PBP Stories -1999

BC Randonneurs Cycling Club

(More about the source of this text - Gerry's PBP99 info archive)

Date: Tue, 31 Aug 1999 10:38:34 -0400
From: Ed Felker <shermanfelker@csi.com>
To: Randon List <randon@cyclery.com>
Subject: PBP 99

My PBP was my first and by far the top cycling experience in every
way. Let me say this, before I begin, I was in the group headed into
Nogent and then Paris with Bengt Sandborgh and had a grand time
conversing in English with him. Maybe we Americans came off with a
greater speaking volume because we were so glad to find someone who
spoke English, it all came bursting forth.

I had a great time, breaking the ride into three days, 275-200-275.
Taking the 84-hour start on a brand new rear wheel I bought Monday
at Go Sports near the start -- my fancy high-tech Mavic Classics Pro
turned out to be pulling an eyelet -- I was a bit concerned but the
wheel stayed true the whole way.

Though the pack sped out like mad, I sat back as much as I could on
day 1 and there were plenty of groups so it was a relatively easy
day. It was new territory for me beyond 250 miles but nothing tough.
We rode a bit with American distance icon Lon Haldeman and his wife
Susan Notorangelo. He was on a single-speed and they did not push
hard. We stopped at Loudeac at our hotel.

We slightly overslept that night and got more than four hours sleep.
Though we started late, 8:45am, we had no problems making the next
control, despite a bit of rain leaving Loudeac. After that we rode
steady into the turnaround at Brest, totaling about 35 hours to that
point. I felt atop the world topping over the Roc de Travezel but
those seemingly endless rollers to Brest afterward were a bit

My riding partner Jon Gardner and I split up on the return for
awhile, then regrouped after Carhaix for the run back into Loudeac
with fellow Washington, D.C. riders Bill Alcorn and Tim Egan. We did
take one break around 12:30am at an outdoor cafe in a lovely
village, St. Denis, where some 25 other cyclists had gathered for a
bit of coffee and chow. The family showed as much or more energy as
the riders and were gracious beyond words.

At this point I felt pretty good though not without some aches and
pains, and pressure saddle sores. That night, curiously, I woke up
after just 90 minutes sleep raring to go, and was on the road at
6:15am. Jon stayed behind to have a big breakfast and I went on.

At the next control I found Alcorn (Egan had ridden on through the
night) and we rolled together most of the day, alternately keeping
the pace high when alone and then backing off when we could join a
group for awhile. At Nogent Bill stayed to sleep and I went on to
the finish. My legs felt great! But my neck, shoulders and butt were
pretty beat.

Knowing I could make it in without sleep was a big motivator and
we had a big group of 20? or so complete the last leg together. I
was never so happy to be off the bike! Final time: 71:06, total
mileage 1262K or 782 miles (including a couple wrong turns and hotel

I cannot thank the many, many townspeople and farm families who came
to the road to applaud, feed, and encourage us. At one point before
Nogent we sped through a turn and a woman jumped into her car, sped
on to the next intersection, and turned us back. Just before Nogent,
after the forest, a family had coffee and treats for us roadside
when we most needed it -- they spoke no English, we no French, and
it was wonderful all the same.

Going back to the gym later in the day Friday was a treat also.
Seeing the applauding crowd and the grateful faces of the finishing
riders was motivating enough to think of returning in 2003.

Congratulations to all!

Ed Felker
Arlington, VA USA


An additional message:

Date: Fri, 03 Sep 1999 10:48:35 -0400
From: Ed Felker <shermanfelker@csi.com>
To: Randon List <randon@cyclery.com>
Subject: Lantern Rouge

Jon Gardner and I seized the honor of ``lantern rouge'' for
ourselves only because we thought for a about 1 minute that we were
literally the last two riders on the course. We took the 84 hour
start with the single bikes, drifted to the back of the pack, and
then our gruppetto missed the right turn at the carrefour headed to
D23 (about 5K from the start?) and in the mass u-turn, ended up at
the back of that group.

We stopped to visit the bushes and when we remounted, we were
overtaken by an auto with ACP markings and a blue flashing light
atop, and not a single set of bike lights behind us.

We soon overtook some riders ahead and so ended our Jacky Durand
moment. (Last in the Tour this year.)

I suppose the true ``lantern rouge'' goes to the very last rider
accepted as an official finisher by ACP on Friday afternoon, and on
the course, the last rider at every control passed through to go

Ed Felker