Rider Prep Page

BC Randonneurs Cycling Club


PBP Planner - 2007
Deirdre Arscott. Danelle Laidlaw.

PBP is an incredibly exhilarating event. Sharing the road with 4000 other riders with the support of the PBP organizers and the French town people keeps riders from our club returning every time! Here's are are notes that will help your preparation.

Qualifying - The "Super Randonneur" series (200, 300, 400 and 600km brevets (events)) must be completed by early June the year of Paris-Brest-Paris. You must be 18 by the start of PBP.

Application Requirements

Continued Training until the Event
Unless you are Ken Bonner don't over do the long rides. Achilles tendon problems, knee problems, hand and feet problems are more likely to occur on longer rides (600, 1000km). Once they occur it's easy to re-aggravate them during PBP. Work on speed and hills. Do a fast hilly 45 - 60 km route a few times per week (Marine Drive in West Van is perfect).
> Do a second 200, 300, and even 400 km event(s).
> Should I do Hell Week (Eau de Hell) - is that good training?

Preparing your Bike
New tires, new tubes, new rim tape
> Carry new tubes not patched ones
> Make sure your bike is in perfect working order with no components that are about to fail

Be confident that your lighting system will work. Test it through all the brevets
> Make sure it is bright enough on wet roads
> For those starting at night, don't waste time having to change batteries every two hours in the dark. Try to find something that lasts the night
> Bring spares - you'll need them for the bike check, regardless of high reliable your system is

When to get there
At least 5 days ahead. You need to time get over jet lag, get used the food, deal with any bike problems, lost luggage, etc
> In the past, people arriving close to the start day have abandoned the ride

Booking your flights
don't leave it until the last minute

Getting to the Hotel
How to get to the hotel (notes) & Map

Hotel Sign-Up
We have a block of rooms booked in a hotel. Talk to Danelle Laidlaw to sign up for a room.

Getting settled
Arrive early and take some time to explore
> Breakfasts are part of the hotel fee
> For those starting at night, with your registration, you pay for a meal served near the start. Those in the 9:30/10pm start have found this okay but for those in the 8 pm (80 hour ride limit) did not recommend this

Registration and Bike Check
Bring the information sent to you in advance
> lights (backup lights or bulbs are mandatory)
> Reflector vest mandatory
> No tri-bars
> Have at least one headlight that is non LED. In the past LED headlights have not been acceptable. LED tail lights are acceptable but must be non-blinking.
> Bring things to give away - Canadian pins, flags, tattoos

There are varying opinions on this:

Danelle: It's fun but it's on the same day that the 80 hour and 90 hour groups start. It won't wear you out and will give you a feel for what riding in such a big group is all about. May even calm your nerves a bit…

Deirdre: I would prefer to rest, hydrate and eat. The idea of doing 80 km 12 hours before starting a 1200 km event makes me nervous!

Start Times / Maximum time allowed
Monday 8 pm - start for the 80 hour time limit. About 1000 fast riders. This group has the highest percentage of people abandon. Some people go out too fast with this group.
> Monday 9:30pm - start for the 90 hour time limit. More than 3000 riders divided into waves of about 800. Each wave starts 15 minutes after the other. The extra time to cross the start line is deducted at the finish but no one seems to be sure if extra time is allowed at the intermediate controls
> Tuesday 5 am - start for the 84 hours time limit. About 600 riders.

Average and slower riders will be with hoards of others. Expect line ups for everything - getting your card stamped, getting food, beds, showers, mechanics. Even food in stores could be cleaned out. Expect to be slower than riding in BC. It's worth training to try to bring your speed up. That way you will be able to take time to talk to people and not get up tight about the long lines.

During the Ride

General Info on France
No 7-11s on route. Stores may be closed on route. Very little open into the evening or overnight
> Bars often open early in the morning until late into the night. Good for coffee, hot chocolate and baguette sandwiches
> The French are beginning to speak English but remember "Bonjour" and "Merci" go a long way
> Be polite at all times. This is hard when one is extremely fatigued but make an effort.
> The French really enjoy and support this ride. Get into the spirit - you will see people dressed up, having parties and offering you food and drink - if you can, stop and/or at least acknowledge their support
> Learn some French

Long distances between controls, often not many stores or restaurants in between
> First stop (Mortagne au Peche) at 140km is for re-fueling. You don't need to get your card stamped
> Those starting at night need to carry enough water for the first 140 km.

