“The bicycle saves my life every day. If
you have ever experienced a moment of awe or freedom on a bicycle;
ever taken flight from sadness to the rhythm of two spinning wheels, or felt
the resurgence of hope pedalling to the top of a hill with the dew of effort on
if you’ve ever wondered, swooping bird-like down a long hill on
if the world was standing still; life you have ever, just once , sat
on a bicycle with a singing heart and felt like an ordinary human touching the
then we share something fundamental.
We know it’s all about the bike“Robert Penn
THE French and the Italians always have distinct styles and distinct words in the world of cycling. Randonneuring
is one of them. Randonneuring is
a long-distance cycling event. In randonneuring, a randonneur attempt courses of 200
km or more, passing through predetermined "controls" (checkpoints)
every few tens of kilometers. Riders aim to complete the course within
specified time limits, and receive equal recognition regardless of their
·Also known as ‘Brevet’
·Also known as ‘Audax’
·Riders can travel in groups or
alone as they wish
·Every rider has to be self
·No external help can be called
in except for medical emergency.
·Randonneuring is international
governed by Audax club Parisien
WHAT defines randonneuring? Randonneuring is all about endurance. It is not the speed or a
fashion that defines randonneuring. The riders are not even advised to wear
team jerseys. Randonneuring is also about attitude ... it is about the passion to paddle endless miles on empty
roads. If that is so, what are the challenges in randonneuring?
“Cycling for me has become a vehicle of
freedom ... a symbol of individuality. It frees me from the mundane crowd that
waits on others. Cycling gives me liberty
to keep pushing myself, literally wrenching my way with my life dreams”... Abby
"A randonneur has to drink before he is thirsty and eat before he is hungry"
Hydration : Until I started to cycle, I never understood
the importance of hydration on the performance of an athlete. Taking in the
right quantity of water is of paramount importance in cycling. A cyclist must
hydrate 2 hours before the start of a randonneuring. Too much or too little of
water create difficulty and hamper the performance of any sportsmen, especially
a cyclist. In any randonneuring, the randonneur is exclusively responsible for
the quantity of water he has to carry and its usage. Therefore, a good
understanding of water requirement is of outmost importance. A randonneur has
to know how well his body works under constrained water intake and how much he
can stretch his endurance in managing his water resources.
• In a dehydrated state, your muscles fatigue and may develop cramps. • Hydration keeps your heart rate lower, longer. • Both aerobic and endurance activities are affected, performance worsens in a hot environment and as dehydration increases. • Hydration keeps you from overheating. As you exercise, your muscles generate heat. The body dissipates this heat through sweat, and as the sweat evaporates, it cools the tissues beneath. Since sweat is made up of about 95% water, you need water in order to sweat normally. • Water acts as a lubricant for muscles and joints and it helps cushion joints to keep muscles working properly. • Approximately 70-75% of muscle is made up of water, so maintaining the right water balance is necessary for peak muscle performance. • Athlete studies show a 1% loss in body fluid will slow you down 2%.
ONE may think that a cyclist can pick
water from any roadside shops. However, often, in ultra-long cycling marathons
like brevetting, there can be long patches (of 60 to 100 km) of terrain with no
water sources. If a cyclist lands up in such a stretch of road having exhausted
his water, then he is in real trouble. Also, plain water alone is not
sufficient to keep the performance of muscles in a brevet. Water should be fortified
with salts and minerals which enhances the workings of the muscles. This is more
significant when one pedals long hours at night at a stretch, like in a
600 Km brevetting.
Navigation :Navigation is a tricky skill in randonneuring
and is often not much spoken about. A good randonneur has to be a good navigator. A
randonneur not only need to processes a good road sense but also need to be aware of
the route of the entire brevet. A wrong direction can drain any cyclist all his
mental and physical resources.When pedalling
at night,if one were to do it all
alone, ensuring the right course is absolutely essential. In a physically exhausted
state, a navigational error can be very costly to correct. Missing a control
point will disqualify the rider. Backtracking a route and falling in line with
the official route can be a very painful task. It will put the rider in a
physiological pressure following which he will not be able to proceed.
It is fancy to use a high-tech mobile
phone these days for navigation. There are various maps offered on-line such as
the one by Google. The practical point about this tool is that it is easy to
read and lock oneself with the map’s navigator. Nevertheless, these systems are
not 100% error free. In fact, I have had experiences where Google has navigated
me to dead ends. However, mostly, they will help any rider to make a quick
navigation to the goal point.
The most impractical side of these tools is that,
for a long marathon cycle ride (300Km or more), the cell phones go dead as
their batteries gets discharged. Hence,
for long brevets, cells phone based GSM navigational tools are redundant.
Conventional printed maps are the best companions. Hence, map reading skills
are to be honed if one were to be true brevet.