What about Paris-Brest-Paris?

It’s only the most important event on the Audax calendar and I’ve put my name down to do it providing I qualify. I’ll spare you the real technical details but essentially I need to get a Super Randonneur Award before the end of June and I’m on track for a May qualification (my 600 is in just a couple of weeks).

Over 5000 other people like me signed up to pre-qualify way back in January. At the time of registration, we had to select one of three time options: 80hrs, 84hrs or 90hrs.

80 hour riders will set off on 18th August from around 5am. 90 hour riders follow that same evening and 84 hour riders will leave Rambouillet on 19th August from 5am. I’m in the latter bunch opting for an extra night’s kip and hoping to pick up the back end of the 90 hour group before too long.

I don’t know that my decision is the right one. Certainly each of us knows our own limits but logically, I think I’ve done the right thing for me. And, if I get cold feet in July, I can change to the 90 hour wave if there’s room.

The ride begins in Rambouillet just outside Paris and heads west through controls at feed stations at fifteen intervals along the route. At a smidge over 1200km and around 12000m of climbing, I’m fully expecting to feel my thighs after a couple of hundred kilometres.

I’ve managed to climb on board the Audax Club Bristol ‘love bus’ (thanks Johnatan!) for a transport and accommodation experience to remember. While I could’ve organised my own way there, it’s quite nice to know that I don’t have to think about that and I can focus my efforts on two wheels in the lead up.

What does training look like?

I haven’t got a structured plan, coach or Zwift subscription like I did for TCR all those moons ago. I’m going to get qualified then do a few back-to-back days/nights in the final weeks. I’ve blocked out the last two weeks of July in my calendar when I hope to put in quite a bit of mileage.

My qualifying rides are:

  • Mere 200 ✅
  • A Rough Diamond 300 ✅
  • London-Wales-London 400 ✅
  • Benjamin Allen’s Summer Outing 600 (still to come!)

I’ve also done a handful of DIYs and a perm to keep me ticking over between rides and that’s also been a fun experience.

What bike and kit will you take?

The usual, of course! I’m not going out and buying a new bike when my trusty Giant Propel has served me wonderfully ever since I started audaxing on her. We’re not allowed aero bars for PBP this year, but given I didn’t use them much throughout the course of my 400, I think I’ll be ok. To be honest, I’ve still got numb fingers from TCR so what’s a few more to add to the collection? I’ll also have my dynamo wheelset on to power me through the night but with a couple of spares just in case.

I haven’t thought about clothing choices yet but it’s likely to involve a bit of merino and my ShakeDry rain jacket for good measure. There is also a rule about hi-viz when riding at night in France so I’ll take that into account.

Any questions?

I’m no expert on PBP by any stretch but I think I know what I’m doing when it comes to long distance bike riding. If you’ve got any questions about PBP or in general, drop me a line.

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