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  1. #1
    Senior Member Fonk's Avatar
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    PBP 2007 - realistic?

    Hello,

    I have a question for all you LDers out there. Considering the longest day I've had on the bike has been around 120 miles (Triple Bypass), is it very realistic to think I could do PBP next year? Or is that too soon? If I start putting in some serious miles now, I should be able to complete the 200-400-600km series next year, I'm pretty sure (I consider myself a fairly strong rider), but then 1200km is a huge leap from that. What are your thoughts?

  2. #2
    Senior Member oilfreeandhappy's Avatar
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    I may displaying some cycling ignorance here, but what is PBP?
    Jim
    Make a BOLD Statement While Cycling!

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    Paris-Brest-Paris, a 1200km randonnee that is conducted every four years by the parent club of randonneuring in France. It attracts around 4,500 participants (2003 entry), and is extremely well run, is extremely well supported by the French public, and is an experience not to forget irrespective of whether you enjoyed the riding or not (I didn't in 2003 and that's why I am going back next year to rectify the situation). It is reputed to have inspired the introduction of the Modern Olympic Games, and the creation of the Tour de France. It is open only to amateur cyclists -- professional licence-holders are not permitted to participate.

    Fonk, yes, it is entirely possible to do PBP. Much depends on your emotional outlook and determination, irrespective of your triple bypass. Presuming you have a clearance from your surgeon, that is.

    The two keys to doing PBP are financial (getting there, staying, enjoying and getting back, plus doing the qualifiers), and how dedicated you are to putting in a moderate training program that primarily comprises longish weekend rides (160km/100 miles should be regarded as the threshhold), mixed with some intensity training during the week. Tolerance of hills would be helpful, even though the maximum height of the route is under 500 metres, there are plenty of rollers to keep you occupied. Oh yes, and rest, which is an essential part of any training plan.

    As to those qualifiers, they have to be completed in North America in the year of PBP (ie, 2007), and if you don't have experience with 600s, then you might need to find a back-up for your local 600 elsewhere in case you don't finish that one.

    The qualifiers and training will allow you to identify things like bike fit problems (numb butt, hands, feet) and fix them, determine if you are a liquid or solid-fuels rider, how you cope with sleep deprivation, how you cope with night riding, and the lighting issues, and load (what you take with you).

    The 600 is seen as the most difficult prelude to the 1200s because it requires a relatively high degree of organisation around a sleep period, whereas the 200, 300 and 400 theoretically can be done without sleep. The step-up to the 1200 is more difficult than it sounds (it's not simply 2 x 600 or 3 x 400 or whatever).

    Contact John Lee Ellis of Rocky Mountain Bicycle Club. He ran the Last Chance 1200 last year from Colorado out into Kansas and bck. He lives in Boulder. He's also on the board, I think, of the Ultramarathon Cycling Association. The RMCC website is here: http://www.rmccrides.com/. The UMCA is here: http://www.ultracycling.com/

    So, yes, PBP is entirely feasible for you.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Fonk's Avatar
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    Thanks Rowan!

    Sorry, I meant the "Triple Bypass" bike ride here in CO was my longest ride, not that I'd had a triple bypass operation. I'm a fit, healthy 32-year-old w/ no problems so far... (knock on wood)

    That's good to hear that you think it possible. The money's definitely an issue, but one I think we can easily plan for. I think the time for the long rides on the weekends is definitely the bigger issue - need to discuss w/ the wife to make sure she's behind me.

    A teammate of mine on my cycling team rides a lot of the RMCC brevets, so maybe I'll have to hook up w/ them for some training, as my plan was to use their brevets for qualifying next year anyway.

    Thanks for all the advice!

    -Ryan

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    I hope so, since that's my plan for 2007.

    I figure if I don't make the qualifiers, my wife and I will still have a nice holiday in France.

    My longest ride to date is about 125 miles, but I've done at least one 100-mile ride/month (18 mph avg speed) for the last year or so (the other weekend rides are in the 40-60 mile range, at about 21-23 mph avg. speed). Also, I average about 6000 miles/year, because I get in 20-30 miles a day on the weekedays.

