Friday, August 26, 2011

Some shots from PBP

Here are some photos my dad took before and during his PBP experience. I did not carry a camera figuring that I would not want to stop and use it.

The gymnasium during his check in was busier than during mine when there was no body there,
Here are people getting queued up to start on the running track,
One of the first controls, since he started at about 7:15pm he rode through the first night,
All the controls had cafeteria style food service, some better than others. Most were pretty bland, which was good for the stomach, but the one with prime rib made me want seconds, though over eating probably would have been bad. Back on point, the further along in the ride, the more people you saw like this,
Even though there were sleep rooms with mattresses and cots fro sleeping.

There were several spots out on course where there were photographers, but not here,
on the bridge in Brest not too far from the Brest control and right at the mid point of the ride.

Dad and I at the Brest control, Irene T from CO took the photo,
Relaxing at a creperie just outside of Brest on the return trip,
On the return, particularly the last 450 km this became an increasingly common sight,
Riders would stop where ever they could and pass out, at night most were using emergency blankets and it would have been hard to find a park bench or phone booth during the night.

Riders on their way to...
an example of the sign we were following.

More on our falls.

On the first night at about 4am so less than 24 hours in, I had passed dad at the Loudec sleep stop and had pulled over to take a leak on a little side road. The side road was a bit lower than the main road we were riding on and the last bit was pretty steep, I guess, since when I clipped back in and tried to push off back onto the main road I only made it part way there and fell over into the grass on the side of the road. It was a pretty soft landing, but made it obvious that I needed to get some sleep which I did at the next control about 15km up the road.

Dad's fall was on the last night. He was going uphill and the road was dark asphalt and the sidewalk as well, in between there was a low curb of light colored concrete that looked like a paint stripe. He caught his tires on this and fell. Later he had to replace his rear deraileur cable that broke. He had no trouble continuing to ride, but when he got to the finish he was having some trouble standing up straight and was pretty hunched over and of course walking like someone that that has just ridden 760 miles in 4 days. All that made it look pretty bad, but if you got past the jerky walking which everyone was suffering from he just looked like he needed to lay down and let his back rest which he did. I walked out and got us diner so he could relax and rest. This morning he is looking quite a bit better and is feeling it as well.


We are DONE

Both dad and I finished PBP!

Dad finished on Thursday afternoon at about 4 pm making his time about 92.5 hours.
I finished on Thursday morning as the sun was coming up, just under 74 hours after starting.
We even managed to ride together for about 160 km from Brest back to the main sleep stop.

We both took one fall, not a crash. Mine was mostly comical and a good sign it was time to take a break, dad's was a bit more serious, but he's fine and there is nothing to be concerned about.

Ride report to come later. Right now we have to get more sleep, pack bikes, dry cloths etc. for our 6am ride to the airport tomorrow morning.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

PBP 2011, Dad is out on Course

So I just checked and dad has made it out onto the course. Here is a shot of him as he left the hotel to go to the start area and get in the queue,
The 90 hour group started leaving at 6pm (or possibly a bit later) in waves of 500 riders, dad got on course at 7:15pm.

PBP 2011 is about to Start

On Saturday dad headed to the ride start area to get checked in and I tagged along to see what the situation was. I did not make it very far because there were a bunch of people, bikes and you had to be checking in to get into the area, so I just headed back to the hotel to rest some more. This morning I headed back to the start area to check in and was somewhat surprised that there was no line whatsoever,
This is largely due to the fact that all the 80hr, 90hr and special bikes (5,000+)were checking in yesterday to start today and today was just the 84hr riders (less than 1,000?)

Here is my WW, for the most part PBP ready,
With a little treat on the back for after the ride,
I like porto which is usually red and when I ask about white porto people usually look at me like I'm crazy. I saw a bottle of it when dad and I were getting lunch at a small grocery store since most restaurants are closed on Sunday's and the store closed at 1pm as well, so I picked it up. I think, in general the white porto is less bitter and dry, not that the red is bitter or dry compared to most regular wine to begin with.

