Christianssands 1200 – The pre-story

The first Christianssands 1200 of all times are now history. On Wednesday the 31st of May, 4 riders from The USA, Holland and Norway embarked on the ride that would take us through 4 counties in a maximum time limit of 90 hours. The ride became a varied one when it came to weather and terrain.

Christianssands 1200 was «born» some time through the winter of 2015-2016 as a thought in my head. The Danish Randonneurorganization, Audax Club Dänemark (ARD) has got its 1200 as a return ride from Copenhagen to Örebro, Sweden. The Swedes have got their “Length of Sweden”, formerly known as “Sverigetempot”. In Norway we did not have a brevet/randonnee exceeding 1000kms. If we were to have one, the thought was to have an official 1200km, homologated by the international organization Les Randonneurs Mondiaux (LRM). There were 2 purposes for making a 1200km ride in Norway. Firstly, we wished to be able to offer Norwegian riders working to obtain the prestigious Randonneur 10000 award, a local 1200 to accompany the Paris-Brest-Paris Randonneur. Secondly to use the 1200km for national and international marketing to promote long distance riding in Norway. During spring of 2016, the thought slowly transformed into action and work to create a course began.

Making a 1200km ride is a lot of work. You need to figure out where to ride. A challenge in itself as the length of the course should be as close to 1200 kms as possible. The course should also be put without possibilities for cheating by taking short cuts. The controls will see to that, but at the same time there must not be too many controls, but by intervals of around 60-90 kms. My personal opinion is also that at the course should contain some features that would make the 1200km interesting to ride.

After having cycled a 1000km Brevet from Brande, Denmark, in 2014 I had an idea for arranging a 1200km in a somewhat similar way. They used a house in Brande as a starting point for 3 different loops which together made up the total distance. This gives the riders a possibility for a depot where they could store things the need, sleep, take a shower and change/dry clothes. He course therefore was made as 3 loops using Kristiansand as the starting/ending point and also the place the riders came back to after each loop. An eastern, a western and a northern loop were created with a total length of 1205 kms.

It is a lot of paperwork and planning involved in the process. A scheme pointing out each turn and corner for the whole distance must be made, the distances between these turns and opening/closing hours for each control must be noted on the scheme. A description of the route must be made along with rules and gps-tracks.

The Christianssands 1200 was decided organized as a Brevet, meaning every participant needed to make sure to organize their own logistical arrangements before, during and after the ride. Due to this, the fee for participating was put as low as NOK 300, but with a no-show-no-pay policy. In the fall of 2016, the paperwork was finished and ready to be sent to the Norwegian national coordinator for Brevets who forwarded the material to Les Randonneurs Mondiaux. If possible, I wanted the ride to take place on the 31st of May to the 4th of June 2017.

Prior to the process leading up to the final result of the Christianssands 1200, I knew there were rules stating you must have been an organizer for at least 2 years to be allowed to arrange a 1200km. Combined with the late submission of the application, it was expected no start before 2018. Not really a bad thing as I simultaneously was involved in the organizing of the Norwegian part of the SuperBrevetScandinavia (SBS). To my surprise rumors occurred late fall 2016 about the Christianssands 1200 being allowed arranged in 2017 and the ride would be put on the international calendar of the LRM. I got it confirmed as late as December 2016. At that point it was less than 6 months to the mentioned start and taking into consideration the fierce competition from established rides like London-Edinburgh-London (LEL) and SuperBrevetScandinavia (SBS), I saw a problem for attracting riders to a new ride like the Christianssands 1200. The LEL and SBS draws great attention and it seems like “everybody” wants to participate.

Not organizing the ride was never an option. If the ride is on the international calendar, it will be arranged. The solution became to take entries but not use too much time and energy on marketing. During the winter of 2017, the Christianssands 1200 created some interest from foreign riders. On a weekly basis, mails started to pop in from randonneurs seeking more information. The first entry except from two local, Norwegian riders came from Japan! I knew from participating in Paris-Brest-Paris 2015, that Asian randonneurs were eager to participate in long distance rides, but I would never have guessed the first entry being from japan. Shortly after, the second entry came from Dutch randonneur Jos Verstegen, who I had met during a 1000km 2 years earlier. The last entry was made by Vernon Smith from Colorado, USA. 5 entries covering Japan, USA, Holland and Norway was really not bad for us. The riders were updated by mails prior to the start. Our Japanese participant chose to withdraw from the ride in April, but the others wished to go on with the ride.

4 riders at the start sounds perhaps not that much, but to me as an organizer, the number of participants are irrelevant. I can’t decide for others about whether to participate or not. The most important to me is the experience the riders have from participating. Due to the fact we were only 4, the riders got an offer to be picked up at the airport and all were invited to dinner the evening prior to the start to get to know each other. It is not every day someone travels several thousand kilometers from the US and the Netherlands to participate in a 1200km ride in Norway.