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RABikes2
08-28-2007, 10:38 AM
My son, Andrew and I, just returned Sunday at 6:00 a.m. and I'm trying to get back on track here. It might take a few days before I have time to write more and have pictures, but I've got great stories to tell. What an unbelievable experience!

I biked many, many hours feeling wonderful; it was surreal. Sounds of the whirl of chains and tires on dark, wet roads, being in the middle of packs of riders following a thousand red lights flying down curvy roads through the French countryside during the night and in rain. At one point, I didn't hear a word of English for over 3.5 hours. Seeing church steeples when approaching and entering small villages in the night, narrowing streets, yellow lighting on the stone walls, and small crowds standing in the drizzle to cheer you on. And then, just as quickly, you'd be back out in the dark of the night.

I continued to have a great time riding the entire next day. I had postcards from Havana, Tallahassee, and Florida with my name, e-mail, and USA handwritten on them. During the day, when it wasn't drizzling, I'd pull over to small groups where kids and entire families gathered to watch and cheer the riders. I greeted them with "Hello" and then "Bonjour", followed by I was from the United States. I'd give the kid(s) postcards and say it was where I lived in America. The parents were excited for the kids and the kids were wide-eyed. It was too cool. I stopped and had a small coffee and some water from kids with a "coffee stand"; postcards were handed out. I haven't a clue what the state of e-mail/computers are in these areas, but hopefully somebody will be curious and google "Havana, Florida," or "Tallahassee, Florida", or "The Sunshine State". I stopped at a cafe and had an expresso, too. Yum. ;)

The conditions (from the start) were wet, windy, chilly/cold; very rough and difficult. My hat is off to those who finished! Way to go! :banana: It was like what I would imagine the Olympics would be except competitiveness was replaced with international camaraderie. I was told it was the worst weather and conditions since 1956 (there was sleet that year) and the DNF rate was going to be high. One of the translators stated it was going to be at least 30% (1500). I completed 1/3 of the ride, 250 miles (400k), in 24.5 hours, with 10,000 feet of climbing. In the first 24 hours, the high was 57 degrees and the low was 53 degrees. I had to abandon when I became ill and started puking on the side of the road. Ohhh, it wasn't a pretty sight/sound. ;) But the experience I had in the village where I stopped; again, as sad as it was, it was the absolute best.

I was dealing with stomach issues, and the only local that spoke a tiny bit of English was the motel (inn) owner. She was so gracious. Chantal insisted I come to their inn, shower, and get warm. While walking the short distance, a small group of her relatives and friends were walking with us. She said they were wanting to know where I was from. I said the United States. Chantal stated, "No, they want to know where?" I said Florida and you would have thought they had won the lottery. Apparently, Chantal and her husband Dede, have a son who went to university in London, met an American girl, and they were now living in Orlando, Florida. I was like "family" now. :D The room was already paid for by other cyclists earlier in the day, the sheets on one bed were changed, and I was given clean towels. I'm sure we will communicate for a long time.

All in all, I was pleased to correct lessons from my first 1200k attempt in 2004; one major improvement was my lighting. I proceeded to experience more important lessons from this attempt, i.e., clothing. You have to be prepared for everything imaginable and the key isn't staying dry, but if you get wet, to stay warm. A 1200k is without a doubt a continuous learning experience. It just might take a few attempts to get it right and actually have all the combinations fall into place.

What an adventure. Again, thanks for all the support and a big congratulations to those who finished. I did enjoy the experience! :)

Ritaann

dave thompson
08-28-2007, 10:46 AM
Ritaann: I salute you!

What a very nice story and what a wonderful experience. I feel bad that you didn't finish but what an upside that you experienced the best in people. Memories like that last a lifetime.

Len J
08-28-2007, 10:46 AM
My son, Andrew and I, just returned Sunday at 6:00 a.m. and I'm trying to get back on track here. It might take a few days before I have time to write more and have pictures, but I've got great stories to tell. What an unbelievable experience!

