THE WEEKEND OF SEPTEMBER 11th – 12th, 2021 AS IT WAS:
It was the day of the ride specially dedicated to commemorating the centenary year of the inception of Brevets being organized by the Audax Club Parisien (ACP). Audax India Randonneurs (AIR) saw participation of great magnitude with 60 clubs across India participating in the specially organized Randonnée to mark the centenary celebrations. Randonneurs across the country proved their mettle despite facing rough weather conditions.
11th September 1921 marks the inception of ACP and thus began a journey which has today become a movement. It has in fact become a way of life for thousands of people around the world! Once again in 2021, 11th September became a prominent day thus calling for a huge Centenary Celebration of the BRMs to canonize Audax. There was a collective surge of excitement observed across continents. Clubs and riders in India were no far behind in their zeal and enthusiasm while recreating this day in the history of randonneuring. The centenary celebrations were a sight to behold, bringing together diverse personalities and myriad cultures. Following in the footsteps of the founder members, a group of friends, who took off on their first brevet of 200 Km a 100 years ago, randonneurs from clubs pan-India got together to celebrate this landmark event thereby connecting to the global community of Randonneurs.
This day helped create a stronger sense of belonging with the ACP amongst the Randonneurs in India along with increased awareness about its history and functioning as each of the riders relived the moments of the Brevet de Randonneur a Allure Libre, the first brevet the ACP had organized on this day. It helped reiterate the core features of this sport of randonneuring as developed by the club. The most important feature being that these rides are essentially ‘self-paced’ and ‘self-supported’ and even today, this facet is an integral part of every BRM that is organized anywhere in the world. Every randonneur is expected to reflect this ethos when entering the world of Audax.
Six months, numerous online seminars and settling of indefinite phone-queries by hundreds of volunteers and officials led to a successful execution of this event. Now most riders stand on this day better equipped and better informed to delve deeper into the sport.
4,750 Registered riders at 60 clubs across India felt privileged to be associated with a club having a hundred-year-old rich heritage. Through all the clubs coming together to celebrate this day they renewed the spirit of Audax.
True to the name, Audax, Bangalore Randonneurs saw 400 riders embark on the centenary BRM with an ‘audacious’ vigor. For many other clubs too, it turned out the highest participation they had seen in years, besides Bangalore was Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Cochin, Nagpur and Bhubaneshwar to name a few. The heartening part was, even the towns which saw minimum participation ensured the safety and joy of their riders. They cut no corners to make it a big one in their own way.
Endurance here is the Key and is the secret to every successful long distance Randonneur completing the rides. Tough mental strength was seen in most riders throughout who kept going despite heavy rains and rough weather. The riders at Delhi, Mumbai and Nashik faced heavy rains and cross-winds while still others at Pondicherry faced tormenting heat. Nevertheless, the true spirit of a randonneur will never deter him from completing the ride. And that is what they did. This ride to them was truly special for the significance it holds for the entire community of long-distance riders.
Many went a step further and brought to the table some unique concept or creative idea in their own way. To mention a few striking ones that the respective clubs can take pride in were: -flagging off the ride with fireworks and an on-route entertainment vehicle set forth in Hyderabad to keep the spirits of the riders high; Some displayed immense creativity in banners and standees while some others sent across a wave of nostalgia. To mention a few, the riders from Hubbali and Vishakhapatnam took a page from Audax’s history and replicated the print of its past rides on their current brevet cards and posters; Jalandhar welcomed riders to the beat of traditional drums and dance, Delhi Randonneurs had an extravagant celebration as they wound up the event with an elaborate dinner for the riders.
Riders at Malad (Mumbai), Dhule and a few other cities celebrated the centenary with the ceremonial cake cutting. Most cakes befittingly designed like the medal being issued specially for this ride. Likewise similar excitement prevailed across other cities and towns celebrating this day.
