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.