16 December 2011

Randonneuring taking off Down Under

This is interesting...http://www.kiwirandonneurs.org.nz/ is a website for road brevet type events from 200 to 1200 km. They are run in the same spirit of self-sufficiency as the Kiwi Brevet. No great surprise really, because we're all inspired by the same sort of epic feats of long distance cycling that were taking place a century ago.

There are some differences in style though. In the road riding ultra endurance world the pinnacle events are Paris-Brest-Paris and Race Across America which are much more difficult to qualify for (and expensive to enter) than the off-road equivalents. They tend to be more competitive - you don't get people stopping to take photos all that much. But they have a lot of history and tradition which is fascinating in it's own right. Check out the history page on the Kiwi Randonneurs site.

Off-road ultra endurance events are younger, less organised and, arguably, more adventurous. This will probably change with time as fast riders race harder and harder to better their times (at the expense of the touring element of the ride). I hope the Kiwi Brevet will be an exception...that it will remain relatively uncompetitive...that it will encourage people to explore the mountains, coast and forest (more so than exploring their physical limits). There are plenty of other events which allow a rider to prove how fast they are.

I'll right some more about this when time allows. If you're curious about the early characters who promoted long distance cycle touring, check out this link:
Velocio - Paul de Vivie wrote gems like this:
After a long day on my bicycle, I feel refreshed, cleansed, purified. I feel that I have established contact with my environment and that I am at peace. On days like that I am permeated with a profound gratitude for my bicycle. Even if I did not enjoy riding, I would still do it for my peace of mind. What a wonderful tonic to be exposed to bright sunshine, drenching rain, choking dust, dripping fog, rigid air, punishing winds!