Some of the terms used in randonneuring might be unfamiliar.  Here are some definitions and explanations.

Abandon.  To quit a randonnée.

ACP.  L’Audax Club Parisien.  The ACP sanctions 200, 300, 400, 600, and 1000km brevets and Paris-Brest-Paris.

Allure libre.  Free-pace randonneuring (in contrast with the common-pace “audax” riding style).  All randonnées organized in the United States are allure libre.  On allure libre randonnées, a rider may proceed at any pace, so long as the opening and closing time of each control is respected.

Ancien.  One who has completed Paris-Brest-Paris.  A woman is called an ancienne.  It is loosely translated as “veteran.”

Arrow.  A 24-hour event very similar to the ACP-sanctioned flèche, except that it is sanctioned by RUSA and not the ACP.  Unlike the flèche, an Arrow can be run any time of year and organized on any day of the week and there is no limit on how long a team can rest in one place.  As with the flèche, the team must ride a minimum of 360km.

Audax.  Literally translated as “audacious,” audax cycling technically refers to a common-pace randonnée led by a route captain.  The term is frequently, though incorrectly, used synonymously with “randonneuring.”  It appears in the name of several allure libre randonneuring clubs, such as Audax Atlanta and Audax Australia.

Bon chance!  Good luck!

Bon route!  Have a good ride!

Brevet.  Literally “certificate,” but refers generally to a randonnée of 200, 300, 400, 600, 1000, or 1200 kilometers, each with a specific time limit.  Brevet rhymes with “Chevrolet.”

Brevet card.  Carried by the rider, the brevet card is the document on which passage through each control within the prescribed time limit is recorded.  At the end of the ride, the brevet card is turned in, verified, and ultimately returned to the rider after it is certified.

Brevet series.  Completing 200, 300, 400, and 600K events in a calendar year is a brevet series.  Completion of a brevet series is frequently a prerequisite for starting a Grand Randonnée.  Completing a brevet series of ACP-sanctioned rides earns one the Super Randonneur award.  Note that the 1000K is not typically included when referring to a “brevet series.”

Contrôle.  A checkpoint.  Usually the English spelling, control, is used in the United States.  Controls ensure that riders remain on course and within the prescribed time limit.  Riders obtain signatures, stamps, or other proof of passage through the control within the time limit on their brevet cards.  Riders can receive non-neutral support at controls.  Most randonnées have controls spaced 50 to 100km apart.

Cue sheet.  A listing of the turns that a randonneur must follow exactly to complete a randonnée.  Owing to the distances involved, few organizers distribute maps of the route.  Rarely are routes marked with arrows or Dan Henrys.

Dart.  A RUSA-sanctioned team event that is less than 24 hours in duration.  A Dart may be scheduled with an event distance of at least 180km but no more than 359km.

DNF.  Did Not Finish.  A rider who has abandoned the ride or is out of time is DNF.

DNS.  Did Not Start.  A rider who is registered, but fails to report for the ride.

DQ.  Disqualified.

Drop bag.  On some brevets, typically events of 600km or longer, the organizer or others will arrange for supplies for a rider to be carried forward on the course, so that the rider can “self-support” from these items at a distant control without having to carry them on the bicycle for the duration of the event.  Drop bags are typically “dropped” at sleep or overnight controls.

Flèche.  A 24-hour team event (with teams consisting of 3 to 5 machines) held on or around Easter weekend.  The team must cover a minimum of 360km during the event.

Grand Randonnée.  An event of 1200km or longer.

Homologation.  Certification; validation.

Information control.  A control at which a rider notes on his brevet card a piece of information obtained at the control, such as words from a sign or the color of a mailbox, to ensure passage through the control.  Information controls are especially useful in rural areas, where there may not be a location suitable, or the volunteer resources necessary, to staff a control.

la lanterne rouge.  The last rider on a brevet who is still in contention for an official finish (i.e., abandoned or disqualified riders cannot be the lanterne rouge), or who has finished the event in last place.  The term derives from the red lantern hung from the caboose of a train, indicating to station workers that the train has passed without cars having become decoupled.  Sometimes called the caboose or DFL (dead-****ing last).

