BRM = Brevet des Randonneurs Mondiaux.
Brevets are long-distance, free-paced cycling events. Each rider can ride at his or her own pace.
The BRMs are 200-, 300-, 400-, 600-, or 1000- kilometer long.
The rules require to ride the brevets in a specific time limit (e.g., you have 40 hours to ride a 600 km brevet and 75 hours for a 1000 km). Therefore you don’t have much down time and you have to ride at night... with a reflective vest and strong lights !
Riders are self-reliant (they don’t have a support vehicle).
A brevet is not a race. It’s a challenge. There is no ranking. All finishers are equal.
Participants are called randonneurs.
They help each other and give priority to camaraderie.
Randonneurs are cycle-tourists. To ride a brevet is a great opportunity to discover other regions or countries, and to meet people.
Those brevets were created in 1921 by the Audax Club Parisien. The term ‘brevet’ originally designates the certificate issued to the rider who has ridden successfully the event. Randonneurs were considered to be ‘crazy people riding for a piece of paper’...
Since 1975, the 200, 300, 400 and 600 km brevets are required to qualify for the Paris-Brest-Paris Randonneur (1200 km), organised every four years by the Audax Club Parisien since 1931, under the auspices of the French Federation of Bicycle Touring.
The Paris-Brest-Paris was a professional race in the early 20th century. Today, PBP is the most famous of all long-distance rides around the world.
Brevets are held in over 40 countries on the 5 continents under the same rules. The international association Les Randonneurs Mondiaux was founded in 1983 and thus the brevets were called "Brevets des Randonneurs Mondiaux" (BRM).
Randonneurs from over 50 nationalities have participated in the Paris-Brest-Paris 2011.
At the beginning of the event each rider is issued a brevet card (which is a small cardboard sheet folded in three) on which several controls (checkpoints) are noted. Riders must get their card validated in each control. The organiser locates these control places at any point along the route where a shortcut might be taken.
Usually the control place is a town / village and riders have their card verified at a local establishment such as bakery, grocery store, tourist office, gas station (in France, many establishments have a rubber stamp to mark their address which includes the name of the town / village).
At the end of the event, riders turn in their brevet cards to the organiser.
The organiser makes sure that the cards have all necessary stamps and that the time limit was respected. The certified brevet card is returned to the rider with a number of homologation. This number is issued by the Audax Club Parisien. It allows riders to prove that they have successfully ridden the brevet. It can be used as a qualifier to register for another event, or to apply for awards such as the 'Randonneur 5 000’ or the 'Randonneur 10 000'.
Sample brevet card with controls and stamps :