Yes, who can believe it ? This time, I have done it. My second attempt has been a good one, and I can’t resist sharing my happiness with you.
I just have succeeded in finishing the "Paris-Brest-Paris". The favourable weather conditions have helped me a lot during my adventure : not a single drop of rain during the four days of cycling ; a lot of sun, but mild temperatures ; few winds, and when it was blowing, it was a side wind or better, ¾ tailwind… a real dream ! On the other hand, the nights and dawns were very cold (5° or 6°), sometimes with fog patches that we would like to have avoided.
My bike was up to the event, answering docilely to each of my requests. A few days before the start, it caused me big problems due to the lighting, but thanks to the efforts of my three friends and a broomstick, the repair to my two front lights was perfect. Besides, an expert friend had properly serviced the entire bike, so I had no problems : not a single scrap-iron squeak to stress me, not a single flat tire. A lovely bike ! Thank Michel !
I guess my training was done well (8500km), because I never suffered, expect from lack of sleep, of course ! If I do the necessary calculations, here is a record of my sleep time : first night = 0 h ; second night = 1 h ; third
night = 2 h ; fourth night = 0 h. And I am known as someone who needs a lot of sleep ! But I will lie if don’t mention the little 5-10 minute rest stops, I granted myself from time to time, lying at the side of the road, alongside many other riders. When I felt sleepy, I wobbled on my bike and I couldn’t ride any farther without being dangerous to others and to myself.
Faithful to myself and to my solitary nature, I rode alone most of the time, integrating from time to time with packs of riders, or other isolated riders like myself when the opportunity presented itself. I have to say that, before starting, I decided that it was better to ride alone at my own pace instead of trying to stick to the speed set by the pack and pay the price. This “strategy” was good because I progressed at my own speed and sometimes I was even able to have a little chat with other riders (notably many English or American riders). That’s also part of Paris-Brest-Paris ; the encounters that I am not going to forget !
Some memories are engraved on me forever :
- The fabulous atmosphere at the start, with hundreds of spectators supporting us for this long trip.
- In the middle of the first night, climbing in the middle of the Rambouillet’s woods, one of the organization cars was loudly broadcasting a Simon & Garfunkel’s song. This touched me, and stuck with me that I sang it to myself for the rest of the ride.
- The spectators who, for hours in the middle of nowhere, were applauding and supporting us while we were riding near their houses, even in the middle of the night.
- Food and outdoor bed accomodations organized by the residents of little villages visited during night: what a welcome !
- Special thanks to the family of The Leathersmith of Mayenne who at 6pm, offered me a good mattress in their barn, and a cup of wake-up coffee. When I asked to pay, they asked me only to send them a postcard when I got back home ! How emotional !
- Thank you to my sports-doctor and my trainer, without whom my legs, a bit worn out by the hundreds of training kilometres, couldn’t even drive me to the starting area !
- Thank you to my brother Jean-Pierre who, in an enormous effort, came to support me and give me food at Tinténiac and then, perhaps, finding it to his liking, came back again Thursday morning. But he was not so lucky this time ! He did not have a mobile phone (!) I couldn’t give him my check-in time with enough precision, and so he waited for nothing for two hours. He missed me by 20 minutes !
- Thanks to my niece Armelle, who sent me a great SMS support the beginning of my 4th night !
- Thanks to Geneviève, Marielle and Patrick who were supposed to be working, but surprised me at the finish line with a placard celebrating my success !
- Thanks to all who supported me during the four days. You really warmed my heart by being with me during all this long-distance riding !
- Thanks to the Audax Club Parisien and all its volunteers for this gigantic operation. When I think to it, I am thrilled ! So, it’s already decided, in four years, I will be a volunteer !
- Final and special thanks to my dear Jacques who, during weeks and months of preparation, has endured my demands, countermands and temperamental moods, and allowed me to be ready for D-day.
But why, you might ask, did I fail in 1999 and succeed this year ? It’s simple; the "mental" attitude made the difference. This year, I decided that nothing could make me fail to succeed ! I knew that the road was long and hard (1 230km in distance and 10 000m of climbing !) that the fatigue throughout the ride would be hard to endure, and that sometimes I would get discouraged. Certainly, I had a few times like this, but each time I convinced myself it was only occasionally, and with a bit of patience, the sleepy feeling would go away, the top form would come back, and I would be in fine spirits again. Can you believe it ? It happened exactly like that ! Perhaps I didn’t have enough confidence in myself in 1999, and this time, I succeeded in convincing myself before the start that I could do this Paris-Brest-Paris. Strengthened by all these convictions, I easily climbed every single hill and I arrived in top form, radiant, and delighted to have lived this marvellous adventure.
We were 4 069 on the start line headed to Brest, and we were only 3 471 at the end, about 15% withdrew. History will show that I rode this 1 241km in 89 hours. Myself, I will quickly forget these figures; because they are really small things compared with all the memories I have shared with you, and which are still buzzing in my memory.
Agnès Méoulet-Morieux N° 2773
Villiers Saint Frédéric - France