For those who don’t know, randonneuring (also called Audax in Brazil, Australia, and the UK) is a long-distance form of cycling. Riders attempt to cycle 200 km or more with frequent check posts along the way. As you can guess, it’s an arduous sport that challenges that you physically, mentally, and emotionally.
What sets it apart is that randonneuring is a non-competitive, self-supported cycling activity that is mostly preferred by experienced and serious cyclists. The objective? To build endurance and take on a challenge never taken before.
The title ‘randonneur’ is only earned after a rider completes any of the ACP approved 200K/ 300K/ 400K/ 600K/ 1000K of brevet (BRM) ride. Speaking with randonneurs who come to the facility to store their bicycles after they’ve completed the challenge, one realizes the golden lessons that they’ve earned by preparing and showing up for this activity. These lessons are relevant in all of our lives, and as such, we share them below.
Lesson #1: Planning
A to-be randonneur knows the difficulty of the challenge that lies before him. Hence, he or she plans- when they’ll run the distance, how capable and fit they currently are, how capable and fit they need to be, how they’ll reach the desired level, etc. All of these things are carefully thought over and assessed by the cyclist before he/ she embarks on the journey of being a randonneur.
Management lesson: carry out a fair and honest assessment of where you are and where you want to be. Set SMART goals- specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound.
Lesson #2: Training
After having mapped out the course, the cyclist signs up for training. He/ she knows that previous knowledge and experience might not be enough to complete the distance. Hence, the cyclist seeks out the expertise of someone who already has what he/ she wants- the title of the ‘randonneur’.
Management lesson: do not be hesitant to benefit from the knowledge of people who have achieved what you want to. Enroll in programs and training that help you to win the race you wish to win.
Lesson #3: Dedication
After starting to train, the cyclist knows that their only task now is to keep showing up and to remain dedicated. This might include staying on a prescribed diet for the duration of the training, waking up at 4 or 5 AM to practice, getting proper sleep to keep the metabolism right, and not giving up when you feel can’t break your records.
Management lesson: for each role or position that you want to attain, you will have to make sacrifices, change certain habits and behaviors, but still keep on keeping on. A dedicated person stays the course, no matter what.
Lesson #4: Pride
Whether training to be a randonneur or after becoming one, the cyclist proudly wears the title for a lifetime. Even before crossing the finish line, the cyclist takes pride in the efforts he/ she putting. This pride fueled motivation helps the cyclist to cover the distance that they want.
Management lesson: even though you might not be where you want to be, you are still on the way to getting there. Take pride in your efforts, in your dedication, and the sacrifices you are making. Let yourself be your inspiration.
Lesson #5: Breaks are good
The cyclist knows that while cycling, it is sometimes necessary to stop and rest. Forward momentum cannot be sustained indefinitely, and one must ease up and take a break.
Management lesson: don’t feel guilty if you feel like stopping midway and napping or doing nothing. Make sure to get back on your feet quickly, though, since the clock is forever ticking and you have a finish line to reach.
Lesson #6: Team it out
The cyclist knows that pedaling in isolation always is not going to help him/ her cover the required distance. Since randonneuring is a non-competitive sport, cycling along with others helps to pass the time and makes the ride much more joyful. Plus, in case of an emergency or an undesirable situation, help will be riding right next to you.
Management lesson: working separately from the group isn’t going to help you cover the miles. A warm, friendly attitude will. A collaborative environment leads to a better outcome for all.
Lesson #7: Expect the unexpected
A cliche, but on the road, anything can happen. For one cyclist, the blinker lights fell off along with the batteries. He reattached all of it, but since he didn’t have any rubber bands, the contraption kept falling apart. Finally, he had no choice but to travel without lights. It was a 201 km journey, and he didn’t think it would take that long. But, it did, and he had to cover the distance with no lights and eventually a tyre puncture, too.
Management lesson: have backup ready at all times. Expect the unexpected and employing your imagination, prepare as much as you can for any undesirable situations.
Lesson #8: Ride second
A common tendency is to vie for the first or the lead position in a group setting always. However, a smart cyclist knows that to be a randonneur more clever thinking is involved. So, he rides second, i.e. behind the leader to avoid the wind drag that hits one in the face and makes riding difficult. He does so until the last 2 or 3 km and after that, he pushes past the leader to finish first.
Management lesson: don’t be afraid to cruise behind someone for some time. The most important thing is to cross the finish line. Back in the day, Apple had already come up with the idea for the perfect OS, but their systems were way too expensive. So, Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft created their own OS, Windows, inspired by Apple’s and offered it as a cheaper price. It sold, and Windows has been in the forerunner in the software market ever since.
Lesson #9: Slow and steady still wins the race
Due to the long-distance nature of the sport, the cyclist knows that it’s no use pedaling hard to reach the finish line. Doing so would only lead to injuries and tiredness. So, he/ she reins in the urge to floor it on the road and instead, takes it slow and steady. Maintaining a rhythmic pace, the cyclist doesn’t have to stop too much or risk unnecessary injuries.
Management lesson: although it might seem like you are short on time, you seldom are in reality. Steady your pace at each step and steadily work towards your goal. There’s only 1 race where you are your competitor. You are fated to win this one.
More than any other field, sports is an area from where we can all pick lessons to apply in our daily lives. The above lessons, picked up from the little-known world of randonneuring, will help you in your workplace to reach all goals and milestones that you want.
And while the cyclist went on to earn the title of the randonneur, you’ll go on to win the title of an ace professional after putting these lessons into practice.