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.
“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.
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.
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:
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.
Unfortunately the date of the 600k we were hoping to ride, Terry Hutt’s “Triple Loop 600k” was the same day as Eroica California this year.
Fortunately Terry let us join him on the pre-ride the weekend before and we were able to finish qualifying for Paris-Brest-Paris by the end of March! Technically because of the way the rides are recorded we officially got credit on April 6th, but either way we were done, with the qualifying at least.
Now we just need to focus on training for the rest of the spring before we head to France this summer to ride the 100 Cols tour, described as the world’s toughest and most beautiful bike tour, and Paris-Brest-Paris, the legendary ultra-endurance event.
We chose to ride Willie Hunt’s epic “Borrego Springs 400k brevet” as our third qualifying ride for PBP. We had an amazing tailwind this year for most of the ride – except for the last 20 miles or so into Borrego Springs at the finish where it was a brutal headwind.