Arrivée, the magazine of Audax UK, has a couple of helpful articles on completing Paris-Brest-Paris in the most recent edition, spring 2007, including the old favorite, “How do I stay awake?” I would never dare to violate Audax UK copyright, so if any statesiders have a legacy Audax UK membership from past London-Edinburgh-Londons, you might consider passing it around.
Added at 22:25 British time: Eddie rightly has prodded me to provide more detail on the sleep article, so I shall. To summarize: Steve Abraham reviews some of the physiological factors affecting sleep, which some of you may or may not be familiar with depending on your level of experience and/or scientific knowledge.
On a practical note, Abraham approaches sleep management in randonneuring as a matter of debits and credits, and each time a rider has a debit he or she must pay it back with a credit later. Therefore, when beginning a randonneuring ride one should consider going in with enough credits in the bank to withstand the debits one charges later.
Sounds easy, right? Just sleep a lot, right? Well, not so. As with money, the closer one gets to paying off the debt the harder it is to totally get out of debt as one tends to get ever more wakeful as the debt needle goes toward zero (in reality, it’s not that easy to get to zero). But being well slept heading into a long randonnee is very useful.
For those taking the 90-hour start at Paris-Brest-Paris, the 10 p.m. departure time means that by the time you get to a good stopping point in Loudeac, you’ve already accumulated the same amount of sleep debt that you would in a 600K, and you still have 800 kilometers to go.
So Abraham suggests the following strategy as those eyelids get droopy (particularly useful for those on the ragged end of making it home before 4 p.m. on Friday): Build up a time cushion ahead of the time limit that will allow you to stop for those brief catnaps that overwhelm you in such exciting locales as Nogent-le-Roi.