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Doug Simpkinson, california

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Doug nous fait part de son expérience. Des problèmes de santé l'ont contraint à abandonner mais il garde de bons souvenirs de cette randonnée....

Paris-Brest-Paris, leg 1. This was amazing, as we stretched out towards the sunset, there was a seemingly unending line of cyclists stretched out along the rural French roads. At every village there would be groups of spectators to cheer us on or to offer us water.

By daybreak I was rolling into the time check at Villaines-la-Juhel, with about two hours to spare. Unfortunately I had a flat tire and some minor stomach problems, but by eating and then using the time I needed to fix my tire to digest a bit I felt pretty good when I set out on leg 2. I used an hour of my time cushion to try to get the stomach under control, with some success.

Paris-Brest-Paris, leg 2. Things started out well enough, for about an hour and half until it was time for me to start eating, and then my stomache was not cooperating. I had been able to maintain a good pace for the first 90 minutes or so and was on pace to gain another 45 minutes by the next time check, but as I tried to eat I found I couldn't. Soon I also couldn't drink. I slowed down even more, trying to roll out some miles while also trying to recover, but to no avail.

I finally stopped in the little village of Gorron and rested for quite a while. After no improvements in my digestion I finally made the disappointing calculation that even if I did recover I could not make the time cut.

A very nice Frenchman gave me a ride (30 miles!) to the nearest train station, and then I was able to negotiate a ticket on a total of three trains to get back to the starting point. It took me over 9 hours after I first stopped riding in Gorron before I could drink more than a few ounces of water or eat anything, at about 10 PM I was finally able to eat a small dinner and drink lots of water, and then I slept. Hard.

Overall this was a huge challenge, and an amazing experience. The people of France were all exceptionally warm and kind to me, and forgiving of my horrible accent and fractured sentence structure, if you could call it that.

I'm not sure how eager I am to do this again - the scale of this event is certainly unique - I've never been in a ride where I was always within sight of another participant, and I've never experienced riding through a town at 2 AM and having children cheering for me. However, the expense and the time away from family are a huge cost. I suspect that I won't be trying this again until either the kids leave home or want to do this with me.

Thank you France, and au revoir!

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