Planning for Paris Brest Paris

It’s only August, but 2014 has already been a good cycling year for me. I’ve ridden further than I ever have in a year and climbed some 58,000m. I did my first 200km less than a year ago and discovered that increasing distance, while challenging, is much easier than increasing average speed. My plan in Autumn last year was to do a Super Randonneur, which I’ve now completed. To be sure I was fit for this, I did a 200km ride every month through the winter, which tempted me to go for the RRTY award (200+ every month for a year). I finally completed that at the start of August on the tandem with help from Erica.

So what’s next? Well, first I’m taking a break. No audaxes in September. This is partly to spend more time with family and friends, partly to get some badminton practice ahead of the winter season, but also to consciously break the RRTY streak, which has been described by some as an addictive treadmill. I think one guy has 17 RRTYs in a row at which point the prospect of missing a month is unthinkable. I do love audaxing, but I also want some variety and flexibility in my life.

Paris Brest Paris represented by a high ordinary and Eifle TowerLooking further ahead, next year is Paris Brest Paris, the second oldest cycle event in the world and an epic that I’d like to try at least once. To do that there’s a lot of planning needed.

My SR this year allows me to pre-register a little early, although that probably isn’t necessary, but it does at least make me feel prepared to do another SR next year which absolutely is required to qualify for PBP. I’m hoping that the SR, along with some club rides and regular commuting will add up to sufficient training. I’d like to get around comfortably rather than struggle, but I don’t want to get so obsessed with training that I sacrifice family, work or social life. I think all these things are most enjoyable when balanced with each other. It might cause me some dilemmas, but I’m fortunate to have the choice.

The next thing to consider is the logistics of getting there and back. Some veterans of PBP advocate riding across and back, so the event becomes part of a longer tour and doesn’t seen like such an intimidating prospect. I like this idea, but it would mean even more time off work and away from family.

I also need to consider where I’ll stay before and after the event and how I’m going to secure my bike, which is a frequent source of anxiety for me.

Finally, I need to know which of the three starting groups to choose. Beginners are recommended to go for the slowest “Tourist” group, who get the full 90 hours to complete the distance. The downside is that it is the largest group, which means overcrowding at controls. The idea of having to queue for a bed is depressing.

So weirdly, I’m more apprehensive about the logistics than the cycling. I enjoy cycling and I’m now more confident about keeping going over some long distances. What I need is motivation to get myself organised.

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