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PBP controls

Old 07-10-19, 08:34 PM
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unterhausen
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PBP controls

One very important aspect of PBP is making it through the controls without wasting any time. That's a little different than spending time there, the controls can be a nice part of the ride. There was an article in the RUSA PBP special edition that I have read many times. I am hoping people will help me add to that information. I'm going to have a post about each control. The only control where I easily found water was at Villaines, so if anyone has any suggestions about that, it would be helpful

I'll add details to the posts later. If I give right/left directions it's relative to the route on the way out.

Signs you will see at controls: Dortir -- sleeping. Douche -- showers. Sortie -- exit. Interdite -- do not enter

Mortagne Au Perche 73 miles into this year's ride. Remember this isn't a control on the way out, and there is nobody to stamp your card. It will be best if you can skip this stop. I wanted to get a sandwich and they were sold out. The cafeteria line was very long. Best if you can just ride past. There is a square before you get there that may have open cafes and stuff for sale. I bought water there in 2011.

The town is at the top of a decent sized hill. On the way out, you immediately hit a fast descent. On the return trip, part of the descent is through town. I was there at 3a.m., so traffic wasn't an issue.


Remember it is a control on the way back, so definitely stop. I slept 3 hours on the cafeteria floor in 2011 on the return trip. Probably should have gotten a cot

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Old 07-10-19, 08:38 PM
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Villaines La Juhel. This town really enjoys having a control There is a street party the whole time. In 2011, the mayor had a mic and was playing master of ceremonies. I think he might have interviewed me.
The card stamping is on the right as you enter. They also had rigged up a way to fill your water bottles. The cafeteria is on the other side of the street. They have schoolkids to carry your tray for you, and my experience was that he will follow you around if you carry your own tray. So let them do it. Plus the eating area is at the bottom a ramp, so having someone carry your tray down that is nice.

This might be a good place to sleep on the return trip. It's a bit more than 200k to the finish. I know that getting to Mortagne from here was a real slog. But I might have gotten to Villaines too early for it to make sense to sleep here.

I think I have my picture right, someone can confirm?
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Old 07-10-19, 08:41 PM
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Fougeres. The card stamping is in the building behind the main bike parking at the top of the hill. There is food available in that building, but if you want to go to the cafeteria, it's the first building you pass on the left on the way in. There is bike parking next to the cafeteria, but ride past it to get your card stamped I remember that you have to climb out of the control in both directions. On the way back, I had a beer, and my legs felt like lead for a while. The lines for food weren't bad here, things had spread out by that time. Apparently the sleeping here is in dorm rooms. It just moved up a notch on my 3rd night sleep stop list. Probably not though, it will be daylight on the way back. I guess some speedy folks make it back to here on the second day. That just seems like failure to fully enjoy the ride.

Somewhere around mile 590, about 10 miles after the Fougeres control on the way back, there is Paul Rouge's crepes tent. All he wants in return is a postcard, but it's fairly evident he doesn't get many. Please send him one. I didn't see it on the way to Brest, not sure he was open then. The address is hidden in this post.
Paul ROGUE
16 rue de Bretagne
La Tannière
53220 Saint-Berthevin-la-Tannière
France
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Old 07-10-19, 08:44 PM
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Tintiniac. This is outside of town. They sell sandwiches from a tent in the parking lot. Card stamping is in a building on your left as you enter. Bathrooms are in a building to the back. They must sometimes have entertainment here, there was a stage set up. I can't imagine sleeping here. In 2011, I saw Jan Heine here. He was really efficient. I'm a bit curious what he ate.

They seem to have built a building since 2011, so I'm not sure about what is where.
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Old 07-10-19, 08:46 PM
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Quedillac. I think this was a secret control in 2011, I'm pretty sure they were stamping cards. I remember the food service was really slow. They were serving some kind of pig in a blanket.

If you are in the 90h group, you will probably see the peloton from the 80h group somewhere after here. It was highly attenuated from the size at the start. Note that you will probably see numerous well-rested groups of riders on the course. There are many organized rides that piggyback on the course. I only saw them on Monday though. The 80h group will look like death warmed over and will have a lead and follow car and probably some motorcycles. Looks like a small race. I got to Loudeac just as it was dusk.

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Old 07-10-19, 08:49 PM
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Loudeac. The obvious place to sleep, so you shouldn't sleep there. There is a courtyard. Showers and cots are to your right. Card stamping and the cafeteria are to the left. Horrible abused bathrooms. There is an overhang on the right where all the drop bags will be. If it rains, your drop bag will probably be wet, so putting your clothes in plastic bags is a good idea. I use large freezer bags. I couldn't find a place to park my bike for the longest time. Hopefully they fix that somehow. I suppose I was fully in the bulge at this point
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Old 07-10-19, 08:50 PM
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Saint Nicholas de Pulem. food and sleep stop only. Not sure how the lines are here, I decided my cleats couldn't take walking across the muddy yard to get food. I think a lot of people sleep here now. I just rode through and got back on the course. I call this the Apocalypse Now control because the food is in a big tent. And it was pouring rain when I got there.

