... are they mad?
Bob is off to France on Friday to register for Paris – Brest – Paris.
This is the most prestigious and evocative of the long-distance randonée events. 6000 riders, from all over the world, will leave Paris on the evening of Sunday 16 August. They have 90 hours to complete the 1230 km (764 miles) to Brest and back. PBP is held just once every 4 years.
There is emphasis on self-sufficiency. Riders buy supplies anywhere along the course, but support by motorized vehicles is prohibited except at checkpoints. There is a 90-hour limit and the clock runs continuously. Each control has a definite closing time. Many riders sleep as little as possible, sometimes catching a few minutes beside the road before continuing.
Participants must first qualify by completing a series of events within the same calendar year as PBP. A series consists of 200 km, 300 km, 400 km and 600 km.
Where early PBPs from 1891 on were races for a few professionals to demonstrate the bicycle's potential for long distance travel, today the focus is on the ordinary rider. PBP continues to attract competitive riders. Despite insistence that it isn't a race, PBP offers trophies and prestige to the first finishers. They will make it back in 42 – 44 hours, whilst others will struggle to beat the rigid cut-off at 90 hours.
You can track the Brighton Excel riders on http://suivi.paris-brest-paris.org/ Bob Harber is number T041, Simon Maddison, our Australian member is C244.
Targets? Bob’s is 86 hours, aiming for better than he achieved in 2003 or 2007, even though it is 8 years since he last rode the event. Simon has been training hard with a sub-60 hour in mind.