Paris-Brest-Paris: In the Shadow of Notre Dame…
We arrived in Paris at 6 a.m. last Wednesday morning in preparation for Paris-Brest-Paris. All luggage arrived safely, we found the train, we found the apartment and then immediately went to a patisserie for croissants. Then it was time to get down to work. I assembled my bike on the terrace of our apartment, under the watchful eye of the Cathedral de Notre Dame.
Sleep was calling, but rather than surrender, we went for a walk to find a local street market. They were tearing down just as we got there, so we found an Italian cafe for a late lunch, then a little more walking just to stay awake. After an early dinner at a cafe near the apartment, we hit the sack for a solid 10 hours of sleep more than 32 hours since leaving Albuquerque.
Fred and I took the train back out to Charles de Gaul to meet Colin and Julie coming in from LA. With their two bikes and luggage, the minivan was not big enough for all four of us, so Fred schlepped back to the apartment via train, while I drove with Colin and Julie to their hotel near the start in Saint Quentin. I mainly wanted to do this in order to take the train back to Paris so that I would know the stations and if there were any peculiarities to the route. Turns out there was construction on the a section that contains the St. Michel – Notre Dame station, but they had a free connecting shuttle bus. Very glad to get all that sorted out before trying to take the bike.
Yesterday, Fred and I reversed that route (with the bike) and met Colin and Julie at the station in St. Quentin. Colin and I met up with a large group of American riders for a preview of the first 25 miles of the course, while Fred and Julie sorted out the GPSs and maps, practiced driving the country roads of France and met us at the turn-around point. During the ride, found and chatted with four Rocky Mountain Cycling Club members (Billy Edwards, Paul Foley, Vernon Smith and Brian Rapp). They were all having a big Colorado dinner tonight in St. Quentin, but unfortunately I couldn’t make it back out there for it.
After delicious coffee for Fred, Julie and Colin (I’m still on the caffeine/alcohol wagon), we rode back to St. Quentin for a shower and lunch. Then off to do chores (hardware store for PVC for a flag pole for the support van ID flag, auto store for a Thule rack for the minivan for Colin and Julie’s tour of the Alps after PBP (yeah I know, Colin’s nuts), then drove 80 miles out to the first support point so we could nail down the exact location for a swift exchange.
So far everything has gone very smoothly, jet lag was minimal, and the bike is working well. Sunday is official bike inspection and registration, and the first groups of the fastest riders leave in the afternoon. We’ll be staying in St. Quentin Sunday night, ready for a 5am departure on Monday morning.
Michael Henderson is the CFO at Osprey Packs HQ in Cortez, Colorado. Stay tuned… we’ll be posting updates from his race and recap when he comes home!