Shortly after 9pm on Monday, 20 August, Drew Buck from Chewton Mendip attempt the Paris-Brest-Paris race – said to be the hardest long distance cycle ride in the world. Along with ith about 4,000 others Drew will try to complete the 770 mile round trip within 90 hours.
But unlike the others when he starts pedalling, the cranks will be turning backwards. That’s because his mount for the event is a vintage “Retrodrive” back pedalling bike that was made in France more than 80 years ago.
Dressed as a traditional Onion Johnnie, with striped shirt and beret, Drew will ride with onions hanging from his bike. The thousands of supporters lining the route are likely to offer both shouted encouragement as well as sumptuous sustenance of the culinary and alcoholic variety. Drew’s appearance is certainly authentic. When training in Oxfordshire recently he was flagged down by passing motorists who wanted buy his onions.
The ride is held every four years. It will be Drew’s fifth time in the PBP and he enjoys participating on unusual bikes. Last time, with some companions, he completed the ride on a triplet (a bicycle made for three) and previously he has finished on a 100 year-old Dursley Pederson. Drew says that part of the challenge this time is the requirement to use different leg muscles for the back pedalling action.