Author Topic: A Little History  (Read 20505 times)


  • Whimsy Rider
A Little History
« on: 31 March, 2008, 05:17:54 am »
A Little Audax History
(what we call Audax anyway…)

Most of us have a pretty good idea how Audax started – the French raced from Paris to Brest and back in 1891, cycle tourists joined in a few years later and some Italians riding dawn till dusk were involved early on. That’s not too bad, as far as it goes, but Audax history goes back a long way, even before the first PBP.

The Beginnings

Let’s set the scene a little. Bicycles were the fastest things on the road 130 years ago and were at technology’s cutting edge. Firmly in the focus of entrepreneurs, high society and sportsmen, they captured society’s attention. Leisure cycling for the upper classes consisted of Sunday ‘spins’ or weeklong tours between railway stations. Fit young men (‘scorchers’) hurtled through quiet villages in pursuit of bragging rights. Races and point-to-point records on the open road had paid riders supported and paced by teams of cyclists to boost their speed. The public was enraptured by feats of athleticism and races got longer and tougher, pushing riders to their limits.

Maurice Martin, cycle-tourist and writer, had helped found a weekly cycling newspaper, “Veloce-Sport” in Bordeaux, but by the mid-1880s, excessive support and press coverage of races and racers had begun to annoy him. Of an estimated 25,000 French cyclists, perhaps 500 had racing licences. In response, Martin created a new type of event, not for racers or relaxed touring cyclists but ‘vrai tourisme rapide’ (rapid tourists). The Union Velocipedique Francaise started sanctioning the first ‘brevets’ in 1888, requiring 100+km in a day - far enough given the unsurfaced and cobblestoned roads. Riders carried ‘brevet cards’, stamped at specific places along their route. Brevet translates as certificate but also applies to the event.

Martin helped organise the 572km Bordeaux-Paris brevet in May 1891 with Pierre Giffard (editor of “Le Petite Journal”) and riders were expected to take 5 days. Unhappily for the French, some English riders treated it as a race, hired pacers and claimed the top 4 places - George Pilkington Mills taking 27 hours. An experienced racer, he’d won the first North Roads 24 hour race on a high-wheeler (‘penny farthing’) in 1886 with 227 miles. That wasn't the first 24hr bicycle race; Steve Snook won the first in 1882 with 214.5 miles ridden between London and Bath on a lever-driven high-wheeler. France was agog at GP Mills' performance and newspaper sales soared. Bordeaux-Paris, the ‘Derby of the Road’, lasted into the 1980s as a professional race. The racers drafted dernys (special mopeds) for the second half of the course, a relic of the paced racing of early years.

June 1891 saw the North Road Cycling Club’s first ‘York Run’ with 25 riders starting and 10 finishing the 200 miles (320km) from London to York within 21hr 30min. The annual non-competitive ride lasted until 1973, albeit with a 2 decade hiatus starting during World War 1.

Giffard held the first Paris-Brest-Paris (PBP) in September 1891. Expected to take 10 days, only entries from Frenchmen were accepted. The nearly 1200km event had special edition newspapers giving race updates, gleaned from dispatches via telegraph and train. Each racer was allowed 10 pacers but needed their route book signed and stamped at specified towns. Riding without sleep and using newfangled pneumatic tyres, Charles Terront (a pacer for Mills at Bordeaux-Paris) won in under 3 days with 10,000 cheering him at the finish. Alexandre Duval, the only PBP finisher on a high-wheeler, was amongst 98 finishers (from 206 starters) taking up to 245 hours. Despite its popularity with the public, racers complained that training for PBP meant lost speed and revenue in shorter races and the next PBP was not held for another decade. Giffard moved onto other endurance events - the first Paris marathon in 1892 and Bordeaux-Paris and Paris-Brest-Paris running races, through to early motor vehicle races such as Paris-Rouen.
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  • Whimsy Rider
A Little History
« Reply #1 on: 31 March, 2008, 05:18:23 am »
The First Audaxers

In June 1897, Vito Pardo led 12 riders 230km from Rome to Naples and the 9 finishers were lauded as ‘audace’ (Italian for audacious or bold). 20 Napoli cyclists, meeting the challenge of the rival Romans, rode the reverse route and became known as ‘Audax Italiano’, their ranks growing with subsequent rides. Aiming to finish 200+km within 14 hours, roughly sunrise to sunset, participants rode as a group following ‘road captains’. It seems that Audax Italiano continued until World War 1.

Henri Desgrange was a former bike racer and the editor of the cycling newspaper “L’Auto”. He had set the very first unpaced hour record on a velodrome but racers and the public were more interested in the extra speed of paced events. At the turn of the century, his paper was in trouble, with plenty of competition and not enough readers. Desgrange’s response was to hold the second PBP in 1901. He despised racers gaining any outside advantage (gear changers were later banned from some of his races), so riders were split into 2 categories, professional ‘couriers de vitesse’ assisted by other cyclists and amateur ‘tourist-routiers’ without pacers.

Maurice Garin won the pro race in just over 50 hours, again capturing the French imagination. Garin later won the first-ever stage race, the 1903 Tour de France. Also created by Desgrange, this even longer event gave more time to sell newspapers. American Charly Miller was the first non-European PBPer, finishing 5th in less than 57 hours. La Societe Charly Millar recognises all Americans that complete PBP faster than Miller. Other countries represented for the first time were Belgium (Clauwers, Kerff in 7th place, Kulhing and Samson), Germany (F Krause), Italy (Rodolfo Muller, 6th) and Switzerland (Michel Frederick, 4th). 73 tourist-routiers completed the race with Rosiere winning in under 63hr.

Inspired by an Audax Italiano enquiry about possible routes for a Naples-Paris brevet, in 1904 Desgrange created the rules for Audax in France and gave the newly-formed Audax Club Parisien (ACP) the authority to certify Audax brevets. Finishing a 200km brevet qualified a rider as an Audaxer but soon even longer rides took place. The first 400km brevet was in 1908. Other non-competitive but challenging endurance events are part of the Audax ethos - namely walking (first brevet in 1904), swimming (1913), kayaking (1956) and cross-country skiing (1985).

