Randonnées à alure libre (at unrestricted speed)
Brevet or randonnée is organized extremely long bicycle ride. Riders are called randonneurs. They have to ride along the non marked course (distance being between 200 and 1400 km), pass all time stations and reach the finish within the time limit. Opening times for each time station and the finish are set in the way that the brevet can be completed at moderate pace.
The term randonnée in French language means long walk or long journey. Brevet stands for certificate and refers to the brevet card that randonneurs have to carry in order to confirm passing through the time stations. Brevet is not a race. Riders on a brevet do not compete with each other. Brevets are tests of endurance and independence – no supporting vehicles are allowed. Randonneurs have to carry all necessary items: clothing for all possible predicted conditions, spare parts, tools, lights, reflective vest and so on. Any sort of bicycle or tricycle will do, although a lot of randonneurs ride on race bikes.
There are four classic brevet distance: 200, 300, 400 and 600 km. To complete one of each in a year means to complete a Super Ranodonneur series. The French randonnuer club is called the Audax Club Parisien (the ACP). The ACP organize every four years the Paris – Brest – Paris brevet (the PBP). The first PBP was held back in 1891, on 6th of September. 206 participants started the race, and after 10 days the 1196 km long race finished 98 participants. Until today there were 16 PBPs. At first they were organised every 10 years, from 1951 every five years, and starting from 1971 every four years. Last PBP were organized in 2007, from 20th to 24th of August. On a 1227 km long course started 5160 randonnuers, and 3603 of them reached the finish line within the time limit (90 hours). The following PBP will start in August 2011. Nowadays, brevets are organized around the world. The brevets organized by the Randonneurs Mondiaux are called the Brevets de Randonneurs Mondiaux (the BRM) and those are the only brevets that are qualifying brevets for the PBP. Due to a large number of entries and a great percentage of DNFs, the ACP had to introduce the qualification for the PBP. To qualify for the PBP one have to complete the Super Randonneur series in the year when the PBP is organized.