the madness of Paris-Brest-Paris........

  • Thread starter Crescentius Vespasianus
  • Start date



On Aug 30, 1:20 am, Crescentius Vespasianus <[email protected]>
wrote:
> > There are several ways to mentally approach brevets- mine is to think of
> > them as a really long enjoyable ride. I look at the scenery, talk to
> > people, enjoy each moment as best I can. Crappy weather really cuts
> > into that strategy, though, and my mind set would not have been positive
> > at this PBP and as such I really don't much mind having missed it. I am
> > a hedonistic slacker and I don't feel much need to place myself in
> > adverse circumstances for the sake of overcoming adversity. Rather than
> > getting an ego boost out of overcoming such travails, I think "WTF were
> > you thinking, Timothy, you idiot?"

>
> > The other approach is, to my thinking, much more grim. The focus is not
> > on the process but the goal and in many cases the goal is simply to beat
> > the time cutoffs. There was some of that in this report. There is a
> > tendency in human functioning that you follow what you focus on- if
> > you're focused on the closing times I think that you will tend to cut it
> > close and be really stressed out by it, which decreases your performance
> > and brings you ever closer to the cutoff. The people whose goals are
> > realistic but well in advance of the closing times of each control seem
> > to have a happier ride. People whose goals are just unrealistic (e.g.,
> > finishing in 60 hours when they are really capable of 85 hours) also
> > seemed to suffer a lot. In 2003 I saw way too many people- almost all of
> > them American, whether by coincidence I don't know- who were way to
> > wigged out and had turned just nasty towards others, even others who
> > were trying to help. They were quickly left to stew in their own
> > juices. Speaking even a little bit of French (even if just enough for
> > the politenesses) helped a whole lot, but many Americans didn't seem to
> > have bothered to learn those- even though you can learn enough French to
> > seem polite in about 30 minutes.

>
> > PBP is an interesting thing. If you read the memoirs of people who did
> > them 50 years ago, there was greater adventure. There were only a few
> > hundred riders, not 5000. The route was minimally marked and you had to
> > pay close attention to the cue sheet. The checkpoints were a guy
> > sitting at a table in a restaurant rather than full-service pit stops
> > with beds, meals and mechanics. There were no drop bags- riders mailed
> > their supplies to the checkpoints in advance which required careful
> > planning to make sure that your supplies were in the right place at the
> > right time. Over the years the event has gotten bigger, better supplied
> > and vastly more popular. The miles are still as hard to ride, though.

>
> -----------------
> Very good summary, as I've done some
> brevets myself. What people don't know,
> it isn't like most rides or races, where
> you suck some wheel most of the time,
> there is a lot of strategy involved.
> But in the end, it's how well you ride,
> but having the right supplies, clothes,
> lights, that will make you do that.
> Adverse weather seems to turn it into an
> Everest climb survival of the fittist
> type of an event. But in acceptable
> weather, it's for me the most enjoyable
> riding you can do. There is a clock to
> keep you honest, but unlike races, it
> isn't the whole game.
>
> What I've heard is that Colorado-Kansas
> 1200 is similar to what you said pbp use
> to be like. Some think it might be too
> lonely, where you only might end up
> riding with 4 riders of similar ability.- Hide quoted text -
>
> - Show quoted text -


Last Chance 1200k is maybe the easiest 1200k brevet. If you want to
set a personal best time, or qualify for RAAM, do the Last Chance.
Terrain is gently rolling. Not difficult at all. Long gentle
climbs. Pretty good roads without lots and lots of traffic. There
are trucks though. Route is easy to follow. US Hwy 36 for about 3/4
of the ride. Hard to get lost. And rattlesnakes on the shoulder of
the road with your tires inches from them. A unique riding
experience. 35 people so you have the choice of riding with a group
or going alone. Only obstacle is the wind. If the 2006 sidewinds
were headwinds, finishing would be nearly impossible.

