Paris Brest Paris

Discussion about audaxes & cyclosportives

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Philip Whiteman
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Paris Brest Paris

Post by Philip Whiteman » 12 Aug 2019 18:31

Paris–Brest–Paris (PBP) is a long-distance cycling event. It was originally a 1,200 km (750 mi) bicycle race from Paris to Brest and back to Paris in 1891. Whilst no longer a race, it is now held as an audax attracting thousands from all over the world.

This year, three members will be attempting this event starting on the 18th Feb. So wish them well.

Unless I am incorrect, they are:

- Phil Richards
- John Williams
- Stu White
EDIT - Plus Chris Ashford.

The last person to attempt this event was Eddie Sumner around eight years ago. Unfortunately he did not complete on that occasion but was successful on previous occasions.
Beacon Audaxes The Kidderminster Killer & From Clee to Heaven 20.7.19; Autumn South Salopian 5.10.19. www.beaconrcc.org.uk/

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CakeStop
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Re: Paris Brest Paris

Post by CakeStop » 12 Aug 2019 19:07

Christopher Ashford is also entered.

To track them https://track.rtrt.me/e/PBP-2019#/track ... B,RTDSHJFR or if that doesn't work enter beacon in the participants search box at https://track.rtrt.me/e/PBP-2019#/tracker
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WorcsPhil
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Re: Paris Brest Paris

Post by WorcsPhil » 12 Aug 2019 20:45

Thanks Phil. Indeed there are four of us, with at least three of us a little nervous at the prospect. Being a seasoned Transcontinental rider, used to wild dogs and dysentery in Bosnia, Stu White will snort at the impudence of night riding in France...

We are all in 84 hour completion group which leaves at 05:15 on Monday morning (19th Aug). We therefore have until 5pm on Thursday afternoon to finish.

Unfortunately the tracker isn’t as exciting as the TCR dot watcher in that it only shows you crossing the mats at the control points so it will look as if we’re stationary for hours, but rest assured we won’t be. We’ll try to post photos or updates when we can.

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Si_Walker
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Re: Paris Brest Paris

Post by Si_Walker » 13 Aug 2019 07:27

Best of luck to all of you who are taking part, I wish you well and safe ride.
Si Walker
Beacon Roads Cycling Club

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George
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Re: Paris Brest Paris

Post by George » 13 Aug 2019 09:29

Best of luck to the Beacon Four!

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CakeStop
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Re: Paris Brest Paris

Post by CakeStop » 22 Aug 2019 09:04

Phil, Chris and John have just started their final leg. That section took Stu just under 3 hours so hopefully they'll all be finished by lunchtime.
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CakeStop
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Re: Paris Brest Paris

Post by CakeStop » 22 Aug 2019 11:07

All finished with plenty of time to spare - well done chaps!
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WorcsPhil
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Re: Paris Brest Paris

Post by WorcsPhil » 27 Aug 2019 14:23

Paris Brest Paris 2019. - What an amazing experience! This a long brain-dump so read it at your peril! :D

There were four Beacon RCC entrants into the PBP this year, which are the first from this club since 2007 (I think). PBP started as a pro-race in 1891, before reverting to an audax for amateurs in the 60’s, is only held every FOUR years, and is a 1219kms ride starting in Rambouillet, close to Paris all the way to the Atlantic coastal city of Brest, before turning round and heading home again.

It’s not easy to qualify to ride it either, we had to do a 400kms ride in 2018 in order just to pre-qualify, and once accepted, then we had to ride a Super Randonneur series of rides (200kms, 300kms, 400kms and a 600kms ride) between February and June this year to confirm our entry.
To cut a long story short, me, John Williams, Chris Ashford and Stu White met these qualifications and decided to enter PBP, the World Cup Final of long distance randonneuring.

So how did it go? Well, three of us set off in John’s camper van on Saturday 17th August at 5pm for the Eurotunnel, going through there at midnight and spending the first of around half a dozen crap nights’ sleep. The first was in a rest area somewhere in Northern France, but arriving in Rambouillet the next day, was a feast for the senses…the town had gone bike crazy… bikes, cars and campervans everywhere. We parked up and moseyed across to HQ where we had an obligatory bike check for lights before getting our numbers etc. It was now mid afternoon on the Sunday and as we were off in the 84hour finishing group at 5am the next day, we had time to watch both the 80hr group and 90hr group leaving on the Sunday… Over 5000 bikes left the start into the evening, most planning to ride straight through the first night and only bed down for a hour or two late on Monday night.

As for us, we retired for a night of slumber in John’s van after wolfing down everything we could find to eat, and then up at 4am, and a short roll to the start, all of us quiet due to the trepidation in our bodies at what lay in front of us…more than double the distance that we had ever rode before! Stu left 15mins before us with his group of friends, so I cannot comment on his ride, other that to urge you to watch his facebook posts which show the joy and pain of the ride from his point of view.