As has been the purpose of these brevets when they first began: to create a love for long distance cycling, also to turn cyclists into adventure-seeking individuals and ultimately coming to enjoy the very journey – the clubs at most places chose to pick a route that would either be very scenic or be one where aspects like the heritage and in the others the rural culture could be explored. Riders at Pondicherry and Bhubaneshwar chose a route to cover heritage sites and monuments, making their rides soul stirring ones. The randonneurs at Guwahati passed through the lush green tea gardens to reach the Bhutan border. Imphal Randonneurs kicked off their 200 Km tour of Imphal valley from the Hafta Kangjei Bung Palace, one of the oldest Polo grounds in the world.
The volunteers, equally involved, executed the event flawlessly. Even the cities that saw maximum participation ensured that the preparations were impeccable. We are still receiving testimonials of riders from across the states applauding the work of the organizers and volunteers in executing an event of this grand scale. Many clubs faced pandemic related issues and curfews like they did in Mangalore and Mumbai but as they say, ‘Where there is a will, there is a way.’ It is indeed commendable how these cities managed to execute the event under full compliance of local restrictions by finding their own ways of flagging off the participants for this coveted ride.
Cycling, for some, has become a way of life, offering life lessons along the way, as put across by a randonneur from Chennai. Bangalore being one of the first randonneuring cities in India maintains the same, as long distances on bicycles is not uncommon for a Bangalorian.
The striking bit about this event was that India known for its diversity in its people, culture and geographical features celebrated the centenary in unison as one community. It connected towns across the nation from all four corners and yet each of the clubs maintained their distinctiveness.
Needless to say, this centenary ride got extensive media coverage in many a local newspapers. All in all, this event turned out to be an apt tribute to the BRMs of ACP which for the riders was an experience they’ll cherish for years to come.
Leading by example, the AIR Director, Raghu Vishal with the Club Representative of The Cycling Club of Baroda (TCCB), Dharik Jerajani, at the Statue of Unity, to mark the Centenary celebration of Brevets.
The Centenary Randonnée got a pan-India coverage through the local newspapers.
Unity in Diversity. An apt tribute to the inception of Brevets. The 100th Year of the BRM at the world’s tallest monument in recent times, the Statue of Unity.
Part of the Golden Triangle of Odisha, the city of Bhubaneshwar, staying true to its ancient heritage and inspired by the first Audax randonneurs of France celebrated that legendary moment in Cycling with their ride titled – The Black Pagoda! it’s the Bhubaneswar Cycling and Adventure Club that was at the helm of organising this befitting ride.
112 Cyclists from the city of lakes, Bhopal Randonneurs glowing together as one, and spreading radiance on the day, ready to take on the grand anniversary ride, the 200 km BRM
Bhatinda Randonneurs exuding festive spirit
Straight from the heart of India, the Satna Cycling Club undertaking this celebratory-ride with a good 21 registrations. Spirits high as they gear up for the journey to mark the history of Randonneuring.
Riders from the port city of Mangalore giving the celebrations a befitting glorious kick-start…
Bangalore, the Silicon Valley of India, stood out garnering registrations of a whopping 400 participants. With extensive preparations for that big a number, Bangalore Randonneurs did make it a grand affair!
The Rajkot Randonneurs whoop it up with a 100+ riders taking off on the commemorative event.
Finishing up with the cut-out of the original medal of the first BRM conducted on September 11, 1921.
In the eastern city of Imphal, the Imphal Randonneurs took ‘The Tour Of Imphal Valley’, in sheer imperial style, starting from the Hafta Kangjei Bung Palace compound as their back-drop façade.
In the southern city of Hubbali, The Hubballi Bicycle Club sent across a wave of nostalgia with a poster designed to take you down the memory lane of the first Brevet
A whole lot of pre-event preparation by the Hyderabad Randonneurs culminated into a celebration worth remembering.
The zeal and enthusiasm in the city of Nawabs is almost contagious! The Hyderabad Randonneurs’ creativity stood out.
Hola! And the most common questions posed to a randonneur in India!