In 1911, the British magazine Cycling (now Cycling Weekly) created a competition for amateur riders, excluding professional riders and races of any sort. Riders totalled their daily century rides for the year, confirmed with 'checking cards' signed by witnesses and validated by magazine staff. Olive Elliott topped the ladies with 60 centuries and Marcel Planes won, riding 332 centuries on a coaster-braked roadster.

The 1911 PBP outlawed pacers - Emile Georget won in 50 hours ahead of 8 other professionals from 13 starters. The 120 amateurs (62 finishers) had their cycles ‘sealed’ to prevent bike changes. Garin (the 1901 winning pro) and Auguste Ringeval shared the amateur race after a competitor was disqualified for illegal assistance.

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  • Whimsy Rider
A Little History
« Reply #2 on: 31 March, 2008, 05:18:51 am »
The Parting of the Ways

France rebuilt after World War 1 before introducing limits to working hours. Cars were prohibitively expensive for most, so leisure cycling boomed with touring and brevet riding benefiting hugely. Cycle manufacturers responded with technological advances (aluminium frames, multiple gearing, etc), trying to grab the public's attention. The most popular methods involved backing successful racers or publicising wins in 'concours', technical competitions administered by various cycling organisations.

In 1921, 43 professionals and 63 tourist-routiers started PBP with Louis Mottiat winning in just over 55 hours (10 finishers). Ernest Paul, a 1911 PBP pro, took the amateur race in 62 hours, ahead of 46 others.

The ACP assisted at the 1921 Polymultipliee, a timed tourist event promoting the use of front and rear derailleurs; run by Victor Breyer, editor of “L’Echo des Sports” and Desgrange’s competitor. In response to this and following a movement within the ACP to increase brevet speeds, Desgrange (as owner of the Audax rules) removed the ACP’s authority to homologate Audax brevets. Up till then, Audax had meant groups averaging 18km/h following a road captain with scheduled stops to stamp brevet cards, eat and rest. With no applicable rules for their calendared rides, the ACP wrote the Brevet des Randonneurs Francais ‘allure libre’ (free pace) rules, allowing participants to ride between specified maximum and minimum time limits. The first 200km randonnee was in September 1921, 300 in 1922, 400 in 1923, 600 in 1928 and 1000 in 1934. The name later changed to Brevets des Randonneurs Europeen (1975) and then Brevet des Randonneurs Mondiaux (1983) as more countries organised ACP-homologated brevets.

The introduction of allure libre events caused a split - the traditionalists formed L’Union des Audax Cyclists Parisiens on Bastille Day 1921, becoming L’Union des Audax Francaise (UAF) in January 1956. In the early days, there was some acrimony regarding the ‘proper way to ride brevets’ and finish rate comparisons between the rival methods were common. The UAF still homologate group brevets, usually at 22.5km/h riding average, perhaps due to better roads. Known as “Euraudax” from the ‘70s till the ‘90s and nowadays often called “Audax 22.5”, this brevet style is fairly common in Belgium, France and more recently Australia and Sweden. Audax brevets have also been held in Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands (at 25km/h), Spain and the USA.

The 1931 PBP, held during the “Great Depression”, actually comprised three events. Hubert Opperman took well under 50 hours for the professional race (14 finishers from 28 starters), despite headwinds and rain. The only non-European winner, the Australian’s French employer was bankrupted during the race and Oppy never collected his promised winner’s bonus. Nicholas Franz (a multi-Tour de France winner) was the first Luxembourger to finish PBP. The amateur race was replaced by the first PBP brevets. The UACP held a brevet under Audax rules with a 20km/h riding average and 29 of 81 Frenchmen finished in 85hr. Entries from women and tandem teams had been returned. The ACP ran another brevet under Randonneur rules, requiring a 300km qualifier (only 200 for tandem stokers). 44 of 62 starters finished within the 60hr and 96hr limits, including 5 ladies - Germaine Danis, Georgette Dubois, Claire Gorgeon and Juliette Pitard stoking tandems, Paulette Vassard on solo.

There were abortive attempts to organise PBP during World War 2 despite the German occupation of France, Allied bombing and the resultant curfew. Surprisingly, although bicycle parts and especially tyres were in very short supply, some French brevets and races still took place.
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...


  • Whimsy Rider
A Little History
« Reply #3 on: 31 March, 2008, 05:19:20 am »
After the War

Cycling in Europe rebounded strongly after World War 2 before rising affluence in the ‘50s and ‘60s eventually shifted society’s focus from bikes to cars. Brevet riding was concentrated in France with rival organisations validating either fixed-pace group rides (Audax) or allure libre events (Randonneur). The ultimate event for both organisations was PBP (held once each decade), although there were plenty of other prestigious brevets, such as the 1000km Paris-Nice (every 5 years since 1952).

British racing and touring clubs organised ‘Reliability Rides’ or ‘Standard Rides’, particularly in the early season, with riders aiming to complete various distances within specified times. Finishers often received certificates from the Cyclists’ Touring Club (CTC, formed in 1878). Existing in various forms almost since cycling began, ‘50 in 4’ (miles in hours), ‘100 in 8’ and occasionally ‘200 in 24’ are the most common Reliability Rides, although brevets are now much more popular in the UK.

The ACP’s Fleche Velocio was first held in 1947. The team brevet honours ‘Velocio’ - Paul de Vivie was a staunch advocate of both challenging rides and bicycle gearing. Teams comprising 3 to 5 machines must complete at least 360km within 24hr on self-selected routes. US Metro Paris covered 778km in 1995.

Albert Hendrix needed less than 42 hours to win the 1948 PBP race (46 starters and 11 finishers). There were 42 Audax finishers (including a tandem) from 62 starters and 152 Randonneur finishers from 189 starters. Jean Van Den Bulk became Belgium’s first ‘ancien du PBP Randonneur’ (male PBP finisher). Annual distance record character Rene Menzies (61,561 miles in 1937 and one-time chauffeur of Charles De Gaulle) rode this and the following Randonneur PBP to become the first British PBPer, courtesy of dual British-French citizenship.

