By Bill Bryant

From my experience, doing a 1200k event is not much different from riding a 400k or 600k brevet—it simply lasts longer, so the pacing and sleeping strategies might differ a little. I like that when I go to a 1200k, it feels familiar from having done the longer brevets with the same equipment and clothing. What I pack, and how I pack, are the same and this helps a lot during the 1200k when sleep deprivation becomes a factor.

At night, I run a Schmidt dyno hub with an E-6 lamp as my primary light. I also have a Cateye Micro Halogen II lamp as a back-up in case the Schmidt system fails, or for when I'm climbing too slowly to get the E-6 up to full power. I often use the Cateye on downhills when the speed is above 20-23 mph. (One cannot have too much light while descending at night, in my opinion.) The Micro is not much bigger or heavier than the bundle of four AA batteries inside it, so I simply swap out the lamps instead of changing batteries. This is much quicker, and I also have a spare lamp or bulb if the main one fails or breaks if I drop it. (The spare lamp has the switch taped in the "off" position to prevent accidental discharge while inside a saddlebag or jersey pocket. Similarly, the Petzl Duo headlamp's wires are disconnected when stowed in the saddlebag during the day. The Duo also carries its own spare bulbs inside the lamp housing.)

With my two LED taillights, I put in fresh batteries before the longer brevets. At PBP, they will usually need a change after 3 nights of use on "steady," but alkaline AAA batteries are readily available in French stores along the route.

For clothing, if colder nights are in the forecast during the brevets, I'll take a heavier jersey and tights; otherwise on most spring and summer nights I get by with a lighter long-sleeve jersey and knee-warmers instead. But better to err on bringing warmer clothes than not enough. At the 2003 PBP I saw a lot of shivering riders who were obviously underdressed for the cold nights that developed during the event. Some of them lingered around the controls after midnight trying to get warm, when they should have been riding. Many other PBPs have seen surprisingly cold nights too. On the other hand, '66 and '99 were almost balmy at night, so one won't know what to carry until the event is taking place. In any case, I like being able to layer my clothing to maximize my ability to finish the randonnée without feeling too hot or too cold. Unlike a short ride, these events are too long to try to get by with the wrong amount of clothing.

At PBP, I take all the rain gear even if the forecast is dry. One, the forecasts can be wrong over the course of four days and nights, and two, these extra layers can be useful if sleeping outdoors at night when les dortoirs are full. And the dense, drizzly Breton fog can be pretty miserable too—but it usually won't warrant a "rain" forecast in the French system. Otherwise, at U.S. brevets, I tend to leave this stuff at home if the weather looks reasonable.

Overall, this list works for my style of randonneuring. I don't think it is too different from many other middle-of-the-pack randonneurs and randonneuses, so it might be of use to others still learning about our sport. Along with one's relative ability to tolerate cold temperatures at night, it also reflects my personal level of "night vision." In essence, others can get by with less, while others will need more—but only experience will tell them by how much. The list reveals what I have learned along the way while riding countless brevets since 1983 and two successful PBPs (and one unsuccessful BMB), and from watching other riders while working at randonneuring events like the GRR and PBP. Anyone serious about success in these tough rides will want to work up his or her own packing list, but this is a good starting place for new participants without a successful 1200k event on their resumé. Bonne Route!

Bill's Packing List

Clothing & Necessities:



Tights (optional)

Lightweight wool socks

Cycling shoes

Short-sleeve jersey


Sleeveless poly undershirt

Long-sleeve (L/S) jersey

L/S thick jersey (optional)


Lightweight poly balaclava

Cycling gloves

Long-fingered wool gloves


Sunglasses & case

Eyeglasses & case


Brevet card

Route sheet

Wallet, money & car key


(Rainy Forecast?)

Burley Rain jacket


Rain over-gloves

Cycling cap with visor (to see better during rain storms; it is worn under the helmet.)

Rider Repairs:



Butt balm



Toilet paper


Emergency space-blanket


Ankle bands

Sam Browne belt

Petzl "Duo" helmet lamp

2 Cateye Lamps

3 Spare bulbs for E-6 lamp

Spare Cateye bulb

Spare AA lithiums (for the Petzl and Cateyes)

Tool Kit:

2 inner tubes

2 Park tire boots

Patch kit

VAR tire tool

Zefal HP pump

1 spare gear cable

1 Fibre-Fix spoke

Allen Wrenches

Spoke Wrench

Chain tool & spare links

Swiss Army knife

A few zip-ties & small roll of electrical tape (for emergency repairs)