My New Year's Resolution for 2010

Jan 10, 05:51 PM

I’ve made one New Year’s resolution for 2010: train for, and attempt to ride, an ACP-sanctioned brevet series in the spring and summer.

ACP stands for “Audax Club Parisien,” a French bicycling club that sanctions long-distance, non-competitive rides that are called brevets (pronounced, à la française, as “breh-VAY”). A series consists of four rides, each progressively longer:

  • 200 km (125 mi), with a time limit of 13 hours and 30 minutes
  • 300 km (187 mi), with a time limit of 20 hours
  • 400 km (249 mi), with a time limit of 27 hours
  • 600 km (373 mi), with a time limit of 40 hours

There are also 1000 and 1200 km rides. Every four years, the ACP organizes the famous Paris-Brest-Paris brevet, a 1200 km ride that leaves from the western suburbs of Paris, goes to Brest on the Atlantic coast, and then returns to Paris. The slowest riders have a time limit of 90 hours, but there are also starts for riders who seek to do the ride in 80 or 84 hours.

The next PBP (Paris-Brest-Paris) is in 2011. To qualify for it, riders must complete a 200 to 600 km series in 2011, ensuring that they are in good condition for the ride. However, registration will be limited, and priority will go to those who have ridden long distances in 2010. I’m not sure I want a shot at PBP; heck, I’m not even sure that I am up to a 300 km brevet yet. But if I am even considering it, I should ride a full series this year, both to find out whether I enjoy it and to increase my chances of getting a spot if I decide to enter PBP.

The English name for the sport (pursuit? madness?) of riding brevets is randonneuring, from the French randonner (to roam). The rider is a randonneur (or randonneuse), and the same word is often used to refer to his or her bicycle.

I plan to update this blog with training notes and ride reports. The first event I plan to ride is the 200 km ride starting in Westfield, Mass., on April 24. I can do the 300 km and 400 km rides in the same series, but if I decide to try the 600, I’ll have to do one in Britain when I’m there in late June.

Brian W. Ogilvie

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