PBP Stories -1999

BC Randonneurs Cycling Club

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

Date: Wed, 01 Sep 1999 10:25:47 +0200
From: Peter Mathews <pmathews@alphalink.com.au>
To: audax-oz@vicnet.net.au
Cc: Randon List <randon@cyclery.com>, andrew.mathews@nre.vic.gov.au
Subject: PBP 99

G'day lists

I am still stunned! PBP was such an experience and one which I am
unlikely to forget in a hurry.

A few briefs reoleections.

The terrain did not seem all that hard to me. It is the sort of
ride you just keep plugging away at. The countryside was inspiring
(at least to an Aussie who has never been north on the equator
before). The smells (not of the riders but) from farms and the
woods were interesting too. At one point there was so much effluent
on the fields we were riding alongside that the ammonia fumes made
my eyes water.

My real recollections will be of people. The excitement at the
start. The Aussie-aussie-aussie chants. These had a positive
effect later when I was in trouble because other riders thought our
spirit was great.

The first night riding is a tight gtoup of eight or so down the
Australian sider of the road, "motoring" past group after group with
the seemimingly endless serpent of red tailights disappearing over
the horizon.

Tuesday was incredibly hot and ground me to a halt. After loosing
time at the first feeding station on Monday night (I should have
carried enough food to skip this shambles).

Everywhere there were people, young and old, cheering encouraging,
pointing out tricky bits of the route. I found it very humbling.

The trip from Loudeac to Brest was a highlight (excdpt for the wall
you have to climb to get in to Brest!). From Brest to Loudeac I
started having a lot of trouble with my neck. I had strained it
once before and was having difficulty seeing the road ahead. A neck
brace purchased from a pharmacie helped a lot - but caused silent
comments when I walked into checkpoints!

Always there were other riders to talk to. Other Australians Sue,
Phil, Leigh, Alan, Tim, Hans, Loretta, all the Peters..... A Brit
on a trike who helped Phil rig some bar extensions to give me a more
upright riding position. (He also seemed to know every good cake
shop en route!). A Canadian transport planner. Karen from New York
rode alongside me to the second last checkpoint chatting about her
ride and acting as a wonderful guide so I did not have to look up
too much.

Val, Anne, Robyn, Des, Lesley, Jane and our two daughters provided
checkpoint support at Loudeac and Fourgeres. It was great to see
familiar faces and feel a bit spoilt.

All along the way we ate well, at checkpoints from Pattiseries,
bars, shops etc. Don't reckon I will have lost much weight!

I finished in about 91.5 hrs I think. The route was a bit of a mess
and several legs were way over what we were told they would be. The
last leg in to St Quentin is completely stupid - it takes the
Ware/Lowe award for climbing the steepest portion of every
unnecessary hill the route can cover in my opinion.

Still, it was a great experience and as soon as I can get my neck
straight, the numbness out of my fingers and toes, and my bottom
back in condition, I'll plan some more rides.

Final thanks to my family who are travelling with me and Sue and
Phil who draggee me through the last couple of sections.

Peter Mathews (#3334)

(From Weisbarden Germany)