Randonneuring (sometimes called audax) is non-competitive, long distance cycling. Camaraderie, not competition, is the hallmark of randonneuring. Finishing riders are always listed in alphabetical order, not by time of completion. Complete the course in the time allotted and congratulations, you are a randonneur.
The standard distances and times are:
200 Kilometer (125 Miles) with a time limit of 13.5 hours
300 Kilometer (185 Miles) with a time limit of 20.0 hours
400 Kilometer (250 Miles) with a time limit of 27.0 hours
600 Kilometer (375 Miles) with a time limit of 40.0 hours
Riders are given a cue sheet and a brevet card. Riders must obtain some proof of passage at each control listed on the brevet card. Riders may not have pre-arranged support outside of the control stops, but are free to buy food, supplies repairs anywhere along the route. There are no road markings and no sag wagon. If something breaks, you have to deal with it.
For the full rules, see https://rusa.org/pages/rulesForRiders
To participate in brevets riders must abide by the rules of Randonneurs USA, as well as all state and local laws.
Brevets registered with Audax Club Parisien, by individual clubs worldwide, are recorded (homologated) in Paris. Cyclists who complete a basic series of 200, 300, 400, and 600 kilometre brevets, in a calendar year, are awarded the “Super Randonneur” medal, issued by ACP. This basic series also represents the qualification for riders wishing to enter the quadrennial, 1200 kilometre Paris-Brest-Paris—the most prestigious of all randonnées.
A Bit of History:
Randonneuring dates back to the earliest days of the bicycle. In 1890s bicycling swept Europe and USA. The “Safety Cycle” with equal sized wheels and chain drive appeared in 1886. Pneumatic tires appeared on bikes in 1888. Bicycles gave people freedom to go places they couldn’t before; trains didn’t go to every town, orses were expensive to buy and keep, automobiles were not yet in use. It is hard to overstate what a big deal bicycles were at that time:
Group rides and challenges were hugely popular in 1890s bike boom. “Audax” rides, which were ridden as a group with a captain setting the pace started in Italy in 1890s, as a day long challenge, the first recorded audax was 1897. The challenge was to ride from Rome to Naples (230km) during daylight hours. In 1904 Audax Club Parisien was organized. In 1920 the ACP switched to free pace “allure-libre” rides, but didn’t change their name. ACP is still the umbrella organization for Randonneuring worldwide. RUSA submits all brevets to ACP for verification, and all completed brevets inscribed in ACP records.
Today, randonneuring groups and rides exist in just about every state and all over the world. Major events like Paris-Brest-Paris draw thousands of participants from every corner of the globe. Smaller, local events can be found just about anywhere that there are roads.