Monday, September 28, 2015

Paris-Brest-Paris: Plans vs. Reality

I did succeed at Paris-Brest-Paris, finishing in 88 hours 28 minutes.  However, my actual progress was quite far from my plan.  Briefly:

  • I had hoped to reach Loudeac (449km in, or a little over 1/3 of the way) in substantially less than 24 hours. I actually reached Loudeac in a little over 24 hours. 
  • I planned to sleep 90 minutes at Loudeac on the outbound.  Had I done so, I would not have had breakfast at the hotel.   Also I was very tired after 24+ hours of riding.  I instead slept 3 hours on the outbound, so I left Loudeac quite a bit after my "Plan A", with less time in the bank. 
  • I crashed on the way back from Brest ... lost inflation in my front tire, which slid out from under me.  It wasn't a bad crash.  I had some road rash on knee and elbow, shifters knocked out of position and uglified, and (as I later learned) a clean bolt pulled partly out, but it didn't really have a big effect on my riding once I (slowly and carefully) put the bike back in order.  But it cost me quite a bit of time adjusting the shifters, changing the flat, and later dealing with a shoe that I couldn't unclip.  (It's pretty alarming when the foot you customarily clip out with just won't come unclipped, to the point that I resorted to leaving the shoe attached to the pedal and removing my foot from it.)
  • I had planned to sleep 3 hours in Loudeac on the return.  Due partly to time lost from the crash, and partly just to riding more slowly than I had hoped, I slept 90 minutes on the return. 
  • I had a drop bag with a change of clothes in Villaine.  However, I didn't have a hotel there, and didn't want to wait in line for a bathroom, so I didn't really have an opportunity to change.  Also the jersey in my drop bag was synthetic, and with the dropping temperature I decided keeping my wool jersey on was a better idea.  (I'm glad I made this choice, as it rained the next morning.)  I did retrieve something from my drop bag ... food?  I don't recall what.  But neither the planned nap nor the planned change of clothes happened. 
  • I did lay my head down on a table for 30 minutes in Mortagne.  Every available space on the floor, in the cafeteria and halls and doorways, was taken by others sleeping, so the table was what was available.  Thereafter I did not have a repeat of the vivid visual hallucinations I experienced on the way into Mortagne, but I was still quite tired and had to take a couple of ten-minute ditch naps later, fortunately before the rain started. 
  • Narayan Krishnamurthy, a friend from Seattle International Randonneurs, asked me to ride in with him from Mortagne.  I tried.  After perhaps half an hour or an hour, I had to send him on and take my first ditch nap.  (Narayan had a later start time and was therefore closer to the time cut, so he could not afford a ditch nap then, although he really wanted one.)   (On further reflection, that may have been my second ditch nap ... I think Narayan and I both slept for a few minutes somewhere between Mortagne and Dreux.) 
  • I had another flat, this time on the rear, on the final stretch from Dreux to the finish.  My coordination was poor, but another rider stopped and helped me get the wheel back on. 
It's interesting (to me at least) to see how my actual progress stacks up against my plans.  My optimistic plan A was reasonably close on the first day, then far off later.  

A = Plan A  (optimistic schedule)
B = Plan B   (15% slower, less sleep, racing the cut)
Actual:  Actual arrival time at a control, from the PBP electronic records

Note A and B are planned departures, and Actual is arrival times.  Perhaps at some point I can dig through GPS records to get the actual departure times.

SQ Yvellines (start)  19:30 Sunday
Mortagne au Perche (food) 139km/86 miles A: 2:28 B: 3:52 (not a control)
Villaines La Juhel 220km/136 miles A: 7:20 B: 9:43 Cut: 10:10 Monday  Actual: 06:10 Monday
Fougere 309km/192 miles A: 12:21 B: 15:43 Cut: 16:04  Actual: 11:10 Monday
Tinteniac 363km/225 miles A: 15:41 B: 19:43 Cut: 19:56  Actual: 14:40 Monday
Quedillac (food) 389km/241 miles A: 17:10 B: 21:30 (not a control)
Loudeac arrive 448km/278 miles A: 19:59 B: 0:53 Cut: 2:00 Tuesday  Actual: 19:50
Loudeac depart 448km/278 miles A: 22:00 B: 0:00  
St Nic du Pelem 493km/306 miles A: 0:19 B: 2:47 (not a control)
Carhaix 526km/326 miles A: 2:47 B: 5:44 Cut: 8:03  Actual: 05:31
Brest 614km/381 miles A: 8:05 B: 12:06 Cut: 14:53  Actual: 10:59
Carhaix 698km/433 miles A: 13:11 B: 18:14 Cut: 21:19  Actual: 17:10
Loudeac arrive 780km/484 miles A: 18:11 B: 0:13 Cut: 3:39  Actual: 23:04
Loudeac depart           A: 23:39 B: 1:39 Cut: 3:39
Tinteniac 865km/537 miles A: 4:48 B: 7:49 Cut: 10:12  Actual: 08:24
Fougere 919km/571 miles A: 8:20 B: 12:05 Cut: 14:23  Actual: 12:05
Villaines La Juhel 1008km/626 miles A: 14:27 B: 19:25 Cut: 21:14  Actual: 18:30
Mortagne au Perche 1088km/676 miles A: 19:20 B: 1:17 Cut: 3:08  Actual:  00:42
Dreux 1166km/724 miles A: 0:08 B: 7:02 Cut: 8:44  Actual: 07:38
SQ Yvellines 1230km/764 miles A: 4:12 B: 11:54 Cut: 13:30  Actual: 11:58

It is remarkable how close this is to my "Plan A" in the first 24 hours and "Plan B" thereafter.   It's a little depressing to realize this averages to 8.6 mph over the whole journey, but that's total time and not moving time.  I have no idea what my moving average was ... probably around 11 or 12mph.  I was definitely not moving quickly toward the end.

Although I found it difficult to keep to my plan, I think the planning exercise was useful in helping me gauge my progress at each point, and to make tactical decisions like sleeping more at Loudeac on the outbound.  Although I was behind where I wanted to be, I was never in serious danger of missing a cut, and knowing that was helpful.