Sunday, 25 September 2011

Five reasons to ride the Paris-Brest-Paris

After year of qualifying and anticipation my first Paris-Brest-Paris was before me. Arriving from a Wellington winter, that is now known as snowmageddeon,  the 30+ celsius  days in Paris and an epic electrical storm were making me incredibly nervous. Start day, Sunday was a another steaming hot day. The evening start hid the heat of the day from me. The temperature was more mild once riding away from Paris, so the nerves were entirely unfounded. 


After riding 1230km in 85 hours and 32 minutes it is hard to concisely gather my thoughts on this amazing event. So, if you would like to more about this ride (and why you should ride it) please do not hesitate to  ask. I could ramble on for hours about the PBP :).



A few photos from Paris Brest Paris 2011
A few photos I took during the Paris Brest Paris 2011


Since returning I have been feeling a bit of what next. The feeling of a need to do something else even more epic is directing my mind to investigate some of the other great adventures that our fine planet offers – after all the next Paris-Brest-Paris is not until 2015. Yes, I enjoyed it so much that I intend returning to ride it again.



How could I enjoy riding 1200km in 3-and-a-half days so much?


  1. It is the United Nations of cycling  (without the politics): Over 5000 riders from over 60 countries. All riding with one goal – completing the course in under 90 hours (or 84 or 80). Some would ride fast and sleep lots; others ride slower and sleep less; yet others would try and eat at every restaurant along the route and still finish in the allotted time. There were others racing it too. Naturally, I never really saw them. I have never ridden in a peloton with so many languages spoken. I may not have understood a word, but I enjoyed the experience all the same.
  2. Support on the route: While there is excellent support at the controls, and in officials organised by the Audax Club Parisien, it is well backed up by support of locals when riding through towns with the locals yelling “Allez, allez” and up hills “bravo, bravo”. This is surely the closest I will ever get to feeling like I am riding in the pro-peloton. On top of that many locals stay up all night providing coffee, crepes and cakes for passing cyclists – usually for the promise of a postcard. This all adds to the atmosphere that makes the Paris-Brest-Paris a ride like no other.
  3. History: How many other events or activities can you participate in that date back to 1891? Or, as a cyclist back to the beginning of the “modern safety bicycle” and pneumatic tyres.
  4. Ride–Eat–Ride: I’m not sure if there is a better way to live? Good food all the way at the controls, patisseries (some stay open all night for the PBP), restaurants and locals providing coffee, crepes and cakes.
  5. Sense of achievement:The PBP is one of the thousands of sporting activities that are more than achievable, even for non-athletes. Whether by talent, or determination 1200km in 90 hours is achievable but is also a challenge and not a cakewalk. While after finishing, you just feel like sleeping, the realisation that a long held goal, and not an easy one has been accomplished. Even my cycling mates think I’m crazy now, but the thrill I find in the seeking the extent of my limits through challenges that are further, faster, harder and more epic than before is what actually keeps me sane.





My time/distance progress through the controls along the route was recorded as:


Contrôle Distance Arrival time This control Cumulative
SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES 0km 21-08 20:01 0h0m 0h0m
VILLAINES-LA-JUHEL 221km 22-08 05:42 9h41m 9h41m
FOUGERES 311km 22-08 10:34 4h52m 14h33m
TINTENIAC 365km 22-08 13:55 3h21m 17h54m
LOUDEAC 451km 22-08 19:58 6h03m 23h57m
CARHAIX-PLOUGUER 525km 23-08 03:22 7h24m 31h21m
BREST 618km 23-08 09:47 6h25m 37h46m
CARHAIX-PLOUGUER 703km 23-08 17:31 7h44m 45h30m
LOUDEAC 782km 23-08 22:55 5h24m 50h54m
TINTENIAC 867km 24-08 08:26 9h31m 60h25m
FOUGERES 921km 24-08 11:32 3h06m 63h31m
VILLAINES-LA-JUHEL 1010km 24-08 17:05 5h33m 69h04m
MORTAGNE-AU-PERCHE 1092km 24-08 22:07 5h02m 74h06m
DREUX 1170km 25-08 05:37 7h30m 81h36m
SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES 1230km 25-08 09:33 3h56m 85h32m
Location: France 21-25 August 2011