Paris-Brest-Paris update

I (Greg) was able to finish PBP last night in 55 hours and 11 minutes. That meant I was able to achieve my goal of being able to join La Société Charly Miller.

Stacy is riding strong and is currently inbound from Brest. She is doing a much more sensible ride and will use much of the 90 hour limit to complete the ride. The slower pace allows her to sleep, and more importantly to interact with the other riders, the support volunteers and the local people along the route who come out to cheer and support the riders.

She also has time to take some great photos.





At the start in Rambouillet
The volunteers at PBP were easy to spot in their pale blue shirts
At the bridge in Brest

100 Cols Tour – 2019

No crowds cheer us lesser mortals up the big climbs, but the mountains are open and mountains are rarely if ever finished with you. No matter how often you climb them, you never beat them: each time you start at the bottom, from scratch. Reputation will not take you up a climb. The physical battle has always to be repeated. Through every repeat, mental strength accumulates.

– Graeme Fife

This summer Stacy & I will return to France to ride the 100 Cols Tour once again.

100 Cols Map

This ride is over four thousand kilometers and climbs all the major mountains of France, over two hundred cols and côtes, with over 260,000 feet of climbing.

A col is a mountain pass, and a côte is a high-point on the road such as a mountain-top.

We chose to ride this tour again because it is so beautiful and challenging. This ride links the most famous climbs in France with mostly quiet back-roads and forest lanes through small picturesque villages.

If you’ve ever watched the Tour de France, you’ve seen the cols: Ventoux, Tourmalet, Iseran, Grand Colombier, Puy Mary, Peyresourde, Galibier, Izoard, Iseran, Mont Aigoual, etc. On the 100 Cols site is a complete list of the cols, sorted by difficulty.

Here are a few photos from our last trip:

Paris-Brest-Paris 2019

“Your biggest challenge isn’t someone else. It’s the ache in your lungs and the burning in your legs, and the voice inside you that yells “CAN’T”, but you don’t listen. You just push harder. And then you hear the voice whisper ‘can’.  And you discover that the person you thought you were is no match for the one you really are.”

This summer Stacy & I will return to France to ride Paris-Brest-Paris. This will be our second time riding PBP, we rode it when it was last held in 2015.

We wrote a short blog post about our 2015 PBP experience.

First, as preparation, we will ride the 100 Cols Tour.  This 4,100 km ride which includes all of the major climbs in France, has been described as the hardest bike tour in the world. And the most beautiful.

Having ridden it in 2015 we can say that the description is 100% accurate.

The 100 Cols website has a great description of the ride and instructions for those who wish to ride it.

After completing the tour, we will once again ride Paris-Brest-Paris, the world’s oldest and largest ultra-distance randonneuring event.

Paris-Brest-Paris, or PBP, is a 1200km (750 mile) ride that is held every four years and that must be completed in 90 hours or less. It is older than the Tour de France, and attracts thousands of riders from around the world.

This short video by Brooks is a great introduction to the event:

 

Women in Randonneuring

Deb Banks has an excellent article in the Summer 2019 edition of “American Randonneur” titled “Women Who Go Long” about the participation of women in randonneuring events.

I was surprised to learn that women make up fewer than 6% of the finishers of Paris-Brest-Paris and that Stacy is one of only 136 women who have completed a 1200k brevet in the United States.

The first PBP in 1891 had seven women register, but they were barred from riding. The first woman rider, Juliette Desvages, did not complete PBP until 1921 and the first American women, Annette Shaffer Hillian and Harriet Fell did not complete PBP until 1975.

Harriet Fell’s account of her 1975 PBP ride, which I found on Sheldon Brown’s website, along with Emily O’Brien’s account of her 2007 PBP ride on a fixed-gear were both inspirations for Stacy & myself to challenge ourselves with ultra-distance riding. We decided to try randonneuring even before we had ridden our first century, and to attempt to ride PBP after our first 200K.

There’s a great YouTube video of Harriet Fell telling the story of her first PBP ride:

And there’s a video of Emily O’Brien and Jake Kassen explaining the basics of randonneuring as well:

 

BTW, Emily runs DillPickleGear.com and she made the fantastic handlebar bags we use on our Fusos.