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Looking for experienced Brevet riders - Numerous Questions(23 posts)

Looking for experienced Brevet riders - Numerous QuestionsScummer
Sep 12, 2002 8:28 AM
I'm contemplating getting into Brevet riding next spring with grand aspirations of qualifying for PBP. Are there any experienced Brevet riders out there who would be willing to answer some questions for me?

email - Thanks!
Where do you live? What do you want to know?MB1
Sep 12, 2002 9:25 AM
Brevets aren't all that hard to do-if you are in shape and experienced. Don't forget you mostly self support.

Check this site out

on the left edge of the page under the "Photo" heading there are reports of the DC area 200k, 300k, 400k and 600k brevets.

If you have any specific questions I will be glad to answer them here-might as well amuse the rest of the lurkers too.
Where do you live? What do you want to know?Scummer
Sep 12, 2002 9:39 AM
Thanks for the response.

I live in Northern Illinois, and I'm considering a Brevet series in eastern Iowa that will qualify me for PBP or BMP.

Here are some of my questions:

What type of equipt. is required? Eg. fenders, lights, extra bulbs, vests, etc.

What about sleeping? Do most people carry tent/bag with them on the longer rides, or do they make arrangements to sleep in hotels?

Food - do Brevets offer any rest stops for food, or is this to be self-sufficient.

Any mechanical support?

Might I get your email for other mundane questions?
For starters you need a bike.MB1
Sep 12, 2002 9:57 AM is the organizing group, their rules are posted on their site.

Pretty much any safe bike will work, you will need all sorts of reflectors and redundant lighting systems for anything longer than 200k. Generally they try to have at least 5,000 feet of climbing every 100 miles so Single Speeds and Fixtes are rare but not unknown-Randonneurs are a tough breed.

Sleep, who sleeps? There is usually some sleeping (cheap motel) arrangement made for the 600K and longer rides.

Food and mechanical-self sufficient.

I have done lots of brevets-they are fine rides usually.
i think there's something wrong with me.JS Haiku Shop
Sep 12, 2002 10:17 AM
I read this stuff and now there's a 24-hour smile plastered on my face. perhaps i should consider BMB next year. sounds entertaining.

750 mile ride, 90 hour time limit.

Terrain: The terrain is extremely difficult. Be prepared for 30,000 feet of climbing. Riders will encounter a steep 10% climb and severe 15% climb into Middlebury Vermont. A triple crank is recommended. Be prepared for bad road surfaces.

Weather: You may have 75-degree days with sunshine and humidity. It could be 50 degrees and rainy. Nightime temperatures may be in the 40s.

damn your hyde, "Scummer"! see what you've gone and done!
No BMB in 2003 cause it's a PBP year. nmdzrider
Sep 12, 2002 11:47 AM
so, do '03 brevets count toward BMB '04? nmJS Haiku Shop
Sep 12, 2002 11:57 AM
I don't believe so. I'm hoping for 1000K in Eastern IA nmdzrider
Sep 12, 2002 1:07 PM
It is harder than they say.MB1
Sep 12, 2002 12:50 PM
All the climbing (way steep!) is in the first and last 200 miles. Bring your ATB gearing-you ain't gonna go all that fast on the flats and you will coast all the downhills that you are not burning out your brakes on.
sounds like funJS Haiku Shop
Sep 12, 2002 1:02 PM
plus, i'm good at walking and pushing a bike. probably a good skill to have.
lights, bulbs, extra lights, reflector vists and leg bands yesdzrider
Sep 12, 2002 10:17 AM
Fenders, no

Saw no tents or bags but my own and wouldn't do that again. I would send a mattress pad and bag to the check point where cots and floor are available for sleeping. Many riders used motels for 1200.

Food varies from stop to stop. I'd plan on convenience store or deli sandwiches and lots of Hammer Gel.

There was mechanical support at the 600k and 1200k. I don't remember it at the shorter rides.

