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Cycling to Le Mans Classic 2006

A few notes from this year's tour....


A key to the trip's success is Neil's route planning. From the very start we were on quiet, safe roads with outstanding scenery. The undulations were rarely severe enough to punish us badly, but were sufficient to keep the route interesting and to create one or two memorable climbs. The quietness of the roads genuinely made the event significantly safer than it would have been on a busier route.

The Riding

The whole team did incredibly well this year. Despite early fears around the lack of training (a product of increasingly hectic lives), the pace of the ride was impressive, with the peloton functioning in an unusually slick and harmonious manner. I'm sure that won't happen again!

A single complaint comes from those larger riders, who noted a certain inequity when drafting behind one of the many skinny guys. With a fancy, slick new bike and low profile tri bars, Matt punched an even smaller hole in the air than he does usually - the analogy would be a bus trying to steal a draft from a 9mm bullet.... Next year, regulation Sumo suits will be distributed amongst the lighter guys to even up the bum size.

The most improved performance undoubtedly came from Wolfie, who, in two years of participation, has now experienced life at both ends of the Peloton..!


Remarkably, only the one this year. Steve's derailleur somehow conspired to jam itself into his spokes, thus shearing it off and writing Steve out of the ride until he successfully found a bike shop that effected a repair. Rumours abounded, naturally, that the damage had been deliberately inflicted in order to save himself from some of the hard miles...!

Although it was good to see Steve back on the bike, it would also have been interesting to witness the Soutter family at that night's stop, fashioning a replacement part from an empty beer can and 3 cable ties.

It's remarkable that over the 2 days and a cumulative total of over 1700km, this was the only breakdown and there was not a single puncture.

The Classique

An interesting race once again, made all the better by Jeff's encyclopaedic knowledge of each car that drove past. (Also of its designer, original driver, year and place of manufacture, etc etc). Thanks for adding that aspect Jeff.


The Maillot Jaune wasn't so much won, as seized by Nigel with an incredibly strong ride - whenever there was a hill to be ground up, sure as nuts Nigel would take the lead and set a blistering uphill pace. Nigel did more time at the head of the Peloton than anyone else, and deserved the win. In the absence of Mike T, the only potential dispute came from Snowy, who was terribly unfortunate in having ridden all day with his tyres 10psi down on pressure. Oh, what 'could' have been....!

Any raised eyebrows when Nils (aka Neal) awarded himself the polka dot shirt (well, he does own it and he's the only person it'll fit) were quickly lowered on the second day, when on the climb into Ballon he absolutely annihilated any competition to make sure he was at the front of the coffee queue.

After a group vote, the three contenders for the tail-end award were whittled down to just one, Snowy. In another brilliantly funny moment, Riddles commented that although Steve undoubtedly spent most of his ride at the back of the group, because he had missed a couple of hours' riding through breakdown, he "hadn't done enough" to win the tail end shirt. Wonderful.

Another hilarious moment came during Saturday night's fines session when, with the finger of accusation pointing squarely (and equally) at the Support Team, rather than acknowledging any kind of shared responsibility, French Frank unhesitatingly said "Come on Jeff, stand up and take it like a man.."! Brilliant stuff!


Some interesting injuries this year, starting with Matt who arrived on tour sporting a very sore eye, earned in what can only be described as the most noble of circumstances, staring down the barrel of a champagne bottle when it went off...

Snowy's injury, on the other hand, was somewhat less noble, and bears testament to the damaging effects of friction between lycra shorts and sensitive skin on the bum. This prompted much discussion, and necessitated the use of a certain amount of local anaesthetic cream to take the edge off the discomfort. It was then that Wayne managed to win the 'Medical Mishap', 'Darwinean Injury' and 'Comic Genius' awards simultaneously when, after witnessing the success Snowy enjoyed through the anaesthetic bum cream, he borrowed it, applied it, then absent mindedly wiped his eye, thus losing control of his left eyelid for the next half hour... You couldn't make this stuff up.


For victualling, suttling, overall support..... this year's support team excelled. An abundance of fayre was broken out every time we stopped for more than a minute - and then at the track we had the most fantastic steaks, barbecued to perfection, blended with an excellent Medoc. Camping doesn't have to be uncomfortable!

Extra-curricular Activities

Those team members who took a swim at Ouistreham instinctively knew they were establishing a precedent that would continue into future years... Sadly they didn't realise that the other blokes who were at that time busy nicking the swimmers' clothes were establishing a precedent of their own!


A huge thanks to everyone involved, because the whole team pulled equally hard to make this such a great success. See you next year....

The rest of Paul & Neal's phone photos

Jeff Wolfson's photos

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