The 1951 PBP, returning to the traditional date, saw Maurice Diot win in under 39 hours (11 finishers from 34 starters). 85 of 96 Audaxers finished (with a 22.5km/h riding average), including two ladies. 351 of 488 Randonneurs finished after riding 400km qualifiers.

Although all the brevet distances had existed for decades, it was 1952 before the ACP created the Super Randonneur annual award (SR - 200, 300, 400 and 600 in a year).

Increased popularity meant PBP switched to 5-year intervals, usually with a day between one style’s finish and the other’s start. The 1956 PBP, the last time 'seals' were used to prevent bike changes, saw 77 (from 106) Audax and 157 (from 250) Randonneur finishers coping with nasty weather. The first Dutch PBP Randonneurs were Hetzler, Krijnen, Millenaar, Oudshoorn, Pafort, Van Batenburg, Van Der Weerd, Van Kreuningen, Van Mildert, Van Rheenen, Vervat and Vork. PBP races in 1956 and finally in 1961 were cancelled, due to a lack of interest amongst the professionals.

The 1961 PBP had 140 of 162 Audaxers and 125 of 191 Randonneurs finish, again despite poor weather. The ACP created the Randonneur 5000 award (originally Cyclo-touriste 5000, later Brevet de Randonneur 5000), requiring riders to finish PBP, a 1000km, SR, Fleche Velocio and sufficient 200+km brevets to total 5000km within 4 years.
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  • Whimsy Rider
A Little History
« Reply #4 on: 31 March, 2008, 05:20:16 am »
Francais et Etrangers

In 1966, the PBP Randonneur time limit was cut to 90 hours and personal support was limited to checkpoints only. The 'hot PBP' had 165 Audax (from 178) and 135 Randonneur (from 172) finishers. Luxembourg's first ancien was Edmond Zahlen. The English-speaking world began to notice PBP following a Cycling Weekly article of Britain's Barry Parslow's Randonneur ride.

In 1971, the entire PBP route had direction signs for the first time. 309 of 328 Audaxers and 272 of 325 Randonneurs finished, with Oppy (driving the course this time) encouraging riders from Belgium, Britain, France, the Netherlands and for the first time, Spain (Leopoldo Gallego Cameros, Francesc Porta Torras and Carlos Ruano Casado). Sporting Cyclist editor Jock Wadley's book "Old Roads and New" recorded his Randonneur ride, boosting foreign interest in PBP. In just a week, 8 Frenchmen (Belleville, Bonnin, Boubarre, Coussemene, Guillaume, Lucas, Plaine and Texier) finished both the Audax and Randonneur PBPs. Repeating the feat became harder when subsequent Randonneur PBPs moved to quadrennial intervals.

Organised century rides (100 miles = 161km) became popular in the USA, riding on the back of the 1970s bike boom, with finishers often earning T-shirts or sew-on badges ('patch rides'). Double, triple and even quad century options were added to some events over the following decades - California especially developed into a long-distance cycling hotspot.

A 600 qualifier was needed for the 1975 PBP Randonneur (400 for anciens). With no qualifiers in the UK, the ACP allowed a substitute; British entrants could qualify by riding 600+km in a 24hr time trial. Some concession, it required averaging over 25km/h nonstop without drafting. There were 559 finishers from 667 starters. Hansjurg Albrecht was the first Swiss PBP Randonneur finisher, together with the first American finishers since 1901 - Herman Falsetti, Harriet Fell (now Brown), Annette Hillan (later Shaffer) and Creig Hoyt. Jim Konski started International Randonneurs to organise brevets in the USA.

There were two 1976 PBP Audax starts (June and September) to reduce the peloton size, with 726 finishers from 911 starters. Amongst the 355 foreigners was the first Canadian, John Hathaway (born in Britain). Audax UK (AUK) began the same year, running the 600 km Windsor-Chester-Windsor to qualify British riders for future Randonneur PBPs. Their name derives from the ACP's name, not the event style.

The original long-distance brevet Bordeaux-Paris was revived in 1977. The allure libre version is now held in even years with various categories: cyclo-touriste, randonneur and cyclo-sportive, plus an independent Audax brevet. AUK introduced 200 and 400 brevets; their first 300 was the following year. Future PBPs would need a qualifying SR. The Dorset Coast 200 and North-West Passage 200 are still annual events. New Zealand's first Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge (100 miles round the lake) took place. Now almost 11,000 ride it, most doing a single lap, others multiple laps with some carrying an ACP brevet card.

The first Cape Argus Cycle Tour (just over 100km) had several hundred finishers in 1978 and nearly 30,000 riders last year. It spawned a host of similar South African mass-participation events %u2013 all riders are timed but only a few are racing for a win.

1978 also saw 104 riders finish a rather wet 800km Paris-Harrogate brevet marking the CTC's centenary, complete with a cross-Channel ferry trip. It was similar to other commemorative brevets, such as the Raids Olympic (the 1450km Paris-Rome Audax marked the 1960 Olympics, 180 finishers) and the 2003 Tour Audax du Centenaire (about 160 riders). Other events occur more often; the 600+km Paris-Le Galibier Audax generally takes place each decade since 1954 to honour Henri Desgrange, the founder of both Audax and the Tour de France.

The 1979 PBP Randonneur introduced staggered starts for the 1880 riders (1573 finishers). Rider deaths, mostly in crashes with motor vehicles (one in 1961, one in 1966, two in 1975), prompted a change from the 'Great West Road' to a longer, hillier route. PBP Audax kept to the original route for a few more years as follow vehicles and group riding minimised risk but now mostly follows minor roads too. First-time countries at PBP included Australia (Edmund Jones, living in England), Canada (J Hathaway, D McGuire, G Pareja, W Phillips and R Welsh), Norway (Leif Grimstveit) and Sweden (K Andersson, V Backman, I Hansson, R Klingzell and A Sivertsson). The first female tandem (Maryvonne Bernardin and Francine Rameaux) and the first blind stoker (Jean Nouet, captained by Jacky Chandru) finished, along with the first British lady, Jill Richards.
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...


