Friday, September 16, 2011

Chris Nadovich's PBP Ride Report

2011 has been quite a busy year with PBP and several other grand randonnees here in the USA.  In looking over the various event websites, Eastern PA riders have done very well on the big rides.  With the ancien tradition in mind of leading the way for others to follow later on, I've asked the participants to share their thoughts and comments on the following:
- your event and result
- what was unique or special about the event
- would you participate again
- your preparations, and anything you would do differently
- any links to pictures, ride reports, or other comments you'd like to share

Chris Nadovich kicks off this series with his report below.  Although Chris has only been riding brevets for a couple of years, he has shared many miles with Bill Olsen and as a result, benefited from Bill's vast experience of riding a 1200k.

-Tom Rosenbauer
Eastern PA RBA

***************** Chris Nadovich's PBP Report  ************************
I finished PBP well within the 90 hours. I rode conservatively, aiming to enjoy the experience and simply to finish without anxious time pressure. And that's exactly how it worked out. I never had less than 2 hours in the bank. I ate plenty; slept adequately; and saw enough neat stuff to last a lifetime.

Personal Note: You should know, Tom, that I never would have started PBP without your encouragement; I never would have finished PBP without your tough brevets and useful advice. Thanks for inspiring me
to have my name inscribed in the big book! 

Anyway, my PBP photos are linked here and here.

I received lots of advice and other information prior to PBP. Not all of this information matched my experiences. Here's a True/False list of PBP conceptions and MIS-conceptions based on my experience.

1. PBP is easy --- FALSE
I had a lot of people tell me things like: "If you rode the PA series, then PBP will be easy." Well, although I'm very, very glad I rode the PA series, AND the tough Englewood 600K, AND beat myself up on various other brevets and "training" adventures (e.g. a Trans Am ride) in the years leading up to PBP, there is simply NO WAY that PBP seemed anything like easy. I don't think I would have finished PBP without that training. I did not spend any time "on the edge" but PBP was, never the less, a non-trivial cycling project. Part of this is doubtless the nature of any 1200K brevet, no matter what the course.

2. PBP is basically flat -- FALSE
Much of the riding reminded me of Lancaster County. Lots of long rolling hills through farmland and small towns with churches. Occasionally we'd cross more significant grades, like the grades in and out of Brest, or near Mortagne au Perche. These reminded me of riding out west -- long slogs. There was nothing equivalent to the 15-20% gaps, ravines, and glens we have here in PA, but I wouldn't call any of PBP "flat".

3. You waste a lot of time at PBP controls -- FALSE
If you are riding on the hairy edge of the control closing time, it can be a rude surprise that the place where they stamp your card is a 5 minute walk from where you park your "machine". Otherwise, I never spent more time in a control town than I wanted to. I ate delicious sit-down meals, I took showers, I slept, I drank some beers, and I chatted with riders and whatever locals would tolerate my broken French. Not a minute of it was "wasted".

4. There's no place to sleep at the controls -- FALSE
There were hundreds of open cots at Ludeac. It was a little tighter at some of the other controls, but there was always ample room. Yes, people skip the controls and sleep in the weirdest places: on medians, ditches, under tables, in phone booths, in any imaginable place. But for a mere 4 euros, I always could have a reasonable bed and a pre-arranged wake-up nudge in the "disco morgue" that is a PBP control dortoir.

5. Always ride defensively. Assume everybody else is drunk -- TRUE
This was excellent pre-PBP advice given to me by Bill Olsen. I've been to four RAGBRAIs and I've never dodged so many seemingly drunken bike riders as I encountered at PBP. Riders would swerve erratically,
making crazy lines. They'd hammer past, then put on their brakes and stop dead in the middle of the road. They'd just stand there like idiots, blocking the way. You were never safe from the "drunkards". One time I was stopped under a street light, well off the road. I was adjusting my clothes for the drizzle that had just begun when a rider rode up and stopped next to me. He opened his mouth and I thought he was going to exchange some pleasantries, but instead he bent over and puked right in front of my feet. Unbelievable!

