Category Archives: Paris Brest Paris

PBP Memories: Drew Buck and his 1900 Peugeot

This week BBC News ran a feature about Drew Buck, a long-distance cyclist from Somerset, England, who is famous in the randonneuring community for completing Paris-Brest-Paris (PBP) multiple times on vintage bicycles.

Drew Buck arrives at PBP. Love this shot. Photo by Felkerino

Drew Buck arrives at PBP on his vintage retrodrive Peugeot. Love this shot. Photo by Felkerino

The article prompted me to search through my own set of photos from the 2011 edition of PBP, and I realized that Felkerino I had the pleasure of encountering Drew Buck at various points throughout the ride.

Making his way to the start

Making his way to the start

Drew completed the event riding a 1900 Peugeot bicycle and wearing clothes representative of that time period as well.

The 1900 Peugeot at the finish of 2011 PBP

The 1900 Peugeot at the finish of 2011 PBP

Here is Drew arriving at the 90-hour start, where his presence caused quite a stir.

Drew Buck arrives amid a sea of modern bikes

Drew Buck arrives amid a sea of modern bikes

Felkerino and I watched him ride past as the 90-hour riders began their journey.

Drew Buck-PBP 2011

Because we opted for the 84-hour start we were able to take part in the 90-hour festivities as observers. Energy was bouncing around every corner of Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines that day.

Drew Buck-PBP 2011

Drew Buck at the beginning of PBP

We crossed paths on Roc Travezel (Roc’h Trévézel!) as we were pedaling our way toward Brest and he was on the return. Brest is the midway point of PBP.

Drew Buck outside of Brest on PBP 2011

Drew Buck outside of Brest on PBP 2011

I was snapping photos of riders as we passed them going in the opposite direction and did not even realize that I captured Drew as he was remounting his bike.

Drew Buck-PBP 2011

Drew Buck and others (including Judith Swallow) at the finish of PBP 2011

I also have a few shots of him at the finish. Drew is looking away in this photo, but it gives you another idea of his ensemble. Avid randonneur and mile-eater Judith Swallow is also in the background of this shot.

And finally, a last look at Drew’s Peugeot after its long journey. Great job, bike!

Drew Buck's 1900 Peugeot PBP 2011

I was so caught up in my own ride and how Felkerino and I were doing during PBP that I did not give much thought to how cool it was to encounter Drew Buck at these various points. We just happened to cross paths with him at the beginning, middle, and the very end of the ride. Now I see these times again in my photos and it’s really quite amazing.

PBP was an incredibly intense experience. So much was happening, it was hard to soak it all in as one complete experience. I have loved the tangible memories of my photo sets because they have helped me unpack other moments from this great ride, like these of Drew Buck. Thanks for revisiting them with me.

Paris-Brest-Paris by Tandem

Have you heard enough about PBP yet? Well, hang on just a minute, because I’ve got one more story to share with you.

Felkerino and I co-wrote a short piece about what it meant for us to complete this past August’s Paris-Brest-Paris by tandem. It was published in the most recent edition of American Randonneur, the quarterly newsletter distributed by Randonneurs USA.

Felkerino and me, with Rob Hawks on PBP 2011 (c) Antoinette Galon

Randonneurs USA members may have already seen the article, but for those who have not, we decided to post it over at one of my favorite blogs, The Daily Randonneur. Click on over and check it out. It will make you immediately want to buy a tandem and start training for PBP. Kidding, though I do hope you like it!

See you on the road, everybody.

2011 in Review: All Bike Rides Lead to Paris Brest Paris

Now that 2011 is coming to a close, I’ve been reflecting on the year, as many people do. For me, 2011 was all about Paris Brest Paris, not just because of the event itself, but also because of all the careful planning and diligent pedaling it took to get there.

In early 2010, Felkerino and I decided that we would attempt to ride the 2011 edition of Paris-Brest-Paris (PBP) together on tandem. As part of our preparation, we rode the Endless Mountains 1000K in 2010 to give us a good pre-PBP challenge and to see how we might fare on a ride close to PBP distance. While we finished Endless Mountains well within the time limit, I finished with a lot of knee pain and fatigue. I worried about how my body would withstand PBP, an event 125 miles longer than the one I’d just completed.

