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Journeys : Oct Nov 2011
In Tasmania today How to describe the 1200 kilometre odyssey that is Paris-Brest-Paris? Its combination of rolling terrain and sheer distance ultimately beat us – but that is getting ahead of the tale. St Quentin-en-Yvelines (0 km) Building up the bikes, then nervously attending scr utineer ing, proved attention- getting – all eyes were on the laminated timber r ims of my bike (which I built to replicate Oppy’s r ims), to the extent that most everything else went unnoticed... Paris – Fougeres (310 km) The 5am departure triggered a tense follow-the-leader steeple-chase of street furniture – traffic islands, crossings, roundabouts and kerbs – w ith a constant stream of tail lights ahead. The morning’s route connected nar row hill-tow ns w ith sweeping r ural views, until perfect conditions broke into an intense electrical storm and deluge that would dog us for five hours to Fougeres. Fougeres – Brest (618 km) Setting off for Brest after an hour’s sleep became all the more surreal as we were met by the first retur ning r iders, who had star ted 12 hours before us! The rain eased but the hills intensified, each control point a welcome pause for food in large quantities. Brest had all but closed by our arrival, and to stay on schedule meant an immediate departure. We opted for sleep, realising our 84-hour goal was now out of reach. Brest – Fougeres (921 Km) It seems unlikely that you could nod-off while pedalling uphill, but blinking eyelids betrayed micro-sleeps and the need to nap at the roadside. A wonderful pastry and coffee breakfast at Carhaix, and a rousing welcome at the Loudeac control, raised spirits – but Gavin’s neck and knee gave way shortly after, forcing his withdrawal at the 800 kilometre mark. Fougeres – Villaines-La Juhel (1009 km ) – Paris (1230 km) Back at Fougere, another three hours sleep helped our bodies to last as far as the control at Villaines-La Juhel, before we sur rendered, just 200 kilometres short of the finish, but still some 10 hours of r iding away. We now know just what it was like for Oppy to ride those 1200 kilometres in 1931 – an astounding achievement and one to be remembered and celebrated. We sincerely appreciate the support of our partners RACT and Murdoch Clarke in helping us to reach the start line, as well as the wonderful support for our fund-raising efforts for Oncology Childrens Foundation and the messages of encouragement received while under taking this challenge. More details of the ride can be found at our web site – www.750m.com.au Previous page: Scott, showing the strain of the ride. This page, clockwise from top left: St Quentin start line, in a soccer stadium, with a couple of hundred riders ahead of us; second control at Villaines- La-Juhel – water sheeting down the inside of the sports hall as we gulped down hot pasta and fruit. Compulsory reflective vests and flash don’t mix; before Fougeres, in a brief break from the rain, soaked through, feeling the strain and looking forward to a hot meal. Gav is on the front, ex-Tasmanian mate and ultra-marathon legend Andrew Johnson second, Craig third, Scott hanging on in last wheel; first control at departure from Mortagne-Au-Perche. The morning began cool but pleasant but just down the road, the heavens opened October / November 2011 55
MNJ Aug Sep 2011