Randonneuring

April 8, 2012

In the early days of my interest in cycling, I would, in the course of my reading, run across the terms “brevet”, “randonneur”, “randonneuring”.  I had only a vague understanding of these, but they seemed sufficiently alien and distant from my capabilities – even my interests – that I didn’t devote much attention to them.

But with any hobby/interest, the passage of time paired with the exposure to an ever-wider view of the territory, serves as a lens, as a tool to aid you to better learn, or define, what is particularly interesting or meaningful to you.  That’s certainly been my experience.  And, so it is with me & cycling.

With time I’ve refined some aspects of my interest in cycling:

  • One, I have zero interest in the “racing” side of things.  I have interest to watch something like e.g. the Tour de France on TV – and can appreciate the beauty of it – but zero interest to participate in competitive cycling.
  • Two, I have interest in both road cycling and trail cycling, but prefer the former.  I got my start “on the trail”, so to speak, and it does have and will retain an interest for me, but much about cycling normal roads appeals to me.  I still have goals to ride the full Prairie Spirit Trail and back, as well as, later, the full Katy Trail – and I’ll do these and probably more.  For example, Nebraska’s Cowboy Trail interests me.
  • Three, what does hold significant interest for me is endurance riding, in two flavors.  One is “bicycle touring”, which would encompass things like the longer trail rides named above as well as more ambitious stuff like crossing a state or the country by bicycle.  The other is randonneuring.

Wikipedia defines randonneuring thus:

…riders attempt courses of 200 km [124 miles] or more, passing through predetermined “controls” (checkpoints) every few tens of kilometers. Riders aim to complete the course within specified time limits, and receive equal recognition regardless of their finishing order. Riders … are expected to be self-sufficient between controls. A randonneuring event is called a randonée or brevet, and a rider who has completed a 200 km event is called a randonneur.

Another cycling blogger and accomplished local (KC area) randonneur, Commuterdude, whose blog I’ve recently learned of, adds:

A non-competitive sport by design, camaraderie is encouraged. Riders test themselves against the clock, the weather, and a challenging route – but not each other. The ethos of randonneuring is self-sufficiency and mental toughness; support vehicles are not allowed and brevets are held regardless of weather.

As I forge deeper into my interest in bicycling, I am discovering that I may, at heart, be a randonneur.  Virtually everything about it appeals to me.  I must acknowledge that any possibility of exploring this world firsthand remains well into the future for me; I still have a solid 40-50 pounds to lose, cardio and stamina with more upside than downside, and am consistently doing only 18-20 mile rides at this point.  I sense that a randonneur’s heart may beat in my chest; and I cultivate the conceit that I may one day join the ranks of these accomplished men & women; but for now, it remains only a brilliant spark in my mind’s eye.  Beckoning.

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