The Clock Never Stops
By Chip Adams
Nov. 7, 2011
Day One: Back to Ride Again
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.
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.
I even saw a rider who was bringing his dog along. He had made a large basket attached to the handlebars so that his dog could see the road and the other riders. The dog appeared to be having a great time and the rider’s family was there to see them off. I assumed the dog would eventually be handed off to them.
And, we were off! It was a pretty fast start but we managed to keep together. We had some sprinkles and the forecast had showers and thunderstorms in it, but we never thought it would rain all day and night. The sprinkles didn’t hang around long, but the sky was threatening most of the morning.
Through about 40 miles we had a group of about 30 riders and our little group of 3 was still intact. We were within reach of the first stop in Mortagne Au Perche, about mile 90, and I was feeling pretty good. So, I decided to hang with a group going into Mortagne, but I pulled up short of the control to stop at a bakery.
I thought it would be a great start to eating. I waited for Bill and Clif for a few minutes and in we went. Wow, they had some fantastic looking pastries, but no coffee! I know, what bakery doesn’t have coffee, right? Well, it turns out that most, if not all, of the bakeries in France don’t have coffee. Go figure. Still not sure where you get it! Maybe it was just the bakeries we went in – which happened to be a lot! Anyway, we made short work of that and on to the control.
It was raining as we came into the control. I found coffee – a bowl of it. Oh yes, and a baguette for the road. We lost Bill, but found Joe Brown, Ed and Mary, and Greg and Andrea, so we had a good-sized group of the DC Rand together. A little while later, Joe flatted and Clif and I stayed with him to help get him back on the road.
By the time we were back on the road, some very ominous storm clouds were on the horizon. Within the hour we were reaching for our raingear. The rain was heavy and stayed with us into early afternoon as we came into the control at Villaines, mile 137. This was the first time-stamp control and it was a badly needed stop.
Even though I was wearing my plastic rain shell, I was wet to the skin and feeling pretty low. Everything I had with me I was wearing, which didn’t provide any comforting thoughts about what might lie ahead if the temperature dropped during the night and the rain and storms continued. Bill found us, and we headed to the chow line. Now I was cold and shivering and it was really the very lowest moment of the whole ride. I dropped about $100 on a base layer and socks, which I never used.
As we were leaving, we noted the number of town folk that had come out to support the riders. It was a very good feeling to have the support. But I’d have to say the story line of the day was the rain. Though it had stopped, a thunderstorm quickly found us just after leaving the control. We rode out of that one into another one an hour or so later. The sun came out somewhere but was quickly swallowed up by another round of storms as we approached the control in Fougeres.
In spite of all the rain, we were enjoying the ride and moving quickly as we came into town. We didn’t waste any time in the control. We cleared out to find some dinner at, yes, another bakery. You’re probably starting to see a trend. Bakeries usually had ready-made sandwiches so they were pretty quick. We were now about 197 miles into the ride and still had another 85 -90 miles to go to Loudeac, our stopping point for the day. The rain had stopped and it was looking like it might stay away as we rolled on.
The next control, Tinteniac, was about 35 miles. However, about 10 miles from the control, the rain got us again. We pulled in around 9:00 pm in the midst of a good rain and an unexpectedly huge crowd. After checking in, we managed to make our way to the chow line and had a nice dinner. 235 miles down. As we were leaving, the lead riders were coming into the control.
They had already made it to Brest and were heading back to Paris, meaning they were 300 miles in front of us. Unbelievable! However, they did have a 13-hour advantage on us and likely every one of them was being supported on the road by friends and family. This meant they didn’t carry anything on the bike and ate at their support vehicle, etc. Still impressive, though!
Shortly after leaving the control, I starting noticing differences in the way my bike was handling and I suggested we stop to look at it. I couldn’t find anything wrong and Bill thought it might just be the rack on the back which was making the bike feel loose. Yeah, I thought that must be what it was too, so we pressed on. A little while later I was starting to get really sleepy and I proposed to Bill and Clif that they ride on; I would just take a 10-minute power nap and get back on the road.
We all decided to keep going. At some point Clif accelerated around a group of riders and I didn’t see him again until I checked in at the hotel a couple hours later. Bill and I rode together for a while until I came upon some nice people who had set up a table of coffee and cake, so I stopped while Bill kept going. It hit me as I was standing there taking in caffeine and calories: it was the middle of the night, in the middle of some small town in the middle of France. This is the kind of experience I was looking for. How good could it get!