Me, John and Chris rolled over the start line at 05:15 on Monday, and quickly settled into a nice rhythm. It was still dark, but the flattish terrain, big groups and adrenaline kept the early pace high. We rattled through the first control at 118kms barely stopping and got to the second after 217kms in barely over 8 hours. Card stamped, food wolfed down and we were on the road again within 30mins…Feeling good, the day began to get warmer…the forecast for the whole ride was excellent, no rain, temps in the mid 20’s during the day and lightish winds, but this first day, these lightish winds were not light at all…blustery and straight into our faces, we obviously began to slow down, and by mid-afternoon it felt hot. If you know us by now, you’ll know that John is a fantastically strong rider, but he don’t like the sun! He began to feel bad and slowed, and on reaching Fougeres at 306kms, had lost it…”it’s too hot’ I’m not sure I can carry on”. So although our plan was to get to Quedilliac (390kms) on the first day, we sat down and worked out a plan for John to rest there, recover and ride overnight to catch us back up. So we left him, but in true John style, 30mins later and few orange juices drunk, John gave himself a stiff talking to, got back on his bike and hared after us, meeting us again to our surprise at the 390kms control. By being quickish, we managed well over 3hours sleep that first night, so we set off again at 5am on the Tuesday morning to ride the 200kms to Brest and start the journey back. It was warm again, but the winds were now lighter, and riding along talking to fellow PBP’ers was a joy. As I said, this is the World Cup Final of audaxing, and with everyone wearing the jerseys of their home country, it was easy to recognise where people were from. I spoke to Aussies, Indians, Danes, Americans and a wonderful Malaysian who had never cycled in temperatures so cold…whereas there I was in full Summer kit, he was dressed in at least 3 layers, with full leggings and a warm cap under his helmet…I would have been a seething mass of jelly if we had switched kit at that moment. On this second day, we climbed the one biggish hill (380m) and rode down into Brest where Chris’ pedal promptly fell off.

Disaster! This could be the end of his ride, but luckily we were only 5kms from the Brest control so he rode one legged straight into the maintenance tent and after a great deal of huffing and shaking of heads, a truce was called, the pedals were declared dead and Chris had to buy new ones and cleats in which to continue…this he did, and the new ones worked a dream!

Back now heading east with the simply wonderful road surfaces making a difference to the shite we have to put up with here. With these roads, there are no calls of “hole”, or “loose”, simply because there ain’t none. With slower going on this second day, we rolled into our second night stop at St Nicolas (738kms) after 1am for 2-3hours of crap sleep on a mat in a sports hall with 200-300 others.

Up again at 4am for day 3, and another 360kms day planned. The day was again beautiful and the forecast was suggesting our warmest day lay ahead at around 28c later…Off we went, again making decent pace. It was here that you just began to realise what an amazing event this is…every village had people out clapping you, we were lauded as heroes on two wheels by all the locals, many people spent their day in a lay-by with a trestle table full of water, orange and crepes willing you to stop and enjoy what they had…Stu perfectly described this as volunteering on an industrial scale, and indeed it was, apparently there are over 2,000 official volunteers, but tens of thousands more in the local support…many villages had music playing, impromptu cycling art made of hay bales, and sculptured bikes with rag dollies atop them pointing to way back to Paris were commonplace. People said beforehand that PBP is a party and LEL is an adventure and I know what they mean, you are never too far from a well wisher on PBP.

The third day was particularly tough for me, me legs felt fine, but I was having trouble eating anything. I wasn’t being sick just had no appetite or ability to chew food, I reckon I consumed less than 1,000 calories on days 2 and 3, not ideal when your expending more than 10,000…so later in the day, when we got to Villaines-La-Juhel at 1,003kms, we had another 86kms to get to the Mortagne control where we wanted to sleep, and it was already after 9pm…This should have taken us less than 3 hours, but John (now feeling strong of course) and Chris set off to arrive just after midnight, whereas I began to wobble big time…I just couldn’t keep my eyes open. After 30kms, I stopped at the side of the road to rest for a few mins and 40mins later woke up…setting off again, I got to within 20kms of Mortagne, but it was now after 2am after yet another 45min doze in a verge at the side of the road. By the way, I wasn’t alone, there were dozens of rough sleepers that night, with grassy knolls being particularly popular as impromptu beds! …we were leaving at 5am the next day also…so it was now my time to swear at myself, shout and slap my face to “bloody get there and sleep, you twonk!”…so I did.

Arriving at 3am and up at 04:45 again, we only had 120kms back to Rambouillet, and to be honest this was what we wanted…a shortish club ride back, and this was a joy…we stuck together, talked randomly, the day warmed up nicely, and we rolled across the finish line together at 11:55, some 78 hours and 40mins after we started. The crowds and atmosphere at the finish was tremendous, and we collapsed a few mins later clutching both our medal and a cool, refreshing beer. Proud and to be honest, a little bit emotional.

So we set off with two clear objectives…finish the damn thing and enjoy it, and I hope that I speak for at least me, John and Chris that we achieved both. Of course, huge thanks to John and Chris for the company, support on the road, encouragement and laughs…doing this on your own I’m sure would be fine, but as part of the Beacon trio, it certainly made this more doable. We bloody did it, boys!

A final stat:
- There were 6,674 people registered to ride
- There were 6,374 starters (4% drop out)
- There were 1,702 abandons or time greater than 90hours, i.e. 27% of starters were non-finishers

- 0% of Beacon starters were non-finishers

caashford
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Re: Paris Brest Paris

Post by caashford » 28 Aug 2019 10:20

A great write up Phil Richards! Almost like I was there... oh, i was...;-) Must just have blanked it out of my mind... Currently in the "never again" camp, but give me a few years and it will be LEL!

Oh, and if you want to do complete another challenge on route, then one for next year: "Europe Challenge Randonnèe" award means to have completed and be homologated on the 4 longest and most aspired Randonnèes of the European Continent, within a 4-year cycle.
Paris Brest Paris
1001 Miglia Italia
London Edinburgh London
Madrid Gijon Madrid / Köln Berlin Hamburg

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Re: Paris Brest Paris

Post by slogfester » 29 Aug 2019 17:42

Great write-up, Phil. Fantastic achievement for you all; chapeau. And you arrived under your scheduled time, so you could have carried on and ridden round the block for a few hours :wink:
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George
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Re: Paris Brest Paris

Post by George » 02 Sep 2019 12:23

Huge kudos to all!

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Re: Paris Brest Paris

Post by Yosser » 03 Sep 2019 09:26

My legs are aching and I am just sitting in my man den! Big congrats to you all.

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