The up to date PBP.
This PBP 2003, they were saying « it » already in their homes, in the heart of winter !
And to those who questioned them :
- Are you going to do “it” ?
- It’s true ?
- What an adventure !
- Will you have an assistance car ?
- For your training, how many miles do you hope to do ?
They replied evasively in low voices, as if they were warding off danger.
They were uncomfortable. They crossed their fingers and would have already like to be elsewhere ! In Brittany for example, on the tiny roads they loved but also dreaded so much !
And on side of the ACP, a certain feeling of effervescence reigned. Being the editor, I had dispatched the everyday tasks : the ACP letter, the bulletin - The task was large and diversified - for example
- Meetings with the SAN of St. Quentin
- Participation in the elaboration of the PBP presentation brochure
- Putting together the requests for authorisations to the different prefectures.
- Reception at Les Essarts of the registrations files for the French participants
- And consequently putting the information on the PC and re-expedition of the files to the participants …
And then, just as I was working on the “prefectures” file and was finishing the route of the PBP on the PC, that Marie-Thé made a reflection :
- Now that you know the route … why don’t you do the brevets and PBP yourself !
What stupefaction ! I forgot the mouse and the pointer slipped across the screen ! The drawing of the line of the itinerary was somewhat deviated around Nogent le Roi !
Participating in the PBP was more than a worrying thought :
- My last PBP dated back to 1995. In 1999 I was stuck in bed with a double bout of flu.
- This year Marie-Thé was ill. But how courageous she has been ! she still continued, in between two session of chemotherapy, to fulfil her role of organiser of the PBP 2003 within the PBP Committee.
I so much wanted her to stop and take a rest, but is there anyone more stubborn than Marie-Thé – a mule …two mules, even that isn’t certain ! We would have to ask the mule what he thinks !
Enough optimism for two people, that’s Marie-Thé:
Well, she made me do the brevets. And then, in between two E-mails and telephone calls from the participants enquiring about their applications, it was her again who prepared my cycling clothes- and pushed me into the road with my cycle !!! Made me ride along the roads of Chevreuse, go around The Essarts, in replacement of doing a mountain ride ! But the qualifying training to which I adhered during the period after the brevets was certainly not useless !
And do you think, when I got back from these intensive outings, that I neglected my task of looking after the participants’ files. I can tell you I didn’t - and what was more - Marie-Thé was a living example of courage ! …
I was lucky to be able to do the PBP with Isabell CAZEAUX, a young member of the Club. I had done all the brevets with her too.
The PBP – its long. The PBP is an uninterrupted succession of euphoric moments and more or less grey periods, within the image of the route which contains high points (an infinite number) and low points !
With Isabelle who thoroughly enjoys ‘extreme’ sports, I was going to find the old ‘team spirit’, the one Marie-Thé used to create during our outings on the tandem, and mainly in the organizations "Flèche Vélocio". An esprit of a ‘pure cyclist’. To be able to cycle under these conditions with Isabelle could only have a beneficial effect.
Unforgettable for us was the pictures of the youngsters clapping in our hands as we went by or handing out a drink for us. During these moments, everything was smiling upon us. A group was going by ? We integrated into it. The pace was good.
One of us was getting a bit tired. The other half of the team saw it immediately. I slowed down the pace when Isabelle was having a little trouble with a knee and it avoided her having to stand up on the pedals when we were going uphill…. Isabelle, for her part, knew when I had to slow down a little.
I hope that I was vigilant enough to give Isabelle sufficient help when she needed it. Isabelle certainly knew how to give me efficient support – to give me a boost when I was in my grey periods !
And the strong moments ?
- Separated !
I was desperately trying to thinking of a something to say to amuse Isabelle. A group went by – on their vests is the name of their club “Audax Randonneur Denmark”. A juxtaposition of the words Audax and Randonneur, apparently antinominical, gave me the opportunity to talk about the history of the ACP. Stupefaction : The Danes intervene. The Danes make me keep quiet. The Danes separate me from Isabelle ! The relay continued in a practically religious silence. Our partners on this part of the road seemed so pleased !
Pleased about what ? of our strength ? or because they had separated me from Isabelle ??? and the rest of my story …
- The toboggan !
The control at Loudéac was a problem. Is it obvious for those participants arriving in the middle of the night not to be able to take good advantage of the cocoon. Some imagined that after Loudéac, the tiny roads of Brittany will lead them gently to the country of Corlay ? A big mistake ! For this portion, just as you get to the top, you go downhill and immediately up again. Hill after hill – a real toboggan ! It’s better not to stay here too long and risk getting numb and regretting it later – hill after hill. Do not let Isabelle know of the difficulties still to overcome … we are off on the road again !
- Les Monts d’Arrée
Going up this mountain is not easy. But at the top, we discovered an absolutely beautiful panorama. The view, it appears stretches up until the harbour of Brest, but Isabelle was impatient to go down the hill again and really showed quite some style in doing so.
- The arrival at Brest
The approach to the pointe Finistère was interminable. But there was a reward when, from the Albert Louppe bridge, we could admire the magnificent Brest harbour. At Brest, Yvette and Jean-Pierre PENDU were at the controls. A Thank you to Yvette who was able to motive the cyclists !
She knows that the halfway-turn – indispensable for continuing the adventure – is not as evident as that in the minds of certain cyclists who, arriving tired at Brest, ask themselves :
- The difficult moments
Becherel, his relay
The uphill ride is easy… except at night. On the way back the relay appears lit up. For me, this light was intriguing. I sometimes came from the right, sometimes in front – always far away. An unreal object, dancing in the night, just like a scatterbrained fire … Bécherel, where I was supposed to sleep, was at long last reached and as foreseen, Isabelle would continue until Tinténiac, 10 km further on, for a well-deserved 3 hour rest.
- A beautiful story is drawing to its end
Just before Nogent le Roi, I fell. Whilst trying to avoid a few diabolic inventions scattered on the round-about …. I landed in a gutter. A sign of destiny : was it the same place as that which had deviated with the mouse pointer on the Michelin map ? Not a serious fall. An uncomfortable feeling at the base of my neck on the left, a pain in my fright knee, whereas the left was a handicap to me. I spun my wheels round and off we went again. This was a mistake for an ‘old ‘ cyclist as myself, who should have noticed that the cycle had also been injured !
We went on until Nogent. It was dark. Around Tarte Gaudran, I stopped, uncomfortable because of a bad position which prevented correct vision, at a time of heavy traffic. Was it due to the fall, its consequences ? Tiredness ? Everything at once I should think and …
The time of 66/67 h… at one moment hoped for by Marie-Thé… the joy of finishing with Isabelle…
…All that was no more, for me on that night , than a soft dream with a bitter taste, 50 km before the arrival.!
The next day, when it was light, I saw that my right brake lever had shifted quite a lot.
I finished this 15th PBP at 76 year’ old … in 76 hours ! Isabelle arrived in a time of 67 hours ! Goodbye to the glass of champagne that we were supposed to drink together at the arrival with those who had accompanied us.
Thank you to my sister and brother in law, Madeleine and Daniel Provot, for their most efficient help. Thank you to Patrick Cazeaux and to Philippe, Isabelle’s brother for their dedication and their encouragements. Their advice was always judicious. And …
It goes without saying all my admiration goes to Isabelle, my team-mate
I am not forgetting our partners, the SAN, the members of the PBP Committee, the voluntary helpers at the control points, on the road or at St. Quentin and also the cyclists and the supports on the route – all of them worked so that the :
PBP was a wonderful realization !!!
Roger MARTIN, participant N° 5100 - 9th PBP