It was a dark and stormy night…er, nights. 84 hour start put me at a disadvantage in trying to get to Loudeac "on time". Was I that slow or was it the conditions, or both? I seemed to be sluggish on the ascents and low on energy. Day before the start was flu-ish, so maybe a bug was sharing the ride. 3 hr sleep break at Loudeac got halved to 1.5 hrs, and off into the dawn for day two. More rain, wind, partly cloudy skies, nice weather in Brest, and lots of night riding back to Loudeac for a quick and minimal 20 min sleep on cafeteria chairs. Day 3 more of the same; by evening it felt like my bike was riding on mashed potatoes. It was shredded sidewalls on a rear tire from all that grit and rain; required a messy tire change in the rainy dark, then a good ride up the long ascent to Mortagne, again behind schedule at like 4 am, so eat, 45 min for sleep and off for day four. Sleep deprivation caused a decided loss of focus, at one point I didn't know where I was or what I was doing, I was just riding my bike, but a sudden jolt of "closing time fever" got me to Dreux, then onward on a 20 min sleep break (more like comatose collapse) and a desperate push to the finish, which happily occurred at 83:59. That's cutting it close, don't you think?
I enjoyed moto assist to run a few red lights in the last 10K. The guy was shadowing me for miles and knew I had finish on my mind. In those exciting miles I passed no fewer than twenty others and dragged a few of them along through the Saturday afternoon traffic snarl in town near the finish. High energy dissolves pain.
Post rest analysis: I suffered training induced amnesia - Besides the brevets I rode some 150 mile days and thought, shucks, anyone can do PBP on this amount of preparation. Hmmm... Oregon commuting, etc, was excellent preparation for the conditions at PBP this year. On the last day the water-induced collapse of my Brooks B17 finally got to me, and a walnut sized abcess formed just about where the ischial bone likes to sit on the Brooks. It made the last 100 km interesting. Doc says surgeon will have to lance it. "You haven't been squeezing this, have you?" he asked. "Well, I wasn't squeezing it, but it was under compressive forces for a time, if you catch my drift," was my humble reply. He said, "You sure do a lot of cycling." My reply: "But I run about 70 miles a week for crosstraining." His eyes rolled.
I must have had a bug, but I got better through the ride, eating well. Three of those rice pudding desserts formed the backbone of each feast. Potage, mashed potatoes, rice, pasta, parmesan, yogurt, that's about it. Simple, low fiber and high carb. The four or five café au laits provided the required stimulus when needed. Those Bar/Tabac folks know how to make good coffee, really good. Makes me wish I were a coffee drinker. I'll ride in 2011.