Tro Bro Leon

Overall Distance 107/57k Time Taken n/a
Height Climbed 600/200 m Brevet  
Distance Climbed   Category Position 2nd lady
Date April 2009 Country France
Entrants 500-ish Region Bretagne

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 off...

A little preamble
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 hardness.

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.

A long story short
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.

Dianne's Ride
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 57k. 

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 16k detour.

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 Pros
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...

website Tro Bro Leon

Ibis Brest