Everybody, even ultrariders, eventually needs some! While there are as many ideas on how to get the sleep you need as there are PBP participants, they all fall into just a few general categories:
As is true of all questions involving real estate, the key to quality mega-sleep is LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION:
(a) agricultural fields: on this year's PBP , in the early morning hours, we saw quite a few riders stopping to bed down near the side of the road in some farmer's pasture, a very bucolic scene indeed. Only problem was, a few minutes later, we would encounter coming towards us at 4 mph a monster farmer's tractor, complete with high intensity head- and sidelights, attached to some sort of 15-ft wide multi-bladed-with-big-steel-hooks device that could churn up a field into multi-laned, 3 ft deep furrows. When asked, PBP Ride officials refused to speculate on the number of ultra-riders that they expected to be incorporated into next year's sorghum crop.
(b) sleep stations: PBP, as a courtesy to participants, offers for a nominal fee a series of Official Sleep Stations at the various controles. Our first introduction to this sort of accommodation was at Loudeac, at around midnight. As we approached the front desk, we were cautioned to BE QUIET! by numerous signs, and by a serious looking official, who would shoosh! us with a stern glare any time we started to open our mouths. It was really quiet there at the front desk, the only noise coming from a soft breeze rustling the leaves of a nearby tree. After negotiating the fee ($10 ff) and a wake-up time (2:30 AM) in French sign language, we were again shooshed! to be quiet, told to remove our cleats, and stood nervously by the heavily padded door that barred our entry into mega-sleep-dream-land. Then, with a flourish, the official carefully pried open the door, and we were BOWLED OVER by a high intensity (conservatively estimated at 150 decibels), multi-frequency, overtone-rich droning NOISE that was the result of several hundred-mostly-male-ultra-riders, all SNORING and generating what can only be described as a CACOPHONY of sound. (another component of this mutisensory assault was caused by the smell of several hundred-unwashed-mostly-male-ultra-riders, but that's another story ). Apparently all of the precautions--- the soundproof door, the stern looks and shooshes! from the race official--- all were meant to keep it quiet around the area OUTSIDE of the sleep room, and to prevent the snoring noises from disturbing the tranquility at his desk. We were escorted to an area off to the side, pointed towards some mostly vacant foam pads on the floor, and admonished (again, in French sign language, since it was impossible to hear anything against that sort of background noise) not to disturb anyone. Luckily, we had been forewarned about this sort of environment, and had brought ear plugs, nose plugs, and mouth plugs, so we were able to get a continuous 2.5 hr mega-sleep with no lasting damage.
(C) parking lots, divider strips: PBP, as a courtesy to participants, offers at no charge access to asphalt divider strips alongside parking lots or highways over the entire 1250-km course. Our best quality sleep experience (2 uninterrupted hours!) was actually obtained at such a location near the Loudeac control. It was quiet (thanks to ear plugs), warm (thanks to two space blankets and wearing all the clothes I had, including two pairs of long underwear), clean (a city streetsweeper had just been by), well-lit (high intensity sodium vapor street lights), and comfortable (not sure why). Highly recommended!