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9.5.5 Paris-Brest-Paris Part 5


This article is from the Misc Bicycles FAQs, by various authors.

9.5.5 Paris-Brest-Paris Part 5

The next morning, I rode into Tintineac, and had my only solid food of
the ride. The soup smelled so good that I had soup and a velo sandwich
- ham and egg I think. We headed back to the car for fresh supplies. 4
of the 5 riders had come into the checkpoint roughly at the same time.
We all decided it was a good time to brush our teeth. It was almost a
sensual experience. Our crew shaved while we were cleaning up. I've
heard a lot of the French riders shave every morning, but then they
also drink a lot of beer and smoke cigarettes along the way! We took
pictures of our impromptu beside the road hygiene efforts. We also
sang happy birthday to Dave, who turned 32 that day, as off key and
offbeat as possible. And then we headed out. I found myself adopted
by Bernard on this segment. Bernard had picked up Frederick, a very
young rider, earlier in the morning as his companion, and was now
adding me to the fold. Bernard spoke a little English and I know a
few words of French, but we had a great time. I had remembered this
section as being easy on the way out, but that was adrenaline. This
was up and down. We rode almost all the way into Fougeres together,
but I stopped at the castle to take pictures. There in the middle of
town was this incredible castle complete with a moat. Dave and Gray
took a little tour of it after we left. I'm looking forward to seeing
the pictures and maybe going back there someday myself.

We got back together at the checkpoint and took pictures. He made sure
to get one with me and Dave, so his wife wouldn't get jealous. We saw
each other a few more times along the way, including at the finish line.

Carl rolled in soon afterwards and we decided to ride into Villaines
La Juhel together. This segment was constant up and down, but also was
the best because of the little kids. Every kilometer or so we would
come upon a group with cold water, sugar cubes, fruit, and cheers.
They loved doing handoffs and running along beside us, or just
slapping our hands. It was the highpoint of the ride, although I
worried I would knock one over when I slapped his hand. This was one
of those little things that works on you mentally and really made me

There were also large crowds in Villaines La Juhel, who cheered
everytime a rider or group came in. It was like being at the finish,
except there were more km ahead. I stopped at Red Cross this time,
because my throat was getting sore most likely from talking too much,
but I felt so bad from the ride, I was concerned. They gave me some
lozengers and I headed out. Carl, Matt, Al and I rode the next segment
together as it got dark and very cold. The wind beat us constantly.
The trees loomed overhead and looked like giant monsters from a
distance. I was happy to be riding with my friends. We made it into
to Mortagne au Perche around Midnight. I found a bed and stopped by
Red Cross, as usual. My feet were starting to go numb and my butt was
getting a little sore. They took great care of me, as usual and I
went off to sleep. I rose a little later than I wanted to and moved a
little slower, but I only had 141 km left and until 5pm to do them.
The bathroom line was quite long. I bundled up because it was really
cold out and tried to pour some coffee and UE into myself. I ran into
Steve, a rider from Maine, I had met earlier, and he offered me a
NO-DOZ. It worked great, I didn't have to stop for cafe that morning.

I rolled out in the bitter cold wearing most of my winter gear. I had
my one peice shorts/top, a thermax sweater, my tights, a wool sweater,
my rain jacket and my heavy gloves. I shead the heavy gloves and
jacket fairly soon, but stayed in the rest most of the morning. I
began to really feel confident and that's when I missed a turn, along
with lots of other riders. We rode 8-10 km before discovering our
mistake. Then I started to worry. I felt I had jinxed myself again by
getting too cocky. I made it to the checkpoint ok, but I was so tense
that my neck was giving out. I could barely hold my head up. I drafted
a French rider for the last 12-15 km, and tried to explain why I
wasn't taking pulls.

At the final control before the finish, I changed into my victory
jersey - a jersey with a champagne bottle uncorked that I had bought
last fall and saved for the ride. Even though Carl had left an hour
before me, he had not come through. Dave was quite concerned. We
decided he had the same problems that I had had with arrows in the
dark, or was at one of the many restaurants along the way having

As it turned out, I wasn't the only one in our group to get lost.
Carl had also missed a turn and did an extra 50 Km, along with another
large group of riders. Many people made suggestions at the end of the
ride that next time the arrows should be put back ON the road to avoid
these problems. I hope the organizers will take these suggestions into
account. This is one of the best run rides I have ever participated
in. My only complaints were about the placement or arrows and the
seemingly small number of beds. Dave said Carl was chipper as ever,
and didn't seem to mind his detour.