Overnight control.  Also called a “sleep control.”  Some brevets of 600km and longer will have controls that are set up to provide an opportunity for randonneurs to rest on the route.  Accommodations range from gym floors to hotel rooms.  Overnight controls are especially prevalent on those events where overnight services may be scarce or nonexistent on the route.

P-12.  Same as the R-12, but all events must be populaires or permanent populaires.

Paris-Brest-Paris.  The original Grand Randonnée, first held in 1891 and currently held every four years, with the 18th edition scheduled for August 2015.  PBP is the oldest, continuously held cycling event in the world.  It was attended by more than 5,000 cyclists from nearly 50 countries in 2011.  Note that there are two PBPs.  PBP-Randonneur, which is generally what randonneurs in the U.S. are referring to when they talk about PBP, is organized by the ACP and is an allure libre event.  PBP-Audax, is organized by l’Union des Audax Français (UAF).  PBP-Audax is held every five years, with the next edition in Summer 2016.

Permanent.  A Permanent is like a brevet but you can ride it any time, not just on one specific date.  Like brevets, routes can start and finish in the same location, but they can also run point-to-point, and can be any distance of 200km or more (100-199km for a Permanent Populaire).  Permanent rides in the U.S. are validated by RUSA.  Any RUSA member can organize a permanent.  Unlike brevets, riding permanents is restricted to RUSA members.

Populaire.  A randonnée of at least 100km but less than 200km.  Populaires are sanctioned by RUSA and are a good introduction to randonneuring.

Postcard control.  A control at which a randonneur obtains verification by mailing a postcard to the organizer.

Pre-ride.  See Workers’ ride.

R-12.  The R-12 award is earned from RUSA by riding a 200km (or longer) randonneuring event in each of 12 consecutive months.  The counting sequence can commence during any month of the year but must continue uninterrupted for another 11 months.

R-5000.  Also called the Randonneur 5000, it is an ACP award earned by completing 5000km in ACP- or RM-sanctioned events.  To earn the R-5000, one must complete ACP-sanctioned brevets of 200, 300, 400, 600, and 1000km, Paris-Brest-Paris, a flèche, and additional ACP brevets to bring the total distance to 5000km.

Randonneur.  A cyclist who has attempted (and hopefully completed!) a randonnée.  A woman is called a “randonneuse.”

Randonneuring.  Long-distance, self-sufficient, noncompetitive cycling within prescribed time limits.

Randonnée.  Any bicycle event in the randonneuring style.  Generally synonymous with brevet, but would include populaires and permanents, neither of which are considered to be brevets.

Randonneurs USA.  RUSA is the national organization that promotes randonneuring in the United States.  RUSA does not organize any rides, but rather coordinates the brevets of the Regional Brevet Administrators (RBAs) and clubs that do.  RUSA is also the point of contact between the ACP and American riders and RBAs, especially with regard to ensuring the processing of results.

RBA.  Regional Brevet Administrator.

Regional Brevet Administrator.  In the United States, the RBA is the point of contact between a local randonneuring club (e.g., Central Florida Randonneurs) and RUSA.

RUSA.  Randonneurs USA.

Secret control.  A control that is not listed on the brevet card or cue sheet and is designed to ensure that riders remain on the prescribed route, without taking a short cut, usually to avoid hilly terrain.

la Société Adrian Hands.  An informal orgnization whose membership is open to any cyclist who successfully completes PBP in a time equal to or greater than Hands’ 2003 finish time of 88:55.  Adrian Hands was a North Carolina randonneur who died of complications from ALS in 2011.

la Société Charly Miller.  An award given by the ACP to any American randonneur who equals or betters the finish time of Charly Miller at PBP.  Charly Miller was the first American to complete PBP, riding in 1901 with a finish time of 56:40.

SR.  Super Randonneur.

Super Randonneur.  An award bestowed by the ACP, it is given to one who completes ACP-sanctioned 200K, 300K, 400K and 600K brevets within a single calendar year.

Workers’ ride.  Sometimes called a “pre-ride,” workers’ rides offer event volunteers the opportunity to ride a randonnée for credit (because they would be volunteering on the event, they would not otherwise have the opportunity to ride it).  A workers’ ride can occur up to 15 days before the scheduled event.