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.

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.

Riding two-ups is actually not as simple as two riders just racing together: you need to be reasonably well matched in ability, and to be able to do the changeovers quickly and efficiently, without unnecessarily  varying the pace as the riders go through to take a spell at the front.  Team Grumpy (Gerry Oram and me) have been riding such events for about 6 years now, and we flatter ourselves that we've improved very well since our early outings, which somewhat resembled "Laurel and Hardy try time trialling"! We've pretty much got it sorted with 30-60second spells, and we don't need to wasted effort speaking to each other.  In contrast, many of the teams that take part in the Duo Normand seem to treat it as a bit of a club run, and seem to be riding side by side chatting as we roar past!

For the 2008 edition of the Duo, we had entered the Corporatif section rather than our usual Veteran section.  This had the benefit of avoiding the early start that the unlicenced riders get, and also that we would finish before the veterans start, and in time for lunch!  We had also taken the precaution of checking over the main part of the course on the preceding Thursday, in particular to re-acquaint us with the hard section in the run-in to Marigny.

We loaded up the cars with bikes, turbos, and various bits of kit on the evening before, after we returned from signing on for the race on Saturday afternoon.  On race morning, we left the house at just about the time the first of the unlicenced category was starting: we were thankful that we wouldn't be on the road until 10:17, as it was VERY cold at 8:05!  We were over in Marigny shortly after 8.30am, and took a quick tour to see how things were getting on.  Among other sights, we saw a pair of recumbent riders start, surprisingly briskly up the starting climb.

Back to the car, where we got our bikes set up on the turbos to warm up on.  I realised at this point that Gerry's energy drink (I had neglected to bring my own) was flavoured like sherbet dip-dab, which I found a little off-putting.  We warmed up for about 45 minutes (in my case showing off a bit to a spectator, and in Gerry's case attracting the attention of a lady gendarme), which is lengthy by my standards, then rode up and down the street, before queuing up with the other riders in the Corporate category to wait for our start.  At this point the butterflies started flapping mercilessly in my stomach.  As usual, I was worried mostly about falling off the start ramp!  The likely winners of our category (on the basis of previous events) were starting two minutes before us: they looked young and fit, but were not riding specific time trial bikes.


Anyway, before I knew what was happening, we were off.  I made a conscious decision to try and ride in formation as soon as we started.The movie above shows our start -video taken by Carol on my tiny 5Mpx Kodak camera!  Reaching the top of the starting climb, I always feel we should be roaring along, but in fact, the road continues to climb gently for a bit, so it's always a struggle to keep the speed up.  Nonetheless, we quickly caught our minute men, as we reached the long, fast section.  This leads the riders down some swooping lanes with high bocage hedgerows.  By now we were riding very well, with quick efficient changeovers, and at speeds often well in excess of 30mph.  At this point I was a little distressed to see that my HRM had cut out, and in fact it resolutely registered 00bpm throughout the entire race.  This was probably a good thing, as in previous years I've been alarmed by the high HR I've sustained through the event.

As usual, the well-oiled Team Grumpy machine whooshed down the lanes, only alarmed by the sudden appearance of the sharp left hand turn onto a main road - negotiated with much braking from 37mph, and not a little alarm from me, as I was at the front at that point.  From here we roared along the main road,making frequent and efficient changes, turned right and on down towards Tribehou, successfully navigated merde corner (where I had once tried to take the wrong turn in a previous edition of the race), and roared out along the section through the marshy field section.  I eased slightly to take a drink at cramp corner (where on our first visit to the Duo Normand in 2003 Gerry suffered terribly from cramp), and we continued at breakneck speed with a tail wind in the direction of Feugeres.

As the road began to rise, we kept the momentum going, but then we inevitably reached the difficult section running in to Marigny, with a succession of steep climbs and twists and turns - we both shifted down to our small chain rings in an effort to keep going smoothly up the gradients.   The downside to this strategy was that Gerry's bike refused to shift back onto the big plate, which not only cramped his style on the descents, but caused considerable consternation and rare conversation between us.  At the infamous ghoul corner, where ghoulish spectators often congregate to see riders fall while cornering at high speed, Gerry mad a particularly craven effort in negotiating th turn, which earned a sharp comment from me!  On one of the first steep climbs we caught a pair who has started five minutes before us: they promptly sat on our wheel for about 9km, all the way back to Marigny and onto the hairpin section, where finally we dropped them on the rise to Montreuil sur Lozon.  However, we did at least stay together all the way through the passage through Marigny.


As usual, the final 12km hairpin section was unreasonably hard, but eventually the welcome descent down the last mile or so to the finish line led us across the line at over 40mph.  Once more, Carol was able to catch us on video (Quicktime format) (and in Flash video format).  Team Grumpy finished in second place (just), but seriously drubbed by a 6.33 margin by the winners.

Roaring past the finish line is always a bit alarming, as there's an abrupt right hand turn - having negotiated that, we were handed a bottle of water and paused to recover well enough to make our way back to where Carol was standing, and then back to the car.  We cleaned up as best we could, then packed away the bikes and kit, and wandered down to get a ginormous sausage sandwich (Robert) and frites (everyone).  We bought a single set of three official photos of us on the start ramp, though frankly, Carol's efforts were a bit better.  We ended up hanging about for absolutely ages for the result sheet, which has 20km and 43km splits.  The winners in our category earned 300 euros for beating the course record for this category, which they already held.  By this time, however, the weather was gloriously hot and warm, so hanging about wasn't too unpleasant.  Except that I had acquired an unfortunate hiccuping fit!
Number Place Duo Time
265 1 LENOIR Alexis - LEGRIX Benoit 01:15:55
263 2 ORAM Gerard - SAUNDERS Robert 01:22:28
271 3 THOMAS Anthony - PROVOST David 01:22:31
268 4 PEZET Jean marie - LECLERE Stéphane 01:28:57
260 5 DEVAUX Alain - DEVAUX Cédric 01:32:29
258 6 ENGUEHARD Christophe - THEAU Christophe 01:32:41
256 7 SAMSON Pascal - SAMSON Philippe 01:32:57
273 8 SAMSON Alain - VASSEUR Rudy 01:35:46
259 9 MALLE Francis - GIARD Gilbert 01:35:54
267 10 MAHIER Gilles - LEMARQUAND Hubert 01:37:34
269 11 MELLET Pascal - MARIE Patrick 01:40:31
261 12 LESECQ David - LESACHEY Jérôme 01:43:56
255 13 ZANELLO Bruno - HERMON Francis 01:47:12
262 14 GOFFELIN Jean-paul - EURY Jean jacques 01:49:31
270 15 CAPIAUX Bertrand - LEGOUPIL Dominique 01:56:41
264 16 LETELLIER Emmanuel - BORDAGE Régis 01:58:20
266 17 HUE David - RIGAMONTI Pierre 02:01:10
274 18 CANIVET-LELARGE Corinne - GLATARD Henri 02:02:03
272 19 CHOFFAT Philippe - MESNIL Nadine 02:04:19

Originally published at Flies & Bikes - visit the original article for more images