PBP Stories -1999

BC Randonneurs Cycling Club

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

From: "Ian Hennessey" <ian@alllabel.globalnet.co.uk>
To: "Randon" <randon@cycling.org>
Subject: Paris-Brest
Date: Mon, 30 Aug 1999 15:16:37 +0100

I arrived home yesterday after around 1850kms on fixed - 3X more
than I've attempted before. 35yr old Claud Butler stood up well,
though I think I've destroyed the headset. The back wheel I built
the day before leaving also survived - no truing needed. I kept the
luggage to a minimum. 2 sets of cycle clothing (wear one, wash
one); shirt and shorts + sandles for off the bike; camera; maps;
toothbrush and travel-towel; 2 light capes (1 waterproof - not
used); and essential tools. The off-bike wear I left at the hotel
during the event. Managed, with the aid of an accomplice, to get to
the head of the 90hr queue. Joined in the 'road-race' as we set off
- thinking "This is stupid/Ishall suffer for this/I should have more
sense." etc. Passed the courageous fellow on hand-cranks - shame he
didn't finish. Caught and passed most of the'silly' machines, before
finally losing contact (thank goodness) with the last of the fast

As forecast, I suffered all of Tuesday morning. The heat didn't
help. Lots of liquid and a steady pace helped the recovery. At
Loudeac I had a rather public shower, though by wresting control of
the hose from Monsieur-in-charge I managed to be a little more
descrete than that American. The long descent towards Brest was
painful. I was determined not to use the brakes, so cadence
approached 200. I was irritated by people coming past then
freewheeling and slowing, so that they impeded my progress. The
climb back up was less severe than I'd expected - kept a good steady
pace. At Carhaix, another shower and clean clothes.

I had been taking the odd half to one hour naps since about the
500km mark, mostly by the roadside where I could lie down to ease my
back. At one point I heard, but didn't feel, a couple of heavy
showers pass - They fell in the field across the road. I had
another bad patch between Mortagne and Nogent and had to stop a few

Caught a large group near the finish and, finding my legs again,
went past them to finish with another Brit (embarassing - I forget
his name) with cheers from the crowds on the roundabout. A
'leisurely' (sheila Simpson's word) 82hrs. 6 UK fixers finished:
Steve Abraham; Dave 'Dr Box' Pilbeam; Mike Friday; Me; Alan 'Pedals'
Pedliham; and Ian Jackson - though he finished on a borrowed, geared
machine, having torn the flange out of his rear hub. There was also
rumoured to be a frenchman on fixed - did he finish?

Food and service at the controls was generally excellent. A couple
were so crowded that I by-passed them and used local bars or
pattisseries (These were good intermediate stops anyhow). I also
stopped at a couple of the roadside services that local people had
set up - they were obviously enjoying the event tremendously.

One thing which was irritating was the number of support vehicles
clogging the approaches to controls, and even, once, one cutting me
up in its hurry to get past. It doesn't say much for some people's
independent randonneur spirit that they can't leave their infernal
combustion engines behind even when they're cycling.

Bengt Sandborgh wrote: "..noisy Americans.." Several people
commented similarly; and also about the disciplined Danes, and the
beer-swilling French. I'll leave it to others to criticise the

Upstaging everyone, even Pete and Noel on 'le grand lit', was Drew
Buck on his 1904 Pederson, with a 1904 3 speed which sounded like a
clockwork motor on descents; no toeclips, and a straw hat.

Congratulations to all who finished; and commiserations to those who
didn't (there's another in 4 years).


Ian Hennessey, Exeter Wheelers CC.
Hon. Sec., Audax UK