Anyway, time to head down to get dad off to the start. He starts tonight, Sunday sometime around 6pm here 6-9hours ahead of the US and I start tomorrow, Monday morning at 5am. PBP has rider tracking and we will be wearing ankle bands that will record our presence at each check point, you can follow at this PBP site, dad's frame number is 4459 and mine is 8224.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Friday Paris Tour and Quick Ride

On Friday, after all the walking around Versailles the previous day, we just wanted to rest. Given that we had signed up for the Paris tour that Clauss with Des Peres Travel puts on, and we had heard that it was a lot of driving around looking at things but not much time exploring, it seemed as though we would get to give our feet a rest.

After breakfast we met up with everyone from our hotel who was going on the trip and boarded the bus. Dad and I sat in the back with David Charlton of David's Salon which is a hairdressing chain in the Philippines. Now David must be one of the best bosses ever, David's Salon sponsors a race and club team. About a year ago, one of the girls on the race team brought PBP to his attention and he made the offer that anyone who qualified for PBP he would pay for their trip. In all honesty he only expected a few to make it, instead 10 members of the club qualified as well as the girl from the race team. On top of that David qualified as well despite having had heart bypass surgery a year and a half ago.

Any way, here are some shot from the tour, Arc de Triumphe
In front of the Eiffel Tower,
The worlds best or luckiest BOSS, David Chalton, and some of his girls,
City bikes, in Paris you can check out a bike and ride it for free for half an hour, then it is 1 euro per hour after,
Looking in the front of Notre Dame cathedral,
The back side of Notre Dame,
Man purse alert in front of the Louver,
After the tour we decided that we would get out and try to ride the start of the PBP route to loosen up the legs. One bad thing about going on the tour is that there was a CA rando group ride that went out in the morning and did this with leaders that knew where they were going. So we figured we were going out to get lost. The bike room at this point is getting pretty crowded here at the Holiday Inn,
The David's Salon team came out to get lost with us,
And, I made sure to get us lost, but then found again. We rode out about 15 miles and only missed one short section on the way out. On the return trip we followed the route correctly until we ran into a couple that had done the ride before and we followed them the rest of the way in, taking the roads that are the finish of PBP which is a bit different than the start.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

PBP and Trip to Versailles

Today after breakfast most people headed off to see some sights. Dad and I caught the train to Versailles and walked to the Chateau. On the other hand, the Seattle Rando group apparently went for a 90 mile ride, guess they can't get enough.

In front of the entrance were these tall (22 meters) curved features on either side of the path.
The inscription said 85.5 X 16 which did not make much sense at the time. We had bought our tickets at the info center so we would not have to wait in line to buy them at the Chateau. Here is the line for people that had pre purchased tickets.
At least it moved quickly and we did not have to wait to buy the tickets and then get in this line.

Versailles is completely over the top, not unlike the Forbidden City in Beijing, but with different tastes. Here is dad taking a picture through the ornate front gate.
In China you hire a tour guide for about $15 for a specific location, here is our tour guide for Versailles,
In the opening corridor there are sculptures of loads of important figures from French history lining the walls and a couple of them are in repose.
The chapel with the over the top ceiling and organ,
The original "Hall of Mirrors", kind of like the play house ones but not quite.
Incredibly ornate carvings in the ceiling,
In China most of the interior work was done in wood and the marble was reserved for outdoor spaces, in Versailles there is tons of stone inside.

Military guarding the garden with with semi-automatic weapons,
It is striking the difference between the Asian gardens and the one at Versailles. In China it seems like they try to imitate what they like about nature for the gardens, while in Versailles they force nature into forms that suit what they want.
Here is another of the curved sculptures. This one 216.5 X 5, meaning there are 5, 216.5 degree arcs making up the sculpture.
More forcing nature into something it is not, which way do we go?
The garden is huge, if there was no one else there or you did not have a map it would be very easy to get lost. The shear size dictates special "tools" for the gardeners as well,
After we returned and rested we checked out the bike room here at the hotel. It is starting to get crowded,
There is a whole crew on matching bikes with matching bike boxes. They are from the Philippines and they are the David's Salon women's team. I guess David is a British ex-pat who runs a chain with 400 shops, in 2007 after PBP he offered to pay for the trip for any of his employees that rode and qualified.....not a bad job perk, in addition they will do a week long cycling tour of England after PBP is done.