I biked many, many hours feeling wonderful; it was surreal. Sounds of the whirl of chains and tires on dark, wet roads, being in the middle of packs of riders following a thousand red lights flying down curvy roads through the French countryside during the night and in rain. At one point, I didn't hear a word of English for over 3.5 hours. Seeing church steeples when approaching and entering small villages in the night, narrowing streets, yellow lighting on the stone walls, and small crowds standing in the drizzle to cheer you on. And then, just as quickly, you'd be back out in the dark of the night.

I continued to have a great time riding the entire next day. I had postcards from Havana, Tallahassee, and Florida with my name, e-mail, and USA handwritten on them. During the day, when it wasn't drizzling, I'd pull over to small groups where kids and entire families gathered to watch and cheer the riders. I greeted them with "Hello" and then "Bonjour", followed by I was from the United States. I'd give the kid(s) postcards and say it was where I lived in America. The parents were excited for the kids and the kids were wide-eyed. It was too cool. I stopped and had a small coffee and some water from kids with a "coffee stand"; postcards were handed out. I haven't a clue what the state of e-mail/computers are in these areas, but hopefully somebody will be curious and google "Havana, Florida," or "Tallahassee, Florida", or "The Sunshine State". I stopped at a cafe and had an expresso, too. Yum. ;)

The conditions (from the start) were wet, windy, chilly/cold; very rough and difficult. My hat is off to those who finished! Way to go! :banana: It was like what I would imagine the Olympics would be except competitiveness was replaced with international camaraderie. I was told it was the worst weather and conditions since 1956 (there was sleet that year) and the DNF rate was going to be high. One of the translators stated it was going to be at least 30% (1500). I completed 1/3 of the ride, 250 miles (400k), in 24.5 hours, with 10,000 feet of climbing. In the first 24 hours, the high was 57 degrees and the low was 53 degrees. I had to abandon when I became ill and started puking on the side of the road. Ohhh, it wasn't a pretty sight/sound. ;) But the experience I had in the village where I stopped; again, as sad as it was, it was the absolute best.

I was dealing with stomach issues, and the only local that spoke a tiny bit of English was the motel (inn) owner. She was so gracious. Chantal insisted I come to their inn, shower, and get warm. While walking the short distance, a small group of her relatives and friends were walking with us. She said they were wanting to know where I was from. I said the United States. Chantal stated, "No, they want to know where?" I said Florida and you would have thought they had won the lottery. Apparently, Chantal and her husband Dede, have a son who went to university in London, met an American girl, and they were now living in Orlando, Florida. I was like "family" now. :D The room was already paid for by other cyclists earlier in the day, the sheets on one bed were changed, and I was given clean towels. I'm sure we will communicate for a long time.

All in all, I was pleased to correct lessons from my first 1200k attempt in 2004; one major improvement was my lighting. I proceeded to experience more important lessons from this attempt, i.e., clothing. You have to be prepared for everything imaginable and the key isn't staying dry, but if you get wet, to stay warm. A 1200k is without a doubt a continuous learning experience. It just might take a few attempts to get it right and actually have all the combinations fall into place.

What an adventure. Again, thanks for all the support and a big congratulations to those who finished. I did enjoy the experience! :)

Ritaann

for sharing that........people are people....everywhere.

Len

sc53
08-28-2007, 11:25 AM
Hi RA, great to hear from you, we've been wondering when you'd get back. I'm sorry to hear of your stomach issues--Dauwe (Dave Cramer) of the forum had similar problems early on too. But sounds like despite the difficulties you both had a great experience and very much enjoyed the French countryside and people. I can't even imagine attempting something like this! What lighting did you decide on for this event and how did it work? Was it necessary given all the taillights ahead of you lighting the way?

dauwhe
08-28-2007, 11:35 AM
Great writeup--thanks for sharing your experiences! The people, the countryside, and the camaraderie were wonderful. It would have been nice to finish, but being alive, healthy, and happy is much more important, I think.

Dave

39cross
08-28-2007, 11:36 AM
Thanks for a great story, the postcards are a wonderful idea. Sorry you didn't make the whole ride, but what a great experience otherwise!