To build up my strength, I added more weight training and core conditioning to my weekly workout routine. Felkerino and I developed a 2011 cycling plan that had us riding around 1,700 miles from January to March. Ed likes to say the randonneuring season begins the day after the Winter Solstice, and at least this year, he was right. We dragged ourselves outside in the cold and dark, sometimes finishing in the cold and dark, to make sure we developed a strong cycling base.

Through the brevets and the Super Randonneur series (late March through June), we continued to increase our long miles. When not riding brevets, we would do weekend training rides to build our endurance. During June and July, we logged four overnight cycling trips (in addition to the 600K) and completed over 1,000 miles each month. Since June and July are such awesome cycling months, that wasn’t hard to do, except that our household projects and laundry suffered.

About four weeks before PBP, we began to taper and did not worry about logging any big miles until the event itself.

Our plan worked extremely well for us. Endless Mountains proved to be a fine training ground for PBP. The craggy Pennsylvania terrain built up my legs and my confidence. The brevets and our steady buildup of miles until August made me comfortable with spending lots of time on the bike. Before dawn, during the day, after dark… I was ready to be in the saddle.

When PBP arrived in mid-August, we were physically and mentally prepared. I remember going to bike inspection, getting our photo taken, and feeling like life was perfect. I couldn’t stop smiling and I was so proud to be with Felkerino and all of the other randonneurs.

And fortunately, we both arrived in France in good health and with snappy legs. The weather cooperated (for the most part), and we had no major mechanicals. My stomach held up and I had an excellent appetite throughout the ride. Even though we were on the clock, we were able to keep a decent cushion between our ride and the cutoff times. We even got sleep each night!

When Ed and I crossed the PBP finish line, I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude and happiness. Everything had come together.

And how could I forget the most important thing– we had such great companions and support along the way. Endless Mountains, the brevets, our weekend rides, PBP… we seldom rode alone. Laughs, smiles, stories, and shared moments of randonneur loopiness with our friends kept the miles rolling, and made all our rides that much better. The virtual company from the Tweets, blog comments, and messages that we received while out riding motivated and encouraged us. Thanks to all of you for being part of our 2011 adventures.

My PBP 2011 Story: You Have to Go to Know

Hey, readers. The Daily Randonneur, a mighty fine randonneuring blog written by this guy I know, is featuring my Paris-Brest-Paris 2011 story. Yeah, you know PBP, that 1230K ride that so many randonneurs rave about? That one.

It took four days to ride PBP, and another two months to write the story. I’m not sure which was harder. Wait, yes I do.

Day 3 on PBP, with Felkerino and Jon.

Felkerino has been rolling out the story in daily increments this week, with the grand finale going up this Friday.

Have a cup and read my story.

So grab your favorite beverage, click on over to The Daily Randonneur, and take a vicarious trip to PBP. Hope you enjoy it!

Randonneuring, Twitter, and #PBP2011

When people first started talking about this new thing called “Twitter,” (which I know is not new anymore) I didn’t get it. I understood Twitter was supposed to work as a social networking tool, but social networking about what? What you ate for breakfast? Who cares about that? Twitter struck me as a self-indulgent waste of time.

Despite my initial skepticism, I kept an eye on Twitter to explore what the hype was about.

Over the past year, Felkerino and I started using Twitter more and more, primarily for randonneuring. We “followed” randonneurs from our own club and other people we met on rides. I searched the Twitterverse and started following other randonneurs and commuters.

Our friend Alec rode the Shenandoah 1200K this summer, and tweeted his progress throughout. From his tweets, Felkerino and I could see how much he was riding each day, tell what the weather was like, get a sense of the terrain, “see” who else was on the ride, and who went to the finish. He even tweeted a few photos as he went along. Here is a snippet of his feed near the end of his #bigbicycling journey. (For all of the tweet feeds below, read bottom up.)

Alec's Tweets at the end of the 2011 Shenandoah 1200K

Since Felkerino and I could not make it out to the event and cheer for him in person, we tweeted. Go Alec!

Alec’s fine Shenandoah 1200K tweeting inspired Felkerino and me to tweet throughout PBP. I never thought I’d use my cell phone as more than a phone, and look at me now. For an activity like randonneuring, it is an excellent way to communicate and connect.

