Rando Q&A with Joe Brown, D.C. and PA Randonneurs

This week brings another installment of the Rando Q&A. Today we head to Pennsylvania to talk with Joe Brown, who rides frequently with the D.C. Randonneurs as well as the randonneurs in Pennsylvania. Joe is a blast to ride with, a randonneur who always has a good (and often quite funny) story to tell. Thanks for being part of our Rando Q&A, Joe!

Joe at PBP 2011

1. When did you start randonneuring?

I started randonneuring in 2006. It was the first year gas prices spiked way up and to save a few dollars I started commuting to work 35 miles a day. At the end of the season found myself very fit and did a century or two.

Still wanting more long rides in that season and not finding any more centuries I found an Eastern PA 200K brevet. The control at 112 miles was at a bar, when the door opened 4 randonneurs were drinking beer. I knew then this sport was for me.

2. Why did you start?

Brevets are a great way to get out of your own back yard and travel a bit and see some new scenery. Brevets have shown me great new routes in Pennsylvania, routes within 60 miles of my house that I wouldn’t have found for myself. It’s also shown me Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and a bit of NY state.

3. What is your home club?

Technically its Berks County Bicycle Club in Pennsylvania but the people with whom I ride the most are a group veteran racers who meet at a local super market every Saturday and Sunday 3 miles from my house. I live on top of a ridge, the ride starts in a valley so it’s only about 10 minutes by bicycle. I started attending about 10 years ago.

They ride “nice and easy”. That’s what they always tell new riders. And it is nice and easy until they come to a hill. The average speed barely drops on an incline. More than once they’ve ridden me to my door after 60 miles leaving me more exhausted than a 200K effort.

Joe on the DC Randonneurs Urbana 200K

4. What is your favorite distance of the Super Randonneur series (200, 300, 400, 600K) and why?

The 600K is the most interesting because a lot of it ridden at night. Nothing is better than a dog chasing you in the black of night. Talk about fear.

5. Which distance do you find the most challenging of the SR series and why?

I dread the 400K. Most people probably agree. It’s 260 miles and its usually ridden without sleep. So the question is “Should I ride it hard to get it over with, or should I prolong the agony over time.

The best 400K on the planet is the DCR 400K. Smooth roads and a reasonable profile give the opportunity to complete it in daylight.

6. If you have done 1000Ks and 1200Ks, what do you like about them?

1000K’s and 1200K’s are the best because they take the element of trying to ride for a best time out the equation (for me). I treat them as a tour. However much time I gain on the road, I take back as sleep at night in a motel with pillows and a shower.

My favorite is the 1000K. It’s only three days. It’s “epic,” but at the same time it is lot easier to recover compared to a 1200K and it doesn’t take as much vacation time.

7. What is it that you love about randonneuring? That is, what keeps you coming back ride after ride?

That’s simple to answer. It’s the people, the camaraderie.

8. What constitutes a “good ride” in your view?

They’re all good. What makes a ride memorable is extremes: bad weather, hard terrain, or ridiculous situations like fixing a flat at 3:00 in the morning in a pouring rain. Dogs chasing you in the middle of the night that you can’t see.

A remember a time with Rick C. on a 600K. We’re in truck stop in the middle of the night on top of a mountain. I’m exhausted but Rick wants to push on. It’s an eight mile descent and my brakes aren’t working right. They shudder and nearly push me over the handlebars. Rick has good lights, mine stink. I’m scared to go down the hill.

I make an excuse that I’m too tired. He says he’s tired too, but looks down at the coffee creamers we’re using. They say “2X caffeine.” So he peels back the foil and drinks two of them like shots of whiskey. I look at him and say “Your’re %$#%crazy.” He went down the mountain and I went to sleep.

I’ll always regret not following. He probably descended singing country western songs that he made up as he went along. He’s good for things like that. Memories make a good ride.

Joe and Rick (c) Rick C.