6. Showing up a few days early is a good idea -- TRUE
It adds to the cost, but arriving on Tuesday, five days before the start, is a great plan. I had a blast touring around with other riders -- going to cafes, restaurants, tourist sites, shopping, and just hanging out in the hotel lobbies with everyone.  Beyond the fun of making friends and seeing sights in a foreign country, there's advantage in getting acclimated before the actual ride. There were numerous shakedown tours organized by various groups, some of which rode nearby segments of the course. These helped me feel comfortable, and on start day I began with a couple hours of familiar riding. If I ever do PBP again, and if my schedule allows, I'll stay in France PBP celebration.

7. I'd regret choosing the 90 hour free start -- FALSE
The 90 hour free start was awesome! I lined up at 8:45 PM and was released to start at about 9:10 PM with my exact departure time recorded by the chip as my official start time. There were always groups of riders to join, but not crazy-big packs. In contrast, some people that lined up for the 90 hour mass start had to wait hours in the hot sun before starting. In many cases they were not riding till 8PM and they had to deal with all the insanity associated with giant peletons. Part of the reason the free start went so well was because only a few riders chose this option. There was no crowd. Still, the PBP officials were very efficient with the free starts. I expect that the free start will remain and will still be a very good option in 2015.

8. The French people are wonderfully supportive -- TRUE
There's no way to adequately describe the depth and breadth of support you get from ordinary people. There are people literally everywhere cheering you on. Day, night, sun, rain, in town or out in the middle of nowhere, there are people cheering "Bonne Route!". A little girl handed me a bunch of fresh flowers, at night, in a drizzly fog. She said "Bon Courage, Monsieur." Things like that just melt your heart.

9. Language would not be a problem -- TRUE
I have studied French, and can read it pretty well, but like anybody who's never used their "book language" to talk to actual people, I was initially shy to speak. That reluctance evaporated after some sleep deprivation and on PBP I was yapping away in pidgin French with wanton abandon to whomever would listen. Not that it mattered. Doubtless my Franglais babbling was incomprehensible to everyone -- especially my attempts at French versions of phrases like: "Where the !%#^&* did Claus hide our drop bags?" In general, pointing at things and looking pathetic were enough to get me whatever I needed.

10. Des Peres Travel does a good job -- FALSE
Knowing what I know now, I would never have booked my plane tickets through Des Peres. Yes, he can save you a few pennies here and there with "group rates" but I did not see Des Peres lift one finger to help
anybody in the least when we all needed to rebook because of the storm. I expected travel arrangements to be "pay and forget", with the Des Peres handling rebooking and contingencies (possibly charging extra fees), but that's not how it was. We bought group packages entirely at our own risk, and were effectively on our own thereafter. This was problematic because group tickets cannot be easily altered by anyone other than the group organizer. If I return to PBP, I'll buy my own airline ticket direct from an airline. Even for the hotel, bus, and drop bag, I'd think twice before using Des Peres again.

-Chris Nadovich, PBP 2011 finisher

*** Update 8/8/14***
Claus Claussen, from Des Peres Travel provided a follow-up to the travel difficulties on the return from Paris:  "... I remember that there was a hurricane on the US East Coast. I had told those concerned on Sunday Morning,  that Air France would fix alternatives at the airport, and they did. I pointed out that being on a Sunday, the US Group department was closed, besides the 6 hour time difference. Therefore I could not reach them in the US. All those who went to the airport with the transfer buses, left to the US to Boston and then by train; NY and Washington were closed to all traffic.  Therefor it is unfair to accuse Des Peres of doing nothing, I tried, but the concerned did not want to come with me to the airport. ...."

If you book with  Des Peres and and lock in the prices, you just pay $ 200 and in case  of  cancellation, you lose only  $ 50. If  you buy  your airline  ticket yourself, it is 100% non-refundable.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

PA Randonneurs' PBP Reflective Vest Update #2

The PA Randonneurs' PBP reflective vests have been shipped.  If you haven't received your order, please contact me ASAP.  For those of you who did not opt for shipping, you can pick up your order at the upcoming 200k events on July 30 and August 13.  The current order status is:

We have the following extra PBP-compliant vests available for ordering or size exchanges:

The remaining vests are all yellow, and branded with the PA Randonneurs logo, as shown here:

Contact me at if you'd like to place an order or exchange a size.

