What is a Brevet?

Salt Lake Randonneurs

A Brevet is a timed, long distance road cycling event. Brevet means certificate which refers to the card carried by randonneurs which gets stamped or signed at checkpoints along the way. It  is also used to refer to the event itself, that is, a certificated ride. A brevet (bruh vay) is not a race, although riders seek to improve their personal best times. For many, the goal is simply to finish and to go farther than they have before.
This type of cycling is called randonneuring (rahn doe ner ing) and is a type of ultracycling.  A person that rides a brevet is called a randonneur (rahn doe ner, male) or a randonneuse (rahn doe nuhz, female). Randonneuring, unlike bicycle racing, has minimal or no support during the event. Regular road bikes or recumbents are used and drafting is allowed. Longer brevets, including multi-day events, usually have a drop bag service though. A randonneur is different than a  “self-contained touring cyclist” as we travel lighter, without the heavy pannier bags needed for camping. Randonnée is a French word, which loosely translated, means a ramble or long journey.
For more rando glossary info visit the RUSA  site. For a more general cycling glossary visit the Road Bike Rider site.

A full brevet “series” is made up of the four traditional distances (miles are rounded off):

200 km = 125 miles, 13.5 hour limit
300 km = 187 miles, 20 hour limit

400 km = 250 miles, 27 hour limit

600 km = 375 miles, 40 hour limit

Additionally, there are longer brevets:

1,000 km = 620 miles, 75 hour limit (3 days & 3 hours)

And the granddaddy of them all, frequently called a Grand Randonnée:

1,200 km = 750 miles, 90 hour limit (3 days & 18 hours)

More Info on calculation of brevet times

How a Brevet Works Riders are provided with a brevet card and cue sheet showing the route at the start of the ride. Riders must follow the route exactly and get to the checkpoints (also called controls) on time. Every rider must stop at each checkpoint to have his or her passport-like brevet card verified, thereby obtaining “proof of passage.” Checkpoints are also provided as brief rest and nutrition refill points. It will be very rare that you need to ride more than 35–40 miles without passing through a town or location with services, or at the very least, a potable water supply. If you should get off course, you must return to the route where you got off track.

Listed below are the five types of checkpoints (or controls) you might encounter during a brevet:

  1. Receipt Checkpoint Obtaining a receipt from a convenience store or other establishment is very common on brevets. Our preferred method is that you obtain a receipt with the time & date indicated. Also acceptable is a stamp or signature by a store clerk with the time notated IF you are unable to obtain a receipt. Obtaining both a receipt and a signature are not needed, as long as you don’t lose your receipt! If a brevet official is at the checkpoint, he/she can sign your card instead of getting a receipt.
  2. Staffed Checkpoint At certain checkpoints, which may or may not be located near a store, a volunteer will be there to sign or stamp your brevet card. If for some reason, a brevet official is not there, obtain a receipt instead at the nearest establishment. Permanents did have staffed checkpoints.
  3. Informational Checkpoint. This type of checkpoint requires that you answer a question about a nearby sign or unique location identifier. Write your answer on your brevet card. Recording your time is not necessary. Informational checkpoints are used when a rider could potentially take a shortcut and there is no establishment nearby to obtain a receipt. This type of checkpoint proves that you took the designated, but “longer” route.
  4. Secret Checkpoint There may be one or more “surprise” or secret checkpoints along your route, staffed by a brevet official. You must stop and get a signature or stamp on your brevet card.
  5. Postcard Checkpoint Rarely used, this type of checkpoint requires that you mail a provided postcard at a specific post office to prove that you passed through that town or location.

It is not enough that you ride the required number of miles or kilometers — you must ride the route exactly as it appears on the cue sheet. Anyone observed taking shortcuts from the official route will be disqualified, but there is no penalty for detours or unforeseen things such as road construction, flooding, or traffic accidents. Brevets are not races, but riders must reach the checkpoints on time so as not to be disqualified. Riders can stop and rest any time, but the clock is always running. The overall average pace on brevets is about 15 kph (9.25 mph) to a maximum of 33 kph (20.5 mph) or so.

At the finish, sign your brevet card and turn it over to a brevet official, along with your receipts. The results are sent to the national organization (Randonnuers USA, RUSA) and to the international governing body in France (Auxax Club Parisien, ACP). Results are then posted on this web site and on the RUSA site. Since brevets are not races, the results are listed alphabetically and not by finish times. RUSA members are entitled to buy medals if they finish a series successfully.

More Info on brevet rules

Weather The rides are held rain or shine. Bring adequate clothing for variable weather conditions. Brevets are long events and the weather might change a great deal before you reach the finish.

Lighting Most brevets 300km or longer will probably have some riding in the dark. Proper lighting is essential and required by law. See our rules page for more details.

Self Reliance and Determination Brevet riders are expected to be self-sufficient and tenacious. They should be able to repair their bike, read a cue sheet, and deal with bad weather. Having said that, we’re not going to leave you stranded. We do not have the resources to sag but we sometimes can get you back to your car or help you call a friend for a ride.

Integrity It is not practical to have event officials everywhere. Brevet riders are on their honor to follow the rules. Friendly camaraderie, not competition, is the hallmark of randonneuring.

Sanctioning All brevets are sanctioned by Randonneurs USA (RUSA) and most are also sanctioned by Audax Club Parisien (ACP) in France too. Certified brevets can be used as qualifiers for 1200 kilometer events. ACP brevets count towards Super-Randonneur, Randonneur 5000 & RUSA awards. RUSA (USA domestic events) count toward RUSA distance awards, R-12 & Ultra-Randonneur (200k+ events). More Info on awards

What is a Permanent? A Permanent is like a personal brevet which you ride on your own schedule. More Info on Permanents

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