Gavin and I pulled into the Carhaix control at 5:20pm where I soon found a slightly frantic Kelly who was sure I had died or worse. We hung out far too long at the control eating and yacking and I slathered some of Kelly's secret formula butt salve on and then we eventually got back on the road. Gavin had decided to hang out at Carhaix and take a shower before continuing on into Brest so I said goodbye and thanked him for the moral support.
Although the weather started getting ugly and some rain started falling not long after leaving Carhaix, I was really feeling pretty good on this stretch. By "good" I mean emotionally. Physically, my butt was killing me. My feet were really hurting too, probably because I was spending a lot more time standing than usual. Still, I was enjoying the scenery and Kelly's company and I wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else. Of course, it helps that I was also a little delirious. We had been riding for well over 24 hours without any sleep and I was starting to feel it. I remember at one point cruising along watching the world go by, seeing a traffic sign in French and thinking, "Whoa, that's weird. That sign's not in English." Then I remembered I was in France and it all made a little more sense.
The climb up to Roc'h Trevezel was a long slow grind, but I found it much easier than the stretch before Carhaix since it never got too steep. And the view from the top was inspiring enough to make it well worth the trouble. After the summit I somehow got it into my mind that it would be just a quick downhill ride into the control in Brest. In fact the control was still more than 50 km away. Still I kept expecting to see the suspension bridge leading into Brest around every corner. After an hour and a half of that I started realizing that my mental calculations of how far we had to go were off a bit. Finally a little after dark we saw the Pont de l'Iroise and crossed the Celtic Sea into Brest.
But wait... Once again, I was a bit off on my calculations of how far we had yet to go. I was thinking that we'd cross the bridge and ride a few blocks and we'd be at the control, cold beer in hand. Instead we had to wind our way through another 10 km of roundabouts and rail crossings before finally reaching the control in downtown Brest.
I attribute my miscalculations about the last leg into Brest to being distracted by my backside, which was screaming at me every time it made contact with the saddle. It's hard to think straight with all that screaming.
When we pulled into the Brest control Sarah, Cody, Adam and my friend Dave were there whooping and clapping for us. It was 10:20pm, a little over 29 and a half hours since we had left St. Quentin. Everyday I'm aware of my love for my family on some level, but I don't think I've ever felt it more than I did when I came around the corner to see them there on the wet streets of Brest that evening. Kelly's family was there too all smiles and high-fives.
After getting brevet cards stamped, we sat down at the control with our families for a quick bite and a cold beer (a rarity in France). I told Kelly then that I didn't think I was going continue on from Brest. Between my butt and my feet I had been doing some serious suffering for the past several hours and I was having a hard time imagining enduring another 35 - 40 hours like that. Kelly was disappointed but I had no doubt that he could make it to the finish without me. Just to be sure, I told Kelly that I would get up early the next morning to see if I felt any different after a good night's sleep. But when we met at 4:30am in the hotel lobby the next morning I was even more sure that I had no interest in the suffering that I'd have to endure to continue the ride.
I spent a day in Brest seeing sights with my family and then we rode the TGV back to Paris. The train seats weren't a heck of a lot more comfortable than my bike seat had been, but I never had any doubt that abandoning in Brest was the right choice for me.
Of course, Kelly finished the ride still riding strong with a time of 74 hours 15 minutes. Congratulations, Kelly!