Back in the August 2003 issue, "Mid-Life Cyclist" Paul Schaye declared "Failure is not an option." We wrote about the intrepid New York investment banker's training for the Paris-Brest-Paris (PBP), a timed endurance bicycle ride that took place later that month and went from Paris to the port city of Brest and back. On August 18, he climbed on his bike, and four days later, Schaye, 50, crossed the finish line with two hours to spare. Like many of the 3,000-plus riders this year, his goal was simply to complete the legendary ride, a serious feat in amateur sports.
Schaye had his share of detours, roadblocks, and strategic missteps. Hours before the ride began, he slipped and fell, tearing all of the ligaments in his right hand. There was a scary moment when he thought it was broken (weeks after the ride, he would have hand surgery), but his determination remained steadfast. Once Schaye finally got his ailing hand into a glove and closed it enough to grip the handlebar, he was, as he put it, "good to go." Well, sort of. "I was in excruciating pain. But I had to work through it."
There would be more wear and tear ahead—some physical, some mental. When Schaye's riding partner got sick from a bad curry dish, Schaye slowed down; they had made a pact to ride together. When the situation was reversed, his pal took off. It hardly helped matters that the trek was 33 miles longer than Schaye expected. By his count, he traveled a total of 783 miles. In the last 140 miles, Schaye saw Kay Ogden, whom he'd met earlier last year after he sent an email to a bike shop in Houston, asking to rent a bike. Through the shop, he learned that Ogden was also training for the PBP, and she lent him a bike, free of charge. "Allies," he says. "I make them everywhere I go." Recalls Ogden, who rode with both knees bandaged up and an arm brace, "It hurt just to push the pedals. He could have easily gone on, but he slowed down, and we finished together."
A version of this article appeared in the January 2004 issue of Fast Company magazine.