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How cycling Paris–Brest–Paris changed Dr. Dan Ornadel

"It's so intense – it stays with you"

Imagine an ultra-cycling event so gruelling that riders can end up with a neck condition where their muscles fail and they can’t hold their head up.

But they keep cycling anyway.

Called "Shermer's Neck," some riders who get it have been seen with their head tied back with a bicycle tire inner tube to their saddle post.

Others have balanced a Pringles potato chip tin between their handlebars and the underneath part of their chin.

All so they can keep riding.

That’s how determined they are to complete the Paris–Brest–Paris long-distance cycling event held every four years in France.

The epic endurance cycling quest spans 1,200 kilometres and riders have 90 hours to complete it.

It’s technically not a race, but an audax, meaning riders are expected to be self-sufficient and complete the pursuit without any help.

It’s a test of individual stamina and determination – and a feat that eludes over 30% of participants.

One rider who, just last month, completed this extraordinary quest is Dr. Dan Ornadel, a renowned respiratory consultant physician in the UK.

Watch the full video to hear the inspiring story of Dr. Ornadel's recent triumph – including his own run-in with the dreaded Shermer’s Neck – and how completing an event like this can change you.

Conversation Highlights

12:07 - At any point, did he think about stopping and quitting the ride?

14:14 - How riding at night is a very different experience

15:25 - What goes wrong in cycling when people start to run into physical problems with their body

16:05 - The moment, about 800km into the ride, when Dr. Ornadel realised he was about to get Shermer's Neck

19:16 - What the sleep deprivation does to some riders (including falling asleep cycling...)

20:18 - What happens when your group's 'road captain' rides off on the group

25:47 - How, in another event last year, he learned more from failure than he's ever learned from success

27:40 - Does he now look differently upon himself or the world post-event than he did before?

28:52 - The process of dealing with the post-race depression

30:00 - What next? How do you know when it's your last event?

Thanks for watching.


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