Category Archives: brevet

Preparing for Paris-Brest-Paris

Why in the world would anyone do a 750-mile bike ride? Because it is there? Randonnuering is self-contained long-distance cycling that fits right between bicycle touring and double centuries. It is a ‘ride to finish’ event, though some people, of course, race it. Paris-Brest-Paris is thee event; it started in 1891 (before the Tour!) and now happens every four years. Over 5000 cyclists from around the world are signed up, including 600 americans. There are staggered start times; I am starting 930pm (1230pm in California) Monday and have a 90 hour time limit. Just under four days. Fa(s)t Dan(donnuer) is already in Paris; after my ferry/train journey we’ll meet up for bike inspection Sunday. My Seven is hooked up with a front/rear lighting system and fenders.

You can follow my progress online, here. My plate number is 4660. If you can read French, there is some sort of GPS tracking planned.
I have so much food with me you wouldn’t believe it! Some pate in a tube, flapjacks, havla, Lara bars and the powdered stuff I am use to. I have a drop bag set up for Loudeac; since it is an out-and-back I’ll see it twice. My plan is to ride 274 miles, sleep 6-8 hours, ride 198 miles back to Loudeac, sleep again, then ride the 278 back to Paris. With the exception of the first night, which I will ride straight through, I hope to avoid real long stints at night.
Concerns? My biggest fear is getting a flat at 3am in the rain with no around and not being able to speak French to anyone. Also saddle sores, duh. Should be a great way to see France!

More info on the 115 year old event:
French site
BC Canada Randonnuer PBP site (the better of the lot)
PBP tv? Not sure what is going to happen here.
The painfully boring American Randonnuers PBP site

From the French site(!?):
The reputation of the cyclos must not be a synonym of
SLOVENLINESS
NUISANCE
BAD SMELLS

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Final brevet: the 600k

Je t’aime ! Oh ! dites-le avec des pavés !
Let’s go to Paris! Paris-Brest-Paris dates back to 1891; that’s older than Fidel Castro. By someone’s logic I am now prepared to ride 1200 kilometers after finishing 600 in the alloted time. Okay, sign me up. They do require doctor’s note though. Imagine that conversation: ‘Hello, doctor, can I have a note saying that I am healthy enough to ride 750 miles in 90 hours? No, this is not a joke. No, I am not insane.’ I think I’ll just ask a friend.
So here are some pictures. Fa(s)t Dan and I had a blast. 110 miles up the coast through Big Sur then the first control 30 miles inland from there. Headwinds north through Salinas Valley (broccoli land) then control two at 212 miles at an Inn. We were one of the first people there (out of the huge field of 14) and the last to leave cause we slept for 4 hours. So it was like two rides: 212 miles one day, 163 the next. California is so damn big, we really should secede.
It’s not a purse, it’s a Randonneur’s bag

The big, rolling hills of California

This is why the following picture exists

The guy on the motorcycle is the RBA (means something in French) for this brevet series. He once rode 3 1200k brevets in one year. He was super helpful and made what he calls ‘the hardest 600k out there’ a pleasant ride.

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40 MPH at 4am in 40 degrees

That’s a first. Another 4am start at the San Luis Obispo Brevet Series and this time we left with the main group. For some reason I thought I would hang on to the guy with Zipp wheels (read $$$) up the first climb. Luckily he knew the descent and told me what to expect, so I held on tight and bombed down in the dark and cold. Eventually Brian would bridge up and we rode the whole day together. The whole day being 18 hours and 251 miles.
Everything is everything. There were only a handful of stores or towns for the first 225 miles of the ride, the organizers had to have water at the control points and even some of these were 70 miles apart. We’d have heat midday on the out-and-back to the Pinnacles National Monument and on the last big climb, up highway 46 out of Paso Robles over to the coast, we watched the clouds and fog roll in, obscure the last minutes of sun and drop the temperature 15 degrees. Brian and I had been riding hard all day, but on the coast, with the fog and darkness and low temperatures, we took it easy. When we finally rolled back to the Main’s house (at 10pm) they had vegan barley soup for us and we sat around and talked for a bit before we went to the van to sleep (luckily I had left the window open, because Dan and Michael got done at 130am and we didnt have a key).
Easter morning (see picture of Brian) we packed up at 630am to drive back to Los Angeles. I was stoked that my favorite coffee shop, Home of the Velvet Foam, was open in SLO.
Now only the 600k is left to qualify for Paris-Brest-Paris.

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‘Rich girls love machine guns, it’s a proven fact.’

