Normandy, Mai 25, 2014
Riding at night is a particularly strong feeling that every serious cyclist should experience. I started 10 years ago and since then I do it as often as possible. Recently the opportunity was given to me by doing a so called “brevet” of the Paris Brest Paris 2015. Paris Brest Paris ( PBP for the amateurs) is an international ride, not a race, with some 5000 competitors coming from all over the world, that goes from Paris to Brest ( 600 Kms) and return ( total 1200 Kms) in a time as short as possible. You sign up for 50, 60, 70 or 80 hours depending on your speed and your capacity to resist sleeping. I did it in 82 hours last time, sleeping 3 times 2 hours in 4 days.
Some people say we are crazy, but as said this race against one self attracts people from all over the world every 4 years. And I keep excellent memories of the ride, once forgotten the bad moments ( rain, morale slumps).
To sign up for such long haul ride, one has to first participate in “qualifying brevets” of 200 Kms, 300, 400, 600 kms. These brevets are organized by clubs all over the world in the months preceding the PBP. So I did a 400 last week and plan on doing 3 others next year to get ready before the start late august 2015.
Back to night riding: 300, 400 , 600 k brevets require a full night in the saddle. We did a big loop around Normandy starting at 3 pm and night fell at 9.30 pm. At this hour there is no more traffic, and anyway we were on back roads. The very few cars pass you leaving a much faster space than they do during the day, as they are kept away by your strong rear light. Your head light is strong enough to show you the road 20 meters ahead. The rest is wind, silence, thick darkness, and your thoughts. It is amazingly powerful.
In most cases , nights are cold and winter gear is required. As usual on a bike, the worst you fear is rain, but apart from that, the world is yours. Sleep does not bother you, as for chemical reasons, when the body moves sleep keeps away, at least until the wee hours of the day, but then the sunrise tells your cells that it is time to wake up. And on you go to the first open café and get a wonderful hot café au lait with croissant. We had reached the sea at this time and enjoyed the view on the Channel as well as breakfast.
Believe me, the world seen from the saddle of a bike at night is quite an experience!