For the first time, I could train, qualifie and go to PBP without supporting sponsors.
What could have been easier, than to collect& donate the moneey instead???
After a quite pleasing final testing with Detlef and Mark to Berlin I founded a WhatsAppGroup for mutual support in emergency (we where 5 starters in the circumference of 20k), I saddled up with small luggage and headed off to Paris, on my beloved Randonneur, just to tell my legs.”hello!”
I was glowing with anticipation, though my decision was fix:
This would become my 4th and last PBP, for the number of competitors on the one hand and the circuitous procedure of pre-/registration on the other are too much effort, if you´re on duty every 2nd weekend.
Cycling past MÜNSTER, XANTEN, DIEST/B, and St.QUENTIN/SOMME I got plenty of hilly terrain and furious headwind.
Day No 4, I made my EiffelTower Selfie:
and the next noon I reached my pleasant hut in the woods, which I had booked half a year ago, thinking: If you don´t qualifie, you have nevertheless the biketrip to PARIS and a week of beerdrinking.
In fact, I had a number. And was in stress…
Registration and bike control went french style relaxed, but it was blasting rain all day, so I was lucky to share Heiner´s(who had brought the rest of my gear) car, to keep the important stuff dry for the brevet.
It was comforting, that three european brevet organizers welcomed me with hugs and knew my name, for this might mean, that I didn´t fail my whole life.
or did I fail totally? 😉
8/18, 19:30 we went off, almost in time, which was new, and the neverending rain had ceased 2h ago. As I had advised the others, I let the fast guys go and concentrated to get in touch with the road, quickly. I felt no pity for the first participants to enter the ambulances in MORTAGNE, overpaced and out.
Pedalling quietly and pausing smartly, I reached VILLAINES LA JUHEL and FOUGERES at a pace of 15k, feeling strained, a little tired and stressed by the still stiff headwind. The wind, and the reitarating ramps, followed by descents were tiring.
The stage past FOUGERES is only 50k, that´s trappy.
Time slots are calculated by about 12.5k/h, so you always save time for stops, defects etc. and the slots spread, the further you go. Because of the short stage, the slot gets very narrow, but the next one, to LOUDEAC, is 84k and extremly hilly, and normally you get that one at night. (except, you rush through at 44hrs, but that´s not me…)
Somewhere, at one of these wonderful private Coffee&Cakes stops, I had explained this to a german couple, adding:”exactly this broke my neck, last time.” Some k further, the girl roared past me, her partner put his hand on my back, while overtaking:” Thanks a lot for the hint, we did some calculating, and now we´re in a hurry!”
Off they went..
In TINTENIAC I decided, to take a powernap in a bustop, for wetteronline.de told me, there would be hard rain for about 20min. Good decision.
After that, these excruciating 84k to LOUDEAC…
Steep ascent, racing descent,in the dawn the hot road turned the fallen rain into fog, while temperature fell abysmal… referring to the strong headwind, the collective suffering had begun much earlier, though. In a facebook post, one compared the second night rather with Napoleon´s retreat from MOSCOW, than a brevet. Honestly, passing that village, where dozens of comrades lay under every lantern, in any yard, I too thought of a rampage…
About 10k past TINTENIAC, a post shoutet:”Premiere blabla…!”, ok, I thought, the first is in BREST, but no, some minutes later the topgroup came ahead of me…
and now, it turned nasty:
wet, bad road surface
plus steadily appearing abyssal monsters with a dozen of blue-white gleaming eyes, which took my own sight completely. Ok, it´s to assume, that the road for you is on the right, but these guys are cycling full power since 24hrs, can you be sure, that they are on the right(right) side of the road?
Skydiving, I learnt, that you have to eliminate or calculate any risk. Impossible under these conditions:In this slot, you stay in time limit, if you descend full speed. But how, when you don´t see, where to go?
Somewhere in that -meanwhile- painful cold there where people, offering hot soup, comforting and encouraging. They said, it´s quarante km till LOUDEAC. When I got, that´s not fourTEEN…
I felt well on the bike, technically, tired, yes, but not with that lack of control many drivers had shown in the first night. Ok, a little faster…
The recognition that, with the strong headwind, the strenght would not last…
In LOUDEAC, the inspector looked at me with that wellknown expression
+ 3min left
Temperature had sunk to 4°C, the randonneurs from India resigned in droves, one of them told me later: “We heard of a heatwave in Europe, so we thought, we should go. Where is that heatwave? I don´t know temperatures like this.”
I had a feeling of cottonwool in the fronthead, interrupted by “Conscoiusness Clicks”, halfway blinded by the headlights of upcoming cyclists and somewhere in a descent I suddenly had sleighed the grassborder, no idea, how I managed my way back on the road without going head over heels.
I went for a nap…
Woken 45 minutes before the service by the chattering of theet of my neighbour, I recognized:
I can´t stand another night like this. And it´s not worth it.
I turned around 7 times in Loudeac, until I really took my way to the next Gare S.N.C.F.
Which is 20k far, and a freight station.
So far for GARMIN Navigation.
The next real Station is St.BRIEUC and 60k more.
(Funny, that you are completely fucked up without car in a region, that pretends to exist on ecologic tourism, cycling Bretagne isn´t nice even with E-bike)
Via a couple of “roads”, solely known by GARMIN, I got there.
The lady in the station explained, today there would only be TGV trains, in which I had to carry my bike bagged. Just that moment, I did´nt have my bag with me. On the other hand, she explained, insistingly, for a participant of PBP, she would make an exception, but only today and just for me. This offer indeed had withstand till Paris, for some Indian riders, too, even under the eyes of railway security, which had a different opinion, obviously. The conductor rolled his eyes, several times, but didn´t say nothing, while we three where blocking the doors with our unpacked bicycles, tiredly moving them for other passengers to pass. Interesting, that the number of french speaking english increases, when they want to shout at you.
Other participants had been so lucky to find helpers, who had a truck full of bicycle bags, coincidentally, and sold them for only a 100bucks. Not only that, generously, they put the people and there bags on the emptied truck, afterwards, and took them to the station.
I had figured out, that the Maindru professionals might take pics in the finish area, and I didn´t want to miss that, so I left the train , went on the track and rolled into RAMBOIULLET. I was wrong, but I passed the time check with about incredible 48hrs over all and rank 23 in the internet compilation, before I declared, that I had given up in LOUDEAC.
The headwind had turned from W to E in the middle of the brevet, by the way…
After that, I became WhatsAppmotivator, worried expector, finishkisser, firstphotographer and, finally, “driver of the Winnebago”(TheBluesBrothers) direction home.
Detlef und Mark only reached BREST, further than me, anyway, great respect for Detlef, riding a recumbent…
For PBP you have to qualifie twice. Everyone who went there, made that.
So every person at the start may call her/himself “Randonneur”
Would have been cool, to rock that thing a last time.
But I enjoyed! Merci ACP! Merci France!
And we got quite a lot of money for Bondali
So it was a success!
apart from that:
to double the weight of the bike,
halfen your trainings effort,
and age 12 years
is no sustainable concept!