Monday, December 14, 2020

Foreign Grand Randonnée Round-Up for 2021!

Les Randonneurs Mondiaux (LRM) has published their 2021 calendar of Grand Randonnées.  It lists 71 events in 30 countries. They caution:


A sampling around the globe:

  • 15 in Australia (including the Great Southern Randonnée, and five Trans Oz 4000k's)
  • 3 in Brazil
  • 3 in Canada (Ontario and British Columbia)
  • 6 in Russia
  • 3 in Spain
  • 7 in Ukraine
  • 2 in the UK (Inverness, and Land's End to John O'Groats)
  • 7 in the US, as described in our US Grand Randonnée Roundup.
India has none on the calendar yet (vs. 18 in 2020), which may reflect the current status of the virus, as their events are early in the calendar year.

The Great Southern Randonnée in Australia is listed as two events - an evening start and a morning start - so it will be interesting to see how the separate rider pools are managed, and how easy it would be to switch between one and the other.

Finding Out More - The links and info vary. Some links go directly to dedicated pages for those events. Others go to the country organization's home page or the organizing club's home page, where you may have to dig a little to find event info. And details may be understandably in flux, or not yet updated for 2021.

The AJ Hokkaido club site says they've already 
postponed the Okhotsk 1300k to 2022

Travel Considerations - It will remain a challenging and changing travel landscape as 2021 unfolds. For example, as of this writing, most travelers to Australia - including residents of Australia - must quarantine for 14-days at a government approved hotel. Policies everywhere will evolve, of course, as will travelers' comfort level. It all means extra planning to do and added decisions to make.

Visit the Trio Normand page 
to find out about the Normandie 1200

Calendar Volatility- In their fall update, LRM reports: "In 2021 LRM will be very liberal about allowing changes, postponements, cancellations, or even new events." (The same holds for the Audax Club Parisien regarding brevets and flèches, so if you are thinking about a foreign ACP-sanctioned event, make sure to keep up on when/if it's being scheduled. And our domestic ones, too, of course.)

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Stepping Outside the Normal Paradigms - We think of Grand Randonnées as following a few typical patterns, over the most typical distances (1,200 km to 1,400 km). But some are much longer - such as the Trans Oz 4000k's. Others have certain concepts - such as the Scandinavia 1200 which visits all the Scandinavian countries and features successive ferry crossings to reach them. A few examples ...

 CASE STUDY   Les traversées de France - La Réconciliation - Each year, "Les traversées de France" offer a randonnée "following a route linked to a certain historical theme and to discover various points of interest (landscape, architecture, memorial, geographical or gastronomy)." La Réconciliation (2021) is 1,607 km and is linked to French-German reconciliation after the wars. 

You can ride 280 km per day for RM credit, or 200 km per day as a Permanent. You can start on the official date, or choose this or another date to ride it as a Permanent. Their webpage is interesting reading. (The German description has the most info; the English is the sparsest; French is in between. It helps to read all three to piece everything together.)

 CASE STUDY   Land’s End to John o’ Groats (LEJOG) 1400 km - Land's End to John o' Groats is a longstanding route from the southwest tip of the UK to the northern tip. It's an even more expansive experience than LEL, because being point-to-point it covers more regions - from Cornwall through the Cotswolds, the Midlands, the North, and finishing off in the Scottish Highlands, a windswept land of glacial lakes and an economy of trees. A succession of different terrains, architectures, and history. And Celtic lands at the start and finish.

John o' Groats 

You can ride it with Audax UK as a grand randonnée. But there are also tour outfits that take you on the route, or you can ride it independently (with friends, or alone as I did). Back then, I wrote to the CTC (Cycle Touring Club, now CyclingUK) who sent me a route packet. I overnighted mainly in B&B's. Today, Cycling UK will send you a packet and they have online info and a chat forum. Here is their info. This is by no means to detract from the rando event option, an alluring opportunity to ride an iconic route as a randonnée event!

 CASE STUDY   Trans Oz 4000k's - An unsupported grand randonnée from Fremantle on the SW coast to Bondi Beach on the SE coast. The website tells us, "Be prepared to suffer long daily distances, endless flat and straight roads, boredom, loneliness, cold, rain, headwinds, tailwinds, road trains, wandering cattle, camels, emus, wombats, and kangaroos, overpriced accommodation, average food, and sometimes questionable water quality." No intermediate checkpoints, but you'll need minimum average pace of 200 km/day to finish officially. 

Great Eastern Highway, 
courtesy of Google Street View

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So, lots to think about if you're considering a foreign randonnée in 2021. We hope that it will be possible to make good plans and have memorable rides this coming year!


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