BC Randonneurs Cycling Club

Ride Results
And How They Should Be Presented

What is the best way to present ride results for a randonneur event - how should the riders' names and times be listed? I see four possible options: by last name alphabetically, by finishing time, arbitrarily (registration order, etc.) or by some version of a pass or fail designation (Finished vs. "DNF".)

Particularly with larger events, alphabetizing by last names makes it easy to find your name, and the names of other people you want to check on. A significant drawback of the alphabetized list is that beyond its name locating benefit, it is unhelpful for riders who want to jog their own recollections about various aspects of a ride. If you want to know who finished with whom, who that person was that came in a couple minutes after you and talked to you about his new fender system, how many people did Mary end up riding with, etc., extracting this information by scanning through an alphabetized list can be frustratingly time consuming, and becomes more so as a list gets bigger.

The advantage of listing event results sorted by time is that many of those who's-riding-with-whom sorts of questions are immediately answered. It doesn't answer all our questions about a ride of course, but the time list it is more interesting to browse because in a way it tells a story. The problem in the context of randonneur cycling is that results organized this way look like race results. One of the appealing things about randonneur cycling is that the rides are not races. The first rider home is not the winner, merely the first finisher, and there are no losers, including those who tried to finish but could not. Although finishing times are of great interest to many randonneurs, there is nevertheless a concern that we guard, the notion that brevets are not races.

To take this concern (about ride results being organized hierarchically by speed) one step further, it might be argued that any hierarchical structure should be avoided in presenting ride results. Even alphabetical lists have a kind of permanent hierarchy to them: names beginning with "A" will always be at the top, and "Z" riders are destined to always be at the bottom. A randomly generated list would be a perfectly egalitarian list and despite its obvious irrationality would not be impractical for small events of let's say less than 30 - you'd still be able to find your name and anyone else's easily enough.

Finally, we come to my least favorite option: the qualified, or did not qualify designation. In a way, this option is closest to the spirit of randonneur cycling - you either complete the brevet within the time limit or you don't. There are two reasons I don't like this method however. First of all, everyone knows that finishing times are recorded. Virtually everyone wants to know what their own official time was, and they probably want to know the times of the other ride participants too. To know that the organizing team have possession of the times, but are not sharing them with the riders would be a source of irritation. "So what's the big secret." My second reason for disliking this option is that I think it emphasizes more pointedly the riders who did not qualify. On a list that also contains times, the DNFs seem like they are on more of a continuum.

In 2000 I took a look around to see how randonneur results were presented elsewhere. Paris Brest Paris listed riders by finishing time. Boston Montréal Boston listed riders alphabetically by last name. Randonneurs Ontario (at the time called Toronto Randonneurs), and Seattle International Randonneurs listed by finishing time. Rocky Mountain Randonneurs (the earlier incarnation of Alberta Randonneurs), didn't list ride results as such: there is an alphabetized summary of each rider's season (including times) similar to the database reports which used to accompany our own newsletter. RUSA (Randonneurs USA), on their web site, did not (do not) list ride results by event either, but rather have a member's account system where you can enter a name and learn that rider x did a 200 in Portland and a 300 in Seattle: there is a ACP verification number, but no indication of finishing time. At the Audax Australia web site some "ride reports"' came with time results which varied in method of presentation depending on who's submitting the report - the only randomly organized list I found was on this web site. Audax UK lists finishers alphabetically with no times.

After weighing the options in 2000 I thought that time ordered results lists would be more interesting and useful to our riders, so that would be our default system. I thought also that it would be important to leave the option open for organizers to substitute their own ordering systems.

The opinions above are my own, and not the final word on this. We'd like to know what you think - what do you think a randonneur results list should look like?


Eric Fergusson
April 2001, revised 2002, further revised from time to time.