9. What are the qualities you think a randonneur has to have to be successful?

I guess stubborn and compulsive would be qualities we all have but they sound too harsh. What we all share is a great love for cycling. Every time we get on the bike and press down on the pedals we enjoy it. That’s what pushes us. It’s fun. It’s just that simple.

10. How do you define successful?

My first and foremost objective on all rides be it commuting, training, or brevet is to do it without injury. Finishing a ride and damaging your knee is not a success.

Twenty-five years ago I finished a century with knee pain and then didn’t ride for two years. Two years ago I didn’t finish a 400K because of a knee problem but was back on the bike in a few months. (Thank you Ray for the ride)

Thanks again, Joe. Felkerino and I count ourselves lucky have been able to share some miles with you, and you are so right. Memories make a good ride.

DCR Flatbread 200K Brevet 2011: Sun, fun and our friend, Mr. Wind

It’s fitting that the first post here on TDR after Chip Adams’ PBP story last week would be a recap of the D.C. Randonneurs brevet he organized on Saturday, the Flatbread 200K from Centreville, Md.

A club record 79 riders signed up for this annual Eastern Shore jaunt that features flat roads from the Annapolis area eastward to the Atlantic Ocean shore and back.

Chip and his Severna Park Peloton compadres were out in their best SPP finery, ably assisted by Katie Adams and Sherrie Provenza, spouses to Chip and Clint Provenza, at the registration and finish check-in tables.

The weather promised clear skies and high temperatures in the 60s, but also a gusty southwest wind. The route is something of a squished triangle, with a middle section that runs south along the shore and a westerly section afterwards.

Flatbread Map

Those were the toughest miles, right into the wind. Once we made it to the third control, at mile 69, the route trended more toward the north and we got some much appreciated tailwinds.

MG and I started out with the field, then spent most of the first half in small groups. We stopped at the Dolce Bakery in Milford, Del. at mile 50 for some caffeine and sugar snacks. We had a nice visit with Janet and John Bodine and greeted other riders who decided to take advantage of this unofficial stop.

Dolce Bakery in Milford, Del.

MG and me in a rare appearance at a beach.

The trip in the winds through the control at Slaughter Beach and on to the lunch control town of Milton, at mile 69, was draining. We arrived famished and stressed. The town was designated as an open control, meaning any establishment was acceptable to get our cards signed as long as we got a receipt.

The first place we stopped, The Gallery Espresso, was staffed by just one employee who was not having a good day. I shed a tiny tear to walk away from any place with a real espresso machine.

We split and went around the corner to The Vintage Cafe, where we got a sandwich, some pretty good coffee and a much needed break from the wind.

MG and I had a better ride from there, and loved the tailwind sections that blew us and the group that formed along the way — Jack Nicholson, Bob Torres, David Ripton, Nigel Greene and Joe Kratovil — north along variously wooded and open sections.

Alec B. and MG in Bridgeville, Md.

Tailwinds = smiles.

The finish at 4:17 pm, or 9:17 overall, was a good one for us. This was our first 200K since PBP and we did not know how well our legs would respond. At just 1:20 off the bike, we were able to get back to the finish before sunset.

There are some good accounts of this ride. MG has posted a nice story about our ride and our other Veterans Day weekend outings at her blog, Chasing Mailboxes. She has also posted a combined set of photos we took at her Flickr page — click the gallery image below to see more.

Our Flatbread Photos

Read Nigel’s story at his Iron Rider blog and learn more about Joe at his Mellow Yellow blog. They were both riding fixed-gear bikes.

Joe -- trackstanding -- and Nigel await a traffic light.

First timer Lisa S. posted about her successful ride, with dreamy night miles to the finish, at her Rambling Rider blog. Congratulations Lisa!

It was a great fall event. Thanks to Chip and all the helpers, and to our fellow riders for sharing the journey. We’ll be back.

Here’s DC Randonneurs RBA Bill Beck’s summary report.

