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  1. #1
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    drop bag service or not on PBP?

    In a previous post I asked about rando luggage. It dawns on me that a lot depends on how one is planning to ride PBP. And whether or not one will use a drop bag service.
    At this point I am not interested in the 'spirit' of PBP, I am not into re-enactments, Civil War or any other type. I just want to finish my first PBP in under 84h.
    Non-riding time can take up a considerable portion of PBP. Being self-supported may allow more freedom in choosing sleep stops and eliminates the need to find the bag drop and return it. (I understand one need not sleep at a bag drop station.)
    Two or three basic cycling kits, some toilet articles, chamois cream, a sleeping bag liner, an inflatable pillow, and some food may be all that I would put into the drop bag. Foul weather clothing would be with me
    If I eliminate the bag drop service my luggage volume requirements go up a bit, but it seems to me not by much. And I get more flexibility.
    For those who have done PBP, or a 1200k whose logistics are similar, what are your thoughts on drop bag service vs more self supported?

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    Randomhead
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    I can't see doing it without a drop bag at Loudiac. Well, I can, but it would be unpleasant. The spirit of PBP includes local clubs renting campers so their riders can avoid the dorms and cafeterias, the Europeans and particularly the French go whole-hog on individual support. You will see riders on PBP that look like they are on a tour, that's often because they rode halfway across Europe to get there and brought everything with them on the ride. Most people are much better supported than that, at least a drop bag or bags.

    The main thing I would pack if I was to go without a drop bag is 4 pairs of bibs. I like to have spares. Not sure what else you really need.
    Randonneuring -- it's touring for people that aren't smart enough to stop for the night.
    It's a wonderful sport when you can make up for a lack of ability with a lack of sleep

  3. #3
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    ...not sure what else you really need...

    Shower gel, wash mitt, camp towel, sandals, toilet paper, ibuprofen, salt sticks, zip ties, chain lube, Starbuck's VIA paks, seatpost collar, tire boots, earplugs, shades, safety pins, etc.
    But none of this stuff really takes up too much room or weight. Thus maybe no need for a bag drop(s).
    Is a bag drop worth the $$ and hassle, compared to the flexibility of being a bit more self supported.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by 9606 View Post
    ...not sure what else you really need...

    Shower gel, wash mitt, camp towel, sandals, toilet paper, ibuprofen, salt sticks, zip ties, chain lube, Starbuck's VIA paks, seatpost collar, tire boots, earplugs, shades, safety pins, etc.
    But none of this stuff really takes up too much room or weight. Thus maybe no need for a bag drop(s).
    Is a bag drop worth the $$ and hassle, compared to the flexibility of being a bit more self supported.
    Have you ridden a 400km in "PBP weather" (i.e. temperature range from high 30's to high 80's with and without rain)? If so, make a pile of everything you took. Next, take the food and consumables and add two more piles of the same so that you have enough for 1200km (don't forget you'll need triple the chamois butter, triple the sunstuff, batteries, etc). If you have "normal size" tires then you may be able to risk carrying only two tubes, figuring you can get spares at controls; but if you use 650B or other unusual sizes then you probably want to double the number of tubes you usually carry. If you usually don't carry a spare tire, you might want to consider carrying one if you have no drop bags. Next, make a pile of the spare clothes that you'll need to carry. For me, that would be three pairs of shorts, three pairs of socks, and three pairs of gloves. I wore the same wool short-sleeve jersey through the final three days of PBP, both times I've ridden it, so one jersey is enough for me.

    When I make a "virtual pile" of all that stuff (in my gear-weight spreadsheet) then it adds over ten pounds, plus a great deal of bulky stuff that has to be carried somehow. The "somehow" might involve panniers on a low-rider front rack, which of course adds another couple of pounds.

    For me, the small cost of a drop bag is worth it to avoid the extra weight. And I don't see how it reduces flexibility to have a drop bag at Loudeac. Basically, you get there at the end of the first day of riding and recharge for what you need to ride to Brest and back. Then when you get to Loudeac again, you recharge for what you need to get to the end. The biggest time-waste was standing in line for a bathroom so I could change into my clean shorts. I guess if you carried everything, you'd just change in the woods and save a little time.

    Nick

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    Randomhead
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    I didn't find a bathroom the whole ride where the floor was dry enough to change shorts without gymnastics, particularly at loudiac. I guess that's why people get hotel rooms. There is a school of thought that you want to ride past loudiac on the first day, so I've thought about the issue of riding past my bag. I came to the conclusion that a pair of shorts, socks, and maybe gloves would be easy enough to carry if I did that. Alternatively, showering and changing at loudiac and continuing on is an option as well. In 2011, I had severe shorts related issues on the first day, so the shower and rest at loudiac was a ride-saver for me. I changed shorts there and they worked a lot better than the ones I started in, so I just wore them the remaining 3 days. Turns out that just because a pair of shorts works well on a 200k doesn't mean they are going to work over 400k. Took me a couple more problematic rides before I started carrying a spare pair of shorts.

