Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Road to Paris

I've had the 2011 Paris-Brest-Paris randonnée in the back or front of my head ever since I first learned about it almost two years ago. But until recently it had seemed pretty hypothetical. There were a lot of hoops that needed jumping through before I would actually be able to ride it, and I wasn't even sure if I really wanted to do it or was even capable of doing it. And of course there were rumors of registration limits and tough competition to get in.

With Audax Club Parisien's recent announcements about the registration limit and quotas by country, it's now all but certain that I'll be able to register. As a matter of fact, the rumors of tough competition to get in now appear to have been unwarranted and most likely no Americans who meet the minimum requirements will be turned away. And the fact that I completed the Cascade 1240 last summer suggests that I may actually be capable of surviving PBP.

So PBP is quickly looking much more real. Sure, there are a still more hoops to jump through, not least of which is that I have to complete a Super Randonneur series before July 17th in order to qualify. I've done two SR series now, but finishing one is still far from a slam dunk. So far I've been lucky enough to get through every brevet I've started without serious physical, mechanical or mental breakdowns. I contribute about 10% of that success to good training and smart planning and the other 90% is just dumb luck. But at this point I have little choice but to assume I'll finish the qualifying series and eventually find myself registered, qualified and on a flight to France with my bike in pieces in a box.

Not only is PBP looking less and less hypothetical, but it also now seems to be approaching at the speed of a TGV. So I've spent a few evenings recently researching lodgings and flights and working out the details of our trip. Sarah, Cody and Adam are all going to France with me and we'll spend a little over two weeks there in total. The first couple days will be in and around Paris (we're actually going to stay in Versailles which is very close to the start of PBP but still an easy train ride into the city) getting ready for the ride and seeing sights. Then while I ride to Brest, Sarah and the kids will take a much quicker and more comfortable trip there on the TGV. They'll stay in Brest for two nights, hopefully long enough to watch me sleep for a couple of hours and then we'll all meet back in Versailles, me of course taking the much slower and more painful route. After I've caught up on sleep a bit we'll all head to Annecy for a week of hiking, hanging out, and eating well before heading back to Paris and then home. Sounds to me like the trip of a life time!

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