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How to prepare for your first BRM – Training and strategy during the ride

by Anshuman Sen

How to prepare for your first BRM – Training, and strategy during the ride

You have been riding for a while and have done a couple of half-century rides and a few century rides and have just heard about BRM rides organized by Audax club and are interested in taking part in one? However, you are confused about how to prepare or strategize for the ride?

Well here is a definitive guide on how to prepare, train and complete your BRM ride in your first attempt.

For those who don’t know what a BRM ride is. BREVETS DE RANDONNEUR MONDIAUX (BRMs) are cycle rides of fixed distances in kilometers that are to be finished within specified time limits. Each ride also has pre-determined time controls points which one needs to pass successfully. BRMs worldwide are approved and governed by Audax Club Parisien (ACP). The body that has the sole authority for conducting and overseeing all Randonneuring and Audax events in India is Audax India Randonneurs (AIR).

BRM’s are not races, however, they are time controlled.

The time limits for completing various BRM rides are

BRM Ride Distance (KM’s) Total Allowed time(in hours)
200 13.5 hours
300 20 hours
400 27 hours
600 40 hours
1000 75 hours
1200 90 hours

If you are attempting a BRM for the first time then you would most likely be looking at attempting the BRM 200. Most likely this would be your first 200 km ride.

Before I get into the training part, let me make it very clear, your first BRM 200 would be a very easy ride if you train and plan well.

Read About my first BRM here.

Training for your First BRM

BRM’s are endurance rides and demand that you are physically well prepared for cycling for more than 10-12 hours at a stretch. Speed requirements to cover the distance within the time limits are not a lot and a leisure ride speed should get you across. However, you should check the probable routes and plan accordingly. In case your route has a lot of steep inclines and you are a novice then train for climbs. If your BRM is a night BRM then plan and train to ride in darkness.

Read More about Heart Rate Training Zones and how you can increase your endurance Safely.

Here are a few training tips that you could incorporate to increase your endurance for long distance or improve your ability to climb inclines.

Tip 1: Hill Repeats

Cycling-Hill Repeats

There is nothing like HIIT (high-intensity interval training) for increasing your endurance. There are various types of HIIT but hill repeats are the easiest to plan and execute and does not require any expensive or additional tools and equipment.

Find a small hill or incline which can be completed in 30 seconds to a minute.

Start with a 15 – 20-minute warm-up ride.

Start the climb with a comfortable gear, one which you would not change for the complete climb or an effort level that you can keep constant while changing gears. Choose an effort level that challenges you and could be maintained for 4-5climbs.

Complete the climb and go down. Repeat this cycle 4-5 times without breaks.

Complete the ride with a 15-20 minute cooldown ride.

Note: Do not try Hill repeats for more than 1-2 times a week.

Tip 2: Work out at home or gym. Strength Training

Every rider needs to spend some time on strength training. Either at the gym or one can also try some basic exercises for leg strengthening and core training at home. You can try these for a minimum of 1 day to 3 days a week.

 Exercises for cyclist

    1. Squats. To target quads, glutes, and core. Start with 2 sets of 10 repetitions each and slowly increase sets and repetitions as you progress.
    2. Lunges. To target quads, glutes and hamstring muscles. Start with 2 sets of 10 repetitions each and slowly increase sets and repetitions as you progress.
    3. Calf raises. To target Calf muscles. Start with 2 sets of 10 repetitions each and slowly increase sets and repetitions as you progress.

  1. Reverse squats. To target hamstring muscles. Start with 2 sets of 10 repetitions each and slowly increase sets and repetitions as you progress.
  2. Floor planks. Target core muscles. Planks are a great full body workout targeting multiple muscle groups. Start with as long as you can hold. For starters 30 seconds is good.
  3. Side planks. Target core muscles. Start with as long as you can hold. For starters 30 seconds is good.

Note: Always start your workout with a warm-up. A 5-minute spot jog is good. Also, do pre and post workout stretches.

Tip 3: Try some endurance rides

Plan for one long ride at least every week to check your progress. Anything more than 50 kms, preferably around 75- 100 km. Look for a route where there is a mix of inclines and straights.

Century Ride to Lonavala

Source: https://indiarailinfo.com

Use these rides to check your timing. Monitor your breaks during these rides. Try to work out a high cadence during these rides running on a smaller gear.

Tip 4:  Rest and Recover

One thing that a lot of cyclists ignore is the importance of rest and recovery. Plan for a day of rest in the week. The muscles that you have trained, need to recover to become stronger.

Here is a sample training plan for a week.

Day of the week Training Plan
Day 1 Hill Repeats
Day 2 Strength Training Day
Day 3 High Cadence Recovery Ride
Day 4 Strength Training Day
Day 5 Hill Repeats
Day 6 Long Ride
Day 7 Rest and Recover

Preparation for the BRM

Training for your first BRM is very important, however, any long distance endurance rides success is not just dependent on your physical fitness. A lot of other factors also go into making your first attempt at a BRM ride a success. Here are a few tips that came in handy during my first BRM 200 attempt.

