What is Randonneuring?
The rides of Alabama Randonneurs are sanctioned by the Randonneurs USA (RUSA) and Audax Club Parisien (ACP) in France. These rides, or brevets, are challenging long-distance cycling events with time limits. The overall minimum pace on brevets is about 15 kph (9.25 mph); the maximum is 33 kph (20.5 mph). Riders must stop at checkpoints, or controls, to prove they have covered the official route in the specified time window. Upon successfully completing the ride, each rider earns a numbered brevet from the ACP that certifies he or she finished the course in the allotted time. Every finisher’s result is recorded in Paris, along with all the others going back to the very first ACP allure libre brevet in 1921.
The brevets of Alabama Randonneurs are fine long-distance events in their own right, and they can also serve as qualifiers for 1200-kilometer events like Paris-Brest-Paris (PBP). For further information on PBP, other events, and anything else related to randonneuring, please see the RUSA web site.
Brevets are non-competitive recreational cycling events. Results are published alphabetically, not by arrival time. Being first is meaningless since anyone who finishes within the official time period is considered a winner. One “races” only with oneself to improve one’s own time from the previous year. On the other hand, slowing down to help a struggling rider is seen as a very fine thing to do. Friendly camaraderie, not competition, is the hallmark of randonneuring. The long distances and self-sufficient style of cycling found in brevets allow participants the opportunity to explore their own strengths and weaknesses.
Randonneurs are expected to be self-sufficient and tenacious. They should be able to repair their bike, read a map, or deal with bad weather. Riders who quit during the ride may have a long wait until help arrives. The organizers endeavor to provide roving sag support during each brevet, but as the hours go by, the riders will get farther and farther apart and the distance to patrol between the first and last riders obviously increases. No personal sag support is allowed to follow the riders at any time, per standard randonneuring regulations.
There are no organized rest stops as you might find on other club centuries and double-centuries. Riders should bring some money to buy their own food and fluids at stores and cafés. Be ready to ride some long distances (45-60 miles) between stores on the events greater than 200k, especially late at night when some businesses are closed.
The rides are held rain or shine. Bring adequate clothing for variable weather conditions. Brevets are long events and the weather might change a great deal before reaching the finish; you don’t want to be caught unprepared.
Participation in our events is by pre-registration only. We do not accept any “day of” entries. Materials must be produced in advance for each entrant and this takes time. Registration for each event must be received by midnight the Wednesday preceding the event. Entrants will also need a little time prior to each ride familiarizing themselves with each route by looking at a map.
All Alabama Randonneurs events brevets use 24-hour military time. The routes are not marked with directional arrows to show the way; riders will need to use their route sheet. Route sheets and GPS files are available for download once a route has been approved by RUSA.
Join Randonneurs USA. You don’t need to be a RUSA member to enter our brevets, but it is advisable. For modest yearly dues you will get, among other things, an informative quarterly journal dedicated to randonneuring and a useful “how-to” handbook that will help you learn about our sport. Members’ brevet results are automatically posted to the RUSA website as soon as they are received from Paris, a valuable service if you are trying to enter 1200-kilometer events like PBP.
RUSA members are entitled to buy a handsome brevet medal at the end of each event if they finish successfully. The cost is $10 each. The medal design changes every four years after each PBP, but you can see some older examples in the RUSA medal gallery.
Revised 09/29/11 – Inspired by Santa Cruz Randonneurs