We then checked out the bike room over at the main hotel, closer to the start than ours,
Bike boxes stacked to the ceiling and barely anywhere to walk. I have no idea how you would get your bike out if it was against the wall.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Paris Brest Paris Preparation

I had an interesting preparation for PBP this year, largely because of our trip to China from March 30th through July 13th. I had to ride the Arizona brevet series so I could finish the qualifying events before we left, only the 200km event had been run in New Mexico by the time we left. After completing the 600km event in Arizona with my dad on March 20th I stripped my bike and hung the frame since with a regional climbing competition the following weekend at Stone Age I was going to be route setting and not riding. I had managed to put in just shy of 2,000 miles in the first two and a half months of the year, stuff that I'd read says that you should aim for 5,000 plus by the time PBP rolls around.

Once in China I managed to find a couple of other guys that rode regularly, one even had an extra bike that fit reasonably well, though it was a hardtail mountain bike. I was able to get out a couple of times with him him before my parents came out to visit us in China for a couple of weeks at the beginning of June. We had a great time traveling with them and seeing a good bit of China. Once back in Dalian I just borrowed the bike for 2 weeks and rode as much as possible which at this point was pretty painful. Feeling heavy fatigue after 2 or 3 hours is not promising when looking at riding and event that will require me to peddle 50+ hours in 3 and a half days.

Once the end of June rolled around it was another 2 weeks off the bike as we left Dalian to travel with Linda's parents and do a little bit of climbing in Yangshuo. As soon as we got back to the US I picked up Chris's commuter bike and starting riding as much as possible which involve a very painful first 3 days suffering from jet lag, dehydration, extreme heat and general lack of fitness (not something you want in the middle/late part of July). I needed to get a ton of riding in in a short period of time since you want to rest for the couple of weeks before PBP.

On my second weekend back Dani was nice enough to drop me off in San Yisdro at 8am on his way to the Durango century and I rode out to Bloomfield about 125 miles away where Chris picked me up on his way out to the century. Then on Sunday I rode the century staying with the lead group until the steep hills in Farmington where I promptly exploded off the back of the group and proceeded to finish off the ride largely alone. There was a section of about 30 miles where I would have been happy to just lay down on the boiling pavement then get flipped 10 minutes later, bet I would have tasted good. Chris finished with the first group in 4:02, Dani with the second in 4:10 and I came in right at 5 hours out. All in all I thought it was a good weekend for me, even though there were times both days where I was really having trouble, but hey I'd only been back for just over a week. This weekend was also important because it marked the first 2 ride on a new frame that a friend built for me specifically for brevets and traveling. Here it is on the first day just outside of Cuba, New Mexico.

The next weekend involved getting a longer ride in than normal on Thursday of 45 miles then 60 very hilly miles on Friday in the East Mountain area. Saturday started at first light and involved a loop a had not ridden before. Heading down the Rio Grande valley past Belen and onto Hwy 60, then around to Mountainair and back into Albuquerque through the East Mountain area again for 155 miles. The best part was that I basically felt great the whole way. On Sunday I started quite early to get some riding in the dark in. I headed out to Santa Fe and back then around Tramway once I was back in town. Again I felt good for the whole ride. This weekend really made me feel good about my chances of finishing PBP, which is a good thing since I only had one more week before I needed to start riding less to let my body recover.

The last weekend was just getting an extra ride in on Friday. Starting in the dark again and heading from the house to the top of the Sandia crest and back down to Cedar Crest where Linda met up with me and we headed back up to do a 4 pitch climb in the Sandias. On Saturday, Dani and I headed out to Taos where we rode on the enchanted circle, though the circle itself is only 90 miles so we did the prettier 2/3rds of it and turned around an rode back for 120 miles over 4 mountain passes, 2 each way. Dani was still able to ride away from me pretty easily when things went up, but at the same time I felt like I could just peddle my pace for very long periods of time which is the important part.

