A few weeks ago, fellow Irregular cycling buddy IvaHawk, contacted the N&O columnist behind the "Who's Got Game" column, regarding another fellow Irregular (+ rando) cycling buddy Ricochet Robert.
Iva (who has a nice list of recent cycling accomplishments, btw -- many from the last three years can be found on this blog) was quite impressed with Robert's cycling progress from never having done a bicycle ride as an adult prior to Apr-24-2010 to attempting P-B-P this past August. As noted, Iva contacted the columnist regarding Robert, and ... after some back-and-forth ... Robert and one MikeD (a local rando with "some" national and international connections) met with Teri Saylor with the following result:
"Who's Got Game" -- Nov-15 or 16-2011
Well done to Robert and MikeD.
Since on-line "newspaper" links have a tendency to disappear rather quickly ...
Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2011
Local cyclists pedal across France in historic excursion
If Robert Bergeron had ever dreamed of a big adventure, even a vivid imagination could not have topped reality when he experienced a bicycle ride across France.
"Randonnee" is a French word that translates into "a mighty long bike ride," and if adventure was what Bergeron sought when he signed up for the historic, 750-mile Paris-Brest-Paris excursion, he got his money's worth.
Never mind that he didn't quite make it to the end.
Bergeron and fellow cyclist Mike Dayton sat in a Raleigh coffee shop recently, swapping stories about their epic, late-August cycling journey.
More than a month after stopping 62 miles from the finish line, Bergeron was still recovering from repetitive motion injuries he suffered after his bike went out of alignment in a minor accident.
Bergeron would later turn disappointment into inspiration and discover the true spirit of the adventure.
The PBP, as the race is known, started in 1891 as a 750-mile race, but over the years, it evolved into a recreational excursion, strictly limited to amateur cyclists, according to the event website. The ride, every four years, is an out-and-back course starting and ending near Versailles. The turnaround point is at Brest, near the French coast.
Riders must finish in 90 hours.
"Sleep is optional," Bergeron said.
"You don't stop the clock to take a nap," he said. "Sleeping and eating times all count toward your goals."
Along the way, cyclists stop at 15 check points or controls, where course monitors stamp cards that resemble passports. Each control is timed to keep track of the riders and to make sure they stay on schedule.
Bergeron reckons he slept three hours in four days.
Dayton, who completed the entire distance in just more than 88 hours, managed to snag 10 or 11 hours of shut-eye.
Riders may sleep at shelters set up along the route, but they often nap by the side of the road or wherever they can find a comfortable spot.
Bergeron even curled up in a gravel pit for much-needed rest.
A longtime marathon runner, he had just completed the 2010 Boston Marathon when a friend convinced him to take up cycling. Less than a year later, he was looking at registration materials for the August PBP ride.
"I had never ridden farther than 125 miles, and thought, 'Well this is a little farther than that,' " he said. "I thought the PBP would be fun to do in the future, but I saw that it takes place just every four years, and then I considered my age."
Bergeron is 63.
Dayton, 55, is a lifelong cyclist who owns a dozen bicycles.
"I have been riding 40 years," he said.
He has ridden the PBP three times and is active in the Randonneurs USA distance cycling organization.
In December, he will celebrate 10 years of completing at least one century ride each month. A century is 100 miles.
To qualify for a spot in the PBP, cyclists must complete a series of four distance rides, from 125 miles up to 375 miles, in the months leading up to the excursion.
Besides bragging rights, cyclists return home with stories of adventure and scores of new friends.
French people living along the route have been rolling out their own special brand of hospitality for generations.
"The people set up food stations and rest stops," Dayton said. "It is a huge celebration along the route, and the meals they serve are always memorable."
Bergeron remembers a Russian family that picked him up as he limped along the side of the road after dismounting from his bike for the last time.
"They took me to a train station and waited to make sure I got on a train back to Versailles," he said.
Dejected over not going the distance, he concluded his journey, but when he arrived at the finish line, he could not believe his eyes.
He described the scene that greeted him in a report he wrote about his adventure.
"A smile came to my face; my world just changed. How could this be? My Russian friends were waiting outside the gate just to ensure I made it back. I was overwhelmed," he wrote. "What a way to end the ride."
Dayton is already planning his next big adventure, lining up a 125-mile ride. In the coffee shop, he tried to convince Bergeron to join him. Dayton can't help himself. He loves cycling.
"Even after all these years, I feel the same enthusiasm and excitement when I get on a bike today as I did as a kid," he said.