  • Twitter is easy to use on rides. Just punch in your 140-character or fewer tweet and off you go. Messages have to be short so being pithy is key, both for the sake of Twitter as well as your own progress on the ride.
  • You can tweet a photo along with your tweet. People can actually see something from your ride. I love that, though half the time I forget to attach the photo.
  • You can tag or name other tweeps in your tweet. If I want to reference Felkerino, for example, I add “@dailyrandonneur” to my message. As we are often riding together, lots of my tweets include him. During PBP, if we rode around others, we shared that on Twitter. It allowed our friends to see what other D.C. Randonneurs or RUSA members were in our midst.

Tweeps and Peeps on #PBP2011

  • People can track tweets by an event. If you include hashtags, like #PBP2011, or name an event in your tweet, people can search Twitter for it and your tweet will be included. This was how I learned that we were riding close to Paul Rozelle (@octopuscycling). I was searching quickly through the #PBP2011 tweets during one of our overnights and he was also using the #PBP2011 hashtag. I also saw that he was tweeting the same controls and stops that we were, at approximately the same times.

Paul (@octopuscycling) tweets PBP2011

  • Twitter connects you. It was fun to be able to search the tweets and see fellow randonneurs/tweeps riding PBP and giving updates of how their ride was progressing. Some of them I knew from home, others I did not. I connected to people from the UK, the Netherlands, South Africa, Australia, and the United States, and some I still keep in touch with via Twitter.
  • Fantasy PBP! Peopled connected to my Twitter feed because it allowed them to “virtually” go to PBP and follow the event from the comfort of their home computer– fantasy PBP, as our friend Lynn H. calls it.
  • Friends can tweet you on! Felkerino and I received so many encouraging tweets during our ride from randonneurs, friends, and our #bikeDC commuter buddies/tweeps. It meant so much that people took the time to virtually cheer us on and send their well wishes during PBP. Rides as long as PBP have both highs and lows, and the motivating tweets from our friends and followers helped especially during the tougher moments of the ride. Thanks, guys!

My PBP2011 finish on Twitter

I hope that more and more randonneurs start using Twitter to share their rides. Riders note what they experience as it happens, observers can connect to the event and the riders even if they cannot be there, people can get a unique glimpse into randonneuring even if they don’t randonneur themselves, and a global virtual randonneuring community grows. #iheartrandonneuringandtwitter!

Happy Friday! Time to get your #coffeeneuring on. Oh yeah.

PBP 2011 Ride Reports from Other Blogs

Hi, everyone. What have you been up to? I’ve been living the post-PBP dream, which mostly entails going to my job, dreaming about randonneuring, and recalling fun times at PBP.

Felkerino has begun to post some good PBP accounts over on The Daily Randonneur to help keep the PBP memories alive. I’ve also been doing some internet sleuthing of my own, seeking out other people’s PBP 2011 experiences, and came across a few standouts to share.

Roger en route to Carhaix

  • Rick Cosaro, of Chicago, has a thoroughly entertaining report of his first PBP attempt and his battle with Shermer’s neck over at his blog, Chasing the Endorphins.
  • A rider from the Westerly Cycling Club of West London shares the highlights of his PBP here.
  • Chris Ragsdale, of the Seattle Randonneurs, was the first U.S. finisher. His speedy account is at Seattlepi.
  • Tony Lonero, originally from Pennsylvania and now residing in Italy, writes about his MS diagnosis and his third PBP at UltraRaceNews.
  • A London participant writes about the expectations he had about PBP and whether the ride lived up to them on Stuff what I see and do.
  • An enjoyable writeup of the sights and sounds of PBP at the Bike Maintenance Company’s blog.
  • Rapha rider James Fairbank says never again to PBP. Find out why at the Cycling Tips Blog.
  • A Montana randonneur tells his tale of PBP at Belgrade Bobcat. Note the photo of our own Tom Reeder near the end of the account!!
  • A Seattle randonneur posts an engaging summary of the highlights of his ride over at If I Had a Bike Blog.
  • Flickr buddy Fabiorandonneur writes up his PBP story at his blog, Randonneur e dintorni. Sadly, it is in Italian so I can only muddle through the basics of his account and enjoy the photos (especially the one that includes Felkerino and me)!
  • John Lee Ellis posts a concise summary with good pics over at Colorado Brevet Series.

Courage!!! Guy Soudiere

I hope you enjoy them. Have one to add? Feel free to do so in the comments. Now it’s my bedtime. Think I’ll find a good PBP story to cap off the evening.

