Friday, August 26, 2011

PBP - the aftermath


Nearly 48 hours after crossing the finish line, seems like I should be able to string together some sentences about the ride. But 80 hours is a long time to try and summerise, even allowing for the 9 that were spent sleeping!

We've been so fortunate to do some amazing rides this year, all so different from the challenges of touring south America, the set backs and rescheduling to qualify for PBP, the highs and lows of the Alps of La Marmotte, and now completing our first 1200km Brevet with the granddaddy of them all, PBP. So many different special memories from them all; here's a few that will set this one apart.

The sheer numbers on PBP is staggering. It's similar in size to Marmotte, but many times bigger in the number of volunteers and passersby who support it. And staggering around and sports hall at 3am with every corner covered in comatose bodies, you get more of a feel for just how large it is.

Going into the third day of a Brevet we had little idea what to expect. Truth be told I realise now I've only ever tolerated the second day of a 600 as a necessary pain to make the first day count, and feared day 3 would be more of the same. But how wrong! It was simply a most wonderful day out on the bike. We had glorious weather, great cycling terrain, enjoyable company, I felt great on the bike. It just all seemed to come together just when we needed it the most.

Amongst thousands others, strangely one most memorable moment was Monday night at Carhaix. By 9pm we'd been awake for 36 hours and on the bike for at least 24 of them, so were keen to get some kip asap. Scoffing second dinner before retiring to our crash space, I persuaded Emma to take a quarter of an orange. In a weary attempt to eat it speedily, she chewed into the whole lot, wedging the skin between lips and gums like an orange clown grin. Chuckling, I did the same, and then for a time we were both left helpless in fits of laughter directed at each other's silly face - but the laughing itself was painful due to the fruit filling our faces! No idea what the other exhausted audaxers sat about us made of all this - or if they were even conscious enough of their surroundings to notice - but we it really did mark the difference for us between a three day ordeal it could have been, and the silliness and fun we added to make it so much more enjoyable.

Unfortunately the efforts of the final 150km took their toll on my right ankle, and I developed the exact symptoms of pain and inflammation Emma had a month ago. Likely a sympathetic injury caused by overcompensating for her pedaling weakspot. Since returning from the event I've not left the campsite, and can barely hobble to the bar and back! Lots of ice and rest and massage is helping it recover, so tomorrow we still intend to start our ride back home. I have no regrets as it's been such an amazing week.  And fortunately pedaling is a lot less painful than walking as I can do it with less ankle effort, and of course on the tandem I have another pair of legs helping too!