Onward, and the rain came — again — and then . . . my light went out. It was really not going to be problem since I had another one — my good light, my IXON IQ. But, there was a problem. The rain had gotten in and all the light would do was flicker. I spent 15 or more minutes trying to dry it out and even tried new batteries, but got nothing more than flickers. I still had a helmet light, but that was a far cry from what I really needed.
Since it was only 15 more miles to the hotel I figured I could handle that. I was hoping this one didn’t go out. I would be up the creek for a couple of reasons. First, it was so dark and rainy I couldn’t see the road. And, if the light did go out and some ride official saw me, he would stop me and make me fix it before going on. He could even invoke some time penalty on me if he wanted to for a safety violation. However, none of that occurred and I continued toward the control.
The good part was that I was no longer sleepy, since the sheer concentration it took to see the rain soaked and unmarked road was enough to wake me up. Bill had made a wrong turn along the way, but figured it out and caught up to me with about 3 miles to the control. We rode in together and agreed to a 6:30 am departure. I got in the hotel around 2:30 am, about 20 minutes after Clif.
Day Two: A good ride to Brest, but the return is not so simple.
Three hours later the alarm clocks went off. I have to say that three hours of sleep is nowhere near the amount needed after a 280-mile bike ride, but it’s amazing how the body and mind work together on something of this magnitude. Clif and I were a little late hooking up with Bill, but we found him just before leaving town.
From here to Carhaix was about 50 miles and the terrain became really choppy with a fair amount of time out of the saddle. We ran into a few DC Rand people and rode with them for a few miles, but by then I knew we were closing in on the Carhaix control and I felt like putting the hammer down. We had a fast paceline of 5 or 6 riders into the control for a brief lunch. Bill left the control a little before we did and said he would soft-pedal. I don’t think he did. It took about 30 miles and we were closing in on Brest before we finally caught him. I’m not sure but he may have been trying to get away from us! Nice try, Bill!
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 4 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? Should I have just slowed down a little and reevaluated everything? However, a decision had been made and it was too late to change it. The good part was that I was totally hooked up and riding at a pretty good pace. I couldn’t believe how strong I felt. A few riders hopped on my wheel, but none held it for long.
On Roc Trevezel, about a 6-7 mile ascent, I passed some rider who yelled up to me, asking what my secret was — how I was riding so easily? I told him I was eating and sleeping well. I don’t think he believed me because he just started laughing. Oh yeah, and I trained with the Severna Park Peloton!
All the way back to Carhaix my bike had been making really weird noises but now was fairly quiet, so I thought maybe everything would be OK, after all. I made it into Carhaix at 9:00 pm, just before dark on day two. I found a few familiar faces, but didn’t hang around to chit-chat very long. I remember thinking – the absurdity of it all. Why was I doing this? But, in the middle of something like this, you don’t want to think too much. Just ride!
So, I found some good things to eat, scarfed them down, and got out of there immediately before total darkness set in. There were only 50 miles back to Loudeac and if I kept the press on, I could get there around 2:00 am and get a few more hours of sleep! I wondered how Clif was doing.
I was still working with one bike light so I used my helmet light for as long as I could, which turned out to be not very long. I was making decent time, but I was starting to get into some pretty good rollers. My bike was chiming in again, a little more loudly than before, especially when I stood up on the cranks.
I made a note that I would stop by the mechanic’s tent in Loudeac before leaving in the morning. My thinking was that the bottom bracket had washed out from the rain on day 1, or maybe it was something simple and the mechanic could quiet it down a bit. I arrived back in Loudeac at 1:45 am on Wednesday, about 15 minutes earlier than expected. I had been really attacking the hills so the early arrival was rewarding.
I got to the room and received a note from Clif to take his bag to the bag pick-up point since he wouldn’t make it back in time. I packed everything and set a 6:00 am wake-up. Some more welcome news was that my good IXON IQ light was now dried out and appeared to be working correctly.
Day Three: A Discovery and A Rescue
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.
I described the noise and what I was feeling and experiencing. They did a lot of different things: pulled wheels, lubed skewers, removed and lubed chain ring bolts, sprayed lube on all moving parts, tightened pedals. I was about to say, don’t worry about it, when they found the problem.
I was using a top tube bag that hung down and rested against the downtube. They unstrapped it and exposed a crack in the downtube that went nearly around. A cracked frame! I could only stare at it and wonder if I could make it back OK with the frame like that. I had tape, plastic ties…and, more tape.
