This article is from the Misc Bicycles FAQs, by various authors.
I discovered randonneuring in 1986, and trained for the 1987 PBP. I
did not complete the ride due to mechanical failures, weather and
failure in my spirit and desire to go on. I returned and completed the
first Boston-Montreal-Boston in 1988. I had hoped this accomplishment
would quench my desire to return to Paris, but it did not; I spent the
next three years getting ready. Prior to going to France for the 1991
event, I was starting to grow weary of long distance rides. I planned
to go back to a normal life after the ride. But, I returned from
France last fall after successfully completing the ride, with a
renewed enthusiasm for long distance riding. I was already planning
to return to Paris in 1995. But other challenges would become
attractive well before 1995. This is a very addictive activity!
Steve and I had been on many of the same rides together for a couple
of years. We had talked at the airport and on the bus ride to our
hotel in Paris, but it wasn't until he told me how awful I looked 1000
kilometers into PBP that he made a lasting impression. One day, I
innocently asked Steve if he would like to try riding my tandem. He
was hooked immediately and before I knew it we had decided to try to
do BMB on the tandem.
We had a few obstacles to overcome. One is living in the northeast,
and the other is living 2 states apart. Steve lives in Bangor, Maine
while I reside in suburban Boston. Any two people can ride a tandem
once, but to do long rides week after week takes patience and work.
Really good tandem teams are successful because they spend a lot of
time together on the bike. Climbing takes coordination and cooperation
and practice. The more time the team spends together, the more in sync
they become and the more efficient they will be on climbs. We have
watched our climbing ability improve significantly over the past 8
months, despite only riding together on weekends. Of course we rarely
do a ride of less than 100 miles!
We did a few tandem rides in the fall, but really started our serious
training on January 1, what better day? We rode our first century of
the year, our first century on the tandem, and our first century in
preparation for BMB on New Year's Day. We were joined by 3 other
riders and enjoyed beautiful but atypical New England weather.
During the week, we rode on our trainers or commuted to work. I used
my mountain bike with knobby tires to forge through obstacles layed
out by the New England winter. I learned a great deal more about cold
weather clothing than I ever intended to. I hated riding past the
temperature sign at the bank that quite often taunted my efforts with
single digits. As Spring tried to force it's way in, I began to need
less and less arctic wear, but it was a cold rainy spring, and at
times, it was difficult. After the sand was finally swept from the
streets, I exchanged the knobby tires for slicks, but added more
weight to the panniers to continue getting a good workout. Sometimes
I would pack the panniers with canned fruit and vegetables from the
cupboard to add extra weight. Occasionly for an ego boost, I would
ride an unencumbered road bike.
We planned to do at least one century every month throughout the
year. The rides in February and March proved a little more difficult
thanks to snow, ice and cold, but we survived.
Our first back to back centuries came Easter weekend, when we
travelled to the Berkshires to ride with our friends Rose and Andrew.
Unfortunately, the weather was still designed for more skiers than
cyclists, but being stubborn, and since we didn't have our skies with
us, we rode on the cold snowy roads anyway. We kept telling ourselves
that by riding in miserable weather, the rides in the summer would
seem almost perfect, no matter how bad they were.
Our qualifiers also proved to be a challenge to our rain gear more
than our legs, as each ride started in downpours, but fortunately
ended in sunshine. We did the Assault on Mt. Mitchell (the day after
doing our version of the Retreat from Mt. Mitchell) We did several
multiday, 100+ mile tours in May. The mile markers fell rapidly and
our confidence for finishing BMB in August increased.
Tragedy struck in June 6, when we lost two dear friends to drunk
drivers during a 24-hour race in New York state. Al Lester and Andrew
Spiller were both very experienced ultra-marathon cyclists. They had
each thrilled in the accomplishment of completing PBP and BMB. They
both lost their lives doing something they loved, riding their bikes.
Both Al's and Andrew's families encouraged us all to keep riding and
keep thier loved ones in our hearts. I think they really understood
the attraction of cycling quite well.