By Bill Bryant
Les Randonneurs Mondiaux (the world-wide controlling organization for randonneuring) released their year-end classification for 1999 and Randonneurs USA is very proud to announce that our members earned third place standing among the 21 participating nations. See chart.
Results are computed by counting all the brevets ridden by randonneurs in each country. Each rider is awarded one point for each one hundred kilometers ridden in a successful brevet. For example, a 200k brevet is worth two points, a 300k brevet is worth three points, a 400k brevet is worth four points,and so on.The counting events are all the standard distance brevets (200k, 300k, 400k, 600k, 1000k), plus the 1200k Paris-Brest-Paris ride. For PBP, 12 points are given to male finishers; 18 to female finishers.
The overall results show several things: First, randonneuring's true home is, at least during a PBP year, in France.With 69,371 points, they were very far ahead of all other nations.The United Kingdom,often a leader in this yearly competition, came in second place with 15,880 points.The United States was close behind in third place with 15,558 points. For the UK,their overall strong finishing rate at PBP was really an asset; so too, many more riders doing 200km brevets in Britain. For the US,we often matched or beat the Brits in most brevet distances over 200km, but our so-so PBP completion rate didn't help us here. It was interesting to see that we earned 270 valuable points since 27 of our riders did a 1000km brevet prior to PBP, while the UK did not score any points in this fashion. The US also earned quite a few more points than the UK in the female PBP finishers category since we started a good many more randonneuses than they did. Our overall results are especially good considering that in 1999 RUSA had just less than 1,000 members, while the Audax-UK had well over 3,000 members.
After second and third places, the point totals drop off considerably. Fourth was Australia with 4772; fifth was Denmark with 4358; Italy was sixth with 3856; Canada was seventh with 3608; Germany was eighth with 3265; Belgium was ninth with 2920; and tenth was Holland with 2406. Other nations followed, and those ranked lower than 13th (Norway with 1084) earned less than 1000 points each.
Along with the international rankings amongst countries, there is also a contest for the 151 regional clubs around the world who put on an entire brevet series.The normal PBP-qualifiers of 200,300,400, and 600km are counted; the 1000km event is optional, but counted among the results if held. The points are awarded in the same fashion as the international classification, except that the PBP points are obviously not included. It should also be noted that these points are for all the riders' brevet results each club processes in a season, not just those for their own members. In this competition the French Audax Club Parisien was first with 2605 points, quite fitting since it created our form of free-paced randonneuring in 1921 and has endeavored to spread the "gospel" ever since. Second was a newcomer to randonneuring, the S.C.C.Valpellice of Italy. Earning 2577 points, this club organized all the pre-PBP brevets for the entire nation of Italy during 1999; entrants reported having to travel up to 700 kilometers to theTurin area---an extra time and cost burden many dedicated US randonneurs can easily relate to. In third place with 1817 points was northern California's Davis Bike Club, the most active randonneuring club in America. Usually having more than a hundred participants who finished each brevet in 1999, the DBC earned more than twice as many points as the next highest American clubs on the list. For 2000 it will be interesting to see what their (and everyone else's) brevet participation will be in the traditional post-PBP slump that often sees a dip in global randonneuring activity.
Overall, American randonneurs and randonneuses put forth a very good performance in the 1999 season, and have a solid foundation to build upon in the future. Cyclists new to randonneuring should remember that each of us count as "one point" regardless of how fast we ride; just be sure to finish each brevet successfully inside the time limit. Bonne route et bon courage!