PBP has more hills. But its hills aren't too bad. And it has plenty
of flat and gently rolling miles too. Rain and cool weather this year
of course. I had enough clothing so I was never cold. Cool at times
and a bit warm at other times. Shorts, leg warmers, short sleeve
jersey, and long sleeve jersey. Pearl Izumi Zephyr like wind breaker
the first night that was barely adequate. Then Showers Pass heavy
warm rain coat the rest of the way. Still with short and long sleeve
jerseys. Never long fingered gloves or balaclava or hood or shoe
covers. Except for being wet, the temperatures were actually ideal
for long distance riding. Cool is better than warm. 50s at night.
60s-70s in daytime. Plus rain off and on day and night. And
headwinds the first half. But not tailwinds the entire second half.
Tailwinds part of the second half, but not the whole second half. The
winds were not fair.

If you are going to do PBP do a couple things. 1. Ride a 1200k or
1000k the year before here in the US where its easy to get food,
motels, etc. There are lots of US 1200k brevets. 2. Ride lots of
brevets in the preceding years so you know how your body reacts to
different mileage. 300 is different than 400 and is different than
600. 3. GET FAST ON THE BIKE. Speed makes lots of problems
disappear. I've read a few of the writeups on the 2007 PBP. Other
than the weather, they were nothing like what I experienced. I never
saw a crowd or line at any control. After the first 60 miles, I never
would have guessed I was on a ride with 5000 entrants. Lots and lots
of miles were ridden alone without another rider in sight. The 5000
entrants cause lots of hassle before the ride begins due to bike
inspections, registration, hotels, actually starting, etc. But during
the ride they were not an issue if you just rode ahead of the vast
majority of them.

As for why you do it. My answer is to prove to myself I can do it.
PBP is the main event of long distance riding. So its the one you
have to do. Some might say its highly masochistic. But you still
have to run the race, ride the ride to prove you got the strength,
endurance, speed, whatever to do it. You have to prove it with
actions, not words.
 
T

Tim McNamara

Guest
In article <[email protected]>,
"[email protected]" <[email protected]> wrote:

> If you are going to do PBP do a couple things. 1. Ride a 1200k or
> 1000k the year before here in the US where its easy to get food,
> motels, etc. There are lots of US 1200k brevets. 2. Ride lots of
> brevets in the preceding years so you know how your body reacts to
> different mileage. 300 is different than 400 and is different than
> 600. 3. GET FAST ON THE BIKE. Speed makes lots of problems
> disappear.


This is all excellent advice for Us riders. Before spending- by my
calculations for my situation- $5,000 on a bike ride in France, do a
1200K here in the US. It's a lot cheaper, you know the language, you
know the products in the stores, you know how the phone numbers work,
etc. And speed training pays many dividends, including significantly
improving your endurance as well as putting you ahead of the many
overwrought riders pedaling along in fear of not making the time cut.
If you don't want to compete with 2000 riders for 250 sleeping spaces on
a rainy night in Loudeac, ride a bit faster and get there before 'em!
 
D

Dave Larrington

Guest
On 31 Aug, 21:41, Zog The Undeniable <[email protected]> wrote:
> Crescentius Vespasianus wrote:
> > the ride reports of Paris-Brest-Paris are starting to show up, read this
> > shocking one

>
> >http://zecher.org/clare/PBP2007RideReport.html

>
> Therecumbentrider who went off the road may have been uk.rec.cycling's
> own Dave Larrington. He's fine now with no lasting injuries, although
> he was actually claiming to be the Mayor of Mortagne when they took him
> to hospital (sleep deprivation/caffeine overdose). His bike and other
> bits have also been recovered and taken back to England.


>From reading Clare's account, I don't think it was me - I only got a

single ambulance and that in Mortagne town centre. I /did/ hear that
some poor sod had snuffed it in his sleep at Loudéac on the outward
leg, but have no idea whether this is true.

