1.  What is "randonneuring?"

Randonneuring is unsupported, long-distance cycling.  This style of riding is non-competitive in nature, and self-sufficiency is paramount.  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.  Friendly camaraderie, not competition, is the hallmark of randonneuring.  (from the Randonneurs USA website: www.rusa.org)

What is a "brevet?"

This is a French word that means "certificate" or "diploma."  A brevet, also is sometimes called a "randonnee," which is the event randonneurs enter.  This is almost always a ride of 200 kilometers or more.  Riders completing brevets of 200, 300, 400 and 600 kilometers, in a single season, are said to have completed a "full brevet series."  Brevets have a time limit for each distance.  For example, the typical limit for the entry-level brevet, the 200k, is 13 hours, 30 minutes.

What is a "brevet card?"

The brevet card is a Passport that the rider will carry with them on the brevet.  It must be filled out at each control along the route.  Riders cannot receive official credit for finishing a brevet, without a completed brevet card.  Keep it in a safe place.   

What is a "control?"

A control is a checkpoint along a brevet course.  There are several types of controls: 

Timed Controls: Riders need to arrive at these within a specified time limit.  This time limit is clearly printed on the Brevet Card and Cue-Sheet. Typically, at these controls one can find food and beverage.  Controls can be staffed with volunteers where food and beverage is provided as part of the entry fee.  Or, they can be commercial establishments where food and beverage are purchased by the rider.  At either type the brevet card will be filled in with the time of arrival and either signed by a volunteer or store staff.  The organizer may require a cash register receipt with a time stamp instead of store staff signature.  

Information Controls: At this control the rider will be asked to answer a question which can be answered by looking at something in the surrounding area.  No time need to be specified, only the requested information.  The purpose of the control is to verify the riders passage.  Typically, these are at points along the route that may otherwise be shortcut. 

Secret Controls: This control is exactly as named. It's location is not disclosed in advance.  Volunteers position themselves in view of passing riders. There often is a sign advising riders of an upcoming secret control.  The brevet card is signed by the volunteer and the rider may then continue the route.  The Secret Control is also not a timed control. 

What is a Cue-Sheet?

The cue sheet is a list of turn by turn directions for a brevet.  These are formatted in a manner which allows for reading while operating the bicycle.  Typically, riders will attach the cue-sheet by various means to the handlebar or stem so it is always in plain view.  Navigating is an important component of completing a brevet successfully. 

Why do I need a cue-sheet if I have GPS?

GPS Navigation systems can be a useful tool for brevets.  However, 100% reliance is not recommended.  The Cue-Sheet is the official directions for the ride and should be used in conjunction with the GPS.  Frequently, GPS units and related software can have glitches or actually conk out completely.  Also, there is other important information on the cue-sheet such as the location of controls and road hazards.  

What equipment do I need for riding brevets?

People complete brevets on many different kinds of bicycles, including recumbents and mountain bikes, though standard road bikes are the most common choices.  Brevets that will feature riding during non-daylight hours require lighting and reflective gear.  In addition, the rider should carry with them the proper clothing for the temperature and weather conditions that may be encountered.  Also, at a minimum, one spare tube, tire lever, pump or quick fill, and multi-tool.  Most Randonneurs have a pack on the bicycle to accommodate the items they deem necessary.

Details on RUSA Rules for lighting and reflective gear:

For night riding, vehicles must be equipped with front and rear lights attached firmly to the vehicle. Lights must be turned on at all times during hours of darkness or other low-light conditions (rain, fog, etc.). At least one of the rear lights must be in a steady (rather than flashing) mode. All riders' lights must meet the requirements of local laws. A rider is not permitted to cycle at night or in other low-light conditions without working front and rear lights attached to the vehicle; therefore backup lighting systems and/or spare bulbs are strongly recommended in case the primary system fails and cannot be repaired on the roadside. Each rider, whether riding in a group or alone, must fully comply with this requirement. Everyone must use their lights!

During hours of darkness or other low-light conditions, all riders must wear a reflective vest or some other device that clearly places reflective material on the front and back of the rider. During these times all riders will also wear a reflective ankle band around each ankle. (Due to their unusual seating position, recumbent riders may modify their reflective torso devices to show better from front and rear.) Other reflective devices on clothing, shoes, helmets, and machines are encouraged for increased safety - but they are extra and may not take the place of the minimum items listed above.

Any violation of these night riding rules will result in the immediate disqualification of the rider.

Should I carry food and water?

Water is a must.  On most brevets two water bottles are adequate.  Some riders prefer a hydration pack which can usually hold larger volumes of liquid.  Having some pocket food like energy bars on hand is a good idea.  Although, you shouldn't need to carry a lot as there will be some food available along the way. 

If I am not a fast rider, will I be able to complete brevets on time?

Anyone who has completed the longer brevets (say 400km or longer) knows that mental strength often prevails over physical strength.  There are plenty of faster riders who can't finish longer brevets and plenty of slower ones who can.  The brevets are generally set up so that if you can average 10 mph, including stops, you'll make it every time.  Limiting the time a rider spends stopped can be more effective than riding at a fast pace. Smart planning sometimes beats strong legs.

What is the RUSA and why should I care?

RUSA stands for Randonneurs USA, the national organization set up to promote randonneuring in the U.S. and assist American randonneurs.  RUSA issues memberships to American randonneurs, but does not organize rides.  It delegates the organization of rides to Regional Brevet Administrators ("RBA") and bicycle clubs all over the country.  RUSA also frequently serves as the liason between RBAs and the Audax Club Parisien.  You need to join RUSA if you want to earn medals and the variety of other awards which can be earned.  Also, if you wish to participate in PBP you would need to join. 

What is PBP?

PBP stands for Paris-Brest-Paris, a 1200km ride that began in 1891 (twelve years before the Tour de France started) and continues as the world's premier randonneuring event.  To have completed PBP within the 90-hour time limit is perhaps the most coveted honor in our sport.  PBP will next be held in August 2019.  To qualify, you must complete a full brevet series of 200, 300, 400 and 600 kilometers in 2019.  You must join RUSA before completing any of those qualifying rides.