Le Mans was wheely hard again

Cyclists are often seen as a little
bit strange. However, when two local cyclists decided to travel to France to
take part in a 24-hour cycle race for the second year running, even fellow
cyclists believed they had a screw loose. The cyclists in question were the
dynamic French duo of Revolutions instructor Jerome Ameline and Cayman
Helicopters pilot Jerome Begot. They were joined by two Canadian cyclists, Olivier
Beauvais and Philippe Hanstet for another attempt at this challenging event,
which takes place annually at the famed Le Mans motor racing circuit in France.

The race follows the same format as
the 24 hour motor race that made the circuit famous, down to the Le Mans type
start, where competitors have to sprint to their vehicles, or in this case
bicycles. Teams and individuals race for 24 hours straight to see who can
complete the greatest number of laps before the 24 hours run out. Teams race
through the night and into the next day, with team competitors taking naps when
they can, while the individual competitors just push on through the night
without sleeping.

Last year, the team performed well,
considering that they had never raced together before, nor participated in a
similar event. They completed 221 laps for a total of 895.59 kilometres in 24
hours. This placed them 41st out of 152 teams. This year the event drew a much
bigger field, with 355 teams taking part. Although the team did not expect to
improve their overall placing in the very competitive field, the aim was to
increase the number of laps of 2009.

This time the team also had
Beauvais’ father, Jean Lois Beauvais, to serve as their coach, which made life
much easier than the previous edition. The event started well, with the
Cayman/Canada team, competing as Plaisirs Gastronomiques, actually listed as
the leading team for a couple of laps early on in the event. With laps being
completed in under six minutes, with an average speed in excess of 27 miles per
hour, the pace was frenetic.

“Compared to last year, the weather
was not ‘cold’ during the night which was a good advantage for us used to
riding in the heat for a long time,” said Ameline.

Although the team remained with the
leading bunch for quite a while, they were struck with bad luck when Ameline
fell ill. “The team faced the challenge of me getting sick at the end of my
third relay, from a combination of a French sandwich with mayonnaise and
pushing a bit too much for 75 minutes.”

This meant that he had to take an
extended break from racing while his teammates had to shorten their rest
periods in order to make up for being one man short. “I probably did only 120
miles while the others shared what I should have done as well as their part,” recalled
Ameline. However, the remaining members of the team rallied brilliantly, while
Ameline recovered in time to take his final slot in the relay and help the team
push to a total of 221 laps, or 924.79 kilometres completed in 24 hours. This
placed the team 51st overall. The top team, Team Vulco, completed 233 laps, or
975.10 kilometres.

Although Ameline would like to see
more cyclists from Cayman attempt the event, he said it is a big expense for
only a weekend of racing. However, as daunting as the event might sound, he believes
it is actually quite accessible. “Any cyclist can do it, as it is an endurance
event above all. Some cyclist were definitely not fast at all, but they made
the 24 hours, and maybe like us, a little bit faster than the year before.”

The team was also supported by
Tortuga Rum, who supplied rum and rum cakes for the team to distribute to
fellow competitors and help promoted the
Cayman Islands.