A record 79 riders started the Eastern Shore Flatbread 200K RUSA brevet yesterday, and all finished! The weather was beautiful with sunny skies and temperatures rising from the high-30s to the low-60s. But a brisk wind from the southwest made that flat course into a tough ride on the return from Slaughter Beach.

Special thanks to Chip Adams for again organizing this gorgeous ride. It was a big job with so many riders. A big thanks also to Katie Adams and Sherrie Provenza who helped register riders at the start and checked in riders at the finish, all while managing pizza orders – a big job with 79 riders!.

Congratulations to Earl Janssen for completing his R-12 award, Theresa Funari for her R-24, Clint Provenza for his R-36, and Tom Reeder for R-72! We think Tom’s streak is the longest for any rider east of the Mississippi.

There were also 8 riders who became official randonneurs by completing their first brevet. So congrats and welcome to Michael Caha, Jane Cross, Richard Downs, Alex McKeague, Jack Nicholson, Lisa Shiota, Jonathan Winkert, and Ping Xiang.

Preliminary results are posted at http://www.dcrand.org/dcr/results.php?page=display-results&year=2011.

My photos are posted at http://www.flickr.com/photos/wabeck/sets/72157627993903523/ and Mary Gersema’s are at http://www.flickr.com/photos/gersema/sets/72157628114335094/.

A GPS track of the route is at http://connect.garmin.com/activity/128517507.

Next up is the Woodbine Wallop 200K on December 10. This is a challenging ride with the second most feet of climbing per mile of all DCR routes. A nice contrast to the Flatbread! I like having it in December so you can keep cool while working up those hills.


PBP Rewind: Chip Adams’ PBP2011 Story Finale

Today Chip tells us about his final run to the finish of Paris-Brest-Paris. He enjoys a fine roadside nap, marvels at the human debris at the Dreux control, and gets a warm welcome at the gym in St. Quentin-en-Yvelines.

But the story doesn’t end there — what about the loaner bike? Read how Chip gets everything squared away in the Day Four chapter at his story page: The Clock Never Stops.

The final excerpt from Chip’s story is below. Thanks for a great story, Chip! We’re all looking forward to your 2015 tale.

Back on the bike, I made it into Mortagne Au Perche sometime around 3:00 am. I think I was now about 3 hours ahead of the control close time. I saw a few familiar faces and found Bill Fischer. He had taken a 3-hour nap and was preparing to leave soon. I grabbed a little something to eat and filled water bottles.

In at Dreux.

Out on the road heading to Dreux, the terrain became very hilly, but I felt strong and somehow rested. Bill and I were passing everyone on the hills. I thought to myself, I love this compact crank. What a difference it makes in my climbing. I remembered how well I was climbing the night before as I was approaching Villaines.

It wasn’t until the ride was over that I realized it wasn’t a compact crank after all. The loaner bike had my drivetrain. Duh! Anyway, it was all working for me. At least for now.

At dawn on Thursday, the terrain had flattened and we were flying down the road. But, my eyes became very heavy – again — and I decided to pull over. I simply leaned back against a hedgerow and shut down. That’s right, another power nap. Felt great for a while and then someone was yelling at me from a car. I waved to him and just said I’m OK — PBP! He shook his head and wished me bon route.

PBP Rewind: Chip Adams’ PBP2011 Story Day Three

Chip does the right thing and checks in at the mechanic’s tent in Loudeac before leaving, hoping to find the source of his bike’s noise and weird handling.

And…there it is, the problem that threatens to knock him out of PBP. Read how Chip gets out of this jam, courtesy of the magic that gives PBP its revered status. See his Day Three chapter at Chip’s story page, The Clock Never Stops.

Here is today’s excerpt. Check back tomorrow for the final chapter and endearing epilogue.

The final wake-up! From here, I would ride according to my original plan, which was to ride back to Paris without any more sleep stops. All drop-bags needed to be in the pick-up area before 7:00 am. I pushed the heck out of the 7:00 am time limit, and on the way over to the control, I had a minor crash. Actually, I just sort of fell over.

