My First French Sportive

Discussion in 'Sportives' started by yello, 24 May 2008.

  1. yello

    yello Guru

    Today was one of the calendar French sportives - La Pierre Jodet (he was the national champion cyclo-crosser in 1950 and a local lad). Today's weather made the roads perhaps more like cyclo-cross but that's another matter.

    I rode the shorter 100km course as I've been off colour these last weeks and my weight is up by 3 kilo. I could have done a Ulrich and ridden myself into condition... but I only had the day to do it in, not 2 weeks. Anyways, the 180km course took in a loop around my neck of the woods so I wasn't interested... that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!

    It was a 5am start for me this morning. Up and out for 6am for the hour journey for the start of signing on. There were some 800 riders and the event had a decidedly pro feel to it. Closed roads, motorcycle escort, police, ambulances, etc etc etc. All was fairly relaxed, plenty of parking, town centre cordoned off just for the event. The French have an entirely different approach to these events and the general public to don't seem to get narked by it at all.

    Similar start procedure to UK events; holding pens etc, starting in groups. I was in the last group off, and deliberately went to the back as I like to start slowly. Even so, I was surprised at how quickly these guys shot off. So I decided when in Rome France make like the locals, and tagged onto a group. The pace, for me, was quite hot... 30 - 35kmph, a good 10k up on my lone speed... but in a group, it's a site easier. It stayed this way for a good 50km until the feedstop. Sad to report that there was no malt loaf (what do these French know about cake?!). I don't think I've ever clocked a 50 in under 2 hours so I was dead chuffed. The only thing of note really was the very few climbs that there were... know one seemed to be able to climb! They all ground away on the big chain ring whilst I dropped and span and was whippet like in comparison. The only other spinner I saw was female... so maybe guys don't spin!

    It was absolutely chucking it down by now but this didn't seem to cool anyone, perhaps it was motivation. The split point (100 & 180) saw my ride become distinctly solo. I was expecting the bulk to go my way (because of the rain) but I was wrong. So I was left picking off stragglers one by one, or odd groups of 3 or 4, for pretty much the next 50. My average speed dropped but I still returned a 29kmph average for the 100 - which, for me, is darn good. I finished in a time of 3:42, putting me in the 'gold' bracket for my age... so I was made up.... except.... the transponder didn't record my finish time! So no certificate (which I can live with, just :biggrin:) but annoyingly I am officially a DNF.... THAT bugs me.

    I really really am stunned at how the French public respond. Kids cheering us on (despite the rain), road closures and no tantrums - where we crossed main roads, traffic was stopped for us. It's quite weird hurtling up to a 'stop' sign knowing you don't have to!

    In all, a superb first experience of life in the French cycle lane. Can't wait for the next, the 'La Limousine' on the 7th June. Hopefully my CC kit will be with me then :sad:
  2. Well done yello - I had to look that one up on velo101 as it is not mentioned in my 'Le Cycle' Guide Officiel des Cyclosportives :biggrin:
    Doesn't show 'La Limousine' either, - just La Ventoux on the 7th - I suppose it is to do with the FFC and other governing bodies etc...
    I'm going to the outlaws in Beziers about 12th June for a couple of weeks...bit to far to grind to the Ardeche in support of gezza who is doing the 'Volcanique'. - which also coincides with La Bernard Hinault (22) and three other big events.
    Funny to think that so many people cycle eh? :tongue:
  3. OP

    yello Guru

    I've not yet registered for the 'La Limousine' but will do soon, again opting for the shorter distance.

    It is difficult to find a comprehensive list of events in France (I don't know why, perhaps because of the different federations etc, as you say) but I've found velo101 to be about as good as it gets. There are smaller, local events too so it pays to scan the local press.

    Edit: The regional paper published the results in full yesterday, and my name & time is listed... so my transponder did work! Kind of weird seeing my name in amongst all the French names. One to keep methinks!
  4. rich p

    rich p ridiculous old lush

    Great stuff, Yello. I have done the Ardechoise Volcanique a couple of times but strictly at survival pace so to do the speed you did is impressive. I must do another organised event in France next year. I'm doing the Ventoux in a few weeks but just with some friends but it'd be good to do a ride with closed roads.
  5. OP

    yello Guru

    I was well pleased but, to put it in perspective, I was 270th out of 320 odd! To be honest, if it wasn't for the hot pace (for me anyway) and being able to sit in for the first hour or so, I doubt I would have gone for it as I did.

    I'm keen to try other events now, because I found this one so very enjoyable and well organised. It's cool just being part of something like it.
  6. Christopher

    Christopher Über Member

    hiya yello

    I bought a copy of 'Cycle Passion' when passing through Toulouse airport about ten days ago. There was an A5 booklet in it listing hundreds of French sportives right through the year. It's at home and I can look for sportives in Department 36 if you like (NB away on another trip from tomorrow night until 10th June tho')
  7. OP

    yello Guru

    Yes please, it'd be appreciated. From what I can find, there's very little in my neck of the woods. Not even local events... looking at the FFCT calendar, there's only a handful of events in 36 all year! I reckon folk around here must be happy with just club rides!
  8. Christopher

    Christopher Über Member

    Will do - but it does vary by department. Think the Auvergne has 2 (!) total all year and the Nord list runs to ~5 1/2 pages, with about 20 events per page!

    Edit - can't find it. Must have left it somewhere dang it! TBH there are the same events I think on that FFCT website. I notice my local one on 21st September is a bit modest but it's only 5 Euro! It's only 7km from the house to the start so I might as well do it! Sorry yello!
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