PBP 2019. Paris – Brest – Paris. 1225 km. It’s in the bag. Well happy with that. Not the most dramatic or scenic of rides but definitely one worth doing. No longer one of those that only other people have done. For the sake of controversy, I found it easier than London Edinburgh London in 2017. That would I guess be down to my readiness and the favourable weather we had.
I started off writing this post in a narrative style. I got bored of that so scrapped it and have gone with a bullet-point summary instead. Hope there is something here that resonates with anyone reading that completed or had a go at the ride themselves. For those that are thinking about the next one perhaps something to help with your planning.
PBP 2019: Delighted by.
- Not having any stomach problems. Not losing my appetite.
- Not having painful toes. Worked out that to avoid that all I needed to do was to wear my socks such that the seam did not sit on my little toes.
- My Garmin Edge 1000 performing without a hitch. The Garmin battery pack was also 100% reliable.
- The generosity of spirit of the French public. The calls of Bon courage! Bon route! Allez! Allez!
- My overall match fitness.
- Having a couple of sleeping bag liners. One inside the other. Beats wrapping up in a recycled blanket any day of the week.
- I had no aspirations other than to complete within 90 hours. That created many options I would not otherwise have had. I had pretty much no stress at all about time.
- The protective layer of Sudocream on my undercarriage. Cheap and effective. I recommend it.
- Riding with random groups and individuals at various times. The company and aero assist were both very much welcomed.
- Getting three good periods of sleep and three warm showers along the way.
PBP 2019: Surprised by.
- Getting to Brest in 33 hours.
- Having a room to myself in Brest for three hours. That was Luxury.
- Not feeling the cold at night very much at all.
- Being able to feel my fingers and toes at the end. Just a bit of tingling in my left pinki and ring finger.
- My overall pace, occasional turns of speed and ability to climb.
- Not noticing the ‘headwinds’ I heard others complain of.
- How similar much of the landscape was to that in England.
- The absence of energy drinks at controls. Are Red Bull or Relentless not a thing in France?
- The quality of the roads. Pretty smooth most of the way. Played a big part I reckon in helping stave off cyclists palsy.
- Seeing some familiar faces. Richard of Dulwich CC, Tom of ACME and Tom of Gravesend CC. The latter I saw a few times and enjoyed spending time with him and his family over some food at Villaines-la-Juhel.
- Coffee served in pudding bowls.
PBP 2019: Could have done without.
- Struggling to stay awake riding through Huelgoat Forest
- Some people at the controls not giving change. I’d have donated if they had asked if they could keep it.
- The generally poor provision made for a vegetarian diet.
- The terrible band playing at Tinténiac or perhaps it was Loudeac, on the way and the way back. The equally terrible troubadours at Villaines-la-Juhel on the way back.
- Getting confused about the first secret control. Though it was Brest we were heading to. Got there very quick! Ahh. It’s not Brest. There’s another 90 km to go.
- The Thermarest mat and bivy sack. Only used them once and could have easily done without them then.
- Long stretches of straight roads and monotonous scenery.
- The ridiculous final stretch through the park and over cobbles. Whose idea was that?
- The poor excuse for towels proffered at controls with showers.
PBP 2019: Should have done differently.
- Descending all the way down from Roc’h westbound without a jacket on at around 4.00 am. I put my jacket on at the bottom shivering. The only time I really felt cold.
- Sort out better front lights. My two front lights would not charge from the battery I had. I relied on a backup the longevity of which I was not confident of. I spent longer at some controls than I needed to simply so I would be riding into the dawn if and when the lights failed.
- Sorting out getting a proper cable to connect the Garmin Edge and battery pack quicker than I did. Not doing so led to a last-minute panic buy costing a fortune in postage.