I came around too sharp of a corner and because of my bag which was stretched over Clif’s, it just rolled off and could not get my foot off of the pedal in time. I think all the rain had washed out any lubrication and my foot would not twist out.

The good part is that everyone got to see it! That’s right. It was the kind of thing that if witnessing, you would ask yourself, “how did the knucklehead even make it this far?” The same sort of thing happened to me about 10 miles from the end while stopping at a light.

Anyway, I made the bag area in time, but missed Bill. The last time I saw him around Brest, we had agreed to 7:00 am out of Loudeac. But, I did stop at the mechanic’s tent as planned and here started the most crucial, potentially ride-ending, part of my PBP.

PBP Rewind: Chip Adams’ PBP2011 Story Day Two

On the second day of PBP, Chip Adams and Clif D. greeted MG and me in the hotel lobby in Loudeac, looking fresh and chipper, before they departed for the run to Brest and back. Not all was good, however. Clif complained of some stomach issues, and that problem was not to be resolved on this day, presenting the first big challenge to their plan to ride as a two-man team.

And if you’ve been following so far, the noise in Chip’s bike gets worse.

Read the rest of the story in the Day Two chapter of Chip’s PBP story, The Clock Never Stops.

Today’s excerpt:

It was great finally getting to Brest, but the ride took us on a circuitous route around the port area, and though it only added a few miles, it seemed like it took forever to get to the control. We rolled in at 3:45 pm Tuesday, the halfway point of the ride.

Once there, though, we stayed for little over an hour. We all occupied our times in different ways. Clif got a quick nap on a real cot. I think Bill got a shower and some real food. I got my power nap sitting upright in a chair leaning against a wall.

I awoke to a guy with a big camera in my face. It was about 5:00 pm when we finally hit the street and put the control behind us. Now, what Clif and I needed was food. There was none at the control. Bill had found some a short walk from the control. We decided that we would keep our eyes open for something on the road.

Unfortunately, it was nearly 20 more miles later – another hour or so after leaving. We didn’t know it at the time, but not eating earlier had become a critical factor in how the rest of our ride would go. Though I was able to eat and take in needed calories, Clif could not.

We left the restaurant in two very different mental and physical states: I had eaten and was ready to roll at the fastest speed possible, but Clif had eaten nothing, was in a calorie-deficit condition, and had a nagging stomach issue.

A couple of miles out of town, I could sense the two different mindsets as we thought about the road ahead. We agreed that I would go on at my pace and he would get to the next town and find a pharmacy for his ailment. He would evaluate his condition at that time, being mindful of the controls’ closing times. At Brest, we were a little over four hours ahead of closing, so it seemed he had some time to work with.

So, off I went, haunted about my decision – was it the right one?

PBP Rewind: Chip Adams’ PBP2011 Story Day One

TDR’s PBP Rewind series rolls into its third week with a new story from Chip Adams, one of the lead amigos of the Severna Park Peloton and D.C. Randonneurs. If you don’t know about the SPP, they ride in the Annapolis area and bring a fun, sporty outlook to randonneuring. They’re fast, but never in a rush — a nice approach to randonneuring.

Chip on a Sunnier Day (courtesy Bill Beck)

Chip is organizing the annual DCR Flatbread 200K this Saturday, a neat event that winds through the flat, fast SPP territory east of Washington.

Chip got talked into the 2007 PBP, ignored the rain and was hooked. Back for the 2011 running, Chip and compadre Clif D. had a plan to get out to Brest and back in quick fashion. But as everyone knows, PBP has a way of taking plans, marking them up and handing them back to you!

A potential show-stopper on Day Three did not keep Chip from finishing, but I won’t give away the details now. In today’s chapter, Chip sets the stage for the tale to come. Read more at his story page, Chip Adams’ PBP2011: The Clock Never Stops.

Today’s excerpt is below. Tune in tomorrow for Day Two!

