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Thursday, 22 September 2011

2011 Duo Normand report

On the back of a frankly lacklustre season, Team Grumpy were uncertain how things would go for them at the 2011 edition of the Duo Normand, the 30th time the event has been run (and the 8th in which Team Grumpy has competed.  Clear weather at sunrise soon disappeared at the mercy of oncoming cloud and wind - Team Grumpy looked apprehensively upwards and saw signs that the forecast heavy showers might well come true.  The team drove over to Marigny under darkening skies and rising winds, arriving in time to wander down to the start ramp to watch some of the non-licence teams start their race.  Not much sign of the usual crowds, but it was still early.

Back to the car to set up the bikes for a warmup before the scheduled TG start time of 10.41am.  Unfortunately, as 'Grumpy' Art Vanderlay and Grumpy Bob rolled away, the rain began.  And not some light drizzly sort of rain: this was the real deal of 'heavens opening' - made worse by 'Grumpy' Art's error in leaving his rain jacket back at the cottage some 16 kms away.. Both riders were rapidly drenched.

To make matters even worse, 'Grumpy' Art's bike developed a ghastly clanking from the bottom bracket area.  Despite this sort of thing being a regular part of Team Grumpy's annual foray into French racing, a hasty retreat to the team cars was made (the Team Manager actually thought we had decided not to ride), and a raid of Grumpy Bob's toolbox for remedial action was made.  Unfortunately, nothing seemed to actually respond to tightening.  But this did give both riders an opportunity to swap from sunglasses to low light lenses, without which vision would have been difficult at best...

Team Grumpy clanked off towards to the start area.  By the time they climbed onto the start ramp, both riders were shaking uncontrollably with cold and wet.  It was something of a relief to start the race!  The Team Grumpy game plan for the initial kilometres involved 'Grumpy' Art leading the team up the start lane, then for Grumpy Bob to take a lengthy spell while 'Grumpy' Art recovered from the gasping induced by his start effort.  In fact Grumpy Bob found himself pounding down the bocage lanes at speeds of around 30mph, and, due to volume of precipitation, unable to see further than a couple of metres ahead.
video

Team Grumpy leave the start ramp in less than ideal conditions...

Once Team Grumpy reached the first turn, they operated rather more as a well-organised team, although (it has to be said) not in their usual neat style.  The second aspect of the game plan was to capitalise on the faster early kilometres, and trying to hang in there through the hillier sections. As a plan this seemed to fare reasonably well, though the climbs before Marigny are always harder than Team Grumpy remembers.  The course was littered with fragments of water-sodden dossards, in some cases ground to a pulpy splurge by car tyres (Team Grumpy prepared their numbers with clear gaffer tape as soon as rain seemed likely, and consequently were one of the few teams in the Corpo category to finish with readable numbers).

By this time Team Grumpy, who as usual were riding without a support car, had experienced more trouble than usual with traffic on the course, and not just support cars, but extraneous vehicles waved onto the course in front of them and in one instance a milk tanker.  What really took the biscuit was the minor traffic jam experienced while getting through Marigny, followed by the usual traffic jams on the remaining hairpin section of the course during which Team Grumpy found itself frequently crossing the mid-line of the road to pass slower teams and their cars.

After what seemed like an eternity (both riders clearly flagging), Team Grumpy reached the turn and embarked on the final effort to the finish.  The finish was reached in a last ditch effort, with the line crossed at 40mph and followed by the usual frantic braking to stop before the barriers.

Team Grumpy finished in second place in the Corporatif category with 1:24:51 (this was 95th fastest of about 320 finishers in the 54.3km course, this includes riders from professionals downwards).

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Duo Normand 2011

Well, the promised weather arrived in buckets!  The downpour started as Team Grumpy began the warmup, and didn't really let up after that.   What with the now traditional mechanical cockup with 'Grumpy' Art's bike (which emitted alarming clanks all the way round the course) and the fact the Grumpy Bob couldn't actually see the road much of the time, Team Grumpy had a tough old time out there today.  Team Grumpy finished second in the Corporatifs category.  As this is typed, the elites are still out there on the course, with even stronger winds than Team Grumpy suffered.

Sherrin/Fagan (Network Rail) 1:20:18
Saunders/Oram a.k.a. Team Grumpy (Open University) 1:24:51
Bibby/Ferri (Micar Computers Ltd) 1:25:07

Full report to follow once Team Grumpy returns to Blighty and stronger internet connections.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

The day before the Duo Normand

Over in Normandy, after a few days of pretty good weather, things seem to have changed for the worse - heavy showers passing overhead, though at least the wind seems to have dropped. 
Unfortunately, both members of Team Grumpy are afflicted with a head cold.  Oh well.  Bring on the energy drink!

Sunday, 4 September 2011

The return of Team Grumpy (Project Duo - Part Six)

As indicated in the last posting, Team Grumpy did regroup for one last 2-up before travelling to France for the Duo Normand.  This event was the Norlond Combine '10' which had, in addition to the main field of solo riders, small fields of four tandems and five 2-up teams.  The 2-up teams featured several riders with no previous performance, and we were the only all male team.

Team Grumpy is happy to report that Grumpy Bob seems to have recovered from his cold.  Both riders rode an excellent race in terms or technique, though had the Team Manager been there, not doubt there would have been exhortations to Give Me 400 Watts!

Actually, for the conditions, Team Grumpy's result of 22:15 was pretty damned respectable.  But it was the smooth 2-up style that particularly pleased Team Grumpy, and no doubt would have pleased the absent Team Manager as well. 

Roll on the Duo Normand!  (Entries for which close tomorrow, so we shall get an impression of the opposition)

Full reports of the Norlond '10' at flies&bikes (includes Garmin trace), and at teamgrumpy.org.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Poject Duo - Part Five (Final preparations)

As the Duo Normand fast approaches, Team Grumpy are regrouping for one final preparatory race.  Grumpy Bob and 'Grumpy' Art Vanderlay have had very different seasons.  'Grumpy' Art seems to have been engaged in a successful training campaign that has seen his lacklustre early season state of fitness improve to a point where it is likely to effective support his role as the mainstay of this year's Duo Normand performance.  For Grumpy Bob, who also had lacklustre early season fitness, things have not gone according to plan.

As reported in Project Duo, Part 4, Grumpy Bob made a brief return to training and racing after working in Nottingham for a beer-soaked high-chip diet week.  Unfortunately a week after returning, he succumbed to some vile virus.  Initially hoping that this was some kind of galloping hypochondria and then (when it became obvious that it was indeed some kind of cold) hoping it was merely man-flu, Grumpy Bob was horrified when it in fact turned out to be a quite vicious cold.

This has kept Grumpy Bob off the bike for pretty much two weeks.  Not ideal training preparation you might agree, but Team Grumpy does strive to live up to team rule #5, and he felt that losing training was a better option that being horribly ill on 18th September.

This weekend's regrouping sees Team Grumpy ride the 2-up section of the Norlond '10', run on a course based on the A505 Leighton Buzzard bypass.  It will be interesting to see how the two team members cope with what is likely to be unequal fitness.  On the other hand, on the evening before the event, Team Grumpy will be retiring to the local Thai restaurant for gluttony washed down with copious Singha beer, as well as substantial consumption of the official energy drink back at the house.

As has been observed before, traditional Team Grumpy race preparation like this is a great leveller, so perhaps the team will perform equally in the '10'.  And, helpfully, the event is an afternoon event, freeing up some hours for hangover recovery last-minute preparation.

Oh, and we are the only all-male team in the event.