The Duo Normand is a prestige 2-up time trial held in the town of Marigny in northern France. It is open to all levels of riders from club level to professional and is held on the last weekend of September.
There are several categories, so the everyday club/occasional racing cyclist are welcome to join in the “non-licences” category. There is a women’s section, who do a slightly shortened course, and a mixed section – 1 male 1 female – who ride the full course. The course is around 54km (about 33 miles) with the women’s course being around 26 miles.
On race day the roads are marshalled with traffic halted for riders at all junctions, and cars are only allowed to join the course route if travelling in the direction of the race route. Race rules state that riders must ride strictly on the correct side of the road, but with no approaching traffic this rule is treated with the typical attitude that the French have for rules that they don’t like !
Each team can have a support car to follow them (you organise your own!!) so spare wheels or even a bike is available if needed.
To give an idea of its popularity, the event is often fully subscribed which means 400 pairs of riders – the first pair leaving at 8am and the last pair (who will usually be a professional team such as Team Sky) setting off at near 5 pm. Many members of Hampshire Road Club have travelled to this event – often not to race but to join in the ambience of a weekend dedicated to cycling. Typically we travel to France on the Thursday night before race day, then have two days of either recreational or pre-race practice before the buzz of race day.It’s usually an early start, especially if there are riders in the non-licensed category in the group as they will be riding early morning but it’s a team effort of racers and those who will drive support together with others who have come to help, and cheer on.
All in all it’s a brilliant weekend and even for non-racers a good 100+ miles of cycling is easily possible if you want.
Contributed by Paul Beck
Duo Normand website