Halfway point into Brest on PBP. Becoming an Ancienne.
On the first leg of Paris-Brest-Paris 2015, I arrived at the hotel in Loudeac after 278 miles (448km with 13,301 feet of climbing). It was 9:00 pm. Time was of an essence, time to shower, eat and sleep.
EAT. SLEEP. RIDE. REPEAT.
I was lucky to get in 3 hours of sleep and then back out en route to the halfway point of PBP at Brest.
Up to this point, this was the most challenging portion of the ride with the climbing into-out of Brest as well back into Loudeac. The hills were constant, in fact, they were the whole event. As far as weather on this portion, we had fog riding into Carhaix but no rain. We were very lucky with the weather for the majority of the ride, it was perfect riding weather. The descent into Brest was beautiful and sunny with views of the whole Brest bay and Atlantic.
It was along this leg of the ride that I met Ivo Miesen, a rider from the Netherlands and 4 time finisher of PBP (participated in 6.)
We both were riding steel rando bikes and began chatting along the climbs into Brest. He was so friendly and began offering me advice in doing PBP when I told him this was my first time. We talked for a while and then he took off. We would meet and ride along the course many other times and some of the best stops were because Ivo flagged me down to take in the full experience of PBP. I was so thankful to meet him and become friends with him.
I arrived in Brest ahead of our group and took time to take in finishing the first leg of PBP and was feeling very good about it. At this midpoint control, I had the chance to meet fellow San Francisco Randonneur Dawn Engstrom upon my arrival and also met up again with French rider Max Audouin, from CC Villers Saint-Paul. We talked several times on the route into Brest, talking about our classic steel rando bikes. There seemed to an affinity to those who rode classic steel bikes, always coming alongside on another to talk about your respective bike or compliment the other rider on their steed. It seemed to be a small subculture of PBP that I was a part of and it was really neat. Additionally, he has done PBP several times and I think he was on his 5th or 6th as well. Simply amazing and inspiring to say the least.
Up to this point, I was not having any mechanical or physical issues. I felt strong and confident. Obviously I was tired but felt good having 3 hours of sleep under my belt to rejuvenate my body.
I did see Eric, Rick and Rob here as I left the control. We talked and high fived one another and I remarked, “We are halfway there!”
My climb out of Brest began.
Every km/mile from this point on was farther than I had ever ridden before. EVER.
Pedal. Smile. Repeat.
Pedal. Smile. Repeat.
As I climbed out of Brest on the way back to Loudeac for the 2nd portion of our ride, I saw friend Paco Flaco descending into Brest on his Cinelli fixed gear track bike, sporting his unique Puerto Rican designed helmet. I met Paco at La Vuelta Puerto Rico in 2014 and he is an amazing guy and cyclist. He was tacking PBP on his Cinelli Vigorelli track bike 48-16 in the 84 start time (he finished in 81 hours and 59 minutes.) I yelled out his name and said, “Go Paco Go…” as he continued his descent. It was on this portion of the ride where I met Chris Slocum, another American rider from New Jersey, as we headed from Carhaix to Loudeac. Chris rode up to me as he was having light issues and his battery was about to go out. He asked if he could ride with me to share my light. I was thankful to have him to ride the next 51 miles with as the time passed quicker as we talked about being PBP first timers, doing brevets and qualifying rides. He was an energetic and friendly guy and I enjoyed his company. Another blessing of Paris-Brest-Paris is the new friendships engendered and this trend of new friendships continued throughout the event.
We continued onto Loudeac. I got into the hotel at 12:45 am. Based on the time to finish this 2nd leg (207 miles or 333km with 11,604 feet of climbing) and extra time taken at the controls and stopping along the way, I recognized that getting another 3 hours of sleep would not be feasible. One hour would have to do.
478 miles (781km) completed this far with 24,905 feet of climbing.
The dice had been thrown.
Things were about to get very, well, interesting…