It is almost time again to start thinking about France and tackling the mighty Paris Brest Paris (PBP) cycling challenge. PBP is a 1227km ride that takes cyclists from Paris to Brest and back. In 2015 6000 riders started this lengthy ride with 26 of them coming from Singapore. Riders have up to 90 hours to complete the distance and there are also an 80 and 84 hour options. The fastest rider in 2015 finished in 42 hours and 26 minutes….if you have ever done PBP you will appreciate how incredible that is. The rider, Bjorn Lenhard from Germany, set the fastest time ever for finishing PBP beating the record of 42h40 that was set in 1999. Covering 12,000 meters of climbing and 1227km in less than 43h is an incredible feat.
In 2011 we had a group of 11 riders from Singapore riding in PBP. Riders usually arrive a couple of days early to tune up their bikes and to get use to the local time and climate. Usually it is cold at some point during PBP so riders tend to bring jackets, leggings and arm warmers…especially those of us from Singapore who have a challenge with cooler climates.
After sampling the local cuisine and making sure your bike is ready to roll, it is time to get rolling. This is when you put you plan into play. In 2011 we started at 9pm and were quickly riding through the streets of Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines with groups from all over the world.
The nice thing about PBP is you meet riders from all over the world. In 2015 there were big groups from the Philippines, India, China, Canada, UK, USA, Australia and yes even Singapore. This photo is the 2011 contingent from the Philippines which you will note are mostly female.
In 2015 we had 26 riders from Singapore AUDAX travel to Paris. This was the biggest group in Singapore AUDAX history. The weather hit 7 degrees Celsius but overall it was nice and sunny most of the days.
The PBP experience.
Singapore now has many riders who have done the PBP more than one time. For many 2019 will represent their 3rd time riding PBP. PBP is very hard….it will put your mental and physical capacity to the test. The 12000 meters of climbing can be a bit of a culture shock to those of us who live in flat Singapore.
Some memory highlights from 2011
The entire experience of PBP is one that you will cherish for your entire life. If you do it more than once you will have more to cherish. 🙂
In 2011 seeing Lawrence Loh finish in exactly 90 hours was amazing. Seeing Carmela Serina from the Philippines crossing the finish line with a face full of tears was inspiring. Seeing Matty Chapeleau cross the finish line with a giant Singapore flag draped around his neck was incredible. Having a beer at the hotel after the 5km ride from the finish line was refreshing.
By far the nicest thing about 2015 was to see so many familiar faces back and a lot of new faces with extended families there to support the riders. The ride is just one part of the overall experience…there is the food, the wine, the laughs and the pain that you remember when you do PBP.
Seeing Andy Bennett drinking beers with 800km to go and a very intense look in his eyes.
Seeing Wesley Hughes with a massive smile when he was around 400km ahead of Adam Brooks and I and finishing in a blazing fast 61 hours.
The party the night before PBP (not recommended).
Finishing with Dan Smith who vowed ‘never doing that again’ (Dan is slated to ride in 2019).
Celebrations in Paris after.
Why talk about this now?
Well in 2018 you can qualify for early registration for 2019 by completing brevets. The longer the brevet you complete, the earlier you can register. This is important because there are only going to be 6300 spots and the world is experiencing an increase in ultra distance athletes (or crazy people, depending on how you look at it).
So check the website for the 2018 calendar which will be coming out in early October. The AUDAX year for 2018 -19 starts on November 1st.