Even though, it was only 57 km to the finish, I refused to think that
I had made it until I walked into the control and handed over my card
and route sheet. I rode along and talked with lots of riders, and the
excitement was incredible. We rode into a cheering crowd of supporters
and checked in. The tears were welling up as I came in and when they
handed me a rose, I let go. I had finally completed this ride, with
the help of an awful lot of people along the way, including Dave and
Gray, the red cross volunteers, Carl, Matt, Al, and Rick, Njelle and
the other Norwegians, Bernard and Frederick, the rider who pulled me
into Nogent Le Roi, the kids with the water, all the tandems, and all
the other people I drafted along the way, Steve with the No-Doz and
encouraging words ("you look awful"), my training partners over the
years, and Gilbert who got me addicted to this 6 years ago, and all
the riders I met along the way here who inspired me to keep going.
Does this sound like a speech at the academy awards?

By the way, you may notice that I have not mentioned a single flat
tire or mechanical problem, and that is because this ride was trouble
free, unlike my attempt in 1987. I carried all those heavy tools and
spares and never needed them. Of course I will continue to carry those
same tools and spares!

I looked around for my friends. Some had already come in and others
were on the road. I joined the cheering crowd to greet people as they
came in. Carl came in soon after I had. Matt and Al had already come
in. Rick, the final rider in our group of 5 made it in 3 minutes
before cutoff.

I also ran into riders who had quit for various reasons. We talked
about the long road to 95 that was now lying ahead of them. I know.
I abandoned in 87 and had spent the last 4 years focused on this
ride and avenging my defeat. What a wonderful feeling it was to finally
do that. Just getting to the start line of PBP is an incredible feat
and should not be diminished in any way.

Other riders continued to roll in well into the night. Not official
finishers, but finishers!!! One rider, I had met at the qualifiers
came in 3 minutes over. He had been pacing Jenny, the youngest rider,
and she sent him on in hopes that he would finish. She rolled in 20
minutes later, in tears either from finishing or because she was upset
at being late. Her father (who was supporting her) rushed her into the
control. Rumors had gone around that the time was being extended
another hour. I never heard verification or denial of this, so I
still don't know.

There were two triplets on the ride, and the second rolled in 4 hours
after the cutoff time to a thunderous round of applause. The first
male and female riders were presented and lots of French was spoken on
the loud speakers. Some of it was translated.

We eventually headed back to our hotel, but even then I could not sleep.
Several of us sat up reliving our ride. I said that night I would not come
back, but now, I am starting to think about 95! I WILL learn to speak and
understand French before I return.

By the way, I also have to thank Rich and my managers and co-workers
for being so patient with me in the months leading up to this ride, as
my mind began to wander I took more and more time to prepare for the
ride. I'm back thinking about work again ... at least until 95!

About the author

Pamela Blalock Wybieracki, after casuallly cycling all her life,
became addicted to long distance cycling in 1986, after Gilbert
Anderson described his experiences with Paris-Brest-Paris and the
qualifiers. She started riding centuries and double centuries that
summer and qualified for PBP in 1987. Despite not finishing that
ride, she continued with long distance rides and placed third in her
first 24-hour time trial in Johnstown, NY. The next year, along with
the mandatory qualifiers, she road The Assault on Mt. Mitchell, a 100
mile ride from Spartanburg, SC to the top of Mt. Mitchell, the highest
point on the east coast, was an outstanding finisher in Double
Trouble, back to back 200 mile rides from Chicago to Champaign-Urbana
and back, completed Bike Across North Carolina, a 600 mile ride,
completed Boston-Montreal-Boston, a ride similar in format to PBP, and
placed second in the 24-hour time trial in Johnstown, NY with 300.3
miles in 24 hours of riding. In those two years she logged over 19000
miles on a bicycle.

Since moving from NC to Boston, she has participated in qualifiers, and
an occasional double century or 24 hour ride. The harsher winters and
longer commute have reduced the total number of miles, but the quality
of miles has increased due to the harsher terrain - more hills.

She plans to continue riding shorter distances, do some bicycle
touring with her husband on their tandem, and take up skiing this
winter and golf in the spring


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