Riding to Port Antonio
Yesterday I, and other members of Cutters, completed a 125 mile bicycle ride that is the first qualifier in the Paris-Brest-Paris ride, held every four years, and spanning 1200km that must be completed in 90 hours.
Here are some details on the ride:
First run in 1891, the 1200-kilometer Paris-Brest-Paris, or "PBP" as it is commonly called, is a grueling test of human endurance and cycling ability. Organized every four years by the host Audax Club Parisien, the Paris-Brest-Paris Randonneurs is the oldest bicycling event still run on a regular basis on the open road. Beginning on the southern side of the French capital, it travels west 600 kilometers to the port city of Brest on the Atlantic Ocean and returns along the same route. Today's randonneur cyclists, while no longer riding the primitive machines used a hundred years ago over dirt roads or cobblestones, still have to face up to rough weather, endless hills, and pedaling around the clock. A 90-hour time limit ensures that only the hardiest randonneurs earn the prestigious PBP finisher's medal and have their name entered into the event's "Great Book" along with every other finisher going back to the very first PBP. To become a PBP ancien (or ancienne for the ladies) is to join a very elite group of cyclists who have successfully endured this mighty challenge. No longer a contest for professional racing cyclists (whose entry is now forbidden), PBP evolved into a timed randonnée or brevet for hard-riding amateurs during the middle part of the 20th century. The event is held in August every four years.
Well, if that were not tough enough by itself, yesterday the ride took us from Manor Park -- Junction - Agualta Vale -- Buff Bay -- Port Antonio -- Morant Bay -- Kingston.
Too bad the report on how bad the roads are didn't come out until today...
It was tough... very tough ... and I spent almost 12 hours in the saddle from 5:20am when I left home until 5:15pm when I got back.
It is just about the worst major stretch of road in Jamaica, with potholes, gravel, sand and everything else imaginable making the going very slow, whether travelling on bicycle or car. The traffic was light... to our benefit... but little wonder as to why.
I understand from the report that they have just started construction on the highway, and we did see four bridges being rebuilt on one stretch of road just past Agualta Vale. It was not much, and it will take a long time for the entire stretch to be completed, judging by how long the other sections are taking.
However, it remains one of Jamaica's most beautiful corners -- make no doubts about that. When the highway is finished, it really will transform our island, making it a lot smaller, and enabling all sorts of things that right now are painful to conduct -- island-wide commerce, day trips around the island, and bicycle rides along stretches of road that aren't obstacle courses.