Planning for Paris-Brest-Paris

November 13, 2017


With the next Paris-Brest-Paris in 2019, it is a good idea to rehearse the four qualifying rides 2018.

The windows for each ride in 2015 were:

  • 200 km – February 21 to May 10
  • 300 km – April 04 to May 25
  • 400 km – April 18 to June 5
  • 600 km – May 8 to June 28

Therefore, you have to complete the 300, 400 and 600 km rides in a twelve-week period. This can be a shock to the system if you’re not used to riding more than a regular 200 km Audax each month. Also, in 2019, the rides have to be BRM categorised but that isn’t needed for this rehearsal. However, it is worth noting that your longest 2018 BRM ride will dictate how early you can register for 2019 Paris-Brest-Paris.

It is worth looking at the AUK Calendar now and identifying which rides fit at least roughly into the above windows and then planning around them. You’ll be surprised how squeezed your time can become when you factor in holidays, work commitments and the like.

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” — Benjamin Franklin



Upper Thames Audax 2017

November 5, 2017

First 200 of my 2017/18 Audax season. Weather was a little unpleasant for most of the day but the sun finally came out for our run back the start at Cholsey.

Broke my chain on one of the first hills. Had a spare link in my tool roll so was back on the road in under ten minutes. It was a KMC X10EL Silver chain that had only done around 3,000 km. I normally get around 5,000 km out of their Silver/Grey chains so this was a surprise.

Had new 25 mm Continental Grand Prix GT tyres running at 90 psi and they were so comfortable. Had no issues with them slipping on the wet roads, other than when standing on the hills. No problems with all the wet leaf litter and the numerous flooded lanes. Even my first generation Stages power meter had no trouble with the water.

Also, first long wet ride in my new dhb Aeron Storm Waterproof Jacket and it was perfect. Kept me dry without overheating. Great piece of kit.

My Garmin 1000 start/stop button didn’t want to work for a while at the end of the ride. I think this may have been caused by it being covered in gritty water when I followed a rider with no mudguards for a bit towards the end of the ride. No idea why they didn’t have guards on. It is November, rain was forecast and it was a ‘mudguards required’ event.

Stats for the day:

  • 209 km with 1,750 m elevation gain
  • 9:14 riding time (22.7 km/h)
  • 204 watts NP

Upper Thames Audax 2015

November 8, 2015

A very wet and windy edition for the 2015 Upper Thames Audax.

We rolled out at 7:30 and almost immediately the drizzle started. I found I was quickly overtaken by most of the field on the first leg down to the info control at Dunsden Green. No doubt everybody was feeling perky and enjoying the tailwind. I figured I’d hold back a bit as the long stretch west would be tough into the wind. The rain had picked up and there was tons of debris on the lanes. Just when I was thinking that I hadn’t passed too many people fixing punctures, I heard pfft, pfft, ppft coming from from my front wheel. Typical.

The climb up to the Christmas Common info control was uneventful but we had to make a detour around Little Milton. Apparently a driver had taken down a light pole so the road was closed. At around this point the rain became so heavy that it caused my Garmin screen to lock. Lucky I was on the map page as I couldn’t scroll left or right. Being stuck on an info page would’ve been less than useful. I was completely drenched by the time I got to the first control at Waterperry Gardens but was still warm so didn’t feel too uncomfortable. Other riders looked very miserable as they shivered in the car park, soaked through.

We started to feel the effects of the headwind when we turned north west at the next info control but it was only when we headed west after Bicester that it got really tough. The rain was heavy and the windy was gusty so I just put my head down and ground into it, being careful not to push too much over my threshold. This strategy seemed to work as I wound in a few riders and quite quickly found myself at the control in Chipping Norton. The rain had stopped but the run south from there was just as tough as we were now heading straight into the wind. At times I needed the 34×28 just to get up some fairly minor bumps. Again, I just put my head down and ground it out. Probably, at this point, holding back in the first leg began to pay dividends as I could stay up around my threshold and keep pushing into the wind. The last info control was a relief as we turned east and could finally enjoy a tailwind for the 30 km run in to the finish.

My stats for the day:

  • 216 km
  • 9:12 moving time
  • 1,756 metres elevation gain
  • 203 watts normalised power

I’m a bit sceptical as to how accurate the power reading is as my Stages meter was having trouble in the rain. At times it was registering nothing and at others it said I was pushing over 10,000 watts. My 5 second second peak for this ride was apparently 2,415 watts. If only it had come down to sprint!

Upper Thames Audax

November 2, 2014

My third successive year riding this event and my slowest so far. Started at 7:30 and finished at 17:00, so not a bad overall time but only 35 mins of this was spent stopped. Barely enough time to grab a ham and cheese sandwich in Bicester and cup of coffee in Bampton (I bounced both controls).

Lots of punctures, particularly early in the ride but my Continental Grand Prix GTs were excellent, as ever. I’ll switch to Four Seasons soon but not sure whether to switch back to GTs or 4000s IIs next spring. The GTs are super reliable but the 4000s IIs are supposed to be faster.

The weather was unusually excellent during the ride with no rain, a temp around 13ºC and only a moderate headwind on the westerly and southerly legs. It has been far worse in the past.

I’m experimenting with eating non-energy products during my rides in preparation for PBP and found Soreen Malt Loaf and Bassetts Liquorice Allsorts to be excellent. My slowness was almost certainly not due to switching to “real food” but rather two weeks of next to no riding and a summer of barely any intensity work. Carrying enough energy food isn’t an option for PBP so I’m going to have to get used to eating only what I can buy at controls and convenience stores along the route. Any tips?

My first structured block of training since March starts next week. The plan is to do tempo intervals (2 x 20min) on Tuesdays, aerobic threshold intervals (2 x 30min) on Thursdays, 90min recovery rides on Wednesdays and Fridays and end the week with a four to six hour endurance ride on Saturdays.

Next event: South Bucks Winter Warmer on Dec 6

Ride stats

  • 212km with 1,550m elation gain (7.3m/km)
  • 8:54 moving time (23.8 km/h)
  • 9:30 total time

Some excellent pictures by Andy Oxon on Flickr here.

Paris-Brest-Paris 2011

August 15, 2014

Thinking very seriously about doing this next year.

Brooks Team Pro Classic

January 27, 2014

Brooks Team Pro Classic

The Paris-Brest-Paris 2015 site is now live and as my first step on that journey I’ve bought a new saddle. It is the Audax standard, a Brooks Team Pro Classic to replace my Selle San Marco Regal. At 530g it is 150g heavier but that won’t matter at all if it is still comfortable after eight hours of riding.

UPDATE: I was expecting a lengthy breaking in period but first ride was four-and-a-half hours and the new saddle was perfectly comfortable throughout. Very impressed!

Here’s a experimental timelapse video shot on my new GoPro. It uses the default setting of a frame every half second and I then compiled the thousands of pictures using Microsoft Movie Maker. The result isn’t too bad.