I will be offline for a few weeks while I’m away participating in Paris-Brest-Paris for the second time.
If you are curious about randonnering, a form of ultra distance cycling w/roots in France, here’s an NPR report on the history of the sport (w/a soundbite at the end by me). I’ll post a gallery when I get back, emphasizing custom bikes, canvas bike bags, roadside eats and wool jerseys.
Last August, post Paris-Brest-Paris, we had the pleasure of visiting the Alex Singer shop on 53, Rue de Victor Hugo, in northwest Paris. The historic Singer shop has a reputation for producing some of the most stunning, steel cyclo-tourist and racing bikes in the world. Visiting the Alex Singer is like shopping from the past. Vintage and modern bikes share the same floor space. A side showroom is filled with deadstock cycling shoes and wool jerseys – all in their original packaging. Since I’m set for bikes, I limited my purchases to a few Alex Singer caps and a fetching leather style pouch. Here are some snap views to round out my report:
Gilles Berthoud bags in Alex Singer shop
Gilles Berthoud bags on display
Alex Singer porteur bike
The Singer shop porteur – my all time favorite
Love both the custom Singer front rack and shop floor tile
I just got back from the 17th edition of Paris Brest Paris, an ultra distance cycling event held every four years in France. I always say that I record and erase my memory of rides longer than 600k. I can confirm via official records that I successfully covered the 1200k course in a time of 86 hours and 55 minutes. My primary setback was a series of intense drowsy spells that left me convinced that I was pedaling in my sleep, but overall I felt strong.
First night. 1200k to go
Scenic views and slumbering cyclists
During PBP, I did my best take photos of my practiced obsessions: people, bicycles and food. Snaps of the scenic countryside are in short supply. For interested parties, here is visual evidence of my participation in Paris Brest Paris with some fragmentary notations
Maya selling kerchiefs on bike inspection day. She organized some of the first randonneuring events in Japan.
Food is one of the great motivators in cycling. On PBP, you can forage from Boulangeries on the course for your primary fuel (for me, pain au chocolat and jambon sandwiches). Jeff’s strawberry tart was a visual highlight of one boulangerie which we liked as much for the free coffee. Fatigue and the need for forward movement often drove us to save time by eating at the official PBP controls. My photos reflect the matter of fact nature of this food.
Tomorrow, I (Lesli) leave for France for Paris-Brest-Paris,”the most famous long-distance randonnée.” During the ride (which covers 12oo kilometers in 90 hours), I will be off the grid and out of communication with Archival readers. In lieu of a live broadcast, I’m providing some placeholder photographs documenting my experience.
Arrival at Brest
On the train
Lining up for the August 21st start (8 p.m.)
Traveling along a road in France
Overnight control in Loudeac
At the finish (August 25th).
Interested parties can track my progress via the Official Paris-Brest-Paris site. The Vanilla and I are registered as US frame number 4641. Eight riders from my club, the Oregon Randonneurs, will be making the trip. After PBP, I will be spending a week in Paris recovering from the ride and shopping from the present.
As prep for the night start of Paris-Brest-Paris, a small group of Oregon Randonneurs decided to do an all-night 200k on Friday. Friends Susan, Theo, Marcello, Bill and I headed out from Hillsboro, Oregon at 9 p.m. for a sub 24 hour brevet. Our route would take us out to Dallas, Oregon (about 65 miles away) and back again in under 9 hours and 55 minutes. After a few hours in the dark, my brain starts rattling around like a ball bearing in a spray paint can. I take photos to keep myself awake and as evidence of my participation. Here a few snaps:
I (Lesli) just formalized registration for Paris-Brest-Paris. In 70 days 22 hours 6 minutes and 3 seconds I’ll be joining 6000+ cyclists from around the world for a 1200k Grand Randonnee. The ride will take me from the suburbs of Paris to the coastal town of Brest and back. Riders will have 90 hours to complete the course. Several friends of Archival friends will also be participating including Gabe Ehlert of Box Dog Bikes and Chris Kostman of AdventureCorps.
Post PBP, I’ll be staying in Paris (in the Marais) for a week. Please send along shop, tour and food recommendations. I’ll be on the hunt for archival office supplies and the perfect French work jacket.
I propose a future edition of PBP requiring city bikes and street clothing
It has been a happy, hectic spring. Archival operations continue to expand. We’re now shipping out sizeable orders to domestic and international retailers. New bag styles and colorways are in the works. We’re looking for commercial space and planning to bring on a production manager this summer. In the midst of the “blooming, buzzing confusion,” I’m working to qualify for Paris-Brest-Paris – the premier randonneuring event – a 1200k brevet (or bike ride) held every four years in France. I’ve completed my 200, 300 and 400k rides. The 600k remains. Here are a few snaps from last week’s 400k, a loop from Wilsonville to Eugene and back. ST, Archival Clothing’s tab numberer, joined me on the ride.
Archival travel baggage (AC, Filson and vintage Land’s End)
5 a.m. ride start (24+ hours to go)
Kevin, a first year randonneur, and his front loaded touring rig
In April, I’ll be pre-registering for Paris-Brest-Paris. Although the Pencil was an early front runner, I’ll be riding my custom Vanilla lugged randonnee on the August 2011 ride. Acquiring the Vanilla was a bit like mail ordering from the future. I submitted a deposit in 2006 and took delivery in September 2010. The bike is a bit of a Rivendell remake (more Herzog’s Nosferatu, less Van Sant’s Psycho). I switched over from 650b to 700c tires, requested lighter weight tubing and integrated lights, rack and fenders. Sacha White, the bike’s builder, was kind enough to borrow a mandrel to give my front fork a nice, low radius bend (à la française).