Pier Review 200K Brevet

On Saturday, January 8, 2022, Greg Kline and I hosted the inaugural run of the Pier Review 200K, a super flat, super scenic, super fun and super car-free ACP brevet with our beloved home randonneuring club, PCH Randonneurs!

We had a remarkable 27 cyclists complete the route, the 2nd brevet on the PCH Randonneurs 2022 calendar. Not bad for a non-PBP year according to Greg!

Thank you to our amazing RBA, Kerin Huber, for the guidance on our 2nd (I think) brevet hosting event. Thank you to our amazing board, Terry Hutt, Jeff Arita and Lori Arita, for making the brevet hosting process super straightforward!

What a treat to meet so many new faces and to catch up with old rando friends. Kudos to Shai Shprung for his 1st official brevet since his recovery. Of course he completed it at an R-60 pace and a sub 8 hour finish, in spite of taking the bike paths out and back! Way to come back strong, Shai!

Congrats to our PCH Randonneur, Steve Speciale, riding his 1st brevet and who had the special treat of riding with Kerin Huber. Nice way to begin a randonneuring career to be sure! Congrats to our other newish RUSA members riding today in great form!

We had incredible weather for a wintery Saturday in January. It was a balmy 56º and totally dry at the start and only dipped into the 40ºs for a bit on the SART as we headed north to Green River for a quick latte.

There were some spectacular finish times and everyone finished in 10.5 hours or less who didn’t have a mechanical. Greg and I departed at 6:46am and had no hope of riding with other randos when we rolled up on Greg Goebel and John Marino as Greg G. was repairing the first of his 3 flats. Lucky for us as we were able to ride with Greg G. and John for the entire ride, an absolute treat!

John Marino is preparing to ride London Edinburgh London this summer and that took up a large part of the convos on the ride. Greg G, Greg K and I are planning to ride PBP 2023 and that consumed the rest of the conversations! Good luck to John Marino this summer and good luck to everyone training for PBP 2023!

I was able to convince almost everyone to take the ocean bike paths instead of PCH. It was so much more peaceful listening to the ocean and not that much slower given the lack of stop lights. Even Shai Shprung stayed on the bike paths and completed the course with an R60 finish time of under 8 hours!

El Burrito Jr was a big hit at lunch, and when the manager came out with our lunch, he thanked us for coming every month and bringing new friends this time. He said “see you in a few weeks!”, he knows us so well!

Charlie Martin was quite the topic of discussion after his 50,000K/5 K-Hound year. I felt like Will Ferrell saying “I know him!”

Thanks to everyone who showed up to ride the course, what a fun day to be sure!

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.

Eroica California 2019 with the Old Velos

This year Eroica California, the vintage bike festival and ride,  was held in Cambria on California’s Central Coast.

Our friend John from Wales rode with us again this year, and we were joined on the ride by Nial, Alec and Bart of the Old Velos, Irish friends we met at Eroica Britannia in 2018. In the video you can see them wearing their classy “Toin le Gaoth” jerseys which means “Wind at your ass”, which is every cyclist’s dream.

There are some great pictures from Eroica California and an entertaining writeup on the OldVelos website. Someday we hope to visit Ireland and enjoy the OldVelos Vintage Classic ride and festival.