  • Whimsy Rider
A Little History
« Reply #5 on: 31 March, 2008, 05:20:46 am »
Antipodes and Elsewhere

Audax began in Australia over a quarter-century ago. Following near-simultaneous letters to the ACP by Alan Walker and Russell Moore, a few rides occurred without ACP homologation. Riders started simultaneous 600km rides over the 1981 Easter weekend from Melbourne and Sydney (the first official Australian brevet), finishing in Albury to form Audax Australia = the committee comprising Moore, Walker and Tony McDonnell. The club's name derives from Audax Club Parisien's name, not the riding style. Strictly speaking, our events are randonneur brevets, not audax rides. Until a 1080km brevet in 1984, only standard SR distances were offered.

Some long rides pre-date Audax Australia. Moore began the Green Valley Century (100 miles) in 1976 in New South Wales (NSW), modeled on US century rides. The Green Valley Twin Century (200km) brevet eventually offered 300 and 400 options before ceasing in the early 1990s. He also ran a '200 in 24' in 1979, based on British Reliability Rides. Long Victorian rides included the Bendigo Double Century (two 100 mile rides over a weekend), the Geelong Otway Century Ride (annually since 1980) and the Knox Hard Hundred.

The 1981 PBP Audax had 1522 finish from 1573 starters in 7 groups between June and September. The AUK's first 100km brevet took place. The Greenhow Hill Super Grimpeur was a domestically homologated, multi-lap, climbing brevet with a challenging time limit, similar to the now-discontinued French TA Super Grimpeur events. AUK introduced Brevet Populaires a few years later; most are shorter than 200km and many have minimum averages below 15km/h. Ireland's first Wicklow 200 was held, the non-competitive challenge nowadays attracting about 1000 riders.

AUK created their Brevet 5000 award in 1982, akin to the ACP's R5000 although the qualifying requirements have varied over time. The first Race Across AMerica (RAAM, originally the Great American Bike Race) took place and other American long-distance cycle races followed under the auspices of the UltraMarathon Cycling Association (UMCA). They were often no-drafting massed-start affairs like the John Marino Open (later known as the Furnace Creek 508, now the Silver State 508). Australia's Gerry Tatrai won the 1993 and 1998 RAAMs, between finishing the 1987, 1991 and 1999 PBPs. Some events pre-date RAAM, such as the Bicycle Across Missouri (540 miles in under 72hr), first run in 1980.

There were 1903 finishers (from 2165) of the 1983 PBP Randonneur, including Australians Frank Brandon, Russell Moore and Stephen Poole. Countries at PBP for the first time included Finland (Hannu Hauhia, Paavo Nurminen and Matti Vimpari), Ireland (Liam Little), Italy (Elio Lana) and Japan (Kyoji Kobayashi). New ancienne countries were Belgium (Christiane Van Laarhoven) and Germany (Birgit Lutzenberger). Frenchmen Gilbert Duchesne, Jean-Baptiste Gony and Lucien Guerin were the first to ride a triplet. Paul Castle was killed while riding home to Britain.

Les Randonneurs Mondiaux (LRM) had its first meeting the day after PBP finished, formed from countries organising ACP-homologated brevets. Australia is a founding member, along with Belgium, Britain, Canada, France, Spain, Sweden and the USA. Many countries have since started organising ACP brevets including Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, China, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand and Ukraine.  LRM validates virtually every 1200+km brevet organised similarly to PBP, the main exception being PBP itself, homologated by the ACP.

There are many brevets ratified by local or national groups, rather than by the ACP or LRM, such as the 260km Brevet de Randonneurs des Alpes (first run in 1936, now held in odd years) and Paris-Roubaix Cyclo (even years, up to 261km). Raids and Diagonales de France are 'permanent' brevets, identified routes ridden by individuals or groups on dates convenient to the riders and organiser, as opposed to 'calendar' events run on a specific date. Permanents can be point-to-point routes or loops, taking a day or multiple days and ranging up to several thousand kilometers long. ACP does run some permanents, the Tour de Corse (around Corsica, since 1956) and Fleche de France (171 to 989km, linking various French cities and Paris) and has an award for completing 20 Fleche de France but permanents do not count towards a R5000.

Cycling events aimed somewhere between brevet-style riding and racing had existed for many years but cyclo-sportives and gran fondos exploded in the '80s and '90s. Challenges like the 300km Vatternrunden (first held in 1966), 175km La Marmotte (1981), 175km Maratona dles Dolomites (1987) and L'Etape du Tour (1993) attracted thousands, with scores of similar events entering the European cycling calendar over time. Finishers often earn gold, silver or bronze medals, depending on age, sex and finish time. The Kelloggs Sustain Cycling Challenge was a 120km time trial north of Sydney in 1992 and 1993. It was one of the first Australian mass-participation cycling challenges of worthwhile distance, albeit with an unusual format.

Charity fundraising bike rides also proliferated during this time. North America has a sizeable list of MS150 rides (usually 150 miles over 2 days) and other single-day and multi-day charity cycling challenge events, along with their traditional century rides. Some events record finish times - most issue certificates, t-shirts, jerseys, badges or other awards. Britain developed a substantial charity rides calendar; the most popular being 'London to Brighton' (since 1976, 54 miles and limited to 27,000 entrants), along with several multi-day London-Paris and Lands End-John O'Groats rides for various organisations. 'Around the Bay in a Day' (up to 250km and 16,000 riders, first held in 1993 but originally an Audax Australia brevet) and 'Sydney to the Gong' (up to 90km and 13,000 riders, 1982) are Australia's biggest single-day rides.

The first Opperman All Day Trial (OADT) took place in 1985, the first non-French Fleche. The 1993 'Endorphins' (Guy Green, Mark Hastie, Derek McKean, Nick Skewes) engraved the greatest distance onto the Opperman Shield with 770km (team member Ken Mayberry rode 762km). Originally finishing in Albury and Perth on the same day and then on various dates in different states, nowadays every OADT team is on the road simultaneously.