    As Nick says, the $35 I spent on the drop bag really is nothing in comparison to the freedom it gave me. Sleeping in clean clothes is really nice
    Randonneuring -- it's touring for people that aren't smart enough to stop for the night.
    It's a wonderful sport when you can make up for a lack of ability with a lack of sleep

  6. #6
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    Ok, at the risk of microplanning a ride a year away, can one find a shower shortly after Loudiac (going out) and shortly after Loudiac coming back?
    Then one can grab new kit at Loudiac from drop bag, carry it past Loudiac to a less crowded shower, and do the same on the way back.
    Does PBP publish an accurate listing of controls and what services/facilities are available at each? Has RUSA translated it into English and published it on the RUSA website? I looked and found nothing from 2011.

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    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 9606 View Post
    ...not sure what else you really need...

    Shower gel, wash mitt, camp towel, sandals, toilet paper, ibuprofen, salt sticks, zip ties, chain lube, Starbuck's VIA paks, seatpost collar, tire boots, earplugs, shades, safety pins, etc.
    But none of this stuff really takes up too much room or weight. Thus maybe no need for a bag drop(s).
    Is a bag drop worth the $$ and hassle, compared to the flexibility of being a bit more self supported.
    Are you serious about those items? I've done four 1200K randonnees and it has never occurred to me to bring most of that ... and people tell me I pack heavy!! What's a "Starbuck's VIA paks"?

    I rode my first PBP (the one I completed) with no bag drops, and I was so glad I went that route when I watched people digging through massive piles of luggage looking for theirs ... while I did things like eating and sleeping.

    As for a few little details ... I changed my shorts at Brest (halfway) and I don't think I showered at any point along the way. I sort of recall there might have been showers at Loudeac, but the wait was too long for me. I did bring a towel with me, but only used it for warmth ... I stuffed it down my jersey on cold mornings.
    Charlene's European Adventure

    For me, the 1200Ks came down to survival ... ride, ride, ride, eat, ride, eat, sleep, ride, ride, ride, and repeat.

    As for what's available at the controls ... there's food (usually something basic and bland and delicious like mashed potatoes), tea & coffee (go for the coffee), a collection of well-used toilets, and racks where you can lean your bicycle. Most have some place where you can catch a nap as well ... cardboard on the floor or a grassy area outside. And there might be small mechanics and medic areas. What more do you want?


    What is the longest ride you've done so far? Have you done a 1200K?

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    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    I sort of recall there might have been showers at Loudeac, but the wait was too long for me.
    I was just thinking about those showers ...

    Someone told me later that there were indoor showers somewhere, but it was the middle of the night when I arrived there, and I was tired, and all I saw were the outdoor showers ... as I recall, there was a wall with a few shower heads sticking out and there were a couple garden hoses, and a group of brave souls were having quick washes in the cold water on a cold night. It didn't appeal to me.

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    there is a big sign that has the french word for shower (censored on this site due to abuse) and an arrow. You can't miss it. Its off of a courtyard on the same side as the dorms. Cost 3 euro for a shower and a clean towel. No waiting when I got there. That was the only shower I took. Showers aren't strictly required, but the first night shower was a good investment of 30 minutes for me.

    I felt sorry for the groups that were required to use identical drop bags, hopefully we don't have to do that this year. I use a bag that can't be mistaken for anyone elses bag, so it was easy to point it out to the person guarding them even though he was 3/4 of the way asleep at the time.

    Quote Originally Posted by 9606 View Post
    Ok, at the risk of microplanning a ride a year away, can one find a shower shortly after Loudiac (going out) and shortly after Loudiac coming back?
    Then one can grab new kit at Loudiac from drop bag, carry it past Loudiac to a less crowded shower, and do the same on the way back.
    Does PBP publish an accurate listing of controls and what services/facilities are available at each? Has RUSA translated it into English and published it on the RUSA website? I looked and found nothing from 2011.
    The newsletter RUSA published before PBP in 2011 was really good. There is an article that details each controle pretty well. There is also a http://www.rusa.org/pbp.html

    This is what I look at when I want to remember the controles: http://www.randonneurs.bc.ca/pbp/route/controls.html

    In 2011, ACP put in a non-controle controle at Saint-Nicholas-du-Pelem, AKA the Apocalypse Now Controle. It is 33 km past Loudiac, so perfect for that sort of thing. It's there so they can take pressure off of Loudiac. On the return trip, there really isn't a great place to stop after Loudiac, it is 55 km to Tintiniac, which didn't seem like a great place to stop to me. Depends on when you get there. The ride between Carhaix and Loudiac took me a while, I was ready to stop.