    I had/have some concerns because a) I'm in Florida (no hills) and b) I don't have the long Brevet experience like some of our more experienced members, but in the end, I'm just going to go for it.

    .....I'm also putting a 14-34 cassette and a new rear derailer to handle the larger sprockets to give me a nice low 39-34 for the hills. Did I mention I was concerned because we have no hills to train on down here?

    Dan

  6. #6
    Senior Member Marcello's Avatar
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    Paris-Brest-Paris, a 1200 km randonnee that will take place in August of next year.

    Fonk, first of all, if you are interested in doing a Super Randonneur series next year and possibly PBP, join RUSA now. The member handbook that you receive when you join is a goldmine of information on brevets and randonneuring. Also, get in touch with the nearest randonneuring group, in your case probably the Rocky Mountain Cycling Club, and see if you can do any brevets later this season. And yes, start saving for the trip to Paris.

    I am not going to comment on the physical training needed to complete a 1200 km randonnee, I am sure others will give you some useful information. My feeling is that if you can complete a 200 km ride, you should be able to complete longer distances within the time limits. If you put enough effort into it, you can do it.

    From what I have seen this year (my first year of randonneuring), there are a lot of things that you will need to master to ride very long distances, including how to eat, how to ride for a whole night, how to ride on a minimum of sleep, how to minimize your time off the saddle by being more efficient at the controles, etc. These are all things that you will learn as you complete the SR series. You have a year to do it. I think it can be done.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Fonk's Avatar
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    Thanks for the info. Nutrition and night riding are definitely a couple areas that I'll need to put some focus on. I crewed for a friend of mine who did RAAM this year (had to drop at about 2000 miles due to injury), and being anal about his nutrition/supplements really kept him riding strong the whole time. I was simply amazed at how long the human body can keep going if it's adequately trained and nourished. Riding through the night was a tough thing for him though. We had to keep his mind busy w/ riddles, 20 questions, etc. Don't have the luxury of a crew keeping your mind occupied on a brevet though...

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    I'm 31 years old and completed my first Super Randonneur Series this year. I'd never done randoneering before, and I did all of the rides on a stock 2004 Trek 520 touring bike. Prior to this, the longest distance that I've ever ridden in one day was 125 miles (or the 200k). I do have a bi-daily year-round commute, and have done some weekend touring (including 380 miles New York - Boston) so I'm used to spending a lot of time in the saddle, and I honestly think that mental conditioning is just as or more important than physical conditioning of just training up to do a century. I rode about 2500 miles each in 2004 and 2005 -- most off that being the 28 mile round trip commute and couple of weekend tours.

    I would've ridden BMB this year if my work schedule would allow for it, but I intend to ride PBP next year. I also have a friend who will try to do his first SR series next year and aims to join me on PBP, so I'm also giving him a lot of tips on how to get started. It's certainly feasible so long as you do adequate prep.

    Definitely sign up for an RUSA membership when October rolls around, as you will need a membership to qualify for PBP. You will also get a handbook and a subscription to the RUSA newsletter, which certainly has a lot of useful information and encouragement. I would also look at Machka's site (http://www.machka.net) and Pamela Blayley's (http://www.blayleys.com) sites for useful information on PBP and general randoneering prep. And, to echo Pamela Blayley's advice start training now.

    The biggest thing that I had to get adjusted to from my previous riding experience was doing more hills. Most of my experience was in self-determined touring itineraries or charity centuries, and brevets are wholly different animal in that regard. 3000 ft. of climbing for every 100km ridden was a lot for me to get used to. Eating was also something that I had to learn and finetune on the fly -- and I think that if anything will threaten a PBP bid during a rookie randoneering year, it's trying to dial in your diet in between your 300 and 400K rides.