-Tom Rosenbauer
Eastern PA RBA

Monday, July 4, 2011

PA Randonneurs Reflective Vests Have Arrived

The PA Randonneurs reflective vests have arrived. The vests will be sent via US mail to those who requested home delivery. Please let Ron ( if you need the vest for a brevet right away, such as the NJ Catskills 600K, and he will get them in the mail first. Vests will also be available for pick up at the next PA Randonneurs event which is the PA R-12 Hawks Nest 200K brevet scheduled for 7/30.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Patience Required

Unlike many web-based processes, PBP registration does not provide instant gratification to which we've grown accustomed. Once you have completed your registration, entered your homologation numbers, and paid your money, you will still need to wait for the folks at ACP to review your submission before you'll receive your Frame Number. This should occur in the next couple of weeks. Patience, Grasshopper. Patience.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Reflective Vest Order Update

We just received word from the manufacturer in France that the PA Randonneurs reflective vest order should be shipped from their factory in France to the PA Randonneurs on June 17, 2011. Hopefully the vests will arrive by the end of June.

Check back for more updates as further information becomes available. We will send out an email to everyone once the vests arrive.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Registration Draws Nearer

The latest PBP registration information from Mark Thomas:

Registration for PBP opens Saturday, June 11 (Paris time) - or Friday afternoon in the US. Because the US did not fill up its quota of entries during the pre-registration process, ALL riders can register at this time regardless of pre-registration status. (Over 200 spaces are left as of the morning of 6/7).

New 2011 riders (and any other rider that did not complete a brevet in 2010) do NOT have to wait until preregistration places free up on June 20.

Preregistered riders must complete their registration at this time. Ideally, they would do so before pre-registrations are released after June 19, but our quota status may make that less important. In all events, registration must be completed before July 17.

As cautioned before, everything from me or anyone else at RUSA about PBP is unofficial. RUSA does not manage PBP. Official ACP information on PBP registration can be found here

and here
(especially Articles 5-7)

We have not seen the registration form, but here's my best guess as to what to have available when you go online to register:

(1) The homologation (certificate) numbers for at least three of your four qualifying brevets; i.e., your 200, 300, 400, 600 brevets in 2011 (or longer, if you are substituting a longer brevet for a shorter). If you don't have all four, you must add the last one by the time registration closes on 7/17.

(2) A credit card to make payment for the ride.

(3) For pre-registered riders, please also have the Dossier Number (US-###) and password from your pre-registration. Check your confirmation email from you preregistration for these. If you can't find them, contact me for help.

To get the homologation (certificate) numbers for your brevets in the US, you can go to the RUSA results search page. From, select "Search For . . . Results" from the left hand menu. Enter your RUSA number to get your results. If the certificate number is blank, that means that RUSA has not yet received the certificate number for that event from the ACP.

For your information, the process that results in certificate numbers being posted on the website is not instantaneous. First, your RBA needs to submit the results to RUSA. Then the RUSA brevet coordinator (me) batches those up and submits them to the ACP. Then the ACP numbers the results and sends a spreadsheet back to RUSA. Then the RUSA brevet coordinator posts those numbers to the website.

If a qualifying brevet was done outside the US, you will have to contact the organizer for the certificate number.

Once registration starts and we see the actual form being used, we can update this information with any other registration requirements.



Some other notes:
1. Be certain of your desired start group when beginning the registration process. It is unlikely that you will be able to change it once your registration is complete.
2. The RBAs and Mark Thomas are taking steps to expedite certification of ACP results from now until registration closes. If you haven't yet completed your qualifying series, rest easy. RUSA will make sure that your results are posted as quickly as possible.
3. Don't neglect your training in June & July simply because you've completed your qualifying series. Most regions have brevets scheduled in June and July to help you. Take advantage of these opportunities so you'll be in top form come August 21 and have an enjoyable and memorable PBP.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

May 25 Update

Mark Thomas has offered a few reminders to PBP aspirants concerning upcoming registration deadlines:

May 29 - Preregistration for riders who rode a 200km ACP brevet (or longer) in 2010
- Starts midnight Paris time (6pm on 5/28 here on the east coast)

June 11 - Registration begins (presumably midnight Paris time, so evening of 6/10 here)
- Preregistered riders start final registration
- Non-preregistered riders may also register if there are quota spaces available (likely)