As to the recovery of bike and bits back to England, 'twas (nearly)
all my own work. Here is what to do if one's travel insewerants is
with Assistance International: on no account do anything which causes
one to require their services. I'm still waiting for the useless
shower of dunces to phone back from last Wednesday :-(

--
Dave Larrington
Mayor of Mortagne-au-Perche
 
J

Jay Beattie

Guest
On Sep 3, 8:04 pm, "[email protected]"
<[email protected]> wrote:

<huge snip>

> As for why you do it. My answer is to prove to myself I can do it.
> PBP is the main event of long distance riding. So its the one you
> have to do. Some might say its highly masochistic. But you still
> have to run the race, ride the ride to prove you got the strength,
> endurance, speed, whatever to do it. You have to prove it with
> actions, not words.- Hide quoted text -


No offense, but that makes no sense at all. You do not have to run
the race, ride the ride to prove you got the strength, etc. To whom
are you proving you have the strength? Isn't it like a giant century
with rest stops, etc.? Are there prizes for placing?

I remember lining up for one of those San Jose business park crits in
the early 80s, and some guy lines up next to me that looks vaguely
familiar. I ask him who he is (I don't remember his name), and he
goes on about how he was in Bicycling magazine and won the JMO, etc.,
etc. (too much info). I was polite and said "hey, that's great." He
got shelled at about lap ten -- and probably went out after the race
and rode about a million miles on the way home, alone.

I know I shouldn't be critical because I engage in all sorts of
compulsive behavior (I still think I am in training for racing, which
I am not) and certainly understand the desire to do monumental things,
but I just don't understand why a person would spend so much time on a
bike to the exclusion of other social activities -- particularly a
person with a job, family and house. If I were to structure my life
to free up enough time to train for PBP (which would be impossible), I
would use that time to remodel the downstairs bath and to hone my
tiling skills. Maybe get super good at PEX piping. Prove to myself
that I can plaster! (I mean real plaster, which is a trick.) -- Jay
Beattie.
 
On Sep 4, 11:59 am, Jay Beattie <[email protected]> wrote:
> On Sep 3, 8:04 pm, "[email protected]"
>
> <[email protected]> wrote:
>
> <huge snip>
>
> > As for why you do it. My answer is to prove to myself I can do it.
> > PBP is the main event of long distance riding. So its the one you
> > have to do. Some might say its highly masochistic. But you still
> > have to run the race, ride the ride to prove you got the strength,
> > endurance, speed, whatever to do it. You have to prove it with
> > actions, not words.- Hide quoted text -

>
> No offense, but that makes no sense at all. You do not have to run
> the race, ride the ride to prove you got the strength, etc. To whom
> are you proving you have the strength? Isn't it like a giant century
> with rest stops, etc.? Are there prizes for placing?


Proving it to yourself. You set a goal and then you do the actions to
acheive that goal. Seems simple enough. Many cyclists work up to
riding a century as a monumental goal. Do you stop there and never
ride further? Never challenge yourself to go further? I know people
who only ride centuries more or less. Why not push yourself to see
how far you can ride?

Giant century with rest stops? Not really due to the total miles
involved and the time limits that dictate you keep moving.



>
> I remember lining up for one of those San Jose business park crits in
> the early 80s, and some guy lines up next to me that looks vaguely
> familiar. I ask him who he is (I don't remember his name), and he
> goes on about how he was in Bicycling magazine and won the JMO, etc.,
> etc. (too much info). I was polite and said "hey, that's great." He
> got shelled at about lap ten -- and probably went out after the race
> and rode about a million miles on the way home, alone.
>
> I know I shouldn't be critical because I engage in all sorts of
> compulsive behavior (I still think I am in training for racing, which
> I am not) and certainly understand the desire to do monumental things,
> but I just don't understand why a person would spend so much time on a
> bike to the exclusion of other social activities -- particularly a
> person with a job, family and house.


I consider riding a social activity. And job stress reliever. And
enjoyable activity. I try to maximize enjoyable activities. PBP
itself is not enjoyable for most of the miles. But most of the riding
up to then is very enjoyable. And you put in far more time and miles
riding before and after PBP than on PBP itself. Can't think of too
many other things I would prefer doing. Getting ready for PBP gives
you a goal to focus on. Goals are good to keep you directed.