I feel like I'm not as prepared as I'd like but I've still done enough and certainly as much as I could with the traveling that we got to do around China. All in all I think I'm at about 3,500 miles for the year so quite a bit short of where I should be, but not terrible considering there we 3 months where I rode a total of 3 times. I have no idea what to expect, how my body is going to react but am pretty confident that I can finish, though maybe not as fast as I'd like.

First Full Day In France

The Holiday Inn we are staying at is pretty nice. The rooms are small but the breakfast is great, especially the chocolate croissants. There are controllers for the air conditioning which I thought was on when we arrived yesterday, but it would not work at night, apparently the system is just being put in and will not be done till next week. The community is very welcoming and people ask if we are here for the event.

Today we spent most of our time with a few other riders from the US that are staying at the same hotel, Craig and Lori from different parts of CA who ride a tandem together on some events and Jim from Pittsburg. Craig has ridden PBP 3 times, Lori and Jim once each, last year in the rain.

After lunch we headed to the start area to make sure we knew where it was and could find it without much trouble when we needed to for bike check on Saturday and to get to the start on time. Here is the sign over the entrance taken of Lori.
In the morning we headed out to find the bike shop and while Craig and Lori had been there before we started out going the wrong way from the hotel and rode in a circle for awhile before putting the start town into Jim's GPS and heading off in the right direction. Once in the town we followed Craig and Lori to the shop. Here we are in front with Craig and one of the shop employees, Lori behind the camera.
Jim knew of an easy way to walk to the main shopping and eating area so we all followed him out later to get some diner. On the way we passed this custom t-shirt shop.
We all ate at an Italian restaurant together. Dad and I both got a fish dish that came with eggplant lasagna and BACON wrapped asparagus, YUM.
For lunch we just got the ubiquitous baguette sandwiches that you can get anywhere in France. So we managed to get a bit of riding in, more than we had planned, today and eat some pretty good food as well. Tomorrow, I think we are going to try to go to Versailles.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Off to Paris-Brest-Paris

On Saturday we headed to the airport so I could fly to CA to meet up with my dad and head off to Paris-Brest-Paris. I checked in and met Linda and Dylan up by security to wait for Linda's mom, who is a hero to us, to arrive. After saying the hellos and goodbyes I was off.

I'm pretty excited but anxious about the ride. I'm definitely behind on training, though I did about all I could since getting back from China 4 weeks ago. I'm very happy with my new bike frame that my friend built for me, it handles quite a bit better when loaded and allows me to ride in a more upright position for the long miles. On the other hand I spent the last month trying out different saddles and now have 2 with me. I will start on one and have the other in my drop bag that I will go by twice, at 450km and again about 300km later so I can switch them if there is an issue with the new one.

Anyway, I spent Sunday in CA visiting with family and helping my dad pack and pick up last minute things for the trip. We also made a stop by my parents house that burned just after the New Year. Still nothing has been done, though plans are in process. Here is a view of the wall that burned down.
And again from the inside, the contractors have used plywood just to keep people out and tarps on the roof to try and keep water out.
Looking up from the kitchen/dining room through the burt roof.
Down stairs is not too bad, though there is a bit of water damage in most of the rooms.

On Monday it was off to Paris on an Airbus A380, the newest of the jumbos, bigger than a 747 by a fair bit. It is a full double deck and seats about 525 with a wingspan about 20 feet wider than the 747.
After getting through customs, we had to pick up luggage and our bike. Everyone that is using the same travel agent piled their bikes together to be loaded on a truck and delivered to the hotel that they were staying at in the starting town. This is the first wave of American bikes invading France, there will be another group arriving on Thursday.
We had to wait for quite some time for the bikes to be delivered to the hotel and once we got them everyone at our hotel was out on the grassy lawn assembling. After a couple of hours, my wheels needed to be trued, and my dad was helping another rider who had never taken off his rear derailer before we had functioning bikes and could head out to find food. By the time our days adventures were over it was 8:30pm and time to get some rest.