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, 25 February 2008

Lancashire Bike Exchange and Four Seasons in a Day

It was a hectic one this weekend, with a meeting arranged with my parents to exchange bikes around Lancaster (about halfway between Glasgow and Hereford). After Christmas, my Dad (my perennial mechanic - thank you Dad!!) had decided that my training bike needed a bit of a sprucing up and had kindly taken it upon himself to do this (knowing fine well I'm incompetent!)
So this midway meeting was arranged so that my folks could take my racing bike and I return with my training bike. It also coincided with their wedding anniversary - congratulations all round!

So we had a pleasant lunch and catch-up before we went our separate ways again.

Sunday then required a longer ride having had Saturday "off". So on Saturday night I sat down and planned a route to the North over the Campsies through Callander, up the A85, left onto the A84 to Crianlarich and then South along the A82 and the bonnie bonnie banks of Loch Lomond and back into Glasgow.

I've decided to call this ride "The Three Cs" - Callander, Crianlarich and Clydebank! The route profile included a long climb out of Lennoxtown followed by a windy descent down to Kippen with stunning views back to the South. A nice bit of flat through to Callander and then a shallow climb to Lochearnhead. Having experienced glorious sunshine to this point, it started to rain in a pleasant springlike way. Shortly after this, while descending at a heady 30+mph, the sleet and freezing rain started. At this point it would have been fairly easy to locate me - simply following the cries of "Ow,ooh,AArgh, B*******d, ow..." and other choice expletives as my face and body were pounded by the freezing winter weather.

This soon disippated however on the long climb up Glen Ogle, followed by a sharp descent and a headwind to Crianlarich. The last time I was in Crianlarich was about 10 years ago following a 100mile day in the course of Andy Kitchen's and my End-to-End adventure so it quite interesting to see it again. It's a tiny wee one-horse kind of town with a train line and beautiful views across the valley to the southern Highlands.

I stopped for a five-minute breather here, having covered 68.5miles in 4hrs 25 mins. I knew there was a short climb out of town and then a long descent to Loch Lomond and then a (pretty-much) pan-flat 45-50 mile ride back home.
I totalled 124.75 miles in the end (just shy of 200km) and averaged 15.9 mph - a speed I was very pleased with.

More than that though, this was an amazingly enjoyable ride. The scenery around Glasgow is simply breathtaking and to be able to ride around for the best part of 8 hours with a smile on your face is something special. It's pretty odd to be cycling on an A road which is so narrow cars can't overtake you if something is coming in the other direction - but that's what it's like - so quiet and peaceful and with stunning scenery to boot! I'm a lucky chap to have all this on the doorstep (admittedly most people wouldn't think that riding 125 miles to enjoy this is lucky, or even sane, but I'm odd!).
Big thanks go to my Dad for sorting out me bike - it rides like a dream (and seemingly goes quite fast too!) and to my Mum for putting up with him being in the garage fixing me bike!

The picture (for those of you interested) is taken between Fintry and Kippen looking South West at about 10:00am - doesn't do it justice, mind!