June 19 - Pre-registered riders lose their priority space if not yet registered
- This may free up national quota to allow more non-preregistered riders to register on June 20

July 17 - Registration deadline
- Riders who registered without all of their 2011 brevet homologation numbers must provide them by July 17

As of May 24, 442 US riders had completed their registerations. Due to the projected US totals, RUSA returned 50 pre-registration spaces to the ACP for use by other countries. The total US allocation is now 669. There are still plenty of spaces available for those wanting to ride PBP.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Pre-Registration Update

As of May 9, 421 of the 719 US allocation for PBP entries have been "reserved." If you rode as much as an ACP 400k in 2010 and want to ride in France this summer, you can pre-register now. Riders who completed an ACP 300k in 2010 will be able to begin pre-registering on May 15. Riders who completed an ACP 200k in 2010 will be permitted to pre-register on May 29. The current trends indicate that there may well be spaces in the US allocation remaining after all RUSA members who completed even a single ACP brevet in 2010 have pre-registered. Riders who didn't ride any ACP brevets in 2010 and want to go to PBP should pre-register beginning on June 11. (I recall one our own PA Randonneurs went to the 2007 PBP in his first season of randonneuring, so it's not an uncommon situation.)

All pre-registrants are reminded to complete their registration by June 19. Incomplete registration spaces and any remain unreserved spaces will be opened to the world on June 20.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Reflective Vest Order Update

The order for reflective vests is going to be placed very soon. An updated listing of orders to date is provided below. Please review it and let Don Jagel () or Ron Anderson () if there are any changes.

Please send your payment check in to Ron so we can place the order. The cost of the vest each vest is $35. If you would like the vest sent to you, add $5 to cover shipping.

Make the check out to: PA Randonneurs LLC

Mail payment to:

Ron Anderson
881 Ritz Avenue
Hamilton, NJ 08610

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Reflective Vests Update

We are going to placing the order for the reflective vests soon after the PA 400K Brevet on April 30. The price will be $35, and shipping will be $5. It will also be possible to pick up the vests at a PA Rondonneurs event and save the shipping fee. Vest payment can be made at the 400K, or you can mail a check to:

Ron Anderson
881 Ritz Avenue
Hamilton, NJ 08610

Make checks out to: PA Randonneurs LLC

Sample vests will be available to try on at the 400K Brevet this weekend. One person who tried on a sample vest recently did have a problem with the bottom of one of the zippers, but believed it was likely caused by the number of people that have been trying on the samples. John Lee Ellis has posted his impressions of the vest here:

The PA Randonneurs vests will have the new PA Randonneurs logo, designed by Bob Dye on the left breast pocket area, and say PA Randonneurs on the back. These are the final graphics from the vest manufacturer.

Orders received for the PA Randonneurs vests so far are summarized below. Please let me know if there are any changes or additions ( ).

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

PBP Pre-Registration Speculation

Are you getting caught up in "PBP Fever" but concerned that you wont have a shot since you didn't ride any long brevets last year? Fear not, you may still have a chance for the grand dance. Mark Thomas continues his analysis of US pre-registration data and trends:

April 20: Working on the US PBP pre-registrations, I'm getting more optimistic that riders who did not ride brevets in 2010 will have the opportunity to participate in PBP 2011.

Our US quota is 719.

RUSA had 328 riders who did 1000km or longer brevets in 2010. So far 64% of those have preregistered for PBP (210 riders).
RUSA had 418 riders whose longest brevet was 600km in 2010. So far 157 have signed up.

Speculation zone ahead:

If the signup pattern for the 600k group matches that of the first group, I'd expect to see about 185 riders (45%) sign up from this group.
Of the 238 riders whose longest brevet was 400km in 2010, I'm guessing that 40% (95 riders) will preregister.
Of the 277 riders whose longest brevet was 300km in 2010, I'm guessing that 30% (83 riders) will preregister.
Of the 488 riders whose longest brevet was 200km in 2010, I'm guessing that 20% (97 riders) will preregister.
That's a total of 670 preregistering riders, leaving nearly 50 slots for US riders who didn't do any brevets in 2010.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Advance Registration, Step 2

Just a reminder to those who rode an ACP 600k event in 2010, the pre-registration window for you opens this weekend (April 17th). As of Wednesday afternoon (4/13), 207 of the 719 USA registrations have been reserved.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

PA Randonneurs (PBP Style) Reflective Vests

An online order form for the PA Randonneurs (PBP Style) Reflective Vests is available at:

As mentioned in a previous post the price is still being determined, but is expected to be $35+/-. If you have any questions, or problems with the form let Don know at Once you hit the submit button at the bottom of the form it automatically sends the info, and there is nothing else you need to do.