I was motioning that I would just take the bike, but the mechanic was saying something to me that I couldn’t make out. Roger Hillas, who happened to be there, said it sounded like they might have a loaner bike.
One of the people explained that I could take it to their Paris bike shop after the completion of the ride. At first it didn’t sound like a good option, but the more they explained it, I just said let’s go with it.
Pascal Mace, the mechanic and shop owner, signaled for me to follow him. He, his helper and I jumped in his truck and drove to his bike shop. I had the big picture about what we were going to do and so did Pascal, but we needed some detail and, unfortunately, neither of us could speak the other’s language.
I needed an interpreter. I thought of Claus, our travel consultant, but couldn’t find his number, so I called Clif. I also needed to know how Clif was doing. He had Claus’s number, and I learned that Clif was on the road and making good time towards Loudeac. After explaining my situation to Claus I gave the phone to Pascal.
Five minutes later, we had it worked out. I would ride the bike to Paris and complete PBP, and the next day take it to Pascal’s Paris bike shop and give it to the folks there. My bike frame would be mailed to that location by Friday. It was now Wednesday morning and if all went according to plan, I would finish on Thursday well ahead of the 84-hour time. Perfect!
Unfortunately, the clock was still ticking. The Loudeac control closed at 7:00 am and though I had checked in 5 hours and 15 minutes earlier, I was now behind. However, my head was now totally around what was going on.
Pascal measured all of the settings on my bike, one of his guys brought in a partial bike, and they rapidly started swapping my parts over to the loaner frame. My bike turned into a skeleton as my cranks, wheels, and seat went over.
What didn’t get swapped over was my stem. I can’t remember why exactly, but the impact would be later realized. Looking back at my bike, I could only stare at this crack that went around almost the entire circumference of the downtube. It could have been extremely bad had it actually broken while I was riding. I was feeling very lucky and blessed that it hadn’t broken somewhere on the road from Carhaix the previous night.
About 9:45 am, Wednesday, the bike was ready for a test ride. I rode around the parking lot and was happy with it. We swapped over my frame number and I was ready to roll. I tried to pay Pascal for the bike and his labor, but he wouldn’t allow me. I asked for directions back to the control, but he motioned for us all to get back in the vehicle. He would drive us back to the control.
Back at the control, Pascal spoke to an official at the control and explained my situation. I showed him my control card, which showed a check-in over 8 hours prior. This control was not a problem, but the upcoming controls could be. The official made a note and I assumed he was doing so in the event that time became an issue for me.
Pascal disappeared for a moment and came back with a bicycle, motioning me to follow him. We went out the back way from the control and were making a bunch of turns when I started seeing the familiar signs pointing me to Paris. I pulled up to Pascal as he was pointing me to the course. I thanked him and told him I would return his bike in Paris. He had probably just saved my PBP!
Unfortunately, I had just lost about 3 hours. And now the challenge was to ride the 53 miles to the next control in Tinteniac in the 3 hours left before it closed. Doable, but I would need to haul —! Or, as some would say, tap-it-out!
As I was riding along I was passing a few riders, feeling pretty good. I just couldn’t believe everything that had happened in the last few hours. I had met some great people who dedicated their time for me so that I could finish. I’ll never forget them or the experience.
About 10 miles later I had a bit of a scare. I came into a small town and my drivetrain bound up while downshifting around a corner. I thought I might have stretched the chain or cable, or both. I just couldn’t get it smoothly into any gear even after a little cable adjustment.
I began looking for a bike shop, but I finally figured it out. The problem was that we used my cranks (53/39) and my cog set (11-28), but we used the chain that was on the loaner bike. It was a little too short when I was in the 3 lowest gears. I learned to shift earlier into the right chain ring, but the whole affair cost me about 20 minutes and likely the next control cutoff.
I called Clif to see how he was doing; he was doing well, about 40-50 miles behind. I fretted a moment about possibly having made a wrong turn because I couldn’t see any more riders. I took the time to make a handlebar adjustment. I was beginning to wish I could have used my stem. Another rider went by. I wasn’t lost, after all.
A little later a rider came up to me and started talking to me in French, but I couldn’t understand. I realized he was a local rider, but not on PBP. He was on a high-end bike (Definitive), shaved legs, and was wearing, I learned later, his racing team kit.
