La Broceliande Classique 07
Day two of our weekend sortie. After Saturday's
Pierre Jodet this is Sunday so it must be La Broceliande and the 12th
edition of this modern day classic.
Living the dream, is the expression of modern day culture,
so I'm told. I was having a great dream until I was disturbed by a 6am alarm
call to get ready
for a full-on breakfast to refuel for the day's ride! Two events in
two days? I just wanted to roll over and go back to sleep. I
think I'm getting too old for this!
We arrived the early evening before to pick up our numbers
and book in to the hotel. After a little Tom Tom chicanery and a 1k
detour we got to the hotel to find the kitchen is closed on Saturday evenings!
So it's in to the local village where we found a dodgy looking restaurant that was empty
with all the staff having a big argument outside.
However, we then had the most fantastic meal. Books and covers and all that.
Day Two, Plan Two
So, after breakfast it's a 10k drive to Loheac. We parked in exactly the same place as last
year, just 100 metres from the finishing line. And for once we
were early; it's a 9:30 start time. It's one of those bright chilly mornings
with that ground damp and mist you get when you think it'll go when the sun comes
out and burns it off. We'll see.
Richard now had a 100k's of sportive experience behind him
so knew the score and needed no advice or hindrance from me. Dianne also had a
100k's in her legs and decided today wasn't a day for racing. She
went for a spin in the forests.
The plan was the same as yesterday. With today's
event having electronic timing (for the first time) and a new course
(obviously for the first time) there was an increased level of
competitiveness for this years event. There was also, the first
running of La Broceliande Historique, a L'Eroica
type of event that looked bloody good fun. Maybe next year.
What, no warm up?
year there was a neutralised section out of the town to the end of the
forests. Not this year. So it was a bloc from the gun.
With the narrow, twisty, bumpy roads and the break neck high speed, getting to
the front was, shall we say, challenging. Still, no need to hang
around the sooner we warm up the sooner we can crack on.
It took me 40k to get within 20 riders of the head of the
arrow. Today, it seems, was not a day for hanging about. The
legs were a little tender from the day before but nothing worth worrying
about so it's grin and bear it and get to the front. As we hit
Treffendel the road takes a wide left hand arc at the bottom of a climb.
From which I can
see quite away behind me but I can't yet pick out Richard.
Then in the blink of an eye an attack goes. Eyes forward!
Just as it kicks off someone punctures. Thankfully it's not me.
Never punctured in a race but that might be because I check my tyres
before every sportive. It really does cause food for thought when I
see so many punctures at events when it's so easy to prevent them.
Most punctures are caused by stuff already in the tyre; a quick two
minutes check before the event can save you loads of aggro in a race.
Anyway, the bang of the puncture just seems a further
impetus to go faster as the speed picks up measurably. Maybe the
victim was a "known" rider? A split appears in the group and I
manage to hang on to the main part. Around 100 of us are away and
heading for the Forest of Paimpont at a rate of knots that I'm finding
just the wrong side of comfortable.
Just when I thought I had the new route sussed and was preparing myself
for a few descents, we took a turn and appeared to be going through the
forest in the reverse direction to last year. So now I'm totally
confused. Before I had time to worry too much about what was going
on, the first of many, many, many rolling hills appeared.
I'm pushing on the pedals as hard as I can but I still
appear to be going backwards. I'm dropped, I get back on. I'm
dropped, I get back on. I'm dropped. After 40 minutes of
constant ups and downs I'm down and out. There are five riders 50
metres ahead of me and everyone else 50 metres ahead of them.
I chase for all I'm worth and join the back of the chasers
and by time I get there there are ten of them. Everyone else is in a
big lineout through the forest with riders being lash-ayed back to us one
by one. We're 65k in and on our last legs. Can't wait any
longer my emergency "10k to go" gel is thrown down the throat and it's
back to work.
All the President's Men
Now we're on the flat, we're all screaming to catch the front group (no
chance) and to stay away from our chasers (possible?). As we
approach a major junction there are gendarmes manning the road and two
motorcycle officers hovering.
As we get closer one of the bikes fires up and pulls away
in front of us. One of the riders shouts to me excitedly in French.
"Pardon monseiur, je suis anglais" I reply "Just like the
he cries, in perfect English "The President". Before I could reply the sirens are
going and the gendarme is stopping approaching traffic in the narrow lane. How could we not
It's strange, it always seems to happen and it
never ceases to amaze me. At Paimpont I was dead. My new
English speaking friend says, "When we finish I must return to Paimpont.
