A race for heroes: Paris-Brest-Paris

Hubert Opperman

It’s 1931, and the Paris-Brest-Paris 1200km single stage race was celebrating its 40th birthday and 5th outing since it was first held in 1891. Steeds were fixed of gear, with a flip flob or however you call it should you need to change gear on a hill.

The skies wept fat droplets of rain while the wind laughed a gale.

It will not take an expert to realise that these conditions are not condusive to a pleasant ride, but then again it is rare to encounter good weather in my experience when cycling in Brittany.

But to the nitty gritty. The race was won through the heroic endeavours of the chap above, one Sir Hubert Ferdinand Opperman OBE an Australian from Rochester, Victoria in a heroic and record 49hrs 21mins (the limit of the race was 96hrs). This was a solo ride, with no team for support, just being a race of one man on his machine. In the wind. And the wet. And surviving on that well known source of energy: celery, which Oppy ate 12 pounds of.

Even my stalwart cycling chum, one Huw PW, a dedicated vegetarian and grass eater, claimed that he would struggle to eat that much celery over 46hrs, let alone doing so while pedaling 1200 clicks and winning a sprint finish around a velodrome.

Makes me wonder about the benefit of all those gels etc if all you need is celery and thighs of steel.

Oppy's bottle cage contents probably looked a little like this.

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2 responses to “A race for heroes: Paris-Brest-Paris

    • That would be one mighty fat cat – thought cats were more in the 7 or 8 pound zone. So really he could have eaten 1 and a half cats that lived on a diet of celery.

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