My Duo Normand adventureThe Duo Normand, as it’s name suggests, is a two up team time trial based in the village of Marigny in Normandy, France.
Back in 2014, Steve Gooch and I had an entry but Steve had to cancel and to cut a long story short I ended up riding with a Frenchman who I had met through a contact on a cycling forum. On paper, my new teammate Richard’s limited English and my also limited French would make for a difficult weekend, but it worked really well and have ridden each edition since. Although a time trial, the format is quite different to UK events, the roads are closed for the day and each competing pair is allowed a following ‘team’ car. There are many categories, from beginners to veterans and the last riders to start are from pro teams, who’s times always provide a bit of perspective. Also included are a variety of contraptions barely recognisable as bikes, there are recumbents, hand cycles and fully enclosed aero recumbents.
Previously the event has been held during the last weekend of September, but to avoid a clash with the UCI world championships, this year it was brought forward to 15th. Sadly for me, this was a clash with the club’s 25 mile championship, but Richard had contacted me to be sure I was ready, so I couldn’t refuse.
I’ve now settled into a bit of a routine, where I catch the ferry from Newhaven on Friday which gives enough time to meet Richard in the evening for a course recce, an easy day on Saturday including a bit of sightseeing, the race on Sunday and ferry home on Monday. Richard has a cycle shop in Bayeux so this year our Saturday comprised a shop visit and then Rebecca and I went up to Arromanches-les-Bains where large sections of the Mulberry harbours can still be seen where 2.5M allied troops were brought to shore after the D-Day landings.
The weather has been very kind over the years, feeling very much like the last gasp of summer sunshine, with 2018 being the exception in which we raced in heavy rain, 2019 saw a return to sunshine and we were hoping to improve our time on the course which had been revised for 2018
Prior to 2018, the course comprised a triangular loop, starting with a fast and relatively flat eastwards leg before turning north and then doubling back south west and into the hills, into the center of Marigny followed by a rolling northerly out and back to finish in the village square, totalling 54.3 km. The 2018 changes involved a reverse of the triangle, making a lumpy start, and extending the homeward leg out to the east with a fast twisting descent and a tough climb back out totalling 50.8 km but with more climbing.
There were fewer entrants this year, so teams were started at two minute intervals which meant that we encountered much less traffic, and at the halfway point our progress was good. Sadly, Richard ran wide coming out of a tight right hander and rolled onto the grass verge, he stayed upright but dropped off my wheel and by the time I’d realised we weren’t together, we had lost quite a bit of time. In the end we were 35 seconds faster than 2018, but were beaten by 5 seconds into second place in our category. Oh well, there’s always next year.
Thanks to Rebecca for accompanying me for the weekend and for taking the pictures from the passenger seat of Richard’s dad’s ‘team’ car