“Vous-avez fait déjà 1001 km”. It was a beautiful afternoon when I rode past that humble sign. Locals stood by the roadside cheering us on, and I started to cry.
Having left Paris 69 hours earlier, I still had 230km ahead of me. But with more than five hours time on hand, I felt pretty confident that – barring disasters – I would make it.
I had expected a lot of suffering on PBP, the 1235 kilometer non-stop bike ride from Paris to Brest and back again: Saddle sours, hot feet, Shermer’s neck, falling asleep on the bike – the internet is full of long-distance rider’s horror stories.
But to my big surprise, I was feeling really strong despite having ridden 1001 km.
The second half of the ride was actually going better than the first one. I had found my rhythm, had met the perfect cycling companion, and being on my bike had turned into a spiritual experience. I felt like the bike and myself had become one entity. A magic experience I had never had before.
This is not to say Paris Brest Brest was a walk in the park. It wasn’t. I had experienced my low-point after about 350 km, about 20 hours or so into the ride.