PBP Qualifiers

Published on June 2nd, 2018 | by Admin

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Massamagrell 600km PBP Pre Reg

During 2018 there was a lot of discussion regarding registering for Paris Brest Paris 2019 due to possible increased demand. Coincidentally, a friend of Anne’s, Maria Jose, told her about a 600k BRM in Valencia. The general consensus was that if we entered and completed the 600k BRM then we would be guaranteed to preregister for PBP. And provided we completed the qualification rides we would be on the PBP start line in 2019.

 

The starting point was Massamagrell on the far side of Valencia, around 230km away for us so we headed off the day prior  so we would be fresh for the 7am start. On arrival the main thing that struck me was how the Spanish riders differed from the UK Audax riders. They were definitely younger with no SPD sandals or beards to be seen. The average age of the Spanish riders seemed to be much younger than their UK Audax counterparts. We queued at a desk to pay the ride fee and to collect our brevet cards. Anne was nervous as she always is and used the toilet countless times. I loaded our overnight bags into the van then we both waited outside for the start.

We all cycled together through the town heading into the country where reaching the first climb Anne found the pace a little fast so we dropped back from the group. I must admit at this point it was a little disheartening to see the group disappear into the horizon. But we had ridden a 400k the week before so knew our pace was good enough as long as we did not overstretch ourselves. We arrived at the first control at least 20 minutes or so after the main group where we were handed a large Baguette and a large bottle of beer. We declined the beer, quickly despatched the baguette and were on our way before the main group.

Next came the climb which was more steady than brutal. As we paced ourselves up it we were passed by the group which became a constant occurrence during the ride. At the next control once again we arrived way after the group who were already tucking in to a 3 course meal. We demolished a plate of pasta each declining the other courses and were quickly on our way again.

The sky began to darken, although for a good couple of hours we thought we were going to avoid the forecast storms. Once again the group passed us shouting encouragement at us as they did so. And then the storm broke. First big drops of rain then hailstones raining down on us. At first we manage to find a dry line on the roads as the traffic was fairly sparse. Later though the rain and hail was so intense we were actually aquaplaning. I made a stupid mistake of riding over a very greasy white line which resulted in me losing grip with my front wheel and down I went. Not only was my pride hurt but my knee was cut and my handlebars broken.

But at least I could continue. We carried on looking for shelter which we found in a restaurant a few kilometres up the road. And inside were our brevet companions also taking shelter from the fierce storm.

The brevet organiser cleaned my cut knee and dressed it whilst we drank a hot coffee with a splash of brandy. We waited for an hour or so for the rain to subside which it did to some degree. We completed the final 50k to the overnight control completely soaked to the skin.
We booked into our rooms changing into dry clothes. I went to check on Anne who told me she was broken and was thinking about getting a train back. I persuaded her to get something to eat and sleep on it. Anne gave me tips on how I could dry my shoes and other kit I needed for morning and off we went to eat. Anne struggles to eat after a long ride and ate virtually nothing which was a worry. I remember returning to my room worried that Anne would not ride the next day.

I think we only had 4 hours sleep but we were both up before the others for breakfast. The rain had stopped and the forecast was for no more rain. The sleep had done Anne good and she was ready to continue. I can remember hearing virtually every hairdryer in the hotel as we left, probably being used by cyclists to dry their sodden shoes. We left 10 or so minutes before the group but once again we were soon passed again.

On reaching the next control it was clear that the group had not been there long. Many were waiting for coffee or tostadas. Anne and I were able to have a coffee, eat our tostada, and be on the road before the group. In fact as the group did catch us they sat behind us for a while before passing us. Also we noticed a couple in the group looking tired. As we continued the group started to fragment and we saw at least one rider quit.

After the next control where once again we were on our way before the main group Anne went through a bad patch. I was going well so was slowing myself by freewheeling to ease the pace with the ratchet on my hub kicking in as I did so. For some reason Anne took offence to my “noisy wheel” which in a very weird way spurned her on.

For some time a Spanish rider joined us and took time at the front pulling us towards the next control. By this time the main group had really fragmented as we passed many riders as we neared the penultimate control which was a service station. We bought water, drinks and snacks and sat outside to eat in the warm sunshine. We were informed that the main group were going to meet at as restaurant a few kilometres up the road although we declined the invitation as we decided to push on to the final control. For the first time we had a couple of problems with the route although it only cost us around 10 minutes or so.

Surprisingly it was not until around 20kms from home that the group caught us once again. But this time we tagged on to the back of the group. I looked over at Anne who looked so strong and instantly felt the relief that we were going to finish well within the time limit. I began counting down each kilometre as my Garmin counted down. I could see the relief, joy and satisfaction in Anne’s face that we were nearly home. And very soon we were! Our long journey to Paris had begun!


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