La Ronde du Petit Sable ~ 2008
top event, held just outside Le Mans that takes place on the undulating
roads of Northern France. A full report on the logistics and the low
down of the race can be found in the 2007 edition report by
I don't normally do events
twice but this one is perfect for getting the year off to a good fast
start. So we found ourselves back again to test our mettle against
the might of Johnny Foreigner. We failed miserably!
deux, un, a bloc!
Just like last year we shot out of the starting pens at an incredible
speed. We're a 100 meters in and I'm already in top gear sprinting
to hold my position in the pace line.
Then it happens, just like last
year (so I was ready for it) there's a pinch in the road at 2 kilometres
and two of the big boys go down. When I say big, I mean ultra
skinny, whippet style riders, with the full carbon wheel jobbies and team
clothing with more sponsors than a Hollywood blockbuster.
You can tell the way they're
sitting, it's collar bone time. They'd been down for around twenty
seconds by the time I arrived! Not good. This race form's the
first round of the Trophee Label D'Or and the Trophee De L'Ouest.
These are big competitions in France and the level at the front is
extremely high. No quarter is asked or given and the plebs like
myself get dragged around at an obscene speed.
No time for sympathy, we have
to crack on and the pace remains relentless but perversely, comfortably
high. I'm having a good day and get over the first climb at 4k with
the first group. But this time I'm in the group not fighting to hang
off the back of it!.
Last year I remarked how the first hour of the race was stupidly fast at
35kph. Remember this race is anything but flat. This year the
first hour was run off at 37.1kph, with the first 30 minutes at over
After 2 hours of turmoil we
settled in to the normal, "ease back a click and let's eat". They
may be races but they can still be civilised!
You'll notice from
last years stats that this year the
speed is up but the average power is down. This is due to the fact
that I'm now sitting in the bunch or working at the front rather than
hanging off the back and constantly chasing to keep in touch.
Okay to cut a long story short, Dianne suffered the
nose bleed from hell during her event.
she got to the feed the paramedics and marshals got a bit spooked by the
deluge of blood over her clothing and bike.
Looking like a Colnago riding
extra from a Hammer Horror film, they tried to convince her to stop and
tried to take her timing chip from her leg and convince her to wait for
the broom wagon.
Obviously, they've not met a
Geordie before. After some pleading from them, and a little more bleeding
they relented and reluctantly let her continue. At this point she'd lost a wedge
of time and was now riding with half a box of Kleenex up her nostril.
Not very lady-like and not conducive to a betterment of her previous years
Last year she finished before
we did. This year, 25k from the finish, with us around 10 minutes up
on last year, I see her in the distance as we crest yet another long, long
She stays to the right as we
scream past and we exchange pleasantries. I ask if she's okay as
obviously something has gone wrong for us to catch her so far from the
finish. I turn to look and there's blood everywhere, so I move over
to the left and drift to the back of our group of around 75 riders.
I make a mental note of the
numbers of two of the riders I've been through and offing with for the
last hour, so I can clock where I might of finished if I hadn't of baled
out. Another "if only moment!"
So I take a bit of apple from
my back pocket, swig
down a gulp of Viper Extreme from my bidon and chill. It's time to sit up and
smell the flowers all the way to the finish.
We cruise in at a brisk, leisurely
pace with our days work done and the miles in our legs. It's all
smiles as we cross the line as Dianne sees her friends from the feed and
they clap ceremoniously in Gallic admiration!
Dianne was still second as this year there were only two ladies in the
over 50 age group. But we didn't want to embarrass ourselves by
picking up an unearned trophy! Or more to the point, be late home for tea.
So it was pack the car, eat on
the go and a quick two hour spin back to St Malo and home for bed time.