I gave him a RUSA pin and assumed he would ride on, but he was telling me something. I think I was telling him, OK, OK, merci, merci. Of course I didn’t know what he was saying until I turned into the secret control. I think that’s what he was telling me. He turned in with me. I’m not sure, but I may have gotten to this control after it closed.
I used some more time to make another adjustment. My transducer had been installed on the wrong fork so I switched it back and changed Miles to Kilometers on my computer to make it easier tracking distances between controls.
As I was preparing to leave, the guy I rode in with indicated that he would like to ride with me for a while. That was fine with me and sounded fun! I learned his name was David.
We had a great big tailwind and we just attacked the road. We kept trying conversation and some of my Rosetta Stone–French level 1 was starting to pay off. We rode together for the next 25-30 miles towards Tinteniac, taking turns on the front.
I learned that he was on a race team and on a training ride. Occasionally, when he was on the front, he would ask, “ce bon (this good)?” I would just smile and say, “Oui, ce bon.” Again, Rosetta Stone! I also learned that he had done PBP in a prior year, possibly more than one.
As we got close to Tinteniac, he indicated he was going to turn around. He wished me well and handed me a couple of energy bars. Riding with David was one of the highlights of the day. I couldn’t believe how my day was going. First, a cracked frame and now covering about 30 miles in just over an hour. Maybe I could even make the control in time.
The control at Tinteniac closed at 1:04 pm and I got there at 1:17. I wasn’t quite sure how that was going to work out – whether I would be DQ’d or what. I ate with the volunteers, who all looked happy, probably because the control was closed and their work was almost done. At least somebody was happy the control was closed!
But I was late and getting later the longer I sat there. I crammed in calories and got back on the bike as soon as possible. However, shortly after leaving, my arms and neck really began hurting because the handlebar stem was too short and flat. I found that I had to keep switching arms or sitting up to relieve the stress on my neck, and knew I couldn’t keep doing that for 200+ miles.
I then remembered that there was a bike shop somewhere up ahead, although I couldn’t remember exactly where. Soon I came into the town of Dinge and found my bike shop. I picked out a longer stem that stretched me out farther and asked for as much spacer as the bike shop guy could find to lift me up a little bit, relieving the strain on my neck. 47 Euro and 45 minutes later, I was rolling again.
I stopped four or five more times for adjustments and finally I felt my bike may be just about as comfortable as I could make it. These would be my last adjustments, but total time combined since discovering my cracked frame had mounted up to over 4 hours.
At least now I was starting to find my rhythm. I believe if I hadn’t stopped to take photos of the fortress/castle in Fougeres, I would have made the control in time instead of being 4 minutes late, at 4:59 pm Wednesday. A bottle of water and a bowl of coffee and I was out of there. I was certain that that would be the last control that I would be late getting to.
Villaines La Juhel, the next control, was 60 miles ahead and I had a tailwind. I was in high gear and so was my confidence. Barring anything bad happening, I would make the control with time to spare. Though I didn’t eat anything at Fougeres, I was certain I’d find plenty to eat by stopping at the roadside tables that many of the locals had set up.
I stopped once for a coffee, water bottle top-off and some cake and cookies. Sometime later I came across a pear tree hanging over a wall and helped myself to a few pears. They were fantastic and exactly what I needed.
Just before sunset, and within a couple of miles of Villaines, I stopped to call Clif. He had checked in at a hotel in Fougeres, about 60 miles behind me. He was feeling well, but needed some rest.
I arrived in Villaines at 9:30 pm as darkness was closing in amid what seemed like a town celebration. Finally, I had made up some real time and was ahead of the Control closing time by 1 hour and 43 minutes. It was very festive and people were applauding as riders came into town. I felt like a celebrity of sorts. Some riders were actually being interviewed.
After a big dinner, I went back out into the crowd and starting getting ready for my all-night ride. People were pointing and waving. It was a lot of fun and made all the riders feel great. It was an excellent way to ride out of town. There were 137 miles remaining and I hoped to get in by late morning.
Day Four: Back to Paris — literally!
I was feeling strong and my IXON light was shining brightly as I moved out into the countryside. I found myself riding in a fairly large group of riders, and that was OK for a while because I was starting to see fewer of the signs directing us back to Paris. I would just ride in the group for a while to make sure I didn’t make any wrong turns.
