15,250 Km … on a bike … at the age of 67! True or not true? True!
It really is true. In 2002 Paul Dubrule, co-founder of the Accor Hotel chain, got on his bike and rode. He was then, and still is, a keen cyclist, but this was no ordinary bike ride. He was setting off, at the age of 67 as mentioned, to ride from Paris to Angkor in Cambodia, a distance of 16,500 Km. The journey lasted 8 months and for two of those months he was cycling continuously at an altitude above 5,000 metres.
The story is told in the book "Paris/Angkor Itinéraire d'un Défi" (Paris/Angkor - the Story of a Challenge} in the words of the participants - he was accompanied by Expedition Chief Georges Schaller and Journalist and keen cyclist Laurent Mélikian in 2 4-wheel drives converted into camper vans - and in all of their many, many photos. At the time Paul, having spent his career in the hotel business, was setting up a hotel training school in the Siem Reap province of Cambodia and, being a keen cyclist, challenged himself to travel there from Paris by bike arriving in time for the opening of the school in October of that year. He travelled through Western and Eastern Europe, Russia, countries of the former Soviet Union, Tibet, China and South East Asia. He arrived on time, and the school still exists.
More recently, another of his cycling achievements has been to cycle from Val d'Isère (altitude 1850m) up to the Col de l'Iseron (alt 2750m) ON SNOW!
Many thanks to Véronique and Alain, owners of the Pré d'Aval restaurant in Val d'Isère, who loaned us the book. They are friends of Paul Dubrule's, and with luck we will at some point be able to interview M Dubrule about his life and the part sport has played in it. But in the meantime, there is his book "Paris / Angkor Itinéraire d'un Défi" to read, and some of the letters (english translation) that he wrote during the journey can be found here and click on the image of the book.
Just think about it - 15,250 Km, 250 days in the saddle, 3 million pedal pushes and those two months at 5,000+m of altitude - wow.