The Team Grumpy rules

Rule #1. Remember to make your excuses before the race, not after. Otherwise it will just sound pathetic.

Rule #2. Don't tinker with your bike the evening before the event. It will break, either then or, worse still, during the event.

Rule #3. If all else fails, buy some new bike kit.

Rule #4. And if rule #3 fails, new skinsuits are probably a good option.

Rule #5. Never train or race with a bad cough - it will destroy your entire season.

Rule #6. Tantrums are appropriate if provoked (e.g. by mechanical problems), but try to avoid damage to equipment.

Rule #7. Team Grumpy riders are allowed to use whatever equipment they wish (and their wallets permit). However, the official team energy drink is always pop belge.

Of course, our seven rules pale in comparison to the Velominati rules.

Note: this report describes Team Grumpy's second ride in the Duo Normand (we have ridden each year from 2003, with the exception of 2006), and was originally published in the North Bucks Road Club Newsletter.

It was just before mid-day, the sun was directly overhead and the temperature had hit thirty. A couple flashes from the camera in front of us and then the countdown, cinq , quatre, trois, deux, une. We both focused on the road ahead that climbed out of the Normandy village of Marigny. The Duo Normand's motto is l'effort total. We didn't know it at that moment, but this would neatly sum up our race.

Back in March , Robert had emailed me to say he had entered us (again) for the Duo. I had mixed feelings about his unilateral action. After all, I had suffered terribly in 2003 and held him up in the process. It's one thing to have a bad race, but to ruin someone else's race is immeasurably worse and I still wasn't wholly over it. I suspect this is why Robert had gone ahead and entered us - knowing full well that I would probably have second thoughts. We could still have pulled out but, let's face it, it was far less likely once I saw our names on the Duo website.

On the back of a frankly lacklustre season, we (Team Grumpy, a.k.a Gerry and Robert) were uncertain how things would go for them at the 2011 edition of the Duo Normand, the 30th time the event has been run (and the 8th in which Team Grumpy has competed).

The Duo Normand two-up team time trial is held annually in September on a 54.3km circuit based in the Normandy town of Marigny.  from a British time triallist's point of view, it's a spectacular event - not only because of the numbers of spectators, but because of the large numbers of competitors (in many categories from unlicenced to professional) and the virtually closed roads.  All the teams can have a following car in case of mechanical problems, though Team Grumpy have never availed themselves of this in the 5 occasions we've ridden it.

Well, Team Grumpy didn't approach the 2012 edition of the Duo Normand time trial with great expectations, which was probably a good thing as their performance was somewhat lack-lustre. In large part Team Grumpy can blame problems with work-life balance causing problems with training, and of course Grumpy Bob had that crash while racing only a few weeks before the Duo.

To this can be added travel woes caused by the Brittany Ferries strike. But that's all a bit like contravening TG rule #1 (Remember to make your excuses before the race, not after. Otherwise it will just sound pathetic.) and Team Grumpy absolutely doesn't want to sound pathetic. Add to this Grumpy Bob bringing a spare rear wheel that lacked a cassette and 'Grumpy' Art's embarrassingly out-of whack rear mech (of which more later), and the team's preparation can be seen to lack attention. Readers might choose to have a look at the TeamGrumpy twitter feed for the weekend.

OK, so the Duo Normand is a bit of an obsession of Team Grumpy, but I think justifiably so! Over the years we've had variable fortune in the event:

2003:  9th place (Veterans)   01:24:01

2004:  5th place (Veterans)  01:22:18

2005:  4th place (Veterans)  01:23:15

2006:  2nd place (Veterans) 01:23:11 (This was the only time we've ridden in wet/windy conditions)

2007:  did not enter

2008:  2nd place (Corporate) 01:22:28

2009: ????

For 2009, we've once again entered the Corporate category, but it's too early to hazard a guess as to how we'll do, particularly given Grumpy Bob's rather lack-lustre season.  So, why do we keep going back?

Team Grumpy didn't write a preview of the 2013 Duo Normand, principally because both riders have had particularly lacklustre seasons this year for reasons of pressure of work and of illness and injury. However, on a recent joint holiday to Normandy, one did seem to see the vague signs of returning form. Grumpy Bob built on this by riding five events between coming back from Normandy and returning for the Duo Normand. Everything seemed to be falling into place. From his perspective, at least.

Team Grumpy approached this year's Duo Normand with the expectation that we'd do less well than in previous years - both riders have had less than stellar seasons.  In the event, we did better than we expected, I think, despite being trounced by a seriously strong team riding for (Robin Coomber and Jeff Jones), who rode a superb race, taking the category record with 1:15:22.

Two main issues concerned us - firstly, we received emails the day before we set off for France saying that a following car was compusory (we had to drag Carol into this role) and secondly, rumours abounded that the UCI bike regulations would be enforced in all categories.  The latter rumour caused us some concern, and a day or so before the event, we made final checks that our bikes complied.

This was our second trip over to Normandy in 2014. Along with my Team Grumpy team-mate Gerry, I had a long weekend away to make another assault on the Corporatif category of the Duo Normand.

As something of a prologue to this year’s event, I’d decided to modify my P3’s set up. For the last few years, I’d had flat handlebar extensions fitted to the USE Tula bars, but since getting a Cervelo P5, I’d decided that returning to extensions with upturned ends would be beneficial. I ordered the required replacement parts and set about fitting them. It was soon apparent that I had a problem on my hands - I just couldn’t persuade the left hand extension to go through the base bar. After several days effort, I gave up and reverted to Plan B: to buy a new base bar and use some old Deda GCB extensions I had previously used on a fixed wheel TT bike.

Duo Normand 2010: Grumpy Teamwork underpins emphatic victory for Team Grumpy in its centenary year, but rule-book seriously contravened

Given that we couldn’t even agree on which helmet to wear for the Duo Normand with only a day or so before the race, it might seem surprising that Team Grumpy finally pulled off a victory in the event at its seventh attempt. It has long been the philosophy of the team that we turn out in races attired in similar if not the same kit. For the last few seasons this has meant riding in identical skinsuits, using the same wheels (Hed H3 tri-spokes front and rear) and, in 2009, even the same sunglasses. For 2010, coincidentally, we would even be using the same GPS/computer. What’s the point, you might ask. Well, frankly, it just looks good and makes us look like a team. This is far more important when you consider that the two members of Team Grumpy are separated by 230 miles and rarely actually train together. [Actually, we train together less frequently than we race together! - Grumpy Bob]

In 2015, Team Grumpy once again rode in the Corporate category of the Duo Normand. The report of our ride was written in Microsoft Sway.