Fact file

Paris, France

The final straight

Finishers are arriving thick and fast at Rambouillet, and our list of successful sub-90-hour randonneurs now includes Fiona Kolbinger (75 hours 59 minutes) and Björn Lenhard (72 hours 54 minutes).

Graham Fereday crossed the line late last night in just under 74 hours, and had this to say of his experience:

“I was struggling with a sore Achilles on the stretch from Villaines to Mortagne (although I did end up riding part of that with, and chatting to, Fiona Kolbinger and Bjorn Leonard, which was awesome!). Got some pain killers, started feeling better again, and thought at that stage I might be on for sub 75 so upped the pace a bit.

“The support along the road from locals was amazing and really humbling. Seeing people outside their houses in the early hours of the morning giving out supplies to passing cyclists is not something I was expecting. Congratulations to all the finishers, and commiserations to everyone who's had to pull out. It's such a tough event and it doesn't take much to go wrong for it to all be over.”

For Irish rider Helen Kerrane, that’s exactly what happened yesterday. After succumbing to painful mouth ulcers (a common issue from sugary ride food) and dangerous tiredness, she was forced to scratch, reporting last night:

“I’m abandoning in Villanes. I can't eat because of mouth ulcers and I can't stay awake safely to get back. This is my first abandon, so I might as well do it in style – I’m hitching a lift back to Rambouillet with an American and a Canadian who I met in a restaurant a few days ago. #LuckoftheIrish 🍀”

Back in Blévy, British rider Grace Lambert-Smith is roughly 100km from finishing, and should comfortably make Rambouillet in under 90 hours. She’s even found an ingenious use for her bike luggage straps to keep her fuelled over the final century:

Screenshot 2019-08-22 at 09.33.57

Highlights from the road

WhatsApp Image 2019-08-21 at 08.24.28 Sunrise at Tinteniac this morning, captured by Jane Dennyson

A large number of our tracked riders are now into the final stretch of their PBP experience. As they near the end of their journey, it’s only right that they start to reflect on the achievement of completing such a prestigious and challenging event.

Helen Kerrane’s highlights include high-fives from ‘grubby handed kids’, and the stretch of riding between Loudeac and Brest, as it reminded her of home roads. She has just left Loudeac checkpoint, and witnessed first-hand how hastily the control points shut down:

WhatsApp Image 2019-08-21 at 09.52.53

For Peta McSharry, her fondest memory came around the first checkpoint:

"I was absolutely frozen solid with a dude sat on my wheel, making me do all the work. Came into a little town where up ahead there was a very jolly group of supporters. The edge of my light caught a murky glass held out in the road. As I neared them I heard someone yell “PERNOT”. I slammed on the anchors and the poor chap behind almost rear-ended me. I took the glass and slugged the whole thing down to a cheers from the Gods of Pernot. Instant warmth tricked down to my toes. I rode on smiling until the Pernot wore off and I blasted past the rider who clung to my wheel like he was standing still.“

And Zoe Holliday’s most memorable moment paints a perfect picture of the eccentric nature of audax riding:

“Last night in Carhaix-Plouguer I was filling my bottles in the toilet and a girl was throwing her guts up. She came out, smiled like nothing had happened, zipped up her jersey and left, presumably to continue her ride. Meanwhile the girl next to me at the sink took a massive handful of chammy cream, stuck it down her shorts and said ‘ahhhhhh.’”

Darren Franks c’est fini


In a time of 53 hours and 43 minutes, our first tracked rider has crossed the line. Darren said of his ride:

“The course is beautiful but I hugely underestimated it. 48 hours is do-able but I need to lose those silly mistakes.

“I caught up with Rory McCarron in Villaines-la-Juhel and we absolutely destroyed the final 120km. Full gas the whole way – proper flow state. One of the most enjoyable rides I’ve ever done.”

Congratulations Darren. Enjoy a well-deserved bier!

Cut-off conundrum

Many riders will now be feeling the effects of what for some is approaching two full days on the road. As if fuelling yourself and continuing riding wasn’t enough of a challenge, there’s also the checkpoint cut-offs to consider.

This year’s ride has a maximum total time of 90 hours, so each checkpoint serves as an intermediary gauge on how close (or far off) you are to your time. These times are starting to play on the minds of riders on our tracker – including Natasha Bysterfeld who missed her Brest cut-off by just 16 minutes.

British rider Graham Fereday felt the pain of many riders:

“I saw a lot of people riding up the hill from Carhaix-Plouguer towards Brest who haven’t got a hope of making their cut-off, if my maths is right (which it admittedly might not be after two days of PBP.”

Back in Tinteniac, Ian McBride has had what you might call a gel-induced second wind:

“Okay all… at Tinteniac. What AMAZING food! I bar/gelled on the way out, but have eaten a real meal on the return at each control and so far this is my fav. Only 340km to go… I can do this it seems. Yesterday’s nightmare, today, is tomorrow’s dream.”

Meanwhile, a number of riders are crossing the line for the final time at Rambouillet – brevet cards completed. Chapeau!

Long-distance dilemmas

One of the main stumbling blocks faced by long-distance riders is pace. When to rest? When to push on? When to eat? For Darren Franks, working out how to avoid the wind and tough riding conditions resulted in complex scenario that may have cost him his attempt at record pace. Here’s his update from the early hours of this morning:

“Second bonk. Frittered away 90 minutes waiting for the group I’d been riding with at Tinteniac. Had to abandon them in the end as it didn’t look like they’d ever wake up from their ’15 minute’ nap. Died a thousand deaths between there and Fougeres, solo in bitter conditions. Now eating for two in the restaurant at the checkpoint. It’ll take a while to process that so I may also grab a 12 minute nap. The sun will be up when I wake up, but 48 hours is sadly now out of reach.”

Paris bound

Darren Franks has set a blistering pace (27.3kph), making it to Brest in under 24 hours. He’s now on the return leg to Paris.

Screenshot 2019-08-19 at 15.33.16

Further back, Helen Kerrane has paused for a late lunch at Villaines-la-Juhel:


And four controls ahead of Helen, New Zealander Ian McBride is fighting the winds:

“I’ve arrived at Loudeac… the headwind has been strength sapping. Eating, then pushing on to the next control. Hopefully I can make Brest and sleep for a few hours.”

TCRNo7 winner Fiona Kolbinger is currently on the road after stamping in at the Loudeac checkpoint around an hour ago. She rode from Brest (the finish of this year's TCR) to the start-line of PBP, and joked that she was riding her own BBPBP (Burgas, Brest, Paris, Brest, Paris):

Stay strong out there, randonneurs!

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