Leaving Brest the weather was great. Bright sunshine, about 70 degrees, a little tailwind. Although the first stretch out of Brest is uphill, back over Roc Trezevel, I was feeling a lot better about riding back to Paris than I had been the day before. Aside from the weather, there were plenty of fellow riders on the road, a big change from the night before. It seemed like my luck had changed, and I even started wondering if I should stop and get some sunscreen. Unfortunately, the weather only held for few hours.
Entries by Andy Tetmeyer
When I got to Carhaix, the last checkpoint before Brest, I had been awake for 29 hours. I had never been awake that long before, much less ridden 300+ miles at the same time. In spite of latching onto a tandem I was still having a pretty miserable time. At that point I would have told anyone thinking of doing this ride to run screaming and never think of it again. Various scenarios were running through my head, and they all involved abandoning and catching a train back to Paris or cutting the ride short. Can I just turn around here? carry on to Brest and catch a TGV back to Paris from there?
The first night was the best thing about PBP. Although I didn’t see any French countryside, I couldn’t really see the hills coming, and at least the first night it did not rain. For me, the first night was the best part of the whole ride - flat tire and chasing aside. Like everybody else I was full of adrenaline and sheer excitement. The weather was good too. At about 55 degrees it was perfect kneewarmer/armwarmer/wool jersey weather.
The first checkpoint on the way out was just a food stop. I hit it about 2 AM and had a ham sandwich and coffee. They were selling beer and wine, which wasn’t a huge surprise. What shocked me…
8pm Monday: the 16th edition of PBP leaves Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines. I went for a brisk 8 mile walking tour of Paris in the morning, then went back to the hotel and got four hours of sleep. I caught the train to St Quentin and joined a huge crowd of cyclists at the start area. As 8 oclock approached, the excitement of the crowd grew, and at 8 a cannon was fired and the ride was on. If you’ve managed to make it this far in my narrative, you won’t be surprised to find out that there was a little snafu.
Brevets completed, notes signed, 80 hr group chosen, children shuttled off to relatives, my wife and I head to Paris. The fun started even before we boarded the first plane.
A few years ago my friend (and frame supplier) Paul Wyganowski had converted my all time favorite frame to a travel edition with S&S couplers. I had gone to Hawaii to work at the Ironman a few times, and getting a bike over was always an excercise. One year I borrowed a giant golf bag, the travel kind that you put your sticks in to go on the plane. I managed to just squeeze in a 650 wheeled bike, but the padding was minimal, and I worried about the frame getting wrecked. With a coupled bike travel was much much easier…
I went to France 3 weeks ago for vacation. Well, that and a bike ride. Every four years the Audax Club Parisien runs Paris-Brest-Paris, a 1200K ride from Paris, to Brest, and back. The ride has a long history, having been run the first time in 1891. There is also a history of long, organized bike rides in general, this type of riding is labeled Randoneering. To make it interesting (and depending on your personal level of machismo) there are time limits. Riders get a choice of 80, 84, or 90 hours. My personal level of machismo and the desire to squeeze as much into my once-a-decade European vacation led me to choose 80 hours. Since there are about 5000 riders, there are different start groups, and 80 hours went off first. An earlier start would mean an earlier finish and I would be able to meet up sooner with my wife and continue vacation. This decision would come back to bite me in the ass.
I’m driving down I-35 tomorrow to meet up with RAGBRAI and ride a couple days. I first went on this ride 29 years ago and it is what got me into riding. It wasn’t about bike culture, it was just riding. There was bike culture back then - I saw guys in the showers shaving their legs, and noticed guys on one speeds (I figured out later they were track bikes). I was only 12 years old, so for me, culture came later.
Now I’m “in the industry” and I haven’t been back to RAGBRAI for years. I’m excited to go back, and this year I have a bigger connection. Here at work we’ve been kitting out a Livestrong bus for the LAF to take on the ride.