[Classicrendezvous] Randonneur Riding, and Paris-Brest-Paris

Example: Framebuilders:Alex Singer

From: "Larry Strung" <strungl@pathcom.com>
To: <classicrendezvous@bikelist.org>
References: <F13aJbqJGNzscE8Npqh00000e05@hotmail.com> <39F5BBF4.A5E6D5D7@penn.com>
Date: Tue, 24 Oct 2000 23:10:26 -0400
Subject: [Classicrendezvous] Randonneur Riding, and Paris-Brest-Paris

Hi Gang,

I've enjoyed the bit of interest in Randonneur riding, and the Paris-Brest-Paris event in particular. I did indeed participate in 1999, completing the 1200km in a leisurely 84 hours. The max. allowable is 90 hours, but I think they added some time to this because the route was 60km over distance due to construction detours.

I tell non-cyclists, who are stunned by the distance, that this event is to the French what marathon running is to North Americans. With almost 4000 participants last year, the event is spectacular. Like marathon running, only the first 10 or 20 are competing to "win", while the rest of us are thrilled just to finish. For someone who loves classic bikes, this is a bonus. Taking off the need to compete, you can attempt the event in all manner of machine. I did it on a late 1970's Peugeot PF-40, an upper crust model equivalent to the venerable PX-10 except with comfortable geometry, a Stronglight 99 Bis triple crank, and pretty Pettit Jean fenders and subtle racks like a Singer or Herse.

We were in line at the start beside a gentleman who was surely passed 70 years old, riding a beautiful old Singer, who told us that this was his 10th PBP. The ride is conducted every 4 years, so this has been a 40 year passion for the man! Young fellers like Tony should have no problem...

Really, you see just about every kind of bike in the event. The rules have also been relaxed in recent years, mostly to accomodate the American competitive types (there are Europeans with similar attitudes, so I shouldn't generalize) who like to ride the event like RAM. Fenders are only recommended now, not compulsory. Traditional Randonneur riders wouldn't think about doing the event without them, as potentially three days of muddy water spraying up your bum is more than most are willing to handle.

Reliable lights are a must, and again there is a divergence between the racers and the traditionalist. The racers use powerful battery systems and rely on picking up extra battery packs in "drop bags" left at the controls. The event is organized like a car rally where you must be a various controls before specific times throughout the route. You are not allowed support along the route, except at the controls. The traditionalist would do the entire event without support, and rely on a generator set for lighting.

I should also state that those who do compete well in this event turn in super-human efforts. The winner in '99 finished the total distance in 44 hours and change. His riding time (the clock never stops once the ride begins, so resting, eating, and checking into the controls is all included in the 90 hours) was just over 43 hours. So he was off his bike just over an hour in nearly two days of riding! And averaging almost 15mph the whole time! Thankfully, the rest of us are not expected to perform like that.

We have a website for our Toronto Randonneurs, http://web.idirect.com/~torando/, and if you go to the links page you can connect with most of the other Randonneur clubs in the world. You might want to try "Pyreneen Newsletter", and then look up the "Raid Pyreneen". This is the event that our club is attempting to complete next September as a group. The event goes from the Atlantic to the Med, along the French-Spanish border and takes in just about every Pyreneen col used in the Tour and a few more besides. By comparison to the Paris-Brest-Paris, you are given 100 hours to complete a mere 750km. Should be a piece of cake. I've been told that there are some hills, though...