Sunday, December 24, 2006

Nouveau Commencement

A new beginning indeed. Last week I reported on my fractured foot and said that I was looking into riding brevets. Well, this week I have registered for my first one. For those not in the know, a brevet (pronounced brah-vey) is not really a race as such. There are no winners only those who finish and those who do not. However, they are timed. The purpose of a brevet is to ride some predetermined course following a cue sheet, a sheet with directions. Along the route you have to get checked off at various control points.

At the control point you have to get your brevet card stamped or signed with the time and date you were there. You have to reach each control point along the route before a specific time and you have to complete the whole route by a specific cut off time. From what I gather your average speed in a brevet needs to be around 13.5 mph in order to make the cut off times. No biggie right? Well, I don’t know if that’s a big deal or not. I mean, it’s certainly within my cycling ability but the trick with brevets is to go completely self supported, I say again COMPLETELY self supported no aid stations no SAG nothing, and the event takes place no matter what the weather is like.

Now I have been to a triathlon where the bike was canceled due to wind and I’ve heard of triathlons that were canceled all together due to inclement weather (last year's USAT Nationals comes to mind) but you will not show up to a brevet and have it canceled. From what I understand even if a troupe of evil flame throwing orangutans have inhabited the course…tough; ride and quit your whining or just take your DNF and go home.

For some history on the Brevet go to RUSA, Randonneur USA. In the mean time, the brevet is originally a French sport, hence all the French, but is apparently very popular through Europe, especially among the French, English and Italians. The word “Brevet” means something like certificate and one who rides in brevets is called a “Randonneur” if male and “Randonneuse” if female. The typical distances for brevets are 200 K, 300K, 400K, 600K, 1000K and 1200K though I think at the 1200K distance they are called Randonnees but I’m not totally sure. A brevet series consists of riding a 200 K, 300K, 400K and 600K in that order in one year. If you complete a brevet series you gain the status “Super Randonneur”.

The other interesting thing about brevets, there is none of the swag associated with triathlons…no t-shirts, no goodie bags no nothing. You just show up to the start, gather up your cue sheet and brevet card and head out. When you finish you turn in your brevet card to the official who certifies it, sends it to national who certifies it and then sends it to France where it is certified by the muckity mucks at ACP (Audax Club Parisien), the nexus of the Randonneuring world.

Once your card is TOTALLY certified a certificate of completion finds its way back to you. Oh, and you can pay and extra $10 to $12 to get a finishers medal, which looks to be of similar quality to the high quality type marathon finishers medals, nice and heavy with lots of detail and color. The medals for all brevets are cast and struck once a year in France and the shipped out all at once. It will be different from the high intensity and immediate gratification of triathlon but I think it will be cool…I’ll just reacquaint myself with my old friend Sartre.

So here’s the plan:

Dallas, TX 01/01/2007 200K (124.27 miles)

Casa Grande, AZ 02/03/2007 300K (186.41 miles)

Casa Grande, AZ 03/04/2007 400K (248.55 miles)

Dallas, TX 05/26/2007 600K (372.82 miles)

Boulder, CO 06/16/2007 1000K (621.37 miles)

I’m not totally sure about the 1000K brevet yet because it isn’t part of a series but I’m considering going for the R-12 medal, one brevet of 200 or more K per month for a year. The problem is that I can not find a brevet, except for in Florida, in the month of December and I’m only willing to spend so much to earn another trinket. I mean really, I’m already doing IMAZ and IM Louisville plus, plus, plus…

Next year’s (2008) resolution…incorporate some sanity into my race season…or…maybe not.

Oh yes, one more curiosity about the world of brevets, they seem to be kind of "old school" cycling pureists. They are in love with their comfortable old steel frame bikes so, now instead of seeking out the hottest new areo-carbon-speed machine I'm in the market for a classic steel frame with a relaxed geometry...something circa 1970's...and maybe a pipe with some good tobacco...and a beret..and a good baguette.
à votre santé


  1. Myles, if you come to Boulder I want to buy you a beer (or three).

  2. I like the post, learning things crazier to do. Good luck with that stuff. The purity of racing, sounds like fun.

  3. Somehow I came across that website a year or so ago and once I figured out what a brevet was, I passed it off as "insane" - plus it's French, and I'm not happy with things French these days - there seems to be a pretty popular brevet series here in this area - if you need a place to crash, I'm sure Mrs. Bigun wouldn't mind if you hung out here....

  4. 621 miles!!!??? zoinks!

  5. Mrs. Bigun seconds the motion. :)
    Happy New Year!!