What is at the controls:
Control => where you get your card stamped and your card swiped
> Cafeteria => food, coffee, juice, soft drinks, beer, wine
> Toilets
> Bar => hard liquor! And sandwiches (baguette sandwiches, ham, ham and cheese, paté)
> First Aid
> Mechanic
> Beds or sleeping mats in dorms
> Most have showers.
> Expect to find each of these services in a separate building

Food at Controls:

There is usually a bar, outside in a kiosk, that sells baguette sandwiches (paté and ham and cheese)

Each control has a cafeteria with a good selection of food (with the exception of Tinteniac which is always pretty poor). Expect to pay 10 to 15 Euros for a meal.
Here's what you can expect:
- meat
- mashed potatoes
- plain pasta, often there is sauce on the side
- various salads: grated carrot salad, celery root salad but not green salad
- green beans
- sometimes omelets, scrambled eggs
- rice pudding
- semolina pudding
- canning fruit cocktail
- coffee, juice, soft drinks, beer, wine

It's difficult as a vegetarian. Even getting just a plain cheese sandwich is hard. If you're vegan, you'll need too have support at controls.

What to Carry
Cash. The route avoids most larger towns. There are some ATMs on route but not many. You don't want to waste time looking for cash on route. You will need to spend 10 - 15 Euros on food at each control and a few Euros for sleeping. There are 14 controls and usually two secret control (with limited food and drink).
> Any specialty tools? Speciality foods?
> Space blanket
> Do you need anything that you wouldn't normally carry? Any thing that you can't find in France?

What to expect as a woman
Only 5% of participants are women. Here's a few things that the women have noticed in the past.
> the men will be in the women's toilets. Don't expect privacy. After a while you won't care anyway!
> showers are usually separate but in the past some have been mixed
> French clubs won't let you lead the pace line
> bring your own sanitary supplies

The route
non stop hills(10,000 metres of climbing => more than Mt. Everest)
> beautiful quiet back roads
> mostly villages and small towns. Not many amenities on route.
> navigation. The route will be marked with arrows and you will be given written directions. Check the route out in advance on a map.
> 1232 km and no extra time for that extra 32 km
> rough roads (hand, feet and butt take a beating). Consider extra padding on your bars
> Did we mention non-stop hills?

1987 - cool and rain for 3 days.
1991 - hot/windy
1995 - warm/hot, favourable winds
1999 - warm/hot, a couple of downpours
2003 - the last night, it was 8 degrees with misty patches. It was cold especially after days with temperatures in the mid 30's.
> Usually hot, windy, little rain but a couple of downpours. Overnight can be very cool. We are traveling 600 km towards the coast and back, so expect and be prepared for varied weather.

Getting Food
> Finding sleeping places
> Making control times - first 400 is hilly - hard to build up sleep time
> Saddle Sores and other injuries (each control has first aid)
> Wayfinding, particularly at night

Tips for Support Crews
Support crews are not allowed on the same route as the riders and have their own route to follow
> Supporting can be stressful. Following the route, trying to find the control, trying to find a place to park (there are a lot of support vehicles)
> Riders will be disqualified if you are caught supporting them between controls
> Support vehicles must display number plaques at all times
> Supporting a rider at every control is exhausting. It may be better to meet only a few controls.

After the Ride
Do you need to make arrangements to meeting afterwards
> Recovery Time
> Treat yourself

Required Reading
Eating an Elephant by Ron Himschoot
PBP pages on the BC randonneur web site compiled by Eric Fergusson

Speakers: Deirdre Arscott, Cheryl Lynch, Danelle Laidlaw, Michel Richard, Doug Latornel, Susan Allen, Karen Smith, Eric Fergusson, Sharon Street, John Little and Sarah Gallazin