  1. Find a Partner

Completing a long endurance ride like a BRM is more of a mental battle than a physical one. Most riders I have spoken to who have either given up at some point or the ones who have completed their first BRM have told me this “It can get lonely and probably having someone to motivate and pace you is what you need.”

Century Ride

With Sourabh My Ride Partner

Look for a riding partner who is riding a similar bike to you, and is it a speed at which you ride. A partner who is too slow or too fast would be a disaster.

Plan a long training ride with this partner to understand each other and the ride dynamics.

A good ride partner choice can help you complete your first BRM with ease.

  1. Plan your Nutrition and Hydration

It is of prime importance on long rides that you keep consuming food, water, and salts at regular intervals. One might not find shops en route, so please carry some snacks and some water with ORS or Electoral or simply some black rock salt.

For snacks, one could carry, dry fruits, dates, energy bars, chikkis, bananas, sandwiches. These are small and would not add much weight.

Carry enough water and keep hydrating at regular intervals. Remember if the climate is hot and humid or you are riding under the sun, you would be losing water as well as salts.

Pro Tip: I usually carry two water bottles, one is plain water, and the other is mixed with ORS. I keep sipping from these bottles alternatively while riding.

Also, you should plan food breaks and short rest breaks to take off the pressure of your back.

Read my detailed blog on what to eat before and during a long distance endurance ride.

  1. Know your route and plan your pace

One very important thing is to know your route, elevations, and checkpoints. Going too fast or too slow initially might be bad as you might miss out on your checkpoint timelines or tire yourself too soon. Also if you know your elevations and climbs you can plan to take a small break before the climb.

Pro Tip: If you have a big climb or a long climb, then plan to eat something 20-30 minutes before you hit the climb base. Your body needs 20-30 minutes to process the food and send the energy. Also, hydrate at the climb base so that you don’t start the climb with a dry throat.

  1. Set Small Target’s

Set small distance and time targets. This would help you be on time.

  1. Plan small breaks

You might have decent speeds however long breaks can eat into your lead and massively mess your time. Look to limit your breaks to 10-15 minutes. Also, a long break cools down your muscles and it might be difficult to get back on the saddle.

  1. Learn to Fix Punctures

BRM’s are self-supported rides. And during long rides, your bike is susceptible to punctures. First of all, check the tire pressure before starting the ride. Carry a puncture repair kit and a hand pump. Practice fixing a puncture at home before the ride.

  • Good Light and Reflective Jackets

If your BRM is a night BRM, then please look to carry a decent front light and rear light. Having a replaceable battery light is a better option as you would need lights for 10+ hours. The rechargeable ones last 3-4 hours and unless you carry a good power bank with a frame bag to hold the power bank your ride might end because of poor lighting. Remember Highways do not have street lights.

Pune Pandharpur Pune Cycle

  1. Rest before the ride day

Plan to take some rest for a day or two before the actual ride. Do not start off tired. Reduce training intensity during the week leading to the BRM ride.

Also, try and get a good 7-8 hours of sleep before the BRM ride.

9. Apparel and Saddle Sores

One very important thing that you must consider for a long ride is your apparel. Having a cycling jersey with the back pockets is extremely helpful. You can keep your phone, some small energy bars nicely tucked in there and can munch while riding.

Also, 200 kms sans a good gel cycling short will definitely give you a sore back. Especially if it is raining. Invest in a good gel padded short and also would be wise to apply vaseline before your ride.

10. Be Prepared to handle Questions

During the ride when you are out on the highway you would meet a lot of people who want to ask you a lot of questions. Firstly be polite in handling such situations so that things stay in control.

Q1: How much does your bike cost?

A: Always reply with 12000. Or you could reply that the event organizers have provided the cycle and you don’t know the cost.

Q2: How many people are there?

A: 40-50 people plus organizers. They are all on the road.

Q3: Too many questions?

A: Answer that you can’t speak much as you are tired and getting out of breath.

All the best for your first BRM ride.

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Feroze Khan July 23, 2018 - 11:40 am

Very nice, simple and important to all BRM riders. Great effort and a big thanks to you Anshuman, for this. Maybe some of us who have never thought of a BRM may just go ahead with it after reading and following your guidance.

Anshuman Sen July 23, 2018 - 3:10 pm

Thank you Feroze bhai for your kind words. Who wouldn’t want to see the number of cycle riders increase? It is great for our health and the environment. Cycling is one sport which has a lot of health benefits and low injury chances.

Milind Kale July 23, 2018 - 2:32 pm

Very informative n nice write up. I am also cycling enthusiast n looking for first 100 kms. My recent solo 85 kms clocked 9 hours. I have Hero Sprint normal cycle with 21 gears. Do I need to change the cycle for competing in BRM. Would be great if you can guide me. I am on Bipin Hundre’s What’s app group

Anshuman Sen July 23, 2018 - 3:08 pm

Hello Milind, congrats on your first 85 kms. My first BRM 200 was on a Kross Bolt. Read my story here.
It is about the rider and not just the ride.
You could reach out to me on the group for any queries and I would be glad to help you.

