Last year I joined the local chapter of RUSA. Given my interest in long-distance riding, I thought that randonneuring would be a good fit for me. Randonneuring is long-distance, non-competitive cycling. The riders aren't racing each other. They are, however, racing the clock.
A ride, whether 100K, 200K, or whatever, must be completed within a specific time limit; the time allowed being determined by the length of the ride. As the organization's handbook puts it, "That cruel clock is always ticking". And it begins to tick as soon as the first pedal stroke is taken. It doesn't stop for rest breaks, flat tires, or having to wait for a train to clear the crossing.
Longer brevets (bruh-VAYs) involve sleep deprivation, especially PBP (i.e. Paris-Brest-Paris), THE randonnee of them all. This ride is held every fourth August, during the full moon. And it sounds like a tough business!
Try to imagine riding 1200 kilometers (about 746 miles) within 90 hours, INCLUDING sleep breaks, getting through check points efficiently, and so on. Mind boggling!
At the same time, I read somewhere a mention of "riding through the veil of white satin" in reference to getting through PBP by riding all night. It sounds gorgeous, and makes me wish I could go on such a ride. Doing PBP, in fact, is one of my impossible cycling dreams.
Perhaps I'm getting irreverent here. I catch myself thinking of a team riding PBP and fortifying themselves with PBJ sandwiches along the way -- and saying that PBP stands for Peanut Butter Posse!