Last tango before Paris

Photo: A good omen for my last big training rides before PBP. My registration confirmation and bike plate number arrived the morning of the first of three test rides.

It’s been a nagging doubt, hanging around in the back of my mind. I’ve only ridden two 600km audaxes before. On both occasions I took several days to recover. I know I can ride to Brest (600km) but can I get back to Paris (another 600km)? I decided to find out.

The plan

Ride three loops from home. 1 x 600 (Thursday/Friday), 1 x 200 (Saturday) and 1 x 200 (Sunday) making it a 1,000km test in total. The routes I chose were significantly flatter than PBP, but I wasn’t trying to replicate the course. I was also staying at home in my own bed, with meals cooked by my fantastic wife, so not really like PBP. My real interest was how would I feel post 600km?

My start time for PBP is 18:15 so that’s when I left the house on Thursday evening. Ninety hours from then is 12:15 on Monday, so finishing 1,000km on Sunday would be a good sign.

Not quite as fully loaded as I will be for PBP but enough for a good set up test

How did it go?

Start: 18:15 Thursday 4th July

Finish: 15:15 Sunday 7th July

Elapsed time: 69 hours

Time at home: 20 hours

Elevation: 4,239m

Distance: 1,005km

Cycling time: 40 hours 55 minutes 9 seconds

Start weight: 78.6kg

End weight: 72.5kg

Weight loss: 6.1 kg

What did I learn?

Go slower

My 100km elapsed split times during the 600km stage were:

  • 3h 46m (way too fast for a 1,200 km audax)
  • 4h 5m
  • 4h 33m
  • 4h 36m
  • 5h 21m (including lunch)
  • 5h 36m (including a sleep)

My slowing pace was the price of going too fast to start with. A temptation I must control during PBP.

Keep drinking

This was a good test for the potentially hot weather in August. In the 30s for most of the day and only down to 18° overnight it was a hot one. On the 600km I reckon I drank about 20 litres of water but only went to the bathroom twice. The hydration tablets did the trick, as did knowing where to look for water fountains along the route.

Don’t drink

In Bologna on Friday I spotted this sign and stopped for lunch

My kind of place
Tagliatelle alla Bolognese. Spaghetti Bolognese is not an Italian dish, the Bolognese would never eat ragu with spaghetti.
Having drunk so much water I was desperate to drink something else for a change.

Even though I only drank half of this half, the combination of alcohol and heat didn’t do me any good.

Plan to sleep

After lunch on the Friday I started to feel really tired and a little unwell. The combination of going too fast and the heavy drinking session meant that I was beginning to struggle. I was at risk dropping off so I lay down at the side of the road and set my alarm for a 15 minute snooze. The restorative effect of a little nap was amazing. I felt much better. I will plan a number of short naps for PBP, especially after riding through the night on Sunday.

My kit is ok

My electronics all worked well. I am so glad I took the decision to get a dynamo. I can re-charge all my gear during the day and light up the road at night without having to worry about batteries. I can concentrate on cycling.

Line Shallow saddle by Fabric, Brevet shorts by Rapha. I don’t use chamois cream. All good after 1,000km, no soreness.

My club socks are too thin for long distances. I started getting hot spots. I changed to padded socks for Saturday and Sunday. Problem solved.

I am putting my bike in for a full service tomorrow to reduce the risk of mechanicals.

Expect the unexpected

Most of us cyclists are used to watching out for potholes, cars and pedestrians, but an insect attack? With 150km or so to go I was struck in the mouth by something. I have no idea what the species was but by the time I had swiped it away it had stung my lip and and squirted foul tasting liquid into my mouth.

I had to do something I disapprove of and never do. I spat. I spat and spat to get rid of whatever it was in my mouth. Copious amounts of precious water were used to aid the spitting.

My lip swelled to such an extent that I looked like Lesley Ash/Donatella Versace for the last 150km.

Not a good look

The big question

The whole purpose of these rides was to assess if I could ride beyond 600km and complete PBP at my first attempt. Thanks to this experience I feel confident that I can. We shall see.

I rode 1,005km alone. I am so looking forward to riding alongside other riders from all over the world.

I can’t wait until 18:15 on Sunday 18th August.


Rides: 48

Distance: 7,133 km

Average distance per ride: 148 km

Elevation gain: 57,751m (6.52 Everests)


  • Colin, I’ve known you as a man with a plan for a long time, that you’ve pretty much executed the plan in advance, reviewed the experience and results is first rate. Impressive. You’ve got this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Mike. I get the piss taken out of me all the time for being a planner (especially in Italy) but it’s the only way I know. I think I’ve done enough for PBP, but only time will tell. There may be insects out to stop me!!


  • Chapeau Colin, looks like the training’s going to plan and proving very worthwhile. You mentioned adding electrolytes to you water but what food are you eating and what’s your regime like if you don’t mind me asking?


    • Thanks Mike. Happy with my training. Taking it easy now before PBP to reduce the risk of injury/incident. I’m not a good source of advice for fuelling on the bike. I really don’t like to eat, prefering to ride. For the 600km I had a lunch of carpaccio, pasta and coffee, then a snooze before starting out. I carried raw carrot sticks and a local dish ‘olive ascolana’ (imagine a small scotch egg with an olive in the middle), homemade flapjacks and gels for a quick hit if I need it. This was to get me through the night. I then ate when I felt like it in local bars, which are plentiful in Italy. I stopped for the pasta lunch but only ate half of the dish in the photo. My nutritionist mate (an Ironman) tells me I’m not eating enough during rides. He’s right but I just don’t have an appetite when riding. I end up losing weight of course but I come back up soon after.


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