Join us as our very own Diogo breaks down his toughest challenge yet; Paris-Brest-Paris, a 1,200km endruance ride that took him places mentally and physically he'd never been to before.
It all began with a humble fixed gear bike and a ride from London to Brighton. Little did I know that this journey would ignite a passion leading to my participation in one of the world's most challenging ultra-cycling events, Paris-Brest-Paris. This is the story of my transformation from a novice cyclist to conquering a grueling 1,200-kilometer ride.
A Humble Beginning
My venture into long-distance cycling commenced with a simple ride from London to Brighton, riding on a fixed gear bike. The sense of freedom and accomplishment I experienced upon completing that journey was unparalleled. I became captivated by cycling and resolved to explore it further while pushing my limits.
The Road to Audax
I quickly recognized the need for a proper road bike to take on longer and more demanding rides. Investing in one, I embarked on a series of Audax rides. These organized long-distance rides introduced me to a community of like-minded cyclists, starting with 200-kilometer rides. But my appetite for challenge remained unsated; I yearned to push myself even further.
In my first year of cycling, I accomplished 200-kilometer, 400-kilometer, and even 600-kilometer Audax rides. Each ride tested my endurance and determination, but my hunger for more persisted. That's when I first learned about Paris-Brest-Paris.
Paris-Brest-Paris: The Ultimate Challenge
Paris-Brest-Paris (PBP) stands as a legendary ultra-cycling event, spanning a grueling 1,200-kilometer journey from Paris to Brest and back. Challenging cyclists since 1891, it beckoned me with an irresistible allure. I embarked on the journey by pre-registering for the event, knowing this would be the ultimate test of my cycling prowess.
Qualification Rides: Twice the Challenge
Participation in PBP mandates a series of qualification rides, encompassing 200 kilometers, 300 kilometers, 400 kilometers, and a final 600-kilometer ride, all within specific time limits. While most cyclists complete these rides once, I undertook each of them twice. My determination to discover my limits and my commitment to thorough preparation knew no bounds.
As the day of PBP approached, nerves crept in. The notion of cycling 1,200 kilometers non-stop was undeniably daunting. However, the unwavering support of my family, friends, and colleagues bolstered my resolve. Their faith in me provided the strength to embrace this incredible challenge.
The Triumph of Reaching Brest
As I set out from Paris toward Brest, a blend of excitement and nervousness engulfed me. The initial leg of the journey tested me both physically and mentally, but the enchanting French countryside and the steadfast support of my loved ones propelled me forward. When I finally arrived in Brest after 25 hours and 37 minutes, the sense of achievement overwhelmed me. Exhausted yet elated, I relished the moment.
The Painful Journey Back
Following a well-deserved two-hour rest in Brest, the return journey to Paris commenced. However, around the 900-kilometer mark, a sharp groin pain threatened to slow me down, and maintaining a speed of over 14 kilometers per hour became a challenge. It felt as though my body was betraying me.
A Moment of Resilience
Despite the despair, I refused to concede defeat. Turning to my friend Luke and my wife for advice, I incorporated stretching and a 30-minute power nap into my strategy. Upon waking, I felt remarkably rejuvenated and determined to press on. It marked a moment of resilience that would shape the remainder of my journey.
The Final Stretch
Completing the last 200 kilometers proved tedious, with scorching weather and monotonous scenery. Yet, my unwavering determination propelled me forward. In the end, I finished in 67 hours and 16 minutes, basking in the satisfaction of pushing my limits.
I unequivocally look forward to returning in four years' time to embark on another remarkable journey of self-discovery.