Randoneurring, a long-distance cycling sport, is gaining popularity in the city, and how!

Randoneurring, a long-distance cycling sport that is more popular in the Western world, is gaining ground in Chennai, as proved by the birth of Madras Randonneurs (www.madrasrandonneurs.org).

Partha Datta, who founded this local group primarily to avoid having to travel to Bangalore and Pune for brevets (as randoneurring events are called), admits to being surprised at the growing enthusiasm for the sport in the city.

Under supervision

For its first brevet, a 200-km ride on East Coast Road last December, the group expected a modest number of participants. To Partha’s amazement, 46 cyclists took the endurance ride. At the beginning of a randoneurring year (November to October), every club submits a calendar of events to Audax Club Parisien (ACP), a French organisation that governs the sport by supervising clubs and brevets around the world.

“The Madras Randoneurrs’ calendar did not offer any 400-km and 600-km rides due to a misguided belief that longer races would have few takers in Chennai. After the turnout for the first brevet, I had to amend the calendar,” says Partha.

The 35-year-old techie believes brevets are here to stay and to illustrate his point, he launches into the details of an upcoming brevet, Freedom Ride on August 15 with two categories, 200 km and 300 km. “I receive at least 10 inquiries daily,” he says.

This brevet follows two loops. Randonneurs start at BSA Riderz, Kandanchavadi, and ride to Kelambakkam and then to Vandalur and taking NH45, go to Acharapakkam, where those in the 200-km category turn back. The ones doing the 300-km ride will reach KM ES Nursing College before turning back.

“As always, the route has been validated by ACP,” says Partha. It de-recognises a brevet if it fails to meet requirements. “At least three riders in a brevet have to complete the course in the stipulated time for it to be recognised as one. A 200-km ride has to be finished in 13 hours and 30 minutes, a 300-km ride in 20 hours, 400 in 27 hours and 600 in 40 hours,” explains Partha.

Non-competitive

In randonneuring, participants pit themselves against the clock, and the sport is non-competitive. But clubs are still enjoined to strictly enforce controls across the course and watch out for foul play (which includes taking short-cuts and drafting).

“Randoneurring is devoid of commercialisation. Every club has to make sure its brevets reflect this fact,” says Partha. “When a member club stands out for its high standards and efficiency,

ACP is more likely to look at the possibility of allowing some of its best cyclists to participate in big international randoneurring events — such as the 1,200-km Paris-Brest-Paris, the 1,400-km London-Edinburgh-London and the 1,200-km Boston-Montreal-Boston rides.”

UPCOMING EVENT

Freedom Ride on August 15 with two categories — 200 km and 300 km. It follows two loops. Randonneurs start at BSA Riderz, Kandanchavadi, and ride to Kelambakkam and then to Vandalur and taking NH45, go to Acharapakkam, where those in the 200-km category turn back. The ones doing the 300-km ride will reach KM ES Nursing College before turning back.

For details, visit www.madrasrandonneurs.org