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First, I can't remember now if I wound up remarking on one of the many interesting riders I encountered along the route - a guy riding a single-speed bike, wearing cutoff jean shorts, hauling his belongings in a plastic shopping bag. When I came up behind him, I exuberantly shouted, "Hipster!" but my remark elicited no reaction whatsoever. Hmm, hardcore hipster.

Later on, through another rider's blog, I came to learn that he was a Ukranian rider. Another American had observed him as well, and learned why he didn't respond when I shouted - it turns out he is deaf-mute. He lives in the border part of Ukraine that has been unstable due to Russian incursions, so it can be hard to find steady work. The Ukranian government sponsored his participation in PBP. And apparently he just prefers to ride single-speed bikes, and finds cotton more comfortable than other fabrics. What an inspiring story! There are more links to his adventures among the comments in J's blog (the link above).

Second, a rider just recently managed to track me down through Facebook to share the outcome of a small adventure partway through the first 24 hours of the ride that I had all but forgotten about (except that I need to get new FiberFix instructions). I had stopped in the town of Lassay-les-Chateaux at about 6 in the morning on Monday, on a mission for a postcard stamp. In 2011, S and I had stopped in this town at the "Auberge de Lassay" for delicious baguette sandwiches, so I had fond memories of the town. After procuring the stamp at a combination bar/tabac shop (I later mailed the postcard to S from somewhere around Loudeac), I paused to rest my shoulders and back with a quick nap on the pavement. Sometime after that, conversation among other cyclists who had paused at the place caught my attention. A Japanese rider had arrived, wheeling a bike with multiple broken spokes on the front wheel. It was an unconventional wheel, with specialized spokes and a really low spoke count. Ack! He tried to convince me that it would be okay because look, he could still spin the wheel, but I was not convinced. I didn't want to linger for too long, but I paused to dig out one of the two FiberFix spokes to give to him, and tried to explain how to use them if necessary. He thanked me, gave me a souvenir postcard, and asked if someone could get a photo:

And with that, I carried on my way. Unfortunately, I can't read Japanese, so I can only gather more information about the details of his adventure with this terrible Google translation, but boy. There's a picture in there showing how he taped the two broken spokes to get them out of the way, which is scary-looking to me. He only has 7 spokes left on that side! He eventually managed to finish the ride in 93 hours, so it was an unofficial finish outside of the 90-hour time limit. Amazing, though, to hear the rest of the story, eh?

Third, I keep on thinking about the Naps of PBP, an unwritten post because I would have to think long and hard to fully catalogue all of the naps. There were so many. However, some highlights: I have found two photos of me napping in other peoples' blogs, one of my grassy traffic circle nap taken by a Bulgarian rider:

And one by the blogger who also wrote about the Ukranian:

Both naps highlight the importance of selecting prime locations for one's "ditch naps." For some reason, I kept picking flamboyant spots, like that concrete traffic circle on the descent from le Roc Trevezel (boy did I need that nap). I've already written about some of the side effects of the traffic circle nap (awoken by a donkey, not really a nap because of all the laughter of passing cyclists). When I fell asleep in front of that big picture in Mortagne-au-Perche (about the first Paris-Brest-Paris), it was a wide-open and exposed space, but I picked it because it was low traffic and wide open. The riders curled up near my feet only joined in after I'd started napping.

I haven't found any photos of the nap I took on the return outside of Brest, which was in something closer to an actual ditch, but I did take a photo of another wonderful nap where I got to both nap and do some fieldwork at the same time:

Found an iridescent ant while taking a nap

And there were so many others. I am forever grateful for my heavy-duty space blanket (more like a really lightweight tarp), which has provided that extra little bit of comfort on more than one occasion. I also still love that red wool hat that you can see in the photo with the Japanese randonneur. It also helps with warmth when off the bike, and I can pull it over my eyes to block out some light as necessary.


( 6 remarks — Remark )
Oct. 18th, 2015 07:16 pm (UTC)
See, just "great naps of PBP" alone would be a fabulous article for many endurance-oriented magazines/publications.
I love that you were pinching ants while trying to nap.
Oct. 18th, 2015 07:46 pm (UTC)
I did a Google Image Search of "ditch naps Paris Brest" or something of the sort and encountered a couple of blog entries on the subject, but failed to find any more photos of myself napping. Strategic napping is totally deserving of an article write-up!
Oct. 22nd, 2015 06:14 pm (UTC)
And has applications for other environments as well, haha! I know many people who would be interested in that.
Oct. 22nd, 2015 06:39 pm (UTC)
Hmm, true!

I participated in a challenge during high school summer camp that involved sleeping "alone in the woods without a sleeping bag" for one night. One of the camp counselors helped me find a group of hemlocks, pointing out that their foliage is so thick that the ground underneath stays pretty dry even when it rains.

Other helpful elements for me: the heavy-duty space blanket was highly useful. So was the wool hat. Well, pretty much everything wool. Also, it helped that the weather largely cooperated.
Oct. 18th, 2015 07:18 pm (UTC)
I totally understand the temptation to go with aero equipment for a ride that long, but a sub-20 spoke wheel is kind of scary. Sure, in an hour-long ride.
Oct. 18th, 2015 07:44 pm (UTC)
That's my thinking! And I am guessing that the Ukranian gentleman would agree. It will be interesting to learn whether the Japanese rider will make any changes after this experience...
( 6 remarks — Remark )

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