terms audax, brevet and randonee interchangeably to describe an event.
The types of randonneuring events are:
- Populaire - rides under 200 km. These are similar to rides organised by cycling clubs.
- Brevet - rides of 200 km or more. These must be completed between a specific date and time.
- Permanent or Raid - an event similar to a brevet but having an arbitrary start date.
- Fleche - a specialized event involving teams that ride a specified distance in a specified time.
- Audax - rides of 200 km or more that involve teams of riders. Similar to a Fleche. Used to be one of the most popular types, but is now typically only found in parts of France, Holland and Belgium.
- Brevet Medal - for completing any single brevet of 200, 300, 400, 600 or 1000 km.
- Super Randonneur - for completing a series of 200, 300, 400 and 600 km brevets.
- Randonneur 5000 - for completing the full series of 200, 300, 400, 600, and 1000 km brevets, the Paris-Brest-Paris and a Flèche Vélocio (in which at least three riders must start, and at least three must finish).
- Paris-Brest-Paris - for completion of the PBP within the 90 hour time.
- Many others - for example, BMB, RUSA specific Super Randonneur.
The first popular long distance race was the PBP, initiated in 1891. After 1931 the riders were separated into three groups - professional cyclists, and two non-professional groups known as the Allure libre club and the Audax club. Allure Libre consisted of individuals riding alone in the spirit of self-sufficiency, while Audax riders rode as a group and maintained a steady pace.
In 1903 the Tour de France was founded. Initially it consisted of very long stages. But gradually, interest waned in long distance cycling as a professional sport. The stages in the Tour de France were shortened to a series of one-day stages, and in 1951 the PBP lost its professional riders, leaving only the randonneuring part of the event.
The Randonneuring part of the PBP had been governed by Audax Club Parisien (ACP) since the 1930s. In 1975 the Audax and Allure libre groups split up and formed two different PBP events. Now the ACP runs the event every four years in their Allure Libre format, and the Union des Audax runs it every five years in their Audax format.
There are many less well known randonees making up a busy calendar of events, which continue to provide endurance tests for cycling enthusiasts. Randonneuring is very popular in France, and has a smaller following in the Netherlands, Belgium, United Kingdom, Australia, USA and Canada.
The means of transport for a randonnee is limited to any human powered chain-driven vehicle, with wheels, that is no more than 1 meter wide. Riders are expected to carry -
- Reflective sash/ankle bands
- Bicycle bags (panniers)
- Spare tires/tubes
- Water bottles
- Spare clothing
- Brevet card and pencil
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