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

Sunday, 17 February 2008

Holy Bouncing Bottles, Batman

Ah, the joys of cycling of a weekend - eating excellent (and plentiful) amounts of food to make up for it.

This weekend I intended to have two shorter rides and so on Saturday I went North over the Campsies which involved a good long climb out of Lennoxtown. Once over the hills I ended up heading towards Stirling on very flat (if exceptionally bumpy) roads. After about 2 hours I was rounding a bend and hit some especially poor terrain to feel my water bottle take a giant leap out of its cage and meet an untimely end on the tarmac. This left me with no drink, 3 hours of riding ahead of me and two ruddy big climbs. I confess I may have said a naughty word!

Fortunately about 8 miles up the road I hit a small village where I was able to replenish my water bottles. The remainder of the ride was uneventful apart from slow moving cars coming off the last hill of the day which took all the fun out of the descent and the exceptionally hairy ride into Glasgow past St Rollox shopping centre (you have to be in the outside lane of 3 on a 40mph limit or you end up on the M8 - this hence involves maintaining speeds of over 30mph for a considerable distance after having cycled 65miles).

So that was a good 71 miles on Saturday. Sunday was an uneventful and fairly flat ride along the National Cycle Route #7 to Irvine, through Paisley then I hung a left to Kilmarnock before dropping by Galston and back to the A77 and a welcome descent into Glasgow. It was 67 miles in all at a rapid 17.1mph but I felt pretty good and have had a darned good weekend all in all.

And some excellent news on the sponsorship and media front from Ian as you'll see from his latest blog too.

The Cotswold Corker 106km and Hereford (Climb on Bikes) 48 miler

Two good bits of news off the bike this week:
Firstly, Science in Sport (SIS) has kindly offered us 40% discount on energy supplements which is a great help because we will be going through a hell of a lot of it!
Secondly, the Bristol Evening Post published a three-quarter page article yesterday covering our plans to ride the Tour route. This can be found here.

Before I got to see the article in the paper, I was riding an extremely hilly event yesterday called “The Cotswold Corker” Audax. A 9am start in Cheltenham and the thermometer read -1C! This event involved 1900m of uphill in just over 100km. The route was very scenic and a real tester. Two 1 in 4 gradient climbs within the first 11km didn’t really allow for a decent warm-up and I had to work my way past several riders who had started off quite fast and then decided they couldn’t ride up the first hill. This was long and narrow with ice along both sides of the road and in the end I had to get off and walk as it was impossible to get past everybody. The second hill started with ice at the bottom so, after negotiating this, I made my way up to the top. The route passed through places such as Winchcombe, Stow-on-Wold, Chedworth, Daglingworth, Frampton Mansell, up another long, steep hill up to Andoversford, and then back towards Cheltenham. Hillclimbing must be improving because I didn’t struggle too much even on the steep ones!

Today I was in Hereford, and after staying with Matt’s parents, Chris and Paula, rode a hilly 48 mile ">route organised by a local bike shop:

I rode this event with Chris and a friend, Dave. At 9am the thermometer read -4C! This was fairly flat for the first 20 miles and we were flying along at just under 18mph average through places such as Bishops Frome and Ledbury, but the hills kicked in after half way with a nice 1 in 5 climb up from Hoarwithy where Paula, Kate and Dave’s wife Jane were waiting in a car to cheer us on! From then on it was very undulating to the finish back in Hereford. Unfortunately, I inadvertently dropped Chris and Dave, thinking they were in my group of riders and finished in just under 3 hours. I later found out that Dave had punctured. Including the ride to and from the start, this made the total up to 60 miles today. Chris and Dave rode well and have expressed interest in accompanying us on one or two stages in France! After yesterday’s efforts, my legs were beginning to complain towards the end of today’s ride but overall felt strong and averaged 17mph. This was followed by an excellent lunch around Dave and Jane’s.