Setting off on Le Tour - Brest, Brittany

Setting off on Le Tour - Brest, Brittany
Ian (Left) and Matt (Right)

Hello and a very warm welcome to our blog.

We are two amateur cyclists who have decided to follow in the footsteps of our cycling heroes and ride the complete 2008 Tour de France route. This year the most famous cycle race in the world covers 3500km (2200 miles) over 3 weeks in July and takes in some of the highest mountain passes in the Pyrenees and Alps.

We will start two days after the professionals on 7th July in Brest, Brittany and ride the whole thing stage-for-stage, road-for-road, day-for-day as the pros will be. This will result in us arriving in Paris on 29th July, having averaged 100 miles per day. Please click this link to see what lies ahead of us:
http://www.letour.fr/2008/TDF/COURSE/us/le_tour_2008.html
Our aim is to complete the whole route and this means that we will not be racing round but riding at a sensible, sustainable pace. As a result, we expect to be in the saddle for 12 hours on some days.

Friends and family will be driving a support vehicle but we will not have the benefit of masseurs, soigneurs, chefs and team doctors that the pros have. And there will be no Testosterone, EPO or illegal blood doping going on in our Tour!

We hope to raise as much money as possible for two very worthwhile charities: Ian is raising money for CLIC Sargent and Matt for MacMillan Cancer Support. Please dig deep and support these charities via our justgiving pages on the right. Alternatively, please email us with your name, contact details and the amount you would like to donate and we will contact you after we complete our tour.

At this time, a friend of Ian's, Robbie Stuart, is fighting Leukaemia and is a supporter of CLIC Sargent's work. A link to his blog can be found here. Best wishes go to Robbie who is currently recovering from a bone marrow transplant.

Please tell you friends about our blog and what we are doing, and please send us words of encouragement and support.
We will update you with our training and we will be keeping a diary on here as we ride the event in July.

Best wishes

Ian and Matt

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Stage 21: Etampes - Paris Champs-Elysees 93km 29/7/08





Photos

PARIS - The culmination of 23 days of hard cycling through some of the wettest, hottest, mountainous terrain we had ever experienced. After 9 months of training, through the bleak British winter (and sometimes equally bleak spring), after thrills, spills and bellyaches (sorry), we were approaching the finish.

I remember being sat on my stationary trainer in my flat in December - pitch black outside - tired after work and pedalling away watching highlights of Tours de France past and dreaming of what it would be like to come round the Place de la Concorde and up the cobbled street that is the Champs Elyssee, seeing the Arc de Triomphe crowning the view.

Today was the day to realise that dream - to realise what it was to ride the Tour de France. There was no doubt that the last 3 weeks have been the hardest we've ever spent, both physically and mentally, but that didn't seem to matter today. We seemed to float along the road, laughing and joking like we had done on the first day; the climbs seemed to have flattened out, the traffic to be inconsequential.

Certainly we got lost on the way into Paris (strangely enough, in the town twinned with the town where we had both grown up - I'm sure there is some kind of strange message there), but we knew where we were heading and passing through the Forest of Meudon we descended a dual carriageway and there, above the trees, was the Tour Eiffel. We cheered and shook our fists to the sky - no matter that we were still 15km from the finish, we would make it now.

We drifted through Issy-les-Molineaux (home to the headquarters of the Tour de France organisation - no doubt busy working out 2009's route, starting in glamourous Monaco) and Boulogne-Billancourt (crossing to the North bank of the Seine) before seeing the sign saying we were entering Paris (cue more cheering).

We hurtled along the road towards the Louvre where we had to turn left to get onto the Rue de Rivoli, all the while vividly aware of the insane Paris traffic and the potential (frequently realised) for the drivers to do something unexpected.

We called those waiting for us - all our support teams had travelled over to Paris (Chris, Paula, Kate H, Kate C, Jane(Kate's Mum), Peter and Liz) - to say we were nearly there.

And then we were on the Place de la Concorde. WHICH WAY IS IT??? - Oh - it was that way!Yes, even within about 200m of the finish line I managed to take us in slightly the wrong direction!

But no worries, there it was the Champs Elysse - although they didn't appear to have stopped the traffic for us (very inconsiderate). It was 15:01 on Tuesday 29th July and we had completed the Tour de France route for 2008, the 95th running of the event.

We cycled all the way up to the Arc de Triomphe where we saw everyone waiting for us.

Big smiles, unstoppable grins, photos galore. It all seemed to go by so quickly.

We were standing in bright yellow Le Tour t-shirts in front of the Arc and all of a sudden a tiny Japanese lady came and stood next to me to have her photo taken. Then a group of Spanish students huddled round to get their photo taken with us - it was all very surreal.

Some old family friends had come all the way from Normandy (Claudine and Serge) to wish us well.

That evening we had a big celebration meal with twelve of us (Claudine and Serge's son Herve also joined us) and afterwards a stroll to the Tour Eiffel, guided kindly by Herve. A wonderful culmination to a day which had promised everything we had hoped.

We would like to say a big thank you to all those who have sponsored us - who are far too many to name. Also thank you to those who contacted us while we were away to help keep us going. A special mention goes to Robbie for his motivational photos - I think that image is enough to keep us going on our bikes!

But the biggest thank you of all goes to the six people without whose help (both before, during and after) we could never have managed to accomplish this feat which has been a dream for many years.

To Team 1: Chris and Paula Ulyatt;

To Team 2: Kate Hewitt and Kate Cumming;

To Team 3: Peter and Liz Callaghan:

THANK YOU - WE DID IT!!! (And we promise not to do it again!)

6 comments:

Steve Addy said...

What never again ! you have posted a time and with the prospect of a start in Monaco next year and a chance to improve it. surely you must (just kidding) I sincerely hope you enjoyed the ride as much as i enjoyed following your progress.
CONGRATULATIONS

Ian Callaghan said...

Thanks Steve!
Well...never say never! Glad you enjoyed following our progress.

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free2wheel said...

Hi Ian & Matt,

I appreciate this accomplishment was some time ago now but it's potential to inspire never diminishes.

Myself and my fiancee are in the preliminary stages of planning a similar self supported trip. I would really appreciate any input or guidance you may be able to offer us in general but more specifically in relation to the budget (a rough indication) required.

Thanking you in anticipation.

Best regards,

Ronan