The 1986 PBP Audax had 923 finishers from 926 starters in 4 groups. The first Audax Alpine Classic took place, originally called the 'Bright Ride'. This Australian brevet now has over 2000 riders pedaling between 70 and 320 hilly kilometers. AUK created the Audax Altitude Award (AAA), with points earned on the basis of cumulative climbing, promoting shorter and more scenic and thus hillier events.

In 1987, 2117 randonneurs finished the 'wet PBP' (2597 starters), though half the Americans did not. For the next decade, this result meant rookie American PBPers needed extra qualifying rides, either an additional SR the previous year or a 1000km brevet on top of the normal SR. 12 Australians finished including Aileen Martin, our first 'ancienne du PBP' (female PBP finisher). The first Canadian ladies were Arscott, Elm, Howorth, Leier, Lepsoe, Turner and Watt and the first Scandinavian anciennes were Dagny Aurlund (Norway) and Ewa Erikssun (Sweden). Chilean (Sergio Villagran), Danish (Arnung, Brandt, Christian, Damm, Doygaard, Hansen, Lyngsaa, Olsen, Rasmussen and Roboz) and South African (Karl Geugis) men also finished PBP for the first time. AUK's Felicity Beard was the first tricycling ancienne while Barry Parslow and Mark Brooking rode the first tandem trike.
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...


  • Whimsy Rider
A Little History
« Reply #6 on: 31 March, 2008, 05:21:16 am »
Renewal, Reunion and Remembrance

The 1988 Boston-Montreal-Boston was the first non-PBP 1200km brevet. AUK began self-certifying 200+km calendar and permanent brevets (valid for domestic awards) and nowadays only a few AUK events are homologated by the ACP. The “Summer Arrow to York” (domestic fleche created in 1988 to Salisbury) peaked at 610km by the 1994 Derby Mercury team. Begun in 1995, AUK's ACP-homologated “Easter Arrow” saw George Hanna, John-Paul Lambworth, Dave Lewis, Judith Swallow and Ritchie Tout recording 564km in 2005.

The first 1300km Edinburgh-London was held in 1989; the quadrennial London-Edinburgh-London (LEL) is now 1400km. AUK instituted the LRM’s International Super Randonneur award (each SR brevet in a different country, no time limit). Australia’s Matt Rawnsley, Oliver Portway and Bob Bednarz are amongst the 100 ISRs awarded to date. BC Randonneurs’s first Fleche Pacifique took place; Team Time Trial (Ken Bonner, Keith Fraser and Ted Milner) covering 654km in 1998.

The Centennial 1991 PBP was celebrated with a prologue ride into Paris, with Oppy and the Parisien Mayor Jacques Chirac addressing the starters of simultaneous ACP Randonneur and UAF Audax brevets. Heavier traffic meant the start moved to St Quentin-en-Yvelines and resulted in the now-familiar evening and early morning start times. The ‘windy PBP’ saw 2611 randonneurs finish from 3276 starters, including 30 Australians. New ancien du PBP Randonneur countries included Austria (Franz Greifeneder), Costa Rica (Rafael Artavia) and Germany (Claus Cyzcholl, Andy Gruner and Ulf Roeper). Denmark’s first anciennes were Elizabeth Glymov, Kim Olsen Asger and Kim Osterby. The first Youth PBP had 40 teenagers riding the route Audax-style over 12 days. There were 204 Audax finishers, though another 207 had completed their PBP in June, from a total of 456 starters.

AUK created the Brevet 25000 award in 1991, requiring 25000km of 200+ brevets within 6 years including a 1300+km brevet, a 1000, a Fleche, 3 SRs and either PBP or LEL.

In 1992, Audax Australia held its first 1200km brevet (Victoria, Rex Cole was killed), its first 1500km brevet (Western Australia) and created the Nouveau Randonneur award (originally 50, 100 and 200 in a year, now 50, 100 and 150).

The ACP dropped the ‘compulsory mudguards’ and ‘no advertising on clothing’ rules for the 1995 PBP Randonneur but tri-bars were banned. There were 41 Australians amongst 2380 finishers (2860 starters) enjoying good conditions, Phil Bellette and Sue Taylor riding the first Aussie tandem. First-time PBP countries were New Zealand (Leslie Vincent), Portugal (Jorge Martins Da Silva and Fernando Silvestre Dos Santos) and Russia (Kouznetsov, Misnik, Ocipov, Silaev and Troufanov). Countries with their first female PBP finishers were Italy (Piera Marzani) and Spain (Carmen Diaz de Lezara). AUK’s Pete Giffard and Noel Simpson rode a tandem recumbent trike.

Audax Australia awarded the first Woodrup 5000 (similar to the ACP’s R5000) in 1995, honouring Graham ‘Woody’ Woodrup. The long-distance record-holder and club stalwart had been killed during a training ride in 1992. Woody’s Murray-to-Moyne 520km 24hr relay team charity ride has been held annually since 1987. Sweden’s first Audax 22.5 brevet took place, covering 340km around Lake Malaren.

Sir Hubert Opperman – PBP winner, patron of Audax Australia and Audax UK and former Australian Government Minister - died in 1996. PBP Audax had 212 starters in 3 waves and 192 finishers, including American tandemists Bill Curran and Mary-Blair Matejczyk. Canada’s first Rocky Mountains 1200 took place. AUK created the Randonneur 500 (R500 - 50, 100, 150 and 200 rides) and R1000 (100, 200, 300 rides and 400km of 100+) annual awards, along with the Randonneur Round the Year (RRTY, monthly 200+ brevets for a year). ACP created the Traces Velocio, based on the Fleche Velocio. Teams of 2-6 machines must ride 201-360km within 24hr, including a mandatory 8hr overnight stop.
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...


  • Whimsy Rider
A Little History
« Reply #7 on: 31 March, 2008, 05:21:55 am »
Celebrating The Century

The 1997 Paris-Rome-Naples Audax marked the centenary of Audax with a 1200km brevet to Rome via Mont Cenis, followed by the original Audax Italiano ride.

