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La Ronde Picarde 2015

posted 16 Sep 2015, 14:37 by Walden Velo   [ updated 16 Sep 2015, 23:30 ]

On the 12th September, seven Walden Velo members took part in the La Ronde Picarde sportive. Run by the same organisation that put on the famous Marmotte Grand Fondo, this event offers several distance rides that centre on the town of Abbeville in the Picarde department, with the 135km and 180km routes making a traverse of the famous "Baie de Somme".

Arriving Friday afternoon after a relatively easy drive and "Chunnel" crossing, the group booked into the lovely Hotel Marotte (well done Simon) in Amiens, only a short hop from the start location in Abbeville. After some evening drinks it was soon time to hit the hay for the early start on Saturday. The weather on Saturday was due to break but held out for the start. Unlike previous years the start was staged in batches which meant the manic race experience was missed. However it is still a fast event with a healthy 20mph average for the first half. The route heads out across undulating farmland to the coast, arriving at Ault for a short sharp climb, then out amongst the dunes to the first feed station. The second half of the 180km route goes into the Forest l'Abbaye and started to test the legs. At one point the predicted rain came, but nowhere near as bad as was feared. After a second feed stop, the ride heads back down to Abbeville after a surprising amount of height gain. Just for good measure in the last few km's the organisers throw you up another climb, but the finish comes soon enough and the satisfaction of completing the distance at a very reasonable 19.5mph average feels good.

After getting back to the cars it was time to head back to the hotel, freshen up and hit the town for some well earned drinks and a hearty meal. Amiens has a lively typically French centre so no trouble finding a good bar and restaurant. And after maybe one or two too many, it was time to crash back at the hotel. We headed home on Sunday, a journey that was as straightforward and quick as Friday's.

All in all it's a great French event that's close enough to the UK that it's probably easier to reach than Wales.

Don't just take my word for it, here's what two first timers in the group had to say.

Had a great time. The ride was a superb route, particularly picturesque by the coast and lots of small hills to ensure you get a good workout! The evenings were very sociable too, so overall a really fun event to go to. P.S. Beware of the hill that is immediately around the corner as you first see the sea ahead of you... photo taken there so ensure you smile and gears need to be as easy as poss before you turn the right hand corner. ..only a short one though so all good! Jo

"Very impressed by my first experience of Ronde Picardie. Abbeville is a couple of hours drive from Calais and its setting on the banks of the Somme is spectacular, making for enjoyable cycling on quiet roads. There are enough gradients on the route to challenge and the organisation and marshalling was excellent with main roads often stopped and groups waved through. Feed station was well stocked (cheese and ham baguettes!) and the finish was atmospheric.
In summary - great to ride with other club members and with other serious riders on a challenging and attractive route - close enough to be convenient and far enough away to feel like a short holiday - don't miss it next year." Alan

Below from left to right, James Lloyd, Dan Guise, Alan McGilveray, Simon Hotchkiss, John Archer, Jo Brown, Andy Hutchinson