Posted by: audaxing | August 29, 2011

PBP: the Fast Bits

I was on the retour to Tinténiac. I’d left Brest that morning and climbed back over La Roc in the fog.

I first met Jo with an old guy, also German just before the secret control. At the control I gave them both a fig roll biscuit and suggested we work together.
The old guy was pretty rapid on the flat but slowed on hills quite a bit. I had to soft pedal to keep him there. Jo pulled ahead, leaving me with the old guy. I towed old guy for a bit then I jumped to the rapidly disappearing Jo to ask him why he was leaving us behind. He explained that he’d kind of got saddled with the old guy and didn’t really want to ride with him. He didn’t have anyone else to ride with.

Me and Jo rode 2 abreast at a good speed for a while, chatting. We became aware that we had people behind, this was Arvid and Phillipe. Arvid was dutch and on a recumbent. Phillipe was French.

Me and Jo towed along for quite a long time.
After a while we asked the others to take a turn and we had a group. We swapped about and all rode on the front.

When we got to the place that the rider had died we stopped for a minute, out of respect.

Pace was brisk but not silly, approx 35kph on the flat. On the rolling section Arvid got up to a ridiculous rate. The others were better descenders than me. At one point after a descent Arvid and Jo were ahead and I had to do 54kph on the flat to catch on. Phillipe had to work to catch on too.

On the last bit before Tinténiac there are some fast riding roads with rollers and Arvid was going like the bomb. The most difficult bit was judging when to do safe overtakes of the other groups on the road.

We got to Tinténiac at 21:30. We ate together in the Canteen. We all slept there but left at different times. I was 90h and had a ton of time in hand so got 6h sleep. Jo was 84h so was in more of a hurry.

I left Tinténiac at 6am with a east coast American and then as it got light joined an Australian couple.

Next fast bit was much later that day on the run in to Druex. I’d met my friends Joth and Emma on their swishy tandem at Mortagne-au-Perche. We’d stuck together for quite a while but I lost the tandem in the hills.

How I lost them was quite amusing. We’d ridden through a village where they were ringing the church bells. Many, many km late I could still hear the bells. If I tipped my head sideways it seemed to stop. I suspected it was an aural hallucination. I stopped to check. Yep, it’s only happens as the air whooshes past my ears. Ooops, the tandem is a long way off now.
I chased for a bit, but there was too much downhill: we’d just done quite a lot of ascent. They were gone. Shortly after this I went past the ruins of a chateau. I felt rough, stopped to put on gilet and eat something. A group passed of approx a dozen, including Dave Khan and other Brits. So I hopped on the back.

Pace was ok but not particularly fast, maybe 26kph. I was happy to follow and participate. Then a Swedish 2 up passed. I’d worked with them earlier so jumped onto their wheel. Dave Khan also jumped. We all pulled in this group of four and did a good speed. Not sure how fast, my computer had broken.
We passed several people on their own. One guy joined us for a bit but then didn’t rotate correctly / as the Swedes liked so he rode off the front. Think he was Canadian.

After a while of working I spotted the Tandem ahead. The Terrain was flat so it was visible at a few km. When it was my turn I went a little harder to try and close. But as all of us worked tandem didn’t get any nearer. Next turn I really pushed. Shouts of annoyance from behind. We got to maybe 200 metres off the tandem. One of the Swedes “what are you doing, you are riding crazy” I explained I was trying to catch my mates ahead. “You go then, we don’t want you”. So I kicked off the front of the group and bridged to the tandem. Dave Kahn later said it looked quite funny my bike with a Carradice bag shooting off like a scalded cat and leaving the lightly equipped Swedes behind.

It turned out the reason we’d been having trouble bridging to it was that the tandem was trying to catch the triplet. This had three large germans on it. Just outside a town, the tandem did the catch. And Emma gave the triplet a little wave. We trundled into the control behind the speeding tandem.


  1. Reading this it sounds like a really horrible crowd of riders. People getting annoyed and shouting at others for not doing things how they expected. Maybe it wasn’t really like that?

    • What you have to understand is that we’d all had minimal sleep for a few days, we didn’t speak each others languages that well and so there was a bit of shouting and such like. I didn’t mention it in the article (maybe I should have) but the Swedes ended up behind the tandem and were in a good mood as we rolled into Dreux. At the moment they told me to go, they didn’t appreciate what I was doing. I wasn’t going to explain as I was in a state of semi hypoxia and wasn’t going to miss the chance to bridge to the tandem

  2. I didn’t sleep at Tinteniac, I slept at Fougères, or at least tried to. From there on I knew I could finish on wednesday in daylight, which I did. I could even pitch my tent with the last bit of daylight.

    • Hi Arvid!
      I finished at 0:40am Thursday. I had been planning to use the full 90h but it just made more sense to do it that way when I got to Druex. It was good to have an extra night in a bed before going home again

  3. […] and the tyres contributed to this. I didn’t break any downhill records but I did put up a cracking pace on the […]

  4. Wicked times – I will aim to do it next time round

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