A floppy neck ended Tasmanian Gavin Hinds’ attempt to ride 1,200 kilometres from Paris to Brest on France’s Atlantic coast and back to Paris. In 2011, as he reached the 750-kilometre point, having managed only a few hours of sleep, exhaustion took hold. “All of a sudden, I noticed that I just couldn’t keep my head up,” he says.
Gavin was suffering from Shermer’s neck, a debilitating condition experienced by endurance cyclists when their neck muscles become so fatigued, they fail. No amount of rehydration or paracetamol helped. A last-ditch attempt to prop up his head, by tying an inner tube between the back of his helmet and the top of the hydration pack he was wearing, didn’t work. Unable to continue riding, Gavin withdrew from the event and returned to Paris by train.
This weekend, cyclists like Hinds, will descend on Paris for the event which is held every four years. Paris-Brest-Paris or PBP, as it’s commonly known, has become the holy grail for amateur endurance cyclists. And while it’s not the toughest or the longest cycling event, it’s the world’s oldest, starting in 1891 with a field of 206 French riders. Fast forward to August 2023 and the event will attract up to 8,000 enthusiasts, average age 47 years, from 70 countries, including Australia. They’ll ride 1,200 kilometres, within 90 hours, carrying everything they need. The world’s oldest cycling race started in 1891 with 206 French riders. Photograph: Alamy PBP is the flagship event of Audax, a non-competitive cycling […]