Tro Bro Leon ~ 2014
This year saw a team of seven flamme rougers take on the infamous Breton ribenou of the Tro Bro Leon.
After five years of trying, 2014 saw me complete the race for the first time, puncture free. Although I did stop to help team mate Mick Heald fix his, but that doesn't count. It was a mission of mercy.
Our day in pictures...
The route to end all routes, and the clue's in the race map. A few fantastically long main roads (we don't have them here in Jersey), a few steady hills, a trip to the seaside, and twenty trips off road to the infamous, glorious, hideous, ribenou.
Waiting for the Photoshoot...
Yep, it's me they're waiting for! (Soigneiur Helene Perree waiting patiently for us to get going and for her half-marathon the following day).
Left to right ~ Jason Stratford, Simon Perchard, Pete Slattery, (hidden) me, first man home Spencer (Rule #80) Moss, Andy Perree, Mick Heald.
Team Start Line Briefing...
Assistant Directeur Sportif, Fin Perree, explaining the fine art of how to avoid punctures to me and his dad.
Mick and Pete (in the background) are distracted by a comical Breton moto marshal altercation with a motorist who wanted the closed road to be opened, and the 500 riders moved, so he could pass. Their inattention would cost them dearly.
Jason, (far left) was in the zone, Simon was schmoozing with the ladies, and "where's Spencer?" I hear you ask...
"And that's how you avoid punctures!" Mick's ears prick up, but it's a tadge too late...
Four hours later, here's how it feels. One rider has suffered a "crevasion", the other not. Can you guess which is which...
Post Ride Debrief...
The long and short of it is; with the seven of us in the top ten, lining it out, we were taken off course at an early roundabout, by the moto marshals! Leading to last, in fifty metres. A quick turn-around and a comedy high speed chase ensued.
Before we hit the first ribenou, Spencer had worked his way to the front and got away with the big boys. After squirming through a gap that wasn't there when three riders went down in front of him, he romped home in the top five.
Jason got held up, jumped the gap to the big boys, but when he got there was shot, and just couldn't hold on to Spencer's group when the attacks came on the "rustic" dirt roads. A valiant effort.
Andy and me, were blasting through riders, down parallel channels of the riben, before deciding we both wanted the same blade of grass in the central channel at the same time. Clattering in to one another shoulder to shoulder on the only flat bit, we kept on at unabated pace.
But Andy's pace was less unabated than mine. He made it back to the road first and jumped in a car convoy, to go on and join the big boys.
I was left behind with a group of around 20 riders. Who I dropped 10k later, as we left the seaside and headed in-land. Can you believe I was the best climber!
Andy caught Mick's group, which Jason had left, as Mick punctured. I found Mick at the side of the road, mid-repair. I stopped to offer encouragement and advice like only a team mate can.
My dropped group passed us as Mick pumped his tyre up and I continued with my motivational speeches, patronising advice and general words of encouragement. It was male bonding at its best.
We two-upped to the finish, gathering and dropping riders as we went. Actually, it was quite impressive!
Pete, after setting some fastest times on the ribenou, hit puncture city, with two off the same rock. Wisely, (looking at the spares he had and the distance left to go) he took the 60 km route deviation.
Simon rode with a strong group of experienced vets and made it back puncture free and a few fastest Strava section times.
A fantastic day; everyone comes back with a story to tell.
Casquettes de Flamme Rouge...
At the end, we were stopped by a Breton lady and her husband who wanted to take our photo for her "cyclists in caps" collection! She's got all the world's top riders (Hinault, Indurain, Cancellara), and now us! You can't make this stuff up.
A brilliant weekend, a brilliant event (although you wouldn't want to do it every week) fantastic company and a great way to go racing.
Got a KOM and a couple of 2nd overalls, as did the other boys. Good job I uploaded mine first! Here's the Strava link.
And here's how the pro's do it...
Next stop? Marc Gomez.