Alum rides bike from London to Edinburgh and back
Robert Booth ’89 tapped into his background as a health promotion/wellness student at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point to complete a milestone in just four and a half days. Booth, age 52, of Madison, Wis., successfully completed the 1400-km London-Edinburgh-London Randonneuring bicycle ride held July 28–Aug. 2 in the United Kingdom. Held every four years, the 2013 edition attracted 1,000 riders from 33 countries, 44 were Americans.
Booth completed the ride in 108.5 hours and elected to ride the 20-km prologue which started in front of Buckingham Palace. Heavy showers in the north of England and Scotland and record temperatures in the south of England made for a rough ride, with an 80 percent completion rate within the time allowance of 116 hours and 40 minutes. Finishing the event within time is considered a major achievement, requiring extensive preparation and massive sleep deprivation during the event.
Randonneuring is long-distance unsupported endurance cycling. This style of riding is non-competitive in nature, and self-sufficiency is paramount. When riders participate in randonneuring events, they are part of a long tradition that goes back to the beginning of the sport of cycling in France (1891) and Italy. Friendly camaraderie, not competition, is the hallmark of randonneuring. Riders pass through checkpoints and have brevet cards stamped to show they have completed the distance. The control at Traquair, Scotland (first control after reaching Edinburgh) greeted incoming cyclists with a dram of 12-year-old Glenlivet.
The vast majority of entrants don’t use personal support crews at all; they are true randonneurs and find whatever they need along the route. (Each checkpoint serves hot food around the clock and has some primitive sleeping accommodations. They also have medical and mechanical support available for the riders and their bicycles.) The route, while not mountainous, is quite hilly, and weather can play a major role in the outcome of the ride.
Booth is a member of the Great Lakes Randonneuring Club and previously completed the 1200-km Paris-Brest-Paris Randonneuring event in 2011. He is a nuclear medicine technologist with the University of Wisconsin Medical Foundation.