A little over 4 years ago, maybe closer to 5 years, Clint Provenza went to work trying to convince me to do a 750-mile bike ride in 3 ½ days with him. They called it PBP. I told him, “no way.” If you know Clint, of course you know he never stops trying; and, of course, I eventually agreed to the absurdity. And in 2007, we rode it, along with Jim Levitt. Anyone who knows me knows I’ve been thinking about and planning for the 2011 PBP pretty much since the 2007 PBP ended.

I couldn’t get it out of my head. I just couldn’t wait to go back for another go at it. So I was very excited to get going again. Unfortunately, Clint couldn’t make this one, nor would Jim. But Clif was in and as excited as I to ride this epic bike event.

Four years later, back again.

We got to Paris about a week before the ride and pretty much ate and rode our way around Paris. Bill Fischer, from NY, had also gotten in a few days earlier and he was an integral part of our group and the ride. So Monday, August 21, 3:45 am, we three met and headed over to the start, and lined up around the track with a few hundred of our newest riding mates.

I was excited and a little nervous, hoping that I hadn’t forgotten anything that I would need for this 84-hour, 760-mile, out to Brest and back, bike ride. I was hoping I had the right combination of clothing, etc., and wondering whether or not I got it all right in my drop bag bound for Loudeac.

It turned out that we forgot our waterproof cue sheets that Dave Provine had made for us, but then I remembered that in 2007 they did a very good job marking the course. Around us were some DC Rand folk — Roger Hillas and Joe Brown and a little farther back were Greg Conderacci and Andrea Matney.

We finally began to move through the control and got cards signed and ankle chips activated. But, we still weren’t ready to roll — more waiting out on the road. It was very exciting being there and feeling the energy of the riders and the crowd. A lot of riders’ families and friends, and many locals, came out to see the start.

Coffeeneuring Challenge Met, and How Fun It Was

MG has a knack for creative, gently competitive contests. Her latest is the Coffeeneuring Challenge: seven trips by bike to coffee shops over six weekends, all outside of formal events such as a brevet. Read all about it here.

Coffeeneuring. Two great things.

Being married to MG means I had no reason not to know about this challenge, and the timing was fantastic. She proposed the event during our break from big weekend rides after a fun spring and summer undertaking brevets and a grand randonnee in Paris.

I managed to meet the challenge, though we had to make a special trip on the very last day, Oct. 30, to get in my final coffeeneuring stop. Whew!

Here are my results.

No. 1 Saturday Sept. 24 Illy Caffe, Dupont Circle, Washington, DC
Mileage: 65
Beverage: Espresso!
Observations: MG, Lane G and I went here before joining the Washington Area Bicyclist Association annual 50 States and 13 Colonies Ride from the Dupont Circle. It was technically coffeeneuring, as it came before an organized event.

Illy is really just a coffee bar connected to the lobby of the Renaissance Hotel with its own door to the street. The espresso is, as you’d expect by the Illy name, divine.
Rating: Five stars.

Lovely espresso cups at Illy Caffe

No 2 Sept. 25: Peregrine Espresso, Capitol Hill, Washington D.C.
Mileage: 6
Drink: Espresso!
This was an local Sunday afternoon ride with MG to get my new SimpleOne singlespeed bike out and about. Peregrine is a little stingy with the espresso but they take things seriously and you have to just savor that little cup, and then go back and get another one.
Rating: Four stars.

MG at Peregrine Espresso, with her new artisan mug.

No. 3 Oct 8: Boccato Espresso, Old Town Alexandria, Va.
Mileage: 20
Drink: Espresso _ and _ Cappucino.
MG and I went to the farmers market in Old Town to start and then went to Bocatto, which is a gelato joint but is trying to get people to also buy coffee drinks. Little did we know they were nearing the end of a morning coffee special of $1 for espresso and $2 for espresso beverages. They make wonderful espresso. We stayed awhile!
Rating: Five stars.

At Boccato in Alexandria. A very nice day to ride to coffee.