Too Tall
08-28-2007, 12:10 PM
You make friends everywhere you go don't you? Great adventure and with you son along to see his strongminded mom tackle the unimaginable...how cool is THAT???? Congratulations and I'm sure not the last time we will hear about your new friends and adventures.

PS - first PBP we had sacks and sacks of toy dinosaurs that we threw and gave to kids...what was that about?

72gmc
08-28-2007, 02:01 PM
Thank you, RA. I really enjoyed your story and your enthusiasm. Your son has a lot to be proud of.

weisan
08-28-2007, 02:06 PM
RA-pal, what an experience! Love to hear more when you get settled down.

Bruce K
08-28-2007, 02:34 PM
RA;

I'm glad to hear that you had such a positive experience despite having to abandon. When I read that you were out, I was truly concerned that you would be really bummed.

It sounds like you made a keg of Lemon Spritzer out of a handful of lemons and I am really happy for you.

Hopefully you will now have your own cheering section when you return and give it another shot.

Give me a call when things settle down (I know, like in a month or 2!! :rolleyes: ), I want to hear it all.

I hope Andrew had a wonderful time. He has a GREAT Mom and should be very proud.

BK

Steelhead
08-28-2007, 09:23 PM
Bravo !

Peter B
08-29-2007, 07:42 AM
Great story RABikes2.

I had an excellent time also, despite the weather. It truely is the people that make this ride. The camaraderie and support were simply overwhelming once again. Eric and I rode to a fixed gear finish in 83 and 82 hours respectively, as planned, but with less sleep than anticipated. More wind and rain than expected. Congrats to all who attempted or completed the ride this year!

We're wandering Belgium for a few days before returning to the states. Where are all the cool bike shops here??

Peter B

wasfast
08-29-2007, 07:56 AM
Great ride report! To even attempt such a long (horizontal and vertical) ride is truly great.

You had mentioned you had serious knee problems. Did you get these resolved? It would appear so since you did PBP.

RABikes2
08-29-2007, 09:42 AM
I met with DaveP (Pyle) at registration and at the control in Fourges. It's always good to see Dave and look forward to his account of PBP. Sorry to have missed meeting you Dave (dauwhe). The Ortlieb bag did well. I'm glad you were able to experience the start and some riding. Hope you are feeling better.

I found the PBP route to be interesting and the rolling terrain exceptional. I prefer rollers and climbs to flat courses any day; loved it.

Weird as it is, prior to PBP, I had knee issues that were beating me up. The doc said it was probably tendonitis in my quads and an overstretched patellar ligament (old injuries irritated and flaring up). I took a Medrol (sp?) dose pack to get the inflammation under control before I left, but it only worked for a few days because I tried to ride again (big "duh"). I stayed off my bike entirely for the next two weeks and when we were tourists for 7 days in Paris (we probably walked 25 miles), I took another Medrol pack. For the two weeks prior to the ride and during the ride, I wore a knee stabilizer I had from previous knee problems. Two days before the start, I rode easy and tested my reassembled bike for 15 miles and rode another easy 15 miles, round-trip, to registration on Sunday. On PBP, maybe it was adrenaline, but I felt wonderful on my bike. I had missed riding and felt like I had falling in love all over again when we were riding. My body held up reasonably well. My right trap was sore afterward, but I'd say it was because I had gotten so cold and was unintentionally tensing it. The noseless saddle I rode for the last 5,000 miles of training, the BiSaddle, did great, too. I haven't rode since being home (actually, my bike is still in the case), so it will be interesting to see how the knees feel when I start riding again. Remember the lessons I said I learned? This was a biggie. I had completed my (physical) homework and knew rest was just as important, but I felt with all the touring (no riding) I had to keep putting in a few miles before leaving the US. My mind was playing with me big time as I had to convince myself I wouldn't lose anything by not riding, but gain from resting and healing. In all these years, I never gave rest the credit it deserved. I learned respect for it now.

Two funny stories (well, at least to me)...

