Sunday, August 12, 2007

A Week From Today!

It’s an overcast Sunday morning. The trees at the foot of the hill stand out, dark, almost black against the grey fog. The trees behind fade into the fog, like soldiers marching up the hill to some uncertain end. As I pause to contemplate what is ahead for me, I too feel a bit uncertain. I’m relying as much on my experience as my preparation to see me through the challenge that lies ahead in a weeks time.

Today is Sunday, August 12th. On Monday, August 20th, about 10:30 pm, I’ll roll out of the Gymnase des Droits de L’Homme with thousands of other riders to start the 16th Paris-Brest Paris.

My training for this event has not gone according to the plan I had last year. I’ve been stymied buy some persistent, maybe nagging, health problems. I would struggle to recall how many times I have been seen by doctors since December. Suffice to say, it’s a lot, and I have gone through many tests, and drug prescriptions, all seemingly to little effect.

Through all that I did manage to stay on the bike. I completed an R-12 requirement (at least a 200K or better ride sanctioned by ACP every month for a year). I’ve ridden the qualifying brevet series (200K, 300K, 400K, and 600K), ridden additional brevets and put in a fair amount of regular training miles. Not what I had planned, but enough, at least I hope enough.

I think back to this time four years ago. PBP was a huge monster in the closet. I was very insecure about it, I lacked confidence that I cold ride this thing to the finish, and my training in the run up had been inconsistent, and I recall I had a cold in the spring that dragged on for weeks. Sounds familiar. I currently have some sort of sinus/lung problem that has my nose running constantly, accompanied by a lung problem that has me wheezing during the night and coughing during the day. A cold on steroids? Something like that, and perhaps litterly. In a last ditch effort to get me ready for this ride, A week or so ago the Doc prescribed another round of steroids (my fourth since last winter) and another exotic antibiotic. The steroids usually have a dramatic effect, not so much this time. The Antibiotics are another matter. This more heavy duty drug (like the last one I had) completely obliterated the ‘flora’ of my digestive tract. The net result is I have been reluctant to get more than about 30 seconds away from the nearest toilet for the last three days. I’ve made a number of ‘visits to the bushes’ in my recent rides. With the aid of acidophilus yoghurt, and some “probiotic” capsules, things seem to be returning to normal’ unfortunately the cough and runny nose are still with me.

I don’t mean to be a drama queen about this, it’s not as if I’m riding with one leg or blind or other wise handicapped, but it has been a problem and a serious disappointment. I’ve put this down mostly so that I won’t forget it in the future. I only dimly remember my preparation for PBP ’03. I would be interesting to see some information about how that went. This time at least I have the basic info down. I know the enormity of prepping for, and then riding PBP will wash out the memory of what I was feeling like before. Now I don’t have to worry about that.

Getting ready for the trip and the ride:
Just getting to the start line for this storied event is a big thing. For the last three weeks much of my conscious efforts have been oriented toward getting ready for the trip. I’ve got check lists, and notes, and shopping lists, and unresolved worries scattered around the house, in my day planner, my briefcase, my pants pockets, post it notes on the hall calendar, out in the shop, you get the picture. Seems that if I can write it down, I have a greater sense of security that I won’t forget my shoes, shorts, bike, chamois cream (I forgot that in 2003!) or any of the dozens of other things I think I’ll need. Need? Did I say need? I wonder how many of these ‘things’ I really need. How many are just totems, superstitious icons I am surrounding myself with to guard against the DNF demons? Why not just take my bike to France, get on it and go for a ride? A little late in the game to adopt the minimalist approach.

So in the obsessive spirit of big event planning, what remains for me to be really ready? What better way to display this for you than with a …….list!

1. Change the batteries in my bike computer.
2. Calibrate the computer (now that the new tires are on)
3. Pack, and weigh (and probably re-pack) the bike in its box. (here it should be noted that Air Frances change in weight limits, from 70 pounds to 50 pounds represents a new problem)
4. Get a pair of compression sox for the flight (see DVT blog post)
5. Show the neighbor girl around the grounds so that the fish and plants get the needed watering for the coming 10 days.
6. Refill needed prescriptions for inhalers.
7. Get a new pair of silky boxers (for after the ride when the nether regions are sure to be tender)
8. Review and check off all the check lists.

For those who are interested, it is possible to follow the progress of PBP riders, you can do so by turning you browser to this ACP website:

When it comes up you can find me in one of several different ways: in the NOM field type in my last name and you‘ll see a list of us Johnsons, click on my name and it should give you an idea of where I am on the route.

Or in the Dossier field type in my dossier number 7555. This may change to my frame plate number which is 4770. Either way a name will pop up and if it is not my name then try the other number (dossier or frame plate).

Here is a list of the Controles and their distances:

Controle Distance
St Quentin (the start 0K)
Mortagne Au Perche 140K
Villaines La Juhel 222K
Fougeres 310K
Tinteniac 364.5K
Loudeac (my first Overnight) 449.5K
Carhaix Plougher 525.5K
Brest 614.5 (Turnaround point!)
Carhaix 699
Loudeac 775
Tintiniac 860
Fougeres 916.5
Villanes 1002.5
Mortagne 1084.5
Dreux 1158.5
St Quentin 1227

Well there you have it. I have a trip to Yakima to work with the tribe early next week. I drive over Monday afternoon and come back, (probably late) on Tuesday. The timing is not good; however, it will give me a bit of diversion from my PBP preparation obsession. I hope that turns out to be a good thing.

I’m getting excited about this, it will be good to get away form here for awhile, and I’m anxious to get that PBP feeling. All those people cheering me on, sending their good vibes, and offering lots of little things to help me be successful. It’s going to be great and I can’t wait.

Bonne Chance!


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