After riding a few of these solo with nothing else to do but contemplate the meaning of it all, I have come to the conclusion that each qualifying brevet has a purpose. Each distance has a lesson for the rider to learn or re-learn as necessary. Each distance is both an event and preparation for the next event.
The purpose of the 200K is to teach you the basics of how it all works. How to follow a route. How to get your card validated at controls. How to ride within time limits.
The purpose of the 300K it to teach you how to take care of yourself on a long ride. How to stay on top of your food and water consumption. How to keep going when you get tired without hurting yourself.
The purpose of the 400K is to teach you how to ride at night. How to equip your bike with lights that meet your needs. How to stay safe in the dark.
The purpose of the 600K is to teach you how to ride until you are exhausted, get some sleep, and get up and ride some more. Going to sleep when you are exhausted isn’t as easy as it sounds. Getting ready to ride again with your head in a fog and your muscles tightened up isn’t as easy as it sounds, either.
These are all lessons you need to learn if you want to be a Randonneur. Cut corners on your reflective clothing at your own peril. Neglect to equip your machine with with satisfactory lighting and you’ll regret it. You wont last long in this sport just meeting the minimum requirements. You spent a lot of money on your bike. You spent a lot of money for a wool jersey. You spend a lot of money on everything surrounding this sport. Go buy a decent reflective vest for crying out loud.
– Ron “The Club Curmudgeon” Himschoot
Editor’s Note: Ron Himschoot, RUSA 679, is a three time PBP ancien (1997, 2007, 2011) and has completed over 40,000 lifetime kilometers with RUSA. That’s a lot of contemplation. 😉
Thanks to Ron for sharing these lessons from the qualifying series. If you’re not yet prepared for night riding, you can buy a PBP-compliant vest and RUSA-required ankle bands from the RUSA store: http://rusa.org/cgi-bin/store_GF.pl