La Société Charly Miller

By Bill Bryant

One hundred years ago, Charly Miller of Chicago was the first American to ride Paris-Brest-Paris. In the second edition of PBP, in 1901, he finished an excellent fifth place in 56 hours, 40 minutes. This was an outstanding achievement for an unsupported rider, especially when one considers the poor roads and bicycles of that bygone era. Though many of his opponents at PBP had elaborate teams of pacers and helpers along the route, Miller persevered alone for three days and two nights, non-stop. While other racers with better support threw in the towel, Charly Miller had to use all his resolve to overcome a disheartening amount of punctures and a broken bicycle in order to finish. Yet, even on a hastily borrowed replacement bike obtained 350 kilometers from the end, the 26-year-old still set the fastest speed over the timed final kilometer to the finish line in Paris! Not surprisingly, his heroic performance at PBP was very much appreciated by the French cycle-racing fans of the day. Moreover, Miller's hardy athleticism and never-say-die determination is still an excellent model for today's randonneurs to emulate no matter what pace they choose to undertake PBP or any other long randonnée. It wouldn't be until 1975 that another American finished PBP, and it took till 1979 for someone (the amazing Scott Dickson on his first PBP) to do it as swiftly as Charly Miller did.

To celebrate this cycling hero, below is a list of Americans who have equaled or surpassed Charly Miller's time at Paris-Brest-Paris and the year(s) they did it. It should be noted that the modern route used by the Audax Club Parisien since 1979 is definitely hillier than the one Miller rode along the N-12 in 1901. The new course, though entirely paved, also varies in length from year to year and is a little longer than the original 1196 kilometers of dirt and cobblestones that Miller cycled. On the other hand, today's randonneurs have vastly improved sports training knowledge and nutrition, not to mention far better equipment, lighting, and clothing. Indeed, their lightweight multi-speed bikes weigh half of what Miller's single-speed did, so any comparisons shouldn't be taken too seriously--if at all. With several exceptions, the riders below had personal support crews meeting them at the checkpoints, too. Nonetheless, anyone going under 56:40 at PBP richly deserves their membership in this esteemed fraternity of fast American randonneurs and randonneuses. Chapeau!

Note: (F) denotes women riders.

Solo Riders                                                     Year

Andrea Achilli                                                    23

Michael Aeling                                                   95

Alexander Aprelev                                             23

Carl Anderson                                                   15

Rick Anderson                                                   99

Richard Avallone                                               95.99

Edward Bernasky                                              15

Rich Boettner                                                     99

Timothy Bol                                                        07

Bob Brudvik                                                       11

Tom Buckley                                                      95

Dwight Callaway                                                87

Charles Coldwell                                               19

Dan Colvin                                                        19

Jason Connell                                                   19

Greg Cox                                                          11

Gerald Davis                                                     95

Nicolas Dehaan                                                23

Scott Dickson                                         

Daryn Dodge                                                    95.99

Wayne Dunlap                                                  19

Bill Dussler                                                       11

Billy Edwards                                                    11.19

Jonathan Fey                                                    23

Benjamin Fichialos                                           19

Bob Fourney                                                     95.99

Philip Fox                                                          19.23

Ryan Franz                                                       11

Michael Fulton                                                  03

Christopher Graham                                         23

Chris Grealish                                                   03

John Grunzke                                                   99.03

Ian Hands                                                         19

Dennis Hearst                                                   83.91.95

Jan Heine                                                         07.11.19

Kevin Hodge                                                     95

John Jurczynski                                                03

Bryan Kilgore                                                    15.19

Henry Kingman                                                 99

Greg Kline                                                        19

Tom Knoblauch                                                11

Melinda Lyon (F)                                              99.03.07

Kyle Marston                                                     23

James McKee                                                   11

Alexander Meade                                              07

Thai Nguyen                                                     19

Susan Notorangelo (F)                                     83

Dale Perzanowski                                             07

Robin Pieper                                                     11

Christopher Pile                                                11

Massimiliano Poletto                                         15.19.23

Chris Ragsdale                                                  11

Matthew Roy                                                     19.23

Ben Schauland                                                  23

Brad Tanner                                             

Mark Thomas                                                    15

Steve Thorne                                                    11

Frederick Tompkin                                             23

Bryce Walsh                                                      11

James Walsh                                                     23

Keith Wells                                                        95

Ben Whiddon                                                    11

Kevin Williams                                                   23

Todd Williams                                                    03.15

Tandem Teams                                                     Year

Lon Haldeman/Bob Breedlove                                 87

Bob Breedlove/Richard Fedrigon                             91

Jodi Groesbeck (F)/UK Tandem Partner                  99

Jan Heine/Canadian Tandem Partner (F)                 03

John Jurczynski/Ann Rasmussen Jurczynski (F)    15.19

Records used are the official finishing lists published following each Audax Club Parisien "Paris-Brest-Paris Randonneurs" 1975-2019. "La Société Charly Miller" records compiled and maintained by Bill Bryant. All riders list US as their nationality when registering for PBP.