Over the last couple of years, it’s not uncommon to see groups of people cycling along the Bambolim stretch. Sans the rain and its resultant potholes, that long stretch of road leading on to Verna and beyond is a Goan cycler’s best challenge when training for rides and competitions, thanks to the ups and downs that make the ‘course’ demanding. There have been a number of cycle meets and events organised by the Tri Goa Foundation, an affiliate of Audax India Randonneurs, and supported by companies like ProByk to encourage cycling in Goa, and it has definitely paid off. For the first time in its history, randonneurs from Goa participated in the Paris Brest Paris 1200 km brevet where Venuvardhan Reddy Pasula managed to complete the gruelling 1200 kms endurance ride within the time limit of 90 hours.
Randonneuring is far from random
For the uninitiated, randonneuring is a form of long-distance cycling which unlike events like the Tour de France is non-competitive. Randonneurs ride as a group, where a course of 200 km or more is completed within a specific timeframe, by passing through predetermined ‘controls’ (checkpoints) every few tens of kilometres. This is done with little to no support from officials at all, which means riders have to carry their own food, water, and tools to fix their cycles in case of breakdowns. Riders are equally awarded on completing the course, regardless of their position. The events that these randonneurs participate in are called Randonnees or Brevets.
The OG of Randonneuring – the Paris-Brest-Paris
Of the many Brevets conducted the world over, the Paris-Brest-Paris (or PBP) is the most popular. It is held every four years and takes place on an out-back course between Paris and Brest. It started 1891 and is the oldest bicycling event still regularly run. Conquering the 1200 km PBP in 90 hours or less has become the Gold standard in randonneuring, and Venuvardhan Reddy Pasula has brought that honour to Goa. Acceptance into the PBP Brevet is not easy, with riders having to qualify by doing a super randonee series of brevets (200, 300, 400 and 600 kilometres) in the qualifying year. As per the Audax India Randonneurs rankings for 2018-2019, Venuvardhan is placed third across India with 6 badges to his name this year – which in itself is a massive achievement.
India in the Paris-Brest-Paris
India participated for the first time in 2011 which lead to the huge growth in Randonneuring in the country. The recently completed 19th edition of the PBP started from Rambouillet near Paris on 18th August 2019 and saw a contingent of 350 to 400 Indians attempt this historic event. By completing the PBP through 9 degrees Celcius temperatures, rain and fog along some stretches, road closures and extremely rolling terrain, Venuvardhan Reddy Pasula is now officially homologated into the Audax Club Parisien. The Audax Club Parisien is the founding club responsible for popularising the sport of randonneuring and awarding accomplished riders with the Brevets des Randonneurs.
Do you think you have what it takes to take on a 200, 400, or 600 km randonee? Let us know in the comments, and follow ItsGoa to find out about the next exciting randonee event.