Thursday, September 20, 2007

No Rest for the Righteous


Roger and I rode into the village. The routine was the same; the route zigged and zagged into the town center, past the church, and out again. This one was a little larger, a little uglier, with more pavement. Riders wrapped in Mylar blankets slept in doorways and bus shelters along the way. Roger spotted a pay phone.

We had slept, about two hours maybe, in a cafĂ© about two villages back. Oh what a place!! A charming little hole in the wall under siege by dirty, smelly, weary, soaking wet men. After a cheap feast of simple soup, pasta, and ham sandwiches, we crawled onto some mats in a back room. Free of charge. Hell, they even woke us at the prescribed time—they kept a log, a clipboard hanging at the door. Then jovial fellow with the premature graying hair and o-so-French stripey shirt served us coffee and pan au chocolat, still warm from the oven.

And when we departed, I felt like crying. I contemplated hugging the proprietors, but they were too busy and looked as weary as we. A simple “merci beaucoup” was all I could muster when I got their attention. They will never know how I truly felt about them.

But now, less than an hour later the overall lack of sleep was catching up with me. As we rode along the smooth, narrow back-roads of the French countryside, I became increasingly confused. I hallucinated we were on a Florida bike trail; I could smell the surf and hear the waves pounding the shore. I peered over the dune grasses to get a glimpse of the ocean. Instead, cows slept. Over and over, I forgot and remembered again.

Roger decided to call his wife. Without a moment’s hesitation, I dismounted, placed the bike on its side and laid down where I stood. I took no shelter and wasted not a moment looking for a soft patch of ground. I lay flat on my back, head cradled in my helmet, a steady drizzle on my face.

I heard the first few sentences of Roger’s conversation, but I was sound asleep within 10 seconds.

########################################################################

Forgive me, gentle readers, for my extended absence from the Blogoshpere.

I am in a crisis mode right now. A long story involving various financial difficulties, a fallen tree, a collapsed porch, a leaking roof, a power outage, and a stop work order from the city of Chicago. Dealing with lawyers, contractors, utility companies and claims adjusters has left me “emotionally unavailable.” I’m sure you understand.

Regardless, I shall spare you any further suspense: I completed the Paris-Brest-Paris in under 87 hours, at exactly 1:59 pm, Friday August 24, one minute ahead of schedule. Organizers and participants claim it was the worst weather in 20 years, some say 50. It rained everyday, temps stayed mainly in the 50’s and we fought a headwind about 75% of the time. 27.7% the 5312 entrants —1471 riders— did not finish.

Rest assured, I will flesh out the details in the coming weeks. I do thank you for your continued patience.

In the meantime, you can see—and order— photos of me here.

And you can watch videos and interviews from the ride here. Try and appreciate the hodgepodge of unsorted languages as one of the eccentricities of the ride.

########################################################################


When I awoke, Roger was standing over me. “O.K., Man, lets go.” I sat up for a moment blinking and dusted the grit and glass off my shoulders. I picked two ants out of my beard. I swallowed the rainwater in my mouth.

Painfully, I rose to my feet and mounted the bike. We rode off towards the dawn.

7 comments:

Liam FitzPatrick said...

I do wonder how many of us returned from PBP to be met by domestic disasters? Several months with the ride as my sole pre-occupation has certainly cost me dear back in the UK!

Liam
l dot fitzpatrick at working hyphen communication dot com

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you are finishing up your story - we in the internet world have been waiting anxiously to hear how it went! ;)

julie said...

CONGRATS! i can't wait to hear more- you're as good a writer as you are a rider.

Noah said...

Hey TC, congratulations on finishing the death ride...um, I mean the PBP. I've really enjoyed reading your blog. And best of luck with the mess at home. If you need anything...

julie said...

ps- TC, I think this should be your next conquest: http://www.eroica.it/

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
MzunguEriki said...

you should not of stopped blogging