More information will be posted as it becomes available.

PBP 2011 USA Website

Mark Thomas continues to stay busy with PBP registration. He has posted a few statistics on a PBP Wiki:

Mark writes: "The [PBP Wiki] Site is intended to be a place where folks can upload information relevant to US riders going to PBP, wikipedia-style. At the moment, it just contains info that I've forwarded to RBAs about pre-registration and some map links. It would be very cool if riders who have relevant experience, from on-course lodging to nutrition hints to ideas for traveling family members to best airfares were encouraged to add content to the site. Thanks to Rob Hawks for setting it up quickly. "

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

PBP Pre-Registration Update #2

Mark Thomas from RUSA-HQ has the following update:

1 - It's technically possible for our 1200/1000/600 riders to fill our quota. But it won't happen. We'd need near 100% participation from that population (719 of about 740).

2 - Folks who can wait until late June to make plans should be aware of important dates in June. Any space for a pre-registered rider who doesn't complete final registration will be released on June 20th and more spaces will likely become available within our quota. So if our quota is filled after the 300k preregistration, for example, riders who did a 200k last year should still preregister at the appointed time, to get their names on the waiting list. Similarly riders who didn't complete any ACP events last year should register on June 11 to get on the waiting list. On June 20th, riders will presumably be accepted off the waiting list when spaces are freed up.

Thanks to all for the great job of keeping their riders informed. So far the pre-registration has gone extremely smoothly.

PBP Ancien Question & Answer

You completed a 1000k last year having heard that doing so would improve your chances of obtaining an entry to "The Show." You've already completed a couple brevets this year and plan to finish your ACP SR by the end of May just in case a hitch in Plan A causes you to resort to Plan B. You dutifully logged into the PBP registration site this past Saturday evening at midnight to secure your place in the pre-registration line. What will you do from June until mid-August?

The Daily Randonneur recently ran a series of articles featuring sound advice by PBP Anciens. These individuals have a combined 23 PBP finishes between them. They offer a wealth of practical advice to assure that you will not only be prepared for PBP, but will enjoy the experience as well. It is well worth the read and should help you avoid any rookie mistakes (not that only rookies make such mistakes).

Begin with PBP, The Anciens' Way: Part I and Part II featuring advice by Lois Springsteen, Mark Thomas, Bob Casciato, John Lee Ellis, Ed Felker, and Clint Provenza. Then there is the "by-the-book" approach by Ken Zabielski, PBP: The Zabielski Way. Rookie or Ancien, you're bound to learn something.

Thanks to Ed, MG and Jon for gathering all this knowledge and allowing us to link from here.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

PBP Reflective Vests

Those of you planning to ride PBP this year have undoubtedly begun planning every detail to assure a most enjoyable and hassle-free grand randonnee'. Have you thought about your reflective gear? The word on the "ethereal street" is that your RUSA Sam Browne belt will not be sufficient this year. The PBP rules now state:

Article 9 : Equipment

According to French traffic law, a reflective vest MUST be worn when riding at night (safety standard number EN1150). This equipment must be presented at the bike check.

So how does a reflective vest meeting EN1150 compare to vests commonly available here? Several US clubs are already tackling this problem and arranging special orders from the same European sources that supply the Official PBP Commemorative Vest.

The manufacturer is L2S. The vest, known as VISIOPLUS is available in 4 fluorescent colors, yellow, orange, green and pink but not all sizes are available for these 4 colors. All apparently meet the European safety standard.

Yellow : XS, S, M, L, XL, 2XL, 3XL.
Orange : S,M,L,XL,2XL.
Green : S,M,L,XL,2XL.
Rose : XS,S,M,L,XL,2XL.