    Night riding, imho, is a matter of good equipment selection. Ditto with navigation and mechanicals. Still, it's good to perfect your wheel repair techniques now. Plan on how to deal with broken spokes. Practice changing and patching your tires. Practice in the rain. Practice at night. Practice at the end of a century. I had a minor crash and two broken spokes 32 miles into my 200K and came really close to just abandoning at that point (I wasn't liking the hills and generally feeling doubtful about my chances) but just knuckled down, jury-rigged a fix and got on with it.

    Really, I think that's the most important thing to train for and the best thing that I've taken away from randoneering -- the spirit and willingness to get on with it, no matter how awful or tough things can be. No matter how immense the task, if you just break it down into smaller parts and focus on getting through that, then you can gradually work your way to success.

    So, yeah, come on, you guys. You have a year. Do it. and start Now.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by spokenword
    I had a minor crash and two broken spokes 32 miles into my 200K and came really close to just abandoning at that point (I wasn't liking the hills and generally feeling doubtful about my chances) but just knuckled down, jury-rigged a fix and got on with it.
    Some excellent advice in this post, but just to elaborate on this with two additional things.

    (1) On PBP (or any 1200, or for that matter, any randonnee), at checkpoints, don't stand if you can sit, don't sit if you can lie down

    (2) If you feeling like quitting, remove yourself from the scene, eat something, drink something and take a nap, or at least sit down and think of something else. The chances are that your energy and fluid levels are low, and this can have a huge influence on your emotional outlook. Many are the stories of people who have almost quit, but have re-energised themselves and gone on to finish within the time limit, sometimes in atrocious conditions.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Fonk's Avatar
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    Spokenword - sounds like I'm in about the same situation you were, so it's good to hear your words of encouragement and advice. Now to start selling it to the wife.... The trip to France will be an easy sell, but "abandoning" her on the many weekends before will be a little tougher...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fonk
    Spokenword - sounds like I'm in about the same situation you were, so it's good to hear your words of encouragement and advice. Now to start selling it to the wife.... The trip to France will be an easy sell, but "abandoning" her on the many weekends before will be a little tougher...
    heh ... there's an article in the RUSA handbook that basically focused on "How to Train and not Wreck Your Marriage." I would also caution that it is possible to overdo the training and just burn oneself out before you even get to PBP.

    I got to the point where I was doing centuries every week as training rides to maintain brevet conditioning, and while I think that was helpful, the hours spent away from home were definitely starting to take their own toll. My girlfriend is a car-free cyclist and even she felt like she was turning into a bike widow. I had a thread a month ago asking about how to manage one's training time and avoid burnout and there's some advice there in how to manage one's schedule. I imagine that there'll be more discussion about that as March and April roll around and the 2007 brevet season kicks into high gear.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Fonk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spokenword
    heh ... there's an article in the RUSA handbook that basically focused on "How to Train and not Wreck Your Marriage." I would also caution that it is possible to overdo the training and just burn oneself out before you even get to PBP.

    I got to the point where I was doing centuries every week as training rides to maintain brevet conditioning, and while I think that was helpful, the hours spent away from home were definitely starting to take their own toll. My girlfriend is a car-free cyclist and even she felt like she was turning into a bike widow. I had a thread a month ago asking about how to manage one's training time and avoid burnout and there's some advice there in how to manage one's schedule. I imagine that there'll be more discussion about that as March and April roll around and the 2007 brevet season kicks into high gear.
    Interesting info in that thread, regarding how you don't always have to put in mega miles to stay fit enough to do one (or a few) mega-miles rides.

  13. #13
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    I think it is possible for you to do the PBP next year.

    Just this year, up here in Alberta, we had a new rider come out and try the Super Randonneur series. Then he went on to ride the Van Isle 1200K in July. He finished all the rides strongly.

    It is also possible to do Randonneuring on a limited quantity of training. Ideally we would all have unlimited time to ride, but life kind of gets in the way of that. I could site you all sorts of examples of Randonneurs I know who have done remarkable rides on very, very little training.

