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, 14 April 2008

Heart of England 307km

Since coming back from Majorca I have been spending a fair amount of time on the turbo, gearing my workouts to building muscular endurance and power. I feel that these are areas that need improving.

After much deliberation I decided to enter this 191 mile event on Saturday. This is the longest distance I have ridden in one go for several years. It would be a real test of mental and physical endurnace. Being nearly 50 miles further than the longest stage we will be riding in France, I felt it would be another confidence-builder and it certainly was.

Starting in Cirencester at 6am meant an early start on Saturday. I was up at 3.15am! The first section (41 miles) took me from Cirencester through the Cotswolds to Alcester in Warwickshire. 4 miles into the ride the pack ahead of me came to a grinding halt and I saw a rider motionless lying in the middle of the road being put in the recovery position by a fellow rider. On questioning, a deer had run into the road and charged straight into him, knocking him flying and breaking his collar bone. An ambulance was called and a number of his fellow riders stayed with him. Further up the road I saw a stampeed of deer charging through one field, straight across the road into another field so could see how easily they could take out a cyclist. Anyway passing close to Stratford upon Avon I saw no further mishaps.

After getting my card stamped at Alcester, I decided to press on to the next control at Atherstone, between Tamworth and Nuneaton. This was a 36 mile stage. Reading place names such as these on the sign posts made me realise what a huge distance I was going to be covering today! Towards the end of this stage I picked up a group of three riders who had all done several long distance rides and was pleased to be keeping pace with them. Again, I decided not to stop at this control apart from for a quick Mars bar and Coke.

The three of us pushed on for the next 43 mile stage which took us on a scenic route through Sutton Cheney, Kirkby Mallory, Dunton Bassett and Swinford on the way to the control in Daventry, Northamptonshire. The wind picked up considerably and 5 miles or so before the control I was setting a fair pace at the front of our group of 4 and actually cracked the other riders, who dropped off the back. I waited at the control for 15 minutes for them and decided to push on by myself as they needed to stop for food. I found myself to be the third rider through this checkpoint out of 65starters.

Another 35 miles took me on an undulating and lonely ride through Canons Ashby, Farthinghoe and finally to Tackley, Oxfordshire. This control was at a pub and I couldn't resist some apple pie and a lager shandy which I felt I desrved for my efforts. Chatting to the marshalls here revealed that I was in third place, 90 minutes behind the leader who was Nik Gardner - one of the top long distance riders in the country. He has ridden over 500 miles in a 24-hour time-trial!(I was to finish 2 hours behind him at the end which I thought was pretty good for 191 miles!)20 minutes at this control and no sign of any other riders turning up so I pushed on to the finish at Cirencester. I suffered on this last 35 mile stage - a combination of dehydration and the pure distance I had ridden. This section took me through Witney and Brize Norton, crossing over the M40 at one point.

All-in-all a great ride. I covered 191 miles at an average speed of 15.5mph to finish in a total time (including stops) of just over 13 hours, which is by far the fastest 300km event I have evr done. In fact my 12 hour on-the-bike distance was over 180 miles (only 45 miles less than I did in my 12 hour time trial 10 years ago)and this was considerably hillier.

I had entered a hilly 107km event for Sunday, starting at Merthyr Tydfil but this required a 6am start and I felt that I should rest properly after an event of this length. This didn't take much persuasion! Over training at this point would be extremely detrimental.