Saturday 27 August 2011

Paris-Brest-Paris makes for an interesting distraction

First and foremost, no, I did not ride the PBP.

Why, then, does it make an appearance here?  Well, every now and then we get some inspiration from other people's crazy adventures, and this one appeared on my doorstep.  But how, one might ask, did a cycle race through Brittany get to my doorstep?  Last week, I got to spend some time with my Parisian colleagues.  Our Paris office is in an otherwise non-descript and fairly hum-drum business park in the southwestern suburbs of Paris.  The business park was also hosting the cyclists for the start and finish.  So, every morning the normally empty streets (it's August in Paris, so most people have been enjoying a holiday anywhere else!) were clogged with the few commuters as we eased around the road closures and bottlenecks put in place to protect the cyclists.  I expect they needed the protection, based on the one cyclist I saw gingerly approaching the finish with a neck brace on (either from an accident  or to keep his head up without using the tired neck muscles).

Crew / support vehicles covered every available part of the business park.

The PBP is 1200km long, and most riders finish in 3-4 days.  The riders ride all day, with their crew (volunteering friends or guilt-ridden family?) driving along in something suitable for providing a comfortable rest or at least carrying the tents.  I had the chance to talk to a couple of riders about their experience, and the overwhelming impression was "good right, thank goodness the weather was better than last year".  Apparently 4 days of wind and rain are enough to make these guys want to come back again.  This year, they were rewarded with a few sunny days to show off the northern French scenery.

It's great to see other endurance-junkies enjoying their sport.  They all looked shattered at the end, but the air of satisfaction provided a reminder that perseverance gets results.

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