Friday, 26 August 2011

Neil and Tobias complete the Paris-Brest-Paris Audax

Neil Fraser and club president Tobias Bauer have just completed the massive Paris-Brest-Paris Audax - a huge achievement . Tobias rode the 1200kn in 87 hours 36 minutes and Neil completed the ride in 71 hours 29 minutes

Neil sends in this early report:

Big thanks to everyone for you words of encouragement and congratulations. It was a tremendous ride, hard at times but some of the best experiences I've had on a bike too. I'll try to write a proper ride report in a week or two but at the moment my brain is a bit scrambled and I've spent all today either sleeping or eating.

Some random recollections -

The heat queuing at the start. Over thirty degrees and while I stayed in the shade as long as I could the fast groups that started first were kettled in at the start line for over an hour in full sun.

After waiting all afternoon finally getting to start in the 3rd group of 500 riders at just before 7pm. All my plans for sensible pacing went straight out my head as racing down a dual carriageway with police outriders (for the 1st 20km or so) was just too much fun.

The funny bikes - full enclosed recumbents, back to back tandem recumbents, tandems, tricycles, tandem tricycles, rowing bikes, vintage bikes, triplets... some folk like to stand out from the crowd.

The support on the road - in many villages, day or night, there were people standing at the side of the road clapping and shouting words of encouragement. Toddlers to pensioners, they all seemed genuinely pleased to have 5000 cyclists passing through. Many offered water, coffee and snacks free to anyone who wanted them.

The rigid organisation of the Seattle Randonneurs. They were riding to a schedule target of 56hours 40minutes and were so disciplined I'm sure they would have slowed down if they thought they were going to be early. All had full mudguards with extenders and when the rain came on I got sent to the back of the group. What a punishment that was.

The Italian groups were hard work to sit in as they seemed so chaotic, but I can't knock their cycling as those guys and gals could really shift. I dropped out of one group full of Italians after a couple of hours just to get some peace and quiet, they were so noisy.

Hotfoot. The one real negative for me out of the whole three days was hot foot. I got several attacks of it at various times and the only way I could deal with it was by backing off the pace.

Leading a 20-strong bunch down a 50kmh descent at midnight in fog and starting to fall asleep. The sensible thing to do would be to stop right away but I wasn't thinking too clearly and persevered for a few miles before eventually stopping to take a couple of ProPlus.

On the last day I had a puncture whilst riding with Robert McCready (Inverclyde Velo). Robert started pumping up my tyre as I was putting my tools away. Before I could take over at the pump a French TV crew turned up and started filming him. So Robert had to finish off the tyre himself!

The thing that makes this event so special is the camaraderie on the road and in the controls. Never sat in a control without having a conversation with someone, never felt isolated on the road even when I was (by choice) riding alone.

Chapeau to Tobias on his first PBP - I knew he was capable of doing it, I suspect his only problem will have been the lack of decent veggie food in the controls. 1200km on boiled rice or macaroni!

No comments: