Sunday, January 24, 2010

Paris-Brest-Paris 2011 Announcement

My goal for this year is to prepare for my 2011 goals. The Big Enchilada for 2011 is Paris-Brest-Paris, a 1200 km amateur ride against the clock in France. On this ride, there are more than two dozen checkpoints along the course to ensure you are riding at or above the minimal pace. If not, you are DNF'd (Did Not Finish, for those of you sane people.) There are no more than two dozen English speaking people associated with the race and on the course, so one must know how to speak and preferably read French, too. Another goal for me.

The announcement brochure was just posted. The French have a light hearted spirit about things we Americans are often hard headed about. Here's one Safety statement: It is recommended to wear a helmet. I had to laugh when I read that one...Sure, we need to wear reflective vests at night and have lights front and rear up too certain standards, but helmets are optional. Given how hot is can be in France in late August, I think most riders will appreciate this statement. I know I'll take my helmet off once in a while to really cool off.

Doug did this ride in 1991 and finished with 10 minutes to spare. I was fortunate to have been along to crew for him with Diane. Over the 4 days of Doug riding, I got 4 hours of sleep and had an epic adventure (often behind the wheel at somewhat questionable speeds at night to find the next checkpoint.) Support cars are not allowed on the official route. If your support car is found on the route (we had a placard on the dash) the rider is disqualified. If the rider if off route and detected, the rider is penalized with extra time. The officials are funny about helmets but not about other things. Doug's riding that summer (to qualify) and in PBP 1991 remains very inspirational. Diane's support of Doug (night and the qualifying rides in the U.S. usually start at 4AM and can last 2 days) throughout that summer is even more inspirational. Doug changed his diet, got more sleep, went out less and generally became a training machine. It paid off, too.

At most of the checkpoints, there was a coffee stand. They were pouring intensely hot and dark roasted French Roast Coffee into bowls. That was a meal in itself. There were large bowls of sugar to ladle into the coffee, too. I'd like to taste that coffee again while wearing the kit of a competitor.



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