I had a perfect set of legs this morning, I lost them somewhere in the
forest. I must find them for next week." Which a) shows the
French have a sense of humour (well some of them) and b) these events are
their club scene. They ride them week in week out. They're not
a "special event" like they may be to us.
As we exited Bovel I picked up one or two landmarks that I
recognised as being in the final run in. I took a drink and went for
my emergency gel. Maybe not! I forgot I'd already dispatched
it and all I had in my pocket was an empty wrapper. Still, found
some apple so morale's back up. As are the legs. I'm beginning
to feel back on form and getting a second wind. Let's press on and
see what happens.
Within our group, fewer and fewer riders are coming through less and less
often. Are they stalling or are they flagging? We're still all
joined together as the split for the longer course doesn't occur until 10k
before the end of the smaller one. Which is a bugger because it
means you're all clubbed in together and aren't too sure who you're
At La Chapelle Bouexic I prepare for the final 10k downhill run in to the
finish. I start testing the riders out by doing longer and harder
pulls on the front. We're now down to six riders and they're doing
smaller and smaller turns. Then I see why. We hit the hill of
hills as we hit the village and the split for the big ride is at the top
I clear the top first and turn round to see who's left.
It's me and A.N Other. This isn't good. There's no one, not a
sausage. But, there are around 20 riders up front. So back on
the big ring and lets chase so we can sit on and have a rest.
We catch them surprisingly quickly and drop most of them
just as quick! It seems the pace of hanging on to the fast boys
who've obviously turned off for the big ride has left it's toll on the
shorter distance riders. We
roll back in to town. Just like last year, as we pass the massive,
landmark water tower, I
build up a head of speed and manage to break away from the group. I scream in to
town, which isn't hard downhill, and survive the final corkscrew kilometre
to get to the finish straight alone.
How close is that?
though I'm alone-ish I sprint to get over the line and my well earned (in
my opinion) drink and gallette. I turn to watch the others come in and
metaphorically pat myself on the back. Dianne finds me and I ask,
"Where's Richard?" "He's not back yet," she replies, just as he
comes in to view sprinting it out with a largish group of companions.
Me? I'm 97th overall and 45th vet. Richard was
just 46 seconds down, 103rd overall and 51st vet. And we never saw
each other all morning. If I'd have known he was that close I'd of
sat up and let him drag me to the finish like the day before!
Perfect end to the day
We changed, discussed tactics and dissected lessons learnt. We then watched
the Caravan Historique return to town made up of vintage motorbikes, cars,
cycle support trucks and Tour de France vehicles (there's a cracking
vehicle museum in Loheac) of times gone by. No air bags or crumple
zones in any of these vehicles!
We then picked up our drink, meal and
goody bag and sat in the village square soaking up the the ambience and
watching the others return.
During our post-ride siesta the Historique ride returned with
fantastic old men, on fantastic old bikes. Obviously they were
wearing fantastic retro jerseys that I'm sure fitted them fantastically when
they were younger. Now? Let's say they filled them admirably!
The atmosphere was amazing and the whole village was en
fete for these vintage warriors of the road on their vintage bikes. Once the
town mayor, riders and dignitaries had
been interviewed they all sat down to eat and re-live times past.
What a way to spend a Sunday!
Once we'd had our fill and Richard had checked out the caravan for
health and safety infractions (a fireman's never off duty!), we picked up our results and headed back to
the car. Just in time to see the "big ride" boys scream in to town
and fight out a massive sprint. We were both surprised at the age of
those leading the charge. I thought they'd all be young pups.
Richard was more shocked than me! "Ah yes, but did they race
yesterday?" he asked. We consoled ourselves with that thought and headed back
for St Malo. Now aware of how much more work we had to do.
Explains the look of consternation below!
Break out the champagne!
Back at the Ibis for an afternoon power nap and and a celebration meal.
As we stay there for around 30 nights a year, or due to the fact that
Richard is a hunk of a fireman (so I'm told), the manageress brought us
over glasses of champagne to kick off our celebratory soiree.
No messing about tonight. Three full courses and a
couple of glasses of red wine purely to aid digestion you understand.
But after a glass I was feeling a little light-headed so it was straight
to the water for me. What a sap!
Of course we relived our weekend; the sights we'd seen, the
attacks we'd made, the pain we suffered, and the great time we had.
Cycling is a sport like no other. You can be the fastest or the
slowest and still have the time of your life and get maximal enjoyment
from your achievement. Of course keeping the right company makes it
even more enjoyable and I'm really lucky to be able to have a great band
of mates to share some of these adventures with.
A good nights sleep, then it's the ferry back home to prepare for
the next one; the Mont Saint Michelle.