By Ed Felker
Sure - I can hold down a full time job, spend lots of time with my wife and 9-month-old daughter and ride my first Paris-Brest-Paris. Sure! I just don't need to sleep. Well, it's not all that bad. But life has been an adventure this year as I juggle my way to Paris.
I had only read of PBP when I ventured out for what seemed an impossibly-long 200K brevet in 1996, but I wasn't looking any farther than the ride ahead. I just wanted to say I'd done it. I struggled, but finished. Exhausted, I vowed to return. The more please reaction was a sure sign that I was hooked.
I set out to ride the fabulous Potomac Pedalers brevet series here in 1997 as a dry run. All went well enough, though my first 600K was a doozy, and I set my sights on Paris. Despite the demise of the two-year rule, I would have ridden last year's series anyway and glad I did. I rode faster and more relaxed than in '97 and expect the same this year. But not because I'm younger or because I bought a featherweight titanium bike. (I'll stay with steel, thanks.) The key has been adapting to the happy arrival of our daughter Dagny last July.
For the first time, I've carefully planned my time on the bike. After reading up and looking over my logs, we came up with a family training plan to make the most of my limited time to ride.
We settled on one long ride each weekend, with an occasional three-day weekend at the in-laws where I could get two long rides. I also upped my commuting miles, and added a heart rate monitor to keep the pace on target. Also included was a rest weekend every four weeks to get caught up at home. As I write this, a ceiling fan awaits.
The result? My best early-season form ever. I started with an eight week buildup starting in mid-December, increased weekly and long-ride miles by 10 percent a week, and comfortably entered the 200 mile-per-week range. I've completed seven centuries, most beyond 100 miles, and rode one 158-mile ride. With fewer, but on average, longer rides, I pedaled nearly 2,000 miles between January 1 and Easter without any of my past aches or fatigue.
Meanwhile, I've stocked up on tires and other bike stuff, put in my reservation for Des Peres Travel's PBP package, and set aside savings. Now come the brevets! The Pedalers series begins this week and I'm ready. See you in Paris?
Ed Felker, 37, is a journalist, dad and first time PBP hopeful who lives
in Arlington, Va. and rides with the Potomac Pedalers Touring Club.
E-mail him at email@example.com.