A brevet is a long distance bicycle ride with a route, that has to be completed in the prescribed time. These are self supported rides and riders are not allowed to have any support staff for any kind of assistance (mechanical, route, food or anything for that matter). It is NOT a race and there are no positions given. Any rider who has crossed all the intermediate and final checkpoints in the respective time is considered to have completed it and earns the title of a Randonneur. Refer https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Randonneuring for more complete details.

Now that we’re familiar with the essence of a brevet, let’s delve into the challenges it presents and how to conquer them.

The Challenges:

  1. It is an endurance challenge as they are of 200, 300, 400 or 600km typically
  2. The cut off times are clock times and are inclusive of any breaks a rider may take for eating, rest, sleep, mechanical issues or otherwise
  3. Generally brevets have some sort of navigational challenge though it may not be the case always
  4. Riders have to plan riding in all kinds of weather and light conditions taking into consideration places to find to eat, buy water etc



  1. The particular brevet route will determine the conditions of the roads. Generally road bikes with slightly comfortable geometry and wider tyres with storage capacity are recommended. Since it is a long ride – riders have to be comfortable in riding the bike with all the typical bags, lights over long periods. So it is vital that riders are used to the bike.
  2. Lights – head and tail lights which will last the planned dark periods are mandatory (generally)
  3. Reflective vests and helmets are mandatory (generally)
  4. Basic bike maintenance tools and skills – puncture kit, mini tool, portable pump, spoke wrench, chain cutter tools, ability to tune brakes and gears
  5. Water bottle holders and bottles
  6. Chargers for phone and other gadgets
  7. A Cyclocomputer that can provide navigation & other key data points like heart rate, cadence & power to manage your resources and go in the right route.
  8. Riding with cleated pedals and shoes increases efficiency and safety. However road bike cleats are not comfortable to walk around so have cleat covers for road pedals or adopt to MTB cleats & shoes
  9. A friendly tip is to get the best padded short or bib shorts you can get for a brevet as your back side will thank you or curse you based on your choice. Using chamois cream is also highly recommended.
  10. Study weather conditions and suitably carry warm clothes, rain jackets etc


  1. Ensure you have got the bike setup correctly with the help of other riders or bike fitters. A small discomfort can become a big issue over long distances.
  2. Focus on technique – riding with reasonable cadence (80-90 rpm) and within your comfortable heart rate zones (typically zone 2).
  3. Work on breaking, handling corners and other bike handling techniques. Riding in a pace line drafting other riders participating in the same brevet is allowed. Ensure that you are comfortable riding in a pace line.
  4. If you are new to cycling – set following targets to do your first 200km brevet
    1. completing 50km comfortably in 2 hrs
    2. Completing 100km rides first comfortably in 4hrs
    3. Completing century rides on two consecutive days in about 4 hrs each
  5. For longer brevets recovery and sleep management are key. It is recommended to do a few 200km brevets before doing the first 300km. Have a sleep plan for the longer rides. Many riders in India avoid sleeping for brevets. In Europe with harsher weather many ride faster during the day to get a few hours of sleep during the cold dark nights. Choose your strategy wisely and be ready to implement it.


  1. A gradual approach to increasing mileage during training is recommended. Choose brevets based on your strengths and weakness – for eg whether you prefer riding in heat or cold, if you have trouble riding in night, familiarity with route, if the route involves climbs & descents are you ready for them etc
  2. Study the route and have a ride plan on riding speed, stops (for eating, rest), time to reach each check point etc. For longer brevets you can even plan to change shorts and give them to Check point volunteers at ride start
  3. Ensure that the bike is well maintained before the ride
  4. Riding in groups of 3-4 people is ideal. But it is vital that you have ridden as a group before and have a common pace and understanding for drafting safely.

Nutrition & Hydration

  1. Even a seasoned rider can suffer if nutrition and hydration is ignored.
  2. The general mantra is eat before you are hungry and drink before you are thirsty. The first signs of dehydration is that our thirst decreases.
  3. Food should be easy to digest, avoid oily & spicy food. Remember toilet breaks also add to the time 😉
  4. Have sports electrolytes to replenish the salts lost through sweat
  5. A highly generic recommendation is to have about 750ml of water (50% plain & 50% with electrolytes)
  6. Have some form of backup energy sources like gels or energy bars to help if you run out of energy in the middle of nowhere


  1. Like all endurance events brevets test your mental strength at times. Remember that you took it up because it was a challenge. Sometimes things will go wrong, ensure you are surrounded by positivity and fellow riders to help you overcome them.

Feel free to drop me a line for any further questions at gokul@thebikeaffair.com