Welcome to a journal on cycling. I expect this to be weighted heavily toward randonneuring, a form of long distance, self supported, non-competitive riding, but probably touch on other forms of cycling as well.
So, what is randonneuring?
Randonneuring is a form of long distance riding. It's not touring as the rides are done all at once with little, if any sleep. It's not racing, though the rides are timed and you must ride a predetermined route within a prescribed time.
Basically, you are given a cue sheet and possibly a map by the ride organizer. You, and everyone else who turns out for the ride, start at a specific time and follow that cue sheet to the finish - usually the same as the start point. The rides are typically 200, 300, 400, or 600 Km long. That's between 125 and 375 miles. However, there are sometimes rides as short as 100 Km or as long as 1200 Km.
Randonneurs tend to be great folks and go out of there way to help you overcome any obstacles along the way. In fact, finding ways to overcome problems, mechanical, health, weather, etc. is a great source of pride among randonneurs.
For more information on the sport of randonneuring, check the Randonneurs USA link on the left. There, you can find a much better description of what randonneuring is all about and links to local organizations that host rides.