Brevets

What is a Brevet?

Brevets (pronounced brah-VAY) are not races, although riders seek to improve their personal best times. For many, the goal is simply to finish and to go farther than they have before.
The Northern Arizona brevets are part of a series of timed, long distance cycling events offered throughout Arizona and the US. Go to the Calendar for details on the upcoming scheduled rides.

A brevet, French for rambling or a ramble, sometimes also referred to as a randonnée, started in France and Italy at the turn of the 20th century. To keep with tradition a brevet is typically measured in kilometers of  100-, 200-, 300-, 400-, 600-, 1000- or a grand randonnée of 1200km (750mi). Each distance must be ridden within a specific time limit allowing an average speed of about 15 kph (9.25 mph).  A male randonneur or female randonneuse (either sometimes referred to as "rando") carries a route cuesheet and a brevet card provided by the ride organizer to be signed and/or stamped at each checkpoint along the way to prove they have covered the distance successfully within the time limit.

A full brevet series, aka Super Randonneur series, consists of four rides:
200 km/125 miles (13.5 hour time limit)
300 km/185 miles (20 hours)
400 km/250 miles (27 hours)
600 km/375 miles (40 hours)
Adventurous riders can use a completed brevet series as qualification for longer rides, including the prestigious 1200km Paris-Brest-Paris (PBP) grand randonnée event in France every four years, and for other 1200km or 1500km randonnées held throughout the US or the world. PBP qualifier brevets held in the United States are sanctioned and validated exclusively by the "mothership" of randonneuring, Audax Club Parisien (ACP) in France, through their agent, the Randonneurs USA (RUSA). The next Paris-Brest-Paris will take place in August 2015, so many riders will be hoping to qualify. Qualification requires completion of a Super Randonneur series (200-600K) by the end of June 2015.

How is a Brevet Different from a Local Century or Club Ride?

Brevets are multi-hour or multi-day rides that are run regardless of weather and often go thru a variety of terrain or thru the night with varying temperatures, wind and rain. Riders should bring suitable gear for the potential changes in weather conditions along the route. They also differ from a typical local club ride in several ways:

Helping others: Friendly camaraderie, not competition, is the hallmark of randonneuring.

Integrity: At all times, randonneurs are on their honor to follow the RUSA and/or ACP rules, and any local traffic laws.

Timed: Brevets are not races, but riders must reach specified checkpoints within time limits to not be disqualified. Riders can stop and rest any time, but the clock is always running. The overall average pace on brevets is from 15 kph (9.25 mph) to about 33 kph (20.5 mph).
Night riding: Because of the length of the ride you will probably have to ride in darkness. Proper headlight and tailight is essential and required by law. Minimum amount of reflective gear, such as a vest, jacket or ankle bands is required. Additional reflective tape on bike or helmet is also recommended. Allow yourself to be seen to the greatest extent possible.
 
Self reliance and determination: Brevet riders are expected to be self-sufficient and tenacious. They should be able to repair their bike, read a map or GPS, and deal with bad weather. Brevets may be supported by volunteers, staffed at checkpoints, and offer sag rides as much as possible, especially on remote and/or long routes with limited volunteer staff. Some brevets will be unsupported and typically stated clearly as such in a ride schedule to allow riders to prepare accordingly.
Controls/Checkpoints: Riders must follow the route exactly as it appears on the cue sheet and get to the checkpoints on time. If off course (lost, needing a repair, etc.), a rider must return to the route at the point they got off the route. Anyone observed taking shortcuts from the official route will be disqualified, but there is no penalty for detours such as unforeseen road construction, flooding, or traffic accidents. At the checkpoint, a brevet staff worker signs the brevet card. In the case of a remote control or information control, a rider will collect a receipt or answer a question on the brevet card, which will be clearly stated on the brevet card.

Results: At the finish the brevet staff worker keeps the completed brevet card and the ride organizer (typically the Regional Brevet Administrator, RBA) sends the results to the national organization (Randonnuers USA, RUSA) for a RUSA brevet, or to the international governing body in Paris, the Auxax Club Parisien (ACP) for an ACP brevet. Ride organizers typically post a list of results on the specific RUSA club website. Official results can be used as qualifying rides for longer events or towards qualifying RUSA or ACP awards. RUSA members can buy a brevet medal if they finish successfully, which can be purchased at the RUSA on-line store.

Do I need to belong to a club or Randonneurs USA to do a brevet? No, anyone can join in on a scheduled ride, meet like-minded adventurous riders and expand one's riding options. Besides the enjoyment of a brevet event, it's a good opportunity for training, exploring the region's various roads with the company of others, share stories, gear info and rides to events.  If this is appealing, then joining RUSA can be a good way to tap into the tradition of randonneuring and the numerous riding possibilities in Arizona, the US network and the world. 

RUSA membership also includes a quarterly newsletter/magazine highlighting ride reports, news on upcoming events, riding tips, gear reviews and more. Also included is a Randonneurs' Handbook filled with tips on how to improve randonneuring skills and access to the RUSA on-line store for essential rando gear and awards. RUSA also maintains a rider's accumulated ride log, mileage and sends all the results of every American brevet to Paris for registration, but it publishes only the ride results of its members on its web site. These published results are useful for showing one has qualified to enter a 1200 km event, and for earning various randonneuring awards each season. (Note that the ACP insists that any American rider entering the fabled Paris-Brest-Paris (PBP) 1200 km must have been a RUSA member on or before the date of their first qualifying event.)

The Arizona brevets are sanctioned by RUSA and/or ACP. They can be used as qualifiers for national (RUSA certified brevets) or international (ACP certified brevets)1200 kilometer events listed on the RUSA website, including:
        
        Paris-Brest-Paris (France, every 4 years, e.g., 2011, 2015, 2019 etc.)
        
High Country or Last Chance (Colorado)
        Shenandoah 1200k (Virginia)
        Texas Rando Stampede (Texas)
        Taste of Carolina (NC, SC)
        The Big Wild Ride (Alaska)
        Cascade 1200 (Washington)
        Gold Rush Randonnee (California)
        Natchez Trace 1500 (Tennessee)
        Rocky Mountain 1200 (British Columbia)

       
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