Tro Bro Leon
This was an event I'd been
waiting years to ride. Dave Le Breton's tales of derring-do got me in to it, and I
was hooked and raring to go. Then the sportive was cancelled for a
year but the pro race remained,
then I did Paris Roubaix, then it clashed with something else, then,
then, then... It seemed it would never happen.
So here we are, 2009 and I'm
on the line feeling strong, trained like a loon all winter to be in the
peak of physical condition (for me anyway), and the flag drops for the
The Tro Bro Leon, is a Breton, L'Eroica. It's not about
riding over pave or cobbles, it's about battling the rough Breton farm
roads, fighting for position and upholding the tradition of inner
This part of France is an
enigma in itself. It's very Celtic (that's with a "K", not a "C")
and the TBL is an event to celebrate and hold dear all the traditions
that keep the Celtic language and way of life alive.
All the road signs, and town
names are very much South West England related, rather than French.
Inasmuch as the legend of King Arthur and all things medieval and
superstitious are as much part of the region as they are part of
folklore. This is the place were history and legend become
blurred. It's fantastic.
Had a fantastic start, stayed in the top 20
over the first climbs, after 20k, as we approached the first "rough
road", Johnny Bloody Frenchie, does a cack-handed bunny hop over a
pothole, loses it, pulls a foot out, then puts a pedal in my front wheel at 35kph.
Never mind Celtic, there was
a quick exchange of good old Anglo Saxon, as I kept it upright, managed
not to take him or anyone else down, and just got to the side of the
road out of the chasing pack's way without further incident.
A quick shuftie indicates
one, Shamal Ultra front wheel, minus three
spokes (it only has 16 to start with) and a broom wagon ride home.
Except there wasn't a broom wagon!
A trip to the local maison
des pneus, or Le Fitter Kwick as our French cousins would say, and I borrowed a pair of pliers to let the tension off the
remaining spokes just enough to allow the crisped wheel to turn between
the forks. Having already disconnected the front brake cable it
was a quick "merci beaucoup" to my new French chum and it's home, route one, at
15kph. At least the sun was shining.
I got back to the car, got changed, got a drink and grabbed the camera
to amble to the finish grandstand to wait for Dianne. I waited and
waited. I seemed to wait an awfully long time for her to do her
One, of the many ladies in
her event appeared 30 minutes previously, and to be honest, I thought
Dianne should have beaten her and began to wonder where she was. Then I
got a phone call...
She'd run out of water, was
very hot and had 70k on her Garmin and didn't know where she was.
Did anyone else spot the irony of that last sentence? She
told me the name of the town she was in, and I put it in the TomTom.
She was 5k away, so I said I'd come and get her.
She, in her own Geordie way,
said "no thanks, I'll ride to the finish". Not for the first time,
good old Anglo Saxon became the Lingua Franca of the day. 25 minutes
later, she screamed in to view and was still second lady after taking a
She'd caught some of the
riders from the bigger event and the marshals directed her on to a loop
of the long course.
When she came off the loop
the next junction was the turn proper for the short course, hence the extension. Still,
apart from running out of water, she had a great day and loved every
minute of it.
The next day the pros took to the roads and the event was won in a bunch
sprint by Said Hadou of BBox, with a bemused Lillian Jegou somehow
winning a piglet! Only in France...
Time to regroup and head back
to Belgium for the Grinta Challenge, part of the Lotto Cycling Tour.
Until next time...