Thinking about riding Paris-Brest-Paris in 2015?
The Audax Club Parisien (ACP) already has info on their PBP site. And Randonneurs USA will be adding and linking to more info as it accumulates via the RUSA PBP page.
Here, we'll be offering an overview oriented to local riders, answering questions you ask, and providing hints, starting with what you should be thinking about in 2014.
What to do in 2014?
Registrants get to "pre-register" (register before having completed qualifying) earlier depending on the longest ACP brevet or Randonneurs Mondiaux 1200k+ randonnée they completed in 2014. The longer your longest brevet, the earlier you get to pre-register. Earlier means higher priority for getting into the event. (There is a maximum rider limit.)
A 1000k or 1200k should put you in excellent position, but even a 400k or 600k should help a lot. We don't know, of course, whether the rider limit will be reached, but this dovetails with ...
Experienced randonneurs and other distance athletes know that year-over-year training makes a big difference. The body becomes ever more seasoned, and mentally you gain confidence. Some options to consider:
- a Super-Randonneur Series (200k, 300k, 400k, 600k brevets) - These are the rides (or equivalent) you'll need to do in 2015 to qualify anyway, but they are good building rides for their training effect the year before.
- a 1000k or 1200k - Not only great training, but a way to start planning in some ways* for how you'll ride the 1200km of PBP, and fun in themselves. There are five US 1200k's this year, and one Canadian one. And there are 20 (!) US 1000k's, many of them scenic. You should ride a 1000k or 1200k for the fun, challenge, and exploration, though, not because you feel you have to.
- the RUSA R-12 - This award is earned by riding a 200k or longer ride in each of twelve consecutive months. You may wonder how this applies to a 1200k, but the R-12 is a good motivator to maintain conditioning throughout the year, including our wintry months, and ramping up strong in 2015.
* PBP, with its 5,000 riders, is a unique event, so some of your planning will be different from that for other 1200k's. You may wish to look at the ACP's finishing-time histograms to detect where the big crowds are ... and the gaps in between!
It doesn't hurt to reserve rooms near the ride start/finish now. That's assuming you can change or cancel reservations later if needed. Tour organizers reserve blocks of rooms (and most likely already have), limiting the supply left for everyone else, so book early.
You can get many recommendations by looking around and asking PBP veterans, and you may find great spots beyond the usual suspects such as the Campanile and Hotel Mercure near the start in St. Quentin-en-Yvelines, or nearby at the Holiday Inn or Novotel.
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These are simple steps for 2014. The most important, I feel, is training, and experience in distance events. They will pay you back with valuable conditioning, logistical lessons learned, and a wealth of confidence.