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Observations on Randonneuring

E. W. [Wim] Kok


As a rookie randonneur - this is my first season - there are a few observations that I like to share after having successfully completed four brevets this year. [200, 300, 400 and 600 km]

On randonneuring:

What a way to explore and appreciate the world around us.

On mindset:

As a cyclist who also likes to race at times [time-trialing and road racing] I found it important to discard the 'racing attitude' during a populaire or brevet. It is the last kilometer, the last hill that determines whether or not a ride is be successfully completed. The saying that 'when the going gets tough, the tough get going' definitely applies to randonneuring. Then again, when the going gets tough, don't get too excited, relax an enjoy it. Keep on peddling and you'll get there.

On gearing:

Heed the advice for small gears. I never thought I would admit or even say this. Having been involved in bicycle racing, one tends to ignore the small ones, except for the uphills. Small gears are great especially toward the end of the day when that last hill seems to be almost insurmountable, or when that incessant headwind seems to sap all your energy. Small gears allow one to maintain a steady pace at a decent speed without getting too tired. They are like that extra powerbar in your pack.

On weather:

"Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it, " [C.D. Warner, in Hartford Courant, c. 1890] Knowing that weather is always with us, we can talk and complain about it, and we can......... cycle in it. Yes, the winds can be a help and a hindrance. As a help enjoy it, recite Shelley. As a hindrance I'd say ignore it. It won't go away. Having experienced very little rain during the rides in the Peace region, I can't comment on the wet part of randonneuring. Sub-zero temperatures with severe wind-chills and snowy conditions require one to dress warm. I am not sure how long distances under these conditions would be. I am sure that being well prepared will make a difference.

On cycling in remote areas without services or settlement:

In remote areas one must be very appreciative of the fact that no services [food or drink] may be available for long stretches of the ride. On weekends when stores close early at night and open later in the morning, extra provisions need to be taken along on these self-sufficient rides. This of course adds extra weight, but that is definitely worth its weight in gold when you are getting hungry or thirsty.

On wildlife and other critters:

Encountering wildlife provides an extra opportunity to appreciate the world around us. On the other hand wildlife also requires caution. During one of the early rides a group of eight white tail deer bounced across the road, a 7 % downhill section where we were cruising at speeds of 70 kph. We did indeed slow down to prevent a collision. Domestic dogs tend to chase cyclists, even when they are going at a moderate pace. Sometimes they [the dogs that is] may not recognize randonneurs for what they are: humans. However yelling 'go home' to them may achieve that they will indeed heed your human advice. Domestic livestock represent a different story. As you pass the crowd, they may continue to graze undisturbed. Then again, when one decides that the alien on wheels [you!!] looks too spooky, a stampede results. What a sight. I am not sure that the rural owner agrees.

And finally, on randonneurs:

Having read a number of event accounts from randonneurs, I can only conclude that they do strike me like a funny bunch. I guess sitting around for that long, one can't help but see humor in many a situation, albeit it black at times.