M. Lepertel’s requested our ‘memoires’ – this is what we sent:
“Allez, allez!” “Bon Courage!” “Allez bien les filles!” “Bon Courage!”
For myself and the other 25 members of the Toronto Randonneurs who took part in the celebration of the 1987 PBP, these cheering words of encouragement remain one of our warmest memories. To see so many people, day and night, smiling, waving, wishing one well and offering coffee all along the route, lightened our hearts and gave energy to progressively tiring bodies. This is the inspiration for our returning to France in 1991!
We enjoyed the ride! the company! the countryside! the route! the kindness of the many volunteers! the food (sometimes)! The lack of sleep and time to appreciate the countryside, the driving or drizzling rain, the headwinds that ranged from frolicsome breeze to heavy clout, the continually hilly countryside, the aches and pains, and the unremitting race against time, naturally were merely wee nagging leitmotivs – like ants at a picnic.
Some of our best memories: the buoyant anticipation as we waited in the light drizzle of Monday morning with hundreds of spirited cyclists from so many countries; stopping wearily in the middle of the night in the ghostly circle of the street lights to joke each other awake; steaming hot coffee gulped thankfully at friendly family roadside tables at 2:00 am; growing discouragement and doubt as we plodded nearer to Brest, and sudden lifting of spirits on starting back; clear cool star-filled night air as we climbed dreamily towards the red beacon of Roc Trevizel; hungrily slurping coffee in the medieval-like halls at Carhaix; sleeping deep in the straw-filled dorm at Villanes la Juhel to the accompaniment of a slumber sonata of snoring cyclists; our capacity to eat so such pasta, rice pudding and fromage blanc and our wonder at the abilities of French cyclists after a bottle of wine; the amazing comfort of sleeping between two pieces of cardboard; the perception that the soup resembled something out of a cement truck; the continual enjoyment of meeting new people and admiration of the capacities of the disabled; the really marvelous countryside! And of course – we were all “on vacation”!!
For myself, the ride passed in a strange mixture of an incredible immediacy of sharp memories of places and sensations – smells, sounds, sights, an overwhelming dictatorial chronology, but all floating hazily in a long meandering timeless time of alternating light and dark.
We all agree that the 1987 PBP was the best organized and most encouraging of events we have ridden. We thank M. Lepertel and his organizers and are already training for 1991!