by Jennifer Wise
Six months before: Brevets: Each PBP entrant must qualify by completing a series of four brevets in the same year as PBP. The brevets of 200k, 300k, 400k, and 600k must be done in order and completed by June 16th to be considered for PBP qualification. The organizer collects all the cards at the end of the ride and within a week of the ride, submits the results to the RUSA Brevet Coordinator via the online form. He checks for errors and then forwards the results to the Audax Club Parisien (ACP) for certification. The ACP checks the results and issues a "brevet" ID number to each rider for the event. The ACP issues a brevet sticker for each brevet, along with any medals ordered and sends both back to RUSA. RUSA records and publishes the numbers. The summary, stickers and medals are sent to the organizer. The organizer keeps the summary, applies a brevet sticker to each brevet card, signs each brevet card and returns the now certified cards and medals to the riders. Riders keep the cards as documentation of the ride, since these are required when applying for PBP other randonneur events, honours and awards. The brevet ID number is proof of having completed a ride.
Two months before: PBP Application: The ACP will issue the PBP entry form in late April. RUSA prints it in the May newsletter. To register for PBP the rider must complete the PBP entry form, attach supporting documents along with payment in dollars and send the whole thing to the RUSA President in Rhode Island. PBP entries will be accepted from June 1 to July 1. All registrations must be postmarked by July 1 to be accepted. RUSA riders can find their brevet numbers on their controle cards or on the RUSA website under "Brevet Results." The PBP entry form must include all four brevet numbers to be accepted. Pick your PBP start time carefully; you cannot change it once you pick it. The ACP will verify the brevet numbers and if they are valid, ACP will send a confirmation packet to the rider in early August. It will contain a cue sheet, a bike frame number, your bike inspection appointment, verification of your start time and other pertinent information. Do not lose it! These materials are required at PBP sign in - so don't forget to bring the entire package with you to Paris.
Thursday, August 14 -Four Days Before: Travel: Depart the US. You will take a night flight, feel nervous, cramped, eat strange food, watch the movie, doze a bit and arrive in Paris the next morning, a complete zombie. Instead, take two Tylenol PM and knock yourself out.
Friday, August 15 -Three Days Before: Bienvenue à France! It will take an hour or so to get off the plane, get your luggage and bike box from the plane and through the airport. It will take at least another hour to locate your shuttle, a taxi or obtain your rental car. Allow an hour from the airport to St. Quentin en Yvelines by car. By regional metro it could be longer with transfers and lugging a bike box. Find your hotel, check in to your room and take a nap. Relax.
Saturday, August 16 -Two Days Before: Reconnoitre: Wander around. Get familiar with your surroundings, eat, rest and assemble your bike. Store the bike box and then take a test spin around town to make sure everything is working fine. Pick up last minute supplies, organize paperwork, rendezvous with friends and fellow PBPers. Nap. Eat. Sleep.
Sunday, August 17 -One Day Before: Bike Inspection/Rider Check in: From 8am until 6:30pm there is bike inspection for everyone. You come with helmet, bike, lights, spares, reflective garments on and stand in line in a soccer field. The actual inspection is quick and painless. You then proceed into the gymnasium and head to the English-speaking desk for American PBP registered riders to pick up your PBP ID badge, control card, magnetic ID card, PBP jersey (if you pre-ordered one) and meal ticket (if you pre-ordered one).
Monday, August 18 - Day of Event -Prologue; Monday. Morning. There is an optional Prologue ride of 30k at 10am. About 500 riders participate in this scenic tour through the streets of Guyancourt. There is a free t-shirt for each participant. Eat. Nap. Calm the butterflies in your stomach. Head over to the start area 1.5 hrs prior to your selected start time. Your moment is here. Evening: There are several PBP start times on Monday. 8pm for the 80hr riders on single bikes. The gates open at 6:45pm for this start. At 9:45pm is the 90hr start for tandems, triplettes and special bikes. At 10pm is the 90hr start for single bikes. Gates open for this start at 8:15pm in the soccer field behind the gym. The starts are in 15 minute increments, letting about 500 riders start in each wave. Your control card will be stamped as you exit the gathering area - so don't circumvent the line and jump in anywhere. You must pass through the start gate one at a time and get your control card validated with your official start time.
Tuesday, August 19 -Morning After: There are two PBP starts; One at 4:45am for the 84 hr group on tandems, triplettes or special bikes. The other is at 5am for the 84hr PBP adventure should unfold as follows. Arrive in Loudeac (275 miles) by 10pm and sleep.
Wednesday, August 20 - Day 2 of PBP: Start riding at 6am and go 100 miles out to Brest and 100 miles back to Loudeaác by 8pm ...sleep the night. (At 1pm the PBP Finish Line opens and stays open through Friday at 5pm)
Thursday, August 21 - Day 3 of PBP: Start riding at 6am and ride 150 miles back to Mortagne au Perche. Get there by 8pm and sleep the night.
Friday, August 22 - Day 4 of PBP: Start riding at 6am and ride the last 87 miles back toward Paris arriving at the PBP Finish Line by mid afternoon. Your total time should be about 80 hours with only 4 hours of riding in darkness.
The PBP Finish: Don't expect fireworks, marching bands, or cheerleaders. It's a low key affair, even curiously quiet. There's a volunteer at a table who accepts your control card and hands you a coupon for a free coke. That's it. Be sure to head over to the Maindru Photo table and purchase photos of your priceless PBP experience.
The PBP Award Ceremony - around 6:30pm. Expect to see bodies strewn across the floor and bleary-eyed people sitting on bleachers. You'll hear a lot of french over the PA system, introductions of ACP dignitaries, national representatives, the oldest and youngest finishers of PBP along with the first male, first female, first tandem and largest single club represented. Then at 8pm the wine begins to flow accompanied by hors d'oeuvres. Et voila! C'est fini.