Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Paris, Here I come!

This is a an actual face from the finish line in Paris in August of 2007. In 2011, that'll be me!

There. I've just publicly committed myself to enter and finish the 2011 Paris Brest Paris Randonnée. Hot Diggity Dog Diggity!!

Paris Brest Paris (PBP) is a randonneuring event. Randonneuring is a form of long distance cycling with events or "brevets" ranging between 200 - 1200 kilometers or about 100 - 750 miles.

This is an actual butt from the finish line in Paris in August of 2007. Of course in 2011, this could also be me. Actually, I prefer lying on my right side when in the fetal position. Really, just ask my wife!

Here's Wikipedia's description of the Paris Brest Paris event:

"Paris-Brest-Paris (PBP) was originally a 1200km bicycle race from Paris to Brest and back to Paris. It is the oldest bicycling event still regularly run. Since 1951 it has not been a race but a challenge ride with upper and lower time limits. There is a 90-hour limit and the clock runs continuously. Many riders sleep as little as possible, sometimes catching a few minutes beside the road before continuing."

So this blog is about my discovering what it means to be a new randonneur and exploring that unfolding journey with you know who. When I first learned of randonneuring just after the 2007 PBP (it is conducted every four years), I immediately knew in my soul that I had to try.

Just so you know, I'm no super-cyclist. Prior to this decision I'd never even ridden a century, let alone the 760 miles that is the equivalent of a 1200k event. But my curiosity got the best of me. "Killed the cat" does come to mind here.

I could try blaming Jan Heine, for he is surely partly responsible. I became obsessed with his grainy black & white photos of the exploits of long distance cyclists of the 30's, 40's and 50's who achieved so much with far less technology. Jan Heine is the editor of Bicycle Quarterly. In the remote chance you haven't heard of Jan or seen his work--like maybe you were stuck in the same time warp as Nero from Star Trek --you really should check him out.

Secretly and truly, the lure of randonneuring and PBP for me has a lot to do with commitment to a challenge and exploring the unknowns that emerge. What I savor is being on the cusp of looking into a new world knowing I'll discover so many new wonders I can't yet imagine (I usually fall in). And a year and a half later I have confirmed what I suspected: the mysteries revealed are worth the effort. Commitment (or falling in) does that.

Here is my favorite commitment quote:

"Until you are committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, ineffectiveness. It is true: the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves. All sorts of things begin to happen to help you that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from that decision, raising in your favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which you couldn't have dreamt would come your way. I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe's couplets, which bears repeating: 'Are you in earnest? Seize this very minute. What you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.' "- W.H. Murray, Scottish Mountaineer

It's that magic this Curious Randonneur seeks. And in this blog I will try to reveal the magic underneath the commitment, and my curiosity will be my tool.

My two chief inspirations:

  1. My wife, who not only abides my obsessions--for she is the first--but who also encourages me even as she is unsure where the path leads.

  2. My sister, Nancy, whose own journaling led me to believe maybe I could do it! Find her at: http://kyana.livejournal.com/.

Keep it curious,



  1. You inspire ME!

    Welcome to the dark side -- I mean the wonderful world of online journaling!

    Thank you for that quote -- I had only ever read the last two sentences before so it was very good to read them in context.

    This part: "It is true: the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves. All sorts of things begin to happen to help you that would never otherwise have occurred." -- makes me want to say to you (since you inspire me!) that I want to COMMIT to finally writing a story/book and I will keep track of that experience on my own undeveloped blogspot at http://fish-glitter.blogspot.com/.

    Thinking of you riding on to 2011....

  2. Yo Ho! Our first comment and already an unsolicited corresponding commitment. I accept your corresponding commitment, and will closely follow your soon-to-be-developed blog! Exciting!

  3. I love it! The blogging, the cycling, the wit, the pictures, the obsessions. You have now committed yourself to the blogging world too - we bloggers expect updates...often. As incentive (or a curse) I am adding you to my wall of bloggers that I read regularly...it shows when blogs are updated.


  4. Uh oh! I promise I will. I promise I will.

  5. Fitting that you should be writing about your inspiration when you inspire so many! Yes, it is true. This non-biking wife has started to see glimpses of what happens when the body fully engages itself--no hard task to engage given how little i have done that! but i sure did enjoy the 55 mile bike ride with you last sunday, and I am completely inspired about your journey, all the discoveries you'll uncover and share with all of us, and the fact that you are writing again! Lead us, curious randonneur, into the mystique of bicycle travels! Your wife, Pramila