There's a lot of comfort in knowing.
Two weeks from France, and the Paris Brest Paris preparations continue, but with two PBPs and several other long rides on my resume, I'm pretty confident in my abilities to get it done. I know how it feels to line up at the start, and I know what I'll shoot for distance-wise, day-by-day. I know how to prepare for whatever weather we'll get, I know how to eat on the bike. I know how to deal with the inevitable lows that will punctuate three to four days of riding.
Experience has taken the edge off the nervousness, and this time, more than ever, I'm looking forward to the fun of the PBP spectacle, just as much as the challenge of 750 miles in the saddle. My buddies Capn Ende and Bossy Girl Carol and Joel and many others have taught me how to have fun, even as you're suffering through the heat and the rain and heavy legs. I've had the chance in recent months to share the road with many skilled and devoted randonneurs, including Capn Ende, Branson, Jerry, the Florians, the Kamms, Steven, Stephen, Jimmy, Geoff, JoeRay, Sridhar, Ian, Tim, Lynn, the Pauls, Mark Thomas, Spencer, Wes, John M, John P, Joe, Bob, Maria, Andy, Janis, Carol, Brother Rob, Joel, Dean, Byron, Bryan, Alan, Al, Martin, John O, JoAnn, Henry, Vance, Gary and Sara, Chris, Mike O. And on and on and on. Those guys have trained and taught me well.
All of the equipment changes, with a proper testing period, give me confidence that my bike will be ready for the big show. The one questionable call is the new stem I've installed. At 90 centimeters, it's shorter than the last one by 10 centimeters, [Ed. note: Arrgh! metric system! 10 millimeters; see note below] and it's also adjustable and set up at a higher angle than the last one. The goal is to eliminate the neck pain that has plagued me toward the end of every multi-day ride I've done. The neck seemed fine on a recent 200K, but the stem appears to have caused another set-up issue -- my left knee now aches for the first 80 miles. I raised the seat about 3/8-inch and I'll shift the angle down slightly. Maybe that will cure it, maybe not. If I have to live with a little knee pain at PBP, I'm not sweating it. Because I've done the leg work.