Randonneuring

About Randonneuring

Randonneuring is non-competitive, long distance cycling. Camaraderie, not competition, is the hallmark of randonneuring. Emphasis is placed on being self-supported.  

When riders participate in randonneuring events, they are part of a long tradition that goes back to the beginning of the sport of cycling in France and Italy.

What is a Randonneur?

There is no direct English translation of the French term “randonnée”, which loosely means to go on a long trip, tour, outing, or ramble, usually on foot or on a bicycle, along a defined route.  A person who goes on a “randonnée” is called a “randonneur”. (The correct French term for a female participant is “randonneuse”, but such distinctions are often lost in America, where we tend to lump everyone together).

In cycling, it means a hard-riding enthusiast who is trying to complete a long randonnée inside a certain time allotment.  Note that a randonnée is not a race.  Overall, about the only thing being first earns is some bragging rights.

It is not uncommon for the last finishers to get as much applause as anyone else.  Indeed, there is much camaraderie in randonneuring.  One does it to test oneself against the clock, the weather, and a challenging route – but not to beat the other riders.

In comparison to other forms of competitive long-distance cycling, such as at the Race Across America (RAAM), where there are following cars with crews supporting the riders every inch of the way, randonneuring stresses self-sufficiency.

Help can only be given at the checkpoints along the route, so support crews (if there are any) must leapfrog the rider.  Any rider caught receiving assistance from a support crew in-between checkpoints (or, “contrôles” as they are commonly called) will be subject to a time penalty, or even disqualification.

Randonneurs are free to buy food, supplies, or bike repairs at any stores they encounter along the route.  Once riders have successfully completed a 200-kilometer “brevet”, they are entitled to be called a “randonneur” or “randonneuse”.

If you’re looking for more of a challenge than your local century or double century ride, please consider joining us.

A Super Randonneur series consists of four brevets:

  • 200 Kilometer (125 Miles) with a time limit of 13.5 hours
  • 300 Kilometer (185 Miles) with a time limit of 20.0 hours
  • 400 Kilometer (250 Miles) with a time limit of 27.0 hours
  • 600 Kilometer (375 Miles) with a time limit of 40.0 hours

Only Super Randonneurs are allowed to attempt the ultimate Randonneuring challenge–the 1200 kilometer (750 mile) randonnee – which must be completed in 90 hours. In 2015, the oldest of these events, Paris-Brest-Paris, took place, as it does every 4 years. The next PBP will be held in August of 2019. 

One thing to keep in mind about Randonneuring: it is not about how fast you are; it is more about your ability to manage the miles in the time allowed. On long brevets of 1,200 kilometers (750 miles in 90 hours or less), the last rider to finish is actually held in high honor, as all recognize the extra effort it took to finish, even as time was running out.

Below are a few links about randonneuring:

A beginners guide to randonneuring

NPR article on randonneuring

 About randonneuring

Off the beaten path