The first Super Brevet Scandinavia 1200 took place in 1998 with ferries connecting stages in Denmark, Norway and Sweden. AUK instituted Brevet 500 (B500 for 5 x 100 or 150), B1000 (5 x 200 or 10 x 100 or 150), B2000 (10 x 200 or 20 x 100 or 150), B3000 (3000km of 100, 150 and/or 200) and B4000 (20 x 200) awards. AUK also created R5000 and R10000 annual awards (5000 and 10000km of 200+) and the Ultra Randonneur award for 10 years of SRs. Randonneurs USA (RUSA) replaced the previous US organisation and abolished additional PBP qualifications.

Over-distance route diversions during the 1999 PBP Randonneur resulted in time limits for the 3573 starters being extended by 2 hours. An Australian cracked his pelvis en-route but was in the 60 Aussies amongst the 2977 finishers. Oliver Portway became the only Australian ancien faster than Oppy. New PBP nationalities included Brazilian (Kayo De Oliveira), Bulgarian (Dimitar Balanski, Vasil Gyuzelev, Atanas Ivanov, Valery Kitantchev and Haroutun Tevekelian) and Ukrainian (Uriy Levkovskij). First-time anciennes came from the Netherlands (Wilma Vissers), Russia (Natalia Nedosenkina and Zinaida Tchouprova), South Africa (Joan Louwrens and Marlene Prentice) and Switzerland (Anna-Lisa Haavisto, Solveig Skoglund and Anna Maria Termine). Haynesworth Van Epps rode a handcycle to become the first paraplegic Super Randonneur but the American did not reach Brest.

Audax Australia’s first Raids were ridden in 1999, these touring-style permanents allowing much slower averages than normal. Britain’s first cyclo-sportive, the Fred Whitton Challenge, took place.

The 2000 LRM calendar listed the first 2000km brevets (Canada and Scandinavia), alongside 1200km brevets in Australia, Canada and the USA. Audax Australia created the Dirt Series award (35, 70 and 100 rides at reduced average speeds, mostly on dirt roads and tracks). RUSA introduced R1000, R2000 and R3000 annual awards (for cumulative RUSA event distance), adding R4000 and R5000 awards in 2004. BC Randonneurs created the CanAm Challenge award for completing 1200km brevets in Canada and the USA in the same year. AUK organised 500km brevets and the SR2000 annual award (200, 300, 400, 500 and 600). The CTC’s Mille Miglia Challenge started, awarding certificates and bronze, silver or gold medals for annual totals of 500km, 1000km or 1000 miles in the CTC Touring Competition (begun in 1952 as the DATC, it changed to CTCTC in 2008). Amusingly most CTCTC events are actually AUK brevets, although the CTC have organised Challenge Rides up to 100 miles since 2000. Mike Yesko formed Audax USA but the Audax 22.5 group folded after a few years.

Australia’s first 2000km brevet (South Australia) was amongst 7 events in the 2001 LRM calendar. PBP Audax had 191 starters in 2 departures and 185 finishers.

There were 9 LRM randonnees listed in 2002, including Bulgaria’s first 1200 (Sofia-Varna-Sofia) and 5 Australian events. RUSA started self-certifying brevets (valid for domestic awards), including sub-200 populaires.

Also in 2002, 11 riders finished the 1270km Koln-Berlin-Koln Super Brevet, organised by Audax Club Schleswig Holstein. In 2006, this brevet became the 1500km Hamburg-Berlin-Koln-Hamburg Super Brevet.  In 2010, 48 of 63 finished the full distance, despite terrible weather.  Another 8 completed the 1145km option.  None of these brevets are homologated by LRM.

For the first time at PBP, foreigners outnumbered French in 2003. There were 3457 finishers (64 Australians) from 4069 starters. The Finn Alpo Kuusisto was the first to finish on a kickbike (scooter) and Theo Homan from the Netherlands, the first on a rowbike. First-time PBP countries included Greece (Karampasis, Misailidis, Pantazopoulou, Plegas, Spanoudakis and Nikolaos Stavropoulos), Hungary (Istvan Fingerhut), India (Anurang Revri) and Turkey (Osman Isvan). Honduras (Susan Forsman), Ireland (Dervila O’Brien) and Japan (Kiyoshi Ogura) had their first women finish PBP.

The 2004 ‘Le Challenge du Centenaire’ 200km brevet marked the ACP’s 100th year. RUSA started organising permanents and created the American Randonneur Challenge (at least 2 x 1200 RUSA brevets in a year), R-12 (similar to AUK’s RRTY) and Ultra-Randonneur (10 SRs) awards.
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...


  • Whimsy Rider
A Little History
« Reply #8 on: 31 March, 2008, 05:22:21 am »
Extending the Limits

In 2005, Audax Australia introduced a series of awards named for historic long-distance cyclists. Sarah Maddock (5 x 100 in a year) was the first woman to ride Sydney-to-Melbourne (1894) and Sydney-Brisbane and back (1895). Irene Plowman (5 x 200 in a year) held the Sydney-Melbourne record for many years and was renowned for regularly riding overnight to Melbourne to buy material for her dress shop. Percy Armstrong (50, 100, 150 and 200 in a year) took the Sydney-Melbourne record in 1893 and was a pioneer long-distance cycle courier in the Kalgoorlie goldfields. Joseph Pearson (2000km of 100 and 200) was possibly the first NSW cyclist and the cycle-tourist published the colony’s first road maps. Arthur Richardson (3000km of 300, 400 and 600) was the first ever to ride around Australia (1899). Frank White (5000km with a SR within 4 years) was a famed overlander, riding 14,500km from Perth to Rockhampton and back in 1898. A number of these awards have since been replaced.

2005 also saw 88 riders finish the first Madrid-Gijon-Madrid 1200 in Spain.  RUSA created the Coast-to-Coast 1200 award for members finishing 4 different RUSA 1200 brevets. The first Australian cyclosportives were held in Western Australia, most having an unusual team time trial format.