Who would’ve ever thought of this? An on-route entertainment vehicle! The riders sure had a ball!
The true spirit of a sports person…humility and simplicity, inspiring generation next to gravitate towards the sport!
Spicing it up in the city of spices, The Randonneurs at Kochi trekked along together but sure enough on their bikes. It was that special medal calling! The spirit was high of the Cochin Bikers Club.
The Prized Possession stands out everywhere through all the Clubs across AIR…A replica of the Medal used in the first Brevet in 1921.
And here’s one straight from the Capital! Lakshya Randonneurs put up a fantastic show with their fervor, passion and style. The enthusiasm on their faces just can’t be missed as they trail through and successfully complete… Le Centenaire Du BRM 200!
Riders from Dhule waiting to be flagged off on the prestigious 200 Km ride and thus for the Celebrations to begin.
It’s your passion that counts, everything else just falls into place. Just ride along buddy.
When the Dhule Randonneurs kick off the celebrations with this delectable Cake, you’d almost wish you were there too!
A common thread connecting all the clubs of AIR ne ACP on this special occasion was the common purpose for which they rode. That very spirit bound them all across the nation, across the globe. The Centenary Ride and one sought after Medal.
From the ship-building capital of India, Vishakhapatnam, the Spartans Pedal N Chain Cycling Club, true to their name, showed simplicity, dedication and self-discipline. Their distinctive and catchy Poster and the Brevet Card hold our attention!
Keeping up with the spirit of randonneuring are the Washim Randonneurs. The energy seen through that Photo Booth is worth a great number of Kudos.
In the vibrant city of Raipur, the Raipur Randonneurs organized the much-awaited Centenary Ride, making their participants a part of this historical event!
From the Oxford of the east, Pune, randonneurs brought in the centenary ride with a crisp weather and infectious smiles.
Glimpses from the country’s ‘Orange city’, Nagpur. How can an event be complete without the ‘Dab! Enthusiasm galore!
Coming on strong and fiery, an image of enthusiasm, are these Hawk Riders from Jalandhar, the city known for sports equipment.
It’s a ‘double for Delhi Randonneurs’. They never fail to amaze! Celebrating 100 years of Audax and 10 Years of organizing BRMs and they did it with suavity and magnanimity with 300 participants. After all, it was the ‘Célébration des Centenaire d’Audax et des dix ans de Delhi Randonneurs.’
The kite of Success rises against the adversity of winds,’ the spirit of it so well displayed by randonneurs in the wine capital of India, Nashik
The twin city doesn’t lag behind! This colorful group of 65 riders took off in style, sparkling all the way on the Centenary ride organized by Secunderabad Randonneurs.
Straight from India’s Commercial Capital, Mumbai, is felt the ‘never give up’ spirit. Rain, wind or curfew, they take on the challenge like a sport! Mumbai Randonneurs celebrated its 10th anniversary in tandem with ACP’s Centenary Celebrations.
Cyclone Cycling Club celebrated the Centenary Ride on a very scenic route from Ahmedabad to Zanzari Waterfall which passes through beautiful, lush green Gandhinagar, the state Capital of Gujarat. The club saw a record participation of 125 riders that day.
Madras Randonneurs pulled out their “ECR Classic” route for the Centenary Ride and to relive the memory of the very first BRM-200 organised in Chennai back in 2011 that saw 65 riders embark on their Randonneuring journey. A whopping 295 riders rode on 11th September 2021 on this coastal road connecting Chennai, the state capital of Tamil Nadu, to Pondicherry, a Union Territory and a former French colony, is very scenic route going along lots of backwater ways and long bridges over those backwater ways making it a wonderful attraction for the riders.
The serene spiritual town of Pondicherry, a former French colony, saw the Pondy Pedalers celebrating the Centennial year of Randonneuring as well as their second anniversary. This they did in classic style, encompassing history and heritage of the town and finishing up with the sumptuous raisin cake served by the Auroville Cycling Community. A treat indeed!