    What I would recommend doing starting now though, is to consider riding a century a month ... approx. one every 4 weeks or so. I find centuries to be great training rides. They are long enough to require a little bit of planning and to test out your nutritional and pacing needs, but they are not so long as to take up the whole day. If you get several centuries under your belt before your first 200K brevet, you should have no problem with it at all. Then the 300K (or a double century) is just like a century only a bit more time consuming.

    Where the challenge starts is on the 400K, but if you've kept up your fitness level it shouldn't be a problem either. And I figure that as long as you can do a 400K fairly comfortably, you can do a 1200K.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Richard Cranium's Avatar
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    Fonk,

    Use the force Fonk, the force is always with you. You must clear your mind of distractions and focus on the force. The force is the most powerful aspect of the cycling universe. Ignore it and your soul will be lost to an eternal damnation of flat tires, wrong turns and smelly water bottles.

    Learn to master the force and the miles will float by and all routes will be filled with tailwinds and smooth pavement.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Fonk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Cranium
    Fonk,

    Use the force Fonk, the force is always with you. You must clear your mind of distractions and focus on the force. The force is the most powerful aspect of the cycling universe. Ignore it and your soul will be lost to an eternal damnation of flat tires, wrong turns and smelly water bottles.

    Learn to master the force and the miles will float by and all routes will be filled with tailwinds and smooth pavement.
    Hmm, yes. Me thinks right you are.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Fonk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka
    I think it is possible for you to do the PBP next year.

    What I would recommend doing starting now though, is to consider riding a century a month ... approx. one every 4 weeks or so. I find centuries to be great training rides. They are long enough to require a little bit of planning and to test out your nutritional and pacing needs, but they are not so long as to take up the whole day. If you get several centuries under your belt before your first 200K brevet, you should have no problem with it at all. Then the 300K (or a double century) is just like a century only a bit more time consuming.
    Yes, I really need to start doing the centuries more. I did a lot last year, but this year haven't been going much beyond 85 miles. Time has been sort of an issue this year though, w/ the new baby and looking for a new place to live, etc. I haven't even done a single race this year! But now we found the place, and my wife quits working in a month to take care of the kid, so now it'll be time for me to step it up again!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fonk
    Interesting info in that thread, regarding how you don't always have to put in mega miles to stay fit enough to do one (or a few) mega-miles rides.
    I know several who have gone from 100km max rides to PBP in the same year.

    One of the British finishers in '03 was Chloe. Her total 2003 riding distance prior to the start of PBP was less than 2000 km. Remember, qualifying for PBP takes 1500 km...

  18. #18
    Senior Member Paul L.'s Avatar
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    I have found that switching the long Saturday ride with a before work 80-100 mile ride on Friday does wonders for the marriage. Of course my work has a shower so I suppose not everyone can do that. My secret is commuting to work. I get a 25 mile ride in every morning and it is amazing how much fitness that gives me. I also mix it up with longer weekend rides at least once a month. I find most of the Brevet's are doable with a 150 -200 mile week training schedule (can't speak for 1200s yet but will soon hopefully) a good base of mileage is helpful for this route though. You just won't ride as fast. It all depends on if you are the type of rider who smells the roses or dusts them. This last spring series I was sick off and on through most of it with a lung thing so I had very few opportunities to ride between brevets but I did have a resolve to take it easier than normal and to just enjoy the ride and I was able to get through the whole series with hours to spare on the 600 (now that I have smelled the roses I am eager to dust them next year health willing). A lot of people I know who DNF do it from psychological reasons. You need to train your mind as well as your body to deal with situations and get through them.
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  19. #19
    Senior Member Fonk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul L.
    I have found that switching the long Saturday ride with a before work 80-100 mile ride on Friday does wonders for the marriage.
    80-100 miles BEFORE work?? How early do you have to start to accomplish that?

  20. #20
    littlecircles bmike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fonk
    80-100 miles BEFORE work?? How early do you have to start to accomplish that?

    I've done my 50 mile loop before work. I try to start work 8am - so the few times I've done it I've strarted at 4... I've also flexed my work time - starting at 10 or so after getting a great ride in before. Really changes the day!