The 2006 PBP Audax had 134 riders finishing from a 151 strong group.

Wet weather at the 2007 PBP Randonneur almost doubled the normal 15% DNF rate with 3603 finishers (87 Aussies) from 5312 starters, despite extra time allowances. AUK's Sheila Simpson completed her 7th PBP and Claude Muzellec of Sweden his 8th.

New countries finishing PBP included Argentina (Pascal Chastin), Estonia (Kristjan Kull), Israel (Yehoshua Bronshtein, Abraham Cohen and Tal Katzir), Mexico (Braulio Nunez), the Philippines (Cristino Concepcion and Lee Millon), Poland (Frackowiak, Ignasiak, Kadziolka, Kalinowski, Litarowski and Makuch), Samoa (Raymond McFall), San Marino (Marco Casali), Slovenia (Baloh, Blatnik, Gerlica, Kopac, Nedoh, Santin and Vidmar) and Taiwan (Wen-Chang Cheng). Countries with their first anciennes included Austria (Christa Hainzl-Fellhofer), Costa Rica (Silvia Ugalde) and New Zealand (Carol Bell, Marian Savage and Jennifer Watson). Italian Giorgio Pozzetti died following a heart attack, the first PBP death since 1975.

In 2007, LRM agreed to ratify 1200+km brevets in the same years as future PBPs. AUK’s Steve Abraham completed 14 SR and 5 simultaneous RRTY during 40,500km of brevets, mostly comprised of permanents ridden on a fixed wheel. Texas randonneurs created the K-Hound Klub, recognising anybody accumulating 10,000km or more of RUSA brevets in a calendar year. The Klub listed "Hound and a Half" (15,000km), "Double Hound" (20,000km) and "Triple Hound" (30,000km) categories before the K-Hound Klub became an official RUSA award.

Audax Randonneurs Italia held the first biennial Mille Miglia brevet in 2008 with 156 of 201 starters finishing the 1600km loop from Milan to near Rome and back. Two years previously, the first Mille Miglia had been run as a competitive event.

Audax Australia introduced their first permanents during the 2008/9 season, along with the Year Round Randonneur award for completing monthly 200+km brevets from November till the following October. Australia’s first Audax 22.5 brevets also took place. These brevets qualify for both the various Audax Australia awards and the UAF’s “Aigle d’Argent” (Silver Eagle – 200, 300, 400, 600 and 1000) and “Aigle d’Or” (Gold Eagle – 200, 300, 400, 600, 1000 and PBP Audax plus another 1000+km brevet) medals. The other UAF disciplines (kayaking, skiing, swimming and walking) have similar cumulative awards, along with “Audax Complet” and “Super Audax Complet” awards for multi-disciplinary achievements.

In 2009, RUSA instituted the Mondial Award for completing 40,000km of RUSA brevets. La Societe Adrian Hands was formed to recognise "...randonneurs and randonneuses who believe that every ride should be enjoyed to its fullest. Membership is not for the fleetest of foot but for those that savor every moment of the journey, often using the full allotment of allowed time." Members must finish a PBP no quicker than 88:55. ACP created the Super Randonnee 600, an unsupported 600km permanent with more than 10,000m climbing that must be completed within 60 hrs (50 hr limit before 2017).

Japan held its first 1200 brevet in 2010 and RUSA's Mark Thomas used it to collect the first 4 continent ISR 1200. RUSA introduced a P-12 award for completing sub-200km brevets for 12 consecutive months.
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...


  • Whimsy Rider
Re: A Little History
« Reply #9 on: 18 January, 2009, 07:17:01 am »
More Recently

2011 saw the first 1200 km randonnees to be held in the same year as PBP Randonneur, in Australia, Belgium and 5 in the USA.

PBP Randonneur pre-registration in 2011 was preferentially available to riders that completed longer ACP-homologated brevets in 2010, followed by riders that have not completed any ACP-homologated brevets in 2010. Pre-registered riders still needed to complete a SR within the normal PBP entry period. In actuality, most countries did not fill their PBP entry quotas and 5002 started the 2011 PBP Randonneur. Amongst the 4068 finishers were 78 Australians. Leif Grimstveit of Norway and England's Jim Hopper collected their 8th PBPs but the USA's Thai Pham was killed by a vehicle.

New randonneur countries to finish PBP were Belarus (Alexey Lyashko), Finland (Karjalainen, Ilkka & Olli Korhonen, Linnanen, Makipaa, Pietila, Sainio, Jaakko and Jukka Salonen, Stedt and Vainikainen), Hong Kong (Chihung Kwok), Croatia (Ares Bursic, Ino Cvitesic, Darko Fojs and Alen Mose), Jersey (Charles Simmons), South Korea (Chulwoo Han, Soon Kwon Han and In Soo Park), Lithuania (Rimas Grigenas and Vidas Placiakis), Malaysia (Teck Meng Loh), Serbia (Jovan Erakovic, Pedja Popovic and Spasoje Spasojevic), Singapore (Ooi Khiang Heng) and Trindad and Tobago (Patrick Chin-Hong). New randonneuses came from Bulgaria (Bilyana Georgieva and Tanya Hristova), Brasil (Simone Barbisan Fortes), Hong Kong (Kwan Ni Wiwin Leung), Malaysia (Yee Ting Siaw), the Philippines (Carmela Serina), Slovenia (Tanja Kavcic) and Taiwan (Shu-Hsiang Hsu, Chia-Hui Ku, Yiping Lin and Chih Ying Tsai).

Two sessions of PBP Audax were held, in July and August. Several riders took a rare opportunity (the first time in 40 years) to ride PBP Audax and PBP Randonneur in the same month, including the first Australians to ride PBP Audax, Nick Dale and Dave Minter. Judith Swallow was the first Brit to do the double and she and France's Alexandrine Lamouller were the first women to captain PBP Audax.

ACP created the Randonneur 10000 award in 2011, requiring 2 series of 200+300+400+600+1000 BRMs, a Super Randonnee 600, Fleche Velocio, PBP Randonneur, a LRM 1200(+) brevet and sufficient ACP permanents and BRMs to total 10,000km within 6 years.

