Published August 25 2003
Alpo's Paris-Brest-Paris report 25.8.2003 , Alabama, USA
Sorry not to write sooner but I've been busy (to sleep) lately.
So PBP is through in good time and I'm happy to finally made it.
Actually I set it as some kind of goal already 1999 when there was
a story of previous edition in Finnish newspaper. I'm writing this
at library internet machine in Alabama. 1/2 hour time. US tour has
started well, except I really missed the plane as someone (John?)
guessed. No bigger trouble: 100$ extra and next flight 2 hours later.
PBP report: Great event. big enough crowds. good atmosphere. Starting
21.45 in 300 rider pack with all the weirdos: recumbents, tandems,
three wheelers & me. Starting 15-60 minutes behind us was the main
pack of cyclists, about 2000 of them. There were lots of riders
on the road all through the first night and this of course made
me exceed my sensible speed.
I went through 100km point at average speed of 25,5km/h and reached
first food post at Mortagne au Perche (140km) in 6 hours. Later
speed settled and all the control points and fueling stops took
their time. In PBP organizers offer restaurants, but there can be
lineups and the fastest way to get food is usually stop at some
small shop en route.
Calculating my progress I saw that well below 90hour time was possible
but knew also that I'll be paying for the fast start. And I was.
First evening was really hard and despite that I did 480km in 24hours.
If ridden supported and no need to continue next morning I'm positive
I would have broken 24hour record with effort I made. Night stop
was at Carhaix after 530km and 27 hours. After 4,5 hour sleep ride
went on towards Brest and I noticed speed was 15km/h and still kicking
felt pretty hard.
At Brest I ate well and got real morale boost knowing I'm now halfway
done and only need to kick back the same route I just did. Speed
and effort settled to nice 19km/h at power I felt I could maintain
as long as there was something to eat. Because of slow morning I
only made it to Tinteniac for next night stop.
2,5 hours of sleep and 366km to go. I thought to ride to finish
non- stop and started easily. Day was really nice with some tailwind.
Overall the weather was extremely good during whole PBP. Only night
temperatures were on low side. Mortagne au Perche (140 to go) was
just when night fell. All the way people and other riders had been
very interested in Kickbike and probably took hundreds of photos
in total. I estimate 1 hour of riding time was used to answering
questions about kicking. \ (unfortunately mostly: is that hard?
-> as hard as you want to make it. Speedwise you ride about 20km
while racing biker does 30km do you go through many pairs of shoes?
-> pair of shoes lasts as long as 4 sets of tires. These ones have
now been used for 15000km)
On last stops I was so tired I just left Kickbike outside and went
self to back corner of restaurant where I could eat and rest in
peace. Standard crowd around Kickbike outside was 20-40 persons.
Last night started well with hilly terrain and high power kicking
but later when roads got flat (this 60km section was the only flat
one in entire PBP) and temperatures dropped I began to think about
night stop after all. Energy and muscles were ok but my feet were
aching enough to make fast kicking quite a pain. Temperature dropped
all the way to 7 degrees centigrade and I really couldn't maintain
high enough pace to keep me warm. About 4am I decided to stop at
Nogent le Roi only 60km from finish and wait for morning, light
and warm. Last strecth was pretty easy then. speeds again at 20km/h
and nice sunshine. Scenery was beautiful too. Finishing is nice
moment but I've had this same on previous ultra- rides. the good
feeling comes slowly. I'm too tired to really feel extatic at the
moment ride is over.
Overall: hard ride, 85hours is good, possible to do in 72 hours.
This requires good support and keeping on well planned pace schedule.
Biggest problems: 1) feet. banging asphalt nearly continuously for
3 days maybe reqires softer shoes, or more training. 2) rough roads.
asphalt is really not smooth here. I broke two spokes when speeding
downhills in dark and left little finger is still numb. 3) long
nights. It gets dark at 21.30 and light at 6.30. Night is relatively
cold. 4) Weather. was excellent this time but one day of rain could
make ride wery hard indeed.
After ride met one biker who was keen on entering PBP next time
with Kickbike. How about you? Event is really great with all the
people wathing the race as it passes throug small villages. Kids
selling juice at 10c a glass Farmers and wifes offering cake for
free etc. Though with Kickbike it's so hard that enjoying all the
atmosphere is difficult. Thanks for following me and encouragements
I got by SMS!
Now heading for New Orleans, Alpo