    There is a place just before loudiac on the way back where one of the bar owners running a tent by the road will let you sleep in his bar. In fact, there are probably plenty of those. I didn't do it because I could never figure out the controle closing times and I wanted to get to loudiac before I slept. If my French was a little more serviceable, it would have been more useful in situations like that
    Last edited by unterhausen; 07-22-14 at 08:48 PM.

  10. #10
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
    there is a big sign that has the french word for shower (censored on this site due to abuse) and an arrow. You can't miss it. Its off of a courtyard on the same side as the dorms. Cost 3 euro for a shower and a clean towel. No waiting when I got there.
    In 2003, there was the building with the food and the building with the sleeping area. Along one wall of the building with the sleeping area, on the outside, were a row of toilets, and adjacent to them was the collection of outdoor showers and hoses. I suspect the hoses were actually meant to hose out the toilets. And everything in that whole area was wet.

    If there were a sign, either I didn't see it (middle of the night, pitch black, and dead tired) or I saw it, but assumed it was pointing to the outdoor showers and hoses, and I didn't bother investigating further.

    And in front of the sleeping area, was a mountain of drop bags. When I was there, I didn't see anyone around guarding them. There were just people climbing in and through them all digging for their bag. But maybe the guard was helping someone look.

    Of course, things have probably changed over the years.

  11. #11
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Another thing is that a lot depends when you arrive at the controls. In the beginning, I was arriving at controls with a large group of other people. There were line-ups everywhere. Line-ups for the toilets, line-ups for coffee, line-ups for food, line-ups to sleep ...

    But by about the halfway point, I had dropped far enough back that there weren't so many line-ups anymore. I was almost alone for a moment or two at Brest.

    If 9606 is planning to go with the 84 hour group, he might not have as many line-ups, especially if he sticks to the front of that group.

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    84 hour group doesn't have lines until they catch up with the 90 hour group, but by then the crowd has thinned out quite a bit. I probably will try the 84 hour start. After the 1200k's I've done since PBP, it doesn't look as hard as it did the first time

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    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 9606 View Post
    In a previous post I asked about rando luggage. It dawns on me that a lot depends on how one is planning to ride PBP. And whether or not one will use a drop bag service.
    At this point I am not interested in the 'spirit' of PBP, I am not into re-enactments, Civil War or any other type. I just want to finish my first PBP in under 84h.
    Non-riding time can take up a considerable portion of PBP. Being self-supported may allow more freedom in choosing sleep stops and eliminates the need to find the bag drop and return it. (I understand one need not sleep at a bag drop station.)
    Two or three basic cycling kits, some toilet articles, chamois cream, a sleeping bag liner, an inflatable pillow, and some food may be all that I would put into the drop bag. Foul weather clothing would be with me
    If I eliminate the bag drop service my luggage volume requirements go up a bit, but it seems to me not by much. And I get more flexibility.
    For those who have done PBP, or a 1200k whose logistics are similar, what are your thoughts on drop bag service vs more self supported?
    Just curious ... have you started randonneuring yet? I ask because I almost get the impression you think the 1200K is a tour. I also ask because a lot of these details will sort themselves out as you get into the longer distances.

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    Machka - you make randonneuring sound like so much fun, and the community so patient and welcoming.
    Thank you for your valuable input.

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    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 9606 View Post
    Machka - you make randonneuring sound like so much fun, and the community so patient and welcoming.
    Thank you for your valuable input.
    It is fun ... and the community is great ... but randonneuring is also a lot of work.

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    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
    If my French was a little more serviceable, it would have been more useful in situations like that
    That's a good point as well ... it is helpful to know some French. I recommend taking a Conversational French class or something similar if possible.

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    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 9606 View Post
    Machka - you make randonneuring sound like so much fun, and the community so patient and welcoming.
    Thank you for your valuable input.
    I just bumped a couple other PBP 2015 threads ... they might contain some useful information for you too.

  18. #18
    Senior Member The Octopus's Avatar
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    In my experience, you'll be faster, if that's your thing, the *less* self-supported you are. A drop bag in Loudeac is your friend, especially for the 84h riders (done that twice).

    Showers in Loudeac were manageable and a great investment of minimal time. There are benches in the men's room for keeping your crap off the wet floor when changing....

