A whaty what now? Dear reader, the Randonneur Round the Year (RRtY) Award is for riders who successfully complete at least one 200km+ brevet per calendar month for a whole year. Should a rider fail to complete a brevet in a given month, they must start all over again – these rides must be consecutive.
I took on the challenge in 2019 beginning in February. As this was a Paris-Brest-Paris year, I thought it’d be a relatively easy twelve months insomuch that PBP was my motivation for the first 7 months of the year anyway. I would therefore only need to chase five months upon my return from France.
Committing to a challenge like this requires sacrifice, organisation and desire. I don’t like to ride for riding’s sake; I want to ride my bike because I love to, when the weather’s nice or if we’re going to a nice cafe for lunch while in good company. Put simply, I never feel obliged to ride my bike, I do it because I want to.
I planned my BRM SR so that I had all my PBP qualifiers done and dusted by the end of May. This lifted a weight off my shoulders in one respect (I’d definitely be riding to Brest soon!) but in others, I had to make sure my training kept going. June became a DIY month and July thankfully had plenty of calendar events to choose from. I also made a trip down to the Alps to boost my climbing legs.
After PBP, I knew I was probably at my peak in terms of fitness for that year. Heck, I’d just ridden 1200km in just under 81 hours, of course I was fit!
It was around September that I really embraced the Peak Brevettes community: a bunch of women based anywhere between Manchester and Sheffield who love riding their bikes a very long way. Individually, we’d all ridden a lot of events together but hadn’t known of one another until this group was set up, so it was nice to have a virtual cycling club.
Some randonneurs may tell you that starting a Randonneur Round the Year award in the first part of the year is easier than most other times of the year. By the time the cooler weather comes in, you’re already at/over the halfway point so the motivation to complete it is stronger. As I started in February and the shorter days drew in around October, I knew I just had to survive three more months until glory was mine!
I took part in the Eureka 200 in November, which was the first chance I had to catch up with a few familiar faces from August. Apologies if you didn’t do PBP and are getting sick of people on every ride since talking about it! I had the company of Chris the whole way around having met him at the start. Hi Chris!
December is a tricky month no matter which way you look at it. The last couple of weeks tend to be a write-off and the chill sets in proper. Or so we thought. Sian from the Peak Brevettes organised a 200 at the start of the month and we managed to tick the box for December. Ange managed to twist my arm shortly after this and convinced me to join her three-day Festive500 bonanza with some of her Sheffield CTC friends. Amazingly, I’d managed over 700km in December, my most productive month since August!
The new year brought one final challenge: the last 200! With a somewhat average forecast, yet another Peak Brevettes powerhouse left Sheffield and headed for Curbar where Rach and I met them. Ange suggested an Eastern route down to Newark-on-Trent in a brutal headwind. With Hannah’s nose in the wind, this was no bother for the rest of us who cowered behind her wheel seeking shelter. While the main bunch celebrated the end of their ride in Sheffield, Rach and I had one last climb to do to complete the route. Enter Owler Bar where I had a sense of humour failure in the torrential rain with Rach’s rear light my only focus.
The sweet relief of the descent into Baslow and the subsequent chippy tea is a feeling I can’t explain. I had done it! Paul Stewart validated my DIY within 24 hours and I submitted my claim for the Randonneur Round the Year award. Confirmation came through just a few days later and with it, my order for the exclusive badge.
This award is one of the best to work towards: it keeps you motivated every month and ensures you get out for at least one long one. Of course, we’ve been lucky so far this winter with the mild bright days and lack of ice. I felt so engaged with the wider audax community and it felt so good to ride with other people working towards the same goal.
If you’re thinking about it, my advice is to JFDI…for the next 12 months! Check out my calendar to see which Audax events I’ll be doing this year. I update it regularly, so keep it handy in case I suddenly decide to venture out! The Randonneur Round the Year award is much easier if you have someone else to ride with.