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, 9 March 2008

The Cheltenham Flyer 210km

After hearing about the weather conditions Matt was facing yesterday up in Scotland, yesterday’s drizzly, miserable weather in the Southwest really didn’t compare! At the time of writing this, I have heard on the radio that it looks like the weather is moving down this way with storm warnings and forecasters advising people to only travel to coastal areas if absolutely necessary!

Yesterday I travelled up to Cheltenham for an 8am start and a 210km event – my longest this year. I actually did this ride back in 2001 and didn’t remember it having the 2000m of climbing that the route included this year. Either I was fitter then or the route has changed.

After riding on my own for the first few kilometres I caught up with a group at the first control at Didbrook. From here the route went uphill at a good gradient for several kilometres. This is the sort of gradient we will be tackling on the passes in France and I was pleased to be reeling in and overtaking several riders. I rode with a group of strong riders through places such as Clapton on the Hill, Sherbourne, Aldsworth, Bibury and Poole Keynes. The route from here passed very close to where Doug and Chantal’s wedding was held near Lynham and Wooton Bassett last week. The quick pace meant that we reached the halfway control in under 4 hours.

What had started off as an overcast day turned into a very wet day at this halfway point. No choice but to ride the other half as we were at the furthest point from the finish here! So waterproof on, I pushed on with the group through Compton Bassett and Heddington. Although feeling comfortable at this pace, I dropped off the back as one rider took the lead and wound the pace up. Training for endurance rather than speed requires keeping your heart rate below a certain level and, at my present fitness, mine was above this so the sensible thing was to back off. No point pushing it hard with a long way to go only to pay for it later on! This meant a lonely ride through the gorgeous little village of Lacock, and on to Biddestone and Castle Coombe (one of my favourite villages). The route actually went past the motor racing circuit which I hadn’t seen before.

Continuing through Tetbury, a husband and wife team overtook me on a tandem and I failed to stick with them. On the hills, however, I caught them back up again. From then on it was like I was attached to them with elastic…being dropped on the flats and downhills and catching back up on the uphills. The last part of the route continued through Cherrington and Winstone back to Cheltenham.

I have to say I have had better days! I pushed it a little too hard early on meaning I had little in the tank at the end. However, in order to improve it is necessary to push your body through your comfort zone and I certainly did this. The miserable weather was disheartening but makes the ride more challenging and is a good test of mental toughness. 210 km (131miles) at 16.0mph average.