Ajit Kulkarni July 24, 2018 - 2:39 am

You are spot on Anshuman da. I never had such information when I did my first BRM last July and it was Lavasa-lonavala loop in heavy rains. Although I managed to complete but had a sore rear side for a whole week. Also what I learnt was it always help to have a strong riding partner and your own will to complete the BRM. Afterall “everything is mental “ thats what I learnt in Indian Army.
Pleasure reading your articles , keep inspiring !!!

Anshuman Sen July 24, 2018 - 8:43 am

Thank you for your kind words Ajit. Also, your point on a sore back, let me add that point to the blog.
Absolutely true that it is all in the head.
See you at the BRM 400.

DR PRATINIDHI July 25, 2018 - 10:13 am

Very well written
In short u covered all points

Anshuman Sen July 30, 2018 - 4:50 pm

Glad that you liked it Ma’am.

Harikant November 26, 2018 - 5:45 pm

Hi Anshuma, i just completed my first BRM 400. I know the experience and you have covered everything. I started cycling for recovery of my knee pain due to ligaments issue. Basically that did happen because of my reckless sprints at 110kg weight obviously because i wanted to reduce weight. Somehow i reduced 15 kgs after taking corrective measures. But now i am stuck at 95. I need to reach at 72-75. Can you suggest something.

And what is ACL reconstruction surgery for knee?

Anshuman Sen November 28, 2018 - 9:03 am

Hello Harikant.
Congratulations on your weight loss journey and your BRM 400.
If you are looking to lose weight then please focus more on the diet and resistance training. Cardio is not the best way to lose weight. You can read how I managed my diet and also a few home based workout in this blog.

Anshuman Sen November 28, 2018 - 9:04 am

Oh and ACL reconstruction is the surgery where your ACL is replaced with a graft. I had a complete ACL tear and had to eventually undergo a surgery.

swaminathan veerapandian June 10, 2019 - 4:48 pm

I just read your full blog and 200km BRM ride travelogue. Really fascinating mate. Keep going. God speed.

Anshuman Sen June 20, 2019 - 6:12 am

Thanks! Similar wishes for you too mate.

Yogendra Jagtap December 12, 2020 - 5:23 am

Excellent guidance for the new enthusiasts!

Bhagwant July 6, 2021 - 7:36 am

Hi Anshuman,

Very good article and it is to the point. I am attempting my first BRM 200 KM after 6 days and your article is very useful. Specially feeding yourself 20-30 minutes before a long climb. I have completed 1 x 100 KM bike event and 2 x Half Marathon in 1.5 year. Due to some medical situation at home, I was not able to train last month for the event and now I have very less day lefts to train myself. Currently, I can do 50KM without any issue, but my back and shoulder are hurting a lot and I am very much worried about that that issue. Could you please suggest which strategy I should apply to survive 200KM?
Hoping to get your response before event day.

Take care and keep motivating!!!

Anshuman Sen July 6, 2021 - 7:44 am

Hi Bhagwant
First of all, All the very best to you.
YOur back and shoulder pain could be due to muscle weakness. You might want to strengthen them in the long run. Core strengthening will help, especially planks. However, that would show results in 3-4 months. For your quick fix, I would recommend that you probably get a bike fit done. Even a basic one. Your saddle and handle bar position would definitely give you some respite. And take small breaks during your ride. That would help change the pressure points. Take a 5 min break every 20-25 km. Get down and stretch.
All the best! God Speed!

Bhagwant July 13, 2021 - 3:23 pm

Hi Anshuman,

Hope you are doing well. Thank you for your article, tips and guidance. Article was very useful for my first BRM.

I am glad to share I have completed my first Brevet 200K in stipulated time.

Thank you very much and keep inspiring us!


Anshuman Sen August 1, 2021 - 3:59 am


Run_gulabo_run September 13, 2021 - 11:18 pm

Thank u for this amazing write ..
I am looking For to attempt my first

Meghna Chhugera December 23, 2021 - 8:59 am

Hello Anshuman
Thankyou for the much needed information on BRM…All i need to know is how does one register for it.I’ve been cycling regularly for the past 3 mnths and have done three 50 k rides and one 80k…rest are all around 30kms…
I want to complete the 200kms BRM now…is it too early?

Anshuman Sen June 26, 2022 - 4:33 am

Hello Meghna
Apologies for being so late. Somehow missed this message.
You need to become a member here. https://audaxindia.in/. There is a yearly membership and a temp membership. The yearly works out better. Once registered, you can go here and look at events and register for the same https://www.audaxindia.in/events.php
I did my first BRM within 4 months of starting to ride.

UTKARSH December 13, 2022 - 10:17 am

Hi , I have completed ironman 70.3 Goa recently. I am looking forward to completing SR now. I am out of practice since 1 month. I am looking forward to start, if anyone has any advices regarding brms please let me know.


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