So said Fat Dan, aka Fast Dan, aka Dandonneur, in regards to Tania as we passed Hearst Castle on the SLO 300k. Wit is especially appreciated on a long ride, even more so after 40 miles of head winds. Thanks Dan! His dope VW Eurovan had made the Friday night trip from LA as comfortable as I can imagine being, which I soaked up before our ‘night’ of sleep at the ride start.
After 3 hours of this sleep-like horizontal thing, it was comical riding up the coast in the dark, at 430am, in a slight drizzle and a haze of fog. From the coast we headed up over the ridge and out past Paso Robles. Not comical was the 39 degree, slightly wet, gloveless descent. The first control was the earthquake capitol of the world. It’s a one trick town and there were no earthquakes happening so we left. The last bit back on PCH goes up to Ragged Point, one the most beautiful sections of the California coast. We finished the 187 miles in around 16 hours, much slower than anticipated, but the burrito lunch was worth it.
We did not get back to LA in time for the midnight tunnel sprints. Sucks! Jack won and Megan got second female so Swarm! still represented.

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San Diego 300k Brevet


DNF. Booooooooooo. Sheared the bolt on my carbon FSA cranks about 30 miles in. The odd thing was that we started on time and were more or less with the front group. After I called to report our situation the super nice guy from the SD Century Riders actually came and picked us up. Thanks Mike! Probably kept me from stripping out the crank arm or spindle.
Spent the rest of the morning chillin in Pacific Beach looking at purse girls and guys who say things like ‘total mosh sesh’ and ‘killer bro’. Then ate some vegan Asian ‘fusion’ at Sipz before enduring the drive back to Los Angeles. My bike looked all fresh with new Armadillos and the FSA wheels I peeled the stickers off of (pre-crank bolt shearing), too bad. Now I have to go up to SLO to get my 300k in.
More regarding Brevets, etc at Rusa.org

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San Diego 200k Brevet

Start of ride. Notice that everyone else is gone.

Is Randonneuring French for Beauocracy? In preparation for yesterday’s 200k I sent off my membership to Randonneuring USA (RUSA) and included Swarm! as my club. About a week ago I got a response from someone at RUSA saying that my club was not official and that he would just put that my club is RUSA. Funny thing is, Jack just made our club official with USA Cycling. Politely I relayed this info to the membership coordinator or whomever at RUSA and he said we still did not count! What is a club then? I ride bikes almost every day with my friends and then we do long distance rides on the weekends. We were a club pre-namesake, unlike, I imagine, most ‘clubs’. Our list of 2006 events is pretty impressive (doubles, triathlons, 508, Messenger World Championships, etc) so I passed this on to him with our President’s info (Jack Lindquist) and Chris Kostman from AdventureCorps as a reference. Finally, he said we were borderline, but he would count it anyway. Thanks for the favor. He also refused to recognize the ‘!’ in ‘Swarm!’.

Despite all that, at 345am I was up and ready to head to (near) San Diego with Paul and Zack in Paul’s truck. Budge decided not to go last minute after not sleeping a wink. Plus he hasn’t ridden much. Not much traffic at 430am and we are there early! The Randonneur scene is like a subculture of a subculture. Wasn’t sure what to expect, but the riders were similar to the double century crowd (some racers, some fast-looking old dudes, some people with racks and tons of stuff and mostly non-descript guys and a few females, on bikes). I paid my $5 and both Paul and Zack joined RUSA in order to get medals. Then, even after being early to the start point, we were late leaving. Fifteen minutes behind the group start, which is a mental fuck.

I had heard poor things about the route, but is was not too bad. We saw our friend Lynn on tandem who insisted on introducing me to everyone as ‘Matt who did 508 team on a fixed-gear’. I looked like I should be much faster than I am, but this is not a race it is a Brevet. Therefore it is also self-supported; my jersey and seat bag were filled with 2 bananas, an apple, 2 lara bars, 2 clif bars and some Sustained Energy. The self-support thing may be an issue for the longer rides, but for this it was fine. It makes Brevets an interesting combination of ultra-distance cycling and bike touring.

Other highlights:
I ate a Clif bar out of the garbage at Control Point 2
Rode to almost dark!
PCH route to SD- Had memories of with Justin, in 2002 on the way to Belize, when we saw the steel worker who had ridden from Ohio after he lost his job. That was almost five years ago! Also, Matt Pro and I were on this route when we did LA to SD in one day training for my first double in 2004. Self-supported 175 or whatever it was, was so huge back then.

Zack signing his route card after finishing. Paul celebrates with a donut.Afterwards we headed up to El Segundo to hang out at Brian’s dad’s place again and pretend to live the life for a night. Food, chillin, hot tub (this time there were some females at least). In the morning four of us went for an hour run on the beach. Yeah, California!

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