Back in 2003 The Wattmeister qualified for Paris-Brest-Paris on a converted mountain bike.
Towards the finish of his 400 km qualifier, arse on fire and neck and shoulders tight as piano wire, he vowed “never again” to ride such insane distances. But then along came Richard Loke, epitome of persuasive charm,
“….nonsense my boy, you are made for PBP…”.
Thus (easily) influenced, The Wattmeister signed up for 600 km rides on successive weekends and duly completed the qualification series. The second of the two rides had the benign title of The Waltham Wander, and suggested a pleasant meander through the Southern Counties. Thus lulled into a false sense of security, the ride became a fight for qualification survival for many riders. It was tough.
At one point on the long slog to Salisbury at about 7 a.m, a fellow rider, unknown to him at the time, was suffering and The Wattmeister briefly lent him his wheel to follow, before ploughing on solo.
Fast forward to Paris-Brest- Paris in the third week of August 2003. The preceding two weeks had seen daytime temperatures in excess of 40 degrees celsius, before easing a touch to the 30 degree mark for the big event. Perversely, night-time temperatures dipped to as low as 4 or 5 degrees.
After approximately 3 and a half days of riding, punctuated by the odd stop for food and an unsatisfactory amount of sleep, The Wattmeister was generally in a bad way, but worse still, his stomach had a life of its own. With over 100 kms of the ride remaining and just about sufficient time to cover the distance within the time limit of 90 hours, he was feeling very sorry for himself and needed a boost.
A British rider came by, easily identified as such by the Audax UK sticker on his mudguard.
“Do you mind if I draft your wheel for bit? “, pleaded TW,
“That’s what it’s there for”, came the reply in a kindly tone. It was the unknown rider from The Waltham Wonder.
Those few simple words conveyed by a stranger effected an instant and dizzying turnaround in The Wattmeister’s mental outlook. He now had a friend and an ally, he was no long alone with his demons.
The magic of PBP.