What do you want to know about PBP?

Eric (the campyonlyguy) has helpfully created a series of videos based on his experiences.

  1. Is it worth it?
  2. How tough is it?
  3. Time
  4. Picking a start time
  5. Fix it now!
  6. Weather
  7. Making a plan
  8. Hands and arms
  9. Lodging for you and your bike
  10. Relax!
  11. Food
  12. Getting Yourself and Your Bike to France
  13. Rest Stop Management
  14. Roads in France
  15. It’s NOT all about the bike
  16. [Diamond frame] Bike Choice, Part 1
  17. Drop Bags
  18. Talking About Rain
  19. Memories of PBP 2007
  20. Surprising Things About PBP


Is it worth it?

How tough is it?


Picking a Start Time

RipVan Rando said:

The 80H group and indeed the evening starts are very exciting because of all the village people cheering for you, this aspect is absent on the 84H or some of it depending upon pace.
84H is mellow but be careful to get to Brest in time…..do not sleep too long in Loudeac.
84H is for the strong and experienced who want to avoid drama in my opinion.
Not for the first time 1200k.

A Rando probably should be comfortable doing a moderate 600K in 27-29 hours and a flatter one being capable of doing closer to 22-25 hours to have a cushion on the 80H start.
Ultimately, finishing is everything.
The fastest 80H riders make Brest in 19-20 hours and if a Charly Miller ride is hoped for, shoot for around 24 hours to Brest.

One advantage of the 80H group? Empty controls.
If you ask where the WC is, don’t be surprised to have a kind French person actually walk you there.
Early and empty also means no food yet. Noto Bene!!!

If a rando is contemplating the 80H group, they should also be comfortable elbow to elbow at 25-30 mph or be strong enough to ride it solo because the start is very fast.
Most should do the 90H to enjoy the whole atmosphere. Nice video.

Fix it NOW!

Do NOT ride with parts that probably won’t be available at the average bike shop or control in rural Brittany.
–Eric N

and brush up on your French before you go.
I had trouble getting bike shop staff to understand that I needed brake pads (“plaquettes”)


Nice videos. Did you cover the importance of wool and how cold damp 40F feels at night in the middle of Summer?

More on Weather

What’s your Plan?

LittleWheelsandBig said:
I’d be inclined to mention adaptability, rather than just planning and execution.
‘No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy’ and all that.
I’ve seen too many folk start to fall apart when their PBP isn’t going to plan.

Bob said:
I did my first PBP in 2015 and it was all about adapting to a new plan.

First I got very ill about two weeks before the ride, most of that missing work also. I recall emailing both Nick B. and Mike W. of DC Randonneurs a couple days before leaving telling them “I’m a game time decision”, in other words, I was going – just wasn’t sure if I’d ride it or not.

Next was the lost bike. I flew into CDG 3 days in advance (with family).
Airline lost ALL our luggage, including my bike and half of my gear.
I had my dynamo lights, pedals, shoes, helmet, tubes, tools and one kit in my carry on (fortunately).
I recommend that BTW.

I will say the spirit of PBP can be very helpful here, as well as Facebook.
I posted a cry for help on FB (and also a forum).
I had 8 legit offers, bikes in my size, fully equipped rando bikes (not rentals) from all over (a couple much nicer than mine), as well as a german guy offering to bring his dyno hub front wheel from Germany (but he needed to know by a certain day just before he left).
In fact, they were mostly arranged by a fluent speaking french guy on a local forum, pictures included.

Fortunately my bike showed up Friday eve (bike checkout is Saturday of course).
The “spirit of PBP” was unexpected and blew me away – the kindness of strangers.

I still wasn’t well at the starting line but I was better. I was going to try to ride it.

This is where fitness comes in I think.
I was well trained and rode more than the series to prepare, including the “Firefly 400” – a night start 400 after completing the 600.
I mention that one specifically because I think it was a big help mentally to do an evening start.
Nevertheless, being as fit as possible I think carried through that sickness, particularly that first day.
I luckily got better as the ride went on.

Last thing I’ll mention, in my tiredness one early morning,
I set down my little plastic bag holding all my money, CC and ATM card while buying one litre of water.
I rode off without it.
By the time I realized this I was several ticks down the road, rode back and in broken french asked about my money pouch at the store – they told me another rider took it to the control! Wow.
That saved my ride. Doing PBP without money or the ability to pay would have probably meant DNF.
I rode to the control just a few miles away and it was left there in my name.

Hands and Arms

If you are riding a recumbent you will not need to worry about this 🙂


RipVan Rando said:
Direct train service from Paris or Versailles (Chantiers station) are options to Rambouillet.
Staying at an intermediate town would put you onto a non-direct train and probably/maybe have competition for bike space and of course, a long trip.
Rolling my bike onto the train at Versailles at about 2:30 pm Sunday in 2015 was a breeze.
Having previously dealt with the bile room mess at the Campanile, opted to rent an apartment for the week in Versailles.
What I failed to plan was the return to the apartment after finishing PBP at 11 pm……
 [ACP have advised that the finish will also be in Rambouillet ]
By now all the hotels near the start are reserved.
SQL is probably 18-20 miles to Rambouillet by bike, so, it is easily bikeable (not me).
The trains run until about 10 pm and start back in the early morning.
Lots of options but one probably should not plan on the train in the middle of the night to get back to a hotel nearer Paris.
Transport to Rambouillet for bike inspection on Saturday if staying in Paris??

This is the train schedule….

Eric says:
In 2011, I took the train from SQY to Maurepas after the finish, and that was very easy.
The SQY station has bike gates that make it easy to roll right through.

In 2015, I rode to a hotel in Trappes after the finish, stayed the night there, and then took the train back to Paris the next morning.
That station was much harder to negotiate (I had to lift the bike over the gates and climb down steep stairs).
The other rider there at the same time, with his Eliptigo, had an even harder time.
P.S. There are still places on AirBNB in and around Rambouillet, and I wonder if more homeowners will put their places online when word gets out about PBP.
August is vacation time in France, so I would guess that many local families will be out of town anyway.



Getting Your Bike to PBP

Rest Stop Management

Roads in France

Choosing My [diamond frame] Bike, Part 1

Drop Bags

Talking About Rain

Memories of PBP 2007

Surprising Things About PBP


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