Starting July 2, Dan Schreck and I will be riding a randonnee called Paris-Brest-Paris Audax. The premise of the ride is that participants have 90 hours to cycle from Paris to Brest and back, a distance of 1200km (750 miles). The clock runs from the gun until you return, so time spent stopped (sleeping, eating, dealing with repairs) counts against you.
The Paris-Brest-Paris that I have done three times before (2007, 2011, and 2015) is called Paris-Brest-Paris Randonneur. In PBP-Randonneur, you are permitted to ride at any pace you want, so long as you make the cut-off times for each of the checkpoints and the 90-hour overall time limit for the ride. Paris-Brest-Paris Audax, in contrast, follows the same basic format but also requires riders to stay together as a group, riding at a common 22.5km/hr pace that is dictated by the Route Captain. Passing the Route Captain or becoming separated from the group results in disqualification. The common, fixed pace makes for a communal, shared experience that is unique: Riders will cycle, rest, dine, and ultimately finish together, after more than three days on the road. The experience is a rare one, too: PBP-Audax is only held every 5 years; the next one is in 2021, which will be the event’s 90th anniversary.
The ride starts on Saturday at 10pm local time in a small town called Montlhéry, about 20 miles south of Paris. (France is six hours ahead of Eastern Daylight Time, so we are starting Saturday at 4pm EDT.) The first day we’ll ride 450km to Saint-Brieuc, which is in Brittany on the English Channel. We’ll arrive there at about 10pm Sunday, after riding for 24 hours (through the night, and all day Sunday). We’ll have dinner, sleep, and then get up Monday morning and ride to Brest and back to Saint-Brieuc (760km), where we’ll rest again. Tuesday morning we’ll leave Saint-Brieuc for Belleme (1050km), where again we’ll rest. Wednesday morning we’ll depart Belleme at 3:00am to cycle the remaining 165km to Montlhéry in time for a celebratory lunch.
The route is completely different than PBP-Randonneur, staying mostly to the North of the modern PBP route. Other than Brest, it passes through none of PBP’s familiar control towns. The westernmost part of the route — between Sizun, Brest and Landernau — is similar, but we only do Le Roc once, from the “easy” side. The elevation profile is very similar: Open Runner clocks it at just north of 30,000 feet of climbing.
The Audax format results in less than 13 hours of night riding and just over 20 hours at the overnight controls, all of which are at hotels where we will have shared rooms. Each “day” also includes a sit-down, multi-course lunch. We will also have a police escort, controlling each of the intersections that the ride passes through.
There are two ways to follow the progress of the ride. You can find me on Twitter at: @OctopusCycling (https://twitter.com/
OctopusCycling?lang=en) , where I’ll post photos and updates along the route.
I’ll also be carrying a SPOT GPS Tracker, which I will turn on at the ride start. The SPOT updates about every 15 minutes, so it will show my (nearly) real-time location along the route. You can follow the GPS track here: http://share.findmespot.
com/shared/faces/viewspots. jsp?glId= 0bpNDBNt708B3MZaMm6Wav0vA5lthE 6n2