After four years, just 90 minutes remain before the first wave of PBP riders leave St. Quentin en Yvelines for Brest. Our friends in the 90 hour group are clopping around in their bike shoes, putting away their luggage and mounting up for the pre-ride dinner and initial start at 9 p.m.
See the rest of my Saturday, Sunday and Monday photos Here
It is shaping up to be a wild evening. There are three waves of 80-hour riders, 1,362 in all, going off at 8 p.m. Then the 90-hour tandems at 9, then six waves of 90-hour singles starting at 9:30. They all add up to 3,122 riders. Another 770 of us depart tomorrow morning. In all, a record signup of 5,254 riders. We have been warned in an email from ACP that the Loudeac sleep control is likely to be overwhelmed on the outbound leg and that riders should consider going on to Carhaix.
As I expected, Saturday our quiet pre-ride days ended with the arrival of the last of the Americans and many other foreigners. The Campanile hotel was buzzing, forming the the base for multiple warmup rides on Saturday morning, with the Seattle, Davis, and D.C. groups going out on the course. Local stalwarts Mary Crawley rode out with her tandem partner Jeff Bauer of Tennessee, and Roger Hillas arrived here at the Manet.
Sadly, Bob Sheldon took a spill on the DC warmup ride. He swiped a little curb and went down hard on his hand, and broke his wrist. He ended up with pins and a cast and is out of PBP. He had a rough first 24 hours but is much improved and is heading home early to mend.
Steve, Lynn and I, with more than 200K in our legs this week, got off the bike and went to Paris. We saw two places I’ve never encountered, the Musee de l’Orangerie, which holds huge Monet paintings in addition to Renoir, Cezanne, Picasso, Modigliani, and other greats. We also went to the historic Pere Lachaise cemetery, where Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf, Oscar Wilde and other luminaries are buried amidst elaborate 19th century burial plots of Parisian families. Immense is the best word to describe it, along with moving monuments to Holocaust victims and French WWII resistance fighters.
Sunday saw the traditional inspection and document retrieval at the start, but in a surprise ACP did not inspect the bikes. Maybe it was due to the drizzle? We simply picked up our control cards and jersies. We hear they are going to check bikes for lights tonight and tomorrow as we enter the soccer field area. Showers rolled through all day with cool temperatures. It led to some dark humor amongst the randonneurs fearing a cold, wet ride out to Brest. The forecasts have improved somewhat but it’s still a good bet that we will get wet sometime in the next four days. We had some sun this afternoon, but now the skies are cloudy again.
Today was preparation day. Greg and I walked the 30 minutes to the Campanile and bought last minute supplies at the Carrefour, and came back to the Manet to tinker with the bikes and put our drop bags got on the truck to Loudeac. After a 90 minute nap I’m now trying to stave off an adrenaline rush until I can get, hopefully, five hours sleep tonight. I’m ready to go now. We all are.
Am I excited? You bet! I so wish MG was here to share with me. I will keep her in my thoughts throughout.
Thanks for reading everyone. I’ll have more to say, and photos, on Friday.