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Old 07-10-19, 08:54 PM
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Carhaix. I hear that all the smart people sleep here on the way out. I am not sure I will be able to make it this far. You go through a weird gate which apparently has been the scene of some crashes in years past. Visibility is poor, so watch out for opposing traffic. Card stamping is at the far end of the building, cafeteria is closer to the entrance. I slept 2 hours on the cafeteria floor on the way out. Probably should have just kept my cot in Loudeac longer. I remember having trouble finding water here and risked being strangled by breaking into the bathroom line.

I think the sleeping might be the building on the lower right hand side of my picture.
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Old 07-10-19, 08:57 PM
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Sezun. Not official, but it's a great place to stop. In 2011, they had a tent in the square with bottled water. There is a small grocery and a cafe on the right. Other food on the side street off to the left.

That structure that sticks out into the road is supposed to be a copy of the arc de triomphe. Okay, if you say so.

On the way back , I sat outside the cafe and got coffee. A rider rode up and ordered a chicken fried steak, and she got her food before I got my coffee. Not saying this is always the way it works, but most of the cafes recognize you are a bit time crunched.

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Old 07-10-19, 08:59 PM
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Brest. Traffic. The first taste of traffic is when the route goes through the harbor. Felt a lot like home, and not in a particularly good way. Then climb a hill to the control. Bike parking is on the right, everything else is across the driveway in a big building. Apparently there is a cafeteria in a different building. I remember walking a long way to the bathroom. You leave the control on the same road in the opposite direction and go through a business district. Lots of traffic again, but it probably calls for some aggressive urban riding if you don't want to be stuck in traffic for a long time.

This control is somewhat complex and my memories are faded, so i didn't annotate the picture. Bike parking was in a big open building
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Old 07-10-19, 09:00 PM
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There is a secret control after Loudeac on the return trip. I'm not sure where it is exactly.

You stop at all the controls again on the way back. Don't forget Mortagne is a control. Card stamping is at the entrance to the cafeteria. Cots and showers are also in there.
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Old 07-10-19, 09:03 PM
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Dreux. Card stamping on the way into the food. Probably just will be interested in food here unless you just can't make it the last 50km without a nap.

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Old 07-11-19, 09:48 AM
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This is great info, thanks for posting. Wasting time at controls is my biggest time suck on rides and while it's never been a cause for a DNF I am going to have to keep an eye on it in France.
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Old 07-11-19, 11:12 AM
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thanks. If anyone has any words of wisdom about where to get water, I'm sure that would help a lot of us. I have heard that there is almost always a source of water in a town square, and it will say if it's non potable. Cemeteries too, but I'm not sure if it will say if it's potable there. The French word for potable is potable. If the weather remains hot, this might be the most important supply. The one thing I noted was that the people serving food beside the road are probably not going to have water. The first day, people beside the road will be offering water, but nothing after that. I made a couple of people mad because I asked for water, but I was desperate. I have PA randonneur pins to give to those people this time

I'm pretty sure the two secret controls will have a sign that says they are a control. I know Saint Nick didn't have such a sign, just food, sleep and showers.

I am going to have to find a way to keep track of control closing times on my phone or just print it out. Having relative times like on the control card is just too hard to keep track of. Although maybe they will do it differently now they enforce starting times. They did not try in 2011, and I have no idea when I started.

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Old 07-11-19, 01:47 PM
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I started looking at the route with the OSM cycle layer selected on RWGPS and have found 1 water tap icon in some park and a public washroom so far, but I haven't looked at a lot yet.

I found this app, free taps that is a French based app and hopefully it has more places marked than appeared on OSM. I'll poke around with it and see what shows up.

edit: the app didn't show much along the route, except for some in Brest but I didn't look to see how far off-route they were, so it's pretty much useless. Apparently there are a lot of fountains in Paris

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Old 07-11-19, 01:53 PM
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Originally Posted by clasher View Post
Wasting time at controls is my biggest time suck on rides and while it's never been a cause for a DNF I am going to have to keep an eye on it in France.
Same here, and the time it takes to get through these in France is a little worrying. I'm in the 84 hour group so hopefully it won't be quite as packed.