No 4 Oct. 9: Starbucks, Palisades, Washington, DC
Country tandem ride to Poolesville, Md.
Mileage: 75
Drink: Espresso!
MG and I met up with Lane G. and Eric P. to ride out to Potomac, Md. and Poolesville. We stopped at Starbucks to meet Eric and have a nice cup before continuing on with our ride. This is a pretty tony area and the drinks were better than your usual Starbucks.
Rating: Three stars.

Eric and friend at Starbucks.

No. 5 Oct. 15: Pound Coffee, Capitol Hill, Washington DC
Mileage: 25
Drink: Espresso!
Another town ride with MG. We had a spirited discussion about where to go and decided to try Pound on Capitol Hill. The espresso was very bitter and I put it down after the first sip. I was not in the mood to ask for another and we went on to Peregine and had a proper espresso, and I got another later at Boccato’s Arlington, Va. location. (I posted a note to Twitter about Pound and they offered me a free one next time I go there).
Rating: One star. I suppose it still counts, even if I didn’t finish it.

Pound Coffee on Capitol Hill. We then went to Peregrine and then Illy Caffe.

#6 Oct. 16 Sheetz, Thurmont, Md.
Mileage: 92
Beverage: Latte.
MG and I took the tandem up to Frederick, Md. to ride the Frederick-Fairfield-Frederick century route on a sunny warm fall day. The afternoon rest stop at Sheetz was very welcome. Sheetz’ coffee drinks land somewhere between 7-11 and Starbucks in taste, though they are a very good value. When there is no Starbucks or better in the vicinity, Sheetz does the job.
Rating: Two stars.

Sheetz espresso machine. An automatic, but still Italian.

#7 Oct. 30. Tryst, Adams Morgan, Washington, D.C.
Mileage: 9
Beverage: Espresso!
We trucked out on our bikes on the very last evening of the last day of the Coffeeneuring Season after riding a century with our pals in southern Maryland. Tryst makes a very good espresso. The place is something of an arty 20s singles joint, with couches and candles and tables you share with other Macbook users. Oh, and grinding alt-rock. Being older than 30, nobody looked at me. Except MG. Thank you my love.
Rating: Four stars.

Did it. Final Coffeeneuring Stop with less than four hours to go.

Thanks for the challenge, MG, and congratulations to all the official coffeeneurs, as compiled by MG at her blog, Chasing Mailboxes.

PBP Rewind: Nick Bull’s PBP2011 Story Finale

After three days and three nights in the saddle, on the ground, or at the dinner table, Nick gets back to Paris for a very sweet completion of Paris-Brest-Paris 2011.

I say it was sweet because Nick had to stop during PBP 2007 because of illness, and was determined to get an official completion this time around. It was also sweet in that our man added one more stop to his ride after arriving at the finish in St. Quentin-en-Yvelines — read the details at his story page, Paris-Brest-Paris 2011: Fini, Finalement!.

Thanks for a great story and congratulations on your successful PBP, Nick!

Next week: PBP Rewind rolls on with the PBP tale by Chip Adams of D.C. Randonneurs and the Severna Park Peloton. Stay tuned!

An excerpt from Nick’s final chapter:

Now I rode by myself for awhile, passing some and being passed by others, as I started to feel a little more drowzy. As I stopped in a little square in Brezolles to take a nap, I heard Pam Wright of Texas ride by, saying that her GPS had just come back on all by itself.

After a ten-minute nap, I was rejuvenated, and rode the last sixteen miles in to Dreux very hard. I was having a great time, singing to myself and enjoying the ride and the loose camaraderie of all the randonneurs riding through the night. An Italian started drafting me and we tried to chat a little bit, but he spoke almost no English and I speak no Italian and couldn’t seem to guess the Latinate words from my little knowledge of Spanish and French.

Eventually I got to Dreux at around 4am, an hour and twenty minutes ahead of schedule. I ate and said hi to Pam and went out to my bike and thought about just riding on, as called for in the ride plan. But I had plenty of time, and thoughts of Thai’s fate chastened me so I went back in to the control and found a place to lie down, set my alarm clock, and slept for an hour and forty minutes. I got up and ate a creme brulee and a pastry and headed out, now only four minutes ahead of schedule.