Join RUSA. It's pretty cheap and they'll send you much of what you need to know about how brevets work and how you can do them. This was my first year doing them and I liked 'em a lot. It's a bunch of tough riders with a strong community of spirit. Nobody pissin' on other riders' wardrobes, or bikes, or how fast they went. If you don't whine, you'll feel really welcome.
My (lengthy!) brevet and PBP advice...Dale Brigham
Sep 12, 2002 12:26 PM
I'm no Scott Dickson (PBP co-record holder and 6-time finisher), but I do have a wee bit of experience (PBP, BAM, and about a dozen brevets) in the wacky world of riding-way-too-far-in-a-day. I'm sure there are vastly more experienced randonneurs who post to this forum. Their advice would surely be more valuable than mine. Regardless, here's my 2 cents:

1) MB1's equipment advice is sound. A reliable bike is key. Personally, I like wheels with spokes (32 or more), fat tires (28 mm Contis), and big cogsets (26 tooth or larger big cog). If the ride requires riding in the dark, I use two Cateye Micro-Halogens up front, an LED taillight (or two) in back, and adhesive reflective "dots" on the frame, cranks, and pedals. I usually carry 3 spare tubes, a Topeak or Park multi-tool, spare chain links, and a patch kit. In a "big ride" such as PBP, I carry a spare folding tire under the saddle bag, just in case.

2) I use a small under-saddle bag for the tubes and tools; everything else (arm and knee warmers, rain jacket or wind vest, food, route sheet, money, ibuprofen, etc.) goes in the jersey pockets. Hint: Use zip-lock plastic bags for money, ID, route cue sheets/brevet card and maps. When I have used a big bag on the bike, I've filled it. When I have used a small bag, I've carried less stuff and have done just fine. You should (and will, I hope) see the French randos in PBP -- they carry almost nothing and ride like pros.

3) Regarding food, brevets in my area (Missouri and Kansas) usually use convenience stores as checkpoints. I bet it's the same in Iowa. If so, learn to love sandwiches encased in plastic, Gatorade or Powerade, salty snacks (got to watch out for hyponatremia!), and sitting on a curb eating while being stared at by the locals. (By the way, when the locals ask you how far you are riding and you respond, it's great to see their jaws hit the floor.) In contrast, PBP has great, simple food at the checkpoints ("controles") served cafeteria style. Beer and wine, too! The equivalent of a convenience store on the PBP route is a bar-tabac or little grocery section in the local bakery. I've used both for extra water and food between controles. By the way, I know a great pastry shop between Loudeac and Tinteneac -- it's a must-stop!

4) Like MB1 wrote, the brevets are usually well within the capability of anyone who can ride a century in, say, about 7 hours or less. The time limits are generous and undemanding, until you get into the multi-day brevets and randonnees, when, in my opinion, time becomes your principal adversary. The time limits for the brevets are 13:30 for 200 km, 20:00 for 300 km, 27:00 for 400 km, 40:00 for 600 km, and 90:00 for 1200 km (PBP, BMB, etc.). The 200 and 300 km brevets are simply long day rides and require no more special equipment than you would have for a century ride. The 400 km brevet likely will require some riding in the dark (both pre-dawn and post-sunset), so lights are mandatory for the 400. The 600 km brevet is, as a friend once said, "fairly deep water." I split mine into 2 rides -- 400 km on Day 1; 200 km on Day 2. That means an overnight in a motel for me and either more clothes and stuff (big saddle bag!) or someone (my wife, usually) to rendezvous with at the motel.

5) The 1,200 km randonnees (PBP, BMB) are truly multi-day events, and require (for me) lots of logistical arrangements. I'm a (proud) weenie -- I like support at the checkpoints in the multi-day randonnees. Tougher, stoically self-sufficent randos sneer at me through their 3-day beards, wear the same clothing for several days, and sleep on a gym floor. I smile back at them, confess to my pathetic softness, wear clean clothing, shower and shave daily, and sleep in a bed. Viva la difference!