But as the night wore on the road got straighter, I began to see lights way up the road and decided to take the pace up a little. I was able to get a cup of coffee somewhere along the way, but the caffeine had no impact. So, when I started seeing things that weren’t there, I decided to stop.
I knew that I would probably have to get a power nap. I believe it was about 15 minutes, but I really don’t know. It could have lasted longer, but whatever it was, it was enough.
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.
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.
Ten minutes was all I needed and back on the bike. Lucky thing the guy was yelling at me – I could have slept longer. About 70 miles to go to the finish; however, the next 10-15 miles were totally miserable. The road surface was extremely rough and flat.
I rolled into the Dreux control at 8:01, barely hanging on. The good part is that I was now 3 hrs, 30 minutes on the right side of the clock. Inside the control I could tell I wasn’t the only one just hanging on. Bodies were everywhere. I found Bill and after a quick breakfast, we moved back out on the road.
The last 10 miles seemed as if they took forever. We were trying to get into the final control before 12:00 pm, but a bunch of traffic lights slowed us down. I came around the last turn and saw the crowd gathered at the finish line. Then I heard a familiar voice calling, “Jip, Jip.” It was Pascal! I pulled over and hugged the guy for saving my PBP. He wanted to know if the bike did OK. It was great, I told him, and that without him I couldn’t have finished this PBP.
It was over! 79H 07M. 4 hours, 53 minutes before the cut-off. 40 minutes earlier than 2007.
I had one more piece of work to get done. I needed to find someone to trade PBP jerseys with. I wanted a German jersey and found someone willing, but he was XL and I was medium. I tried an Italian, but settled for a photo with him. I tried the Japanese guy. Nothing.
Then I found him – from the Netherlands. Heck, he was even older than I. He wanted to know why I wanted his jersey. I told him it was tradition. He said this was his 4th PBP and he had never swapped jerseys with anyone. But then he said, “what the heck”, and we did the swap.
So, he’s got an American RUSA jersey and I have one from the Netherlands. I was in my jersey for 30 hours but couldn’t smell a thing. Sure smelled his, though! I wonder how he liked mine! We got back to the hotel and checked in. Time for a nap. Also time to wash my new jersey!
On Friday, I called the bike shop in Paris and arranged to deliver their frame and to get mine. I called a taxi and worked out a price for him to wait for us in Paris. It was lunch time when we arrived (1:40 pm) so we had to wait a little while for the mechanic to get back.
We went next door for a quick lunch and by the time we were finished and walked back over to the bike shop, he had my cranks out of the loaner bike and handed me all of my stuff. Again, there was no charge. I still cannot believe that nobody was charging me for anything. It was so amazing and so appreciated. The only cost was the trip into Paris.
On Friday night we had a great post-ride dinner at a small restaurant nearby. Le Resto. It was a perfect way to celebrate the end of this epic ride. We also learned that our flights to Dulles had been canceled because of hurricane Irene.
Though our flights had been canceled, the bus still pulled away from the hotel on schedule to go to the airport. Clif, Bob, Chris, and I stayed behind instead of dealing with endless time in airports here and in the US. We thought everybody would likely get stuck in airports in the US, but not make it to Dulles – it was closed.
Des Peres Travel arranged for a Monday departure, but Clif was the workhorse. He got us reservations out of Paris on Sunday. We spent Saturday hanging around the hotel eating cheese, bread, sausage, and tasting fine French wine.
On Sunday, after a 3-hour check-in, we were on our way back to DC.
My 2011 PBP is now an everlasting memory. It was, in fact, as epic as I thought it would be. I met some really wonderful people and had a lot of fun riding and eating my way around Paris. It was a blast to ride so many hours with Clif and Bill and to sample so many bakeries and bread shops.
My cracked frame, though at the time seemingly catastrophic, has left me with one of my fondest experiences and memories on a bike, thanks to Pascal in Loudeac and his desire to help me get back on the road. It is something I’ll never forget and I will forever be indebted to him.
In the end, though I had lost over 4 hours of time, there was no additional time provided to me by the ride officials. I had been on track for a 73-75 hour finish, but in light of what happened I’ll take the 79 hours and the memories that were provided and be thankful for the finish.
Regrets: that Clif finished after the cut-off. And, that my good friend Clint could not be there this year to ride it with us.
But, my biggest regret is that I left Katie here to deal with not only a hurricane, but also an earthquake! Wow, an earthquake! Who would have thought? That hurricane? That was just not fair. Talk about bad timing!
PBP 2015? Who’s in?