PBP Stories

Arrivee 19, December 1987

Just Another Control
by Francis Cooke

Carhaix on the return leg was the control I had decided on for my first sleep - it was one control too far really. In '83 and, later, in '91, I had more success sleeping at Brest, but this was '87, we had had a really gruelling outward 6 00 into the wind and had turned round immediately for fear of it dropping. By midnight when we reached Carhaix, I had gone through the stage where I really wanted to sleep and started to come out the other side.

I had a light snack and, while Sheila went off to enjoy the privilege of a couple of hours' sleep in a support car, sank a second bottle of beer to induce drowsiness.

Gaining entrance to the dormitory was a farce. First, money had to change hands before the bouncer on the door would let me pass, then I discovered the 'dortoir' was in the attic of a tall building, several storeys high. The stairs were covered in debris and spilt liquids so I kept my shoes on, but after 600km into the wind plus another 80 and two bottles of beer the last thing I needed was stairs. Eventually I crawled into the attic which contained 100 'dead bodies' and where 'bed' consisted of a sheet of cardboard on the floor. I was pretty disgusted with the whole arrangement which was not at all sleep-inducing, and wanted my money back.

Most of the bodies were wrapped in space blanket, and were either shivering or shuffling restlessly. I think some of them were still pedalling. The din was appalling, and totally drowned out the few peaceful snorers. I was now wide awake, and rapidly getting violent. Space blankets are definitely extremely antisocial in dormitories, so please PLEASE don't use one on PBP, unless you're planning on sleeping in ditches.

Did I say wide awake? As I stood up I nearly passed out, and stumbled, brushing the outside of my thigh against a sharp splinter of wood. The skin, tight as a drum after 600km into the wind then 80 more, split like an unpricked sausage. The wound wasn't deep, but it was long and messy. Needless to say, I couldn't feel a thing, my body had far more serious pains at the time, to do with 600km into the wind then 80 more.

Dripping blood (mingling with the other spilt liquids), I lurched back down the stairs, killed the startled doorman with a look, and stumbled across to the Red Cross tent. Walking wounded were thin on the ground, and they were pathetically pleased to see me. A pleasant half-hour later, with my jangled nerves considerably soothed and an impressively bandaged leg, I was ready to face my bike again.

I limped over to the food hall for another light midnight feast. Now nearly two hours had passed, doesn't time fly when you're having fun, Sheila turned up looking no better for her rest, and we were soon back on the road, wind behind, enjoying one of the best PBP games, chasing down distant red lights along the inky N164.