BY LYNN CLARK
My career has revolved around the interpretation of scientific facts, figures and data into terms that could be understood by everyone else who wasn't an engineer. My great love, other than Elsa, has always been the open road and my bike. So I took great interest in RUSA's post- PBP survey.
The rumor started before I reached Carhaix that many people were dropping out. It was very discouraging to hear that so many Americans were not going to be with us freezing in the rain (and basking in the glow of the finish line). So now with this data in hand, perhaps we'd see some common thread that tied together those that finished and those that didn't. Certainly with all of the questions that RUSA asked on the questionnaire, conclusions could be drawn that would help better prepare the club members for future PBP's.
So what were those things that should or shouldn't be done in order to ensure successful arrival at the finish line? It is far from definitive. What I can tell you is some of the things that it is not. And perhaps a few that might contribute in a small part.
So what did I find? Among finishers and nonfinishers:
• There was absolutely no difference in the proportion of men and women finishers.
• An overwhelming majority of the RUSA members felt RUSA properly prepared them, whether they finished within time or not. Only 8 out of 355 respondents didn't think RUSA did a good job.
• The types of bikes that were ridden had no bearing on the finish rate.
• There was no difference in age.
• The level of French comprehension had no bearing on whether a cyclist completed the ride.
• The amount of sleep riders gets is always of interest. The finishers got a little more sleep than those who did not. Among the respondents, 40 percent of the finishers got between 4 to 7 hours, 26 percent got 8-11 hours, 19 percent got less than 4 hours, 7 percent got 12-15 hours, 4 percent got 16-19 hours, 2 percent got no sleep and the remainder got more than 20 hours.
• The presence of a crew did not make a difference on the finishing rate.
• There was a relationship between the number of series ridden and whether a rider finished within time. Interestingly, those who did one series did better than expected, while the other groups who reported more than one series did worse than expected.
• There was no difference in the number of 1000k events that riders had completed and whether they finished within time on this PBP. Those who had previously completed one 1200k event did better than those who had done more than one.
• Surprisingly, there appeared to be no difference between the number of training miles ridden and the success of the rider. About one-half of the entrants had completed 5,000 or more miles.
• There appeared to be a weak relationship between doing a brevet series in 2006 and finishing PBP in 2007. If you completed a series in 2006, you were about 5 percent more likely to finish PBP in 2007.
• Tire size was not a contributing factor to success. About a third fell into each group of 23mm, 25mm and everything else.
• Another interesting finding: the type of training did not factor into success or failure. About a third of the riders stated their training was unstructured.
• Nearly all of the finishers listed a reason for their success as personal determination, and they also indicated they will attempt another 1200k. The non-finishers had little common cause for their inability to cross the line within the targeted time.