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What to expect

If you are new to randonneuring you may find an article by Bill Bryant, “Riding your first 200K” quite informative.

For those not familiar with riding a brevet, they are a bit different from century or club rides. The following provides an overview of what to expect, along with a few tips that will hopefully make this an enjoyable and successful experience!

 

Before the Event:

•     If not already a member of RUSA, please consider joining. Membership dues are reasonable and you will be able to get 'credit' for each ride (brevet or permanent) you complete. This credit can contribute toward awards for various levels of achievement. More importantly, if you plan to ride one of the longer brevets (e.g. Paris-Brest-Paris), you will need to officially complete a series of qualifying events as a RUSA member.

•     You will be given a cue-sheet at check-in. Please do not lose this! Most riders have a cue-sheet holder for their bike (e.g., a binder clip attached to the stem) or a handlebar bag with a clear-windowed top pocket.

•     Since navigation is a big part of riding brevets, it's a good idea to review the cue sheet ahead of time. Maps of each ride are available via the calendar (click on brevet distance for a Ride With GPS link).

•     If there's a chance of rain, it's a good idea to keep the cue sheet in a “Ziploc” bag (provided at check-in) or beneath some kind of protective cover. Otherwise, the cue sheet can eventually disintegrate.

•     If you're traveling far to the event, you may want to consider staying at the Quality Inn or another nearby hotel on the night before the event. Additional hotel information can be found under "Announcements".

•     The week before the event, it’s a good idea to taper towards the end of the week so you are well rested… especially if riding your first brevet.

 

Morning of the Brevet

•     Wake-up early enough to eat a good breakfast and give yourself enough time to arrive at the start without feeling rushed.

•     Plan to arrive at the Quality Inn about an hour before the scheduled ride start. Park in the large parking lot at the west end of the hotel (near Dayton Ave).

•     The check-in table will be inside the Quality Inn, in the corridor to the right as you enter the hotel. There will be a sign-in sheet that you MUST sign in order to participate in the brevet. You will then receive your brevet card that you must keep with you for the entire ride.

•     Do any last minute preparations (assemble bike, pump tires, fill water bottles, etc.) and review your checklist.

•     About 10 minutes before the scheduled ride start, there will be a brief rider meeting at the front entrance of the hotel. At the end of the meeting, the ride officially starts and riders depart as a group.

 

During the Brevet

•     You may ride at your own pace alone, or with a group of cyclists. While brevets are not races, some riders like to finish quickly in order to improve a personal best time. Other riders may choose to take a more leisurely pace and enjoy the scenery on the route. Some riders prefer to ride alone while others enjoy the camaraderie of riding in a group. You are free to choose the style of riding that suits you best.

•     There will be a number of 'controls' or checkpoints on the route. Each control has an opening and closing time. You must reach each control between these times to be officially recognized as a finisher. The minimum average speed to reach the control is modest (≈10 MPH) but note that the clock is always ticking, even while you are stopped. Consequently, it's good to keep your stops as short as possible. Controls are usually at a convenience store, where you can buy some food. At the check-out counter, present your brevet card to the clerk and ask them to initial or stamp the card in the appropriate box and record the time using 24-hour notation. For some longer brevets, there may also be a sign-in sheet at the control. This allows us to monitor your progress and track you in case you get lost.

•     Some brevets may also have 'information' controls. These are usually located at some out of the way area (e.g., a major junction) where a convenience store is not available. At the designated area, you stop and fill in your own card with the time and the answer to a specific question listed in your card. A typical question might be: "According to the sign, how many miles is it to Ames?" or “What color is the cable tie attached to milepost 35?”

•     There may also be an unannounced 'secret control' along the way, staffed by a volunteer. Because of this, it's important to stay on course. If you get lost, you must work your way back to the point where you left the course and avoid any temptation to take shortcuts. Otherwise, you risk missing a secret control, which at minimum will result in a time penalty and may result in a DQ.

•     Randonneuring is all about self-sufficiency: you are not allowed to receive support from a following car between controls. You may, however, have a support car meet you at a control. You may also receive help from fellow randonneurs or event volunteers, or stop along the way to rest, perform any repairs, or grab any supplies you are carrying.

•     The cue sheet will have a phone number(s) to contact a volunteer if you run into difficulties or plan to withdraw from the ride.

 

Post-Ride

•     After you finish, sign your brevet card on the back and present it to the volunteer at the finish for the final stamp.

•     Within a couple days, preliminary results will posted on the Iowa Randonneurs website and the RUSA website. For ACP events, it may be several weeks before official validation numbers are posted.

 

Cards will be validated by RUSA and then mailed back to you at the end of the year.