by Salim Shaikjee


My PBP was one dealt a blow when I had a fall on one of my training rides. X-rays showed no broken bones but they could not rule out internal fractures to the pelvic cup. All arrangements were already made for PBP 2015. So I decided to continue with my PBP quest, thinking that I will be mostly recovered before the ride. The day before I was to leave for Paris I was still walking with a walking stick and started having doubts about even getting to 100km. I was advised to continue as far as I can get and stop if I experience unbearable pain. Many who saw me must have wondered how I’m going to ride 1230km when I can’t even walk properly. This was also the case at the SA get-together the evening before the start day.

My ride was slow and tough so I had very little time to sleep. I could ride but walking was a stress and getting on and of the bike was difficult. I didn’t expect hill after hill. Added to this I had nausea throughout the ride so I was able to eat very little. When I got to Loudeac on the way back (780km), I was shaking and exhausted. Sleep deprivation was starting to show. Was this the time to abandon? I lost my time here recovering but decided to continue anyway. The last night was coping with how not to fall asleep on the bike and the last day was coping with riding in the rain. I was happy when I finally completed but was completely exhausted.

I can summarise the ride itself as a great ride and very enjoyable despite the difficulties. The countryside and towns were beautiful, the roads were great (no potholes!) and the drivers gave you first preference. I remember meeting one English rider, who like me was also heading to finish outside the time limit. He said that he is enjoying the atmosphere so much that being late was not troubling him much. Another rider I met at the end said that he came in late due to him helping others on the road – someone who needed help with a repair and another rider who was having neck problems and needed an interpreter to buy a brace from a pharmacy. At Brest I needed to get some food, but the canteen was to far for me to walk because of my injury. I saw a rider and his partner from Thailand sitting on the grass. They had lots of boiled eggs and I decided to purchase 2 from them. They would not accept my money but rather shared their food with me. This comradeship with riders from all around the world and the support by the French who stood on the side of the roads offering riders water, coffee and eats will always last with me.

2 weeks after the ride I was still walking with a limp and could not yet run. I don’t know how I manage to complete that distance under these conditions. I think it was help from above and that the mind is stronger than the body. It tells the body to continue despite the body wearing itself out with injury, nausea, very little food, sleep deprivation and numbness in toes and some fingers! This ride definitely tests your will.