  19. #19
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thebulls View Post
    Have you ridden a 400km in "PBP weather" (i.e. temperature range from high 30's to high 80's with and without rain)? If so, make a pile of everything you took. Next, take the food and consumables and add two more piles of the same so that you have enough for 1200km (don't forget you'll need triple the chamois butter, triple the sunstuff, batteries, etc). If you have "normal size" tires then you may be able to risk carrying only two tubes, figuring you can get spares at controls; but if you use 650B or other unusual sizes then you probably want to double the number of tubes you usually carry. If you usually don't carry a spare tire, you might want to consider carrying one if you have no drop bags. Next, make a pile of the spare clothes that you'll need to carry. For me, that would be three pairs of shorts, three pairs of socks, and three pairs of gloves. I wore the same wool short-sleeve jersey through the final three days of PBP, both times I've ridden it, so one jersey is enough for me.

    When I make a "virtual pile" of all that stuff (in my gear-weight spreadsheet) then it adds over ten pounds, plus a great deal of bulky stuff that has to be carried somehow. The "somehow" might involve panniers on a low-rider front rack, which of course adds another couple of pounds.

    For me, the small cost of a drop bag is worth it to avoid the extra weight. And I don't see how it reduces flexibility to have a drop bag at Loudeac. Basically, you get there at the end of the first day of riding and recharge for what you need to ride to Brest and back. Then when you get to Loudeac again, you recharge for what you need to get to the end. The biggest time-waste was standing in line for a bathroom so I could change into my clean shorts. I guess if you carried everything, you'd just change in the woods and save a little time.

    Nick
    On the 2003 PBP, I brought/wore 2 pair of shorts, 1 sleeveless jersey, 1 short-sleeved jersey, 1 pair of leg warmers, 1 pair of armwarmers, 1 pair of socks (I might have had 2 pair, but I don't recall), 1 sports bra, mini-gloves, headband, 1 pair of short-fingered cycling gloves, helmet, shoes, a nice vest, and a rather bad rain jacket. I might have had booties as well, but I don't recall those. And, of course, my reflective vest.

    I was able to carry all that in a trunk bag ... or wear it. There were fairly long periods, especially during the nights, where I was wearing everything but the second pair of shorts.

    Prior to the 2003 PBP it was desperately hot and they were predicting desperately hot through the whole thing, but it actually cooled down quite a bit, especially during the nights.

    If I were to do it again in those conditions, I would make the following changes:

    -- leave the arm warmers at home
    -- replace the sleeveless jersey with a long-sleeved merino
    -- bring a really good rain jacket


    I also only brought food enough to cover me for the first 140 km, through the first night. After that, on the 2003 PBP, I found food quite easy to aquire.

    As for tools, sunscreen, painkillers, etc. what I carried on any of my 400Ks was the same as what I carried on my 1200Ks. I rode everything 400K and up with basically the same setup.


    All that said, the 2007 PBP was a whole different story from the 2003 PBP ... so who knows what the 2015 one will be like.

  20. #20
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 9606 View Post
    At this point I am not interested in the 'spirit' of PBP, I am not into re-enactments, Civil War or any other type.
    Quote Originally Posted by 9606 View Post
    Shower gel, wash mitt ... sandals, toilet paper ... salt sticks ... Starbuck's VIA paks ... safety pins, etc.
    BTW - I looked up Starbuck's VIA paks, since you didn't answer my question about them, and from what I can tell, they are flavoured instant coffee.

    So then it dawned on me ... you've been talking "tongue-in-cheek" with a bit of creative embellishment to add humour to your post.


    That's good ... it is essential to have a sense of humour on a 1200K.

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    about halfway through PBP, I realized my habit of drinking coffee black was really stupid because sugar and cream will actually help you pedal. The French make pretty good coffee, no reason to bring Via packs.

    I mentioned the Pre-PBP 2011 Special Issue of the RUSA newsletter in one of my previous posts. You can still get it from the RUSA store, it's worth the seven dollars.

  22. #22
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
    about halfway through PBP, I realized my habit of drinking coffee black was really stupid because sugar and cream will actually help you pedal. The French make pretty good coffee, no reason to bring Via packs.
    I had been drinking sweet tea on my randonnees prior to the PBP. When I got there, I discovered that they don't do tea really well, but they do a nice coffee.

    I fondly remember all the little roadside stands through the middle of the night, where people who lived along the route were serving coffee and a few little sweet things to eat (squares, cookies, etc.) ... so appreciated! The secret controls served up good coffee too.

    I'm also a black coffee drinker (I'm very unusual, here in Australia, where no one drinks coffee black), but on long rides, I add quite a lot of sugar.

    Just about that whole event, I drank sweet black coffee and Orangina.

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