Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Paris Brest Paris 2007

The first chapter in a serialized version of my journal from my first Paris Brest Paris.

First off, some background. Go here: http://www.rusa.org/pbphistory.html . This is a good history and info about the ride.

So how does an otherwise normal-seeming person get involved in something like this?

It started in the later years of my kid-dom, when the Coors Classic stage race came through Davis, and I was watching from my 2nd storey window. Some subconscious switch in my head got tripped and activated the heretofore dormant "cyclist" chromosome to start abnormally reproducing.

Fast forward to some years later, as an active cat4 racer with the Davis Bike Club. The DBC has had a good long tradition of long distance cycling, seemingly made up entirely of older, "looking-down-the-barrel-of-retirement" guys (and some ladies) who sucked wind at the back of the race rides but would cheerily grind you younguns into a pulp on a century or a double century. It was from them that I first heard of the PBP. It sounded amazing. Not just the distance, but the fact it was in France. You see, that part of it scared the bejeezus out of me. I'm not in the right kind of shape. Too costly. Language barrier. I'd get lost. I wouldn't know what to do. I'm sure I came up with many justifications for not doing it.

Fast forward some more and I had sold my bikes and stopped riding. It was the right thing to do at the time, but it left me never feeling quite right. After about 4 years I was treated to an amazing surprise when my mom and sister combined to buy back for me my Innerlight (my first and as yet only custom built bike).

There is a great side story there. I was doing a gutter cleaning job for a friend to earn some extra cash which would give me just enough to finish buing back my bike. The address was out west of town at a semi-rural house with a barn. As I came up to the house I recognised the barn as the workshop where Kimo built my bike and the last time I was there was many years earlier when I went to pick it up for the first time. Later that day I would go to pick up my bike for a second, and last time.

So I started riding again and I felt right. By and by the thought of the PBP came up again, and I actually found myself thinking about it. This was 2005, and being off the bike for the better part of 4 years really left me out of shape. Oh back to excuses right? I began thinking maybe I could look into it. Maybe if 2007 was too soon, I could try in 2011. In 2006 I was thinking more and started my "greater goal bottle", a 5 liter wine bottle that I began to save my change and the odd bill in, and refused to touch no matter what in order to save for the greater goal of going to the PBP. but still, ot was not until December 2006 that I made a form commitment to go for it it 2007, no holds barred. And wouldn't you know it, but once I set that form goal, things started to fall in line. I guess the old axiom of cylcling that you go where you are looking fits for life too.

Soon enough I joined RUSA and started my first brevet series to qualify for Paris. Each of these qualifying rides taught me lessons that would serve me well in the PBP. Everything from what to pack, how to not bonk-and recover when you do, push through pain, enjoy the beauty around me, help others in need, push my own limits, ride in terrible conditions, and generally perservere and be able to put things into perspective.

Each of these brevets gave more stories than I could go into, but the overall effect was that I truly believed that I could go to France and do the ride. And that I could finish it for that matter.
The pctures at the top are; me, Phil, and Elmar at the finish of the 600km brevet; me, very tired at Cloverdale deep into the 600k ride; and me, happy to be at the top of the big climb between Ukiah and Booneville on the 600k. Sooner or later I'll figure out how to insert pics and caption them.