After our wave started, we were heading out in the country and going through a few small villages. Around 17k or so, riding in quite a large mass of cyclists, I hit something in the road and the front of my bike hit with a hard jolt. My handlebars moved and I heard a "tick, tick, tick" noise. Oh crud...I'm barely out of Paris and my bike! I decided to pull over at the edge of the town under a light to figure out what was going on. My handlebars had slipped (I put my bike together and thought it was tightened down), so I loosened the bar, moved it back where I wanted it, and retightened. Brakes and the bag looked okay. I decide to take a "p" beside a small wall and when I go to get back on my bike...I realized looking around...there was NOBODY else on the road. Nothing. Quiet. It was quite comical as all I could think was, "5100 cyclists, the start of a 1200k, I'm 20k out, and riding in France, .... by myself." I slightly freaked inside, but got on my bike and just started riding in the direction we had been going. I came to the next town and the locals pointed me in the direction and within a short distance I was back in the thick of things riding with many, many cyclists. Whew...

This was when I rode over 3.5 hours without hearing a word of English. I was riding with the same 3 men for quite awhile, our pace was great. After many miles together, everybody was stopping in this small town where the locals had water, bread, etc. I stopped with them. The one guy was in his mid 60's and the other two looked more in their early 50's. We tried to communicate with each other, but they didn't understand a word (even United States) and I surely didn't understand them. Heck, I was clueless what language they were speaking (I tried a bit of French, but then again, my French blows). We stood there laughing at each other hand signaling and actually not communicating at all, except with unspoken humor. We got back on our bikes and took off. We rode for a long time, still hearing no English around me. Then the first English I hear, it's a cyclist with a French accent. I asked where he was from and his response was Virginia. I said Florida and the guy says that in 2005, he had done a 300k in Bonifay, Florida. I'm riding with cyclists from all over the world and here I had been at the start and rode some miles with this guy on that particular 300k. He rode up to the 3 men and spoke to them. They had a different dialect and came from a mountain range in France that was as notable as the Alps and Pyrenees. I rode with them until I couldn't hold going to the bathroom any longer. I stopped on the side of the road and then continued on riding with different riders.

My lighting was simple and for the most part, inexpensive. In the beginning when there were so many lights around, I didn't turn all of them on, but the second night when there weren't such large groups, the lights were all on and it was adequate, even though my night vision isn't that terrific. I had a space bar attached so it was above my handlebar (and front bag) with two Cateye 531's and two Cateye 410's were attached low, one on each side of my fork. A Cateye 400 on my helmet. Two Cateye rear red lights attached, one on each side of the back seat stays and a Pyramid tail light on my rear bike bag.

Peter B... first of all, you're an animal! Congrats on your successful ride. A friend of mine from Atlanta who has qualified for RAAM was also on a fixed gear; Kevin Kaiser. You met Kevin and Chris (brother) on the PacTour, TT. Chris was on a recumbent and was hoping to qualify for RAAM on PBP. Kevin rode with me a few miles the second day, but I haven't heard their results.

I think about how things turned out and "it is what it is". Try to learn from the experience and take away the positive and keep it close at heart. I prayed a lot before, during, and after the ride; grateful for the experience and the opportunity. All of us did our best, finishing or not, and that was to me, an important goal to accomplish.

Ritaann ;)

shoe
08-29-2007, 10:03 AM
rabs-hey i was thinking about you on the road....wasn't sure what you looked like but looked for the crossing paths....also had my eyes out for dave on his new rig....sorry to hear you guys cut it short but it's awesome to just be over in the beautiful countryside... i think the 90 hour took a toll on people some others i knew had to bail because of there bodies were just worn down from the miles and the cold.. since dealing with the rain and cold throughout the night...we did the 84 and i'm glad we did...much better starting off in crappy weather during the daylight....i almost didn't bring my rain pants and did at the last minute and pimped out my fenders to keep my feet dry and the water out of my friends eyes...it was amazing seeing people stand out in the rain at night and cheer you on....and the kids were awesome. on the way back from brest there was this little girl handing people flowers as they would pass...and i must have given 20 or more high fives as we passed kids along the route..well maybe i'll just see you guys down the road somewhere else.....

peter good job on riding it fixed. it wasn't exactly an easy course....my buddy i rode with did it fixed... me i opted for a freewheel and did it single speed...congrats to all who made it over to the start and to the finish.....cheers....dave

