I've done it! After 30 months of riding audax, I've finally qualified for and entered The Paris-Brest-Paris 2015 in August! 1200km of French fun, woohoo!
PBP is the ride that got me interested in audax back in 2012: I read Dan Farrell's article of his ride in 2003 and decided that sounded like "fun". And on little wheels, too! But I read that in 2012, which meant 2015 was the earliest I would get to ride PBP — this year, in fact — as PBP is held only once every four years.
To qualify you have to ride one of each of a 200km, 300km, 400km and 600km audax ride of a qualifying type (some rides qualify, some don't); this is a called a “Super Randonneur” series, or “SR” (this is my fifth SR in three years, I think). The way this works is these qualifying rides are held early in the season, about six weeks earlier than they would be held in a normal year, so most were in late winter or early spring. To make things a bit more interesting, I helped the organiser, Tom, with the route check and GPS files for all of them, so they were all ridden a couple of weeks earlier again.
For qualification I rode:
- Horsepower 200 in February — quite a nice day out, a bit chilly, bumped up to 320km for fun
- Green & Yellow Fields 300 in March — 150km of horrible headwind, half of that on my own
- Asparagus & Strawberries 400 in April & May (twice) (coming soon) — mix of head and tailwind; dozies
- The Flatlands 600 in May (coming soon) — a tremendous headwind all the way around, except for 16km of blissful tailwind; slept under a hedge
I have been back on the Brompton throughout the winter in training for this — the riding position is a bit different to a full-size bike, so it pays to get the muscle groups used to it. It seems to be odd years on the Brommie, even years on something else. My intention from way back in 2012 has been to ride PBP on the B, especially since I rode LEL on it in 2013, and I'm told that's a bit harder than PBP (it was certainly further at 1400km). I'm told I will be the first Brit to attempt PBP on this iconic British bicycle, although it has been done several times by non-Brits.
Since I rode a 600 last year, I was able to pre-register with PBP. Today the entries opened to all, meaning I could convert my pre-registration into a full-registration, and that's now done!
Only three more things to do:
- Finalise the registration (a paper formality)
- Ride from Cambridge to Paris in two days to sign on (just under 400km, 250mi)
- Ride from Paris, to Brest at the tip of Brittany (613km). And back again (614km). In less than 90 hours (3 days and 18 hours) …
And that's it! I hope to ride back to Cambridge again afterwards, but to be honest I don't know how I'm going to be feeling; and so, since the Brompton folds nicely, I may have to let the train take the strain on the return leg, we'll see. But if I did manage to ride both ways then that would be just over 2000km in 10 days (with almost three rest days).
But for now, that's all: “see you in Paris”, as they say Just got to work on keeping my fitness up until August …