by Joshua Simonds
Have you wondered what that little "R" beside some ride descriptions
in the Pedal Patter stood for? Did you think the distances were a
mistake? The "R" stands for randonneur, and the distances are no
mistake. The Brevet series are designed to prepare and qualify riders
for Paris Brest Paris (PBP); a complete series is required to
participate in PBP, which is a 750-mile endurance ride that is held once
every 4 years.
My wife and I decided to "give it a go" as the Brits are fond of
saying to see if we had what it takes to qualify for PBP. We did the
entire series on our Tandem.
Below is a note I sent to the local Brevet participants after
completing the final 600K event. Typically, we were elated and much
relieved to finish knowing that we are going to Paris.
Date: Tue, 15 Jun 1999 07:59:53 -0400
Big sigh of relief now that the 600k is done; we are Paris
bound. Looking back on the series I am so impressed with the attention
to detail and devotion that the organizers and their helpers put into
each event. I've led Club rides for years and know how tough it is to
create an accurate cue sheet for a 50 mile ride, on local roads no
My hat is off, my chamois is showing, and I'm forever thankful
to you all. Jim Kuehn, his friends and helpers worked long and hard to
make the Randoneer Brevet series possible for people like us. They are a
special breed, and there is no way to repay that kindness other than to
recognize their unmeasurable worth.
The 600k had Doreen and me a bit spooked. We were never worried
about the 200k or 300k, however, the 400k was a real challenge, and we
knew the 600k was "the real deal." We rode conservatively, sticking to
a tried and true game plan for nutrition and H2O. The only changes
were switching to a 45 min. eating schedule, and using the Platypus Big
Zip (2) which is has a lovely zipper that opens in a snap and lets you
easily dump a bag of ice in. The ice kept our heart rates lower,
especially on climbs.
Before the ride I made a "spare ice" deal with Ed Pavelka. On
Pac tour it was common practice to leave spare bottles of water and ice
in an obvious location for riders behind you. On the 600k, we used up a
7 lb. bag each time we stopped. In Luray, we saw a pitiful 1/3 bag of
ice that Ed left at some ungodly hour for us (he rode straight through
the night.) Thanks pal and congratulations on gutting out that night
For the first 170 miles we only stopped at controls and once for
a quick turkey sandwich..before heading to the 230 mile control where
we decided to pack it in and not risk the night ride. Had a lovely
spaghetti dinner across the street at the Pink Cadillac Café and had
seven blessed hrs of sleep. In the morning, we sucked coffee and Krispy
Kreme doughnuts at the gas station until the sun came up, then got on
the road. Stupid me, after we had a front flat, I put the wheel in
backwards and thus had no computer for 10 miles apparently my college
education was a complete waste.
We resorted to resetting the computer after each turn, which
turned out to be a good method of navigation. If I could only read road
signs: near the Plains we took our second wrong turn. Our minds were
not as sharp as they should have been.
A real Randon moment happened about 60 miles from Luray, we
entered a small town. The cue sheet indicated that we should take the
2nd left after the RR tracks, we ended up turning one street too soon.
We eventually doubled back to take account and a couple locals said
"Yep, all them bikers jest went over the rise not 5 minutes ago," so we
dutifully re-doubled and continued.
Dazed, confused, and still lost, we ran into Ken Zabielski and a
riding group of 10 others who also seemed to be lost. When we finally
found the correct road, Ken said to Doreen and me, "Hey, you missed the
secret control two blocks back." God bless the child and lucky he was
on his bike or I would have had to strangle him. Good joke and yes, we
momentarily took the bait.
We soloed the entire ride except for a couple brief encounters
with others. The best encounter was near the end, we FINALLY found Bill
Alcorn and Tim Egan after two days! We rode in together from Rt. 55 to
the finish it was perfect.
Well, there you have it. We can't believe we did it and the best is yet to come. Look out Paris, here we come.