Saying Good-Bye to Thai

We lost one of our D.C. Randonneurs’ members last week.

Thai at a control on the Civil War Tour 200K

Thai Pham, a fellow randonneur, died while riding in last week’s Paris Brest Paris. We’ll miss him, and my thoughts are with his family and friends during this time.

Thai and the D.C. Randonneurs


My PBP 2011 Photos

Hard to believe that last week at this time I was still riding my bike through the French countryside on Paris Brest Paris. Where does the time go, ha!

Finally, after a canceled flight to Dulles that required a re-route and a mighty drive from Boston (in a tropical storm, no less) I have had a chance to get my photos of the 2011 Paris Brest Paris up on flickr.

More posts about the ride itself are in the works, but in the meantime I hope you will enjoy a vicarious visual journey of this amazing ride. Just click on the photo to be taken to the corresponding set. Thanks to all who rode with us and made PBP one of the most spectacular rides in which I’ve ever participated.

PBP iPod Touch Pics

The iPod Touch pics consist of photos that I tweeted before, during, and after PBP. Some have been souped up with Instagram or Photoshop Express. These photos are a quick glimpse into various moments throughout the ride and Felkerino’s and my PBP trip.

PBP Day 1: SQY to Loudeac

Day 1, a 449KM ride from dawn into the rain, sunset, and lightning storms. The greatest number of miles I’ve completed in one go. Quite the adventure and I got to give my waterproof camera a real test. It passed!

PBP Day 2: Loudeac to Brest to Loudeac

Day 2. A “mere” 333KM ride out to Brest and back. I loved this part of the ride, but I must confess that the climb up the Roc Travezel and the route into and out of Brest did get a bit sloggy at times. No major rains, though, and that made me so happy. Don’t want to be testing out your rain gear every day!

PBP Day 3: Loudeac to Mortagne

Day 3. A picture-perfect day of 308KM from Loudeac to Mortagne. This is the PBP I dreamed about!

PBP Day 4: Mortagne to SQY

Day 4. More picturesque views of the French countryside and even more sun. Almost made the lightning storms and rain worth it. ALMOST! At 140KM, the shortest leg of our PBP journey.

I also have a set that includes some of the 80- and 90-hour starters as well as Bike Inspection. Check that set out on my flickr page as well.

Hope you all enjoy. Still have captioning to do, but my j-o-b and randonneur laundry keep impeding my progress in that regard. Also, if you see yourself or someone you know in a post, feel free to tag it or let me know via flickr.

More soon!!

It’s official. Finished PBP

After months of prep, PBP 2011 is now in the books and so are Felkerino and me, successfully completing the adventure in about 81.5 hours.

Overall, it was a highly civilized ride for Felkerino, friend Jon G., and me. Yes, even with the hours of cycling through lightning storms.

And regarding those storms, I just want you all to know that my parents did teach me better than to ride through lightning. That was a little ridiculous, I admit.

I’m already brimming over with great ride memories. Felkerino and I had a fantastic ride. It was a fine mix of cycling, friendship, undulating terrain (though I would have happily foregone all the chipseal), and food (let’s hear it for bowls of coffee and mashed potatoes in the morning!!). Lots of forward momentum, but few moments feeling rushed. I could not have asked for more.

I am the luckiest stoker in the world to get to ride with Felkerino!

I hope those at home enjoyed following us on the Twittosphere and the “fantasy PBP” rider tracking. Your tweets to us kept us inspired and moving forward. They meant so so much. Thanks, everybody!

Congratulations to all who rode PBP this year. Now we figure out how to get home as Hurricane Irene swirls up the East Coast.

More to come. In the meantime, be safe, my Washingtonian friends!





PBP… the Riders are Off!!!

80 and 90 hour riders began to a warm and sunny send-off. The energy from the riders and the event enveloped this suburban town.

Festive, excited, nervous, twitching with anticipation… The start was amazing. I have never seen an international cycling event like this. Unforgettable!

One of the riders told me yesterday, “PBP is a chronic drug.” Not sure about that, but it sure is a thrill so far.

Our own journey starts in a few hours.






UPDATE: Just had a chance to do a quick camera upload and wanted to share these shots of some randonneurs you might know… Bonne Route!!!!