Sunday, February 6, 2011

My Big Fat PBP Goal

I have to admit that the history lesson on Charly Miller posted a few days ago was really just a setup for this post. I've already told a few friends this, but I figure you haven't totally committed to a goal until you've blogged it, right? So here goes:

My goal for PBP is to finish in less than 56 hours and 40 minutes and be added to La Société Charly Miller honor role. There, I said it.

Is it possible? Well, I'd say it's a long shot; what my bosses in corporate America refer to as a "stretch goal." And it definitely wouldn't be possible for me to do this by myself. But... with the right group of cyclists working together, plus good luck with the weather (especially wind), plus no big mechanical issues, plus no navigation mistakes, plus no serious physical problems, and with a heapin' helpin' of suffering, it seems possible. In theory anyway.

This goal grew from a seed that was planted on the second brevet I ever did back in the spring of '09. I rode almost the entire 300 km brevet with a group of six fast riders, and together we finished the ride in just under 12 hours. Bob Brudvik and Wayne Methner were in the group of six and somewhere along the way they told me about a group that was forming that wanted to make the CM list in 2011, and that they thought I should join them. At that point I knew next to nothing about PBP and had never heard of Charly Miller. I couldn't even imagine riding any distance greater than 200 miles in those days. So of course I said, "oh yeah, I'm in," thinking the conversation would be forgotten.

Over the remainder of the 2009 brevet season and through the 2010 season, I'd often see Bob on rides and again we'd talk about the Charly Miller society. Bob's a good salesman and I'm sort of a sucker for a pointless challenge so it wasn't long before I started believing it really could be done. See the deal is... (I'm channeling Bob a bit now) all you have to do is maintain a pace of 4 hours per 100 kilometers (including controls) all the way to Brest. That get's you there in 24 hours. You spend 4 hours eating and sleeping and then get back on the bike for the return trip. This gives you 28 hours to get back, which lets you ride a bit slower on the return trip. Sounds simple, right?

I've done 200km, 300km and 400km brevets at a pace of better than 4 hours per 100 km before. It's not easy, and for me it can only be done riding with a group, but it can be done. It's kind of like golf. Even if your a lousy golfer (which I was back when I used to golf), every once in a great while you hit a shot, like maybe a hundred yard approach shot, that looks just like something Tiger Woods would do. While that one shot is in the air, you're thinking to yourself, "hey, I'm pretty good." But in reality you're not that good, you just hit a good shot. The difference between you and Tiger is that you hit one like that out of about 115 shots while he does it every time.

So my point is, I can ride a 100 km in 4 hours, but it takes a Tiger Woods... er or maybe Lance Armstrong would be a better example? Anyway, it takes something more to maintain that pace for 1200 km.

But like I said, it's a stretch goal.

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