What is Randonneuring?
The core features of randonneuring are:
- Long-distance self-supported riding. The sport was invented to demonstrate bicycles can cover long distances.
- A predetermined course.
- Completing the course in a set amount of time.
- To prove you rode the course, you pass through a set of control points where you obtain some sort of proof that you rode to those locations.
- Riders often ride in informal groups, but also often ride by themselves. No formal on-the-road organization is required.
Randonneurs like to think of the sport as a "big tent," where all are welcome. Apart from certain safety requirements when night riding is expected, there are no equipment regulations apart from the bicycle being entirely human-powered. Conventional bicycles, tandems, recumbents, and trikes are all seen on randonneur rides, as well as single-speeds and fixed gears. While you will see elaborately outfitted bikes at brevets, you will also see some veteran randonneurs on very "plain" bicycles. Almost any bicycle can be used if it is in good mechanical shape. Ride what you have. Come join us!
Riding the longer distances can be quite challenging, yet these distances are within the ability of well-trained riders. Completing them can provide great satisfaction as well giving a rider confidence in their ability to undertake other types of long rides such as unsupported tours.
Types of rides
Randonneuring has some interesting names for different types of rides: permanents, brevets, populaires, flèches and darts.
Brevets are scheduled in advance by a sponsoring randonneuring or other cycling club, and sanctioned by either Randonneurs USA
(RUSA) or Audax Club Parisien
(ACP). Typical brevet lengths are 200, 300, 400, 600, 1,000 or 1,200 km. Think of these rides as Events. Clubs typically run a Brevet Series consisting of 200, 300, 400, and 600 km rides. By completing the rides in sequence, one typically gains sufficient fitness for the next distance.
Brevets are open to all. Typically a modest fee is charged to cover insurance and volunteers' costs. To obtain credit for mileage awards or qualify for major events such as 1200 km events, you must be a member of RUSA (in the United States) so that your results are officially recorded.
Brevets can be used as qualifying rides for major rides (1200 km) such as PBP. They count towards various RUSA mileage awards. See the RUSA site for more information.
Populaires are like brevets, but their length is only 100 km and no fees are charged. The intent is to provide an easy introduction to randonneuring for newcomers and allow newcomers to meet randonneurs "in their natural environment." Populaires are a great way to meet Randonnneurs and decide if Randonneuring is for you. SIR's riding season typically starts with a Populaire, and there may be several others in the summer and fall.
Permanents were created so that riders can get out on their bikes for brevet-length rides at times when a brevet is not offered. 'Permanent' in that the ride is 'always available'. Like brevets, permanents are timed rides. A list of permanents can be found on the RUSA site
. Permanent routes are created, maintained, and administered by individuals, who are called the route owners. Riders arrange with the Permanent owner to ride a Permanent.
Permanents count towards various RUSA mileage awards. See the RUSA site for more information.
The Perminator site
provides registration to selected RUSA Permanents that are located in the Northwest. Under RUSA rules, these are “owned” by individual route owners. SIR provides logistical support for this registration service to route owners in exchange for rider access to Permanents without ride fees. SIR does not have any direct involvement in the development or maintenance of the Permanent routes. You can find more information about Permanents and SIR Permanents here [link to How to Ride a Permanent].
Flèches and Darts
Flèches and Darts are team rides. Teams are composed of three to five machines – as few as three riders on individual bikes, or as many as ten riders on five tandems. Three machines must finish within the time limit for the riders on those bicycles to receive credit.
Teams create their own routes, with all of the routes ending at a common location. "Flèche" is French for arrow, for the intent that teams start in various different locations and all converge on a common end point like arrows flying to the target. Typically there is a celebration at the finish. Traditionally the Flèche is an Easter-time ride.
The Flèche has a duration 24 hours, with a minimum distance of 360 km. Some teams opt for longer, sometimes quite challenging, distances. The primary requirement is to ride for 24 hours. The Dart is a shorter ride, 200 km minimum to be covered in 13-1/2 hours. There is also the Dart Populaire, 120 km minimum with a duration of 8 hours.
Flèches, Darts, and Darts Populaire count towards various RUSA and ACP awards.
For more information, check out:
Audax Club Parisien