PA Randonneurs is planning to make a special purchase of these vests. Ron Anderson and Don Jagel have stepped up to take on the task of coordinating the order. The costs are not settled, but appear to range between $30 and $50 depending on order quantity and logos. Attendees of the Water Gap 200/300 brevet got to try on sample vests loaned to us by our friends at DC Randonneurs. As you can see, they are HIGHLY reflective.

Roy trying on vests for PBP
Roy models a PBP vest. Everyone else in the room dons sunglasses

The current plans are to have the vest customized with the PA Randonneurs logo so you can show up for PBP in style. We have arranged to have another set of sample vests available for the April 30 400k in case you need another opportunity to try one on for size. If you have further questions or want to pre-order your vest, please contact Ron Anderson or Don Jagel.

PBP Pre-Registration Update #1

Mark Thomas from RUSA-HQ forwarded the following update on PBP pre-registration:

PBP pre-registration has begun for riders who completed a 1000k or 1200k in 2010.

It appears that the pre-registration page at: 
... is updated to reflect the remaining quota places (by country and by total). Starting numbers were 719 (USA) and 6000 (Total).

For the most part, Pre-registration seems to have gone pretty smoothly for folks. Here are some learnings from the first pre-registrations.

If all goes well, rider should get 4 emails:
- PBP acknowledges receipt of preregistration
- Payment processor (klikandpay) confirms payment processing
- PBP acknowledges receipt of payment
- PBP marks registration as validated

The first three should happen pretty quickly, but the last one happens when RUSA brevet secretary validates the entry, so the timing depends on his schedule. (That would be Mark Thomas)

If payment fails, but you get the first e-mail with the receipt of preregistration, then try this:
- Go back to PBP page
- On left side, go to Registration and select "Follow-up" 
- Enter your "dossier number" (US-__) and your password from first e-mail
- There should be a payment link
- Try payment again from that link

Some riders have commented that one of the questions on the klikandpay payment processing screen is a little odd. I don't recall the exact phrasing; something like "holographic confirmation", but it's just looking for the 3-digit security code on back of credit card.

One other thing to note: When a rider receives, for example, a "dossier number" of US-258, it means that he's the 258th PBP rider to register, not the 258th US PBP rider to register. In the case of #258, he's actually only  the 72nd US rider to register. So our quota is not filling up as fast as it might appear to be.

Any intractable problems? Contact Mark Thomas at:
... and he may be able to help sort out the issue. If he can't, he'll contact the ACP on your behalf.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Pre-Registration Information

Mark Thomas of Seattle International Randonneurs shared the following interesting information with the RBAs:

PBP2011 pre-registration starts this weekend for riders who rode an ACP 1000km brevet or an RM 1200km (or longer) brevet in 2010.

The instruction page for PBP pre-registration can be found here .... and includes the pre-registration schedule.

The instructions indicate that riders will need rider affiliation, rider license number and homologation number of longest 2010 brevet. For riders who's affiliation is "Foreign" (i.e., non-France), the rider license number is inapplicable.

RUSA members can find the homologation numbers of any 2010 US ACP (200, 300, 400, 600, 1000) or RM (1200 or longer) events by results search on RUSA website. Homologation numbers for non-US RM events can be found at For non-US ACP events, riders will probably need to consult the event organizers.

RUSA Membership and PBP

John Lee Ellis, from RUSA-HQ writes: "...PBP aspirants will be registering directly online with the ACP.  RUSA will have no intermediary role as in past years.  Members can easily obtain their certificate numbers for their applications on our website as a benefit of membership.  Non-members must wait for their cards to be returned to them by the organizer.  (The exception is foreign riders, for whom we provide their numbers as a courtesy.)

Please convey this to your riders who are aiming for PBP.  It is in their interest and yours (to avoid extra hassle) that they be a RUSA member, starting with their first qualifier.  The same holds true for US 1200k's, of course, at least those requiring qualifiers in 2011.

Welcome to the PBP FAQ Page

With all the information and opinions floating around about preparing for PBP, riding PBP, registering for PBP, and anything-else-under-the-sun PBP, PA Randonneurs (well, Tom actually) thought it would be helpful to gather good information in one convenient location for the benefit of the group. Save or follow this blog as it will become the repository for any information remotely beneficial to the aspiring PBP participant.