"While racing is more like a battle, with only one rider coming out as a winner, randonneuring is all about the civilized enjoyment of cycling. Or as a non-randonneuring friend once put it: It is the quest for the perfect cyclist, any distance, any weather, self-sufficient"
-stolen from teh internob
#1. RIDE YOUR BIKE
#2. Join a club!http://www.rusa.org/http://www.orrandonneurs.org/http://www.seattlerandonneur.org/
#3. buy some shit!http://www.boulderbicycle.bike/http://www.compasscycle.com/http://oceanaircycles.com/https://www.builtbyswift.com/http://www.acornbags.com/
So once you have been on the bike a bit, joined a club, and bought some shit you probably want to get to the next level.
A randonneur event is called a brevet (breh-vay) or a randonnee (ran-doh-nay), the distance is measured in kilometers, and you are given a cuesheet (for directions) and a brevet card (a list of controls/checkpoints - much like an alleycat). Brevets completely self supported - with the exception that you can receive outside support at the controls - and in the event of a real emergency (wreck, health, etc). A randonneur series is 200-300-400-600km brevets completed in the time allowed. This itself is a feat of physicality but there are more difficult routes and some 800-1000km brevets and 1200+. Minimum speed is about 14-18kmh, maximum speed is about 30kmh, depending on length.
Here are the time limits for common brevets:
200 km - 13.5 hours
300 km - 20 hours
400 km - 27 hours
600 km - 40 hours
1000 km - 75 hours
1200 km - 90 hours
The PNW has a wonderful landscape for this type of riding: country roads, wooded hills, small towns, access to water interspersed throughout.
Also, the PNW has a couple great clubs - Oregon Randonneurs and Seattle International Randonneurs. Both clubs are under Randonneurs USA (national club) and the worldwide governing body is Audax Club Parisenne. Yes, that is a lot of bureaucratic crap.
Brevets cost money to organize - pre rides, printing of materials, some basic supplies, insurance, other things. Generally they cost about $5-20 depending on the length and difficulty to orgnize and some can cost upwards of $100+ (for meals, hotel rooms, medals, other peripherals). ORR and SIR both have a $25/yearly club fee and RUSA has a $20?/year fee. Sometimes you can get free membership (or ORR/SIR) by volunteering to preride or organize brevets - this is the way to do it, everyone wins.