Awhile back I posted a couple of write-ups about a some randonneur brevet rides I took part in. Just to refresh some of y’all, a brevet is a organized long distance ride ranging from 200 km to 1200km. Brevet translates to mean “card”, so each rider is required to carry a card with “control” locations posted on them, and once one reaches the control, they must get their card signed.
Various brevets are grouped together to form a series. Each series compiles of a 200, 300, 400, and 600km. If a randonneur completes a whole series they become a Super Randonneur. Though this was my first foray into randonneuring, I gritted it out and was able to complete a series and become a “S.R.”
After all this is done, you are eligible to receive various medals show your achievements to the rest of the world. Mine arrived a couple of weeks ago. Here’s what the look like
I purposely enlarged this picture so you can actually see what they look like, because they are in fact very small. Just slightly bigger than a silver dollar. I had a good chuckle to myself when they arrived because I was very excited to receive them, ripped the envelope open, just to find these tiny little medals.
On further contemplation, I did however decide their petite stature was more than fitting for a randonneuring medal. When you are on these ridiculously long rides, the idea of receiving a medal for your achievement becomes something of a carrot on a stick. You use the medal to motivate yourself to keep pedaling when your body is screaming at you “FEED ME!” or “STOP RIDING THIS DAMN BIKE, THAT’S ENOUGH FOR ONE DAY” or “CAN WE GO HOME NOW?”.
You convince yourself that your life wont be complete if you don’t get this medal, you don’t know how ever survived so many years without one, and DNF would be the biggest personal disaster. You must keep riding.
But, in the end of the day, its not about this little medal, its not about anything tangible. Its about the ride. The prize is the satisfaction that you just rode further than you ever had before, farther than most sensible people would even dream of going. Its also the scenic roads and little towns you discovered along the way, and the monstrous hills you conquered. And above all else, you set a totally silly goal for yourself, and somehow you pulled it.
In addition to the 4 medals for each distance I also received a Super Randonneur medal. Its a little bigger.
So now, with these medals put away in a drawer, I am just looking forward. I am trying to stay on top of my riding over the winter, and so far I am doing an okay job. There is another award called the R-12 which is given if you complete a 200km brevet a month for 12 consecutive months. Thats helping me really keep it going and will hopefully go into the 2011 season even stronger. I will let you know how big that one is when I get it.