martes, 4 de julio de 2023

Road to Paris-Brest-Paris 2023

Paris-Brest-Paris (PBP), I’d argue it is the biggest cycling event in the world when you combine how old the event is (older than the Tour of France), amount of riders (around 8,000), how international it is (more than 70 nationalities represented), the distance to ride (1,200km to be ridden in 90 hours) and the support riders get from spectators alongside the road. In my mind, PBP is like the Olympics of long distance cycling. 


I have two objectives for Paris-Brest-Paris (PBP) 2023. The first one is to finish it. 


Arriving to Brest in PBP 2011


I rode my first PBP in 2011. It took me 87h 45m. That was the 86th time in my whole life I had ridden a road bike. I loved the experience so much I set myself the goal of riding PBP ten times. 


Now, PBP only happens every four years so a simple math exercise told me that I’ll ride my 10th one in 2047 and I’ll be 78 by then. I can’t afford to miss any edition as I’m not sure I’d be able to finish PBP being 82 years old. Hence my first objective for 2023 is to ride those 1200 km within 80 hours.


My second objective, though, is to set a personal fastest time at PBP. That means finishing in less than the 59 hours and 31 minutes that was my official time for PBP 2019 (https://www.strava.com/activities/2723782617).


At the finish of PBP 2019


I want to have the experience of riding as fast as I can and setting a personal record so in future editions I can focus on other ways of enjoying PBP. I have set my eyes on a stand that offers free sausages to cyclists. I’ll eat two of them in 2027.


As with the Olympics, everyone has to qualify to be able to enter PBP. That means any rider aspiring to ride PBP has to finish a 200km, a 300km, a 400km and a 600km Audax event.


We are very lucky, Kingston Wheelers Audax Chapter organizes a whole series of rides that can be used to qualify for PBP. A luxury at our doorstep.


In those events I normally volunteer in the morning. I love having the opportunity to welcome the riders, to help answer their questions. The atmosphere is fantastic, a combination of excitement and expectation for the ride to come. I always wear Kingston Wheelers kit, I’m proud of the quality of our events and want to show our colors. Once we send off the riders I normally help tidying up the venue and then I’ll start my ride.


For me these year’s qualifiers are opportunities to test the kit I’ll be using and to train the pace I’ll aim to be riding at PBP.


In the second half of the Gently Bentley (200km) (https://www.strava.com/activities/8742677677) I tested for the first time my “steady” pace. I was very happy managing to finish the event and not feeling that tired.


Amesbury Amble (300km) (https://www.strava.com/activities/8879816927) was my opportunity to test my rain kit. This ride is where I decided the long sleeve Gabba (Castelli Perfetto RoS) will be the jacket I’ll take to PBP.


At the Dauntsey Dawdle (400km) (https://www.strava.com/activities/9066147594) I rode with aero wheels and aero bars and I decided I was going to use both at PBP. I also tested in the first 10 hours / 250km the strategy of riding “steady” and stopping only the essential. Tiring but manageable.


Bryan Chapman (600km) (https://www.strava.com/activities/9110165742) was my dress rehearsal. Carrying all the kit I plan to take to PBP, riding “steady”, minimizing time in stops and riding through the night. Although the main learning I got from this ride is that I’ll be 100% sure I’ll start PBP with my di2 fully charged.


Since Bryan Chapman, 20th of May, I switched my training focus. June and July is all about intensity. Those 2 hills rides on Thursday evening are excellent for that, even if I always end up dropped.


In August I’ll be in Asturias (Spain). Two weeks of proper tapering to make sure I get to the start as fresh and as relaxed as possible. I’m pretty good at that.

Minutes before starting PBP 2015


I’ll be starting on the first wave, Sunday 18th of August at 16:00 (CET), rider A076 (I believe there'll be some way of following the riders at https://www.paris-brest-paris.org/). 


That will be around the 3000th time I ride a road bike in my life. I’ll be able to give you the exact number on the day.


Take care

Javier Arias González





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