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:
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

Monday, 4 February 2008

The Three L's

That's Linlithgow, Livingston and Lanark - and were the three major towns on my route yesterday which took me over the 100 mile mark for the first time in about 8-9 years!

On the Saturday night I'd driven over the Campsies (hills to the North of Glasgow) on my way home and had encountered what can only be described as a blizzard - this had led me to rethink my route for the next day which involved climbing up to above the snow line (not that high round here at the moment!)

The only feasible direction appeared to be East as a result and so I was up until midnight planning myself a new route.

So come the Sunday morning I set off (forgetting my sunglasses this time - see my last post) and readying myself for 7 hours of rain and 23 mph Southerlies (as per the forecast).

The rain failed to materialise but alas they were spot on with the winds which was thoroughly enjoyable while heading North but a bit of a shocker in the other direction!

It was a fairly eventful ride all in all. After about 10 miles I got lost in Easterhouse (not the best part of Glasgow to be seen wearing flourescent Lycra). So after looking both ways I beat a hasty retreat along my route to refind the correct road.

About an hour later I passed a group of cyclists going in the other direction and we exchanged hearty greetings. I then heard what appeared to be barking. I glanced around and sure enough there was what looked like a pitbull rapidly bearing down on my rear wheel and (more importantly) ankles. I put some considerable amount of pressure into the pedals, accelerated to 20mph and, after about 5 seconds, the wee bugger gave up. It was like something out of a cartoon. Very odd.

The route as a whole took me through some really stunning and surprisingly remote countryside considering I was never more than about 20 miles from a motorway and no more than 25 miles from Glasgow or Edinburgh at any point.

Certainly a route I shall be doing again, though hopefully with less wind next time. Having said that the wind did allow me to have some fun on the run in to Glasgow. The last 8 miles or so are downhill into the Clyde valley and with a tail wind as well, I found myself coming off a roundabout exceeding 35 mph and gaining on the car in front. It was a long straight stretch of road and I pulled into his slipstream and sat behind him doing 40mph for a little way (he looked very surprised!)

Further down the road, a motorcyclist pulled out in front of me and accelerated up to 30mph. I saw him glance in his mirrors and do a double take as I proceeded to catch and overtake him. Fantastic fun.

Looking forward to next weekend and whatever the weather shall throw at me.

Flapjack 100

After a week of training on my indoor trainer due to inclement weather, I rode this 102km/64 mile event yesterday. This event is one of the many "Audax" events organised by various cycling clubs nationwide, and infact worldwide. They vary from 50km to over 1000km in length and they are good rides for building endurance. They always seem to be hilly and are well organised, using mainly minor roads. The idea is to ride from checkpoint to checkpoint within a designated time.

This particular event started in Chippenham and went out past RAF Lynham, taking in some of Gloucestershire's beautiful villages, returning past the famous Westonbirt arboretum and Castle Coombe. This ride is a bit shorter than what I am used to at the moment but was convenient as so local.

Before I started this ride, I didn't really understand why it was called the Flapjack 100. However, all became clear as copious quantities of flapjack was available at each checkpoint, and very nice it was too! Have to admit I found the route fairly easy and a good sign that my fitness is coming on leaps and bounds. Even the hills felt good, including a couple of 1 in 6s. I have a 208km/130 mile event entered for next weekend.

Matt did a solid 100 miler yesterday, and being up in Scotland, I can imagine it was fairly hilly! I hear that he even overtook a motorbike at some point, so God knows what speed he was doing!!!The fact that we are both capable of riding this sort of distance with 5 months to go till our Tour ride is very encouraging. The key now is to increase the frequency of these rides, because we will be riding day-in, day-out in France.