Thursday, August 4, 2011


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.

Sometimes I learn from my riding buddies. Sometimes I learn it at the school of hard knocks, like in 2005, when I rode the inaugural Cascade 1200. Here's the lesson -- show up unprepared and slightly out of shape and you may finish, but get ready for some butt ugly suffering, not the exquisite kind that some people like to write about. I'm not interested in a repeat of that, so the training has remained constant. I've ridden mountainous training routes three times in the past month. Those rides may be the very best preparation I'll do. I've  completed a few other long rides, including a 175 miler to the beach with a 135-mile return, two back-to-back 100Ks in the mountains, a 135-mile mountain day in 90+ degree heat with 10,000 feet of climbing, and a midnight start 300K with serious hills. I have another 200K coming up, and I'll follow that with a century ride, then put the bike in the box for the long plane ride to France.

Training has been one part of the picture. I've also been getting the bike ready. In the past month, I've changed nearly everything on my beloved Coho, right down to the bar tape. I built new wheels, including one with a new Schmidt hub. I could not get the rear wheel to stop creaking, so I went to plan B and reinstalled a wheel that is about one year old. I've changed the entire drive train, including a new rear derailleur, and knock on wood it is shifting flawlessly. The seat that I said I would retire after LEL, just shy of two years ago, well it has finally been retired. Nine years of continuous service and thousands of hard miles. Lucky stars, I was able to purchase the same Terry seat NOS on eBay.

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.


Mark said...

Looking forward to riding with you in France!

MG said...

Right on, Mike! Nice post, and look forward to seeing you in France...


George Swain said...

Best of luck, Mike. Can't wait to hear the tales. If LEL is any preview of the fun that lies ahead, I am sorely jealous. Looking forward to your updates.

Cap'n said...

U R Ready! I hope you constantly fiddle with your saddle height during PBP, that way I can rest some. BTW I think that stem is 1 cm shorter. It will come in handy when you can raise that thing on day 3 or 4. I can't wait.

Spencer said...

Questioning the self is a major part of every successful brevet. As Ende has told me, I believe is true for you: if nobody almost everyone DNFs PBP, I would expect to see you as a finisher.

The photo of you at Yad Moss base camp lives in my mind and hard drive, you are much tougher than the average editor and much more funny!

Best, Spencer

Spencer said...

What I intended to say is:

Questioning the self is a major part of every successful brevet. As Ende has told me, I believe is true for you: if everyone DNFs PBP, I would expect to see you as a finisher (esp if Ende doesn't get a kidney stone)

The photo of you at Yad Moss base camp lives in my mind and hard drive, you are much tougher than the average editor and much more funny!

Best, Spencer

Cap'n said...

I love that Yad Moss base camp pic. I tried to lad it into this comment but Mike has me blocked. Dayton would have looked happier had he not just eaten a whole bowl of butter with a knife.

Anonymous said...

Well I have the jitters as a first timer.
My fitness could be better but I feel adequate. Work and a minor illness has gotten in the way. But I have been sneeking out early AM to ride 100K+ miles with a good friend whose kind enough to pace me at a ood clib thru the hills south of Waxhaw. Thanks to bro' Mike and Cap'n for letting me get some climbing miles in. BTW if you find a beige croched glove around it's mine. I hate orphaned gloves or socks.
The bike is about set to go. Although yesterdays deluge showed that my IXON has a crack and is no longer waterproof. So must get the new one ordered. I use it to charge batteries during the day and as backup/flashlight.
I am putting a little extra padding on the bar tops/flats.
Plan on sneaking in a century or 200K solo (maybe Lake Loop).

You anciens are an inspriration to me!

YungFalbz said...

Bon séjour! to everyone riding PBP. I'm looking forward to the stories and pictures!

As impressive as you guys are, it's good to know you still get the jitters. :-) Lots of useful information in there.