  21. #21
    Senior Member Paul L.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fonk
    80-100 miles BEFORE work?? How early do you have to start to accomplish that?

    Usually 4. I have an 84 mile route that I can cover and usually get in before 9:30 (I am supposed to be at work at 9:00 but usually I can swing 9:30 once in awhile as I stay late in the evenings usually.
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  22. #22
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    I'm kind of in the same boat. Through Triathlons I've learned that I swim well, but don't like it, cycle okay and love it, and run horribly and hate it. As such, I'm giving up Tris and moving on to Brevets. I have considered PBP, but quite frankly the logistics are the thing scaring me the most. My wife doesn't ride, so finding places for her to stay, getting my bike there, all that stuff is what has me most reluctant to do it. As for preparation, I've heard that the best way to get yourself into the mindset of a 1200 is to do all the brevets in one week. Wisconsin has one out of Beloit. I figure it makes sense that this would prepare you well.

    I'm actually considering doing the week, but then not doing PBP. Vacation time is at a premium, and blowing three weeks (my whole budet) for cycling, leaving nothing for family visits or vacations would probably not go over well.

  23. #23
    littlecircles bmike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DogBoy
    I'm kind of in the same boat. Through Triathlons I've learned that I swim well, but don't like it, cycle okay and love it, and run horribly and hate it. As such, I'm giving up Tris and moving on to Brevets. I have considered PBP, but quite frankly the logistics are the thing scaring me the most. My wife doesn't ride, so finding places for her to stay, getting my bike there, all that stuff is what has me most reluctant to do it. As for preparation, I've heard that the best way to get yourself into the mindset of a 1200 is to do all the brevets in one week. Wisconsin has one out of Beloit. I figure it makes sense that this would prepare you well.

    I'm actually considering doing the week, but then not doing PBP. Vacation time is at a premium, and blowing three weeks (my whole budet) for cycling, leaving nothing for family visits or vacations would probably not go over well.
    I started looking at PBP as well - would love to do it - but when I balance all the travel, hassel, etc - right now it just doesn't add up. I'd much rather do a more local 1200k. I'm not a tightwad - but cycling costs me enough as it is - and I already have a hard enough time putting my bike on the car to go for a ride - somehow putting it on the plane seems worse...

    I don't know. I'd love the experience - maybe I've got the end of season blues - and next year when the buzz is in the air I'll be excited about it...

    Brevet week sounds incredible - difficult - but also very fulfilling. Not sure if I could handle them all in one week - but it would be a good goal for next year!

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmike
    I started looking at PBP as well - would love to do it - but when I balance all the travel, hassel, etc - right now it just doesn't add up. I'd much rather do a more local 1200k.
    No other brevet has the same atmosphere as PBP. Where else do people along the route give you chocolate, coffee and crepes at 2 am?

    By the way, it doesn't need to take too much time. Fly in Saturday, ride and fly out Saturday has been done by several people. One week out of your life and any jet lag will help you after sunset!

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    Quote Originally Posted by bmike
    I started looking at PBP as well - would love to do it - but when I balance all the travel, hassel, etc - right now it just doesn't add up. I'd much rather do a more local 1200k. I'm not a tightwad - but cycling costs me enough as it is - and I already have a hard enough time putting my bike on the car to go for a ride - somehow putting it on the plane seems worse...
    I was on the fence for a while, too, but in the end, I figured that it only comes once every four years, and I didn't want to wait until 2011 before trying to make a go for it again. I mean, jeez, I'll be 35 by then. That's friggin' ancient!

    (before others chime in ... yes, I know what the average on PBP is)

    When I was explaining the PBP allure to a co-worker, I mentioned how it was the oldest ride that was currently being run, older than the Tour or the Giro or anything else, and he said, "so, as a golfer, it's like if I got a chance to play at St. Andrew's."

    "Yeah ... but not just playing at St. Andrew's, but playing in the British Open. It's a chance to be a part of a historic event."

    That's when the fever really got to me.

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