If I were to structure my life
> to free up enough time to train for PBP (which would be impossible),


Depends on how you use your riding time. You don't have to spend that
much time or mileage getting ready if you spend the training time
wisely. Cutting out the junk miles frees up an immense amount of
time. Junk miles can be OK if you are riding for fun only, or as a
social activity. But just tooling along at 12-15 mph hour after hour
isn't a wise expenditure of time. Speed work. Fast pack riding.
Intervals. Maximize the use of your time and you will be better
prepared for PBP than people who spend 5 times the hours on the bike.
Quality miles, not quantity is the key for being ready to ride long
distances.


I
> would use that time to remodel the downstairs bath and to hone my
> tiling skills. Maybe get super good at PEX piping. Prove to myself
> that I can plaster! (I mean real plaster, which is a trick.)


I've postponed some home improvement projects this spring and summer.
None were critical so they can be done when the weather isn't as nice
for riding. This fall some basement painting will be done. And
electrical work. When its cold outside these projects are perfect.
As for proving to yourself you can do these activities, same as long
distance biking. You can talk all you want about how good you are at
construction and remodeling. But until you do the activity its just
talk. You have to do the activity to prove to yourself and others you
can do it. I have enough troubles with sheetrock that I'll leave
plastering for someone else. Kind of like me having enough troubles
with 1200k brevets that I'll let others do RAAM.


-- Jay
> Beattie.
 
P

Peter Cole

Guest
Jay Beattie wrote:
nd rode about a million miles on the way home, alone.
>
> I know I shouldn't be critical because I engage in all sorts of
> compulsive behavior (I still think I am in training for racing, which
> I am not) and certainly understand the desire to do monumental things,
> but I just don't understand why a person would spend so much time on a
> bike to the exclusion of other social activities -- particularly a
> person with a job, family and house. If I were to structure my life
> to free up enough time to train for PBP (which would be impossible), I
> would use that time to remodel the downstairs bath and to hone my
> tiling skills. Maybe get super good at PEX piping. Prove to myself
> that I can plaster! (I mean real plaster, which is a trick.) -- Jay
> Beattie.


I hear you, I've not done brevet riding in a couple of years because
it's just too time consuming. It may sound twisted, but I liked brevets
because they conditioned me against discomfort. I think you can build a
tolerance for discomfort like anything else. Having a high tolerance for
discomfort turns out to be a very useful thing, I never realized how
soft I was.

Brevets can be ordeals, but they have intensity in both highs and lows.
Sometimes life feels just too flat, pushing yourself just feels good,
even when it's painful.
 
On Aug 29, 11:37 pm, Crescentius Vespasianus <[email protected]>
wrote:
> the ride reports of Paris-Brest-Paris
> are starting to show up, read this
> shocking one
>
> http://zecher.org/clare/PBP2007RideReport.html



For the woman who's probably over vilified. I read most of the post
yesterday, eventually I switched from skimming to stopping, but there
are some major things that apply to other people:
1. The problem with your bag??? Did you ride the brevets and all
summer without using the setup you used during PBP? I hope there was a
last second breakdown that caused the issue, because otherwise it was
sheer stupidity to not have tested your setup long before. I know my
Carradice to experimenting and finally investing in the more expensive
support to make it work with my Roubaix.
2. Not pulling. It sounds like you're my worst nightmare of a
triathlete who doesn't know anything about cycling. OK - how many
responses will that get? Of course people expect you to share the
load. You were a complete asshole just taking off. I you could do that
you could've pulled your best.
I'm glad I don't remember more of the post but a lot of it sounded
like lack a planned and unbelievable lack of experience.