RABikes2
08-29-2007, 10:49 AM
RA;
I'm glad to hear that you had such a positive experience despite having to abandon. When I read that you were out, I was truly concerned that you would be really bummed. It sounds like you made a keg of Lemon Spritzer out of a handful of lemons and I am really happy for you. BK
Bruce...another valuable lesson learned from BMB; "attitude, darlin', attitude." ;)

dave thompson
08-29-2007, 11:12 AM
I was thinking she turned lemons into Lemoncello! :)

Bruce K
08-29-2007, 11:50 AM
You show far more cout' and cultcha than I, Good Sir.

BK

Kevan
08-29-2007, 12:32 PM
Well, first off....Bravo!!! Thanks for sharing your stories with us.

Hey, would you happen to have any photos you'd be willing to share of this event? I'm not suggesting the one where you got ill, mind you, but maybe one at the start, maybe one of your bike, all set up? Thanks.

RABikes2
08-30-2007, 12:18 AM
Hey, would you happen to have any photos you'd be willing to share of this event? I'm not suggesting the one where you got ill, mind you, but maybe one at the start, maybe one of your bike, all set up? Thanks.
Thanks Kevan. Hope to have a few photos up within a day or two.
Anybody heard how DaveP did?

RABikes2
08-30-2007, 12:33 AM
We rode back from registration to our hotel with a guy on a Serotta. We start talking and he says he's from the D.C. area. I said, "So who's your fitter, Smiley?" He says "yes". :) Smiley had told me about his client that was doing PBP and here he was. I asked him if he knew Josh Simonds (TT)? "Oh yeah, he's my coach." Small world we live in, isn't it? :D
Any reports on how Chris did? The last time I saw him, he was eating and having a beer at the control in Fourges.
RA

dauwhe
08-30-2007, 06:09 AM
I think Dave P. was forced to abandon with Shermer neck :(

Turns out that approximately 184 of 617 American starters didn't finish, for a DNF rate of 29.8%.

Dave

davep
08-30-2007, 08:13 AM
Yes, I DNF'd at Carhaix with Shermer Neck - couldn't keep my head up to see where I was going. It started about 20k out of Brest, and got really bad by the time I reached the top of Roc T.... I was going to abandon there, but I ran into a Brit who helped me go the last 30k to Carhaix. First we tied my head back with the belt from my reflective sash to my Camelback, when that didn't work really well, I just rode slowly. It's hard going downhill when you can only see the white line directly in front of the bike.

Up until then I was having a good ride, no other problems and I felt really good considering I got only 2 hours of sleep until then, plus a 10 minute nap in a field alomgside the road.

Even with the DNF, it was a great experience. The French people were great and enthusiatic supporters; the control staff were always polite, even when being bombarded by thousands of riders, many who didn't speak a word of French; the food at the controls was plentiful and inexpensive and the lines were not as long as feared; the route was fantastic; the weather could have been better, but even with the rain it wasn't that cold (50s); and I met some great people, and saw some people I haven't seen for a while.

RABikes was a enthusiatic as ever, even when I saw her at Fougeres looking a little haggard, as we all were. Even though dauwhe and I were at the same hotel, and I saw his gorgeous Tournesol as soon as I arrived, we didn't meet until after the ride. He graciously invited me to dinner with some of the New England randonneurs and I had a great time. Thanks Dave. I met Peter B before the ride in the bike room, and ran into him again in Brest - anyone who can ride that long on a fixie is in a different league. Congrats Peter.

Next PBP is in 2011, its already on my calender.

glc
08-30-2007, 09:21 AM
first off congratulations to all who the rode this year!!!

pbp—ouch but i made it. 83 hours of fixed gear riding led to some surprising less ache filled knees but serious puffy painful achilles pain. AWESOME TIMES!!!!

the kids on the side of the road still bring tears and goose bumps just thinkin about them. highfives, flowers, and good tiding from honest hearts can drag your soul up from the dirtiest of muck.

mr kirk—the bike rode like a dream.


the bike (post ride), the ride, the food, the people