PBP Stories -1999

BC Randonneurs Cycling Club

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

From: peter-f.neumann@bae.co.uk
Date: Tue, 7 Sep 1999 15:52:57 +0000
Subject: loss of virginity
To: RANDON@cyclery.com

well folks I cannot honestly say it was totally painless but for me
it was an incredibly enjoyable experience. Eight months ago the
longest ride I had done was 50 miles, I read about PBP, quickly
joined AUK and soon realised that the old viking road bike I had
refurbed over the winter wasn't good enough. I toyed with doing it
on my mountain bike but finally splashed out on a Thorn Audax, the
investment acting as a not inconsiderable incentive to further my
ambition. I rode my first 200 and couldn't imagine managing a 300. I
did the 300 and couldn't imagine the 400 etc. Finally I managed the
600 and could label myself a Super Randonneur!!, a huge goal
achieved in itself. In the meantime I had entered PBP and booked
with Roccos group on Sporting Tours , the theory being to give
myself the best chance. possible In the preceding months I panicked
endlessly over silly issues, clothes, equipment, spares, food,
logistics but in particular lights. Francis Cooke must be
responsible for knocking ten years of my life as I dithered between
the various options. Finally the wait was over and the moment was
upon us. It was as though time had speeded up. From having months to
spare after the SR series I was rushing around ,panic mode, only
days to go.

I joined the coach at Manchester and was fortunate enough to be in
the same group/hotel as Sheila Simpson. I cannot thank her enough
for the patient way she dealt with the hundreds of questions and
queries that bombarded her. It was her 5th time and I thought to
myself that she did not need all this hastle from greenhorns.

The weekend was spent civily with easy rides, bars and meals etc. I
had a very pleasant ride out to Versailles on a cycle way to witness
thousands of French enjoying their revolutionary gains.

Then the bike check, scheduled for 1400 hrs. I was nervous again,
but everything went well and I was pleasantly surprised at the
friendliness and superb organisation involved.

I had been advised not to ride the prologue and planned to spend
Monday relaxing and resting!!!. I pondered how the astronauts must
have felt strapped to top of a Saturn 5 rocket, the feeling couldn't
have been much different. Then it was over , we were off for the
meal. I did manage to eat as much as I could. I arrived outside the
Gymnasium in time to see the elite start. Wow, I thought the
Manchester velodrome was frightening enough. This convinced me to
gracefully avoid the 10.00 start and go for the 10.15. When my time
came the adrenaline was really high, I was now ready and indeed
confident that I had prepared myself as best I could under the
circumstances - I thought of the bravery of the hand powered
attempt. The start was emotional, with the minutes silence but then
at last 5,4,3,2,1 we were off.

<Attached file (Pbp3.wk4) moved to end of message>The ride was
fantastic, the hardest but most exhilarating thing I have ever done.
I soon recognised Mark thompson along side me just out of Paris,
whom I remembered from Bernies Long Flat One (600). We rode the rest
together, achieving quite fast times on the road. Our problem was at
controls, cafes, patisseries, restaurants, road side water/feed
stops etc. Our average ride speed over the total distance (1250km)
was 25.5 km/hr. Our average control speed was 0.7 controls per
hour!. Total riding time was 49hrs.55 mins ,total sleep 13 hrs. We
enjoyed 2 restaurant meals en route after deciding to opt for a Fri
noon finish for more glory - its addictive. I enjoyed every minute
of it, the camaraderie was first class. I particularly remember a
fast ascent out of Brest, riding with a young American girl in the
peleton and a very fast stage with some danes for 30 mins as we rode
at 25 + miles per hour. There were numerous other incidents too
blurred to remember in detail.

We enjoyed a fantastic ambience every where we stopped, particularly
away from the controls, in the villages and road sides, which is why
we lost so much time. But what the hell, we had a really great time.
My best wishes to all those involved, who made it such a memorable

pete (aged 48)