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Randonneur Retrospective
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by Jim Kuehn

Each spring, randonneurs push their fitness and endurance by completing a sequence of brevets of increasing distance and difficulty. For many, the goal is to finish the series of brevets (qualifying rides) required to participate in the 1200 km, 90-hour Paris-Brest-Paris randonnee. Others have more modest goals.

The season began with the 200km brevet in mid-April. This ride attracts many club cyclists who want to take a step beyond the standard club century and get a taste of the randonneur challenge. While not an extraordinary distance, this event is run just a few weeks after the end of winter and requires significant early-season preparation.

Starting an hour before sunrise and ending near or after sunset, the 300km brevet gives participants their first experience with fitting lights and reflectors on their bicycles. All riders and their bicycles are inspected before the start to ensure that the safety requirements are met. Tasks that one takes for granted when riding during daylight hours (such as reading a cue sheet or bike computer) have to be re-thought for night-riding.

The mood at the 400km and longer events is entirely different from the earlier, shorter ones. This is a serious ride and everyone knows it will be a long day in the saddle. With the right attitude, a comfortable pace, and proper attention to feeding and hydration, the course will be completed. Covering 250 miles under your own power gives you confidence in your ability and training.

The 600km brevet is the first multi-day ride and most riders elect to get a few hours of sleep after the first 400km before finishing it. Those who finish the 200km, 300km, 400km, and 600km events are given "Super Randonneur" distinction and are permitted to participate in the Paris-Brest-Paris randonnee this August. For participants seeking additional training or an alternative to P-B-P, the three-day 1000km event is available.

None of the brevets is easy. All include a mix of rolling to mountainous terrain and average 5000' of climbing per 100 miles covered. While the first four brevets were held under almost ideal weather conditions, the 1000km event coincided with the record-breaking heat and humidity on July Fourth weekend. Temperatures soared near one hundred degrees each day and all but one rider succumbed to heat- related problems (see accompanying story). All told, seventy-four randonneurs participated in PPTC-sponsored events in 1999. Not including the 1000k, there were 172 brevets completed of 181 attempted -- an outstanding 95% completion rate. No crashes or injuries of any sort were reported. Collectively, the riders completed in excess of 37,000 miles.

The accompanying table summarizes the results. Many more participants are eligible to go to Paris than would appear because brevets can be done in other regions of the country. Congratulations go to all the participants.

more Ride Schedule

12/9/2016
C * 30 * MD * 9:00 AM * Leave from VMP to Join Friday Lunch Ride * Veirs Mill Park (VMP)

12/9/2016
C * 30 * MD * 10:00 AM * Friday Lunch Ride * Lake Needwood (NEE)

Featured Members
Linda B. KolkoLinda is the D/C Ride Coordinator for MD & DC
Matthew BirnbaumMatt is Chairman of Potomac Pedalers

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