Lessons learned from my rookie PBP:
PBP was rough, but for me the biggest issue wasn't the weather, it was
the lack of places to sleep when I needed it. Fortunately, I made a
couple of key last-second purchases I hadn't really thought I'd need.
These were Sugoi heavy shoe covers and mid-weight leg warmers. I had a
heavy pair of leg warmers (Kolcharik wool) that I knew would be too
heavy. I suffered the second night because didn't stop to put on the
stuff needed.
So, like many others, I made it to Lodiac needing sleep along with a
few friends. We agreed to take a long sleep break and I never managed
to fall asleep in the bright cafeteria w/all the noise. I couldn't
believe some of the volunteers who (in my state of mind) seemed to be
trying to keep people up. I know that wasn't the case. Like, I one
point they started opening the windows more even though it just let in
the freezing wind besides lots of talking while standing next to
people trying to fall asleep. That wasted a few hours of not biking
and little rest.
Here I'll say my legs weren't feeling bad even though I usually slow
down a lot between 200 and 250 miles. It must have been that this was
the first time I've ever taken Ibuprofen during a ride. I took one
Advil at each control as a preventive.
Got to Brest feeling OK except tired. I did like others and slept on
the grass in the glorious sun for 30-45 min. When I woke up, my left
knee was sore. I upped the advil to 4xper 12 hours, as an experienced
friend (PBP, BMB) said 3-4 is what it takes once you're fighting an
existing pain. I spin all the time in general, and rode the rest of
the ride as "gingerly" as possible to avoid making it worse while
hoping it would get better.
Another thing I hope people read. I saw a friend there who was clearly
out of it. I assumed it was sleep deprivation and left thinking I'd
convinced him to sleep for a few hours. He's a very strong rider so he
could've afforded the time. Later in the ride he DNF'd and in the
hospital was diagnosed with heart and liver issues. I still don't know
what was cause and what effect (haven't talked to him yet), but I
think RUSA should start providing some rider ed about watching out for
other riders. Yeah, we're supposed to be independent, but I agree with
other posts I've seen that rider exhaustion was probably the cause of
a lot of crashes. We need to be proactive about getting people off
their bikes when they clearly can't ride.
Almost forgot to add. I stopped at a cafe after Brest and left my
helmet there. I'd never do downhills without a helmet and really
considered this a crisis at the time b/c it had my headlamp on it.
This headlamp was awesome for riding in general beyond its intended
purpose of making it easy to see the route markers. Highly recommended
for all night riding now unless you have a Schmidt hub.
At a stop before Lodeac I slept a couple hours where they had a nice
corner of pads blocked off. I'd brought my kitchen timer so I could
punch in the time I wanted to sleep (no working phone or watch w/an
alarm). Someone had to wake me up by shaking my shoulder even though
the alarm was right next to my head. I napped at Lodeac like everyone
else, this time no problem putting my head on the cafeteria table and
passing out. Another survival method was I'd bring in my clothes (in
ziploc bags) and use that as a pillow, with one clean shirt on top of
the bags.
After that it was the typical just keep pedaling until you finish, no
major drama and not much more sleep. The only drama was my friend
mentioned before. I British rider pulled him over because of his
erratic riding and asked if anyone knew him. So I pulled over, we
found someone with a phone and called officials to pick him up. This
was at night and I was very worried about being dropped by the big
group we were in. The British guy was willing to wait for the car and
I took off - I realize how lame this sounds and am very grateful to
him.
Finally, I'll only do a 1200 after I have a much faster double
century. Will tour northern France rather than do another PBP unless
they expand the sleeping facilities.

Dave,
Chicago
Great Lakes R's
 
T

Tim McNamara

Guest
In article <[email protected]>,
[email protected] wrote:

> but I think RUSA should start providing some rider ed about watching
> out for other riders. Yeah, we're supposed to be independent


This seems to be a particularly American viewpoint of randonneuring. At
PBP 2003 it seemed like every American was on their own individual ride
and that there was something wrong with riding cooperatively with
others. The Americans, it seemed, were all loners unless it was a
husband and wife team. I am sure there were exceptions to this, after
all I only met a fraction of the 4000+ riders.

By contrast I saw many French, Danes, Australians, Belgians, English,
etc. riding together in cooperative groups. Each group had its own
unique character- the Australians were raucously funny, the Danes rode
along singing and doing everything as a group, the Belgians were very
quiet and efficient in pacelines, and the French were a rolling party.
My French is tres mauvais but nonetheless I really enjoyed rolling along
with the French groups.

My experience on RUSA brevets is much the same- most everyone is on
their own ride as individuals. Seeing people stick together in
cooperative groups is somewhat rare. We seem to think that cooperation
degrades or devalues the individual achievement or something. There is
no team in I.