6) The Randonneurs USA website ( is a rich source of useful info on brevets and PBP. If you look in the newsletter archives ("Publications"), t
I didn't realize I wrote so much. ;-) nmMB1
Sep 12, 2002 12:38 PM
My brevet, PBP blather, continued...Dale Brigham
Sep 12, 2002 12:55 PM
Got cut off in mid-thought by browser. Can't bear to spare you all my ravings. Please forgive me.

6) The Randonneurs USA website ( is a rich source of useful info on brevets and PBP. If you look in the newsletter archives ("Publications"), there are several articles that were published preceding the 1999 PBP that I found to be of great assistance. Also look under "Links" for links (duh!) to PBP stories. Those stories are great sources of advice and inspiration. Also, the brevet administrator for the eastern Iowa brevets will be a big help in answering your questions. I see he even has a website ( I'm sure he can give you the low-down on the routes and the rules.

7) Feel free to totally ignore any and all advice I have given you. Randos are a motley bunch of free spirits, eccentrics, and self-appointed "experts" (like me!). I am proud to call them my brothers and sisters. The wide diversity of bikes (I have three words for you: tandem recumbent tricycle), clothing, lighting systems (is a flashlight taped to handlebars truly a "lighting system"?), riding styles, and darn near everything else you encounter at brevets and randonnees is astounding and amusing. Do your own thang, Baby!

All the Best,

"Motley Bunch of Free Spirits" well said-and so true. nmMB1
Sep 12, 2002 3:51 PM
...more resources...JS Haiku Shop
Sep 12, 2002 9:58 AM

check the links page, too

fun stuff--check out his home-made fenders

i'm thinking about doing a series next year, as well. either in GA, KY, or MO, or a combination. i'm closest to st. louis, MO

on longer rides this year i rode with more than a few RUSA and UMCA members, and was encouraged by their tales of brevets and longer rides.
how in the heck do you do lights?JS Haiku Shop
Sep 12, 2002 10:24 AM
unless you're using a hub generator, how does one arrange for lights? i can't think of a rechargeable battery-powered light that can be charged on the road, or a cell-battery light that would be powerful enough AND that could go the distance without eating many changes of batteries.

how is this addressed on 600k and 1200k rides?
I used a Black Diamond helmet light for the 600.dzrider
Sep 12, 2002 11:45 AM
Had to remove the straps and use velcro thru the vents to attach the light and battery pack to the helmet. It burns for about 3 hours on 3 AA batteries and is a big help reading road signs. I had no luck getting a generator that ran off the tire to work consistently which may say more about me than the product, but it was loud and a drag on the wheel any way. If I try anything longer I hope to get by with the helmet light and Cateye lights with LED bulbs that are advertised for 180 hours on 4 AA batteries. The hub generators are the way to go if you can afford one. I couldn't this year.
re: hub generatorsJS Haiku Shop
Sep 12, 2002 12:00 PM
did a long ride with a guy a couple weeks ago--first 4.5 hours in dark AM. he was using a front wheel/hub generated-light that seemed to work well. he'd had it built by some guy in canada (?). i recognized the builder's name when he mentioned it, but don't remember. was stronger than my 5 watt NiCad.
Schmidt DynohubMB1
Sep 12, 2002 12:45 PM

We don't use them-lots of folks do and like 'em. Miss M and I always ride together so we cheat a bit on the headlights. We run a really cheap AAA LED light while drafting and only run our big lights on the downhills and other "iffy" spots.

We also each have one of the better Black Diamond light sets for riding through the night. We ride in the dark so much we are really stocked with excellent lighting systems front and rear. For the 400's and longer we each carry 3 lighting systems.
that's it--peter whilte. thanks for the info. nmJS Haiku Shop
Sep 12, 2002 1:05 PM
whilte=white. pardon typo. nmJS Haiku Shop
Sep 12, 2002 1:10 PM
re: Looking for experienced Brevet riders - Numerous Questionsaliensporebomb
Sep 13, 2002 4:33 AM
Scummer: you want to talk to Machka over at the website forum - she's been doing up to 400 miles a week doing them all. She's a randonneur for sure. She knows all about it.