I see people mention food being available at roadside stands quite a bit. How reliable is that, if you wanted to reduce times at controls by using the roadside options instead?
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Old 07-11-19, 01:55 PM
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I was wondering if searching for water on google maps would work. It works for patisserie and boulangerie

I suggest trying to buy food at cafes and such before controls. That way you know if you need to stand in line at the control. But stop at any open patisserie, that's the best part of PBP
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Old 07-11-19, 02:13 PM
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What does the OSM icon for water look like? The OSM maps look more useful than the OSM cycling maps. I saw some fountain icons, but nothing that looked like a tap or a water fountain.
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Old 07-11-19, 04:26 PM
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On the OSM cycle map it's a blue square with a tap in it. In the regular OSM it's a brown tap with a cup under it. There's one of these in Mortange-au-Perche around 116km mark in what looks like a park. I didn't see many others and gave up looking not long after that...
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Old 07-11-19, 08:07 PM
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Thanks for the detail of each control. I haven't fully studied the route yet, but this is something I'll definitely keep in mind when I start setting up my custom cue sheet.

Speaking of water, do they sell mineral water in France? E.g. at petrol stations and 24hr convenience stores? Would be a handy fallback if no other source of water is nearby...
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Old 07-11-19, 08:27 PM
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Petrol stations and 24hr convenience stores are in short supply, at least in this part of France. I didn't see any in 2011. I'm sure there are some stores that would be useful, but finding them on course is tricky. It's best if you can stock up when you find something. You ride on roads with stores on them in some of the control towns. Might be worth mapping out potential stops now.
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Old 07-12-19, 06:57 AM
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I've looked at grocery stores on the route a few times, never seen any that were 24/7 like we have here. Most of the grocery store chains have bigger stores on the edge of town that seem open until 1900 or 2000 most nights. McDonalds might be a good place to stop and get water, there is a 24h one in Fougères on the west side of town. Back in '04 when I was in France the food at McD's was a lot better than the Canadian version, think they sell wine and beer too. Some of the big gorcery store chains are Carrefour, Aldi, Lidl, E. Leclerc, Super U et drive, Intermarché; ones I've seen along the route or close to it. There seems to be some little grocery stores along the way too but it's not always obvious what is actually convenience store and what isn't, streetview helps with that. One chain of convenience stores is called "8 à Huit" and they're open 8-20h usually. Another chain is "Coccimarket" but they seem smaller. If you stop for a meal at a bistro you can always order a "carafe d'eau, s'il vous plait" and use that to fill your bottles.

For me doing the 90h start I am gonna hope that it's a cooler night and that I don't need to drink a lot of water... will stop at any roadside coffee tables or open cafes though and inquire about water when I do... most people have drinkable tap water in France nowadays so if you're worried about that just learn how to ask for it. A lot of people still only drink bottled water and sparkling water is more popular so people there might not think to offer since they don't normally drink it.

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Old 07-12-19, 09:11 AM
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In 2011, it was pretty hot at the start and I drank a whole bottle of water before I even started. But I stopped and got water from one of the spectators. I was out of water by Mortagne. I have been riding with 4 bottles this year, so I will have them full at the start, or at least 3 of them. This year, it shouldn't be as bad, 2011 was the last giant gaggle before the start. Now you start with your group.

The article in the RUSA magazine mentions pastries at the controls. I don't remember any. Have to look for them I guess. One of the things people eat is a bowl of cider. Apparently it contains alcohol if that's important to you. Another thing about the control food, it's pretty bland. I thought it was really good. They all seemed to serve pretty much the same food, but you might want to look for local exceptions. I liked the jambon et fromage baguettes, but after 3-4 of them the hard bread had damaged the roof of my mouth. I had a baguette Americain at the cafe in Sezun. That was nice. It had eggs, lettuce and tomatoes in addition to the jambon and fromage.

I wanted to stop at the McDonalds in Loudeac, but apparently it moved to the other side of town, off the course. That's a bummer.

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Old 07-12-19, 01:58 PM
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Alcoholic cider used to give me terrible hangovers but that might have been due to the quantity I used to consume.
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Old 07-12-19, 02:55 PM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
...I liked the jambon et fromage baguettes, but after 3-4 of them the hard bread had damaged the roof of my mouth.
I always turn the baguettes upside-down so that the "smooth" bottom side is against the roof of my mouth and the buzz-saw-sharp top side is against my tongue. That really helps avoid the damage to the roof of the mouth. It's also helpful to take sips of water to soften it.

On the way back, after Loudeac, my food consumption consisted of jambon et fromage baguettes, many candy bars, a sausage at Quedillac, a crepe at the crepe place, some dessert that one of the towns was providing for free, and some dessert and yogurt at Dreux. Basically those baguettes are the only thing you can get fast at controls. Everything else means a long wait in line. And then often a long walk to an empty table. And then it's food that has to be eaten at a table instead of on a bike. Buying only food that I could eat on the bike probably saved four hours and thereby saved my ride. One other key: If at all possible, use the woods for bathroom breaks. Otherwise you can easily spend fifteen minutes in line for the bathroom.
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