Leaving Dreux was emotional because that is where I DNF’d in 2007. Fortunately, someone had warned me about the big climb out of town, so I was prepared and just took it slow and easy. By this time my butt was feeling a little bruised from four days of pounding. My legs were feeling alright, but I just didn’t feel like riding hard, partly because it was a beautiful dawn and I was enjoying this part of the ride at my pokey little 12.5 miles an hour and I’d get to Paris all in good time as long as I kept on pedaling. I chatted with a Brit for awhile, he has been unemployed for three years and can’t find a job, poor guy.

Riders on the uplands past Dreux, dawn of the last day.

PBP Rewind: Nick Bull’s PBP2011 Story Day Three

On Day Three at Paris-Brest-Paris, Nick continues to get sleep wherever a flat surface lends itself, eventually getting a cot at a control, and manages to get ahead of schedule after falling behind on the first two days.

Nick captures those long Day Three kilometers, when one can begin to smell the barn but it remains a long, long way off. Read Nick’s Day Three sojourn at his story page: Paris-Brest-Paris 2011: Fini, Finalement!

Here’s an excert. Stay tuned for the big finale tomorrow!

I continued on, riding strong, but about two miles out of Mortagne I was overcome with drowsiness. Just two miles and I could barely keep my eyes open. I forced myself to press on and stay awake, singing ninety-nine bottles and using every trick I could think of to stay awake for ten minutes! I arrived at Mortagne almost half an hour ahead of schedule. I ate as big a dinner as I could stuff down, it took a long time to eat it, and then I paid for a cot and went to sleep, asking to be woken up in three hours. After a couple of hours I woke up and went for a pee and when I came back my blanket was gone. I got another blanket but then I couldn’t get back to sleep. I lay there for a bit and then looked up at a noise and saw that there was a woman two cots away standing there bottomless in the dim light, as she changed into clean shorts. I think it wasn’t as dark in there as she thought!

I rolled over and tried to sleep, but then it occurred to me that since the organizers had taken my blanket away, they’d probably recorded me as having already left, so they wouldn’t come wake me up. So I got up and rolled out before midnight, now an hour and a half ahead of schedule.

More fields in Bretagne.

PBP Rewind: Nick Bull’s PBP2011 Story Day Two

Nick’s PBP 2011 ride continues on Day Two through Carhaix and over the Roc Travezel to Brest and back, all in dense fog, and ends the day in the night hours on the way to Tinteniac.

MG and I rode with the 84-hour group through the bad storms on Monday but were rewarded with a sunny arrival in Brest and clear sailing back to Mortagne. Nick’s 90-hour group largely missed the storms, but had to contend with overnight fog. It’s always something at PBP — that’s the charm of the event, right?

Read Nick’s Day Two adventures at his story page: Paris-Brest-Paris 2011: Fini, Finalement!

An excerpt:

By now it was 8:20 in the morning and I was still about 15 miles out of Brest. This was a section that in 2007 had seemed interminable and I had really bogged down, but this time it was OK. Still a long ride in to Brest, but soon enough I was crossing the bridge in the heavy mist.

Bridge to Brest in fog

The route this time continued down by the waterfront but we couldn’t really see much, and it started drizzling. I was riding with some Canadian randonneurs. There was light traffic on the roads, but not too bad. After a long time by the waterfront we turned right and rode up the Rue du Chateau past some old fortifications. I sort of knew what was coming but hoped it wasn’t, but, yes, we had to climb a mile, and what seemed like a very big climb but actually is only 230 feet.

Chilly and damp, down by the waterfront.

But finally, the magnificent Brest control, arriving about 2-1/2 hours late, still this was a 38h27m pace for a 600Km. Not great, but not too bad, and well ahead of where I was in 2007.