Prepare your ride

Those who will ride PBP for the first time could find interest with the advice of a chilian randonneur, Juan Salinas.
He rode twice the Paris-Brest-Paris Randonneur. His vision can help you to better prepare yourself.

Your bike: Before the start, you should make a full check of your bike. The organizers will ask you to undergo a bike check, especially for lights, but it is necessary to check everything. Your saddle:

It is essential to have tried your saddle on long distances and to be used to it. The PBP should not be a testing ground. Everything must be tested before or you will regret it!

Your lighting system: You should be equipped with 2 red tail lights, one firmly attached to the bike and the other one as a backup light. Some roads are uneven, what often causes the loss of the lights. The front light is your own choice. Some riders have only one, others have 2 or more. I use 2 front lights powered by a dynamo. The main advantage is not having to worry about carrying extra batteries or recharging a battery. Dynamo overcomes potential problems of different electrical standards in France. To attach a light on your helmet will help you in reading map, cue sheet or road signage, in repairing a puncture, etc.

During the Ride

It’s a long ride. You should preserve your strength by riding within yourself from the beginning and not make the common mistake of starting too fast.

Wait before the start. You can’t start without a reflective vest. Some riders fixe a light on their helmet.

Many bunches form on PBP. Some are small, others big, some are relaxed, others fast. Try to find the group that suits your strength and pace.

The entire route is signposted with arrows by the organizers. Simply watch for arrows! Consider carrying a map (there are plenty on the internet), so you can check the route during the ride, if you are not sure (the scale of the map should not be smaller than 1:150,000).

Never ride alone at night unless your are experienced. By joining a group, you minimize the risk of getting lost or falling asleep.

BE CAREFUL! It is truly possible to fall asleep on the bike. If you feel you cannot stay awake, stop and rest a few minutes. Set an alarm clock and sleep confidently.

You may lose time waiting at checkpoints because of the crowds. Before eating or taking a shower, you must have your brevet card validated by the organizers. As the days pass and fatigue grows, it is easy to forget it.

The amount of time “lost” in the controls averages 25 to 45 minutes!
You often have to queue for a place in the dormitories. Specify what time you want to wake up.

You must pay in cash (no credit card will be accepted).

If you choose to eat and sleep in the checkpoints, expect between 80-120 euros for the roundtrip and bring small bills (5, 10 and 20 euros). If the dormitories are full, sleep anywhere in a warm and sheltered spot – Do not be ashamed!

Always carry toilet paper. The urge may happen somewhere in the countryside, at dawn and without close restrooms.

It can be cold at night, even in August (10°C). Protect your feet and hands, which are most affected.
During the day, temperatures can reach 30°C, if the sun shines! In 2007, the weather was very rainy.

Equipment suggestion

  • 2 to 3 water bottles
    Front and tail lights (flashing lights are forbidden)
    Spare bulbs (unless you have LEDs)
    1 puncture repair kit
    1 reflective vest
    1 waterproof windbreaker
    1 to 2 spare pairs of socks
    1 spare short
    1 pair of long gloves
    1 pair of sleeves
    1 hat that fits under the helmet
    toilet paper
    5 to 8 spokes
    Scotch-tape (to fix loose or broken items)
    Handlebar and/or rear bags to carry your stuff

To be avoided:
Do not carry a sleeping bag, a tent or any other camp equipment. It is totally unnecessary and adds many extra pounds.

I hope this information will make your preparation easier.

Lastly: Our group had booked rooms in a hotel only 4 km from the finish. You may think that it is not important, but with physical or mental fatigue, IT DOES HELP A LOT!