During 2013, RUSA's Vincent Muoneke completed 9 LRM brevets in Australia, Belgium, Hungary, Taiwan and the USA. LEL had 998 starters and 805 finishers with AUK's John Spooner collecting his 7th. The first elliptical bike riders to finish LEL were Idai Makaya and Alan McDonogh.

2015 PBP Randonneur abolished country quotas and had 4610 finishers from 5915 starters, which for the first time included women from Argentina (Ingrid Karen Guiller), Brazil (Rafaella Della Giustina and Silvia Oliveira), Belarus (Volha Minets), Hungary (Agi Palanki), Poland (Bozena Grabarczyk), Singapore (Khina Ong), Thailand (Sukanya Suwannaka and Sirisawat Yupin) and the Ukraine (Oleksandra Kyrllova and Maryna Moroz). There were also male finishers from Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bijelic, Jonanovic, Keser, Ostojic, Stegic and Zivkovic), Camaroon (Robert Ndongue and Paul Tchakoute), China (An, Ding, Feng, Gu, Gui, Han, He, Hu, Huang, G Li, H Li, Liu, Qu, Ren, Shen, Si, Song, W Wang, Y Wang, Wong, Xaio, Xia, Yang, G Yu, H Yu, H Zhang, J Zhang, K Zhang and Zhou), Colombia (Alejandro Mejia and Andres Felipe Montoya), Czech Republic (Jorg Schuck and Tomas Vitvar), Indonesia (Edward Djauhari), Malta (Thomas Farruggia), Moldova (Alexandru Svidchi), Romania (Babes, Boarcini, Ene, Hodi, Nodea, Piciu and Socaci), Sri Lanka (Shan Perera), Thailand (Atiwattananon, Jantawan, Kijwattanakun, Klinnimnual, Navin, Ngamsang, Payungwong, Pianpak, Punnapradabkij, Suchantabut, Sukhochaiwanich, Thanthranon, Thongchai, Udomlaknoppado, Viwatburim and Wattanesen) and Uzbekistan (Rafkat Sulemin). The fastest finisher (sub-43 hours), Germany's Bjorn Lenhard rode unsupported, which is unprecedented in modern times. The first elliptical bike riders (S Blofeld, B Grace, I Makaya, A McDonogh, C Nanton and B Pinnell) and the first handcyclist finished PBP, Italy's Mirco Bressanelli.

Australia had 84 finishers with Rebecca Morton joining Sue Taylor (1999) on 3 PBPs and Jonathan Page’s 6th finish matching Peter Moore's 2011 result. Lois Springsteen (USA) completed her 7th PBP and countrymen Paul Bacho, Thomas Gee and Doug Kirby with Marcel Fieremans (Belgium) collected their 8th. Dierdre Arscott (Canada) and Nicole Chabirand (France) reached 9 PBPs and Francesc Porta Torras (Spain) and Frenchmen Henri Bourel, Jean-Claude Chabirand, Alain Collongues, Christian and Dominique Lamouller and Daniel Maitre joined compatriots Bernard Imbert and Daniel Ravet (both 2011) on 11 PBPs.
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...


  • Whimsy Rider
Re: A Little History
« Reply #10 on: 18 January, 2009, 07:17:33 am »
Here and Now

Canadian Ken Bonner has finished at least 48 LRM brevets and 6 PBPs Randonneur to date. Judith Swallow has completed at least 16 LRM brevets (4 in 2009) on 4 continents, together with 4 PBPs Randonneur and 2 PBPs Audax. Jim Hopper has achieved Super Randonneur for 37 years in a row beginning in 1981 and Sheila Simpson for 29 years from 1982 to 2010. RUSA's Mark Thomas completed 10 LRM brevets ranging from 1200km to 1600km in Australia, Denmark, Italy, Korea, New Zealand, Portugal, UK and USA during 2017.

I will be adding something regarding the rise of unsupported long-distance off-road and on-road races, after a bit more study.
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...


  • Whimsy Rider
Re: A Little History
« Reply #11 on: 22 September, 2017, 05:50:27 am »
It would be prudent to treat this article as indicative rather than definitive. No doubt there are several mistakes, mostly from the author’s transcription errors. Feel free to provide more information and corrections, although there are discrepancies between sources, particularly regarding PBP.

Thanks to Phil Bellette, Keith Benton, Harold Bridge, Mark Brooking, Alain Collongues, Francis Cooke, Bruno Danielzik, Eric Fergusson, Ian Hennessey, Nev Holgate, Jim Hopper, Neil Irvine, Tim Laugher, Peter Matthews, Russell Moore, Barry Parslow, Matt Rawnsley, Malcolm Rogers, Jean de Rudnicki, Sheila Simpson, Mark Thomas, Mike Wigley and Jennifer Wise for putting up with my questions.

This article is drawn from conversations and emails with those noted above and a number of ACP plaquettes and other books, including Bernard Deon’s “Un Siecle de Brevet d’Audax Cycliste”, Jacques Seray's "Paris-Brest-Paris 120 ans, 1.200 kilometres (1891 - 2011)" and "Paris-Brest-Paris, 1891-2015, Les coureurs et les randonneurs", John Taylor's "The 24 Hour Story" and Jock Wadley’s “Old Roads and New”. Notwithstanding this, the main sources were a number of websites including: Audax Australia, Audax Club Parisien, Audax 22.5 Stockholm, Audax UK, Audax USA, BC Randonneurs, L’Union des Audax Francais, Les Randonneurs Mondiaux, Paris-Brest-Paris, Randonneurs Ontario and Randonneurs USA. Thanks to all involved for making this information freely available, particularly BC Randonneurs and Randonneurs Ontario.

I would appreciate PMs to draw my attention to information that might reasonably be included in this thread.
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...

Re: A Little History
« Reply #12 on: 22 September, 2017, 07:05:13 am »
Thank you for the time you have spent on this
Well worth reading and unless I have missed it, should be on the Audax web site