My ride actually ended Friday evening. I was doing the 1,200 kilometers as a two-part event: 1,000 kilometers — 623 miles in plain American English — followed by 200 kilometers (125 miles or so). The reason that option is offered is that people unbalanced enough to want to try this kind of thing in the first place will take recognition for their efforts where they can find it; and one place they can find it is the Audax Club Parisien, the group that sponsors Paris-Brest-Paris and sanctions all the qualifying events for PBP all over the world. ACP has an award called the Randonneur 5000 medal that’s bestowed upon riders who have done a specified series of events within a 4-year time frame: PBP, a 1,000-kilometer brevet, a full brevet series (a 200, 300, 400 and 600) during a single year, and a 24-hour ride called a Fleche Velochio that covers at ledast 360 kilometers; the total of all that and other qualifying rides done in the four-year qualifying period needs to total 5,000 kilometers or more. Arcane enough? So: Clubs put on 1,000s, or offer a 1,000-200 option during their 1,200s, to accommodate riders trying for the Randonneur 5000 award. In my case, I’d done all the other rides but the 1,000, so completing that will get me the medal once I jump through the paperwork hoops set up to make sure you’re really serious about getting it.
So, my ride ended Friday, not Saturday, when the 1,200 officially ended, and here’s why: About 40 miles before reaching the 1,000-kilometer mark of the ride, my left Achilles tendon began to hurt. By then, just about everything else was hurting to some extent, too. But this pain gradually made it harder for me to pedal. I made it to a checkpoint 20 miles short of the 1,000 mark and iced down my heel, then started to ride again. The pain was worse. I knew I could make 1,000, but I was getting slower and slower. My riding partner for most of the event went on, since she had a deadline of her own to make. At one point, I had to get off the bike and walk it to the top of one of the hills on the route, then coast down the other side. But at 5:15 in the afternoon, I made it to the little crossroads of Last Chance, Colorado, the designated finish for the 1,000.
I tried using my cellphone to call in to the next checkpoint, a motel about 35 miles away, to see if it was possible to get a ride out. I couldn’t get through, so I continued west. A couple of hours later, one of the ride support people showed up in a pickup to give me a ride into town. But I’d covered another 15 miles in my slow, soft-pedaling fashion, had been enjoying the site of a big line of thunderstorms moving across the route about 10 miles ahead, and had started to feel like I could ride into the checkpoint. The support guy, Ben, said to go ahead and try, and he would just hang out until I decided to bail or go for it. I covered another 5 miles. I flatted the front tire after hitting a rock on a fast descent. I changed the tube and went on, but the leg problem was getting worse. So at about 7:30 or so, and still about 15 miles from the checkpoint, I “abandoned.”
Got the 1,000 covered, though, and that’s what I came for. Glad to have it done. More on this coming after I fly back to the Bay Area this afternoon.