Arrivee 19, December 1987
What was the biggest surprise you had on PBP?
Most of the American riders report that they were surprised by the hills - the continuous number of short, tough hills. Riders were also surprised by the cold, the fog, the rain, and the generally miserable conditions in 1987, and the cold and the heavy rains in 1983. Zabielski: "Truck and bus drivers knew the route and got me back on it when I strayed for a block or two. Also, the French riders drank beer at the controls. The French Red Cross didn't have donuts, but they did give good leg massages." Reenstra: "The French cheering for me as I rode by little towns at 11 PM or later." Brehler: "Having to start up front because of being a tandem." Voge "Being able to do a five hour century due to such a large group, and always having someone to ride with."
Dobies: "Comparing bikes: Americans - new, expensive, state of the art; French - old, parts from all over." Wolf: "That it was actually fun to climb h ills in the dark - you shift when you need to, not when you think you should." Bertrand: "That I'd forgotten my tights." Several Americans were surprised that each control has its individual closing time; that it is not just the Paris control at ninety hours that must be met. This illustrates how not all Americans had their minds focused on the event, for the closing times were mentioned in the IR newsletter, were discussed at the group meeting at the FIAPAD, and they were very clearly noted on each randonneur's route card. Still, some riders rode slowly, or slept the first night, and were defeated by paying insufficient attention to the rules.
Another rider mentions being surprised at how long every thing took off the bike: checking through the controls, obtaining food, and just getting organized. Another unexpected event was being escorted through towns by gendarmes on motorcycles .
Was your actual time faster or slower than your predicted time? Most riders had a slower overall time than they had expected. Many are happy enough to complete the event, and had no initial target finishing time. It's probably not useful to do too much predicting. Several riders figured twenty minutes or so per control, but usually didn't get out in less than an hour.