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Leaving Loudeac on the final leg into Paris on Paris-Brest-Paris 2015. Becoming an Ancienne.


I arrived into Loudeac at 12:45 am on the 2nd leg of Paris-Brest-Paris 2015 (PBP) after completing another 207 miles or 333km with 11,604 feet of climbing in this section of PBP.  The cumulative distance and elevation gain at this point was 478 miles (781km) with 24,905 feet of climbing.

I checked into the Hotel de France.


I woke up after 1 hour of sleep and prepared for the final leg of Paris-Brest-Paris.  On this last leg, the distance I would be riding equaled 279.5 miles (450 km) to the finish of Paris-Brest-Paris in the Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines velodrome.  This was a hard morning.  Rick Cosario, one of the members of our group was having some physical challenges and was not confident that he could continue on.  We all agreed to leave at 4:00 am to proceed from Loudeac to Tinteniac.  It was 4:15 am and we still had not left Loudeac.  We were delayed a bit in our scheduled departure time partially due to the challenges that Rick was facing and Eric was helping Rob fix his rear seat bag.  I recognized that I needed to leave as Rob and Eric would climb much quicker than I would and would end up passing me anyway.  I took some time to attempt to provide some comfort to Rick and gave him some Advil.  Then I said goodbye to Eric, Rick and Rob.

Eric and I looked at each other and our eyes teared up a bit.  He said, “Be safe out there Dawn, follow the lights and work your way through each control…”  I felt sadness for Rick not knowing if he would be able to continue to ride and I also knew the challenge that lay ahead of me.  I felt confident and strong as I rode away alone for the last leg of Paris-Brest-Paris at 4:20 am with 279.5 miles to the finish.  I followed the red lights as I worked my way out of Loudeac towards the Tinteniac control admist the constant climbing that is Paris-Brest-Paris.

No naps.  4 hours of sleep up total up to this point.  The next control was at mile 536.8 in Tinteniac, 52.9 miles.


Photo courtesy of Ivo Miesen


Pedal. Smile. Repeat.

Pedal. Smile. Repeat.


I moved through both controls at Tinteniac and Fougeres briskly, utilizing my Infinit nutrition to minimize my time off of the bike, passing mile 536.8 and 570 controls.  Another memorable moment came in between this stage when we were stopped because of an unusual road delay.  A women and her family were crossing their cows and horses across the road from their stables on each side of the road.  The women that opened the gate looked to be in her late 80’s and her family was there with her to assist her in this daily task.  Another priceless moment in the countryside of France.  Gosh, there were just so many of these gems.  I also ran into Chris Slocum again from New Jersey on this portion of the ride and met fellow Randonneur Keith Beato from the San Francisco Randonneeurs at the control in Mortagne-au-Perche.  Additionally, Ivo Miesen and myself rode together and met up at additional stops along this leg.




It was in between Fougeres and ViIlaines-la-Juehl, at around mile 600, 111that I began having shifting problems with my rapid rise shifter and derailleur.  I stopped on the route here to send a group message to Eric, Rick and Rob that I was having mechanical problems with my shifting and would need to have it looked at Villaines-la-Juhel.  When I got into the control in Villaines, I immediately went to the mechanic and explained my problem to them.  I then went inside to eat, trying to be as efficient as possible off the bike.  The mechanic made some adjustments and said that my bike was fixed and the shifting should be no problem.



Keith Beato with San Francisco Randonneurs

As I was leaving Villaines control at mile 625.5, I ran into Eric.  He asked me how I was doing and I told him that I felt ok.  Physically I felt tired but was not having any physical symptoms or problems other than this new shifting issue that seemed to be resolved now.  I do recall being very thirsty around this time, like I could not get enough fluid in my system.  I felt like I was probably getting a bit dehydrated.  I left on route to the Mortagne control, Stage 13 of 15.

At about mile 640, about 30 miles from the control,  I felt some general soreness in my upper cervical spine initially.  I began to stretch as I was pedaling and it subsided at first.  About 10 more miles passed and then I felt a warm-dull feeling along my sub-occipital neck musculature (higher neck muscles).  It was not sharp and there was no radiating pain, but this concerned me.  At that time, I distinctly remember thinking to myself, “Well Dawn, this is what 640 miles on your bike looks like with only 4 hours of sleep”.  I continued to push towards Mortagne-au-Perche, Stage 14 of 15.

In addition to this new physical symptom I was experiencing, the road began to look very interesting.  There were riders sleeping in ditches every few feet while others stopped and stood, leaning on the bike to get some sleep.  As I passed through towns, I saw others sleeping in telephone booths in the towns, on the benches and doorways of local businesses.  When you need sleep, you will take it anywhere you could get it.

pbp 4

Photo courtesy of Ivo Miesen.



Photo courtesy of Ivo Miesen.

Pedal. Smile. Repeat.

Pedal. Smile. Repeat.


The dice had been rolled.

So I bet you are wondering what happens to your body when you ride 675 miles on your bike with only 4 hours of sleep and no naps, in about 68 hours, right?   I had no idea what to expect.

Well, let’s just say that, certain funny things begin to happen.  Oh boy…

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