There may be some safety in this individualism, though- most American
randonneurs have only the foggiest notion of how a paceline operates and
even less of a idea of how to ride in an echelon formation.
 
T

Tim McNamara

Guest
In article <[email protected]>,
[email protected] wrote:

> Finally, I'll only do a 1200 after I have a much faster double
> century. Will tour northern France rather than do another PBP unless
> they expand the sleeping facilities.


The sleeping facilities are what they are and there really isn't much
that can be done- there is only so much room in the buildings that PBP
borrows. The problem is that almost everyone wants to sleep at Loudeac
outbound and returning, breaking it up into three roughly 400 km chunks.
That the American bag drops tend to be there complicates this further,
resulting in a big concentration of Americans at that point. This year
was especially problematic, I suspect, because the weather was not
conducive to napping on the side of the road.

The best answer is to avoid either sleeping at Loudeac (choose Tinteniac
or Carhaix instead) or coinciding with the crowds. There are several
options:

(1) make sure you line up in the first wave or two of the 90 hour start
and ride a bit faster to get there ahead of the crowds. Get there in 20
hours or so and you'll pretty much be able to check right in to a cot.
(2) take the 84 hour start (which always has a higher rate of finishers
than the 90 hour start) and sleep at Carhaix instead of Loudeac.

(3) bring an option such as a space blanket so that you are not
dependent on the controles for places to sleep.

(4) reserve a hotel room along the way and sleep there.

(5) be very pleasant and some local may very well offer to take you
home, put you up for a few hours, and make you a meal. Harder to count
on but many families around the controles do this. I had an offer from
a family in Poullaquen just past Carhaix in 2003, but I was stopped by
knee pain not tiredness so it wouldn't have helped.

Riding faster makes most of the problems associated with PBP either go
away or be much less bothersome. Too many randonneurs get stuck on
avoiding the closing times of controles rather than having positive time
goals. Skirting being DQ'd for 90 hours is just too damned stressful.
Ride at a minimum of a 75 hour pace (average of 16 km/h overall or 10
mph, which translates to a minimum rolling speed of 15 mph or 24 km/h
and keeping non-sleeping controles to 15 minutes or less) and eliminate
that problem.
 
C

Crescentius Vespasianus

Guest
Tim McNamara wrote:
> In article <[email protected]>,
> [email protected] wrote:
>
>> but I think RUSA should start providing some rider ed about watching
>> out for other riders. Yeah, we're supposed to be independent

>
> This seems to be a particularly American viewpoint of randonneuring. At
> PBP 2003 it seemed like every American was on their own individual ride
> and that there was something wrong with riding cooperatively with
> others. The Americans, it seemed, were all loners unless it was a
> husband and wife team. I am sure there were exceptions to this, after
> all I only met a fraction of the 4000+ riders.
>
> By contrast I saw many French, Danes, Australians, Belgians, English,
> etc. riding together in cooperative groups. Each group had its own
> unique character- the Australians were raucously funny, the Danes rode
> along singing and doing everything as a group, the Belgians were very
> quiet and efficient in pacelines, and the French were a rolling party.
> My French is tres mauvais but nonetheless I really enjoyed rolling along
> with the French groups.
>
> My experience on RUSA brevets is much the same- most everyone is on
> their own ride as individuals. Seeing people stick together in
> cooperative groups is somewhat rare. We seem to think that cooperation
> degrades or devalues the individual achievement or something. There is
> no team in I.
>
> There may be some safety in this individualism, though- most American
> randonneurs have only the foggiest notion of how a paceline operates and
> even less of a idea of how to ride in an echelon formation.

----------------
I understand what you're saying about
pacelines, but for me personally, I
thought brevets were a blessed escape
from them. When you're in races you
spend your whole ride looking at
someone's ass, finally I could at least
see what I was riding through. Safety
is also a major issue. The only crashes
I've been involved in, were in pacelines
where someone screwed up. And finally,
I know I'm probably an oddball on this
one, but chit-chat seems to double the
distance for me. Don't get me wrong,
I've had some good brevets, riding with
people, but if I end up solo, at least I
can take a pee without asking for
permission.
 

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